Archive for April, 2014

  • wpid-imag1188.jpgBean seeds
  • wpid-imag1190.jpgWeevil damage to pea seedlings
  • wpid-imag1191.jpgRocket, mustard, celeriac and augergine
  • wpid-imag1192.jpgSweetcorn seedlings

Further sowing

The soil in our vegetable plot is too hard to sow many seeds directly.  The continuous wet weather over the winter has compacted the soil into a thick crunchy surface, and the soil is already very clayey anyhow.  So we’re almost forced to sow many of our crops in pots to start with, before the challenge of the soil.

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Grapefruit Honey Ale

Tasting Grapefruit Honey Ale

The third beer we have made, the grapefruit honey ale brewed a couple of weeks ago, is a triumph.  It is clean and crisp and has a strong citrusy finish, without any of the debris and aftertaste that has plague previous homebrews.

  • wpid-imag1194.jpgStrawberry flowers
  • wpid-imag1193.jpgBlackcurrant flowers

Flowering Fruit

We have quite a few flowers appearing on our various strawberry plants, which is hopefully a sign of a healthy crop.  We also have a fair few flowers on our Ben Tirran blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes, but nothing so far on our Baldwin blackcurrant.

  • wpid-imag1185.jpgSliced cucumbers with onion and bronze fennel
  • wpid-imag1187.jpgBottled pickle
  • wpid-imag1184.jpgSliced cucumber

Sweet cucumber pickle

It’s always difficult to find something to do with a cucumber.  We’ve tried pickling cucumber before, and it wasn’t all that nice.  The contrast between the tough skin and the soft watery interior perhaps adds to the problem.  This time we have tried a sweet pickle, and sliced the cucumber very thinly.  The thin slices are mixed with thinly sliced onion, a little bronze fennel (the recipe calls for dill but we only have bronze fennel on our herb bench) and sugar and white wine vinegar.  The thin slices should mean the pickle will fit into sandwich fillings.


First rhubarb harvest

We have been able to harvest our first few stems of rhubarb. The stems do not seem to be very long, but the plant is producing a many large leaves and seems very vigorous.

  • wpid-imag1182.jpgHop going strong
  • wpid-imag1181.jpgBeetroot seedlings
  • wpid-imag1179.jpgLeggy celeriac seedlings


We have a few signs of life beginning to show in the vegetable plot now.

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  • wpid-imag1169.jpgTidied and repotted herbs, sweet peas and strawberries
  • wpid-imag1170.jpgRepotted olive tree, lavender and currant trees
  • wpid-imag1172.jpgSpring onion, lettuce, rocket, mustard, celeriac and aubergine seeds
  • wpid-imag1173.jpgChantenay carrot seeds sown in a bucket
  • wpid-imag1174.jpgBee hotel
  • wpid-imag1175.jpgLarge rhubarb leaves
  • wpid-imag1176.jpgSupport for golden raspberries

Garden Clean-up

With a spell of dry weather and sunshine, we have been able to get out into the garden to begin tidying up some of the mayhem from the long wet winter months, and sort out the plants that are beginning to grow again.

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Braised Oxtail

Having a cast iron cookpot makes slow cooking difficult joints of meat, like oxtail, very easy.  We just fried the oxtail pieces to seal them, then added them to the pot with some onions, carrots, thyme and bay leaves, added a little beef stock, and put it in the oven at around 140C for a couple of hours.  The result is deeply flavoured rich pieces of meat.

  • wpid-imag1164.jpgLady Christl potatoes sprouting
  • wpid-imag1160.jpgSlow worm in the leeks
  • wpid-imag1161.jpgFreshly dug over and planted King Edwards, with remaining leeks and overwintered garlic

Potato Planting

We have already planted a couple of rows of Lady Christl first early potatoes, which are just beginning to sprout through the soil.  We have now dug over and planted King Edward seed potatoes as our maincrop.  In between the two, we still have a row of leeks still standing, and the garlic we have overwintered, which has now begun to develop with the spring weather.  While we were digging, we found a slow worm in amongst the leeks, which didn’t seem to be all that bothered by our activity.

  • wpid-IMAG1136.jpgPreparing grapefruit skins for dting
  • wpid-IMAG1155.jpgDried grapefruit skins to be added to boil
  • wpid-imag1157.jpgFermentation in a demijohn

Grapefruit Honey Ale

We have had another try at making beer, again with a kit from the Brooklyn Brewshop. This is a pale ale, with Columbus and Cascade hops, and also calls for the skin of a grapefruit to be dried and added near the end of the boil, along with some Belgian Candi Sugar and honey.  The fermentation was over within a few days, and there was a lot of sediment in this brew.  It’s now bottled, and put away for a couple of weeks.