Monthly Archives: October 2013

Preserving the Produce

In another life I read a book by Chris Stewart entitled ‘Driving Over Lemons’.  I enjoyed it a lot, but I always winced a bit at the title.  Perfectly good title – it was just the image of all those squashed lemons.  The waste!

Recently I have been re-living the emotion.  Though with walnuts.  Back in September I had harvested some.  I then left them sitting around for a bit, they got rained on, and as an afterthought I tried drying the nuts, still in their shell, in the oven. When I cracked open a few (quite a few) …. the nuts were black.  Not good. So I piled the remainder up in the hedgerow  for the local wildlife – one very fat grey squirrel.

But of course over the weeks the wind brought more down – an awful lot more.  And every time I drove up our lane to the house I heard the crunch.  Nuts crushed under wheel.  And then the squirrel, not content with the gift of a pile of rancid walnuts in the hedgerow, started gathering the newly fallen nuts and burying them in the veg plot.  And then the fat squirrel turned up with his friend and they both started burying nuts … in the veg plot.

Enough is Enough!

walnutscompressedSo time to try again – the larger nuts I shall experiment with air drying in wire racks over the boiler, the smaller nuts I will hull and air dry.  Walnuts freeze well, so I will freeze the hulled nuts to use in baking and, fingers crossed, hope that I will be cracking a few of those in their shell at christmas with the OH.

Otherwise I will be digging up nuts with the squirrel….

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Brave New World

I have been off piste from the blog.  Having finally been press ganged into taking my PA1 & PA6 AW assessments I had to go and  metaphorically lie down somewhere. I’ve never sprayed anything in my horticultural life but the requirement to hold the certificates comes with the job.  C’est la vie.

DSC_0218Usually I’m up for a bit of foraging and I recently had the opportunity of hunting for mushrooms.  In principle I quite like the idea of a fungi foray – in practice I’m not so sure about eating any fungi I’ve been involved in picking.  In the event I preferred to have a lie in, (not my usual habit but I was recovering from exam tension of course).  So the other half went off in search of the mushrooms with an experienced guide.  Allegedly it isn’t the done thing to ask the guide if he has any attention of ‘going postal’ and poisoning the foray group.  If I was going to be a bit critical I would say that the pickings looked a little light – but then there hasn’t been that much rain. Even so, I stuck to scrambled egg, sans mushroom addition, though apparently the mushrooms were very good and no sign of organ failure in the OH.

On the smallholding we have been moving into New World vegetable territory; cornthe sweet corn and squashes have performed extremely well.   Corn on the cob is the optimal fast food.  Pan of boiling water, plop in the sweet corn, 5 minutes later – lunch is served.  All that is required is butter and some freshly ground salt and pepper.  Easy!  Added sweetness can be had by grilling the corn to caramelise the sugars.  Just the thing on an autumnal day.  Elsewhere the ground has been cleared ready to sow the Hungarian Rye Grass as a green manure.  This will be left to over winter before being dug in next spring.  A little late for sowing – but the temperature hasn’t yet dropped too much so fingers crossed.

Cider-Apple-KBI have also been distracted by cider apples, or more precisely by cider apple trees. To keep the cost down I am limited to the varieties that are brought in from the top fruit supplier.  They have a small range of cider apple trees but the varieties look promising – All Doer, Camalot, Dabinett, Dunkerton Late Sweet, Ellis Bitter, Hereford Redstreak, Sweet Pethyre and of course Kingston Black.  I’m sure the other half will be able to do something with them

…..in a few years’ time.

Reading this week: Woodsman by Ben Law.