Monthly Archives: August 2016

summer’s last gasp…

The wildflower verge has gone to seed.

DSC_0404Whilst there are few areas putting on a flowery show, the annuals are coming to an end.

DSC_0391Next week, given a few dry days, we will cut the verge, collecting seed, then clear the ground of the annual foliage and any pernicious perennials. We’ll then resow the area with the collected seed.

DSC_0393DSC_0392As the annuals die back, I’m catching glimpses of the wildflower perennials,  such as yarrow, (Achillea millefolium), and plantains, (Plantago lanceolata, P. major, P. media),

DSC_0395DSC_0398DSC_0396and amongst the tangle of stems, the orange twining threads of dodder, a native annual parasitic plant, though I’m not sure I’ll let this one seed.

DSC_0399The verge has been a great success, enabling us to increase the diversity of the native plants on the holding.  I’ll be looking out for the emerging perennial species next year.

Young housemartins are congregating in ever increasing numbers.

Goodbye summer.





sauce for the goose….

It’s time to break out the jam pan!

I have been online flicking through some wonderful blogs on preserving; peach and chilli combos seem to be all the rage.  Whilst we have a mass of chillies, here in the UK our peach tree produces a modest crop, so we eat them fresh.

However, we do have a bumper crop of soft currant fruit, (red,white and black), so we set to and picked the fruit from 2 of our redcurrant bushes with the aim of making jelly.

DSC_0004In truth, we didn’t need to strip out the stalks, but as the currants were on the cusp of going over we picked out the fruit and so removed the stalks at the same time.  The recipe was from Pam Corbin’s  River Cottage Preserves book, (No. 2 in the series).  Following stewing, we strained the juice overnight through scalded muslin.

DSC_0010The next day the juice was brought to boiling point and the sugar added.  I prefer to check the setting point by using the wrinkle test rather than a jam thermometer.  Once the set point was reached I ladled the hot liquid into sterilised 225g jars.

The jelly is a gorgeous garnet colour.

DSC_0011A perfect addition to a homemade Christmas hamper!


tumbling towards autumn…

The wonderful thing about living in a temperate zone is that you experience the transitions between seasons.   The truly hot summer weeks have been few this year – a fleeting 10 days in June, possibly a number of weeks in August, fingers crossed.  In the growing patch some of my favourite vegetables have been harvested for storing or are bulking up, ready to be lifted for glorious feasts later this year…..

garlicThe lovely OH did a roaring trade selling our excess garlic at a local agricultural show whilst supporting our smallholder association.  The onions have been lifted and are drying before stringing….

DSC_0041Cabbages and kales are often underrated, but I love red cabbage with bacon served alongside loin of venison with a red wine sauce , (Rosemary Shrager does a cracking recipe).

DSC_0035This year I have sown, for the first time, celeriac, (makes a delicious soup), and quinoa…

DSC_0031DSC_0033and of course, the pumpkins and squashes are starting to swell…

DSC_0034so much good food to look forward to!