Monthly Archives: October 2016

happy Samhain!

dsc_0625-2I like the idea that Halloween may have its origins in the Celtic celebration of Samhain, the end of the harvest and start of winter.

Well, it might have been the end of harvest back in the Iron Age but we’re still on the go.  At the moment we are using a dehydrator which a neighbour has kindly loaned to us.  My favourite so far…. dried apple rings.

dsc_0612dsc_0612-2The lovely OH has taken down the beans canes and we are stripping the remaining pods and will dry the beans to add to winter stews…

dsc_0622dsc_0621-2On the matter of spooky things, I have decided to get to grips with bread-making, beginning with sourdough.  I have made my ‘starter’.  It’s pure alchemy – water, flour and wild yeast which is everywhere, including on the flour, and in the air.  As the starter is full of living organisms I have to feed it over the next week and then I’ll have a go at my first sourdough loaf.





autumn orchard…

The apples are coming into their main season. The thinning earlier this summer has paid dividends; we have good size specimens this year:

dsc_0707dsc_0709dsc_0710We grow about 40 varieties and I love the diversity of the fruit…

dsc_0610L to R Howgate Wonder; Bramley: Egremont Russet; Grenadier; Red Jonathan; Cox Orange Pippen; Pitmaston Pineapple.

We took some damage this year from winter or codling moth larvae so at the beginning of October the lovely OH put on some glue bands

dsc_0612and we will hang  a few pheromone traps next spring.  Workwise there’s not much to do in the orchard once the apples have been picked, stored away and the grass is given a final cut.  We’ll be back for winter pruning around the end of February.

I’m pleased to see a couple of the native European hornet back in the orchard; I spotted them yesterday on the russet apples.

dsc_0713My local paper recently ran a scare story on asian hornets arriving in the locale although the photo the paper printed was clearly a, sadly dead, native hornet.  The European hornet is generally docile and should be celebrated!

I’ve made an entry on the ‘Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society‘  website of our visitors, hopefully it helps with somebody’s research.





clearing the decks…

dsc_0609 We have started to remove the heat-loving fruit and vegetables from the polytunnel.  All the ripe chillies have been picked along with the tomatoes, (green and red), melons, aubergines, sweet peppers and cucumbers.

dsc_0608So we have quite a lot of preserving activity ahead of us.  The lovely OH has made a start on the chillies.

dsc_0611dsc_0614He has found that putting a slit into the chilli before drying in the dehydrator helps to dry the chillies faster. Once dried we can use the chillies through next year.

Of course, we are eating as much fresh produce as possible, so our weekly supper menu has a definite lean towards vegetarian recipes.  Gathered together here…the vegetable ingredients for a sambhar, recipe courtesy of Meera Sodha’s ‘Fresh India‘.



see how our garden grows (update)….

dsc_0613Our hard work on the hard-landscaping means that we now can navigate from where we park to the door without tripping over rough ground or slipping on wet grass – an excellent result.  There is still a way to go but following on from the stonework we’ll look at ironwork for training roses/clematis/climbers and prep the areas for bare root hedge planting this year.  I have hornbeam for the outer hedging but still hanker after box for the inner dividing hedges – yes, yes in spite of box blight.  Ilex crenata and Euonymus japonicus ‘Jean Hugues’ are possibilities, though.

The air temperature is dropping, I don’t know how much longer the tomatoes will ripen.  We are still gathering enough, so I plumped on making tomato ketchup, (recipe from the excellent ‘The Modern Preserver’ book).

dsc_0592The days may be colder but the sunsets are superb…

dsc_0595Reading this week: The Apple Orchard by Pete Brown.


carpe diem…

I popped into our village library the other day to pick up some ordered books and to catch up with the news on the recent, fund raising Harvest Festival/Apple Pressing day.  I couldn’t make the event, but we had donated produce to help make money to keep our library open. Over £750 was raised at this event – onwards and upwards.

My librarian mentioned that not many borrowers took books from her curated display so I volunteered and was very pleased to pick up ‘The Modern Preserver’. I was immediately smitten by the spiced plum sauce recipe.

Unfortunately, whilst I had plums and damsons a week ago; when I checked the orchard, all had gone!

Time to get our skates on with gathering in the harvest.

dsc_0593dsc_0590The squashes have done us proud once again and yes, mid brother, some of those spaghetti squashes have your name on them.  The walnuts, once again, have been raided by the grey squirrels…..

dsc_0600….we might manage a few for Christmas

dsc_0599but no matter, we have plenty of other ingredients to keep us happy – here the ingredients to accompany pheasant poached in cider…

dsc_0598Reading this week: Weeds: How Vagabond Plants Gatecrashed Civilisation by Richard Mabey