Sunday, 27 September 2009

Want Something Done?.....

... Ask a Busy Person! And I am STILL knee-deep in preserving the bountiful harvest from our new Funny Farm Kitchen Garden. Which is making me kind of nervous for next year, because I've really not grown much this year, in comparison to what I'm used to growing, and we don't have 5 freezers anymore?!.... So where exactly am I going to find the time in 2010 to preserve all the extra produce that I'm proposing to grow?! Well, first off, I'm going to have to get a bit more 'cute', and plan to grow Early, Mid-Season, and Late varieties of our favourite fruit and veg, so that we can use more of it really really fresh from the garden, spreading the harvest, and only preserving the excess (yeah, right!)

But I have also had 'speaks' with chefs from one or two select local pubs and restaurants, who have expressed a genuine interest for my excess produce, which was nice.

So, in the photo above, I've harvested two ounces of fresh basil leaves, and blitzed them with fresh parmesan, garlic, Xtra Virgin Olive Oil and Pinenuts, for our very delicious Pesto, and I've portioned it up into 'dollops' for the freezer, for later use.

I've been told by 'Next Door', that I should be superbly proud of these Peppers, which, actually, I am..... and I've made a really rich Lamb Mince mixture to fill these with, to squirrel away into the freezer.

Talking of Peppers and squirreling..... with some of the rest of the bountiful harvest, I've halved them, (peppers, not squirrels) smeared the inner flesh with the remaining basil pesto, layed a few of my home-blushed oven-dried Roma tomatoes inside, and they are 'open-freezing' as we speak. When fully frozen, I'll pack them into freezer bags, exclude the air (neat trick with a plastic drinking straw!) They will be brought back to life over the winter months with the aid of grilled goats cheese, and/or some rather gorgeous sweet'n'sour borlotti beans from my 'Squirrel Dresser' store-cupboard, which is in the hall (dark and cool environment).

Below - just how much does Trousers love me? A whole load of scrummy pristine wooden pallets to make new Compost Bins - that's how much!! Thank you Darling..... Mmwwaa!

And here is my 'Squirrel Dresser' in the Hall:

I've been a bit more adventurous this year, in the variety of preserving recipes and methods. I reckon that once you actually own jars, of whatever description, the world is bound to be your oyster, and to this end, I have my very favourite client now saving all of the baby-food jars in order to feed my addiction.
And, actually, the smaller quantity Baby Food Jars, I think, will serve a very useful purpose over the next year or two, given that I'm game to try out a multitude of new recipes, for different culinary experiences.
Below, I have picked proper native hedgerow rosehips, with a view to trying out some Rosehip Syrup, Rosehip Jelly, Rosehip This, and Rosehip That. If I've got a small Baby Jar of it and it tastes positively disgusting, I've not got 'a shed load' of disgusting goo to get rid of.
Then again, if it's gorgeous....!

As you can see, Wellie never misses an opportunity. What was once a boring old black splashback to a cooker for one person, becomes an everyday blackboard reminder to one of the busiest peoples that Trousers (allegedly) 'knows and loves'.
Thank you for your lovely comments on our new blog updates.
We are thrilled that you are thrilled.
Take Care till next time,

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Part II September 2009

Welcome to Part II of Down on the Funny Farm September Update.

See Wellie completely Arse About Face dig new beds for flowers, herbs and Raspberries. Mind you, I'm quite pleased actually, because I've inadvertently lost a stone and a half somewhere along the line in the last four months, which'll be great for my Birthday Holiday Bikini, no?!

These beds I've taken personal responsibility for clearing and digging, because they're full of stones.
I have the patience of a Saint. Trousers doesn't. Say no more! And I have stuff I want to plant before we go away, so I need the beds ready now, not in the Spring.

Trousers has already dug over the entire new Fruit Garden which will be ready to cultivate next Spring (which took 7 hours and he couldn't walk for two days). Mind you, I ferried the FYM back and forth from way over the other side of the farm for the same amount of time to fill said double-dug trenches...... (and couldn't even get out of bed, let alone 'stand' the following morning - pathetic....) and so today, Trousers took a well-earned rest with the Sunday papers, in the privacy of his own back yard.

As far as the design for our new Potager goes, I've tried to keep things very simples, but eminently workable. The mistake I made in our last Potager, was that in the winter months, if it wasn't all planted up with vegetables, it looked like a very bare Allotment, and given that it's right outside your kitchen door, and you're looking at it every single day of the year, that can be a very unattractive view for nearly 6 months of the year.
So once again, I've put my 'Student Hat' on, and gone back to the drawing board.
Honestly. Never be ashamed of making mistakes. I'm not. Every time I make a mistake, I learn something new.

Okay. The photo below shows the start of what will major for my Herb Garden. But probably 'tickled' with other decorative seasonal additions like Bulls Blood Beetroot, Spring Onions, Edible Flowers, Salad Crops etc. I've identified since mid-April exactly how the sun affects this area of my new garden, so I am armed with its possibilities.
And time will tell as to when I come close to 'getting it right' - especially with the addition of a few evergreens and seasonal bedding plants.

And below, this is a sneak preview of potentially the new Fruit Garden.
Nothing is set in stone yet, but I plan to have the Asparagus Bed along the fence (all 24 crowns with about 3 or 4 different varieties, cropping at different times) with protective netting between them and The Girls in the field (the sheep).
I've put a tremendous amount of thought and planning into the very little that I have shown you a glimpse of here, and daily there's much much more, but I keep it to myself in order not to scare Trousers too much!

And naturally, there's a complete 'shed load' of preserving going on at the minute too.
Here we have 'PlumBeena', which is like Ribeena, but Plum (on the right), and on the left we have a yummy Chinese kind of spicy Plum Sauce.
Today I've bottled Home Sunblushed Oven Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, and I am knee-deep in Tomatoes, Sweet Red Peppers and Chillies. This week Children, I are MOSTLY preserving!
Have a great week, and hopefully see you next.

Back at The Funny Farm in September

After selling our cottage, with an intended move to France, (which had to be shelved for now), we have finally finally settled into The Funny Farm completely. It is absolutely brilliant here, and my very Black Gardening Cat has got over the trauma of being unceremoniously 'shoved' into a plastic Cat Carrier Basket on the day of our move, and has become an exquisitely loving little black panther, that neither Trousers nor I recognise from the semi-feral beauty that we once allowed into our lives nearly a decade ago... A fantastic transformation of happiness in her that is so truly inspiring.

I must now apologise.......With it being such a long time since Trousers and I last 'blogged', we'd forgotten that our pictures come up here 'in reverse order' (!) and so you'll just have to 'go with the flow' peeples?!

I've never grown Grapes before, so - armed with the knowledge from the Farmer's Son that these ones tend to end up 'small and pippy', I've completely 'winged it' and tried to thin out the bunches a bit. And then I read somewhere that you should never touch the grapes with your hands. Well. Too Late Too Late my friends, I'd already gone and done that? But nonetheless, I shall take great pride in sampling them, however small and pippy they are. I can always try and improve on 'small and pippy' for next year, eh?!

In the same greenhouse, I've also been fortunate enough to take custody of a mature Peach Tree and a ditto of Nectarine. I was underwhelmed earlier in the year to find that we had NIL Peaches, and the only Nectarine just 'fell off' in my hand before it was ripe or edible!
Wellie was well and truly Gutted actually children.....

Anyhow - we've had a crackin' year with the Winter Squashes in my book (given that we moved mid spring and the veg garden wasn't here?!) So, even though I'm patting myself on the back, I feel that it's praise suitably well-deserved, because without having moved that mountain of well-rotted manure from the other end of the farm, I can assure you, you wouldn't be now looking at these little beauties at all!

But I did manage to start my tomato plants off in The Little Girl's Greenhouse back at The Cottage, and with a bit of TLC in the warmth of the new North-East facing conservatory (much lighter that the old one) they did fantastically well, and have probably been the best Tommies I've ever grown. Seriously. But I did sow them on the day that was forecast Biodynamically as being the best day to sow Tomatoes, so I'm well chuffed.

Talking of Well Chuffed.... Trousers does, no? Our friend Piggie gave me some Marshmallow Strawberry runners a while back, and we built a raised 'table top' strawberry planter to facilitate easier picking and less bovver from slugs'n'snails, and this little harvest was an evening's picking.

So I promptly took Bob Flowerdew's advice, and stuck them in a Kilner Jar with a litre of White Rum, put it in a dark place, and shook the jar every day for a couple of months! and I shall probably go completely Bonkers and make some Strawberry Rum Leather Chewy Sweeties from the pulp extracted from the alcohol when I'm ready to strain it. It's a toss-up between that and Strawberry Rum & Redcurrant Jam. Ooh! what am I like?!
Trousers has got more photos to show you in our continued progress on The Funny Farm, so it's worth popping back in a while to check it out if you're interested.
In the meantime, thank you for watching.