Are sometimes wrong…
This week, a couple of days ago, was forecast to be very grey and overcast, possibly with a bit of rain. It really irritates me, along with the rest of the population obviously, when there is a surprise good weather day and I have to go to work. Not yesterday (or today, and fingers crossed, the rest of the week!).
On this very lovely weekend weather wise we got started with the veg bed prep. As mentioned, the potatoes are in bed E this year, this bed having been dormant and covered for a year.
Z dug over the whole of bed C ready for the onions to go in. This forked over ok but was a little patchy so it’s been evened out with a little compost. This year we’ve gone with the same as last as they stored well, Sturon. We’ll also put in a red onion, Red Baron. We’re not going to bother with shallots as the sets are expensive and they don’t seem to do that well in our soil.
I’ve bought 150 sets in all – this probably won’t fill the bed so we’ll stick in a few more ‘tates to fill the gap.
Z also weeded half of bed F and forked in a load of sheep, rabbit and chicken poo before mulching it with straw. This bed will be the squash bed next year so we’re trying to up the nutrients in it before plants go in in June time.
I think that this week will mark the end of the harvest, which considering it is mid way through October, is not half bad. Today we have collected a load more wind falls and I have made an apple and blackberry pie with the last of the blackberries.
We have been chopping the raspberries back, and I dug up a Dr-Who-monster of a bramble root today.The veg patch is telling us that it needs a rest. The courgette plants and butternut squash plants are drying out and turning crispy, so I think we have had the last of them. The butternuts I have brought inside to ripen and store for use in December and January.
I have weeded the chard bed and thinned it out in the hope that we may get a few winter greens from there if we frost protect it. The final freezer stores view looks like this. I Will keep records here of when we run out of ready meals, so I can gauge how much to grow for next year. September and October have been very cheap food months with our food self sufficiency being somewhere around 80% I would say. November we are hoping to eat from the freezer and retain a 70-80 % self sufficiency
It difficult to see in the freezer picture but that is about 60 boxes of stored produce or meals. Soups, pasta sauces, hasbrowns, applecake, stewed fruit, flash-frozen berries etc.
Let’s see how long it lasts….
As the Autumn is coming/ here, we have decided to reconfigure the pallet shed so that;
A) a family of mice or rats do not take up residence
B) we have a little dry dock for raining days
To winterise our pallet shed, I have removed the soft furnishings such as the futon, ( sadly, as Becky and I had many an afternoon snooze on that sofa during the spring and summer), and have replace it with two plastic chairs. Plastic chairs are obviously easier to keep clean when we are popping in here during the muddy winter, and harder to chew through and make a bed out of if you are a rodent. I have also raised the chuck box off of the floor, as we are more likely to be making cups of tea inside rather than on the pub bench outside.
The weather had been fab today, but it’s good to plan ahead in small holding.
Tonight we are in Suffolk enjoying a weekend away, and the sky has done this…
We have hot baked potatoes cooking in the oven and fresh ripe tomatoes to go with some beautiful cold cuts of gammon.
It must be autumn.
I have started thinking about my autumn projects, and crab apple jelly is top of my list. I have spotted a tree nearby with a huge burden of lovely red fruits. For those of your who don’t know how it is done, here is a brief recipe.
Crab Apple Jelly
A big bag of crab apples ( you measure the juice later on).
Jars and jam tops
Wash and crop your crab apples
Cover with water
Stew until they are pulpy
Put the pulp in a jelly bad or muslin
Leave over night to collect the juice
Measure the juice and feed the pulp to your chickens (prepared outside defra!).
For every 600ml, weigh out 450g granulated sugar.
Heat the juice in a large pan, and when it boils, add the sugar, stirring until it dissolves.
Then boil rapidly for about 8 minutes without stirring, until setting point is reached.
Check using the wrinkle method for a setting point.
Jar in hot jars and seal.
Eat with meat or cheese.
We have been lucky enough to have two fantastic weekends of weather since we got back from holiday. It is early June and the day looks set to be perfect. It makes its so much easier to keep on top of things when the weather plays ball according to the seasons. There is no doubt that small holding in the winter is hard work, and a labour of love; we need the summer to be resonable or it can seem like an endurance test. Yesterday the day was beautiful and hot, and today looks set to be even better. Becs is having to mow the grass each weekend, but from memory that slows down by mid June.
Yesterday was literally the first nice day in Spring. It was clear and sunny all day. We took the opportunity to get the animals moved into their Spring configuration and rotate and rest some areas of the plot. We like to move the birds and bunnies under the large Ash tree for the summer, to give them plenty of shade. They also love to scratch in the dirt around the base of the tree and generally appreciate a change of scenery. The sheep are now very near to lambing, so we have move them onto the bottom pasture near the paste and the river. Once the lambs are born we will open up the top pasture as well and then secure the whole area around them with electric netting.