New Flower Bed

Here’s an idea, why not make a flower bed out of an old table? Well I have! I had a very sad looking garden table, turned it upside down, cut it’s legs off and now I have a quite spacious but manageable flower bed πŸ™‚

That old table now contains, lavender, seedum, geraniums and some tulip bulbs for the spring., I’ve never started a bed from scratch like that before so I’m very pleased πŸ™‚

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Latest Produce report

Despite the major neglect of the garden it is still producing wonderful things for me!

I think it’s the best year for beetroot in a long time and my carrots haven’t had carrot fly this year πŸ™‚

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…and the first proper fruiting of a young apple tree. The apples are still quite sour so have to stay a bit longer, but I must keep an eye out for scavengers!

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We’ll soon be building a new chicken house, so watch out for that πŸ™‚ I’m very excited!

Garden Success

How do you see success in your garden? Are you like me expecting that you can achieve what you might Β consider great things as well as working and looking after you family and your house?! I continually have to put this success into perspective. There is only so much time you can put into growing things unless you are putting all of your time into being self sufficient (so my husband keeps telling me)!

I’ve just been out to explore the garden that gets attended way less than I’d like, to pick some things for lunch and this is some of what I saw.

I have pumpkins,

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beetroot,

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chillies,

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peppers

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and tomatoes

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and my husband says I should call this success! πŸ™‚

We Made a Pond

We just went outside one day and collected everything together, gradually placing things where we wanted them. The only thing we actually bought was a couple of pond plants! πŸ™‚pond-1 pond-2 pond-3 There’s a frog under there!pond-4 pond-5There’s still a bit to do, but I’m happy πŸ™‚

Chutney

I Love preserving and I hate waste.

Everyone knows who grows them, that courgettes are prone to be very prolific and grow very big very quickly. Chutney is one of the answers to not wasting them (another is chickens, they are happy to eat what you can’t manage!) This recipe is inspired by Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage Glutney’. Basicly you can through most things in and it comes out great! πŸ™‚ Here’s Hugh’s recipe with my pictures! πŸ™‚

1kg courgettes, unpeeled if small, peeled if huge, cut into 1cm dice (or use pumpkin later in the season)
1kg red or green tomatoes, scalded, skinned and roughly chopped (or 1kg plums, stoned and chopped)
1kg cooking or eating apples, peeled and diced
500g onions, peeled and diced
500g sultanas or raisins
500g light brown sugar
750ml white-wine or cider vinegar, made up to 1 litre with water
1-3 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp salt
For the spice bag
1 thumb-sized nugget of fresh or dried ginger, roughly chopped
12 cloves
12 black peppercorns
1 (generous) tsp coriander seeds
A few blades of mace

Put the vegetables and fruit in a large, heavy-based pan with the sultanas or raisins, sugar, vinegar and water, chilli flakes and salt.

Make up the spice bag by tying all the spices in a square of muslin or cotton. Add the spice bag to the pan, pushing it into the middle.

Chutney 1

Heat the mixture gently, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, and bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for 2-3 hours, uncovered, stirring regularly to ensure it does not burn on the bottom of the pan.Β 

Chutney 2

The chutney is ready when it is rich, thick and reduced, and parts to reveal the base of the pan when a wooden spoon is dragged through it. If it starts to dry out before this stage is reached, add a little boiling water.

Chutney 3

Pot up the chutney while still warm (but not boiling hot) in sterilised jars with plastic-coated screw-top lids (essential to stop the vinegar interacting with the metal). Leave to mature for at least two weeks – ideally two months – before serving. Β·

Chutney 4

Warning: Don’t mistake tea spoons for table spoons for the chilli flakes like I did!!! Mind you a nice hot and spicy chutney is nice πŸ™‚

No Stock Cube Necessary

The weather’s changed here in the UK so it’s time to make soup!

We’re onto winter vegetables and over grown courgettes here at hillside lodge and so vegetable soup is on the menu.

Always start with some form of onion or leek, it doesn’t matter which, nicely chopped. This is where you throw in the garlic if you want it and herbs.Soup 1
I’ve added bay leaves, loveage, and thyme. fry gently then add your veg until they’re heated through. Lovage tastes similar to celery so add some celery stalks instead if you like.

Soup 2 Soup 3 Soup 4
Add boiling water from the kettle, you can judge how much. It depends how thick you like your soup. Add a tsp of sea salt and a few pepper corns.Soup 5
Cook until the veg are cooked, then crush a little with a potato masher or put in a liquidiser to finish.Soup 6
See, no need for a stock cube! πŸ™‚

Fakenham Market Finds

Well actually, this was not found on the market, it was found on market day in a charity shop! I’m really loving the wonderful, kitsch, perpetual calendar I found. It’s a real blast from the 70’s when I was growing up. I got this fab thing for just Β£1.00.P1030670
It beats peering at a screen looking for the date ! πŸ™‚