Posted in Autumn

Compost

My compost needed work as it had gone awry! It was overtaken with vegetation, especially nettles. I forgot to take a photo before me and my wonderful garden helper started our work, but all three compost bins were looking like the one on the far side of this photo.

I think I will be able to fill our brown bin several times with the foliage we cleared away, although I do like to keep as much as possible within our garden. I may well find a place in a dark corner to put it, so that any creatures can snuggle into for the winter.

We topped off the heap that was being put to bed to do it’s thing, with leaves raked from our paths

and then covered it and secured it with pieces of paving.

The compost below is ready to be used to mulch in the polytunnel and some saved to sow seeds in the spring. Then as you can see it is next to be filled with our yummy waste for the worms etc. to make into compost for us.

Below is the heap that is next to be used. I just want to show you this because on the top is wool carpet which I used to help to suppress the nettles that has started to compost down. I will now put that in with the new compost I’m making with our other organic waste, ready to make the next lot of compost.

My compost bins are now a thing of beauty ready for over wintering.

Posted in Autumn, challenges, Hints & Tips

Rubbish

I am extra pleased with how we are managing to keep our non-recycle-able waste to a minimum. This is our rubbish bin waiting for our fortnightly collection ๐Ÿ™‚ We are also trying to have what is called a dry bin in the kitchen which means not using a bin bag. It takes thinking about and a little extra effort, but if you put your mind to it, it cuts down on un-neccesary waste.

Posted in Autumn, challenges, Food, gardening, Greenhouse, Hints & Tips, Organic Gardening, Preserving, Self reliance, vegetables

Tomatoes

Despite the neglect, my tomatoes a doing surprisingly well ๐Ÿ™‚ They are showing signs of irregular watering but still taste delicious!ย ย 
The same goes for my peppers and chillies.

I’m planning to roast and preserve the peppers in olive oil


and dry and freeze the chillies ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted in Autumn, Flowers, gardening, Hints & Tips, In the garden, Recycling, Reusing, Self reliance

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted in Autumn, Food, gardening, In the garden, Organic Gardening, Permaculture, plants, vegetables

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

produce-1

…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!

produce-2

We’ll soon be building a new chicken house, so watch out for that ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m very excited!

Posted in Autumn, challenges, Food, Fruit, gardening, Greenhouse, In the garden, Organic Gardening, Polytunnel, Self reliance, vegetables

Garden Success

How do you see success in your garden? Are you like me expecting that you can achieve what you might ย 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted in Autumn, cooking, Food, gardening, Hints & Tips, home, Jams & Jellys, Organic Gardening, Preserving, Self reliance, vegetables

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! ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s Hugh’s recipe with my pictures! ๐Ÿ™‚

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.ย 

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. ยท

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted in Autumn, cooking, Food, home, Organic Gardening, Self reliance, vegetables

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! ๐Ÿ™‚