Monday, 9 November 2009

First frosts at KB

There's no doubting it: winter is upon us. One of the first frosts of the year has covered the plots in crisp ice shards. The leaf mulch pile is steaming in the sunshine as it defrosts, and that last marrow is destined for the oven. The nasturtium isn't looking too hot either. It's time for rest, hot chocolates and DVDs.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

New beds

Hard labour over several weeks has added 11 beds to the existing 4 - plus lots of space to play with insect attracting flowers, a wildlife wood pile, herb boxes and a "fruit slope" of raspberries. The bay leaf tree in the middle is growing and growing, as are the lemon balm bushes. The herbs are also all labelled up to help with identifying and picking. Good work all round!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Justin's lentil&chard stew

Our very first recipe! Courtesy of Justin. Enjoy!

5-6 large leaves Rainbow Chard (or other leafy green veg)
200g Green or Brown Lentils
50g Pot Barley
1/2 Red Onion
1-2 cloves Garlic
8-10 cupsWater
3 tbsp Sunflower Oil
15 Black Peppercorns
2-3 Bay Leaves
2 tbspMarjoram (dried)
1 tbspPaprika
3 tbspTomato Puree
1 Vegetable Stock Cube (optional)
Sea Salt to taste

Soak barley 6 hours, and lentils ½ hour prior to cooking. Dice onion, carrot and garlic. Chop chard leaves. Heat oil in pan and fry onion until lightly browned, then add garlic, paprika, marjoram, and bay leaves. Stir and fry 30 seconds. Add lentils and barley and water, and bring to boil. Crush peppercorns and add to pot. Add stock cube (optional) and tomato puree. Reduce heat and simmer 30-40 minutes or until lentils and barley become tender. Add more water as required. Add carrot and chard, return to boil and simmer 10 minutes.

Serve stew on its own, or over mashed potatoes or rice. Serves 3-4.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Marrow plots

Colours in the marrow plots: orange nasturtiums (leaves and flowers add peppery sharpness to salads) and marrow flowers, which are also edible in salads or stuffed and cooked. Recipes to follow!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Healthy herb oven chips

potatoes, as many as will fit the oven
olive oil

Wash (don't peel) the potatoes. Cut thin potatoes (like pink apple) lengthways in quarters, thicker ones into wedge shapes. Dry wedge surfaces very thoroughly on dry kitchen towels, rub with oil, salt and oregano and bake in a 200C oven until edges are deep brown and middles soft. No need to pre-heat - it's a waste of good energy.

Warm beetroot salad

3 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
4 small beetroots with leaves
4 rainbow chard leaves
olive oil
black pepper
balsamic vinegar

Slice shallots and garlic. Cut beetroot into thin chip shapes (2-3mm wide), and coarse chop beetroot leaves. Chop chard stems and leaves separately. Fry shallots and garlic in olive oil, add beetroot chips and chard stems, cover and fry until tender (but still cruncy), add a little water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in chard and beetroot leaves until just wilted, serve warm, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Delicious with goat's cheese as a starter, or side dish.

October overview

Runner beans and sweetcorn companion planted. This was a permaculture idea by a Canadian student who came across runner beans running up sweetcorn stems, removing the need for bamboo poles. In Scotland our experiment includes poles - just in case - just as well, as the runner beans grew to 3 times the height of the sweetcorn and even bent the bamboo poles under the weight of ever replenishing lovely beans! The sweetcorn have produced very very tasty but rather petite cobs (amazing!), and are bending over in wind alone - maybe not a great support plant in this climate. Beans need a sturdier scaffold next year. Bean recipes to follow!

Parsnips are poking out among the weeds now! Our latest crop this year.

Pink apple potatoes, and mini beetroot finally dug up. Herb chips and warm beetroot salad ensue!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Harvest - what a way to start!

In a brief visit to the garden after two weeks of absence, David and I found two 17" courgettes! Only two plants made in through the slug attack, and have produced 4 large ones each so far. I keep walking around work with large courgettes in my handbag - and the comments keep coming as you might expect.
The bean poles were leaning diagonally under the weight of runner beans, so we came to the rescue. Bean curry anyone? The rainbow chard has shot up since planting out, the yellow, pink and white ones make a great salad - the red ones are better cooked as they're quite tough. Sweetcorn are looking like they want attention soon - the maize hair is browning on the crowns. Hmmm fried in butter...

The new plot is looking great, except Alexandra's poor flower that has been demolished by slugs. Someone has weeded another two beds ready for sewing - can't wait to see what!

On the old plot we've taken down the old bean poles and dug up the pink apple potatoes - David's first potato harvest. This was also the first outing of my new camera, and I can't recommend alternating potato digging with lens handling. From originally 12 seed potatoes in April we filled a tray...

The tomatoes in the greenhouse have been less prolific, though the 100s and 1000s plant in our kitchen window at home just keeps them coming - tomatoes and greenfly galore. In the picture: mini, gardener's delight, yellow and pink plum tomatoes.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

KB grounds

Billy's hard work is paying off - the gardens are looking beautiful again on the turn to autumn. How do they keep those flowers going???