Pleasing potato progress

First early potatoes coming along nicely

Just for the record here is the current progress with my very limited potatoes after 6 weeks in the ground. There may only be two short rows but I have very high expectations for them!

It’s all looking very good at the moment and there has been very little signs of weeds or pests (so far). Last weekend I even went through a token effort of earthing them up.

It may not have been strictly necessary to do any earthing up but the work helped to emphasise the progress the plants are making.

To my untrained eye these are looking good and I anticipate a first harvest somewhere around early July.

However I’m not sure I can resist the temptation to dig up one plant towards the end of June just to see how things are going.

I’m not so sure that my efforts with chitting in two batches has made any difference though. The row nearest the fence started chitting a few weeks ahead of the others but the plants all seem to be the same size at the moment!

The only remaining work that I really should get sorted out is to install a soaker hose which I plan to run off the newest water butt. At this rate I think the harvest may well be in before I get around to putting the irrigation in place!


Ginger wine

After hearing about a ginger wine recipe from Twitter (big thanks to @Geordie_racer) it was off to the local homebrew shop for the necessary equipment.

Being a complete novice at this I was a bit lost but blindly following the instructions I had been given. Luckily the very helpful man in the shop gave me lots of useful advice and then sold me all the right bits of kit.

On the way back there was a quick stop at the greengrocers for the produce needed and then everything was set for some home chemistry play on the cooker.

That is only about £20 outlay in total and we now have a 5ltr demi john gurgling quietly in the corner. I’m starting to wonder where I can put 5 litres of ginger wine but according to the instructions I have 2 weeks to come up with an answer!


Vegetable progress update

The potatoes are finally starting to show signs of life which is encouraging. That is only when compared to the apparently interminable wait for anything to happen of course. I’m sure that I will soon need to worry about earthing them up but for the moment they should be okay.

early potatoes coming up - May 2012

The onion sets that were planted in the veg bed are looking very good – it may not look like that in the photo but trust me on this! Even the extra ones that I planted in various pots around the garden a little later are coming on nicely. I would have planted more but I ran out of space and containers to put them in!

onion sets coming on nicely (with cabbages)

In a probably futile attempt to seize some more vegetable space in the garden I decided to hide some broccoli seedlings behind a few French Marigolds. I’m not sure if that will help with the companion planting but I had some marigolds left over and didn’t want to waste them.

This area is really supposed to be a flower bed anyway but I don’t have anything special to put in there at the moment so I figured it was worth a try. I think I got away with it but only time will tell..

trying to hide the broccoli behind some french marigolds in the flower bed

It’s a jungle out there

imageThe other evening at chicken lock up time it was pouring with rain – nothing new there of course! However, as I went out the back door I spotted a small green visitor on the back step just at the last minute.

I don’t think he realised how close he came to being under my welly boot or how unwelcome his visit might be with the lady of the house in particular. It is enough to say that she doesn’t generally welcome uninvited visitors like this round at our house but of course with the weather being so wet there are quite a few around.

We’re never certain where they come from but suspicion usually falls on the neighbours pond a few doors along. I’ve blocked up any holes at the bottom of our fence but a few still manage to get through apparently. I don’t mind them though and at least they help to keep the slug and snail population down to a manageable level!

The visitor was last seen heading off under our bay tree after I moved them away from the back step. That should also be far enough from the hungry chickens to keep him/her safe for the moment.

It made we wonder though as we have also had a hedgehog in the garden recently and I’m not sure whether hedgehogs and frogs get along. Presumably they would compete for similar food sources but I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I don’t know for sure so I’m off to research the subject!

Further bread making adventures

After my first 2 attempts at bread making (white bread rolls and after that a loaf) had proved fairly successful if slightly stodgy, it was clearly time to up my game and try making brown bread.

We had a great time up at the Rothbury Food and Craft Festival yesterday which had lots of interesting local produce on offer including a tasty goat burger made with meat from Lakewood goats and some excellent Brinkburn goats cheese from Northumberland Cheese.

Stoneground wholemeal flour from Heatherslaw Corn MillApparently the goat burger was made by the clever butchers at  Blagdon Farm Shop so as we had never been there before we headed over afterwards for a flying visit.

I spotted this (probably over-priced) bag of stone ground brown flour which led to the idea of making some wholemeal bread.

The fact that it was produced relatively locally by Heatherslaw Corn Mill at Cornhill-on-Tweed was also an influence I suppose but I didn’t need too much encouragement for a new bread experiment really.

After going through the process which is now fairly familiar to me, the dough was left to rise in the loaf tin on top of the oven as it warmed.

dough risen in the loaf tin before going in the ovenThis time I decided to learn from the stodgy past experience and give the dough more time to rise – a total of 1.5 hours rather than 1 hour during my previous attempts.

Immediately before it went into the oven the whole thing looked very impressive and remarkably professional for me!

There followed a tense wait with much peering through the glass door on the oven while enjoying the fresh baking smells that filled the kitchen. Eventually it was time to take it out of the oven and assess the results of my efforts.

A truly majestic wholemeal loaf and even when sliced it looked good… I think that this lunchtime will be wholemeal bread and goats cheese!

The finished loaf

sliced home-baked wholemeal bread

Size isn’t everything…

imageI’m not sure where this one came from but it was completely unexpected and out of all proportion with the normal eggs we’ve been getting.

In fact I’m not even sure which one of the three dropped this on us and we discussed the likely suspects but when I checked afterwards none of the chickens were walking funny.

There are regularly 3 eggs by mid-morning each day but nothing on this scale – the moment just had to be preserved for posterity with a picture and a dedicated blog update.

Right now it’s still in the fridge for the moment as I think we’re all a little nervous about what may be inside!