Saturday, 27 October 2012

Green Tomato Chutney

This has been the most wonderful success story for me this year. I bought some date tomatoes from our local farm shop in May and liked the taste so much that I decided to try to grow some myself, from seed. So I dried five seeds from one tomato, planted them in potting soil in an old yoghurt pot and once they were strong enough, planted them outside on the terrace where they could get as much sun as possible.

 These are the same plants about 6 weeks later. I wasn't sure if the bees would do their job this year - in the last two years we had very few tomatoes because the bees were so few and so there was very little pollination. So to help them along I brushed the stamens of the flowers with a fine paintbrush. Whether it was I or the bees or a combination - I don't know...
But whatever, it seemed to do the trick and from that point onwards we had tomatoes galore.

I took advantage of a week off work because of a bad cold, and when I was feeling well enough again, I put the vegetable garden to bed for the winter, harvested the last butternut squash (they tasted marvellous, by the way), cleared away the dead plants - we had our first frost at the beginning of last week, and in readiness for snow, which would arrive today, I brought in three of the tomato plants which still had fruit on them, and have put them in a vacant bedroom (sorry Hannah - only while you're away!) to ripen up the last fruits.

As you can see, after two days inside, one is already beginning to turn red.  With the other unripe green tomatoes, I have made green tomato chutney.

Made with dates, sultanas, onions and coriander seeds which had been in the cupboard far too long, instead of mustard seeds, because I hadn't any. I have to say that it tastes fabulous.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

September SFG video - This time: Squashed Underpants

The latest video, icluding the continuing butternut squash saga.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Just a quick update - not very good quality I'm afraid. But those butternut squashes are just sprouting out all over!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Canadian Authorities Want to Destroy this Garden

Just another example of ridiculous, draconian, small-mindedness. When we're all being told we should eat more healthily, here's a wonderful example of a couple who actually use the resources they own; their own land, to do so, only to be told that it's forbidden.

The Beauchamps' blog:

Please sign their petition!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Just a bit more of my spring garden project... These are parsley, rosemary, basil, chives, sage, something that tastes of garlic but I can't remember its name (it's not wild garlic - it looks like a silvery grass) lemon thyme and lemon verbena on my kitchen window sill. They brighten up our terrace, which frankly, needs it.  

These are three different tomato plants which I bought at the organic food store yesterday. One's called an 'Oxenherz' - 'Ox Heart' - presumably because of its red, heart-shaped fruit, one is a small cocktail tomato (at the front) and the other is an ordinary red one. We're not going away this summer, so I thought I'd risk it and try growing tomatoes on the terrace again. God willing, we'll have more sun  than we had last year.

 Mixed lettuces in one of my 2x4s, with one square of winter portulak and another of spinach. So far, (thank you Lord) the slugs and snails have kept off it. I heard recently though, that old coffee grounds keep slugs at bay, so I'm going to try this out. 
 Because of the ravaging the deer gave my sweet peas last year, I thought I'd try sowing the seeds in window boxes on the terrace. It's far more sheltered than outside in the garden, being roofed with undulating plastic sheets, and I was able to sow the seeds in plastic trays inside in March, planting them out in April. I really hope we'll have a wonderful tangle of colour and scent here in the summer evenings.

Three butternut squash saplings. I sowed these out
a couple of weeks ago. Only one germinated of
those I originally sowed, so I tried another three and two have got going. As soon as the Eis Heiligen are over (May 10-15) I'll plant them out. It would be wonderful to have the trellis which I made last year come into its own this year at last.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Sowing Seeds and SFG Update

 I finally made it outside this morning and have done some work in the Square Foot Garden. :)

After winter finally took its welcome leave, I cleared up the SFG beds, was delighted to find that my rocket had survived again, and collected three large sacks of horse manure from a local riding stables, one of which I have worked into the soil. I also worked in some compost.

I have also managed to dig over what has been, for the last two years, my potato bed. I dunged it, and after ordering 25 green asparagus rhyzomes, I planted them out in the middle of April (some were a but mouldy because I left them in the plastic bag they were packed in a bit too long - but most were ok) and I now have two rows of wonderful asparagus shoots sticking up.
I've sown 'Blaues Wunder' flax seeds from Bantam (guaranteed GM free) between the two asparagus rows, which will not only look pretty in a while, but which will also be good for the soil and asparagus. The soil here is very sandy, but this is ideal for asparagus, and so far the shoots look fine. The great thing about asparagus is that it doesn't only taste wonderful, but after planting it out, it basically looks after itself for years. I can't harvest it until next year at the earliest, so it'll be great just to let it grow, give it the occasional dunging and have the joyful anticipation of years of scrumptious green asparagus spears every May-June. Bees love sunflowers, apparently, so I've transplanted some bird-sown sunflowers which were sprouting on our terrace and sown some organic sunflower seeds in the middle row where the flax seeds are, between the asparagus rows. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the whole bed looks in a few months' time. Hopefully, spectacular and an eye-catcher for the whole garden.

I have planted spinach seeds, which are now sprouting well too. A square patch of sandy soil next to my 3x3 SFG bed is now planted out with GM free sweet corn seeds which I also got from Bantam. I bought them at my local EBL organic food shop.

Sugar snap peas, or Mangetout have gone into five squares of my 3x3 and in three squares I've also sown more Blaues Wunder flax seeds. Three Spring Cabbage seeds have been sown in three 4x4 squares as well. In the square patch on the right of this next picture, I have sown 15 sweet corn kernels - and really hope that they'll take well to the soil.
I was thrilled to discover some common morels growing in the bed of apple mint behind the beds in the left hand picture which I have dried and can add to any dish that needs mushrooms. That was a blessing. They only appear for a short time in spring, and then only after rain. Apparently they are highly sought after and not easy to grow commercially. I put a couple into a beef and Guiness stew at the beginning of April. Delicious.

Oh yes, and bang on schedule, like a little miracle, the Golden Oriole is fluting away here for the first time since last summer. It is such a thrill to hear this beautiful bird, which sounds so tropical, in the oak woods around our house. It is really incredible to think that it migrates all the way from Central or Southern Africa and India and arrives here to breed every year, on the same day, 3rd May. Absolutely amazing.


I haven't written for a while, partly because I've had so much work to do, and partly because I've been really put off by the new blog layout which has been forced on us. It was perfectly alright before and I liked it that way. Why do people always think they have to change everything all the time? I have enough to do without having to take extra time to get used to a new format, however good it might look. I also don't like the fact that it was forced on everyone by default.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Apicoectomy - natural mouth washes

Not a very nice topic - but I've just had one of these unpleasant operations, and now have a throbbing mouth and stitches. The alternative would have been worse pain, and probably losing a tooth at least, eventually.
Did you know that camomile tea is a brilliant and mild wash for wounds? I used to use an ointment called 'Bonjela' for the occasional mouth ulcer when I was a child, (you can still get it in the UK) but when I came to live in Germany, I couldn't buy it, so I began to use camomile tea instead. It's just as effective.  So I'm drinking camomile tea for the wound in my gum now.

Another good wash is salt water. It's wonderfully disinfecting. When I had my ears pierced at 18, I used salt water to dab on the wounds in my ear lobes. They healed up in no time. I also use salt water with a dash of lemon juice for a sore throat in the early stages. It tastes weird, but gargling with this every 10 minutes or so really helps.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

 Thanks to  that wonderful blog, 'Down to Earth', which I seriously think is one of the best simple living blogs I have ever read so far, I have been inspired to pull myself together and finish making my sloe gin. I've had a lot of language teaching work in the last three months, which has put a lot of things on hold, but due to some root canal treatment which has meant I've had to cancel teaching for the rest of the week, I have some time on my hands. So having finished preparing all my next immediate lessons this morning, I decided to hit the gin. (In the non-addictive manner, of course. I'm
on penicillin, after all ;))
It's a very simple matter of decanting the gin through a sieve through a funnel into pretty bottles. It has been sitting still for three weeks since I stopped turning the bottle and its contents upside down and right side up for two months, every day. Write and stick nice labels on the bottles (thanks to Lakeland Plastics for those) and hey presto!