Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Fresh Crop (but just ideas)


Well it’s been a busy summer and, as usual, we’ve rather been swept away by everything. This year we’ve been extending and renovating the house and, as a result of moving out and all, the whole place has been somewhat neglected. That said, with everyone now back home, the building has a “new” feel to it, and this will hopefully encourage a similar wave of enthusiasm to get stuff done outside. The depleted bank account will also hopefully help this push for more self-sufficiency.
 
Hopefully

Part of the Logpile
(Note the building site sign still up on the left - we might leave it...)

Apart from the neglect, one of the major legacies from the build is lots of spare timber. This is in no small part thanks to the removal of the decking that surrounded the house which had, in the last couple of years, become somewhat treacherous - the decking was so slippery we could probably have made a bit of money renting the place to folks with unwanted, elderly in-laws, but I digress. We like timber. Timber can be used to make lots of things that we’ve wanted to make since we moved in like beehives and chicken arks. Whether we make them or not, of course, remains to be seen, but there are lots of exciting possibilities. First up will be a decent saw-horse to cut up everything we want to cut up, and the bigger bits will probably be the edges to some new raised beds. The downside to this is removing all the screws and nails from the timber to make it at least half-safe – three weekends down, and its nearly done…

Garlic and beans in greenhouse
Of course, there’s plenty of distractions to keep us otherwise occupied. As we discovered at the start of the year, the orchard needs to be moved at some point this winter and we haven’t decided to where yet. We’re hoping to plant Willow to supplement our firewood, having identified the long-overlooked “Piggery” as the perfect place to fail doing this, so need to start collecting Willow cuttings from around and about – we reckon there’s room for about 300 (perhaps we should re-name the Piggery as Thermopylae – I suspect the Willows will be outnumbered by the weeds!). The list is rather endless… We have at least managed to plant and sow some of next year’s crop: GarlicCristo’ and four Broad Bean varieties (Aquadulce Claudia, The Sutton, Jubilee Hysor and Red Epicure). This is the first time we’ve remembered to sow Broad Beans in the autumn, and the first time we’ve planted Garlic (although everything is in the greenhouse at the moment) – hopefully a sign we’re better organised already?
 

Saffron Crocus
(the most beautiful veg?)
Saffron harvest
(This IS a bumper crop!)
On a final note, we’ve had one great success this year! So-called “gourmet” veg has generally been disappointing for us (although I still hold out hope that we’ll actually get a crop of Asparagus next year). However, we did manage to grow and harvest some Saffron, which is continuing to crop as I write. We got the Crocus sativus at the Ploughing Championships, and put them in pots until we can think of what to do with them, and lo-and-behold have started producing flowers. Of course, it isn’t exactly a high-yielding crop – the stigmas are small enough fresh, and shrivel to even less when dried (which we’re doing by placing them between kitchen towels and leaving them on a shelf in the kitchen – it seems to work!), but the supreme one-upmanship you get from being able to say we’re growing our own saffron usefully ignores this fact!

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