Sunday, 1 November 2015

The bottom line

Bottom paddock with hedge divisions outlined
We've finally decided what to do with our bottom paddock. This is our winter project (and beyond). Since digging up and moving 45 little oak and ash trees that had been scattered throughout, it has just been an expanse of grass with a generous sprinkling of docks and tussocks. We're going to divide it into five areas with hedges between all of them: a wildlife area around the pond, a soft fruit and nut area (which has already been planted) and three areas for extra bedding. For the hedges, we're thinking field maple for colour, willow to help with drainage and then some tbd to turn it into a nice mixed scheme. Nothing thorny needed here, unlike the outer hedge that needs to keep out the mooligans.

There will be six large beds for easy rotation of the big crops (potatoes, onions, brassicas and grain), for which it can be difficult to find a space in the veg garden that hasn't been used for the same group in the past few years. The remaining beds can have green manure in it or maybe sun flowers (which would save on wild bird food!). We plan to put plastic on them shortly and leave it for at least a year so they should come on stream in spring 2017.

Although several people suggested keeping animals down here - a pig was mooted a few times, ducks, geese and turkeys were mentioned - I think chickens and cats are enough animals for me. I'm reluctant to just keep an animal for meat, especially an intelligent animal like a pig. It's somehow different to 'souping' a chicken that has had three or four good years foraging about. And ducks are just too mucky and such easy prey for Mr Fox.

Soruss and Brown perching
Chickens - fun animals: Ash and Charcoal
The last carrots were harvested and processed today and the last pumpkins came in this week since the ground was sodden after a lot of nocturnal rain in the last fortnight.

More Pink Fairies
We still have half of the 10.85kg pumpkin left, which is seriously delicious. I've made three soups from it, put it into two venison casseroles, made several lots of pumpkin scones, two pumpkin pies and 12 pumpkin muffins.

Pink Fairy inside
We've also started on our Jerusalem artichokes. Chips and roasted whole so far. I especially like them roasted whole in olive oil, skin and all.

Jerusalem artichoke flowers
And tubers
Both the tea plants and the asparagus are doing well 'under cover'.

Asparagus looking a bit more substantial
Jim's got a favourite new toy, a mandolin slicer. This is very useful for slicing our last remaining mooli radishes paper thin, but its main use is going to be making home-made crisps. Just one potato can provide a decent-size snack for two. Makes you wonder about the profits of the crisp manufacturers.

Sliced, washed and dried
Deep-fried in small batches
Drained, salted, peppered and herbed
Best crisps ever!


  1. You can take it from me: in at the most three years you'll be moaning that there is no place to rotate the crops. We started our colonial garden (the neighbour's fallow paddock) for exactly that purpose - and like all colonial area, we feel it should be expanded now... First there is the feeling that you have extra plot of land and thus can experiment with something new, then the new article proves good and will be a permanent feature - and there goes the extra land.

  2. Encouraged by your experience, Pekka made for the first ever time potato chips today. You are right: homemade chips are delicious!