Friday, 2 October 2009

Just when I thought it was safe................. come out of the kitchen!! I spent a while yesterday preparing Bramley apples, bottling 7 good jars for over the winter. Pleased to see I was down to just under 1/4 of a sack left. Friend from up the road turns up with these:

Not a problem, but a lot of apples, and promises of plenty more to come. The best of these will be stored for eating, the rest will go for cider maybe, or wine.
Then I just ahve to deal with the 1/4 sackful LOL.

Yesterday, I came back with this little autumn bouquet for the hall shelf:
There's still a lot of colour around; these were picked within yards of each other near the end of the lane - old man's beard, rowan, rosehip, elderberry, wild hop, ivy, comfrey and hawthorn. Really pretty, and a real piece of autumn.

Gandhi Jayanti

"Non violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our very being"

Mahatma Ghandi, War or Peace, "Young India" 1926

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, know as Mahatma Gandhi, was born on this day in 1869; his birthday is celebrated in India s Gandhi Jayandi, a public holiday on which people pay tribute to the "father of the nation".

Born in Porbandar, Kathiawar, Gandhi studied law in London and worked as a lawyer in South Africa for more than twenty years before returning to his native land in 1914. After WW1 he became involved in India's Home Rule movement, leading a series of non-violent campaigns of civil disobedience for which he was repeatedly arrested and imprisoned. Revered by the Indian people as a moral teacher, and always ready to practise what he preached, Gandhi sought to create a more equal and less amterialistic society. His diminutive dhoti-clad figure, seen on newsreels worldwide, became a symbol of the principles he held so dear.
Gandhi's negotiations with the British government eventually bore fruit: in 1947, India was granted independence from the UK. The separate state of Pakistan was created for the Muslim minority, but the continuing strife between Hindus and Muslims caused Gandhi great distress in the last months of his life. His advocacy of religious tolerance was resented by extremists, and he was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic on 30th January 1948.

Chambers Book of Days

Just a very brief overview there; find out more about him and his life here:

Have a look at this too:

Today, I light my candle for Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, 1 October 2009


The woods never look more beautiful than from the close of last month to the middle of October, for by that time it seems as if nature had exhausted all her choicest colours on the foliage. We see the rich, burnished bronze of the oak; red of many hues, up to the gaudiest scarlet; every shade of yellow from the wan gold of the primrose to the deep orange of the tiger lily.... and all so blended and softened together in parts, that like the colours on a dove's neck, we cannot tell where one begins and the other ends.

Anglo-Saxon names for October include Wynmonath ("wine month") and Winterfyllith (referring to a calendar in which the full moon of this month marked the beginning of winter). The Irish Gaelic name also makes premature reference to the changing of the seasons: Deireadh Fomhair means the "end of autumn"

Chambers Book of Days


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
one from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow! For the grapes' sake,
if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost--
For the grapes' sake along the all.

Robert Frost

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Enjoying the autumn tasks..............

I hesitate to call them chores as these tasks are very enjoyable, especially the outdoor ones in the crisp air of the morning, bumping into cobwebs and feeling the dew soak into your socks LOL

First job of the day was cutting the squashes:

Not a huge harvest, the plants went in a bit later than they should, but there's ample for us and I'm pleased with it, and it should see us through until spring, kept properly. There are Marina de Chioggia, a green acorn squash, two Amish Pie squashes and a couple of little Sweet Dumplings. Some things you just have to take a photo of!

Mother Nature lends a hand! I found that these ripe sunflower seeds had been neatly collected as they dropped, into the leaf of a squash planted nearby- how convenient is that?

In the kitchen, the autumn tasks continue with the mixing of the Christmas pudding. It's mellowing in its bowl now, I'll leave it for 24 hours and cook it tomorrow. It smells wonderful, couple with the rich raspberry aroma from the last batch of Autumn Bliss jam on the stove. Heaven in a kitchen.

Why bother growing heritage/heirloom seeds?

I shall tell you why :)
When folks get into gardening, they start off with "easy" vegetables and fruit, if there is such a thing. Highly bred seeds, F1s, bred to give maximum yield and reliability. As they get keener and more interested, the search is on to find something maybe a little different, something with an interesting history, something gleaned or swapped from a friend. The internet has made all sorts of seeds available worldwide too, and at the click of a button, you can have a little slice of history delivered right through your letterbox. All well and good. These seeds get sown, nurtured, start to crop..........that's where the problem starts, or rather the perceived problem.
These seeds are natural seeds. Saved and sorted down through generations of growers, from times when the yields expected by some of their vegetables today were unheard of, or considered unobtainable. People grew a wide variety of vegetables to see them through the whole year, maybe having enough surplus to preserve for over winter, or towards harder times. Seasonal eating was the order of the day, and several varieties of one type of vegetable were grown, to crop at intervals over a longer period. The yields are smaller with heritage varieties, as that's how plants are *meant* to be; not overbred monstrosities yielding enough of one single crop and type of crop to sink a small battle ship........................ You will never get a comparable crop form a heritage variety, compared to a F1, but why would you want to?
With the modern F1 seeds, bred for maximum yield, the vegetables are all ready at once - runner beans anyone? Courgettes? I rest my case LOL. There are a manic few days of harvesting, picking, chopping, topping and tailing, freezing (runner beans? Just don't...............yuck)
For me, the joy of growing heritage varieties is manageability - several types of old beans cropping over a good few weeks; old varieties of squash with fascinating names, conjuring up images of times past; leeks that mature at different times, even though they are all the same variety, planted out at the same time; tomatoes to pick right through the summer into October.......... how nature intended it, no?
As well as the picking fresh issue, there should be no huge gluts to deal with;on various gardening etc forums, I read of folk run ragged trying to get everything prepared for preserving, stuff left to rot and fester as they have no time to do it all. They can't give it away - others have the same problem with bean overload......... Surely it would be better to forego the gluts and eat little and often of a greater variety?
A case in instance - the Cherokee Trail of Tears beans. I've grown these for many years, and they have grown in status as more folks become aware of the history behind them - the Cherokees taking them with them when they were forced off their homelands. Now, with the best will in the world, I could never describe this as a high yielding bean, per plant. The trick with these, if you want a good sized crop is to plant many plants. Otherwise, pick them when they are green, over two or three days to get a meal's worth - they keep very well in the fridge over that small time period wrapped in a damp tea towel. Mine are over now, the vines withering on the poles, the last of the beans were saved for seed for next year, lovely little shiny black packages of promise for late spring sowing.
I don't want a freezer full of soggy, insipid beans mid-winter; I want fresh, vital, nutritious beans *in their season*. In winter, I want the winter veg - sprouts, parsnips, leeks, kales, cabbages........... Likewise , I wouldn't want to eat frozen parsnips in summer. There is a place and a season for everything, including vegetables.
Lastly, but not least, there is the keeping alive of old varieties; we may need them in the future, who knows? We may not, who knows? I really feel strongly that they should be saved - variety really is the spice of life and to let the huge conglomerate seed companies muscle in even further and control what is literally a growing aspect of lcoal food supplies to me would be a huge and terrible mistake.

I urge you to seek out a few and give them a go, you can't fail to be rewarded, even it is only the pleasure of watching crimson flowered broad beans or purple podded peas or golden yellow mange tout or gorgeously multi-coloured sweetcorn rambling through your veg patch.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Happy bunny!

Here's my entry for the Guild competition last weekend (no prize, but I enjoyed the project) - thought you'd like to see her. Knitted in handspun Gotland fleece, very soft and a beautiful colour.
She makes me smile. LOL

Surely the time for all this sort of thing is past?

I don't think I need to comment, really, do I? Apart from a huge sigh of despair perhaps.


Today is Michaelmas, the Feast Day of St Michael.

Michaelmas chickens and parsons' daughters never come to good - traditional saying

MIchalemas is one of four days on which quarterly rents are paid. The tradition of serving goose for dinner on this day may stem from the practice of giving one's landlord a bird as a gift. It was also thought that eating goose on this day would bring financial prosperity in the year to come.

And when the tenants come to pay their quarter's rent,
They bring some folw at midsummer, a dish of fish in Lent,
At Christmas a capon, at Michaelmas a goose,
And somehwat else at New-year's tide, for fear their lease fly loose.

Weather lore associated with this day:

So many days old the moon is on Michaelmas Day, so many floods after

If St Michael brings many acorns, Christmas will cover the fields with snow

A dark Michaelmas, a light Christmas

We won't be having a goose today for supper - it's cottage pie, I think. I've cooked and eaten goose twice, both times at Christmas. I did enjoy it, a lovely, rich meat, but not the most economical of things to buy! Worth it once or twice as a special treat just to taste it. I don't think it's widely eaten in Scotland, so I'd not much to do with it until I moved to England. I suppose it was very different when a lot of households reared their own geese along with their poultry. Having animals myself, I realise how expensive it is to rear them - food, housing, the work involved in preparing them for the table, etc, so I can see how the price is justified. I'd like geese of my own one day, but MrL not keen here for some reason. I'd like to make some quill pens too.............

Monday, 28 September 2009

Quote for a Monday.............

"I loved my garden, and my garden loved me back"

Treska Lydia Stein (M.E.N. 235)

I would like to go here..................

Wonder if they'd let me move in? LOL


I like Mondays. I've always liked Mondays. Even though technically (?) speaking Sunday is seen as the first day of a calendar week, I think most folks see Monday as the real start . Although I haven't gone out to a paid job for a while now, I still work within the working week framework - work Monday to Friday, with a mroe relaxed Saturday, and try to have Sundays "off".
What I like about Mondays is the fact you can re-invent yoruself every week LOL.

This will be the week I................(fill in the blanks)

This will be the week I catch up on the housework/cleaning/laundry/letter writing/bills/gardening/mending etc etc etc, and by the end of the week (ie Friday) my life will be a shining example of organised calm and productiveness.

Er no, doesn't work like that, at least not here! By Friday I have inevitably done a lot of kntting, baking, spinning, reading,etc while the ironing mountain threatens to engulf the storeroom and teh wine still isn;t bottled, teh veg beds still not tidied...........
Ah well. Must try harder.

Climate change farming

Hugely interesting programme on Radio 4 early yesterday (Sunday) in the On Your Farm strand.

My friend MarkD played host to an interviewer from Radio 4 to talk about his venture into climate change farming and growing. Well worth a listen, literally food for thought.

Follow Mark and his venture on his Otter Farm blog:

Let me know what you think if you listen, or heard it yesterday.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

What's made me laugh today......................

This has - someone's avatar on Ravelry, but I just had to share as it made me laugh out loud LOL