Sunday, 22 January 2017

January round-up

Still busy in January
Unlike most of the rest of the continent, our mild winter has continued and Jim is still mowing the bottom paddock. When that's done, hopefully he'll get at least six weeks off mowing! Some days we've had 11C so signs of spring are appearing everywhere: rhubarb stalks, rocket leaves, daffodil coming up and even some leaves (elder, rosa rugosa) unfurling.

Because it's been so mild and relatively dry we've decided to forego the DIY projects on the inside and concentrate on the garden while the going is good. We've been moving roses and wildflowers into new locations - this sounds like a pleasant, easy job but involved a surprising amount of stone removal. All the raised beds have had fresh compost added and Jim's already dug over quite a lot of the veg garden. Soon it will be time to lift the first of the large black plastic covers off the three new growing areas for this year. Fingers crossed they won't be as stony as last year's!

Dredging the pond
The big outdoor job this month has been the dredging of the wildlife pond. This has to happen to some extent every year so that there is somewhere for the frogs and toads to deposit their spawn and provide us with lots of slug-chomping offspring. Otherwise the yellow iris and grasses would choke it completely. The more trees we plant the lower the water table in the paddock seems to go. We reckon it is a good six inches lower than when we started. This is good, as it was excessively wet in places.

Celeriacs: funny-looking and tasty
Another large outdoor job we've started is the clearance of the last remaining bramble thicket in the south-east corner of the garden, behind the pond. It's maybe only a third of the size of the bramble patch we cleared last year, but some of them are big, old and tough enough to break a garden fork! This is the corner from which we have occasional mooligan ingress so we want to plant a prickly rosa rugosa double hedge to keep those pesky cattle out. And then we'll have to think about what to do with the remaining space.

Winter veg selection

We've still got lots of winter veggies - oca, Jerusalem artichokes, celeriacs, leeks, swedes, cabbage, kale, Daubenton's kale, chard, perennial onions, rocket, celtuce. Only the parsnips have run out and the squashes are down to two. We have about 16 purple-sprouting broccolis sprouting away so hopefully from next month broccoli will be back on the menu. In fact, we have so many nice green broccoli leaves that we decided to kimchi them (along with Jerusalem artichokes and kale, the two other veg we have most of at the moment).

Preparing kimchi
The kimchi has been a great addition to our diet. We have some almost everyday - just like in Korea! It's very energising stuff and wonderful for the digestion. The other new addition to our diet is homemade ice cream. We acquired a Chilly ice cream maker (non-electrical, basically a double-skinned stainless steel pot with cooling element all around) and it makes wonderful ice cream and frozen yoghurt. We got it in preparation for our berry harvest and now it looks like we'll need to get an additional freezer, too!

Wood chopping under the rainbow

In between the additional garden jobs, work on processing the remainder of our 25-tonne log pile continues. It's going down, but looks like there will be ample for this winter and spring. Another goal for this year is to build a proper wood shed.


  1. Well, it certainly doesn't look like January. Much more fun to be busy outside than stuck indoors doing DIY! Your veg look great, still plenty of variety which is so good at this time of year. Good luck with the ice cream maker, should be great with all your lovely fresh eggs . . . but freezer space is an issue! We are thinking ours is a bit wee for two so might have to review in the light of the produce to (hopefully)come this year.

    1. Jim is fitting a second freezer right now! He's already made amazing chocolate ice cream.


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