Imbolc

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One of my aims for this year is to learn more about the special days of the year following the pagan calendar. I have always been interested in the changing of the seasons and the solstices, but I want to learn more. I plan to post on each special day this year with a reflection on what is happening in my garden and what I am up to. This is an extension of last years project, looking at changes in my garden each month.

Today is February 2nd – Imbolc. Today marks the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The days are visibly lengthening now and if you look very carefully, signs of spring are starting to appear. Bulbs are pushing their shoots up towards the light and tiny buds are beginning to unfurl. It is often the coldest part of the year, we had a scattering of snow a few days ago on my birthday. I am running in the mornings with the sunrise which is always beautiful and there is time now for the kids to have a brief play in the garden after school. I have lit a candle tonight and plan to enjoy this quiet part of the year planning my activity during the warmer months ahead.

IMG_5507The view down my garden today.

Noticing the buds on the clematis opening a little more each day.

Feeling cosy sat by the log burner

Wishing for more nights of unbroken sleep

Eating vegan ‘cream of tomato’ soup with chickpeas croutons

Wondering whether to stay home or go to the farmer’s market tomorrow

Wearing always two pairs of socks

Watching River Cottage Australia and loving the beautiful coastal small holding

Listening to a woodpecker in the woods near my house

Drinking red wine again after a dry January

Planning our trip to Norfolk in a couple of weeks time.

IMG_5544Bay leaves growing well on my patio

IMG_5543 The branches of the ornamental plum-tree are looking fuzzy. This is always the first tree to have blossom in my garden. When it starts to look like this I love to cut a few branches and put them in a vase inside where the heat of the house makes the flowers open.

IMG_5541 Buds on the plum-tree and the setting sun behind

IMG_5537 Clematis and a beautiful lichen covered support

IMG_5532 The sun dropping behind a house

IMG_5513 Honeysuckle

IMG_5508 Day lilies

IMG_5552Tonight’s dinner is a new recipe kfrom the ‘Oh she glows’ cookbook. I chose this for today to fit in with Imbolc as it is the colour and shape of the sun!

Food from my garden – May

This month I have been keeping a record of foods we have eaten using ingredients from our garden. I was expecting May to have slim pickings from our little patch of goodness. The quantites of veggies we picked were limited but we actually had far greater variety than I had expected.

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In a previous post I mentioned; rhubarb crumble, salads, wild garlic, fresh eggs, mint tea and lemon balm tea.My eldest daughter has become a top-class herbal tea maker. I think in the summer we will drink these teas cold over ice too.

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Throughout May we have also enjoyed mange-tout, radishes, fresh herbs especially basil, chives and oregano. Also ‘posh’ salads with calendula flowers, chive flowers, sorrel, numerous types of lettuces, beetroot leaves, pea shoots and a few small spring onions.

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One of my biggest crowd-pleasing dinners was pasta with homemade wild garlic and basil pesto. Here is the reciepe, I didn’t measure anything, so just use quantities you have to hand in this more or less balanced ratio.

HOMEMADE PESTO

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Take a big handful of basil and the same of wild garlic and chop them up finely.

Grate about 150g of cheddar cheese

Using a pestle and mortar, bash up handful of mixed nuts (I used half salted and half plain) Pine nuts would be lovely in here too.

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Combine the ingredients in a bowl with a good glug of olive oil and some black pepper.

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Serve over hot pasta and let everyone help themselves! Yum!

 

Food from my garden

From May till October, I hope to keep a record of what I grow and eat from my garden. Over the last few weeks we have been enjoying …

Rhubarb crumbleIMG_1555

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Omlette with wild garlic

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Salads with parsley, lettuce, radish and wild garlic flowers

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And also Fresh Lemon balm tea and fresh mint tea

 

Food from my garden

Yesterday I made the first ‘garden salad’ of the year. the leaves were all rather small and pickings were slim but it felt like a milestone never-the-less. I used; red salad bowl lettuce, pea shoots, rocket, parsley, chard, oregano and wild garlic, all from the garden and green house. We ate it with the addition of tomatoes, seeds, falafels, home-made guacamole and bread from my brother’s bakery.

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Wild Garlic

IMG_0930Some of the first green shoots to appear in my garden are those of Wild garlic. As early as mid March I saw small, green, pointed fingers reaching for the sky. About ten years ago we stumbled across a huge patch of wild garlic in a local woodland. We had wandered off the beaten path, following our dog Frankie. We smelt the garlic before we saw it, it is such a distinctive smell and so pungent, especially if trampled under foot. We filled our pockets and feasted but then never managed to find the spot again.

IMG_1307Wild garlic growing with nettles and cleavers at the bottom of my garden.

Wild garlic is a relatively new addition to my garden. A friend of my mother has a front garden filled with wild garlic, the plants have multiplied over the years until the point where they have totally overtaken her garden and she wanted rid of them. My family and I happily took away buckets full of plants and carrier bags of leaves to make into pesto. (The pesto was delicious) I planted lots of her plants around the shady margins of my garden. It is typically a woodland plant , so happiest in cool, damp corners.

Last spring I was rather pre-occupied with a new baby boy to care for, so I left the wild garlic to its own devises. It turns out that was the ideal thing to do. as its best not to harvest leaves in the first year after planting or transplanting. This allows the plants to get established and provide a good crop the following year. My plants are now doing very well as we already have more leaves than we can use.It doesn’t keep well, so i have found picking just before use to be the best idea. I may try making pesto again and I am wondering if it would freeze well?

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I have been eating the wild garlic leaves for the last few weeks now, treating the plants in a cut and come again manner. I have been adding raw leaves to salads, stirring it into pasta sauces, finely chopping it and adding a lovely flavour to omelettes and, as my garlic breath will attest to, munching on the leaves straight out of the garden.

IMG_1026A lunchtime salad of rocket, spinach, peppers, sprouted seeds, haloumi and potatoes.

The plants will soon send up pretty star-like white flowers, these taste good too and look very pretty sprinkled over dishes. I am getting a lot of mileage from wild garlic and am glad to have such an early, pretty and tasty perennial in my garden.

Taking stock

This week I was hoping to spend some time thinking about our food choices and looking into how we could improve how we shop and eat. However, I was ill over the weekend with a sickness bug that laid me low for 2 days and put me right off my food. I didn’t want to eat anything and I certainly didn’t fancy reading recipe books or trekking around the local shops, farmers market or supermarket. Yesterday I felt a bit better and reflected on being ill and changing my plans for the week had actually put me onto a more useful path.

There was no food in the house, or so I thought. On Tuesday a comforting bowl of plain pasta with a few fresh herbs helped to ease my stomach back into the wonderful world of food. Today I am almost back to my greedy self and Instead of doing my normal super-sized family weekly shop, I decided to be a bit more mindful. With my monthly Permaculture Principle of ‘Observe and Interact’ in mind, I decided to start by tackling the ‘there is nothing to eat’ feeling by looking at my cupboards and seeing what we actually have.

DSC_8293Citrus fruits to brighter a dull February day

I checked through my cupboards, pantry and freezer and wrote down what I found. I was going to record the entire list here, but it was an embarrassing amount of food. I am ashamed to admit quite how much we had in the house. Here are some of the highlights of what I found when I went shopping in my cupboards;

5 different types of rice, brown/ basmati / risotto /pudding /sushi

9 tins including beans/ tomatoes /chickpeas / kidney beans

5 boxes of cereal

3 loaves of bread

5 bags of different types of flour

Bags of mixed nuts/ seeds/ dried fruit

Frozen blueberries/ black and red currants/ raspberries/ plums

Vegi sausages/ burgers and two types of tofu

I could go on but I am feeling ashamed. So many people don’t have enough to eat and here we are, hording food without even being aware of it. Even as a family of five who can eat a whole bag of pasta at one sitting, I think we could comfortably survive on the rations in the house for about 2-3 weeks. Albeit eating some rather carb-heavy meals!

DSC_8294A fabulous loaf made by my clever Baker brother. He is involved in a new local bakery opening soon. The Tiny Bakery. More details to follow!

I am glad that I took the time to take stock before heading back out to the shops. I will try to make this a regular part of my week from now on. When I did go shopping today the only things I brought were fresh vegetables and fruit. My bags were lighter and my purse heavier!

Yesterday we had stir fry veg with tofu and rice followed by homemade plum crumble (Using lovely plums, red currents and blackberries from our garden that I had frozen and forgotten about) Tonight we will be having butternut squash soup made with heaps of garlic, chili and ginger and finishing up the crumble with ice cream for pudding. Tomorrow will be a busy evening so its quick pizzas and salad on the menu and Friday will probably be a vegetable curry.

Obtain a yield

 

It is mid September and the garden is still very productive. For dinner today we have had pasta with a sauce made from the garden. Tomatoes, courgette, peppers and chili all grown with a few metres of where they were eaten. I am going to miss the summer!

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