A walk finding treasures…

Even though we live in the city, there is plenty of nature around us to enjoy. And in Autumn, there’s even more ways to enjoy nature than just by talking walks. There were lots of pickings…

From left top, clockwise: rosehip, elderberries, poppy seed pods and some (not visible) Chinese lanters, and last but not least: sloe berries.

These last ones I had spotted last year, but way too late to make what I wanted with them. So, I made a mental note, set a date in my diary with exclamation marks and picked the bush. Only one bush, I’m afraid… So a very low yield, but enough to make a bottle of this: sloe gin.

It’s in the cupboard and gets a shake each day. This should be ready and lovely for Christmas!

And the rosehips… I used to always pick the big fat ones, but after watching Wartime Farm, I realized that the smaller ones are also used. So, not afraid of experiments, I nibbled lots of hips of the local branches – and there are masses and masses around when you start looking!

I used this recipe… ish, as I used Marmello, and added way less sugar than in the recipe. Just enough to keep the jam sweet, but not too sweet that you don’t taste the hips anymore. I always find it amazing that something that smells so horrible when you first boil it, turns into a lovely jam – full of vitamin C! A big and a small jar, just enough to get me through winter. And if I’m out before then, there will still be plenty of hips out there to pick in the coming weeks.

And then there are two bottles (well, almost 2) of elderberry syrup, made according to this recipe… I only managed to make elderflower juice twice, and it’s berry time now. There were lots of berries, but this will do me for winter, as I only use a little bit of it over pancakes and through porridge and stuff.

The seeds will be scattered alongside our house, to hopefully create a colourful display next summer.

I’m off on more walks this week, to find what other hidden treasures the city has to offer. I have already found some hops, but as I don’t have any beer making equipment, I left it where it is… But first, more research on some of the berries I saw online, to make sure I’m not taking stuff home that’s not edible…

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Fruit, fruit and more fruit!

First, some bad news… On day 13, all of a sudden the eggs were gone. No mama bird, no eggs, no shells. Nothing. No idea what happened… 😦

But, on a nicer note, the garden is exploding with fruit! We have strawberries, black currants until you can’t say poop anymore, rhubarb galore and the raspberries are also starting… Great! But what to do with all that yummyness?

I thought it would be nice to do something else than rhubarb crumble with custard, so I pulled out my cookbooks and scored a winner in Delia’s book of summer recipes: rhubarb ice cream. I had some cream in the fridge (which is very rare, as we eat very little cow dairy, but I had bought some the day before for no reason), so after roasting the rhubarb in the oven with sugar, I mixed it with the cream and put it in the freezer. I also made the accompanying ginger crumbs, and mixed these through.

Ab-so-lu-te-ly DELISH! It’s the best rhubarb ice cream I’ve ever tasted (well, that’s not really difficult, but Y-UM!), and as the container is nearly empty, I’m almost talking to the rhubarb to grow more shoots. It is, so no worries there…

And the berries. Look at this!

And this was just when it started. I pick a container full of them EVERY DAY. I already made two jars of strawberry and black currant jam (also very yum) and some sorbet, I’ve started drying them to add to granola (I need a good system to dry them… ) and the next load will be turned into… well? Who knows… More jam? I need some nice jars!

I also wonder when the parsnips and potatoes will be ready… Fingers are itching to pull them out, but I have to contain myself for a little while longer…

And this is what the kitchen looks like when I’m cooking, baking and ice-creaming…

Latkes, granola, left-over breakfast, peas to pod for dinner… And coffee, of course! All this cooking, baking and messing around in the kitchen is a great stress reliever, because boy, is it busy… And it’s Tour de Fleece time as well… Sigh…

Ach, who needs sleep?

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Four!

While mama was away, we had another look… and there’s 4 eggs now!

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Houston, we have eggs!

She flew away as hubby tried to take pictures, and look! Three eggs! More news in about two weeks’ time… And don’t worry, she’s back on the eggs now…

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Find the birdie…

Today we made a fun discovery… While eating dinner, a blackbird kept flying to and from one of our strawberry boxes. And when she was away, we made this discovery:

I think it was her hubby who had been scouting out our garden for the last few weeks, and deeming us good enough to be the hosts of their offspring. We usually leave bits of bread out, left-over salad and other bits and seeds, and now we are reaping the rewards.

Can you see her?
We will be keeping an eye on her and what’s going on in the strawberry boxes…

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Two weeks

It’s unbelievable what can happen in just two weeks. It seems like the garden is exploding! In a good way though, because we’re keeping on top of it with weed removal (at least those weeds I don’t want) and by having our mini-sheep mow the lawn. They’re perfect and they love doing it! Our rabbit, however, has been escaping for Shawshank regularly, by just pushing and nipping at the fencing long enough until a smal gap appears underneath it. We already put mesh down on the ground to make it harder, and to prevent her from just digging into the lawn on the spot, but still… Still working on a perfect solution there 😉
What’s been growing? Well, these:
The chard. A whole box full, which will be turned into a nice oven dish or salad this weekend and next week. I also sowed some red-veined chard, which is coming up nicely.
Our potatoes are just mad, totally mad. Really, inches a day. You can just sit in front of them and see them grow and unfurl new leaves… And see that Weigela behind it? That’s another reason to just squat down here and sit for a bit. Just to look.
Hooray, our parsnips! We don’t have that much, but there should be at least two or three meals out of this little patch. and yes, I do need to cut off some rhubarb again. Time for a nice crumble tonight!
These were a complete surprise. Yes, I know I ordered seeds for black salsify, and yes, I know I sowed them (on the patch where I had sown spinach, the seeds of which were all eaten by birds, the rascals), but still, so fast! It’s only been a week! Last week was a scorcher here, and the combination of warm earth, a bit of watering and rain since Wednesday, has produced two rows of nice shoots. Keeping my fingers crossed!
My crazy Jerusalem Artichokes. Honestly, two weeks since this. And the weeds in between is mostly redshank. Which the mini-sheep love, so I’m keeping it for extra treats for them.
Eagerly waiting until these grow red…

And plus all this, and more, I’ve started sprouting… More about that in the next post!

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Growing

Since the rabbit has been confined to a pen on the grass, the plants have had the opportunity to grow safely. And grow they have! Not only do we have a lovely amount of weeds, there is actually a lot of edible and enjoyable plants in between them to look at and talk to.
The herb snail is full since I added wild garlic and garlic mustard. They are lovely as a spicy addition to salads, and as the first is endangered, I thought it would be great to have it in our garden. The only thing missing is basil, as that still hasn’t grown back since the ‘bunny attack’. I fear I’ll have to sow that in again, and see if it catches. As we are now in the third week of May, it should be safe enough.
Next to the herbs are our peas. They’re coming up nicely! I’ve started off a second batch of peas and 3 types of beans, which can hopefully be planted out in a month or so. No sigh yet of the spinach, which should be next to it. I fear the birds have been eating away at the seeds…
We’re keeping our fingers crossed for our apple tree… Last year, after the move into the garden from the allotment, the tree dropped all its blossoms and nothing happened… There were blossoms this year, and it looks as if something is happening…
Our pear tree is in full leaf and seems to be doing great again. It might need extra support, as without fruit, it is already leaning over like the tower of Pisa… But look to that clematis next to it. It has never been this lovely! Amazing! We’ll try to guide and spread it a bit after flowering, so beautiful…
Our Jerusalem artichokes are coming up nicely as well, in between the weeds. These will not be weeded away as much, as there are some things I want to keep and move to another border. We’ll see what comes up! Besides the artichokes, I have also sown some Helianthus strumosus, which will, after a complicated germination process, be planted here as well.
Some more earthlings, our potatoes! I got 10 from the eco supermarket, so we should have a few meals from our own garden. We don’t eat potatoes that much, so these are going to be a real treat.
And our parsnips came up, as did our carrots and big tomatoes in a tub (not on a photo), just when I thought it wouldn’t happen…
Four of the eight wall boxes of strawberries and some of the hanging baskets, spread around the garden for colour. We have so many blooms this year, there will definitely be enough strawberries from some ice cream and sorbet…
Ah, and the violets… They are just being awful pretty…
Lots to do, lots more to see, but that’s for next time! Now we’re off to enjoy it all!

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