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Archive for August, 2013

Cookery writers are churning out newspaper features daily on what to do with a deluge of courgettes. So it is at Tin Bath House –  our courgette plants are enormous and we are cropping fruit daily.  I had help this week in the form of my cooking fairy – my veggie/foodie/cheffy/daughter came to stay.

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Nothing is too much trouble for her and she was happy stuffing fragile  courgette flowers with a creamy ricotta and herb mixture.

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Then she created amazing courgette and potato rosti. She squeezed excess juice out of grated courgette and mixed this with grated freshly dug potatoes(they were par boiled first).

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Fried rosti with steamed courgette flowers – an absolutely delicious dinner.

Our squashes are not bearing quite as many fruit as last year yet, especially the Butternuts – there is an abundance of male flowers but fewer of the females from which the fruit are produced. I am still hoping for a hot September so they might have the chance to catch up.

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There was an Old Person of Blythe,

Who cut up his meat with a scythe:

                When they said, ‘Well! I never.’

                He cried, ‘Scythes for ever!’

That lively Old Person of Blythe.

(from Edward Lear’s ‘More Nonsense’ pub 1862)

An acre of waist high grass was waiting to be cut last week. Then the mowing gang arrived in the shape of Stroud Permaculture Group, fifteen nifty folks came one evening to sort it out. Mark instructed us on the setting up, care and use of the lightweight Austrian Scythe and then everyone got down to work.

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Scythe gang talk

Scything is such a satisfying thing to do, just hearing the swishing blades and seeing the flat field emerge again. Capturing a Great Green Bush Cricket was a highlight for the group – it was enormous!

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The mowing gang moves across the meadow

If you are interested in scything then you need to visit the website for Simon Fairlie, who is ‘Mr Scythe’ in England – www.thescytheshop.co.uk

And go to the Scythe Festival held each year in June in Somerset.

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See how they go!

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Piles of cut hay

We just pile the hay up ready for carting  to the veg plot where it will be used for mulching.  I am so grateful that so many people were keen to try their hands at scything and were willing to give up an evening to help us here. Thank you. We finished with a bonfire, hot dogs and beers. And we all said ‘Scythes for ever’!

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Growing carrots in containers is definitely worthwhile. I set up two large tubs and a water tank this spring – you must make drainage holes in the bottom. I filled them with garden soil, but only sieved the soil for one tub. The variety of early carrots, ‘Amsterdam Forcing’ were sown on April 8th. I have just been picking the wonderful carrots and I can see a clear difference. Carrots in the sieved soil have long slender even roots, while those in our un-sieved stony soil are very deformed, forked and twisted. Of course they taste the same, but the straight ones are much easier for the chef to clean up and use. So growing carrots in containers here in sieved soil about 30cms deep gets round the problem of our soil being very shallow and stony.

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The main reason usually that carrots are grown in containers is to avoid carrot root flies. And yes, that seems to have worked as well – these are free from the nasty black tunnels which spoil the roots when they get carrot root fly. There is no escaping the fact that carrot root fly are everywhere – here is a picture of wild carrots growing on the playing field just outside my back gate – they play host the pest and it is able to overwinter on them.

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Wild carrot in flower – so pretty

The carrot root flies move around at no more than 30cms off the ground and so having carrots in containers means they never get into the tubs. Other methods are growing carrots under anti-insect mesh, inside barriers or using resistant varieties such as ‘Fly Away’ or ‘Resistafly’, both maincrop carrots.

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Please try growing carrots in containers – anything will do – baths are popular around Stroud!  And the taste of fresh home grown carrots is unbeatable.

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