Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Wednesday 2nd July 08

Gill took our youngest to school and our year 6 10 year-old was due in his secondary school at 10ish for a fun day, so he walked up there with a friend.

Gilly and I had a relaxed morning which was refreshing, and then continued doing the mound of housework. I did some cropping in the garden, our walnut tree has fruited very well this year so I took off all but one nut per bunch, and will pickle the pruned-out immature walnuts. I've never had pickled walnuts but Gill likes them and Gill's mum loved them, they were a great treat. I'll have to make needle-pricks in them and put them in brine before letting them dry and putting them in vinegar.

Whilst picking these, I noticed one of my large logs (actually an innocculated cherry trunk) had fruited with my favourite mushroom, 'chicken of the woods' which is a really meaty and solid fungus which is almost indistinguishable from firm chicken flesh... except more ethical, lower carbon and less cruel! I cut the huge and heavy fruiting body off and washed it and pared off the woodlouse poo which was semi-incorporated in the top surface. Once prepared, I cut it into cubes and fried it in olive oil, and had this as a garnish on the rice and veg which Gill cooked for us for tea.

I went to Country Fresh and picked up another large load, including at least 20 cucumbers in plastic sheaths which I had to spend some time cutting off before composting the unwanted fruit. It seems weird that I am carefully nurturing my cucumber plants and watching the cucs grow bigger day-by-day, whilst the commercial system just throws away dozens of unsold ones...

Also did some weeding of regrowing nettle roots, invasive ground elder and brambles, and made another layer on the bay-window-radiator compost heap. There's no chance of them growing as it gets so hot! I had a magazine delivered this morning which I subscribe to, Kitchen Garden. Last month, there was an article about coping with mares tail, and the author, Sandra, whom I know as she's from York, had put 'on no account compost them', which I disagree with as I have composted lots, from two neighbours' gardens. So I had written in to the magazine to explain how to successfully compost mares tail, nettle and ground elder, and even Japanese Knotweed. My letter was published, but without my name as I said that I knew Sandra and I guess the editor didn't want me to embarrass her or something...

Anyway, the trick is to do it hot, dry or wet. Hot heaps are best... shred the offending material with lots of other stuff and turn it so it all heats up as it breaks down. Nothing survives the 60 to 70 degrees celcius temperatures generated. The dry method involves drying the roots etc off on a patio or path, and when completely crunchy, put them on the heap. This however, does not kill seeds, which can grow in the finished compost. The wet method is good, if a bit smelly. The materials are placed in a bucket of rainwater and left immersed to go gooey for several weeks. This slop can then be poured on your heap, or the liquid used for watering plants, as it's full of nutrients, and the stringy plant materials composted.

I went to town in the afternoon to give in the planning panel paperwork and talk to a couple of Council officers about various issues, pay in my Sheffield Green Fair cheque and buy a replacement blender/liquidiser, which I'd seen in Barnitts. Got one for half price, a good one which ought to last longer than the two £20 jobbies we've gone through in the past few years. We do a lot of food preparation so a good liquidiser is important. The one I got has a juicer thing which fits in the goblet, so during the evening I peeled about 15 oranges (also thrown out, probably because of skin blemishes) and put them in the juicer, made just over a litre of juice. Lovely!

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