Tag Archives: breadmaking

Catching Up with Work

Forgive me for it has been nearly two weeks since my last post, and I find myself with very little exciting Smallholding stuff to update you on, but quite a bit of the more mundane work. For much of the past week I have been distracted from the real work that needs to be done, by family matters, and Transition Town Horncastle work.

We had visitors for the whole weekend, from Friday through to Monday, and I was not able to do as much work as I needed to. On Sunday, I spent all of the morning feeding the flames for my Pizza oven, followed by eating and drinking for the rest of the day. Great fun, with my two daughters, along with husbands, eight Grandchildren, a sister in law, and a mother in law. We made pizza, bread, and rhubarb crumble. The oven needs more insulation, but this will have to wait a few weeks.

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Sowing and Experiments

Hi All

Today was designated as a sowing day, specifically leaf plants, but by lunchtime nothing seemed to be getting done.

It’s been taking me quite some time to get my first batch of routine chores done, but today things seemed to be going really slowly. Every morning I have to walk and feed the dogs (four retired greyhounds), let three lots chickens out and feed them, check the sheep have enough water, and then water the plants. The plant watering is what’s taking the time. I grow most of my vegetables in modules, so there’s quite a lot that need watering right now, but the bees are making it hard. By the time that I’m ready to water, they are all over the pots, and I have to keep checking to make sure that I don’t drown any of them.

bees drinking3

bees drinking3

Here are a few. If you look carefully you can see that they are going into the hole at the base of the pot, and drinking from the inside. Most of them are using the salad pots, that are in and outside of the old kennel block. Here’s a picture just so that I can include a picture of two of the dogs.

dogs and salad

dogs and salad

By the time that I was ready to start sowing seeds, it was late morning. I then needed to make space in a propagator, so I had to move plants out of the greenhouse into a sheltered spot, followed by moving stuff from a propagator to the greenhouse, and then I should have been ready to start.

The next job was sieving compost to remove lumps, mixing in sand, and vermicompost, and assembling the rootrainers. By the time that I stopped for lunch, I had only sown five trays. Luckily, the afternoon went more quickly, and I continued after the afternoon round of routine chores, and finished all of the seeds that I had intended to sew. Rather than waste time tomorrow, I’ve done all of the sieving and mixing this evening.

As well as the more normal stuff, I have put in some Tobacco, Bush Clover, White Clover, and Wild Garlic today. The tobacco should probably have been sown a while ago, but it only arrived yesterday. I want to see if it can be grown outside, or if it will need a polytunnel. it’s a good bee plant, and if it grows well, will give me (a non smoker), something to trade with. A little bit of barter never hurt anybody. The seed was really fine. I expected something much larger to match the size of the finished plant.

Tomorrow I’m going to try Persimmons, Wintergreen, and Juneberry, as well as some more decorative (bee plant) seeds. I do like to try growing new things. One of the experiments that I’m conducting is Small-scale Wheat growing, using the Bon Fils method. The following link gives a brief explanation of the method

http://eap.mcgill.ca/CPW_9.htm

Since first publishing this post I’ve discovered somebody else who is trying a clover undercrop. The following link will take you to his site.

http://overclover.com/index.html

The experiment came about as a result of a conversation with a friend who grows ancient varieties of wheat for thatching straw. I asked him how much land would be needed for somebody to grow their own wheat, and he thought that 1 sq metre of wheat would yield enough for a loaf of bread. So a patch 10 metres x 10 metres, would provide enough for two loaves a week. The Bon Fils angle was simply a desire to try out something that I had read in ‘The Earth Care Manual’ by Patrick Whitefield. I just wanted to be sure that if I needed to, I could grow my own wheat, and bake my own bread. As it turns out I was late getting my wheat in, and too late to sow clover, but I’m trying it anyway. This year I will do the same again, but I’ve got some Emmer Wheat to try, and I’m also going to try Spelt. The Spelt is supposed to be hard to grind, and difficult for birds to eat, but I’m going to let the seed do the work for me, and just sprout it.

Here is one of the small test beds.

Wheat

Wheat

I’ve interplanted the wheat with some broad beans, and I have some lentils to put in also. I wouldn’t grow wheat in a bed normally, but as it’s just a trial, I didn’t want to go to the trouble of clearing a new patch of ground. The lentils also fix nitrogen, and I’m told that our climate is better for growing it than the countries from whom we import it. It doesn’t make sense, does it? I’m not sure of the best way to harvest the lentils, so if any of you have experience with growing them, I’d appreciate your help. The lentils were just normal packets from a local supermarket, soaked for twelve hours, then kept moist until roots were visible. They were then put into rootrainers, to grow on. Cheap and easy.