Friday, 22 September 2017

Children Helping Or Working

I had a playdate yesterday, where a friend came over for some cake and a chat (don't worry she brought her child as well). 
Rounding them up with granddad
We talked about lots of things but one I thought was interesting was when she asked me how I felt about children helping or working. 
Now I'm not talking about sewing Nike trainers in a sweat shop here, more helping around the house and in my case helping out on the farm and garden as well. 
Helping sort the sheep
Getting moody
I've never really questioned whether this is right or wrong, for me the children "help" and that's just how it is. Sometimes they want to, other times they don't, but they still have to pitch in, even the boy at 20 months. 

In fact yesterday was a prime example of this, as my dad had come over to help me wean the lambs and sort out a few cull ewes. I had the children all day so they had to be out there helping us, to start with they were quite happy as we rounded them up, but as we got near our second hour they were both getting bored, a little wet from the rain and obviously wanted to go inside. 

They didn't though - as I had to stay until the job was done, they found ways to amuse themselves, picking blackberries and playing on the bike, but they'd definitely had enough!

I said to dad that "I keep sheep differently to most, I normally have three kids in tow." 

He just said "Well that's how I did it as well".

We emulate our parents without even realise it sometimes. I remember so many hours of things like this, learning through osmosis. 
Done with the job for today! He just wants to go in!
The day before they put their own toys away in the sitting room while I hoovered, although I had to do much nagging to get them to do this. And yesterday they helped me bake a cake and some bread for lunch. Things like being able to send my eldest off to get herbs and veg from the garden for tea is really helpful as well. 

But don't get me wrong, them helping doesn't mean that my jobs get done any faster, in fact normally quiet the opposite! But it should make things easier when they're older and they're building skills and hopefully a work ethic which will last them a lifetime. 

But I'm glad that my children already help out, and they seem to enjoy it. The look of pride on my daughters' faces when I put them to bed and say "Thank you for helping today," says it all as they beam back at me and say "You're welcome". 

I don't want to spoil them by making their lives too easy! 

What do you think? 

Should I be making my children help me or just letting them play?

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Starting To Gather Squash In

I've started to gather in some of the mature squash so I'm not caught out if there's an early frost. 
One I was particularity pleased with was my Oregon Homestead squash. These seven fruits are off just two plants! They were planted in the top of last years compost and they seem to have done really well!

Can't wait to try them! 
They're monsters! 
All my wife said was "how are we going to get  into those?"
Axe at a guess - I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Reverend W Wilks Cooking Apple

Another great cooking apple I picked last week is the Reverend W Wilks.

I think it's possible to fall in love with these old apple varieties for their name before you've even tasted them! 


This is early to mid season apple - pick the beginning of September. 

It makes a large cooking apple with a lovely delicate aromatic flavour and cooks to a froth.

The tree is spur bearing (so ideal for cordons or espaliers) and stays fairly compact so great for a small garden, I have this tree growing down my row of cordons and it normally produces a few perfect large apples for me each year. It's in pollination group 2 if you are planning on having a few trees. 

Who else has tried this one? 

What did you think?

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Balloon Berry

 I'm always trying to find new and exciting things to grow. 

Over the years I've discovered some that we really like growing and eating. We grow Cucamelons every year now, along with Peruvian Black Mint, Quillquina, Electric Daisies, wine berries and more.
New fruit, I think, is something to get excited about. Maybe it's just my sweet tooth but I love to try out anything like that. I remember going to Asia for the first time and being blown away by the choice of tropical fruit, but I love our temperate fruit even more. 

When I stumbled upon a fruit I hadn't heard of, a balloon berry, I just had to buy some and plant them. Latin name Rubus illecebrosus if you want to goggle it. 

When they came they were far smaller than advertised and smashed to pieces, I got some money back and set about trying to keep them alive. 18 months later I've had my first fruits from them.

They're bigger than a raspberry, growing on a tall strawberry like plant. They look beautiful, like three raspberries fused together, but all the little bubbles are somehow finer.

And how do they taste I hear you ask?


INSIPID I think would be the best word to describe it. 
They tasted of very little, even the long wait and anticipation couldn't improve the taste. Don't get me wrong, they didn't taste bad, they just didn't taste of anything really, just sweetness and a little sour. 

I'll keep these two plants growing as a bit of an oddity in my garden, who knows when they crop heavy they might make a great preserve. But if I was short on space I'd rip them out and plant some more Japanese wine berries instead. I might even move them out to the coppice and add them to the forest garden area as they will tolerate shade.

Maybe with some plant breeding these berries could be the next big thing, but they need some work before then!

Have you heard of or grown these berries before? 

What did you think to them?

What unusual fruit, veg or herb do you think i should try to grow next?

Monday, 18 September 2017

Good Value To Grow

1.4kg of Organic raspberries picked from the fruit garden Friday morning.
Waitrose organic raspberries are £24 per kg so that's £33.60! 

Although I'd probably settle for their essential British range at £12.75 per kg making this little lot worth £17.85!

If I only had a small garden I'd concentrate on growing berries, tomatoes, salad leaves and courgettes I think. Heavy cropping and high value.
With these we ate some fresh for our lunch, then I made half a dozen jars of raspberry and apple jam (I think it works better with apple so it's not so "pippy").
And dehydrated a load to add to our breakfast, cakes and cookies. These are pretty intense if you have them straight out of the jar! 

Hopefully I'll pick a load more this week as well.

What would you do with a glut of raspberries?
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