Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Monday, 22 May 2017

Bigger Compost Area!

So last week I showed you how I'd tidied up my compost and started a new bin full, but within a few days I had already half filled it, I also have the shed I used for the sheep to muck out and some wood chip from a few years ago that is breaking up nicely. 
I decide to add a few more bins to my collection for all this lovely compost material I'm going to have. 
Bit of a mess
The area around my bins (cleverly hidden in my last lot of photos...) is home to some slabs for the patio and an assortment of building materials. I had a bit of a tidy up and cleared a patch.

The girls giving me some advice. 

I rolled out weed membrane between the sets of bins as I wanted to keep this area really low maintenance. 
I then gathered up some pallets from around my little farm. As I've been doing so much building work I could find just enough to make what I wanted.
Three new bins on the left.
A few screws later I'd made three more large compost bins. Using the tractor I started two of them off with some manure and a layer of two year old wood chip that is almost broken down, I then added a layer of comfrey to act as an activator. 
Comfrey added as an activator 

I'm quite pleased with this new area considering all it cost was a handful of screws! I'll keep all my tubs of plant food I'm making (comfrey and nettle tea) in this area as well, it should work well as a composting area for me. 

I might now leave a gap wide enough for the tractor bucket and then build another bank of 3 or four compost bins and try to beg a load of manure from one of my fathers friends to compost further, ready to use for next year. 

What do you think to my rustic compost area? Do you have a set up similar to this?

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Why We Don't Say The "F" Word In Our House

It is utterly banned in our house.

If someone else starts to utter it then I have to stop them in their tracks.

We do not say "Fussy eater", for us it's not a thing. 

My wife and I were talking about it just the other day and then she saw this clip of Gino D'acampo talking about the same thing and sent it to me.

My day is pretty much full of children telling me "I'm hungry" or "When can we eat?" "I want a snack", and to be honest I do give in and they have plenty of snack through the day, my children tend to be happier when they graze. 

But I'm a lot harder when it comes to meal times. 

Don't like what's on your plate? 

Don't eat it then.

If they miss a meal then it won't kill them. 

I will not cook something specially for my children. We all eat together each and every day and we all eat the same food, even my little boy who's 16 months old eats exactly what we have (I might cut up his meat for him though). I put a lot of time and effort into growing, preparing and cooking what we eat, but it's not a restaurant and they don't get to choose what they have. 

We don't ever call it being fussy or attach a label to it, we think that in doing so you give them justification. 

Now that's not saying we don't have our fair share of arguments or that they eat everything at every meal time. My younger daughter does sometimes put up a fight and objects but she'll normally eat something off her plate as she knows that she'll go without otherwise. My eldest daughter is no trouble and will eat almost as much as my wife and my son isn't far behind in all honesty. 

But these are the rules in our house. 

Don't like something, then leave it on the side of your plate, I'm not going to sit and pick out mushrooms or onions because they decided they don't like them that night. 

If they want a drink with their meal they have to ask before I've sat down, otherwise they wait until the end. 

No one starts pudding until everyone has finished their main course.

No one leaves the table until everyone has finished and then you have to ask. 

My dad was (is) obsessed with table manners when I was growing up and I fear it may have rubbed off on me. I hate when children run off and start playing when they've eaten what they like. Meal times should be a time for conversation and to see what everyone has been doing during the day, that and eating some good home cooked food! 

How are things done in your house? 

Do you (or did you) cook separately for your children?

Are table manners important to you?

Friday, 19 May 2017

Sorting Out My Compost Bins

A couple of years ago I knocked up some compost bins from recycled materials and although I've been chucking all my compostable material into them I've not been great with the area as a whole. Weeds (nettles) had run rampant and it hadn't been turned. I decided to get in there and sort it all out. 
First job was to remove anything growing, then to get in there and turn the compost into the next bin. I was impressed with what I found. The stuff was beautiful, lovely, black and crumbly. Not quite finished though so putting it into the next bin for at least twelve months is the right thing to do. 

She's helping apparently, on "chicken Guard" to stop the hens getting in the garden. 
I then covered the full bin with black plastic, the end that was added is just a pallet screwed to the bin!

Not wanting to wait too long to use some of that goodness I burnt a couple of holes in the top and planted a few winter squash in there (Oregon homestead sweetmeats - I'm really looking forward to trying these!) I've seen squash growing on compost heaps lots of times so I thought this might be a good way to squeeze in a few extra plants. 

It's still not quite frost free here (although I hope it is really) so I covered them with some make shift cloches, my wife had brought these umbrellas for a school project that didn't get used, I decided to use them in the garden straigth away, should give them a head start if nothing else. 

Since taking the picture below I've already half filled this bin. 

Looking at the two empty beds I decided to make a "wilting table" I got the idea from a Facebook group the other day (it was posted by Those Plant People) and straight away when I saw it I thought I could use one. 
Rather than build something purpose made I found some weld mesh and some lengths of timber and laid it on top of the two empty bins. 

The idea behind this is you wilt the weeds and dry out their roots before doing anything with them. I'm not sure how well this works but I'm going to give it a try. I think once they're bone dry they shouldn't come back to life in the compost but I'll do a few experiments before I start chucking it in there. 

I'm planning on getting a few pallets that I've got around the place and making up another bank of compost bins at the weekend. I can certainly fill them pretty quickly and I have the sheep shed to muck out soon. Last years muck is in a pile but I don't think there is much of it left as it seems to disappear, keeping it enclosed should mean I get to use more of it where it's needed! 

How much compost do you make?

How organised is your compost area?

Have you ever used a wilting table?

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Pesto Swirls

 I was making some bread the other day when I noticed that I had half a jar of pest left over in the fridge. It got me thinking about what I could make with it.
In my mind I had an idea of a kind of savoury Chelsea bun. 

so with my apprentice baker we pulled the dough out into a flat rectangle and then spread the pesto on it, we then scattered pumpkin seeds and broke up a ball of mozzarella over the whole surface.
Then, just like you would with a Chelsea bun, we rolled it up and cut it into 12 equal segments, we laid these out on some baking parchment and i grated a bit of cheddar cheese on top.
I baked them at around 180 degrees for 20 minutes, until they were cooked through. 
A really easy bread to make that tastes great. 
I also love it because once it's made it's a great one to keep in the freezer, then when my wife is off to work she can takes a couple of these for her lunch, there's no need to make sandwiches.

What do you think?

Do you make up things that are easy for a packed lunch? 

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