Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Heritage Seed Library Order & Peas Boiling HARD

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I'm a little obsessed with seeds!

And when I joined our local seed swap group last year it seemed logical for me to join the Heritage Seed Library as well. 

They're part of the charity Garden Organic who try to promote organic gardening. They keep a bank of old varieties of seed that they are trying to prevent from going extinct with members breeding them each year. 

Each year as a member of the HSL you can pick six packs of seed from the list. The idea that you grow a few to taste and the rest to save for seed. The pack size is quite small so it might take a few years before you have enough seed saved to be worth sending back in to the library, instead spending your time to build a reserve. 

Last year was utter chaos for growing for me and I'm glad that I didn't have the last few seeds of anything as I doubt there will be any going back. But that's the beauty of it, some (good) years you can give back to the library and others you can just experiment and see how you do. With lots of members the risk is spread.

The list has lots of options to choose from and from this years I chose some that are relatively easy to grow without the risk of cross pollination. I picked:-

Scotland Yellow Tomato
Bijskij Zelty Tomato
Black coco Dwarf French Bean
Fat Baby Achocha
Bronze arrow lettuce (lucky dip extra)
Sutton's Harbinger Pea
Blue Prussian Pea

In the packs of peas there is only about 8 to 10 seeds so they need to be sown in pots, protected from everything!

I'm especially looking forward to growing Blue Prussian Pea as it's in an American book I own called "Heirloom Vegetable Gardening" by William Woys Weaver.

He describes the pea as "as a excellent split pea" But gives further advice on the storage of dried peas, "like any dry pea should never be kept more than a year. An insightful article called "Why Peas Boil Hard" appeared in the gardener's magazine (April 1831, 249) and explained that if peas are stored too long, they will cook "hard," never really softening no matter how long they are boiled. This observation is as true now as it was then, with one further footnote: peas stored for two or three years have also lost significant portion of their nutritional value. This is why it's important to date all stocks of dry peas and beans."

Really interesting I'm sure you'll agree, but I should imagine that the fact we can now store them in airtight containers and in vacuums would seriously increase their shelf life.

One years soup peas collected from a handful of peas - These are called Latvian Soup Peas or the "Grey Pea" 
So I'll try to build a stock of seeds from the 8 I have. Might take a couple of years, or the efforts of a mouse could wipe it out before I begin! Peas are easy to build up numbers though so I'm hopeful.

Anyone experimented with how long you can keep soup and dried peas for before they stay hard even when cooked?

Who else is in the Heritage Seed Library and what have you ordered for next years growing season?

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Banana & Chocolate Fairy Cakes

Each week we buy a lot of bananas and normally the kids fire through them like they're the last ones on earth. 

But sometimes they get pushed to the back of the bowl and forgotten or I buy too many (the children are as unpredictable as me!) 

So when that happens we turn to baking!

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Cooking On Wood - Burnt Cake

Last week I started to experiment with cooking on our new wood stove

I love it already, even though we're not in the new kitchen yet I've been keen to use it, mainly for heat but having the oven right there has meant I've wanted to try it. 

Saturday, 24 November 2018

£3 For 15kg Of Carrots

Now as many of you know I'm never one to pass up on a bargain!

And the other day I picked up a huge 15kg bag of carrots for £3. Bargain!

Now I must confess this isn't at the supermarket, instead I got these from the animal feed store local to us.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

New School Forest Garden

As many of you know I'm the sort of parent that gets roped into things, I seems to have an inability to say NO at the best of times, but when it's helping kids I'm even worse.

The school library is the perfect example of this!

Blank canvas
Somehow since the spring I've been attending some small meetings with the head mistress, Felicity - the garden designer and the teacher who runs Eco-club. We've been talking and making plans to create a new forest school and vegetable garden area that the kids can use and enjoy.

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