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Annual Cleanse

     As soon as the Christmas decorations are down it's time to start thinking about Marmalade!  In January Seville oranges come to Ir...

27.4.10

Blossoms

There are lots of white blackthorn blossoms out at the moment in the hedges. I must make a note of the easily reached ones so I can collect some sloes for sloe gin this autumn.

Our greengage and damsons have a few blossoms too. Neither of these three trees have ever had much blossom and therefore no fruit.

The pears and apples are beginning to blossom too. One apple has the most wonderful scent, quite delicate, but rose like. I hope the apples are better this year than last.

I have been reclaming the red currant bushes since the hedge cutter gave them an impromptu “pruning” while doing the laurel hedge. As they were quite over grown it has been great to get in at the brambles some of which have the most massive gnarly roots. Very satisfying to get these out. I don’t think we’ll get any fruit from them this year. Not that we get much from them anyway, as the birds tend to get there first.

The black currants are in flower and as they got a proper pruning we should do well from them this year.

The strawberries are in flower in the poly tunnel and outside I wonder which will give us the first ripe fruit?

23.4.10

Green Leaves

As our purple sprouting broccoli PSB was nonexistent this year, I tried steaming the flower buds that appeared on the Brussels sprouts in the leaf axels at the top of the plants. Steamed for a few minutes and tossed in butter they are almost as tasty as PSB. They also are a reasonable replacement for Chinese greens in a stir-fry. The leaves at the top of the sprout plants make a good substitute for cabbage or kale in this hungry gap.

For other greens at this time of year I like Swiss chard, but ours is in the poly tunnel and is beginning to bolt, still it has lots of leaves still to be eaten and the leaf stalks take well to the stir-fry treatment too.

Wild garlic or ramsons are delicious too, the local roadside is about to become a mass of white flowers. I don’t pick them from the roadside as we have some growing in the woods. A handful sliced and added to an omelette and a salad makes a perfect lunch.

21.4.10

Watching Things

Today I watched two “crows” chase away a “hawk” from the trees. Quite noisy and determined of them. Not sure if they were jackdaws or hooded crows or if it was a hawk or kestrel they were seeing off. It all happened way above my head and in less than 30 seconds.

The bluebells and pear blossom are just coming out it is a very hopeful time of year.

I also watched a bat flittering around in daylight at about 6:30 pm for 10 or so minutes. It was between the poly tunnel and the trees on the eastern boundary quite a sight. The swallows have been passing through for about a week now too summer is on its way!

I also watched Jamie Oliver in Andalucia/Andalusia I’m not so sure that the Moors had much to do with the origins of chorizo as they were mostly Muslim and on their way out of Spain when chillies were on their way across the Atlantic from the just found Americas. Tomatoes were still in the Americas when the Romans brought their bread and vegetable soup to Spain too come to think of it. Still I really liked the sight and imagined smells of his “Killer Pork Chops” and if those hunters ever run short of rabbits we’ve quite a few here on the east Cork / west Waterford boarder.

Nettle Soup

Another lovely day and I've finished planting onions. Decided to get my own back on the nettles by turning some of them into soup.
Picked a steamer full of the top 4 to 6 leaves of each nettle. Gave them a good soak in salty water to evict insects for about 10 minutes. Softened a sliced onion and 2 chopped cloves of garlic in some oil. Added the washed and drained nettles. Turned them in the heat till wilted and added about a pint and a quarter/750ml stock brought to the boil and simmered for 10 minutes. Took off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes and then blended with a hand held blender. Reheat and serve with croutons and whipped cream.
Back out to the garden to do some more digging while the weather's fine.