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The weather has been fabulous and has provided a boost to us and all of the the wonderful wild things living up here. We decided the best way to get the garden in shape for the season was a family day of weeding, digging and planting. We reshaped the whole vegetable garden two years ago when we moved the poly tunnel and it is really coming together now. With all the changes we have made we are hoping to have a bumper crop of food this year. There have been many mistakes but we have learned from them which is all part of the process. If you have been following our blog you will know that wind is a big issue but we now have more wind breaks around the whole garden then we ever have before so that is also a battle we hope we have at least half won!
Hannah and Gavin came along nice and early on Saturday morning to give us a hand getting some of the big jobs in the garden done so we could start planting things. We started off by weeding and digging over a small mounded bed which we then planted out with our first batch of potatoes. Then we moved the layers of old carpet that we had covering two of the 3 long mounded beds and piled in all on the centre bed which we won’t use this year. Hannah and I planted the edge bed with some of the seedlings from the propagator and with a selection of seeds. James and Gavin stood around chatting a posing for photos.
After all of our hard work we had a lovely lunch of pasta with garlic and fresh greens from the garden. Of course there is tons more work to do but overall it is starting to come together.
It has been a long time coming but we finally have 3 chickens and a rooster. We built them a chicken run in the vegetable patch where we had put a 3 sectioned compost pile. We used a bunch of repurposed materials including the old poly tunnel door frames, small sections of wind fencing and some bits of salvaged wood. Now we can all get to know each other while we work in the vegetable garden and they work on fertilising our compost.
My cousin and her family came up to a visit this Easter and I always take their visit as an opportunity to do a project with them that is something meant for kids but that I really want to try myself! So last year we made fairy gardens in small trays and pots and this year we made Unicorn Bark!!!
What is Unicorn Bark you say!? It is basically white and coloured chocolate melted and poured on baking paper with sprinkles on top. I am not even sure how I discovered this but as soon as I did I knew I needed to make some. The most challenging part was melting the chocolate, not that we don’t have lots of experience doing that (we make chocolate truffles every year for xmas) but we were all feeling a little impatient. Our top tip would be to leave plenty of time for this and make sure you don’t get the chocolate too hot. The best way to melt chocolate is in a dish over a saucepan with a little water in the bottom. I am sure there are a bunch of videos out there all about it so I won’t say any more on that part.
The best part of course is the decorating and you can use anything edible that you want. I was amazed by the choice of sprinkles out there in the world today and of course you can use gummy candies, marshmallows, popping candy, pretzels and more. Everyone really enjoyed making it and eating it too. With the colour scheme you could have called it Easter bark but unicorns are just so in right now!!
We have had success getting seedlings started in our propagator and we are preparing beds for planting out. The weather is really warming up and we are still getting some strong winds but our new addition to the wind fencing in the form of pallets is working well. Several of the beds are made with old corrugated tin that we have half filled with compost so that the high sides give extra protection as the young plants are finding their roots. We haven’t had much success with beans yet because of the wind and slugs but we have a few ideas in mind to tackle these issues so hopefully we will get a healthy harvest this year. A new addition to the veg patch is the asparagus bed which we are all very excited about however it can take as many as 2-3 years to produce so we will have to be patient. For now though here is hoping for another hot summer.
We were recently invited to a pot luck and I decided to take Boston Baked Beans thinking that it is a great one pot dish and that it may not be familiar to all of the folk at the event in the local village hall. I found a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe which I would happily recommend with a slight variation which was thick cut smoked bacon chunks instead of the pork belly. A week later we were back at the butchers and spotted a very inexpensive cut of beef which was a short rib so we selected the meatiest pieces and put mum’s famous Carolina rub on them and slow cooked them in the oven for about 2 hours. Upon tasting the meat we immediately decided it would make a great addition to the Boston Baked Beans instead of pork. When the ribs had cooled a little we pulled the meat and set it aside to cool while I got to work on a batch of beans. This time I decided to add some big chunks of carrot just cause I had pulled a few from our remaining supply in the poly tunnel, a stick of cinnamon and a tablespoon of mustard seeds. If you are a fan of beans on toast and have never had Boston Baked Beans then you are in for a real treat! Get yourself a nice crusty bread (there are certain occasions where white bread wins and I personally think this is one of them) toast it, smother it in butter and serve with whatever version of this recipe you decide to make. Heaven!!