Wednesday, 30 July 2008
Here's another of my videos. This one is about: How to make nettle tea.
You should use green young leaves on nettle plants. Bigger older ones are bitter in taste. Don't forget the gloves when picking nettle leaves, though the stinging bit is only on the edge of the leaves.
Tea making is simple and can use either fresh or dried leaves. Simply put the leaves into a clean tea pot and add boiling water. Leave to brew for a couple of minutes and then drink. You can have it neat or add a slice of lemon (which apparently changes it to a pinkish colour though I haven't tried that before).
Making raspberry jam and gin is explained on this video I made: How to make raspberry jam and gin.
Basically for jam, you need same weight of sugar to raspberries and 2 lemons per kilo of raspberries.
- grate rind off lemons and then squeeze them
- add lemon rind and juice to raspberries in jam pan
- bring to boil and simmer until the fruit as broken up
- add in sugar and keep stirring and simmering until the setting point as been reached (when the jam develops a skin)
- put into warm jam jars.
For raspberry gin you need 600g of raspberries, 300 of caster sugar and a 75cl bottle of cheap gin:
- mix raspberries and sugar together in pickling jar with the gin.
- close jar and shake
- leave to stand for 3 months, shaking occasionally
- after 3 months enjoy!
Saturday, 26 July 2008
Salad crops are great for people who are starting out on growing a bit of their own food. They grow easily in pots and window boxes. We have a set of window boxes on our garden wall in London which we use for growing herbs but have used in the past for lettuce. Actually, most of them currently have a crop of sycamore saplings. This is my carbon sink. In a few years time, I will be looking for homes for them.
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The easiest way to cut down on waste going into the waste stream is to get a compost bin. And start looking on waste as a resource rather than rubbish. Food scraps should go into a compost bin. But there are some waste foods that are still usable before they get to be compost.
Meat bones can be boiled for stock. If you don't want to boil them immediately, simply put your chicken carcass in a plastic carrier bag (another waste product!) and then place in the freezer. Boil up at a later date perhaps when you have more bones to add to your collection.
Chicken stock is a good base for soups and one I am planning soon is nettle soup. More about that at a later date.
Apple cores and the skins of citris fruits have a useful purpose before they finally end up in the compost bin. Put them into a plastic bag and store in the freezer. Add to the bag until such point as you have enough to boil up for making jelly. Then you can put the pulp left over from this into the compost bin. We call the jelly we make this way "compost heap" jelly!
Years ago, when I kept rabbits (I haven't kept livestock for quite a few years now) apple cores etc all got fed to the bunnies. But if you do keep livestock, much uncooked kitchen waste is an important source of fodder.
Other waste that can be converted into a useful resouurce is paper and card. Most councils collect paper for recycling, some collect card as well. My council in Gateshead collects only paper. My house in London is in Bromley where card and paper are collected. However, using as much of it as possible in a way that avoids it going into the waste stream (even for recycling) is better for the environment. So we put much of our cardboard and some paper into our compost bins in our gardens in both Sunniside and London. Make sure any paper and card is mixed up with wet waste to make it rot quicker. If you put in quite a bit of paper, pour into the compost bin a few buckets of (waste) water. My bath water ends up either on the plants or into the compost bins.
And finally, never throw out jam jars. If you are heading for self sufficiency, you will need lots! My colleagues at work also give me empty cava and champagne bottles, useful for making homemade champagne.
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Thursday, 24 July 2008
Radish seeds were planted on Sunday. They have already germinated.
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Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Sunday, 20 July 2008
Today was no different. I spend much of the afternoon one my hands and knees removing weeds. I am amazed at how quickly they grow and I look enviously across the hedge into the next allotment where no weed ever dares to show a leaf!
One of the other allotments neighbouring ours however is derelict. A friend of ours has took it on at the same time as we took on ours. She has not done anything with it yet but we have offered her what help we can. Though currently completely overgrown, it does have a large gooseberry bush which produces a good crop.
Last year I picked about 15kg of gooseberries to make jam and chutney. Today, in less than an hour, I picked about 5kg. I will go back later in the week to pick more. The aim is to make pies as well as jam and chutneys. I'll have a video about this shortly.