Archive for March, 2009

Hazel Nuts in Edible Hedges

hazelnut I’m thinking that every part of our garden has to “pay its way” and that a standard privet hedge just doesn’t contribute enough to merit consideration. So I’ve been looking at edible hedges, and the one plant that really stands out for me for this is the Hazelnut (or Cob nut or Filbert) they can be kept down to hedge height and should produce a dense hedge with flowers and – obviously – copious supplies of delicious and nutritious nuts which will store well. They seem to be freely available, with dozens of varieties listed at online nurseries, and they don’t seem to be too hard to grow. There’s a good introductory article from The Times on popular trees for a small garden and here is the guidance from Blackmoor Nurseries:

Cobnut trees are hardy and grow well on a wide range of soils except those that are waterlogged, but like all plants they grow best in soil conditions that suit them.

They prefer a good friable topsoil overlying a free draining substrate. A soil that is too fertile will tend to produce trees with excessive vigour, which will not crop well. However, it is still possible to grow reasonably sized and cropping trees on stony ground as long as there is sufficient soil and good drainage.

Cobnuts are largely self sterile – the pollen from a given variety cannot pollinate the same variety. If you live in the countryside where there are plenty of wild hazels nearby, then these will probably pollinate your trees.

A neutral to alkaline soil is ideal, but cobnuts also grow well in more acid soils.

Trees are sold online bare-rooted when dormant (usually between Nov-March). I’ve missed my chance for this year, but the nurseries start taking orders from April, so once I’ve got my head around the different varieties I’ll get on and order some.

Suppliers

Protecting your Carrots from Carrot Fly

Carrot Fly is apparently a major source of grief for British carrot growers. I don’t fancy losing my hard-won crop to the little flying pests so I was happy to hear that there is a fool-proof way to avoid them. Set aside plans to wrap them my carrots in fleece or surround them in polythene:  

Carrot Root Fly has a limited altitude – it can’t fly higher than 18-24 inches (depending on which site you believe).

So if you grow your carrots in tubs at least 30in high you will have no problems with Carrot Root Fly. I just saw it on UKTV Gardens so it must be true Very Happy

Making Mushroom Compost

Mushrooms are one of my little peccadilloes – so it was great to come across a good article over at Food from the Garden on creating mushroom compost and using it to grow your own mushrooms – a much more resilient solution than depending on bought Mushroom-growing kits. So that I have a copy in case the original page goes missing I have also reproduced parts of it below the fold, but go here to read the article while it is still there.

Continue reading

Eating Acorns

I never thought life would get this bad 🙂 but I’ve been looking for a resilient alternative to Wheat, as I’m pretty sure we’re not going to be able to grow enough in our garden to feed my Wholemeal Bread habit. 

Prompted by an article written by Janaia from Peak Moment called “Make Like a Squirrel” I’ve found out that you can eat acorns (after quite a lot of preparation!) They were a key food for Native Americans, and can be incorporated into a range of dishes including bread. The most comprehensive srticle I’ve found is one from Peggy Spring at the San Antonio Natural Area Parks, who suggest these recipes:

 

Steamed Acorn Black Bread 
Mix together: 
1 1/2 cups Acorn Meal 
1/2 cup Acorn Grits 
1 cup white flour 
1/2 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
Add: 
1/2 cup dark molasses 
1 1/2 cups sour milk 
2 tablespoons salad oil 

Wring out a pudding cloth in boiling water, spread it in a round bottom bowl and turn the batter into it. Tie the corners and suspend the bag over boiling water in a closed kettle for 4 hours. This should be served hot from the bag, and a steaming slab of this rich, dark, moist bread is just right with a plate of baked beans.


Apache Acorn Cakes 

1 cup acorn meal, ground fine 
1 cup cornmeal 
1/4 cup honey 
pinch of salt 

Mix the ingredients with enough warm water to make a moist, not sticky dough. Divide into 12 balls. Let rest, covered, for 10 minutes or so. With slightly moist hands, pat the balls down into thick tortilla-shaped breads. Bake on an ungreased cast iron griddle over campfire coals or on clean large rocks, propped up slightly before the coals. If using the stones, have them hot when you place the cakes on them. You’ll have to lightly peel an edge to peek and see if they are done. They will be slightly brown. Turn them over and bake on the other side, if necessary.

I can’t see these being a staple of our diet any time soon – but I’m dying to give this a go. I’d better keep an eye out for local oaks.

Creating a home greywater system

 I’ve blogged a lot about water over at GentleDescent – I think living in a seven-year drought tends to make you realise how much we take water for granted. This is particularly true in the garden, where it is quite easy to go through hundreds of litres with a hose or sprinkler without even realising. We’ll be having Rainwater Tanks, but a large part of their output will be going into the house. To really ensure we have enough water for all the amazing food I want to grow, we’ll need to look at re-using our greywater too. The video below from the great guys at Peak Moment shows an interesting, low-energy greywater system – something I’ll definitely have to think about.