First attempt at homemade dandelion coffee

Following my post ‘Herbs for Health’, I duly got my garden fork out yesterday and dug up a number of dandelion roots and, after giving them a good scrub, put them in the dehydrator. It’s a shame I had dug out some of the biggest roots in the summer, as they had now produced lots of little ones where the root had not been completely removed.

The internet threw up a number of recipes, which were all basically the same and none of which I followed. For a start, once the roots were dehydrated, I got the pestle and mortar out

before roasting them.

I didn’t think I could roast them, anyway, since my oven doesn’t work. Then I hit on the idea of using the breadmaker

and was pleased with the outcome. In fact, a whole new world of possibilities has opened up but I will explore these another time.

One of the recipes I’d read on line suggested six tablespoons of dandelion coffee for a cafetière (presumably a big one), which stuck me as excessive. In any case, there wasn’t enough ground and roasted dandelion root, so I decided one spoonful would have to do.

Also, I felt that a good place to start would be to heat the coffee up in milk in the manner I had seen tea being prepared in Pakistan.

Upon taking the first sip, I felt that something was missing and toyed with the idea of adding some sugar or honey. I didn’t want to go down the route of adding unnecessary refined carbohydrate to my diet, though, so opted for ground cinnamon instead.

And most delicious it was. So, where am I going to find more dandelions?

Posted in edible weeds, In the kitchen | Tagged , | 32 Comments

Isn’t that tree pretty!

It’s only two and a half years ago that we bought the Scrumptious apple tree for my daughter and already she seems to have forgotten which of the trees is hers.

‘Isn’t that tree pretty!’ she exclaimed when she saw the blossom but she was equally surprised when I informed her it was actually hers.

Anyway, hopefully she will now remember. And in the short yet, I also hope the frosts we are getting won’t damage the such pretty blossom. For that matter, it needs to be fertilised by blossom from another apple tree or two, so let’s hope that the buds in the rest of the garden get a move on and open up before it is too late.

So far so good, though. It’s only a young tree, so just a few apples would be sufficient this year. The ones last year were a good size and with all the mulching the tree has had, fingers crossed it delivers come late August.

Posted in forest garden, Gardening | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Reintroduction & Rewilding Summit – this Saturday

I almost never reblog a post, as regular readers will probably be aware. However, the free event advertised below looks like it could be very interesting and so it makes sense to spread the word.

Should anyone reading this post go or have gone, I would be interested to know what you think of any of the events.

In the meantime, if you look on the Birds of Poole Harbour website, which can be found here, you can find a number of podcasts about various rewilding projects. This page also provides the link to register for them summit on Saturday 10th April.

The exciting Reintroduction & Rewilding Summit takes place this Saturday (10th April), launching online from 10am. Co-hosted by the Birds of Poole …

Reintroduction & Rewilding Summit – this Saturday
Posted in Good for the environment, Social | Tagged , | 7 Comments

An untouched apple

Recently, there was a tweet from the Wildlife Trusts about feeding birds at this time of year. Just as it is the hunger gap for us, so it is for them. I asked what I could do for blackbirds and the answer came back that I could put an apple on the end of a branch where I had done some pruning. This I did.

I somehow had my doubts about the blackbirds taking any interest in fruit stuck on a tree, though. They were already finding plenty of worms in the ground, by the looks of things. So, not surprisingly, the apple is rotting, untouched.

I often wonder what birds are thinking about humans and our antics. Perhaps they think the apple is one of our bizarre rituals. In any case, methinks it will be going in the compost bin now.

Posted in Wildlife | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Vegetable spaghetti

Determined not to let my seeds fail through lack of watering, I pulled back the curtains in my bedroom to administer the necessary yesterday morning and was confronted with a sight I had not expected quite yet.

Along with the tomatoes, the vegetable spaghetti had sprouted. Better than this, they look like veritable plants already. And they are going to need potting on very soon.

However, not only am I in the throes of decorating the kitchen but I’ve been getting up to speed on the spinning wheel, with the upshot that I now have my first skein of yarn produced on it.

A friend who visited me this afternoon was suitably impressed. We were also both impressed with the bird life frequenting the garden on this cold but sunny afternoon.

Due to COVID restrictions, we were out on the patio and the pigeons must have decided they were safe. One even ventured into the pond right beside us but the one that calmly positioned itself on the crab apple tree charmed me the most.

On the whole, the birds have rarely gone so far as to sit in any of my trees. Perhaps they normally do so when I’m not looking. It is therefore a great pleasure to see them making themselves at home. Won’t it be wonderful when they start nesting in them, too!

Anyway, after last week’s 22 degrees Celsius, the temperatures have now plummeted to a meagre 3. In the sunshine, fortunately, it felt warmer than this but, clearly, the eager vegetable spaghetti won’t be finding their feet in the soil for some time to come.

Posted in Crafts, Gardening, Social, Wildlife | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Speed networking

Ever heard of speed dating? This is where a circle of women sit opposite a circle of men and have three minutes each to introduce themselves before all the men or women have to move to speak to the next person.

Well, Regeneration Pollination is a similar concept but for different reasons. I dare say it could lead to dating but I’m not keen on long distance relationships. My motivation for joining the event, apart from generally meeting new people and having a chat on a Friday evening, was to find new members for the Permaculture International Research Network (PIRN) co-ordinators group. At the moment, most of us are based in Europe, so international is a bit of a stretch.

However, it looks like we may have a new member joining us from North America, so the wider world is moving in. Now, I need to figure out how to have a meeting with people who are 7 hours behind BST simultaneously with others 7 hours ahead of BST. Especially when the main person who needs to be at our next meeting is in Spain 🤔.

While I ponder on this, here is a photo of a sign I took yesterday which you may wish to read. After meeting with a friend in more or less central Leeds, we took a walk to the outskirts so that I could deliver some seeds to a colleague. I’d often passed ‘King Alfred’s Playing Fields’ when taking my daughter home from her piano lesson, and now I finally knew what I’d been curious about.

After the six-mile walk, I was well and truly fatigued and had to have a restorative nap before launching into conversation with new-to-me people across the globe. I’d originally got the time wrong, which was just as well, as I always feel groggy after an afternoon siesta, but with two hours to wake up properly, I was fine.

Posted in Days out, Permaculture | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

The third rinse

Last weekend, a pair of my daughter’s leggings came out of the washing machine with noticeable holes on the thigh. We knew the culprit must be the wire which came out of some clothes last July, but I was in denial. So, this weekend, one garment came out all but shredded and several others had small holes in them.

This cannot continue – but I don’t really want to buy a new machine when this one is only about three years old. Equally, even under normal circumstances, I’m not keen on inviting a stranger into my home to fiddle about with fixtures and fittings.

The machine seems to be picking on T-shirt material rather than towelling, which got me thinking about alternative strategies for managing the situation. How about hand washing most clothes, which would probably benefit from a bit of kindness, while it is summer and therefore not so essential that the water has been so thoroughly spun out of them. Heavier items could still go in the machine and perhaps I could try delicates which may be better machine-washed inside a thick cotton bag.

I did a quick internet search to see if hand washing might be less damaging to the environment as well but didn’t find anything conclusive on the subject. I doubt very much I use as little at 53 litres of water (apparently what a modern machine uses), in any case. On the other hand, all the pots and other thirst parts of the garden have now had a watering, thanks to the third rinse.

Posted in Gardening, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 6 Comments

While I’m on hold

Yesterday, I went for the first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The side effects came on more or less as soon as I got home, which put paid to the rest of my day of annual leave being for anything useful.

However, that didn’t stop the garden from moving forward. Once I felt a bit more spritely this afternoon, I took a walk round and noticed that the rheum I bought last autumn is starting to poke through the soil. I’m now therefore waiting with bated breath to see how big it will get this year.

I also noticed that the blackbirds have further encroached into the dedicated garlic bed. This is turning out not to be the success I’d hoped it would be. Many of the garlic shoots appear to be dying off and I wonder if this is due to insufficient water. In any case, damage caused by the birds is of little import if the garlic is failing, anyway.

On the other hand, I’d finally got round to protecting the Nine-Star Broccoli with a cloche the other day and the pigeons do not appear to have caused any further damage.

The plant doesn’t look big enough for the expected three heads of broccoli it is supposed to produce each year but it is perhaps early days yet. Then again with my soil in its current poor state, I’m not unduly surprised.

Hence, after collecting the latest batch of manure, I spread some of it round the cardoon. Originally, I’d been planning to do this once the strawberries had finished for the season but it is looking decidedly bedraggled.

The manure I’m getting this year is much more decomposed than that which I obtained in 2020, so I’m hoping it won’t have an adverse effect on the plantings that are getting a dose now. I don’t have any finished compost to use instead, though I think I am getting into a rythme now in the production of such.

I’ve decided not to take anymore food waste from my neighbours who live round the corner. It is a shame that their waste will therefore now be going to landfill but I just can’t accommodate it. There was also the difficulty of composting the bags the waste was in. It might decompose in an industrial food composting system but it doesn’t work in heaps my size.

Posted in Gardening, soil management, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , | 39 Comments

A bumblebee nest

When I was shopping for a rosemary plant last week, I had a look for a cactus dahlia, having been charmed by the ones I saw at River Cottage in the summer of 2019. There weren’t any to my taste but there was another dahlia which caught my eye as well as a lily, both of which should be a deep red.

The dahlia has now been planted between the ferns at the side of the pond and I look forward to seeing it in the summer. The lily is destined for the front garden with it not being edible unlike the flowers of the dahlia (apparently, though I gave it a go last year and am still alive and kicking).

In the meantime, I was very pleased to see the first bumblebee of the year. It was zigzagging low across the garden and then disappeared from view, only to emerge from a hole in the soil near the back door.

I’d wondered if this might be a bumblebee nest, after noticing it previously. Having just looked on the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website, I now see that the bumblebee zigzagging close to the ground was probably a queen bee who was looking for a nest site. So, I am a bit disappointed that she may well have rejected this hole but who knows?

Posted in edible flowers, Wildlife | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Same place twice

I had a day’s annual leave on Thursday to celebrate my birthday. Well, ostensibly, it was so I didn’t have to do work but I did want it to be special.

Last year on this day I had been hunting round Leeds city centre for a bag of flour – remember those heady days when panic set in and various staples disappeared from the shelves? The unfortunate thing is that I had actually needed a bag of flour. So, the hunt had somewhat taken the lustre of the day.

Anyway, Thursday was a very pleasant day. I’d ordered a new pair of trousers (yup, new new clothes, having found nothing in the charity shops when they were last open but sorely needing some after yet another pair of trousers bit the dust) and was due to collect them from an M&S food outlet near a garden centre I sometimes visit. Thus, the idea of an outing was born.

I duly picked up the trousers and, being in a food outlet, inevitably I ended up buying some food. However, there was method in my madness.

At the garden centre later, after finding a rosemary plant (which fingers crossed won’t die on me), I came across a hellebores to replace the one killed by the red campion in the front garden. Delighted, I took my purchases back to the car and then set about having a picnic with the M&S food.

As I stood at the boot of the car, making my sandwiches on the shelf over it (I keep picnic crockery and cutlery in the car in case of impromptu picnics), I reflected on why it mattered to eat outdoors. Until relatively recently in our evolution, outdoors was the only place to be. Houses may provide shelter from the elements but they are not our natural habitat. Thus, I felt my picnic was so much more fulfilling than if I had eaten the same food back home.

In view of this feeling, in the evening, my daughter and I tried out curry from a restaurant we hadn’t eaten at before. She’d been keen on taking it home but, particularly after my lunchtime experience, I was determined to find an outdoor venue for my birthday supper.

A decision was made to go to the edge of Water Haigh Woodland Park and St Aidan’s Nature Reserve and there could have been no better choice: wood and water all with one meal.

Back home, I got a text from a friend asking if I’d like to go for a walk round St Aidan’s the next day. So, on Friday, I got to see the other side of the reserve from the part I had looked over whilst eating curry.

We couldn’t work out what kind of tree the above was, except that it must be in the rose family. Maybe we can go back, find it and see what fruit it bears later in the year. Now, there’s a plan!

Posted in Days out | Tagged , , | 28 Comments

Are the tulips early?

Time has a habit of distorting memories, so perhaps last March the tulips were eager to flower whilst the hellebores was in full bloom. On the other hand, it seems particularly unlikely that the snowdrops and tulips were out at the same time.

The snowdrops are just out range in this shot.

Then again, I forget that we are heading swiftly towards April. The year feels like a ride on a slide at a theme park: difficult at the start and descending towards what?

Being optimistic by nature, I am hoping the future will include trips to the increasingly long list of places I want to visit. The latest is an agroforestry tour around East Anglia.

There is actually going to be one at the beginning of May: Agroforestry Open Weekend. Looks like the only people visiting will be those in East Anglia, or at a pinch residents of South Lincs, Cambridgeshire and Essex, but I’ve had an assurance from one of the farmers involved that they will be holding similar days further into the future.

In the meantime, I’ll fiddle some more with the spinning wheel and think about netting up the Nine-Star Broccoli before the pigeons eat it all!!

Posted in Gardening, Permaculture | Tagged , , | 11 Comments