A very busy day making the most of the sunshine to get caught up with all the field and footpath mowing but the highlight was cutting our first pumpkins of the season. It usually gets to September before the PR people remember to think about Halloween but quite a few have been making enquiries already.
The first order was just for a few pumpkins and quite on odd mix but ours is not to reason why. I look forward to seeing the finished piece.
We always grow a few pumpkins under glass so they are ready for sale that bit sooner. Due to the poor weather, the outdoor pumpkins are only just beginning to set but hopefully they will be ready for the mid October harvest.
As we hit ‘peak tomato’ in the polytunnel we try and prepare as many portions of our favourite soup; freezing portions of our delicious roast tomato and pepper soup for a hearty warming meal later in the autumn.
In fact every time the oven goes on, a tray of roughly chopped tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions will be in the bottom.
Ingredients (Makes 3 big bowls) :
1kg of ripe tomatoes
1 large onion
4 green or red peppers
6 peeled whole cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
600 millilitres vegetable stock
Worcestershire (three shakes)
Tabasco (two shakes)
Preheat the oven to 200C
Cut up larger tomatoes to the size of a whole cherry tomato. Deseed the peppers and then cut up the peppers and onion to a similar size as the tomatoes.
Place the tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic into a roasting dish or baking tray and season with salt and pepper.
Pour on the olive oil then vigorously mix all the ingredients by hand to ensure that the oil has coated everything.
Bake for about 30-45 minutes until the tomatoes and peppers are just beginning to char.
Bring the vegetable stock to the boil and add the Worcestershire and tabasco sauce. Add the roasted vegetables and puree using a hand blender to the texture you prefer.
Allow to cool then freeze in portions. Ideal for a warm welcome on a winters evening. The quantities will make three big bowls of hearty, homemade soup.
Three big bowls will serve 1 – 2 Lancashire farmers or at least 6 southern jessies.
A new greenhouse with an electric supply has allowed us to trial growing lemongrass plants in some NFT and Aeroponic hydroponic systems.
We now have Lemongrass plants in a Nutriculture NFT hydroponic grow tank, some Fennel in a smaller NFT system and some ‘mother’ lemongrass plants in an aeroponics tank.
I have no idea if Fennel will grow successfully in a pot let alone in a hydroponic system but am giving it a go. I will hopefully trail some in the same system but outside as ‘bolting’ might be an issue for the fennel plants if they are kept in a greenhouse.
I also wanted to trial some hydroponic Celeriac which will definitely need to be outside but have possibly left it too late for getting seeds started for this growing season.
The bigger lemongrass plants sat in the NFT system have started to put roots beyond the pot and onto the spreader mat.
The Lemongrass in the aeroponics system has been in for a week now and the root growth through the net pots is most impressive.
Two attacks over three days have seen our much loved hens have suffered badly at the hands of one or more foxes.
On both occasions, the attacks were made early evening well before dusk. Whilst the hens have enjoyed spending the days roaming around the woodland the down side is not being able to offer them 100% protection before they go indoors to roost and once Mr fox has worked this out there is very little we can do.
Our little flock has been devastated with just a handful of old girls remaining who, I suspect, had already gone to bed.
I really can’t face clearing up such a scene again so, unless we can find a cast iron method of protecting them, I think that is it. Very sad.
The past few days have taken place in a large cloud of sawdust as we try and catch up on a few bespoke orders for BIG chunky chopping boards.
Thick milled planks are cut to best make use of their individual natural grain patterns. All boards are marked out by hand and consequently no two boards are ever the same.
Our boards grace many a TV studio kitchen and are also used in photo shoots for an ever increasing amount of in house and retail food magazines.
Interestingly, when our chunky chopping boards leave Lancashire and travel down the motorway, somewhere around Watford they become ‘Rustic Serving Platters’ and the price quadruples!
As the trend for rustic weddings has increased so has the demand from caterers and wedding planners (professional or DIY) for these boards. Subject to availability (and enough notice) we also do log rings and slices for cake stands.
For a small additional fee, we can also personalise a board with a text message or logo burnt into the edge or surface of the board.
We can’t do ‘urgent’. We may have something suitable already in stock but if not it takes time to locate suitable logs and get them transported and milled. It then takes at least two years for the milled boards to be air dried sufficiently before they are ready for turning into our lovely rustic serving boards.