Friday, 17 August 2012

The Saturday Foodie Bit!

Sqaure Foot Gardening

The Square Foot Garden!

First Earlies Arran Pilot not 2 minutes
 out of the ground
Sunshine across the veg patch today!  I started on this veg patch on or about the last day in March. I probably started a little late this year. The intention was to experiment with the patch to see if I could produce some veg for a family of four!  Weather permitting there was the potential to produce some veg. However, drought then too much rain and more importantly cold overcast days and cool nights conspired to make a poor showing!  However we did have some results with  potatoes grown in bags!

Square foot gardening is a concept readily achieved in any garden.    A good guide to square foot gardening can be found at .   This is a leaflet I have been using for many years.  I was very surprised to see the number of square foot gardening sites that turned up in the Google Search.  This is obviously a trending movement since a year ago when I last looked there were relatively few sites!  A blog article I wrote awhile ago explains a little of the theory behind this form of micro-farming

With Summer almost drawing to a close the all round veg patch can be kept going!  Now is the time to sow turnips, winter lettuce, japanese onions, winter radish, swiss chard ( very popular ingredient in a lot of Mediterranean countries), perpetual spinach, cabbage and kale.  These are all hardy and will survive most of what the British weather can throw at us.  If you are not going to want to produce produce through the winter, sowing a green manure crop is a useful alternative.  Not only can they add nutrients and structure to soils but also act as a weed suppressant as they out compete by vigorous growth and cover!  For adding nitrogen to soils deep growing Alfalfa (good for improving structure of soils) and crimson clover (sowing season March to August so just within the window).  Alfalfa can be left for a year or more before before digging in.  Crimson clover can be dug in just before flowering, this prevents self seeding and it becoming a weed (a plant growing in a place where it is not wanted).

New "sowing" has been a bit of theme this week.     I have been experimenting with starting off a sourdough culture.  This is a bit of ancient microbiology relying on natural airborne yeasts.  So potentially each batch of sourdough is unique in it's microflora owing to geographical position and time of year.  This is a bit like local honey that contains local pollen that some people recommend as a supply of antigen for controlling hay fever reactions.  Potentially also a good way of acclimatising the bodies immune system to local yeast strains.  Using River Cottages Bread Handbook as the reference I set up a culture.  A flour and water (1 cup flour, 1 cup water) batter was made in an earthenware jar and set aside to ferment.

The Batter
Fermentation and checking, started
fermentation within 36 hours  

Preparing for the first feeding of the culture
with 1 cup of flour and and one of water

Have found that the recent warm temperatures during the day and much cooler temperatures during the night do influence the rate of fermentation.  The aroma from the culture has also changed during the process to a now pleasant sweetish alcohol laden "nose" (makes it sound like a fine wine).

Next step is to discard halve and add more flour and water.  In the next next few days hopefully I will making bread!

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