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Amanda's Table

No Slugs Please!

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With all the rain we’ve been having recently, the slugs are coming out to play!  This year we have been saving our eggshells to use as a deterrent.  The method is quite simple.  Save your eggshells by placing them in a box to dry out.  Then, wearing a pair of gardening or rubber gloves to protect your hands, crumble them up.  Once crumbled distribute them evenly around your plants making sure you don’t leave a gap or the slugs will sneak through and we don’t want that!  So far, so good the eggshells seem to be working.

Slugs apparently won’t crawl across things such as eggshells.  They also don’t like sharp sand, ash or grit.  We have tried sharp sand before but unfortunately the slugs ignored it and still nibbled the vegetables!  We also save our yogurt pots and keep them topped up with cheap lager or bitter.  The slugs love it!  Dig a small hole to put the pots in, keeping them level with the soil and regularly top them up.  This method is quite effective.   It also helps that we have an army of hedgehogs that visit the garden to help fight the battle.  What are your top tips for deterring slugs?

River Cottage HQ

Photos from our recent trip to River Cottage HQ near Axminster.  If you ever get the opportunity to visit do so. We spent a lovely day recently at the River Cottage Spring Food Fair. It was wonderful to be able to wonder around the farm perusing the vegetable garden, poly tunnels and animals.  There was also the opportunity to attend foraging and garden tours, cookery and gardening demonstrations plus there were numerous stalls to view, tasty treats to eat and drink plus plenty of children’s entertainment.

 

FOR SALE!

An alternative use for loo roll middles!

Don’t throw away your toilet roll or kitchen roll middles.  Instead, save them up and use them to plant large seeds such as runner beans, peas, sweet peas or broad beans.  Not only is it eco friendly, you can save a fortune on seed trays and don’t have to mess around extracting the seedling from the seed tray when it’s time to plant.  It’s also a great activity for children!

Simply stand your loo roll middles up in a suitable container so they are tightly packed and won’t fall over.   We use old grape or strawberry plastic punnets.  These are ideal as they have high sides, drainage holes plus you can usually fit six middles in one container.  If your container doesn’t have drainage holes, line with newspaper to soak up the excess water.  Then fill each roll with soil and a seed not forgetting to cover each seed with soil and water.  Place in the greenhouse or on a warm window sill and water regularly.  When the plants are big enough, plant the seedling plus the loo roll middle directly into the ground.  The loo roll middle will decompose naturally into the soil.

We have been using this method for a few years, usually getting our children to use it to plant their beans.  The runner beans in the picture were planted approximately two weeks ago and are now ready to be planted.  We can highly recommend it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Arrivals!

We were very honoured one evening last week to have three rescue hedgehogs released back into the wild in our garden.  They had been cared for by Little Silver Hedgehog hedgehog hospital in York since October last year.  We have Florence, Derek and Autumn to add to our ever growing hedgehog population.  Derek turned out to be a girl and Autumn only has one eye.  To make sure she could survive in the wild, Autumn conquered several obstacle courses before being given the all clear.

The new arrivals were all a little shy when first released, but could soon be seen and heard scuttling around the borders investigating their new surroundings.  Several hedgehog houses along with bowls of food and water have been provided to help them adapt to their new home.

We are fortunate to have many hedgehogs visiting our garden including one male hedgehog who is almost the size of a football!  This weekend alone I have found several hedgehogs cavorting behind the bins and in the borders!  Unfortunately, hedgehog numbers are in dramatic decline in the UK due to a whole range of factors.  This includes habitat loss, habitat fragmentation plus dangers like roads and ponds.

Little Silver Hedgehog hospital is one of many wildlife rescue centres across the UK trying to help rebuild the hedgehog population.  To see what you can do to help, please visit their website Little Silver Hedgehog or The British Hedgehog Preservation Society for more information.

Rhubarb and Ginger Chutney

I make lots of chutneys and jams during the growing season.  It is a great way to preserve fruit and vegetables so they don’t go to waste.  Stored correctly they can last for a couple …

Source: Rhubarb and Ginger Chutney

Rhubarb and Ginger Chutney

 

I make lots of chutneys and jams during the growing season.  It is a great way to preserve fruit and vegetables so they don’t go to waste.  Stored correctly they can last for a couple of years.

The first chutney I have made this year is a rhubarb and ginger chutney.  It is easy to make and once reduced it is sticky and scrumptious.  You can eat it straight away or make it now and let the flavours infuse for a more intense flavour.  This chutney is the perfect accompaniment for cheese, cold meats or pork pies.  Jazz up a sandwich, add it to a ploughmans lunch or serve it with your after dinner cheese board.  Delicious!

 

 

Rain or Shine!

We are back to warming stews and casserole weather.  It is bitterly cold outside with a biting wind.  One minute it is either snowing, raining or the sun is shinning, the next it is all happening at once!  Yesterday we even had a hailstorm!

So we don’t get stuck in our usual casserole rut I have created a smoky paprika chicken sausage casserole, it’s delicious if I do say so myself.  If you don’t fancy chicken sausages use a selection of pork and chorizo sausages which will work just as well.  Hob or slow cooker, the choice is yours.  We’ve also eaten diced turkey cooked in a wholegrain mustard and creme fraiche sauce based on Jack Monroe’s Creamy Mustard Chicken with Winter Veg, which made a nice change.  Seasonally, it’s just time to move on and enjoy new potatoes and asparagus.  This time last year we were enjoying the sunshine and tucking into delicious home cooked BBQ delicacies and weren’t worried about the seedlings growing in the greenhouse.  I am pleased we have a greenhouse heater for them!  What has happened to the weather this April and what delights will tomorrow bring?

 

 

Seedy Spring!

This time last year we were taking advantage of the warm sunny weather by planting the potatoes and enjoying a BBQ or two.  Unfortunately this year we are still waiting for the ground to warm up to plant our potatoes.  Hopefully we’ll get it done soon.  On a brighter note, the greenhouse is overflowing with seedlings, so much so, we’ve run out of space!  We have peas, dwarf french beans, climbing french beans, salad leaves, kale, leeks, courgettes, several varieties of squash, marrow, cucumbers, an array of purple vegetables, tomatoes and much much more.  Did I mention we have bee friendly flower seedlings too?  Outside of the greenhouse and at the allotment broad beans have been planted, carrots seedlings are starting to show, the herb patch is bulking out, the garlic is going great guns and the fruit trees and bushes are budding up.  The Alpine strawberries are flowering and we’ve eaten our first rhubarb crumble.  It was delicious.

What are you growing this year and have you eaten anything out of your garden yet?  Keep me posted.  Happy growing!

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