Notes From The Garden Shed
This is the start of what is meant to become a communal blog – please chip in, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by using the Comment link …
When we moved back to Devon after four decades of city suburban, the surging power of the hedgerow was a bit worrying to start with. Left alone, it would clearly take over first the garden and then the house. At first, we were still thinking like townies – get the Black & Decker out, work out which of the many joins in the cable has come apart, eventually cut a kind of box shape, with a flat front and sort of squared top all round the premises.
In pursuit of this ideal, we acquired a range of tools. Last one was a long-reach electric trimmer, £50 immaculate with a good cable thrown in. The old fella our age who sold it said he found it a bit hard to use now and we soon found out what he meant.
The argument in The Shed was that electric made sense if you were cutting within range of your own power source. No fuel tank, less weight. Possibly true but most of the weight on the cutting arm is in the motor itself and this one is quite bulky. Is a petrol motor any more compact? This one is not easy to use for hard cutting from a ladder but it’ll do for the odd job. Meanwhile, we have finally found a kind of karma in relations with the hedge anyway.
The proper country attitude is to control the thing, not give it a manicure. Pick up a hand tool when you’re going that way and take off interlopers. Leave a patch which is promising to flower or fruit and see what you get. Intervene as required. When Gary Shirley left the village this summer, we coughed up £4 at his yard sale for a primitive lopper from his wife’s family’s shed – works a treat and reaches into most of the corners we bought the strimmer for. Three years ago, we stopped attacking a row of hazel and let it grow. This year, it delivered a shower of nuts at some point, although they all disappeared before we got there. And it’s ready to coppice out a bit, for new garden poles and sticks.
Our favourite way so far though of harvesting the hedge is to cut the brambles and briars in long lengths and trim them to make a kind of natural barbed wire. Pin it round the boundary of your veg bed with sticks and the odd proper tent peg and it least it’s a discouragement to slugs and mice. Push it down with a glove on one hand and a stick in the other, Repair and renew and improve for a few years and you end up with a kind of mini-hedge which actually looks like it might make a difference for an hour or two. And it’s not much more work than folding it into a garden waste bag.
on WINTER POSSIBILITIES
Microgreens, the chef’s version of vegetables, are easy to grow indoors, for results in a week or two, says The Guardian and these are worth a try …
RADISH, ROCKET, MUSTARD, CORIANDER, BASIL, BROCCOLI, SPINACH, BEETROOT, FENNEL, MIZUNA
This year’s rhubarb, every time we had a couple of pounds of fruit we boiled and mashed it and added two pounds of sugar in a gallon jar with yeast and water. First batch stopped too quickly but looked and tasted okay so we bottled it to see. Put the last pint in a decanter and left it for sampling one night. The night happened. Horrible. Immature and sour. But we think we know why. Second batch we brewed, we found a better way of squeezing out the pulp, using scrim cloth, and found a lot of good juice waiting to be had and it seems to have made a big difference to the fermentation. Watch out, however, for bursts in your squeezing cloth. It’s amazing how much white formica you can splatter with one shot of hot rhubarb paste under pressure.
The second and third rhubarbs bubbled away nicely. But some apple alongside it was reluctant. In the end, mixed the two and the rhubarb yeast took over and all went well until we drained it off the lees at the end of summer and it stuck again, despite baths of warm water and hours on the sunbed. It’s now in the airing cupboard but a modern boiler doesn’t waste enough heat to make much difference. Holding on for a week of stove days to see if there is anything left to revive. Possibly. But probably 2 kilo of fruit per gallon would have been more like it.
The Shed took away a couple of gallons of the Leaping Salmon’s apple juice, from their pressing day a few weeks ago. Cider is what apples really want to be and we stuck a ferment lock on the jars and left em. Just come back from a few days away, three weeks later, and found it still going good guns, but decided to rack it to take some murk out. Now it’s going well again and there are other batches on the go round here. Next decision here is whether and when to add extra sugar. We’re leaving it for now. Should be some sampling to do around Christmas of Horrabridge Hooch 2019.
One for the builders:
The job was to scaffold for access to top roof and most other corners of a 16-sided house near Exmouth called A La Ronde. The contractor took six weeks to build it and billed the National Trust £45,000.
A Private War at Yelverton Cinema.
Eddie Izzard at Theatre Royal.
Salsa class and concert at Calstock Hall.
1920s party at Burgh Island Hotel, Bigbury – £75 a head.
Falmouth Oyster Week begins.
Tour de Moor bike race passes through Horrabridge .
And later …
Eliza and Pete Acty, local Americana duo, at Calstock Arts Friday 18th.
Horrabridge Fireworks Night now fixed for Friday Oct 25.
Wishbone Ash supported by legendary bluesmen The Groundhogs at Exeter Phoenix, October 26.
Cider & Cheese tasting afternoon at the Leaping Salmon on Sat Oct 26 – £12 a head.
Ex Edinburgh Fest act: Confessions Of A Cockney Temple Dancer – Calstock Arts, Friday Nov 1.
For the full calendar CLICK HERE