This week began with the Autumn Equinox, the festival of Mabon, which starts on September 21st
The hedgerows are filled with creamy elderflowers. It’s time to forage! Choose elderflower heads that are in full blossom and at their most fragrant to make delicious drinks, skin care and preserves.
I’ve been busy in the kitchen making elderflower champagne, liqueur, vinegar, sugar, oil and dried elderflowers too. Here are the recipes.
This fragrant, spicy versatile cleaning vinegar smells fantastic and cleans powerfully.
Perennial fruit bushes play a key role in my garden, producing an abundance of delicious berries during summer months. These I preserve, to enjoy year round: jewel coloured jams, cordials, liqueurs, chutneys and other delicious additions to my homegrown larder.
Some comfort perhaps for those who are dealing with horsetail in their gardens and allotments … at least it is useful!
Last weekend I gave two talks at the South West Permaculture Convergence, the first on No Dig Gardening and the second about making potions for the garden and home using plants we can grow and forage for in the UK.
Friday 21st April was uniquely special for Charles and myself. Two very exciting events happened quite by chance on the same day: our book arrived at the publishers and Charles was featured on BBC Gardeners’ World. Life has been so busy since that it has taken a week to be able to find the time write this post 🙂
BD 500, strange as it sounds, is made from cow manure which has been stuffed into the horn of a female cow in the autumn and buried in the soil, pointed end downwards, over the winter to mature and ferment.
Basil flowers are beautiful to look at, smell gorgeous and attract bees and other beneficial insects. It is tempting to leave the flowers on because they look so pretty, but removing them encourages the plant to put its energy into continuing to produce abundant leaves for longer – for salads, pesto, preserving and summer cooking.
On Friday I harvested the first of my roses to dry the petals. The edible flowers here are beginning to bloom in abundance, adding beauty and colour to the garden and food, with the added bonus of smelling amazing and feeding the bees. My article on growing and using edible flowers, including many recipes, is in the current issue of Permaculture Magazine (International) and the new publication, Permaculture Magazine, North America.
On April 4th, Charles, Felix (a German university student who is working at Homeacres with Charles for four months) and I travelled to Axminster, Devon for the River Cottage ‘Meet the Experts’ Day, where Charles and I were two of the experts giving talks.
I first came across the idea of using a powdered clay based toothpowder when I met a woman selling it at the Offgrid Festival three or four years ago. Until then, I had been using a fluoride free toothpaste from the local whole food shop (no artificial sweeteners, SLS etc) which was fine – however trying this was a revelation! It made my teeth feel really clean and felt so much healthier and pleasanter in my mouth than toothpaste. I love making things for myself rather than buying them where possible (I had to buy the ingredients but you know what I mean…), it lasts a long time, is cheap to make and can easily be stored in old jam jars, so doesn’t require any fancy storage or equipment.
Here in Somerset and across much of England comfrey grows wild, providing an important source of food for bees feeding from the clusters of droopy flowers and other wildlife including moth caterpillars and ladybirds. The large hairy leaves can be spread as a mulch, added to the compost heap (make sure there are no seeds otherwise it will invade everywhere), dried for winter use and made into an excellent plant food. Comfrey is a key element in making more of fertility for the garden at home.