6 days ago
On Christmas Day we will be hosting my parents in law, my sister in law and her two kids and my daughter’s godmother I who is joining us from New York for what she terms “the holidays” as in “happy holidays”. So that makes ten around the table. The godmother and I shall be doing the cooking.
23 days ago
I gather that in England drought orders are set to remain in 2023 but here in North Wales there is no shortage of water. As you might gather from the picture below, the River Dee is rising and the rain is still beating down. There is now a small stream running down the lane to the hovel and through the farmyard towards the river. It is my apple orchard, the older of the two, which sits on the river bank and will be the first to be flooded if the water rises by another five foot or so which it might well do.
50 days ago
As I waited for the pasteurisation of the juice to complete late last night, I threaded another 60 chillies and hung them up to dry. There are now about 140 threaded, 40 more waiting to be threaded and, I guess, 300 more in the garden turning redder by the day and awaiting harvesting. We are still working our way through last year’s dried chillies so I guess what I am producing now will make even more Christmas presents to go with surplus apple chutney and the usual Greek Hovel olive oil.
99 days ago
My friend N has lent me her apple picker, a tall pole with a basket at the top. With an apple scratter now bought I will do a small test harvest of apples from the old orchard by the river tomorrow, with a view to pressing some juice. Those apples are starting to drop so some are clearly ripe. Meanwhile I have made a a little something for the Mrs…
279 days ago
Last night, the remaining squashes stored from the Autumn went into a stew. Today at lunchtime we ate the last of the winter potatoes seasoned with almost the last of my dried herbs, some rather miniscule sprouts from the winter crop and a small cauliflower from the same vintage,all of which you can see below. The last of my stored apples were used to make an apple sauce for a joint of pork.
297 days ago
When we arrived here at the Welsh Hovel almost three years ago, our land which runs along the lane down to our farmhouse was known as the jungle. Almost the size of a soccer pitch I only discovered that it contained three asbestos and corrugated iron sheds after about a year so thick were the bushes, trees and undergrowth. Now, of course, it has been turned into an enormous vegetable garden but at the far end there is still work in progress.
405 days ago
The cooking apples keep falling from the tree which sits on the edge of my vegetable garden, the area formerlly known as “the jungle.” There is only so much stewed apple we can make – I still have two large jars in the fridge and you can’t eat apple crumble every day. So last night it was chutney making.
419 days ago
After last night’s triumph with the apple juice from the River orchard, today I picked the rest of the edible apples from the new top orchard. This is only the second year for the trees and they all yielded well and I am sure will do better still next year. However, I reckon that I have room for at least four more trees in the upper orchard and so am minded to buy another three apple trees and one more crabapple tree to assist with polination and to increase the amount of crabapple jelly I produce.
422 days ago
I bought myself two early Christmas presents, the first of which is the apple rack below which is now in use, albeit only temporarily.
424 days ago
Drowning in radishes, gherkins and apples here at the Welsh Hovel the three find themselves in a salad almost every day. But still that is not enough to use up everything on offer and so yesterday I tried an experiment. Food should not only taste great but should look gorgeous too. Don’t you agree?
431 days ago
Early next week, an early Christmas treat, I bought for myself, arrives here at the Welsh Hovel. My gift is two, four foot long, wooden boxes which I plan to fill with sand in which to store surplus carrots, of which I have many, for winter usage. When the shops run out and you are all starving, bring me your gold and I can supply not only beans but carrots. I should, however, say that my carrots get uglier by the day.
440 days ago
The cooking apples from the tree on the lane down to the Welsh Hovel have been dropping for weeks. But now those edible apples in both the old and new orchards are also ripening fast and thus every few days I find myself making another jar of stewed apples and cinnamon to store in the fridge.
442 days ago
My colleague Darren uploaded these photos and reckons what he saw was cherries. Poltroon! Sadly my nine cherry trees are yet to yield much, I have hopes for next year. What you see is from the two crabapple trees in the new orchard I planted in early 2020 and which Joshua and I harvested last week.
522 days ago
I support Northern Ireland so do not give a hoot about the woke prima donnas of the England Football team so as the nation sat glued to the box I carried on working on bringing the lower, old, orchard next to the river back into shape.
542 days ago
When we arrived here two years ago, the grass, ferns and nettles were more than six foot high in bits of the small field above the barns. You could not see the gate fence and chicken shed at the end of the field which separated it from our upper meadow which goes all the way to the churchyard. The glass-filled ruins of an ancient shed just before the chicken shed were hidden from view. I had no idea it existed. What a difference two years makes. This is the field onto which five of our neighbours must look at from their houses and it was one of them who made my week by saying thank you a couple of days ago. So what does it look like now?
679 days ago
Just a couple of snaps from the top inner field where I created the strawberry patch but also planted a second orchard – the first being apple only and down by the river. The trees are a mixture of apples, crab apples, pears, plums and two small fig trees. I have ordered another tree – a rare species but one native to Britain. More on that later when it arrives in the next week or two.
699 days ago
The day is looming when I must consider my New Year’s Resolutions. It is no great shock in that my top few are all to do with being a little bit, no a lot more, healthy. Spending those last couple of weeks with Dad and his death, covid, the second big lockdown here in Wales, the new baby and now Christmas have not been good for my health. The large Christmas jumper given to me by my mother in law is a little tight. I am all too aware of what needs doing. I am 53 in two weeks time and I have a one month old baby so I need to up my game in the healthy living department. It is all very well me considering plans for wind down and retirement but you have to live long enough to get to spend more time with your children and goats.
785 days ago
Well I cannot say this was a major success. The kit says 12 litres of apples should have produced 6 litres of juice. I ended up with about a litre to which I added a bit of sugar and a bit of water. Maybe I should have peeled the pears but the ones our pear tree produced are so damn small! Anyhow, the Mrs, Joshua and I drank what came out and it was okay. Not brilliant but okay. Next up I shall have a go with some, peeled, apples from the hovel and I shall report back on that later.
791 days ago
I harvest not just for myself but for the pensioner couple one house up the lane and 95 year old E one house further up. And so we have a small number of crab apples from the two trees I planted this year – enough for one small pot of crab apple jelly, the last of the damsons for gin and then stacks of cooking apples from the orchard by the river and pears from a tree in the centre of the vegetable patch. Then finally some rhubarb which I planted this year… I have promised the family rhubarb crumble this evening. But I will also be making apple jam, pear jam and maybe a bit of rhubarb and ginger gin.
895 days ago
I already have one orchard at the Welsh Hovel. You have seen it numerous times, underwater, as it runs along the banks of the River Dee behind the formal lawn and the farmyard. The trees there produce vast numbers of cooking apples and, as you can see in the first couple of photos, we will have another glut this year. With five or six trees, if anyone fancies some of these apples, and wants to pop by, be my guest. However I have now spent a lot of time planting new fruit trees.
922 days ago
As it happens, strawberry cultivation used to be big business here in the last village in Wales. And myself, Joshua and the Mrs have been working hard to create a patch here at the Welsh Hovel.