215 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.
242 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.
249 days ago
For some reason, I am snowed under with apples from the orchard by the river Dee this year. This week I brought in two 25 litre buckets of apples. I could easily bring in another twenty if I had the time and energy to process them all and enough bottles to store the juice in.
255 days ago
There is just so much to do but my target is to harvest at least one crop a day and put it away for winter storage. Tomorrow is the official start of the apple harvest and, having jumped the gun by a week on the crabapples and edibles from the new top orchard I have created, work will, start on the old orchard by the river which is dripping with reddening apples begging to be scratted and crushed into juice. Meanwhile…
469 days ago
The flood waters are now more or less static at c9 metres down at the bridge so that is high but not at record levels. Here at the Welsh Hovel the first three photos are from the garden. Inlast year’s record high floods the waters reached right up to the back doorstep. This time they are merely in the bottom reaches of the lawn but they stretch for miles.
581 days ago
Spurred on by the shock admission from the Mrs and Joshua that they really like crabapple jelly with meat, despite streneous protestations to the contrary before they had actually tasted it, I now have a second batch made up. You may remember that I bought two more young trees for the new orchard I have created, a couple of weeks ago.
589 days ago
When you are up against the whole roster at Radio 1 it really is almost impossible to be Britain’s dumbest radio presenter but I wonder if Mike Graham of Talk Radio is a shock contender for the title. As you can see below he managed to make a chap from Insulate Britain look smart today and that is some achievment.
714 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.
727 days ago
Here you are – the first produce from our new toy. Joshua and I sampled it for breakfast after a night in the freezer. Taste: perfect. Texture: perfect. Colour: perfect. Welcome to Welsh hovel home-made chocolate ice cream. Next up will be strawberry ice cream and then we will start to experiment with other fruits from our own orchard and vegetable patch later in the summer when we get back from Greece. Of course, the ultimate goal is to make it really home-made using goats milk and cream when we get goats. But that is a 2023, slipping into retirement, project. So far..so good
788 days ago
It has been two or three weeks since I showed you the before shots on the massive works underway behind the barns which form the farmyard behind the Welsh Hovel. As you can see below, we have made real progress.
820 days ago
The ground is uneven in the new orchard I am creating at the Welsh Hovel. You may remember that two years ago this was a field with grass, ferns and nettles growing six foot tall. If you stood where the photo below was taken, you could not see the gate, fence and chicken shed which stood at the end of this field less than 80 yards away. So we will never have a smooth lawn for croquet, even if the accursed badgers were persuaded to bugger off.
858 days ago
In the background you can see Paul, my er… colleague in gardening enterprises here at the Welsh Hovel heading off with the Lady of the Manor to inspect the herb garden. In the foreground is the latest addition to the new orchard, the Nottingham Merdlar, a tree that produces “dog’s arse fruit” as I noted here.
863 days ago
Today’s arrival is a new addition to the new orchard, that is to say a Nottingham Medlar or Dog’s Arse, or Open Arse fruit tree. These were apparently popular with both the Greeks and Romans and again in Victorian times and what follows may disgust you and explain why they are now rather rare.
872 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.
891 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.
958 days ago
On Tuesday, Joshua and I again went picking apples from the orchard by the river and we have already enjoyed an apple crumble. Next up will be another pressing of aple juice for my first stab at it was a bit of a triumph.
978 days ago
I had not expected to be making any crab apple jelly this year. I planted two trees in the new orchard I have created in the top field closest to the house. Their main purpose was in assisting cross polination of the six edible apple trees, all of different varieties which I also planted, along with six plum trees, six pear trees and two fig trees as well as the eight cherry trees that now border the track down to the hovel at the edge of the vegetable patch. I did not expect them to bear fruit this year but, to my surprise, they did. Not the 1 kg of fruit the recipe demanded but about an eighth of that.
1019 days ago
I have used most fruit known to man in my cooking over the years but never, until now, damsons. I just viewed them as small, not very pleasant to eat, and altogether rather pointless. We have a tree in the area formerly known as the jungle but which is slowly becoming a large vegetable garden and which runs alongside the lane down to the hovel so I had pondered what to do with its fruit. I stumbled across a recipe for jam which refers to windfall damsons but, in this case, my fruit arrived thanks to lightning.
1094 days ago
When we arrived at the Welsh Hovel, what you see below, the area at the edge of the nearest upper field was a sea of ferns and nettles, almost six foot high in places. You could not see the small shed at one end of my strawberry patch, which I am now knocking down, and the larger chicken hut at the other end, whose days are also numbered, was barely visible. In fact I did not know of the existence of the smaller shed which is, I fear, largely made of asbestos so not that easy to eradicate. The area between the two sheds had once also been a building and you can see the base of its wall still exists.
1114 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.
1148 days ago
I seem to have messed up on the social distancing of my planned orchard so will be out with my tape measure repegging it this afternoon. But the first of 20 plum, pear, eating apple and crabapple trees has now been planted. The whole batch is pictured below. Because they arrived a bit late in the season, some are already flowering.
1220 days ago
This is a rarity, getting the Mrs to assist in the garden, but the lure of a strawberry patch got her on board and also Joshua who was given a new gardening kit for Christmas by “aunty” K.