Archive for the ‘Pest Control’ Category

Pickling Wild Garlic seed heads

Heading to the woods to pick the seed heads from the wild garlic has been on my to do list for a while!  Nature waits for no woman, but luckily I found them still intact today.  I’m thinking this would be better done sometime earlier (like 3 weeks ago) since they do feel a lot tougher and definitely ready to pop.  The flavour, however, is still definitely of garlic and green.  And I’m not willing to wait until next year to try this process that I first heard through twitter from chef Enda McEvoy and later found this brilliant post with great pictures on The Hunter Gatherer Cook: (http://huntergathercook.typepad.com/huntergathering_wild_fres/2010/06/wild-garlic-pods-hop-shoots-and-some-other-stuff.html).

So these are what I picked.

What’s left to do is use a fork to pull the heads from the light stalks and in a jar, cover with infused vinegar (Hunter Gatherer used pine needle vinegar which I don’t seem to have…).  He recommends infusing with mustard seeds and rosemary.  Well, all my rosemary died with the frost and I’m not sure if I have any mustard seeds but I’m going to make a pickle – maybe with cider vinegar and a touch of honey.  Will let you know how this delicacy goes.

I’ve been gardening a little too so my Circles are starting to take shape, if not a little later this year than last.  I have beets, chard, rocket and other leaves in one.  Summer sprouting broccoli takes another and I’ve just put 3 courgette plants into a third.  Last night I left out a little treat for the slugs who really love hiding in the stones that make the surrounds of my circular beds.

Slug Trap

A lot of slugs were harmed in the making of this blog post – today I counted about 20 slugs in the beer trap.  Sorry guys but we have to eat greens too!  I just used an empty tuna tin buried flush with the soil and poured in some out of date ale.  It really was quite satisfying to finally catch up with the slugs.  I’m planning a few more slug parties around the garden.

Back in January, Hugo from Cafe Azteca in Dublin sent me on some seeds for tomatillo and epazote, which I promised to sow for him in the tunnel.  Tomatillos are difficult to get here and go into making the green salsa for real Mexican cuisine.  Epazote is a herb Hugo used to flavour a black bean soup he made at his Mexican cookery class here.  It has grown just fine after being started on a heated bench in the glass house.  I transplanted some in the tunnel and outside to see how it gets on.  It was the dried version Hugo used so I should be able to harvest and store if it goes well.  A very distinctive aroma and flavour that’s difficult to describe (I wrote this before looking up widipedia!) but apparently very dear to Mexican cooks.  I would say it has an almost metallic/chemical smell that reminds me of chlorine.  Weird I know, but here’s what widipedia has to say on the herb:

Epazote is used as a leaf vegetable and herb for its pungent flavor. Raw, it has a resinous, medicinal pungency, similar to anisefennel, or even tarragon, but stronger. Epazote’s fragrance is strong but difficult to describe. It has been compared to citruspetroleumsavorymint and camphor.

Epazote

The tomatillos are really taking off since transplanted into the tunnel a couple of weeks ago.

Tomatillo tunnel

Going to try some wild garlic seeds with boiled baby beets for dinner.  Garlic and beetroot – a great combination.  Try it!

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Slugs love……

The slugs are playing havoc outdoors in the Circle of Life gardens.  There’s plenty of hiding places among the surrounding stones.  Here’s a couple of things the slugs love at the moment:

A munched chinese cabbage

A munched dwarf bean

A munched fennel leaf

A munched lettuce

So what do we do about this invasion?  When I was young and in need of small quantities of money for sweets and the like, my mother would pay me 2p per slug.  Off I’d head with an old ice-cream carton and a tissue at dusk to catch them red handed.  I’m in need of less time-consuming methods these days.  Beer slops in a can/container buried into the bed, but flush with the soil can tempt a few.  Crushed egg shells around the border is supposed to prevent them getting at your beloved plants.

We’ve introduced the slightly more sinister, but approved by organic standards, slug pellets.  Harmless to other creatures – the poor slugs munch on a couple and head off to their hiding places to die.  They contain ferric phosphate (name – Ferramol Slug Pellets – http://www.theorganiccentre.ie) and are best sprinkled around vulnerable plants in the evening.  Sorry slugs, we need to eat greens too!

Weeding is a large part of organic gardening!

Yesterday I spent much of the day weeding the tunnel and a couple of ridges of onion sets outside.  “Weed before you see” should be the motto of the year – hopefully we can live up to that!  Turn your back for 5 minutes, though, and the weeds are taking over.  I thought I’d include a photo of what the tunnel looks like – there’s potatoes to the far left, followed by carrots, strawberries, onion and beetroot in 3rd from left and later potatoes just starting to sprout on the far right.  I also set up a germinating bench at the end of the tunnel and planted broccoli, caulifower, romanesco broccoli and sunflowers to dot around sunflower organic farm.

Today I’m finalising recipes in the kitchen for the popular ‘5 Quick & Healthy Evening Meals’ cookery course tomorrow.  I’m very excited as these are some of my favourite recipes!