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GOOD FOOD | GREAT HEALTH | FRESH LIFESTYLE !

GRAB A SLICE OF THE GOOD LIFE!

JAMIE’S BRICK OVEN BUILD ONE TO SUIT THE SIZE OF YOUR GARDEN!

GROW YOUR OWN CORN

MAY 2008 | £3.25

NE W

MA GA ISS ZINE

UE 2

PLUS: WIN A £500 FIRST TUNNELS POLYTUNNEL

LOW SALT BACON STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS GUIDE TO FOR STEP-BY-STEP MAKING BETTER BACON MAKING BETTER BACON

GORGEOUS GARLIC

GETTING THE BUZZ

Alliums for everyone

It’s time to organise the hive

ISSUE TWO MAY 2008 £3.25


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FIRST WORD

www.homefarmer.co.uk PUBLISHED BY

The Good Life Press Ltd., PO BOX 536, Preston, PR2 9ZY Tel: 01772 652 693 Email: info@thegoodlifepress.co.uk EDITORIAL TEAM Publishers: Ruth Tott and Paul Melnyczuk Tel: 01772 652 693 Editors: Diana Sutton & Paul Peacock Tel: 0161 346 4084 Circulation: Mike McLening Tel: 01726 882 028 Subscriptions: Paul Melnyczuk Tel: 01772 652 693 Email: subs@thegoodlifepress.co.uk DESIGNED BY

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HOME FARMER IS COPYRIGHT OF THE GOOD LIFE PRESS LTD.

Welcome to Issue Two! IT’S NOT HOW you start that’s important, but how you end. I remember standing in Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium listening to Billy Graham utter those wonderful words, and he was so right! Don’t worry, we’re not going to preach! We were so thrilled to hear the comments made by people after reading and buying Issue 1 of Home Farmer. Sometimes you know you are right, you have a good idea and want to share it with people, but when they are kind enough to tell you how much they have enjoyed the magazine it brings tears to the eyes – literally. But as Billy said, it’s not how you start… and it would be silly after only having had one issue out to say that we want to go from strength to strength, but you know what I mean. We want to make every issue as good as the first, if not better. With this in mind we are determined to try and write things as they actually are. Ruth, our publisher, tried to make butter following last month’s recipe, and all she got was whipped cream. On the other hand a little girl in Yorkshire got a brilliant result while dancing to Copacabana – it must be the Barry Manilow effect! But things don’t always work out, and we’d love to hear from you when they don’t (as well as when they do!) We now have a new forum, so if you can go online, why not sign up and start posting. Diana and I are online pretty much every couple of hours and many of our contributors are signing up too – so if you have a question, please don’t hesitate to ask it. Everyone’s experience is unique, some do things their way and others are often quite different. This, for me, is the greatest thing about the Home Farmer movement – that people can share what has happened to them. So you might just have the answer to someone’s problem. And this is the reason why we at Home

Farmer don’t believe in selfsufficiency. Just because we are home farmers with a window box, a back yard in a terraced house, a garden, an allotment, a field, or even a whole lot of land, it doesn’t mean that we can ever manage without each other. Self-sufficiency is about living off whatever land we have, with as much help as we can get, in as clean a way as possible. But it’s not how we start, it’s how we end that’s important. So many people make a start and then give up. You can make a great start and then never live up to your ambitions. And it seems that more and more of us are making a start. As economic conditions in the world worsen, home farming, even in our industrialized, globalized, technologically advanced country, will continue to increase in importance. So if you are depressed at the price of petrol and the budget is getting you down, start to plan your next row of beans – and we will be doing just the same. Best Wishes, DIANA SUTTON & PAUL PEACOCK EDITORS

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CONTENTS

Inside the May issue Cover Story 14 ALTOGETHER ALLIUMS From a sandwich to a fry-up – where would we be without an onion, a leek, garlic or chives? 18 GROW YOUR OWN WHEAT Cottagers grew their own bread wheat in their gardens for centuries. Perhaps, in these troubled times, we should start again! 22 ROTOVATORS A touch of petrol power to your digging goes a long way, but don’t throw out your spade just yet. 03 FIRST WORD If the budget is getting you down, plan your next row of beans.We will be doing just the same. 06 NEWS Ban the Bag,The Real Food festival, Sunflowers, Organic growing. 10 YOUR Q&AS We have had so many compliments from our new readers, so thank you! You write about making butter, leaf mould, sausage skins, tomatoes, mushrooms and honey. 28

26 SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW We look at catching and cooking trout, probably the best tasting freshwater fish.

44 MAKE CHEESE! Everyone should make their own cheese – it is simple and fun.We make a start by looking at the basics.

50 BEGINNERS’ BEES In part two of our beekeeping series we look deeper into the hive.

32 ELDERFLOWER CHAMPAGNE There are some prerequisites for a summer evening, and this is one!

53 LOCAL HERO This month we highlight Osney Lodge Farm near Gatwick Airport.

Reaping a Golden Harvest SOWING

There are four main classifications for sweetcorn varieties: 1) normal sugar type (the traditional ones which tend to be early), 2) sugar enhanced (increased tenderness and sweetness, normally mid-season), 3) super sweet (much sweeter than other types), 4) extra tender (most recent introduction, thin skinned, sweet and tender).

42 THE IMPROVING LEASE This way of getting your dream country cottage isn’t for everyone – make sure you understand the pitfalls.

28 REAPING A GOLDEN HARVEST Jayne Neville takes us step-by-step into growing sweetcorn.

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Varieties

41 SUBSCRIBE Don’t miss out on a single copy of Home Farmer – subscribe today!

Cover Story

GROWING SWEETCORN

summer in order for the cobs to develop to their mouth-watering best. In Britain the yields will vary from year to year depending on the prevailing weather during the growing season. Prolonged hot summers are excellent for sweetcorn growers, but cool, wet ones are quite the opposite. Despite slight unpredictability, this crop definitely deserves a place on your plot because it is relatively undemanding to grow, especially regarding soil type, suffers few pest and disease problems, and can be used to protect other crops grown near or next to it because of its open growing habit. Modern varieties have been bred to be more tolerant of our climate conditions and there are many types to choose from. There are also early, mid season and late varieties. In general, expect to be eating sweetcorn any time from mid-summer to late autumn, depending on the variety chosen and the location.

38 FAT MAN IN THE KITCHEN The chicken, pork and sundried tomato pie threatens to become world famous.

48 TALKING POINT Could you kill an animal for food?

Cover Story

Jayne Neville takes us step by step into growing sweetcorn

IF YOU LIKE the idea of tucking into your own freshly picked sweetcorn this summer, now is the ideal time to sow this tasty crop. The popularity of sweetcorn in recent years and its all-year-round availability in supermarkets. both fresh and frozen, guarantees it a place as a favourite vegetable here in Britain. Originating in South America, sweetcorn (also known as maize) is believed to have been introduced here in the 15th century. If you have never eaten sweetcorn straight from your garden, then you are in for a real treat! Sweetcorn really needs to be cooked within minutes of harvesting – the longer the delay, the less sweet and more starchy it becomes. Even buying ‘fresh’ from a local or farmers’ market won’t come anywhere close to that you have grown yourself. Sweetcorn is fairly easy to grow but needs a good

34 WRIGGLING MAGIC A revolution is quietly taking place as composters appear in kitchens and gardens across the land.

The earliest option for sowing sweet corn is under cover in pots or modules (although they can be transplanted, corn does not really appreciate having its roots disturbed, so careful handling is needed). April to early May is an ideal time to sow sweetcorn indoors. You might wish to take a tip from organic gardener Bob Flowerdew who sows his sweetcorn in several batches a few weeks apart. He maintains this increases the chance of hitting a period of ideal weather during the summer. Alternatively, sow more than one variety (i.e. one early and one mid season) which should have a similar effect. Sow the seeds about 3cm deep, and place module trays or pots in a propagator or warm room (this needs to be a minimum of 18oC/65oF for germination). Expect to wait a week or so before you see the shoots break the soil surface. The young plants will need lots of light in order to encourage strong growth, but not too warm which will cause stretching. As long as they are kept frost-free, all should be well. Just before planting outside, after all risk of frost is past, harden them off for several days in a cold frame. When deciding on where to site your sweetcorn try to choose an open site, but one that isn’t too exposed to the wind. To protect the young plants in the open ground, cover them with cloches, polythene tunnels or even plastic bottles – these can come off once the plants become established. Sweetcorn should be planted in blocks, not rows. This helps maximise wind pollination. Each sweetcorn plant has tassels at the top (the male part) and cobs (female) with ‘silks’ lower down the stem so block planting is the best way of obtaining optimum pollination. Adding some compost or well-rotted manure to the bed before planting will both improve the soil and aid moisture

retention, as sweetcorn should not be allowed to dry out, especially while the cobs are developing. Plants should be spaced about 18 inches/45cm apart each way. While this may seem quite wide, in general, the more space they have, the more moisture is available to each plant, resulting in larger cobs. At this spacing you could intercrop by planting another low-growing vegetable between the rows, such as French beans, lettuce, or even courgettes, useful if space in your vegetable plot is at a premium. The alternative to sowing under cover is direct sowing outside (same spacing as before). This can be done in late spring and the area covered with fleece or cloches, as long as the soil temperature is warm enough (at least 13oC/55oF). The coverings can be removed during the daytime once the seeds have germinated to ensure the seedlings receive enough light. In early summer sowing can be taken a step further by direct sowing without any protection. Sow two seeds per position, and if both germinate, remove the weaker one. All you need to do now is to make sure the plants have adequate water, particularly in dry spells, and keep weeding!

HARVESTING By late summer each of your plants should have one or two cobs, but how do you tell if they are ready to eat? Each cob will have a silk still attached to the top; this will turn dark as the cob ripens. To check for ripeness, pull back a couple of leaves and puncture one of the yellow kernels with your fingernail; if the liquid is milky the cob is ripe, but if it is clear and watery be patient for another day or two. If the kernel is

54 THE HEN HOUSE Janice Houghton-Wallace writes about the various breeds of chicken for the garden or smallholding. 58 WHEN IS ORGANIC NOT ORGANIC? When it pollutes the atmosphere. 59 HUGH’S BIRDS We look at what is happening to Hugh’s birds now and delve a little into the company that provided the huts for the film. 62 MIND YOUR SKIRT, MADAM! Goats eat anything, are smelly and inedible! Not in our book, they’re not! 64 GOING BROODY For some they’re a pain, for others a


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5 bonus.We look into the not so sleepy world of the broody hen.

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SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Elderflower Champagne There are some prerequisites for a summer evening. Firstly there must be night scented stocks, the final song of skylarks, the fluttering hum of the first pipistrelle hunting for moths, the complete intoxication of elder flower champagne, and just maybe a couple of fairies. Paul and Diana relate elderflower secrets

66 HOW FAIR IS FAIRTRADE? When you pay a few pence extra, where does the money go, and in these pollution conscious days, should we be bringing items around the world anyway?

The elder is a magical plant. If you fall asleep under its branches, beware! You might just be pulled into fairyland, never to be seen again. To our ancestors the wood of the elder was not for burning and, should it be dug up, the tree would have to be placated first.

74 NEW PRODUCTS We highlight some interesting products from Goat Socks to the Egg Skelter.

Elderflower Rosehip Tea

VITAL INGREDIENTS The elder, Sambucus nigra, is a shrubby plant that has a grey bark and rather unpleasant smelling leaves. The flowers that appear in the spring are large, fluffy umbels. They appear after the blackthorn in hedges in the spring. The aroma of the flowers is amazing, but they are quickly pollinated and go off. When the flowers turn yellow they also start to smell of cat, and should be discarded. They have been used as a tonic for many hundreds of years. The flowers and, to a greater extent, the fruit are rich in Vitamin C. Elderflower tea has been used for ages as a pick me up when you have a cold. There are a number of studies looking at the efficacy of elderflower and arthritis. It is too soon to say that it has any effect. The plant is rather high in tannins and has to be

Cover Story 69 BUILD YOU OWN BRICK OVEN There is room for one in every garden. All you need is a little imagination and a lot of bricks.

processed in some way before consumption. The flowers and fruit are usually doused in boiling water before being made into drinks. The fruit is also cooked in pies. Do not try to eat more than one or two of the berries, apart from being very sour you will end up with a blistering bellyache. Do not attempt to eat the leaves at all and do not feed them to your livestock. The fairies definitely will come in the night if you do!

Lemonade Bottles You can buy 2 litre lemonade bottles for 20p each.These are already sterile inside, so you don’t have to redo it if you empty them and use their contents.

Elderflower is only viable on the plant for a couple of days. Imagine - you can smell the flowers and so can every insect in the county. The flowers are pollinated very quickly. Only collect the white florets that smell crisp and clean. Give them a good shake to dislodge the wildlife. Use the flowers quickly after collecting and make sure you do not take all of them, otherwise there will be no elderberries in the late summer. Always pick when the sun is out and make sure the flowers are dry and fully open.

THE KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF WINE INGREDIENTS 4 large elderflower florets 200ml white wine base 1kg ordinary white sugar 5g citric acid 1 cup of strong tea Wine yeast

INGREDIENTS One elderflower umbel 1 crushed rosehip 1 dessert spoon of honey METHOD 1 Normally rosehips are not on the plant at the same time as elderflowers. It really is worth collecting them because they are nature’s highest concentration of vitamin C. They will freeze quite easily, and to make this tea all you need do is defrost one and hit it with a spoon or a pestle a few times to crack it open a little. 2 Simply put a piece of elderflower umbel into a teapot with the rosehip and pour on boiling water.Then add the honey to your cup and stir in the tea. If you need some other flavour, a slice of lemon will suffice. 3 If you don’t have rosehips, replace with a dessert spoon of rosehip syrup, still available from chemists.

COLLECTING ELDERFLOWERS

METHOD 1 Strip the flowers off the stalks with a fork into a sterile bucket. 2 Pour over 5 litres of boiling water, and stir regularly for 24 hours. 3 Dissolve the sugar into 500ml boiling water to make a sugar syrup. 4 Strain the cool liquid into a second bucket through a muslin and add the sugar syrup.

vessel. Top up with apple juice or boiled water. Close the new vessel off with an airlock. 9 Leave for about six months (if you can bare to) and then rack off into bottles.

THE MILDLY ALCOHOLIC ONE You don’t need demijohns for this one. INGREDIENTS 6 Elderflower heads 2 Lemons’ juice 4 litres of water 750g sugar METHOD Put elderflower heads and lemons in a bucket and pour on the boiling water. Leave to soak for 24 hours, covered with a tea towel. Strain through a muslin and add sugar and lemon juice. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved and pour into two 2 litre screw-top lemonade bottles. Leave tops slightly loose for a couple of weeks. Keep for 2 to 3 months before drinking. Serve cool on a hot summer evening. E

5 Transfer the liquid to a demijohn and add all the other ingredients, giving the vessel a good shake to mix. 6 If the demijohn needs to be topped up, use cool, boiled water.

They make ideal fermentation bottles for beer and wine because the little legs at the bottom accumulates the dead yeast (also known as lees) and it doesn’t come out when you pour it!

7 Close the vessel with an airlock and stand on a tray in case the wine spills out when the fermentation starts.

(Yes, the organic pop bottles are a bit dearer! And the cheap drinks are a bit nasty, but this is such a lovely solution to reusing these bottles.They go from the drinks cabinet to the allotment to act as little cloches!)

8 When the bubbling has stopped, siphon off the liquid into a clean, sterilised demijohn, leaving the gunge behind in the

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BRILLIANT

BACON

salty! – boy was it First attempt in 24 hours. that came out

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can make r w that you prised to kno greater surprise to hea well be sur be an even You might n greater e. It might y , and an eve bacon at hommake bacon overnight bacon that is not onl oy that you can you can make and enj Paul Peacock gets all t rt! surprise tha but good for the hea e, great to tast collar about salt A34, the driven up the hot under time we had I got all happens that d IT JUST SO eggs when I purchase t excited abou by mistake. I thought some bantams its, but when it came the rabb were they the auction, for them at time to pay ally bought had feathers ect lot I had actu I didn’t have the corr instead of fur. sporting these animals tran the back means of had to sit on by home, so they ams and a baby, and seat, four bant

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WI TH BEL LY PO RK RE MO RE CA salt doesn’t ewhere that t.

Preference

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Let’s pretend for a few minutes. Just say that the world wheat store fell to less than 70 days. Let’s pretend that wheat prices have doubled in a fortnight. Maybe some of us might just feel a little more comfortable growing our own wheat. Paul Peacock takes us through the process

to take his rotovator to a field and break it up to grow wheat. My little Mantis Tiller does well at chopping weeds out, but it is hard work. If you have land from a previous crop – potatoes are a good one, then you can dig this over and rake it to make a tilth. You can sow your wheat in April. You broadcast the seed so the soil is evenly covered and looks as though you peppered it. Then you rake it in. You need to have used up about half a 25kg bag per large allotment. A good handful and a half per square metre. On a field scale you are probably better using a seeder. They seem a bit extravagant but there is nothing better. They give a very even spread and at the same time provide a very measured amount of seed. They are not that expensive and, if you are doing this every year, are money well spent. When it first grows it looks just like grass. Agriculturists have names for every stage of the plant’s growth, but we needn’t worry about any of that. Eventually it heads out and you have the flower on the top of the stalk.

Grow Your Own Wheat ALL THESE THINGS have happened in the first few weeks of 2008. In The Sunday Times, 24th February, Johnathan Leake announced that the world was ten weeks from running out of wheat, the lowest supply for 50 years. And there is still time for wheat to become even m ore expensive before the first harvests around the world increase supplies. If bad weather ruins yet more harvests there will be real problems next year. The supply of wheat is suddenly becoming both a political as well as a nutritional hot potato. China and India are buying more wheat than ever before and now have the financial muscle to out bid us in the global markets. Growing wheat no longer seems a daft proposition. So why grow your own wheat? Is it possible and how much land do you need to make it worthwhile? Actual yields of wheat vary around the world, according to the ambient temperature, the local weather, disease and fertility. On average you get between 1.5 and 4 tonnes per acre. A

convoluted set of simple mathematics on the back of a beer mat show that this kind of yield translates to a day’s bread being obtained from about a square metre to two of garden. So if you can dedicate the land of an average sized allotment to wheat growing you will have, more or less, a year’s supply of flour. Now, who can say they have made their own bread from their own wheat? And you get a lot more than wheat! You get straw too! But you don’t get this without some hard work.

SELF SUFFICIENCY The study of the development of wheat from its origins of crops like emmer and einkorn that were grown as early as 8000 BC (and are still grown today) to modern short stalk wheat, is fascinating. Their impact on human development is amazing, allowing huge increase in numbers, facilitating language, trade and prolonging our ancestor’s life span. One major consideration is that individual families have never bees selfsufficient. More rather communities are self-sufficient, sharing the grain harvest, and in more recent history, selling it. So important is the grain harvest to the communities of England that there are hundreds of examples of magistrates imprisoning, flogging and

FINE BALANCE fining workers who allowed too many weeds to grow amongst the wheat.

GETTING WHEAT SEEDS Wheat is not the kind of seed you find on the front of a gardening magazine. Indeed, you can only buy it from certain agricultural suppliers. The smallest bag of wheat you can get is 25kg and this is more than enough for an allotment. All wheat comes with a DEFRA number on the packet which allows the final product to be traced. It is a way of controlling certain diseases. Some wheat is coated with anti-fungal agents, and these are dyed red so the seeds are not easily put into the human food chain.

tasty, sustaining bread. The point of this is the first time I tried to find wheat I could only get animal feed wheat, but I grew it all the same. And, doubtless, there are lots of reasons for growing only bread wheat for bread, but I have to confess I didn’t notice any difference when I ate my animal feed wheat bread.

Wheat grows in proportion to the fertility of the soil. If you have a very rich soil it will grow very quickly. Anyone who has kept a lawn will know that it dries the soil. Imagine a lawn

Wheat on an allotment – nearly ready for harvest

where the grass is nearly a metre tall! In the years I have grown it I have tended to use a plot that had been fertilised for a previous crop. Besides, we over fertilize our allotments anyway. In dry weeks you might need to water the crop.

HARVEST The crop will yellow as it ripens and by late August is ready for collecting. There are two stages, but we will go into this more deeply in a later issue. The grains in the heads ripen and swell. At first they are what is called ‘milky ripe’ around six to eight weeks before harvest is ready. If you thrust your thumb nail into the seeds they will ooze a milky liquid.

PREPARING THE GROUND You need bare earth. The first thing John Seymour did when he moved to Ireland was

NON-BREAD WHEAT There are many types of wheat strains. Some specifically for biscuit, some for bread, some for cakes and some for animal feed. These differing strains of wheat have been developed for food being made by machine. At home we have made bread from so called strong wheat (or strong flour), biscuit flour, animal wheat feed and ordinary plain flour made from a variety of wheat destined for cake making. When you are making bread by hand it hardly matters – you can still make brilliant,

Watch this space! I hope to get a half-acre of land belonging to my rugby club to grow some wheat on, so watch this space to see how things go through the season.

These loaves were made from a biscuit wheat I obtained from a farmer, but the bread tasted just as good!

78 GET A SIZZLE ON… It’s time to get serious about making British Sausage.

Cover Story 82 LOW, LOW OR EVEN NO SALT BACON At last bacon becomes healthy and you can even make it in your own kitchen! 86 GO AND LIGHT UP Joe Jacobs teaches us all to smoke! Cold smoking food for the DIY kitchen, that is!

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GROWING WHEAT

76 DIARY OF AN URBAN FARMER Mike Woolnough brings us some of the trials and tribulations of life on his urban farm (AKA a series of allotments, goats, chickens and other assorted wildlife).

90 COME AND SEE HOME FARMER AT THE SHOWS A few show venues where Home Farmer and the Good Life Press can be found. 92 FIVE BREADS Diana Sutton shows how easy bread can be.This month she looks at Naan, Tortilla, Sally Lunn,Teacakes and Focaccia. 96 COFFEE CUP PAGES Take a well-earned break with Home Farmer and win a polytunnel from First Tunnels worth £500, or exercise your mind and win a prize with our crossword. 98 CLASSIFIEDS Take advantage of our free ad service if you have anything to swap, barter, sell or simply give away.


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NEWS BIOFUEL MADNESS? A Chief Government Scientific Adviser has come out strongly against biofuels. Professor John Beddington described the idea of growing fuel for transport from plants as an “elephant in the room” policy. He said in a major speech, reported in The Times,“It’s very hard to imagine how we can see the world growing enough crops to produce renewable energy and at the same time meet the enormous demand for food.” He was expressing what ecologists have been saying for some time, yet we are committed to producing more biofuel crops. Professor Beddington explained that it is food production that will be put under severe pressure.Already, by the 2030s, we shall need a 50% increase in food production just to keep pace, but increasing biofuel production will make this difficult. Major suppliers of corn for the world food markets are also increasing their ethanol production, and acreages have increased considerably, almost doubling each year. Already corn prices have hit a high and this trend is to be made worse if what is essentially food ends up inside our petrol tanks. The moral aspect of this is clear. Is it right that we should fuel our cars with seeds that could fuel people.The European Commission has set a target requiring 10 per cent of all fuel sold in British service stations to be derived from plants within 12 years.

THE REAL FOOD FESTIVAL BY LILA DAS GUPTA With the increase in concern over mass-produced, supermarket produced food, more and more people are turning to farmers’ markets. Later this month a new food show takes place in London’s Earl’s Court which bills itself at the country’s biggest farmers’ market. The Real Food Festival brings together nearly 500 small producers (85% of them from the British Isles) all under one roof. Many of the producers have never exhibited in a show before and to give them the chance to show off their wares, they have been subsidised by the organisers to come to Earl’s Court. The selection panel not only judged exhibitors for the taste of their products, but also

whether the food was produced in a way that is ‘good, clean and fair’ – taking their inspiration from the ‘slow food’ movement. Look out for the Giggly Pig’s delicious sausages made from Tracy Mackness’ own herd of saddleback pigs which she keeps on her land in the Essex countryside. (Tracy learnt her skills in pig husbandry and sausage making while serving a jail sentence and was inspired to change her life and start a business when she got out). As well as numerous tastings, workshops and a cookery school (see website for details), there will also be wine made with grapes grown biodynamically, artisan cheddar from Somerset and olive oil from a British couple who saved

Many of you will know Lila from her work with the Telegraph. The exciting news is that she is now writing for Home Farmer. Next month she will tell us about her year of not buying anything from supermarkets and many shops before she starts a series about her kitchen garden, from plot to plate.

an olive grove in Italy and it’s traditional hand-harvesting ways, and now run an ‘adopt an olive tree’ scheme.The London Beekeeper’s Association will be selling honey collected from London rooftops, which just goes to show that wherever you live, you can be in touch with real food. E The Real Food Festival April 24th-27th To find out more or to buy tickets go to: www.realfoodfestival.co.uk or tel: 0871 231 0831


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NEWS

GET OUT AND ABOUT ON AN ORGANIC FARM THIS SPRING

BAN THE BAG For years now people have looked at ways of dealing with the army of plastic carrier bags. For some time, in Ireland, plastic bags have been charged for at around 10p.This has helped. Now, B & Q are banning free carrier bags in their stores. The DIY chain, part of the Kingfisher group, gives away 80 million bags a year and is now ready to reduce “environmental pollution". B&Q intends to impose a 5p fee for bags after a trial in Scotland and the North-East showed that the introduction of charges led to a huge fall in the number given. Governments are poising themselves to introduce legislation. In his first budget,Alistair Darling introduced charges for carriers and the Welsh Assembly environment minister, Jane Davidson, has warned Welsh supermarkets that a legal ban will be imposed unless they take action. Other companies have followed suit with a 5p charge, such as Marks & Spencer. It seems interesting that the shopping experience promoted by supermarkets lends itself to the plastic bag culture. We fill up trollies with goods and need something to push them into at the checkout. Research into the quantity and range of goods we buy at the supermarket is long overdue.

BUY A BASKET Home Farmer would love to hear from people who go shopping just with an oldfashioned basket.You can only buy a few things with a basket – a wholly different way of shopping.

The Soil Association's network of organic farms around the country will be playing host to a variety of events this month to celebrate Easter and welcome the start of spring.There will be organic Easter egg hunts, farm walks and tours, and ample opportunities to see gambolling lambs in the fields - and even learn about lambing first-hand. Patrick Holden, Soil Association director, said,“Enjoy great organic chocolate and great organic countryside.This is a fun way for you and your family to feel reconnected with your food and the local countryside where it comes from. Teaching children about the seasons and where their food is grown will give more meaning to mealtimes. “We need to re-equip our children with the skills and knowledge to make a difference.That knowledge is still there, we just need to transfer it.

As part of our plan to achieve this, the Soil Association is raising funds to offer every primary school child in the country the opportunity to visit an organic farm and get hands-on experience of ‘real’ food and its origins.”

TOP FIVE REASONS TO VISIT AN ORGANIC FARM THIS EASTER: 1 Great value for money – Have a fun and inexpensive day out with your children. 2 Reconnect with your local landscape and support British farmers. 3 Help teach your children where their food comes from. 4. Pick up some tasty local and organic produce. 5 Learn about some of the crops and animals you see – get some great ideas!

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NEWS

ORGANIC VERSES THE TELLY, GARDEN ORGANIC HAS ITS SAY The UK’s leading authority on organic growing, Garden Organic, is disputing claims made on BBC 2’s Horizon programme, ‘Professor Regan’s Supermarket Secrets’ that there is little scientific evidence of organically produced food having any nutritional differences or benefits compared to non-organic food. The Midlands based charity also criticises the programme for disregarding the massive environmental benefits that organic methods bring. Garden Organic's director of research, Dr Margi Lennartsson, said: “Despite the programme's assertions, there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that organic foods contain more desirable components, such as vitamins and minerals, and fewer harmful ones, such as pesticides and additives. “New evidence that emerged

last year, comparing organic and industrially produced crops, indicates higher vitamin C levels and polyphenols in kiwis, higher levels of phenols, flavonoids and vitamin C in apple puree, higher content of vitamin C, B-carotene and flavonoids in tomatoes, and higher polyphenol content in peaches. “Milk from breastfeeding mothers whose diets contain a large proportion of organic food has also been found to contain a significantly higher level of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), an antioxidant, than those eating conventional food. A recent study also showed that UK whole organic milk has, on average, 68% higher levels of the essential fatty acid omega-3 and a healthier omega-3:6 profile than non-organic milk. “Early results of the extensive £12 million four year

EU Quality Low-Input Food study published in October 2007 have also indicated that organic fruit and vegetables have health benefits and in fact contain 40% more antioxidants than non-organic foodstuffs.The results also showed higher levels of other beneficial minerals such as iron and zinc. “It is also worth pointing out that there is no body of evidence showing the health advantages of consuming industrially produced foods over organic. “Most concerning though is that the programme failed to pick up on the environmental benefits of organic horticulture and agriculture that in turn will have an impact on us all.The sustainable approach that comes with organic growing

not only protects us from a cocktail of chemicals but also ensures our land and soil remain healthy for generations to come and the natural balance of wildlife and biodiversity is preserved. “In a world increasingly concerned with climate change, managing our carbon footprints and reducing our impact on the environment must mean organic is the way forward.”

THE BIG SUNFLOWER GROW FOR SCHOOLS Last year Suttons Seeds and Save the Children were able to send seeds and tools to schools in developing countries.Through their school feeding programmes they also provided midday meals for 14,000 children in Uganda and 98,000 in Kenya. In the UK, at our Breakfast Clubs, a nutritious breakfast was provided at 11 schools in areas of deprivation in Bristol and Birmingham. Everyone who takes part in the Big Sunflower Grow will make a real difference.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE E You can register for The Big Sunflower Grow by emailing info@feedthechildren.org.uk, telling us your school name and address, the contact at school and how many are taking part. E The idea is to get sponsored for every centimetre, or inch, or foot of sunflower. E Each school will receive a quantity of seeds and some sponsor forms.The rest is up to you!


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NEWS

MAKING LOCAL FOOD WORK In a major development that heralds a renaissance in local food culture, the Plunkett Foundation is delighted to announce the launch of Making Local Food Work, a multi-million pound portfolio programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) as part of its Changing Spaces programme.The programme will see £10 million invested in local food initiatives throughout England over five years. It aims to reconnect consumers to the land by increasing access to fresh, healthy local food with good, traceable origins. Over the years there has been a growing and well-documented dislocation between food producers and consumers that has led, amongst other things, to a lack of choice and access for some vulnerable groups. As independent retail outlets

disappear, small producers are losing marketing opportunities and have become increasingly isolated, while consumers have become more and more disconnected from the sources of their food. The programme will support 650 sustainable community enterprises across England, including farmers’ markets, communityowned shops and communitysupported agriculture schemes. For example, one of the key delivery strands aims to re-establish village shops as a sales channel for local producers, while another will see the creation of new consumer-led buying groups throughout England. Patrick Holden CBE, Director of the Soil Association, said,“there must be a fundamental shift towards community supported food systems across the world if we are to meet the future needs of people and

planet.This funding will allow us to continue to explore innovative economic and social models which encourage people to connect with the land and its steward, the farmer.” James Money-Kyrle, Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation, said,“Making Local Food Work has a remarkably broad economic and social reach and will reconnect consumers with local food, providing a real boost for our local food heritage as well as securing it for future generations.” E For further details, information on beneficiaries, and case studies please contact Elizabeth of Mar on behalf of the Plunkett Foundation on 07870 276 375 or at elizabethofmarpr@yahoo. co.uk

GM HENS TO PRODUCE CANCERFIGHTING DRUGS A report in the Daily Telegraph claims that hens could soon be used to produce cancer-fighting drugs. Roger Highfield writes, "Because GM hens can each lay 300 eggs annually and can make faithful copies of human proteins, they could, within a few years, offer the prospect of massproducing drugs that currently cost £10,000 a year per patient, at a fraction of today's cost." The prospect that life saving drugs could be produced and consumed by the people who keep personally coded GM hens, that have the drugs routed into the eggs, seems to be a little far-fetched, but might just be ever so lightly over the horizon.

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READERS’ QUESTIONS

This month it’s butter, bees, leaf mould, mushrooms, sausages and more! YOUR QUESTIONS... The Home Farmer team will answer your questions on a range of topics, from buying a farm to making bread. So if you have a problem that you need help with, write to: Home Farmer Magazine The Good Life Press Ltd. PO Box 536 Preston PR2 9ZY Or email: editor@homefarmer. co.uk You will find some of your questions highlighted on the Home Farmer website: www.homefarmer.co.uk

Q

RUBY’S BUTTER MOUNTAIN

DEAR PAUL & DIANA, Ruby had to show how proud she was after an afternoon with ‘The Good Life’.We decided to have a go at making butter in a 2 litre milk carton, and Ruby was thrilled to bits by the ‘magic’ of transforming cream into butter. We put Copacabana on the CD player and shook ourselves around the kitchen! And then we used the buttermilk and some of the butter to make the scones from the Rich Scone recipe, which worked really well - sadly they didn’t last long!

A

Thanks Ruby for your great letter. Ruth, our publisher, didn’t manage the butter stage and only got whipped cream. So did some of our readers. Diana and I think it was because they gave up too early, but are doing some experiments to find out why. If anyone has any ideas, please write in.

Q

LEAF MOULD LITTER

is a palm tree. It sheds leaves throughout the year and I’d DEAR PAUL & DIANA, love to be able to make use of I was interested to read about them.They are a lot coarser your helpful leaf sack (page 71, than the leaves of normal April issue). In my previous deciduous trees.Would I be able garden, I used to collect the to use them for leaf mould. leaves from my sycamore tree And if so, how? and make bags of leaf mould in Debbie Pentalow bin bags each autumn. I am not sure if this is I moved house two years ago going to work in quite the and the only tree in the garden same way. Palm leaves are very high in cellulose – they are not the same tissue as deciduous leaves.What you need to do is take them from the ground and bash them on something hard, preferably with a hammer.This will increase the microbes’ chances of breaking the leaves down. If you have a garden shredder – put them through that.You can chop them with a spade too, the smaller the pieces the better chance they have of rotting well. You might find they rot better in the compost heap.

A

Q

WATCH FOR SKINS

DEAR PAUL & DIANA, I really liked the article in the sample issue of your magazine about sausage making. I would like to have a go but have no idea where to buy the skins. Can you please help? Juliette Franks

A

There are a number of places to buy skins. First your butcher, if he makes


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READERS’ QUESTIONS

Bowled over! We have been completely bowled over by some of the comments we have received about Home Farmer. It has been an amazing time to read so many of your kind remarks, for which you get a great big thank you from Diana and myself. (We’re sure Ruth and Paul in the office think so too!) Here are just a few of your comments: MARION Fantastic! Finally a monthly based on the ways we actually do live our life! We´ll be subscribing... MIKE What I’d like to see, Paul, is a section like the one in Practical Self-Sufficiency all those years ago called ‘Getting it together’ which was all input from the readers – much more than just a letters page with ideas, what people had found worked or not, appeals for recipes or suppliers etc. I think it really made people feel that they were involved in the magazine and that they were all working together towards self-sufficiency. Sounds a bit starry-eyed, I know but I think it would be good, anyway! We’re looking at this, Mike. Space permitting, look out for it in the summertime! A. EASTEAL I happened to purchase the first edition of the HomeFarmer yesterday – when I visited the Domestic Fowl Trust in Honeybourne for the first time. My husband and I were absolutely delighted when we read your magazine – it is the best magazine we have yet discovered – and contained my own dream articles!! We are trying to gather as much information as possible to build our future! HomeFarmer is just the answer! Well done on such a brilliant first edition. AND FINALLY A postman in Scotland was delivering Home Farmer. Seeing the magazine through the plastic wrapper he emailed the office for his own copy! How brilliant!

his own sausages, might give you a good deal – especially if you buy your meat there too.You will likely as not get a lot of good advice too. Failing this, try one of the advertisers in the magazine – Weschenfelder, Sausagemaker (There are lots of companies called Sausagemaker).They will all sell you skins, and if you telephone them they will help you with the best ones to buy.

Q

STARTING FUNGI

DEAR PAUL AND DIANA, We like to grow our own vegetables but have never grown our own mushrooms. How would we start? Clive Johnson First you would do well to get to know mushrooms. Shop for, and collect as many as you can. I know this is not the best time of the year to do this. Having found a taste for specific types of mushroom, you then need to start seeding some compost or wood. Most good mushrooms are grown on a combination of compost and hen manure or logs.You can buy kits that seed the compost – they do not all need to be kept in the dark. So long as they are kept moist they crop quite nicely. Compost based mushrooms crop in weeks, wood based mushrooms – where you

A

drill holes in birch or other logs and knock in pieces of infected wood – crop in years.

Q

SWEET GRANDAD

DEAR PAUL AND DIANA, I have just started to keep bees. Last year was awful for the weather, but on the day that I collected my honey, our daughter gave birth to her first child. I know it sounds silly, but I wondered how long my honey would last – will it keep until our granddaughter is eighteen? Bob Matthews

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READERS’ QUESTIONS to create big plants, and they need to stay inside until the end of May or early June, when there is no possibility of frost. Alternatively, if you must put them out in late April or early May, use a large plastic cloche. Once they have established themselves outside, you can simply treat them like indoor ones. But, since they are outside and the wind blows through the plant reducing moisture, you can grow them as a bush.All you do here is to make sure they stand upright and then let the plant grow as it will.You can buy special bush varieties. Come to think of it, you can buy outdoor hanging basket varieties too. Actually, I wonder why I bother with all that indoor stuff!

YOUR QUESTIONS... The Home Farmer team will answer your questions on a range of topics, from buying a farm to making bread. So if you have a problem that you need help with, write to: Home Farmer Magazine The Good Life Press Ltd. PO Box 536 Preston PR2 9ZY Or email: editor@homefarmer. co.uk You will find some of your questions highlighted on the Home Farmer website: www.homefarmer.co.uk

A

First of all, congratulations!! Yes, you can keep honey in a jar for a long time.There are examples of honey coming from Egyptian pyramids, thousands of years old.You will have to make sure the honey is not wet – or else some of it will ferment. Make sure the jar is properly sterile and kept in the dark.A dry cloth wrapped around the jar should suffice. Instead, why not set down some mead? This also keeps for a long time and will be lovely by the time your granddaughter is old enough to drink it. Mead was the wedding drink of the Vikings – something to think about!

Q

TOMATOES AL FRESCO

DEAR PAUL & DIANA, We love tomatoes, but our greenhouse blew away (it was home made) in the recent storms. I wonder if you have any experience of outdoor tomatoes? George Davies

A

Oh dear – maybe you can find a replacement soon! You don’t need it for tomatoes though. Some years outdoor tomatoes outstrip indoor ones in quality, quantity and health. The tomato is a South American

plant, but when you think of tomatoes and cooking, Italy comes to mind. Most of us think Italy is a hot country, but we need to remember that most of that country is mountainous, and the temperatures are actually quite low – and the threat of frost is as bad as here in the UK. We have found an excellent outdoor tomato is ‘Moneymaker’. You hardly have any problems with it, it is still quite prolific in the cooler temperatures and rarely suffers from health problems. I plant them by a wall for extra warmth. Start them off inside and transplant until you get to a large pot – 20cm will do.You are in no rush


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HF ISSUE 2 P14-17 ALLIUM

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GROWING ALLIUMS

Altogether Alliums A sandwich, a stew, a pickle, a pie, a steak, a salad, a fry-up, a fish dish, a marinade or a medicine – where would we be without an onion, a leek, garlic or some chives? EVERYONE CAN GROW onions, or indeed any member of the allium family, of which there is no need to describe the wonderful flavours this largest group of plants in the world brings to our diet. All the alliums have one thing in common – they smell. The sulphur laden compounds produce more than great flavours and aromas, they are responsible for health promoting properties. It is with good reason they say, “a garlic a day keeps the doctor (and the girlfriend) away!”

KNOW YOUR ONIONS Everyone should grow the various different types of alliums, garlic, leeks, shallots and at least two types of onion. Of course we are used to maincrop, spring onions and Japanese onions. These produce a ready supply of onions from late spring to September, and you can probably store them for use in the kitchen all through the year. In bad winters and in the far north, this period is reduced and there are frequent gaps in supply. Onions also come as long day, intermediate day and short day forms. Long day onions will form bulbs when the day is 14 hours or more long. Short day onions will create bulbs when the day is around 11 hours long. By choosing the right type you can get onions to grow earlier in the spring than they would normally have done so you can create tastier onions too, because they are mature enough to make use of favourable conditions earlier in the year.

PREPARE THE SOIL Although growing onions from seed indoors is a simple process, you will, at some point, need to plant them out and this means having to prepare an outdoor bed. Onions like good soil – well-manured, well-dug, with good drainage and rich in nutrients. Onions aren’t very demanding crops in terms of


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With a little effort you can have onions growing all the year round.

You can sow in the warm and transplant or sow directly into the soil later in the year.

Above: Let the skins toughen before you store them. Below: The late Jack Hargreaves tying a string of onions.

how many nutrients they take from the soil, but they are lazy plants and won’t work hard to get at what is there. Onions have traditionally done well in raised beds that have a lot of wood ash dug into them.

you can have good sized onions – not big enough to break any world records – that are great to eat.

HARVEST

SOWING If you are sowing indoors, keep the temperature at around 20oC and sow the seeds in moist compost in plastic modules. You can sow directly into a bed outside in drills 5cm deep. A drill is simply a scrape in the soil. The traditional time for sowing indoors is Christmas Day, which gives the plants a chance to get established by April so they can be transplanted. But there are other ways. You could start in November and then transplant to a polytunnel in January. The idea is to keep the seedlings warm, well ventilated and transplant them to their growing positions in soil that has had a chance to warm up. The reason for sowing early is that the onion size is directly related to the number of leaves it produces. The more leaves, the larger the onion. Show onions are huge but have a reputation for having poor flavour. However, choose the right variety

TRANSPLANTING The soil in the bed can be heated by using black plastic for a couple of weeks before you plan to transplant the onions. Simply use a pencil to make a hole and then carefully drop the onion in place, firming with the fingers. Keep the plants at around 10-15cm apart in the row and around 20cm between the rows.

ONION SETS You can buy onions already pregrown. They are the size of a button and you simply push them into the ground in March or April and leave them to grow. I find it best to use a finger to make a little hole first and then force the little bulb into this. Otherwise, when the bulb bursts into life, the roots will push the set out of the ground! Since onions are biennial, live and grow in the first year, flower and die in the second, onion sets have already done a year’s growth and, if you grow them in too warm conditions, you are likely to see them bolting. For this reason I tend not to put onion sets in the polytunnel. It is possible to buy specially chilled onion sets that have had their flower buds killed inside the plant, and these are bolt-proof.

Onions sown in the spring are ready for pulling in August. Onions that are planted in the autumn will be ready in late spring or early summer. The overwintered onions will not keep so well

Onion and potato soup INGREDIENTS 2 medium sized onions, chopped finely 3 medium sized potatoes, cubed 1 heaped teaspoon of fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried) Salt to taste Stock to cover approx. 500ml (either chicken or veg stock will do) 50ml single cream 20g butter Black pepper METHOD 1 Saute the onion and potato in butter on a low light for 10 minutes 2 Add thyme, salt and pepper 3 Add stock and stir gently, bring to the boil then turn the light down to a slow simmer 4 Allow to cook until the potato is very soft and add cream 5 This may be eaten as it is or blended


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GROWING ALLIUMS

Pickled shallots You need time or you can cheat. Either way you can make the very best pickled onions. THE LONG WAY … 1 Make brine to pull some of the water out of your onion.This is made from 1 litre of boiling water and 500g salt. Carefully stir until all the salt is dissolved. Cool completely – overnight. 2 Spice 2 litres of malt vinegar.This is done by boiling the vinegar with a muslin bag of spices.A cinnamon stick, three bay leaves, 5g allspice, 5g cracked mustard seeds is my favourite recipe, but there are lots of others.When the vinegar has boiled on a low heat for 5 minutes, remove the bag and allow to cool completely – overnight. 3 Peel your shallots with a very sharp knife and put them in your brine. Cover them with a plate so they are all covered and leave overnight. 4 Rinse off the ....excess salt, dry the shallots and put them into jars, covering them with the cold, spiced vinegar.. Leave for at least a month and eat sparingly – they’re powerful stuff! THE CHEATING WAY… 1 Go to the supermarket and buy spiced pickling vinegar – it is usually sold in brilliant jars and you can fill it with onions. Peel the shallots, sprinkle salt all over them and leave overnight.

as the spring-sown onions. They should be kept dry so the skins toughen, and then stored. You can store them in dry sacks, nets or tie them to a double string.

SHALLOTS Shallots are like small onions and are distinguished by their kick! Pickled shallots are the very best pickles you will find and go perfectly with the strongest cheddar cheese and maybe a pint of beer! The bulbs divide at the base and so for each one you plant you get a handful back at the end of the year. Simply plonk them in the ground like onion sets. Make sure they are firmly bedded in and not pushed up as described earlier. They should be about 15cm apart and about 25cm between rows. You can plant them any time between February and April and harvest them from July onwards.

LEEKS Leeks are easier to grow than onions because they are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions. They prefer a rich soil that isn’t loose in texture, and is reasonably well draining. But you can grow them on clay or sand as well. The only thing that really worries them is dampness. Sow the seeds indoors in containers during April or May, or even in a seedbed outside – it really doesn’t matter which. In late June they will be as thick as a pencil and ready for transplanting into their final growing positions. Once transplanted into their final positions, leeks will happily stay in the ground right through the winter, quite oblivious to the frost. As long as the soil around them is firm they’ll be fine and they should be harvested when you need them. This can be at any time after they’ve reached a size where you can’t get your thumb and forefinger around them.

2 Wash off the salt with a little of the vinegar and then pop them in the jar. Leave as long as you can bear – about 10 minutes in my case!

Planting leeks into holes


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17 TRANSPLANTING

with hard frosts. Indeed, the colder the weather, some say, the better the flavour. Use a bulb planter to create holes that Simply break apart the corms from are 15cm deep and about 24cm apart. the garlic bulb and plant them upright Ideally the row should be spaced at – with the flat end lower, 40cm intervals. around 5cm deep in soft Take the young leeks soil. Cover and gently firm. and cut off all but the GARLIC This is an important step last 4cm of root, and SHOULD BE because, like onions and trim the top of the leaves by the same PLANTED ANY shallots, the roots will push them out of the soil amount. TIME BETWEEN otherwise. Drop one plant into Space them at 10cm each hole, then fill the OCTOBER intervals and the rows hole with water. It AND LATE should be 50cm apart. doesn’t matter if the Feed them frequently water washes a little soil NOVEMBER and, from April onwards, over the roots, all you sprinkle well rotted fresh need to make sure of is compost, mixed with fertiliser if you that the plants are upright. From this like, and carefully hoe it in between the position they will happily grow to rows. This can be done every two weeks maturity. if you like. The plant is full of sulphonamide compounds and in order BLANCHING to manufacture these, garlic needs a lot Some people increase the length of the of inorganic nutrients. whiteness in the stem by blanching the The only other care garlic needs is to plants. Earthing them up, like potatoes, is be kept weed free. the traditional method of doing this. It is possible to grow garlic in Simply use a hoe to draw soil up around containers of almost of any size. I have the stem. If you don’t want the leaves to grown them in polystyrene drink cups in get dirty then, instead of earthing-up, you can achieve the same effect by fitting the past, and they worked too – just giving very small corms! They are best in collars made from of sawn-off drainpipe. around 18cm pots filled with compost. Plant them in the same way and water. HARVEST Keep in a sunny spot but remember Simply pull the leeks when you need them, which can be any time. When they that the compost in a pot gets a lot colder than soil in the ground, so are pencil sized they are brilliant in a protect them in really bad weather. E stir-fry. Baby leek mornay is another fantastic way to enjoy young leeks. When they are big you will need to loosen the earth before you pull them. You can use them in everything from soups and stews to our fantastic recipe for leek, potato, ham and cheese layer, one of those creations that is simply crying out for a name but hasn’t got one.

GARLIC

Garlic makes a pretty plant

This is a brilliant plant, one that has served mankind well over the years. During the Great War the government bought garlic from farmers at the rate of a shilling a punnett. It was then used to make field dressings that would stop infections. Millions of soldiers owed their lives to this smelly plant, but they never thought to eat it afterwards! Garlic likes a good sunny position and grows quickly. Waterlogged soil will check this growth and promote fungal infection. It is important that the soil is well dug before planting and if you can incorporate a spade of sand and wellrotted manure to every couple of feet you will have ideal garlic growing conditions. Garlic should be planted any time between October and late November and, once established, will easily cope

Leek savoury layer INGREDIENTS 2 large leeks 250g cooked ham (any leftover ham will do) chopped 3 thinly sliced and parboiled potatoes 150g strong flavoured cheddar or your favourite melting cheese Salt and pepper Oil for frying

METHOD 1 Saute the leeks in oil till tender 2 Meanwhile butter an ovenproof dish and add a 1/3 of the leeks 3 Add a layer of ham and then potato and continue layering, finishing with potato 4 Sprinkle with the cheese and bake in the oven for 20mins gas 5/180oF


HF ISSUE 2 P18-20 WHEAT

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GROWING WHEAT Let’s pretend for a few minutes. Just say that the world wheat store fell to less than 70 days. Let’s pretend that wheat prices have doubled in a fortnight. Maybe some of us might just feel a little more comfortable growing our own wheat. Paul Peacock takes us through the process

Grow Your Own Wheat ALL THESE THINGS have happened in the first few weeks of 2008. In The Sunday Times, 24th February, Johnathan Leake announced that the world was ten weeks from running out of wheat, the lowest supply for 50 years. And there is still time for wheat to become even m ore expensive before the first harvests around the world increase supplies. If bad weather ruins yet more harvests there will be real problems next year. The supply of wheat is suddenly becoming both a political as well as a nutritional hot potato. China and India are buying more wheat than ever before and now have the financial muscle to out bid us in the global markets. Growing wheat no longer seems a daft proposition. So why grow your own wheat? Is it possible and how much land do you need to make it worthwhile? Actual yields of wheat vary around the world, according to the ambient temperature, the local weather, disease and fertility. On average you get between 1.5 and 4 tonnes per acre. A

convoluted set of simple mathematics on the back of a beer mat show that this kind of yield translates to a day’s bread being obtained from about a square metre to two of garden. So if you can dedicate the land of an average sized allotment to wheat growing you will have, more or less, a year’s supply of flour. Now, who can say they have made their own bread from their own wheat? And you get a lot more than wheat! You get straw too! But you don’t get this without some hard work.

SELF SUFFICIENCY The study of the development of wheat from its origins of crops like emmer and einkorn that were grown as early as 8000 BC (and are still grown today) to modern short stalk wheat, is fascinating. Their impact on human development is amazing, allowing huge increase in numbers, facilitating language, trade and prolonging our ancestor’s life span. One major consideration is that individual families have never bees selfsufficient. More rather communities are self-sufficient, sharing the grain harvest, and in more recent history, selling it. So important is the grain harvest to the communities of England that there are hundreds of examples of magistrates imprisoning, flogging and

fining workers who allowed too many weeds to grow amongst the wheat.

GETTING WHEAT SEEDS Wheat is not the kind of seed you find on the front of a gardening magazine. Indeed, you can only buy it from certain agricultural suppliers. The smallest bag of wheat you can get is 25kg and this is more than enough for an allotment. All wheat comes with a DEFRA number on the packet which allows the final product to be traced. It is a way of controlling certain diseases. Some wheat is coated with anti-fungal agents, and these are dyed red so the seeds are not easily put into the human food chain.

NON-BREAD WHEAT There are many types of wheat strains. Some specifically for biscuit, some for bread, some for cakes and some for animal feed. These differing strains of wheat have been developed for food being made by machine. At home we have made bread from so called strong wheat (or strong flour), biscuit flour, animal wheat feed and ordinary plain flour made from a variety of wheat destined for cake making. When you are making bread by hand it hardly matters – you can still make brilliant,


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19 to take his rotovator to a field and break it up to grow wheat. My little Mantis Tiller does well at chopping weeds out, but it is hard work. If you have land from a previous crop – potatoes are a good one, then you can dig this over and rake it to make a tilth. You can sow your wheat in April. You broadcast the seed so the soil is evenly covered and looks as though you peppered it. Then you rake it in. You need to have used up about half a 25kg bag per large allotment. A good handful and a half per square metre. On a field scale you are probably better using a seeder. They seem a bit extravagant but there is nothing better. They give a very even spread and at the same time provide a very measured amount of seed. They are not that expensive and, if you are doing this every year, are money well spent. When it first grows it looks just like grass. Agriculturists have names for every stage of the plant’s growth, but we needn’t worry about any of that. Eventually it heads out and you have the flower on the top of the stalk.

FINE BALANCE tasty, sustaining bread. The point of this is the first time I tried to find wheat I could only get animal feed wheat, but I grew it all the same. And, doubtless, there are lots of reasons for growing only bread wheat for bread, but I have to confess I didn’t notice any difference when I ate my animal feed wheat bread.

Wheat grows in proportion to the fertility of the soil. If you have a very rich soil it will grow very quickly. Anyone who has kept a lawn will know that it dries the soil. Imagine a lawn

Wheat on an allotment – nearly ready for harvest

where the grass is nearly a metre tall! In the years I have grown it I have tended to use a plot that had been fertilised for a previous crop. Besides, we over fertilize our allotments anyway. In dry weeks you might need to water the crop.

HARVEST The crop will yellow as it ripens and by late August is ready for collecting. There are two stages, but we will go into this more deeply in a later issue. The grains in the heads ripen and swell. At first they are what is called ‘milky ripe’ around six to eight weeks before harvest is ready. If you thrust your thumb nail into the seeds they will ooze a milky liquid.

PREPARING THE GROUND You need bare earth. The first thing John Seymour did when he moved to Ireland was

Watch this space! I hope to get a half-acre of land belonging to my rugby club to grow some wheat on, so watch this space to see how things go through the season.

These loaves were made from a biscuit wheat I obtained from a farmer, but the bread tasted just as good!


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GROWING WHEAT hold in your arms at a time and get it The grain is ready when it is hard, under cover if it is likely to rain, or dried and will rub out of the head in leave stood up outside if the hands. not. These are the stooks. I have never swung a You can tie these up to scythe. Anyone out WHEAT NEEDS make them easier to there who wouldn’t TO BE STORED handle. mind teaching me will The grain is beaten receive my undying DRY, IN SACKS out of the heads. This is gratitude. You don’t WHERE ANY called threshing. Some have to believe me, but people use a flail, which it’s true none-the-less; EXCESS I have cut wheat with MOISTURE You can grind bread in many secateurs, wallpapering ways, this is the slowest. shears, a petrol driven CAN ESCAPE brush clearer, some gardening shears and a very sharp knife. Each method was back breaking – but good training prior to the new rugby season. It takes a long time, so try and do it in a week when the weather is uniformly calm. If it rains you are as well looking for a break when the crop can dry out again. We do not have dryers, so the crop has to be taken dry. If it rains and rains, then fungal infections will start to turn the crop black, and this is a dangerous sign. Collect as much wheat as you can

is simply two stout sticks hinged in the middle with a chain or some leather. Put a large cloth on soil (not concrete because you’ll bash a hole in it) and spread the stooks. I prefer to use the back of a chair to bash the grain out because, as I am still holding the straw, it is easier to put to one side once it is finished. Simply put the chair on the cloth – an old sheet will do – and take all your frustrations out on the chair with the wheat.

WINNOWING I give the grain a good rub to release any sticky chaff and then over the sheet, on a windy day, throw the grain into the air. The wind blows the chaff away. It really excites me that humans have been doing this for nearly ten thousand years.

STORAGE Wheat needs to be stored dry, in sacks where any excess moisture can escape. We do not have any special storage tanks, half full dried agricultural sacks are good. Check the wheat from time to time for dryness. E

Next time In a future issue we will look at how to turn this wheat harvest into bread.


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HF ISSUE 2 P22-24 ROTOR

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PETROL POWER

When you get down to it you can’t beat a spade, but a bit of petrol power makes life a whole lot easier too!

Super-Powered Spade

22

19/3/08

I CHANGED MY mind quicker than Diana when I had used it for a while. I had my doubts – serious ones they were too. On the face of it a powered tiller was everything I hated. Noisy, polluting, needed petrol, wasn’t human powered at all, an assault on my manliness. But it had one quality that interested me straight away. Whatever else it would do, I managed to fit it into the boot, and this was something I couldn’t do with my spade, which had to hide under the manure heap to stop the vandals from knicking it. I suppose, in my Luddite way, I was afraid that such a tool as this was yet another nail in the coffin of ordinary low-tech tools. Who needs a petrol engine on the end of what resembles an irritable lobster when you have your trusty shovel?

LOTS OF JOBS IN ONE This machine aerates, drains, kills weeds and produces a fine crumbly texture for seeds to grow in. Rotovating soil in late autumn allows the frosts to get in deep to the soil, killing harmful pests and infective agents. With a spade you have to dig, turn and chop, rake and possibly hoe. My trusty little tiller (Notice I’ve gone from doubts to terms of endearment!) manages all these in one go.

SHARP’S THE WORD – THE SPADE’S NOT DEAD YET Why do people choose rotovators over spades? The answer has to be a combination of time and effort. Rotovators power their way through horrid soil with little effort, and I suppose if you were to have a race between a man with a tiller and one with a spade, you know who’d win. But don’t throw the spade away so quickly. The major problem with spades is that people do not sharpen them.


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23 Sharpening cuts down the effort needed to slice through the earth. A well-sharpened spade is a joy to use, needs no fuel and doesn’t hurt the back. It is such an obvious thing, keeping it sharp. You need a spade if you are going to ‘double dig’ the soil. Lifting a trench, and then a second filled with compost, is best done with a spade. As is making a trench for beans or even a hot bed.

NEW TECHNIQUES A modern rotovator, used in a stationary position, will dig itself a couple of feet down. This is a good technique if you are going to plant trees. You can make a great hole; just shovel the loosened earth and then make a shallower hole around the first. You can also use this for making posts for fencing. My little tiller will make a hole deep enough to stand the post in. All I have to do then is to check the level and concrete it up.

GETTING AERATED Nothing aerates the soil better than a rotovator. You can create the perfect seedbed, a warm looking fine tilth. A tilth is a soil state that is crumbly in texture that does not allow water to puddle and just about holds together when you squeeze it in your hand. By the same rule you can also make

a great clamp for potatoes and carrots pull out the returning grass by hand. by heavily rotovating a large area, You could re-rotovate several times and digging, laying straw weed a little each time and then covering. during a whole season, You are saved the eventually reducing the A MODERN effort of digging all grass population. You ROTOVATOR, USED could simply cover with that soil, and it does a better job. lightproof material, IN A STATIONARY having tilled the POSITION, WILL ground and allow the CLEARING grass to die and GRASS DIG ITSELF A compost in-situ. (What AND WEEDS COUPLE OF FEET I do most often) An old plot can be Alternatively you comfortably cleared DOWN could use the spade to using a rotovator. clear the top layer of There are a number of turf and compost that and then turn ways of doing it. Cutting through the to the rotovator to break up the turf directly and into the soil does give remaining soil. immediate results, but you will need to


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PETROL POWER

Next month’s Competition! In the June issue of Home Farmer – due out 2nd May – we are giving away this Mantis Tiller worth £299.00. To guarantee you don’t miss out, subscribe now (see page 41)

NO LIGHTWEIGHT My little tiller is great. My mother could use it, and it takes up next to no room. It is robust yet lightweight, but do not underestimate the amount of physical work they need to push and pull around. Try to match the machine to the person. I once chased a lady who was causing havoc on the allotments because the machine she was using was too powerful for her. As her grip tightened on the throttle, the quicker it flew away, causing her grip to tighten even more. She ended up in a greenhouse.

that evaporates, the structure of the soil that had taken months to settle, a good deal of the soil’s fertility; all these things have to be replaced. Whether you use a spade or a tiller, you need to condition the soil once you have produced the crumbly bed you are so proud of before you plant your seeds. Disturbed soil loses fertility. Extra air promotes the oxidation of various nutrients, the disturbance of the structure of the soil increases the drainage and nutrients leak away. The application of well-rotted manure or compost is an important

COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TOOLS Spade manufacturers need not worry about rotovators and tillers. They are completely different tools and have their own niche in the garden. True, I have to admit you can do everything in the garden with a spade. But you cannot do them in the same way, or with the same aplomb, or as quickly; but that doesn’t matter. Spades shift earth more easily, rotovators create better tilth. Spades are more accurate, tillers are quicker.

DIGGING DOES DAMAGE People who advocate non-dig gardening will tell you that every time you plunge your spade into the soil you are doing some sort of damage. This damage has to be repaired at some point. The action of the rotovator damages the soil even more efficiently. Worms chopped up, the moisture

SO, WHY DIG? Nature is wasteful. All the wild plants you ever see are the winners in an evolutionary race that sees a thousand times more seeds die away. For a hundred seeds produced in a dandelion clock, for example, only one or two ever produce mature plants. This is not good enough for us in the garden and in order to increase our chances of success we dig the soil to make the perfect conditions for seed growth. By making a good, crumbly, well watered, airy soil, that is nice and warm, you increase the efficiency of seed germination a hundred fold. Digging damages, but it also provides a perfect crop. E

Oink, oink! Of course, the best digger in the world is a good pig. It cleans itself, needs only the fuel it eats while digging (and a bit more), manures the soil at the same time, and then – when it has finished – you can eat the digger!

POTATOES This has to be the best way of growing potatoes there is. If you let it, any tiller will dig itself to a good depth. You can use this to make a really crumbly trench, an excellent bed for potatoes. All that was needed was a little earthing up and the job was done, not in double quick time, but it was done very well indeed. But some come with plough attachments, even potato plough attachments!

part of the digging process. Disturbing the soil also triggers the growth of seeds that were once dormant, some for many decades. There are hundreds of dormant seeds in every soil ready to explode into life once the soil is disturbed. There is always weeding to do! How the seed stops being dormant once the soil is disturbed is not known – isn’t nature wonderful?

BY MAKING A GOOD, CRUMBLY, WELL WATERED, AIRY SOIL, THAT IS NICE AND WARM, YOU INCREASE THE EFFICIENCY OF SEED GERMINATION A HUNDRED FOLD


HF 2 ADS

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HF ISSUE 2 P26-27 TROUT

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COOKING TROUT

Somewhere over the Rainbow

Simple poached trout For each person you will need: INGREDIENTS 1 trout 1 desert spoon of butter Half a lemon sliced 1 bayleaf Salt and pepper METHOD 1 Clean and wash your trout and place the ingredients into the cavity – add lemon slices and small knobs of butter. 2 Completely enclose the fish in foil, making a large cavity like a tent for the steam to circulate. 3 Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 185oC or Gas 4 for 30 minutes.

Paul Peacock looks at catching and cooking trout, the king of fish, probably the best tasting freshwater fish there is I AM NO fisherman. I don’t really like the idea of pulling fish out of the water with a sharp steel hook, just to put it back, injured and startled, into its environment with a plop. There seems little point in doing that. I have to admit that it is great fun, great relaxation and just the kind of sport men like – all that equipment to collect and all those tales to tell!

JACK’S ROD But I do like fish and trout best of all. And I do like to fish for it. My first ever was a three and a half pounder and a real whopper!

Before you start to groan, this is no fisherman’s tale. I was given a rod that was purchased in 1951 from Ogden Smith on the Strand. It belonged to television countryman Jack Hargreaves


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27 CLEANING A TROUT IS A SIMPLE PROCESS

Trout roasted with bacon Oh this is lovely! For each portion you will need:

Cut into the belly of the fish with a sharp knife.

INGREDIENTS 1 trout 100g bacon rashers 25g chopped parsley 3 lemons Cut from the vent at the bottom right up to the gills.

METHOD 1 Cut your bacon into small pieces about 1cm square and finely chop your parsley. 2 Set the bacon frying on a medium heat in a tiny amount of oil and then sear the fish on both sides in the same pan. 3 Transfer each trout to a baking tray once all the fish skins are crispy. 4 To the bacon in the pan add the juice from 3 lemons (or more if you like) and a knob of butter. Cut the head off behind the gills. Scoop out the insides of the fish into newspaper and discard.

Use a spoon to clean the blood away, and the kidneys at the back end, and then wash the fish under running water.

and is older than me! I was offered £1,000 for it by a publisher, but I couldn’t part with it because it means so much and is a memento of both my book on Jack and five decades of wonderful television. However, it would only be a piece of wood unless I actually used it; after all, it is a fishing rod. So I went fishing with some pretty illustrious friends. Paul Sharman of Fish and Fly and the world renowned Charles Jardine.

SMELLY OLD TROUT

HOW TO CATCH TROUT You take advantage of a trout’s permanent hunger. Just pop an imitation fly before its mouth and more often than not it will strike. So that’s what I did; first cast, not a very good cast, and the enormous trout took the fly. It was so big I was expecting Jonah to pop out of its mouth. I had a lot of useful hints from my friends. Some of the more helpful words I remember include: “...not like that, you idiot!”, “... No! You buffoon!” and “...give it here, I’ll do it”. I insisted the fish was killed straight away, before the fly was removed, and then we admired the three and a half pounder.

When you have completed the gutting of your fish (see above), you will be surprised how cats seem to appear wherever you walk. You need to wash your hands. I have found that rubbing them with a lemon is best, followed by a good deal of soap.

POTTED TROUT For this you need trout fillets. You don’t even need to gut the fish for this, simply slice into the meat behind the gills and, using a flat blade, work your way along the backbone on either side of the fish. Check for bones and remove the skin. Cover each fillet with 5g (one teaspoon) of salt and leave overnight. Pour off the liquor and repeat with another 5g salt overnight. Wash off the salt, dry and cut the fillet into three pieces, stack them in an oven proof dish, cover with foil and bake at 175oC or Gas 3 for an hour. Flake the fish into a number of ramekins and pour hot clarified butter over it. Tap the dish to expel any air. This keeps for about 5 days. E

5 Add the parsley and cook for 3 minutes. 6 Pour the remaining mixture over the fish and bake at 175oC or Gas 3 for 20 minutes.


HF ISSUE 2 P28-30 CORN

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GROWING SWEETCORN Jayne Neville takes us step by step into growing sweetcorn

Reaping a Golden Harvest IF YOU LIKE the idea of tucking into your own freshly picked sweetcorn this summer, now is the ideal time to sow this tasty crop. The popularity of sweetcorn in recent years and its all-year-round availability in supermarkets. both fresh and frozen, guarantees it a place as a favourite vegetable here in Britain. Originating in South America, sweetcorn (also known as maize) is believed to have been introduced here in the 15th century. If you have never eaten sweetcorn straight from your garden, then you are in for a real treat! Sweetcorn really needs to be cooked within minutes of harvesting – the longer the delay, the less sweet and more starchy it becomes. Even buying ‘fresh’ from a local or farmers’ market won’t come anywhere close to that you have grown yourself. Sweetcorn is fairly easy to grow but needs a good

summer in order for the cobs to develop to their mouth-watering best. In Britain the yields will vary from year to year depending on the prevailing weather during the growing season. Prolonged hot summers are excellent for sweetcorn growers, but cool, wet ones are quite the opposite. Despite slight unpredictability, this crop definitely deserves a place on your plot because it is relatively undemanding to grow, especially regarding soil type, suffers few pest and disease problems, and can be used to protect other crops grown near or next to it because of its open growing habit. Modern varieties have been bred to be more tolerant of our climate conditions and there are many types to choose from. There are also early, mid season and late varieties. In general, expect to be eating sweetcorn any time from mid-summer to late autumn, depending on the variety chosen and the location.

Varieties There are four main classifications for sweetcorn varieties: 1) normal sugar type (the traditional ones which tend to be early), 2) sugar enhanced (increased tenderness and sweetness, normally mid-season), 3) super sweet (much sweeter than other types), 4) extra tender (most recent introduction, thin skinned, sweet and tender).


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29

SOWING The earliest option for sowing sweet corn is under cover in pots or modules (although they can be transplanted, corn does not really appreciate having its roots disturbed, so careful handling is needed). April to early May is an ideal time to sow sweetcorn indoors. You might wish to take a tip from organic gardener Bob Flowerdew who sows his sweetcorn in several batches a few weeks apart. He maintains this increases the chance of hitting a period of ideal weather during the summer. Alternatively, sow more than one variety (i.e. one early and one mid season) which should have a similar effect. Sow the seeds about 3cm deep, and place module trays or pots in a propagator or warm room (this needs to be a minimum of 18oC/65oF for germination). Expect to wait a week or so before you see the shoots break the soil surface. The young plants will need lots of light in order to encourage strong growth, but not too warm which will cause stretching. As long as they are kept frost-free, all should be well. Just before planting outside, after all risk of frost is past, harden them off for several days in a cold frame. When deciding on where to site your sweetcorn try to choose an open site, but one that isn’t too exposed to the wind. To protect the young plants in the open ground, cover them with cloches, polythene tunnels or even plastic bottles – these can come off once the plants become established. Sweetcorn should be planted in blocks, not rows. This helps maximise wind pollination. Each sweetcorn plant has tassels at the top (the male part) and cobs (female) with ‘silks’ lower down the stem so block planting is the best way of obtaining optimum pollination. Adding some compost or well-rotted manure to the bed before planting will both improve the soil and aid moisture

retention, as sweetcorn should not be allowed to dry out, especially while the cobs are developing. Plants should be spaced about 18 inches/45cm apart each way. While this may seem quite wide, in general, the more space they have, the more moisture is available to each plant, resulting in larger cobs. At this spacing you could intercrop by planting another low-growing vegetable between the rows, such as French beans, lettuce, or even courgettes, useful if space in your vegetable plot is at a premium. The alternative to sowing under cover is direct sowing outside (same spacing as before). This can be done in late spring and the area covered with fleece or cloches, as long as the soil temperature is warm enough (at least 13oC/55oF). The coverings can be removed during the daytime once the seeds have germinated to ensure the seedlings receive enough light. In early summer sowing can be taken a step further by direct sowing without any protection. Sow two seeds per position, and if both germinate, remove the weaker one. All you need to do now is to make sure the plants have adequate water, particularly in dry spells, and keep weeding!

HARVESTING By late summer each of your plants should have one or two cobs, but how do you tell if they are ready to eat? Each cob will have a silk still attached to the top; this will turn dark as the cob ripens. To check for ripeness, pull back a couple of leaves and puncture one of the yellow kernels with your fingernail; if the liquid is milky the cob is ripe, but if it is clear and watery be patient for another day or two. If the kernel is


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GROWING SWEETCORN shrunken and dry, oh dear! You’ve waited too long… Any sub-standard cobs can be dried and the kernels stripped off and used as a treat for your chickens, if you keep them.

PESTS AND DISEASES As mentioned earlier, sweetcorn is not prone to many problems. If you are very unlucky you may encounter either frit fly or smut. Frit fly maggots are only a problem for young seedlings, boring into the base of the stem. You will avoid

Reader offer

any risk of this by starting your plants off in modules or sowing under fleece. Frit flies do not attack sweetcorn once it has grown five or more leaves. Smut manifests itself in large galls on the stalks and cobs in dry, hot weather. The galls should be cut off and burnt immediately once noticed before they burst and spread spores. After harvesting all remaining plants should be burnt and a period of 3 years left before sweet corn is grown in that position again.

VARIETIES TO TRY GREAT OFFERS ON SWEETCORN SWEET CORN SWIFT EARLY Save 10% and get free postage so: £2.02 a packet instead of £2.25 a packet and save £3.95 postage & packing SWEET CORN STOWELLS EVERGREEN Save 10% and get free postage so: £3.33 a packet instead of £3.70 a packet and save £3.95 postage & packing SWEET CORN BABYCORN Save 10% and get free postage so: £3.24 a packet instead of £3.60 a packet and save £3.95 postage & packing SWEET CORN STRAWBERRY POPCORN Save 10% and get free postage so: £3.33 a packet instead of £3.70 a packet and save £3.95 postage & packing OR have a packet of each and save 20% and postage and packing – ie: 4 different packets of sweet corn seed for £10.60 instead of £13.25 and save £3.95 postage & packing Ordering is simple via the website at www.victoriananursery.co.uk or by telephone on 01233 740529. Just remember to quote HF430 OFFER ENDS 30 MARCH 2008

Super sweet varieties should be grown separately from other types to avoid the risk of cross-pollination which could cause a reduction in flavour. Alternatively, you could construct a barrier or plant different varieties at least 9m/30ft apart. There are many varieties in each category but here is a selection of some tried and tested ones, all widely available.

EXTRA TENDER: F1 Swift 1st early variety, cobs have a superb taste and texture with 16-18 rows of kernels. F1 Lark Similar qualities to Swift but slightly later. Performs well on colder soils.

IN THE KITCHEN NORMAL SUGAR: F1Earligold Vigorous and early maturing – a good choice for difficult seasons. F1 Sundance High yields of medium sized cobs. Main season variety

The texture and flavour of sweetcorn is unrivalled when eaten very fresh, but if storage is unavoidable, you can store the cobs in the fridge for up to 3 days. It helps keep them fresher if the outer leaves are completely removed as these draw out moisture if left on. Alternatively the cobs can be frozen. Strip off the outer leaves, remove the silks and the stalks, and blanch the cobs in boiling water for between 4-6 minutes (depending on size). Cool, drain and wrap in foil before placing in freezer. To enjoy sweetcorn at its best, have a boiling pan of unsalted water ready in which to place the cobs immediately after picking. Boil for 5-8 minutes. Drain and serve with melted butter. Barbecuing sweetcorn is a simple way of cooking this vegetable and takes only 10 minutes. Wrap the cobs in buttered tin foil and place amongst the coals. What a great addition to your summer barbecues! E

BARBECUING SWEETCORN IS A SIMPLE WAY OF COOKING THIS VEGETABLE AND TAKES ONLY 10 MINUTES

SUGAR ENHANCED: F1 Miracle Early main season with good flavour and sweetness F1 Incredible Main season, with high quality, medium long cobs. SUPERSWEET: F1 Earlibird One of the earliest super sweet varieties currently available. High quality yields. F1 Ovation Exceptional vigour, large cobs and very consistent.


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HF ISSUE 2 P32-33 ELDER

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SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Elderflower Champagne There are some prerequisites for a summer evening. Firstly there must be night scented stocks, the final song of skylarks, the fluttering hum of the first pipistrelle hunting for moths, the complete intoxication of elder flower champagne, and just maybe a couple of fairies. Paul and Diana relate elderflower secrets The elder is a magical plant. If you fall asleep under its branches, beware! You might just be pulled into fairyland, never to be seen again. To our ancestors the wood of the elder was not for burning and, should it be dug up, the tree would have to be placated first.

VITAL INGREDIENTS

Lemonade Bottles You can buy 2 litre lemonade bottles for 20p each.These are already sterile inside, so you don’t have to redo it if you empty them and use their contents. They make ideal fermentation bottles for beer and wine because the little legs at the bottom accumulates the dead yeast (also known as lees) and it doesn’t come out when you pour it! (Yes, the organic pop bottles are a bit dearer! And the cheap drinks are a bit nasty, but this is such a lovely solution to reusing these bottles.They go from the drinks cabinet to the allotment to act as little cloches!)

The elder, Sambucus nigra, is a shrubby plant that has a grey bark and rather unpleasant smelling leaves. The flowers that appear in the spring are large, fluffy umbels. They appear after the blackthorn in hedges in the spring. The aroma of the flowers is amazing, but they are quickly pollinated and go off. When the flowers turn yellow they also start to smell of cat, and should be discarded. They have been used as a tonic for many hundreds of years. The flowers and, to a greater extent, the fruit are rich in Vitamin C. Elderflower tea has been used for ages as a pick me up when you have a cold. There are a number of studies looking at the efficacy of elderflower and arthritis. It is too soon to say that it has any effect. The plant is rather high in tannins and has to be


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33 processed in some way before consumption. The flowers and fruit are usually doused in boiling water before being made into drinks. The fruit is also cooked in pies. Do not try to eat more than one or two of the berries, apart from being very sour you will end up with a blistering bellyache. Do not attempt to eat the leaves at all and do not feed them to your livestock. The fairies definitely will come in the night if you do!

Elderflower Rosehip Tea INGREDIENTS One elderflower umbel 1 crushed rosehip 1 dessert spoon of honey METHOD 1 Normally rosehips are not on the plant at the same time as elderflowers. It really is worth collecting them because they are nature’s highest concentration of vitamin C. They will freeze quite easily, and to make this tea all you need do is defrost one and hit it with a spoon or a pestle a few times to crack it open a little. 2 Simply put a piece of elderflower umbel into a teapot with the rosehip and pour on boiling water.Then add the honey to your cup and stir in the tea. If you need some other flavour, a slice of lemon will suffice. 3 If you don’t have rosehips, replace with a dessert spoon of rosehip syrup, still available from chemists.

COLLECTING ELDERFLOWERS Elderflower is only viable on the plant for a couple of days. Imagine - you can smell the flowers and so can every insect in the county. The flowers are pollinated very quickly. Only collect the white florets that smell crisp and clean. Give them a good shake to dislodge the wildlife. Use the flowers quickly after collecting and make sure you do not take all of them, otherwise there will be no elderberries in the late summer. Always pick when the sun is out and make sure the flowers are dry and fully open.

THE KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF WINE INGREDIENTS 4 large elderflower florets 200ml white wine base 1kg ordinary white sugar 5g citric acid 1 cup of strong tea Wine yeast METHOD 1 Strip the flowers off the stalks with a fork into a sterile bucket. 2 Pour over 5 litres of boiling water, and stir regularly for 24 hours. 3 Dissolve the sugar into 500ml boiling water to make a sugar syrup. 4 Strain the cool liquid into a second bucket through a muslin and add the sugar syrup. 5 Transfer the liquid to a demijohn and add all the other ingredients, giving the vessel a good shake to mix. 6 If the demijohn needs to be topped up, use cool, boiled water. 7 Close the vessel with an airlock and stand on a tray in case the wine spills out when the fermentation starts. 8 When the bubbling has stopped, siphon off the liquid into a clean, sterilised demijohn, leaving the gunge behind in the

vessel. Top up with apple juice or boiled water. Close the new vessel off with an airlock. 9 Leave for about six months (if you can bare to) and then rack off into bottles.

THE MILDLY ALCOHOLIC ONE You don’t need demijohns for this one. INGREDIENTS 6 Elderflower heads 2 Lemons’ juice 4 litres of water 750g sugar METHOD Put elderflower heads and lemons in a bucket and pour on the boiling water. Leave to soak for 24 hours, covered with a tea towel. Strain through a muslin and add sugar and lemon juice. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved and pour into two 2 litre screw-top lemonade bottles. Leave tops slightly loose for a couple of weeks. Keep for 2 to 3 months before drinking. Serve cool on a hot summer evening. E


HF ISSUE 2 P34-36 WORMS

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KEEPING WORMS

Wriggling Magic – Composting with Worms A revolution in composting is taking place. Once the muck and magic realm of flat capped allotmenteers, now there are compositors in kitchens and gardens all over the country CHARLES DARWIN WAS WORMS completely absorbed by WORM HEAVEN IS EAT DIRT worms. He calculated A worm is basically two A HUGE PILE OF long muscles, one to their numbers, played the violin to them (as a WASTE VEGETABLE make it contract and one scientific experiment – to make it twist. The FOOD, WHICH not a punishment), and magic of the worm is described for the first that it uses hydraulics to THEY WILL time their importance to push itself through the PROCESS INTO mankind. It is true to say soil. It eats whatever is in that without earthworms, ORGANIC HUMUS front of it, including soil, terrestrial life on this and digests the plant planet would be quite material. All the rest is different. Soil would be sparse, poor and pushed out the back – and wonderfully thin and the decomposition of plant nutritious for plants it is too! material would be very slow indeed. It Worm heaven is a huge pile of waste would be very difficult to grow crops, vegetable food, which they will process and much of good husbandry is into organic humus. The very best soil maintaining worm populations. Worms conditioner, it acts as glue, sticking soil have made almost all the soil on the particles together which helps with fine planet. Testament to this is found in silt, a sponge which provides better America in the 1920s and 1930s. water retention for plants in sandy soil, Continual use of agri-chemicals alone and creates air spaces, allowing oxygen created a soil environment that was not to dissolve in the water film to keep conducive for worms to thrive, and all roots healthy. the soil simply blew away! Thousands of Worm-assisted composting is a square miles of desert were created in wholly natural process, is fully selfwhat became known as the Great sustaining. It reduces waste volumes by American Dustbowl. up to 80%, it neutralises odours and it

tackles a wide variety of wastes, The list of benefits just keeps going on.

WHAT IS A WORMERY? Worms can help speed up composting wherever there’s organic waste to be found. From taking care of a few vegetable scraps in the kitchen to digesting the fallen leaves in a wood, there’s a worm that has evolved to do the work. Domestically, a wormery is described as being a closed system where the wrigglers cannot escape into the soil of your garden. It is normally a dustbinsized container that provides moisture and air, so the worms remain alive. You can make your own or buy complete kits. Anything that has lived and died can be composted by worms, but the best results are obtained with soft organic wastes such as vegetable peelings, tea leaves, coffee grounds, stale bread, pet hairs and even vacuum cleaner dust!

WORMERY VERSUS COMPOST HEAP Wormeries are small scale. In order to digest wood – the protein lignin – you need bacteria and heat. Worms cannot really deal with clippings and woody shoots. They will not do that well with your roses in the spring or your prunings in the early summer and autumn. However, they will be brilliant with your kitchen waste. They come into their own when you do not have the space for a compost heap. They are also fantastic for rapid breakdown – worms work much more quickly than bacteria with ordinary waste.

TO GET STARTED To use worms you need a container in


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35 which to put your waste food. It needs to be broader than it is deep. An average family could use a tray that is 60cm (2ft) square and about 25cm (10 inches) deep. Into this you need to put your material. Worms prefer a balanced diet, which for them includes shredded newspapers and cardboard, peelings, leaves, grass, crushed eggshell, tea bags – anything vegetable based. Worms do not have teeth. They use grit to break down the material, so when you add your waste, sprinkle it with a little soil. The container needs to be able to drain because liquid will build up and drown the worms, and it needs to be well aired. Also, worms absorb their oxygen through their skin, so from time to time they might need dampening. The liquid that is drained makes an excellent feed for the garden.

RED WIGGLERS Native red worms are the best ones to use – the ordinary garden worm burrows too deeply for a wormery to be effective. It is not that much good digging worms out of the garden; they will settle at the bottom of your container, or escape through the drain holes. If you keep the system working properly, draining liquid, adding food in the right way, then they will last a long time – and reproduce fairly easily. The common earthworm can live for around fifteen years – and can give rise to countless offspring.

TRAY SYSTEMS There are some neat solutions to the problem of getting the new compost from the wormery when you are still filling it with fresh material. A series of trays that look a little like flat colanders stack one on another. You fill the bottom tray and add your worms. Keep on filling until there is no more room and then add another tray. The worms then move up to the next layer, and you continue the

process. By the time the whole lot is filled your lowest tray is now full of compost.

HOW MUCH DOES A WORM EAT? It is fairly obvious that the more worms you have, the quicker they will convert your waste. They eat around half their weight in vegetable material each day, so if you have 500g of worms, they will cope with a kilo of waste food a day. This depends on temperature – if it is cold they often shutdown completely – so keep them warmish. You do not have to keep them hot. Remember that your wormery suffers from the same problem as plant pots. When it is cold they can get colder than the bare soil more quickly. If you can bring them near the house, or into the greenhouse, all the better. An efficiently run system could contain 3-4kg (10lbs) of worms, which will produce several trays of compost a year, and a continuous supply of liquid feed.

Left: A tray system that fills from the bottom. Far Left: Red Worms for composting and a system of compost bins for the allotment. Below: Bakashi pile, the raw material for breaking down kitchen waste.


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KEEPING WORMS

HOW DO I HARVEST THE CASTS? Worms like to work in the fresh waste near the surface so, in a home made system, you first skim off the top 20cm or so (this contains the worms) and save it to restart your next batch. You can then remove the rest of the compost from underneath.

LIQUID A combination of plant material and water from decomposing compost accumulates in the bottom of the receptacle. This can be drawn off and used as a very rich feed for plants. You can dilute this five fold and feed tomatoes, cucumbers – anything that requires high fertility. It is also a very good tonic for kick starting conventional compost heaps.

Micro organism impregnated bran - Bokashi

Reader offer BOKASHI POWER This is a new process that was initiated in the United States. It consists of a bucket with a tap in the bottom, and a special bran that is impregnated with all the micro organisms that naturally break down waste. You simply throw your waste – even a little meat or fish! – and sprinkle the activated bran on top. In a couple of weeks the material doesn’t look like compost, but within days of spreading the mixture into the soil it breaks down to give compost – right there in the soil. It is also a brilliant way of making a super fast compost heap. The digested material is rich in microbes and fungi beneficial to the soil – that’s where they came from in the first place! The activated bran is made in the UK and goes by the extraordinary title of Bokashi, and you can buy the whole set as a Bokashi bucket. The benefit of this process is that the material will digest most things, is odour free, and microbes that might have been harmful – E coli and the like – are digested too. But the real benefit is that the bucket works nicely in the kitchen, and so even if you live in a flat – you can still compost your waste. E

Wiggly Wigglers Can-O-Worms with Value Pack for only £79.00 (normally £89.00) SAVE £10.00 Wiggly Wigglers Set of Bokashi Buckets in Grey or in Black for £45.00 (normally £55.00) SAVE £10.00 PLUS If you order 2 products you will receive the book, Bringing a Garden to Life (worth £18.00) FREE OF CHARGE WIGGLY WIGGLERS Lower Blakemere Farm, Blakemere, Herefordshire, HR2 9PX Telephone: 01981 500391 Email: wiggly@wigglywigglers.co.uk


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HF ISSUE 2 P38-40 FATMAN

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FAT MAN IN THE KITCHEN

Pork, Chicken and Sundried Tomato

Next month Next month we try another first The Full Monty Breakfast pie. Egg, Bacon, Sausage and even a bit of fried slice.


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39

This month Paul Peacock gets into hot water about a new pie: pork, chicken and sun-dried tomatoes.

THE PROBLEM WITH cooking is that it is not like other things. Take the car for example. If you want to drive so many miles you will need so much petrol. Or if you plan to wallpaper the bathroom, you need so many rolls of paper. But when you want to make pastry you have problems. Flour can’t make up its mind how much liquid it can hold. Sometimes it gulps water – you can’t put enough in it, and other times the whole mass falls to pieces. This is why the best cook uses guesswork about how much they need in the way of ingredients. So I decided not to worry about the actual numbers on the recipes, I’d prefer to work out what things feel like.

The raised pastry.

Lard melting in boiling water.

Add slowly and carefully - it’s hot!

Use a wooden spoon to mix the paste.

If you wait until it has cooled it is hard to shape. So you have to roll it thick and then use your fingers to force it up the side of your tin. My ceiling still bears the remnants of a pastry I lost my temper with. Throwing it didn’t help.

INGREDIENTS For a big pie you need 500g flour – I use plain 5g salt 500ml water 250g lard.

HOT WATER CRUST For ages I have been trying to make a perfect pork pie with varying success. It’s usually the pastry that lets me down. Slavishly following the recipe has frequently led to problems, none more so than hot water crust pastry. The problem is that all the recipes say the same amount of flour and water, and half the amount of fat. But you end up with a paste that looks like play dough that falls to pieces when you roll it. So I thought I’d wait a bit and see if it was better when it had cooled. It just went all brittle.

DON’T GO OFF WHAT YOU BUY IN THE SHOPS My real problem was that I looked at the pies in the supermarket and compared them to mine. Their pastry was crisp and smooth and sometimes full of fat. My pastry, no matter how I tried, has always been flaky. But then I found out that commercial pies are washed with a sort of glaze that keeps the pastry together, and that hot water crust pastry is supposed to have an element of flakiness about it.

ANOTHER PROBLEM When it comes to putting your pastry into a tin you can also have problems. Since this pastry is basically warm by the time you come to use it, it is really hard to roll out and then lay over the baking tin. It just falls off the metal as though cut by a hot knife. It’s hard work, and no matter how much you swear at it, it refuses to lie properly.

RAISED This kind of pastry is also called raised pastry. Butchers who still make it by hand use a ‘dolly’. You roll a piece of pastry in your hands, flour it and push the dolly gently in place. You then use your fingers to pull the pastry up the sides, pull out the dolly and you have an individual pie shaped bowl of pastry waiting for its filling. You can use a jam jar instead of a dolly, and it works fine – probably the best way to make these pies. But there are certainly times when you need a big, round pie.

RECIPE To make your hot water crust you need equal amounts of flour and water and half the fat. Then you need some more flour at hand to top up the paste to make sure the thing doesn’t fall to pieces in your hands. Don’t be tempted to use butter or margarine – you really do need lard.

METHOD 1 Put your water and lard on the heat and bring to the boil so the lard is all melted. 2 Sieve your flower and salt and make a well to receive the liquid. 3 Pour in the boiling water/lard mixture and stir like mad with a wooden spoon. 4 Allow the paste to cool enough to handle and then knead the pastry for ten minutes. You will get a feel of the consistency of the pastry and you should add a little more flour if you are not confident of it staying together. 5 When you make your pie, with a dolly or otherwise, give it a wash with a little egg and milk and this will give you a shiny brown finish to the pie. You’ll notice that I didn’t bother – I prefer the looser texture.


HF ISSUE 2 P38-40 FATMAN

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FAT MAN IN THE KITCHEN

PORK, SUNDRIED TOMATO AND CHICKEN

3 Layer this in the bottom of the pie.

This pie is awesome! You may enjoy it so long as you raise a glass/teacup to the Fat Man in the Kitchen – otherwise I might just make a charge. You need to make this pie in a 20cm pie dish. I use one with a clipped, quick release edge so I can get the pie out without messing around.

4 Having drained your tomatoes, layer them on top of the pork and then layer your chicken on top of this.

INGREDIENTS For a 20cm pie you need 750g diced pork 1 jar sundried tomatoes 500g diced chicken

COOKED 5 In order to avoid filling the gaps in the pie with jelly, place a clean plate over the pie’s contents and press down hard. This can be prolonged for quite a long time with weights if you like.

A WORD ABOUT SALT

2 First of all the pork needs to be salted, so sprinkle 5g – a level teaspoon – into the pork mixture and mix well.

My only claim to fame is that I once judged the British Sausage Sandwich Competition with Carole Thatcher. It taught me a lot. One sandwich was too salty. Every part of the mouthful was salty. The winner had a slightly salty sausage but the rest of it was blandish. The overall effect on the tongue was perfect. So, as we have already seasoned the pork, there is no need to do the rest; simply leave the chicken layer unmolested by salt.

Drain the sundried tomatoes of oil.

Add a level teaspoon of salt to the pork and mix well.

METHOD 1 You need to drain the tomatoes of olive oil – unless you have made your own.

When you have put the lid on, this pie is a solid brick, so it needs to cook slowly. Two hours in a moderate oven – Gas 3 or 4 around 170oC. You will know if the pie is cooked by piercing the meat through the steam holes in the lid. Firstly, you can feel the knife to see if the blade is really hot. Secondly, when you pull the blade out there should be no streaks and certainly no bloody liquid or anything like that.

SERVING Believe me, this pie is a meal in itself. You can serve with salad and bread, but they won’t eat the bread because they’ll be too full. Try boiled new potatoes, but you won’t need many either. You will find the chicken layer is perfectly offset by the tang of the tomato, which also mingles with the pork below. E

Press down hard on the pie contents to avoid gaps.


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HF ISSUE 2 P42-43 LEASE

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PROPERTY

Improving Lease: What,Why and How Been caught out by an improving lease? Paul Peacock looks at the facts THE ADVERT SEEMED like a dream come true. A large Cheshire Estate was offering a cottage for rent. There was land and outbuildings and the rent was

Some things to look for E First of all make sure a good solicitor looks at your lease. Do not happily sign away; you are binding yourself to a contract and you need to remember that a contract is a twoway thing, and can be negotiated. E Draw up a plan of work stating what should be done and when, and try to include extensions to the lease just in case you cannot complete the work by the right time. E With an improving lease try to negotiate a percentage increase in rent in stages, rather than a big hike when your agreed improvements are done. E With an ordinary or repairing lease you can have a survey done at the beginning of the tenancy and agree with the landlord what will be expected at the end of the tenancy. This leads to a legal document called a State of Condition, and it is not unusual for the tenancy agreement to state that the property need not be left in a better condition than at the beginning of the tenancy. E Negotiate a long end to your lease. You do not want to be at the end of your lease, having just improved your rented home, to find yourself being put onto a six month tenancy so new tenants can be brought in to pay a lot more money than you. E Remember, many cottages are old, and some might need expert work – make sure you know what you are letting yourself in for.

fixed for 5 years at £100 per month. I gingerly picked up the telephone thinking it was probably already snatched up. It wasn’t. My pulse raced as the agent described the property, the land, the outbuildings, the woodlands, and the stream at the bottom of the field. It seemed like the perfect answer to our dreams of living in the country. Then came the crunch. I had to agree to repair the building, the main house. I had to guarantee to spend a minimum of £5,000 a year on repairs each year and when this period was over, the rent would go up to ‘market norms’. We walked away. The ‘market norm’ for this type of property would have been well out of our reach and the thought of spending all that time and effort doing up a property, only to have to leave it, would have broken our hearts. I pointed out to the agent that the house wasn’t habitable, but this was met by a grin and the answer that someone would find it so.

SO WHAT IS AN IMPROVING LEASE? There are several kinds of lease, some simple, others complex. Industrial properties and farms are often rented with a repairing or an insuring lease or both. This means that the tenant is responsible for day to day repairs on the property, and for insuring the property against important damage such as flooding and so on. The improving lease a would be smallholder might encounter is rather more complex. A landlord without the ability or inclination to upgrade his own property can build into the rent the requirement to renovate his property for him. Then, according to whatever agreement you make, can charge you more rent for what you have done to his property because it now has a higher value. A higher value gained because of your money and your effort. This does not mean that all landlords are evil, grasping people who wish to treat the serfdom that lives on their estates with disdain and a lack of respect. But you do have to be careful. Of course, with most improving leases you are only paying a fraction of the rent to live in the place at first, but you

have to put up with the inconvenience of the property restoration, however small or large that might be, and paying for that renovation too. The landlord only suffers the inconvenience of having a reduced rent while you are improving his property. Our near miss with the improving lease has unfortunately been repeated many times with less favourable circumstances. Our close friends rented a beautiful holding in Shropshire with four acres and a wonderful series of outbuildings. By the time their kitchen was upgraded, the rent had doubled and they had to leave. They simply were unable to afford the increase in rent.

SAFEGUARDS Most agricultural properties are rented on some kind of repairing lease. In its simplest and fairest form, the lease is there to protect the landlord from tenants who recklessly allow the properties to fall into disrepair. Leases on smaller properties are protected by the taking of a significant bond and with a short-term lease period, giving the landlord the ability to remove a tenant after six months. This is called an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. In such cases the lease allows for a limited repairing liability that is roughly equal to the amount of the bond. Remember that walls are a part of the property, and not just something that sit around the fields. Usually they are also part of the repairing lease and the tenant is expected to keep them in good order.

WHO SHOULD TAKE ON AN IMPROVING LEASE? If you have the skills to do the work to a professional standard, an improving lease might be just the job. Similarly, if you have plenty of family members that can do the work, chippies, electricians, builders and the like, then your repairing work will be of higher value to you. However, if the improvements mean that you have to hire all kinds of professionals, think again and get the landlord to find someone else to put things right. E


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HOME DAIRY

Making Your Own Cheese – An Introduction Most people believe it comes in little slabs, wrapped in plastic, or in tubs. It’s smelly or fattening, bad for your heart or skin, eaten by old men with brandy and fat cigars! We dispel a few myths about cheese

EVERYONE SHOULD MAKE cheese. It is a fundamental, like butter and bread. Cheese is the mainstay of so many dishes and, along with milk and cream, butter and a host of other dairy products, is the best way humans can eat grass. (As opposed to wheat and flour where we are actually eating grass seed!) Cheese is an ancient food and the Egyptians even made a religion out of it. I feel sure that Home Farmer readers would have been at home in Ancient Egypt, they worshipped all the processes we hold dear – cheese making, bread making, bee keeping, and cooking in general. The temple walls were covered in recipes! Cheese has been found in the tombs of the Pharaohs from over three thousand five hundred years ago - though there really is no need to mature your own cheese for this long.

WHY MAKE YOUR OWN CHEESES? People say they want to be in control of what is in their food, but spend a fortune allowing others to decide for them. If we all made our own there would be no organic movement in the shops – it would be a grassroots thing, ordinary people making ordinary food. If you make your own cheese you know what is in your food, although you would probably have to buy organic milk to be certain that what you have on your cracker does not also contain a whole bunch of antibiotics, pesticides and cow hormones. Or, of course, keep your own milk animal. Anyone can make brilliant and amazing CHEESE IS AN cheese. Making it is one ANCIENT FOOD of those pastimes that become completely AND IT WAS absorbing and you can THE EGYPTIANS produce a product that is far better than you’d THAT MADE buy in the shop. Well that’s not quite true. A RELIGION Cheap cheese costs OUT OF IT £4.50 a kilo but I wouldn’t like to eat it. You will also learn new skills. My great grandmother used to collect dregs of milk and add some lemon juice to it.


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45 She would strain it through muslin and eat it with bread. Over a day she might make a small handful of cheese this way, but it was enough for her.

LEARNING FROM YOUR MISTAKES The bottom line is that cheese is chemistry – nothing else. The problem is that there are so many factors that can influence the making of cheese that it can become very frustrating as you nervously follow the process through. Sometimes it will work – sometimes not, quite, and you will be left wondering why. It’s just like the first humans to walk on these islands. They made socalled simple stone tools, called hand axes. How simple can it be to knock a bit of stone about to make a sharp point? These people didn’t make cheese, we don’t even know if they had a proper language. But archeologists have found that the skills needed to make a hand axe are immense! We can’t just do it – it takes years of practice. Well it’s not quite so bad with cheese. The only mistake that rendered my product inedible was when I simply did not believe you only needed a tiny amount of rennet for a gallon of milk. I put in half a bottle – it tasted awful!

EQUIPMENT The very minimum you need for cheese making is a stockpot, a colander and some muslin. With this you can make cottage cheese and, with a bit of ingenuity, soft and semi-soft cheese. You will need at least a gallon sized pot. Your next purchase should be a thermometer that you can get from a brewing supplier or one of the smallholding supplies shops. For cheese making, temperature is all important and you will need to be able to control the heat of a gallon of milk to within one degree.

Top Tip DON’T GO MAD WITH THE RENNET! Read your bottle – you might need as many as 6 drops, or as few as 3.

A SIMPLE SOFT CHEESE INGREDIENTS 1 gallon of milk (4.5 litres) 4 drops of rennet A starter (in this case some yogurt (plain) or crème fraiche Salt Sterile bowl to collect curds Sterile knife Several sterile muslin sheets Sterile stockpot METHOD 1 Sterlise your muslin and all other utensils 2 Put the milk in the pot with a small tub of crème fraiche, or some yogurt. (Try it with and without to find out how the different components alter the flavour of the cheese.) Leave for 30 minutes.The point of this is that you are helping to acidify the milk and adding some richness too! 3 Warm the milk on the cooker until it

is just warm to touch – or 28oC if you are using a thermometer. 4 Dissolve your rennet into a cup of cooled, boiled water and add to the milk. 5 Remove from the heat and leave for 30 minutes – you will be able to feel the surface of the milk has set like a jelly. If you thrust your finger into the curd it should break into a small crack.This is called a clean break. 6 Cut the curds into cubes a couple of centimetres across and then pour them into a cheesecloth-lined colander to drain. Bring the corners of the muslin together and hang the cheese overnight to drain. 7 In the morning, open the cheesecloth and incorporate a teaspoon of salt into it. Give it a good mix and taste to see if it is salty enough.


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HOME DAIRY It is true that once you acidify cheese it will curdle and you can collect these curds to make a simple country cheese – but after a while you will get bored with lemon tasting cheese and will want to branch out. The next stage is to farm bacteria. Starters are a way of inoculating milk with bacteria that give the cheese certain qualities. You can buy ready made starters, important for all hard cheeses, from cheese making supplies, and you can make your own too. (But this is quite a skill!) If you want to make Brie, Camembert or Stilton you will need various types of penicillin fungi to inoculate the cheese, but this won’t cure your own bacterial infections!

THE NEXT STEP... WITH YOUR BASIC SOFT CHEESE YOU CAN: 1 Just spread it on bread. 2 Add chives or fruit or onions or garlic. 3 Add cream and loosely mix it like creamed cottage cheese.

4 Put it into a press and make a semihard cheese. 5 You can use it in recipes for pasta, in fondue, or on pizza. 6 You can add sugar and less salt and use it in sweets. You can even put it on crackers or fingers!

RENNET This is an amazing substance. The first cheeses were probably made using the natural acidity of sour milk, but it wouldn’t be long before someone noticed that the milk in a calf’s stomach was set. An enzyme called rennet is responsible, and for a long time came from slaughtered calves. However, over a hundred years ago we discovered that lady’s bedstraw juice also set milk. Today you can buy animal rennet that has been manufactured from genetically altered bacteria – just like many pharmaceuticals. Because rennet is an enzyme, once it has done its bit of chemistry, the process releases the molecule to repeat its job on the next bit of milk protein, so you only need a few drops. Read the label of your particular product and follow the quantities exactly.

PRESSES One of the problems with cheese is getting rid of the whey. This sugar-laden liquid is what goes off. The protein and fat does not go off so quickly. So to make your cheese last you need to expel as much whey as possible. This is helped considerably by using a cheese press. The curds are ladled into a mould and a ‘follower’ is placed on top. This is then rammed down by slowly increasing pressure and the whey is forced out. You can use weights – tins of food or

bags of potatoes, but eventually you will want to buy a press. There are lots of designs from Dutch ones with pull down handles to Italian ones with big screws on the top. You can get away with using a G-clamp but they don’t stand upright, and you cannot collect the whey, and dogs and cats are extremely fond of the whey. When you come this far there will be many things to buy; round knives for pulling plugs of cheese, wax for painting cheeses – just like Edam, cheese brushes, shelving for maturing, humidity sensors – the list goes on. As with everything else, there is no limit to the number of ways people will think of taking money from you.

PRESSING AND STARTING The scientists among us might have thought that if you press this cheese hard enough, for long enough, you would get a hard cheese. Well it isn’t quite as simple as that. What you will get is a crumbly cheese like Lancashire. A hard cheese is made by the action of bacteria that are introduced at the starter stage. It is their action in the ripening cheese that causes it to become hard – but of course, the pressing helps too. E

Next month Out next cheese article will look at making Brie, Charlemagne’s favourite!


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TALKING POINT They are so cute – could you kill them for your dinner?

CouldYou Kill an Animal for Food? There are no two ways about it, animals die. It is a part of life. Whether you can be an active part of that process or not is quite a question. Paul Peacock poses some moral questions FOR ME, KILLING an animal is an important part of caring for it. So important that I am unhappy when anyone else does it on my behalf – but that’s just me, or is it? We have to be sure in our own minds about the killing of an animal for food or health. The line separating feeling like a murderer for killing a chicken and enjoying a Sunday roast can be all too narrow. Even John Seymour had this problem to an extent. He worried about how long his animals lived, whether they had had a long and happy life. He believed that six months was far too short a life for a pig and so he killed them at a great age, often over eighteen months. They were huge, fatty and often tainted, but this was something John felt comfortable with. For some, killing an animal – doing a proper job of it, a painless humane job, is part of being human and eating meat. There are those who, with an air of machismo, will tell of their prowess in dispatching animals as though everyone should be able to do it without any hint of squeamishness or remorse. To my mind this is insensitive, particularly in

without causing it pain, or as little as possible, and can I treat it with complete dignity. Whichever way you look at it the animal has given its life for my dinner, and consequently deserves a great deal of respect from myself. these days when, for over two generaMoreover, if I cannot fulfil these tions, we have been pretty much criteria, I cannot eat meat at all. separated from our supply of meat. The I have a lot of sympathy with the view decision to kill something in order to that unless you are prepared to kill the eat it should never, in my opinion at animal yourself you should think least, be lightly taken. carefully about the meat I saw a video of how you do eat. The reason one village killed its behind this is I am not at FOR ME, pigs somewhere in all happy about herding Eastern Europe. They animals a long way in KILLING AN brought the animal into order get them slaughANIMAL IS AN the street, happy as tered. Because the anything. Then the man government, and the EU, IMPORTANT took out a sharp knife has encouraged the PART OF and slit its throat. Of closure of many hundred course the pig went CARING FOR IT abattoirs, in some parts of mad! Thrashed around, the country this is a very screamed and gurgled long journey indeed. in its own blood and I do realise this is not then fell over and died. They set it on so simple. Most of us have to buy our fire to remove the hairs and the women meat from the shops. Perhaps there is a of the village fought over its ears that need for an animal welfare sticker on all had been cooked in the process. They the meat we buy? all thought it was great fun! I don’t Having decided that it is alright to think the pig did. eat meat, and I have, then this decision For me, and it might be different for leads me to kill my own meat wherever you, the compromise about eating possible. Most of us have seen the animals is two fold. Can I kill the animal Chicken Out series by Hugh Fearnley-


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49 Whittingstall. You cannot compare the life of a backyard chicken to that of an industrial broiler. For a start, backyard hens are happier, and having written that I hear the chuckles of intensive farmers everywhere. But I feel better eating my own birds, knowing about the lives they have led, than one of those battery housed, kept-in-the-dark, overheated, over-fed, supermarket chickens. But the financial cost to me for my bird is probably more than the cost of buying a supermarket chicken. To my mind I have a contract with the animal. I care for it, keep it in humane conditions and feed and treat it with respectful care and when I kill it I do the job as proficiently and painlessly as possible. And then, when the killing is over, the whole animal is used – no waste. If I cannot use the entire animal I don’t kill it. It might sound silly but why should it die and some of it simply be thrown away for the sake of convenience? People choose not to kill their animals, quite rightly. Perhaps they do not have the right facilities to kill and eviscerate an animal as large as a pig. Maybe they live close to people who would be horrified at the thought of the nice chickens wandering around the garden ending up on your plate and might call out the RSPCA every time you have a Sunday roast! Perhaps they simply cannot bring themselves to do so. There are plenty of people who cannot bring themselves to kill the chickens they keep, but are very happily using their eggs. I for one cannot see any problem with this. There is a lot to be said for vegetarianism. I became a veggie myself when I was a student. We had just finished cutting up some animal or other and slinked off to the canteen for lunch. Somehow I couldn’t eat the meat – the thought of this animal’s liver was too much for me. Then I knew in the afternoon we were looking at the measles infection of live eggs – I couldn’t cope. Indeed, I walked out of that microbiology practical in disgust – never to return! (But that’s another story) But the problem is that animals get sick and from time to time need dispatching. Can I bring myself to do it? If I can't, then I need to make sure I have someone very close at hand who can. Home Farmers ought to be the sharp edge of good practice. We should be able to teach the commercial farmers and abattoirs a thing or two. So if we have made up our minds about killing animals, we need to get on with it as skilfully as possible. 

www.homefarmer.co.uk Do you



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HF ISSUE 2 P50-52 BEES

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KEEPING BEES

In order to exploit the products of the hive it is important to have an understanding of the way bees organise themselves.

What’s Going on in the Hive? But this yield doesn’t come for THERE ARE A number of things to nothing. You have to take time to remember when it comes to keeping understand your bees, bees. They make provide the right honey for themselves, not for people. You DEPENDING ON environment for their various needs, prepare can look at a hive as a THE TIME OF for the various seasons single super-being with lots of units YEAR THERE ARE and treat the colony against various diseases. (bees) that all live and BETWEEN A work for the whole colony – not THOUSAND AND SO WHAT GOES themselves. The ON IN THE HIVE? THIRTY THOUSAND The castes of the bee are queen isn’t the boss of the hive, although often described as being WORKERS she does control Queen, Worker and many processes in the Drone. However, this hive. There are more ways of losing a perhaps puts the wrong emphasis on it. colony than you can imagine. We often think that the queen is the most important bee in the hive, but this is not accurate. So we will start with the DEDICATION boss bee: Beekeeping takes dedication, understanding, courage, perseverance and money. We can only help with the THE WORKER understanding bit. As a part of a ‘good Depending on the time of the year life’ set up, a couple of hives are a there are between a thousand and must. In a good season you might get thirty thousand workers in the hive. a hundred jars of honey and this will The life of a worker bee is made up of see you in cakes, jars of mead, three sections of 22 days. It spends medicines and sweet things through 22 days developing as an egg and grub, all the year. Personally I draw the line 22 days working inside the hive and at using honey to sweeten tea, but then she wears herself out flying then I don't take sugar in it either! around collecting nectar and pollen

for the final 22 days. The only workers to deviate from this are the ones that over winter in the hive. Once they emerge from their cells they learn the layout of the hive and then start housekeeping duties. Their days are spent feeding the queen, cleaning cells, feeding grubs, cooling the hive, cleaning the hive, evaporating honey, making repairs, protecting the hive, gluing things up (they love to do this!) and learning the language of bees. At around 22 days they start to fly. First they take an image of the hive and its geography. Once they under-

Bees fill the hive with comb the beekeeper doesn’t need.


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51 stand this they make longer and longer flights and start collecting nectar and pollen. Honey bees are complete masters at pollinating plants and your crops will be much improved if you have a beehive nearby.

Workers tending a comb of capped (and some uncapped) brood full of developping grubs. Around the outside you will find cells filled with honey.

BEE DECISION MAKING Many people have heard about the waggle dance, the way bees communicate the direction and position of a good food supply. But they are more interesting still. When a number of bees return to the hive from two competing food sources, the workers decide which one is best to exploit first. Once one is exhausted they will start on the other. Some worker behaviour is dominated by the queen, who keeps her place in the hive by emitting hormones. The workers know her peculiar cocktail of chemicals and will attack any intruders that do not smell of her. For this reason amalgamating queen-less workers with a queened colony needs to be done slowly, so that the additional bees can accumulate their new queen’s smell. However, if the queen is not able to lay eggs properly, perhaps because of injury, the workers will force new virgin queen cells and kill the injured queen by clustering round her and literally cooking her – she dies from heat exhaustion. Workers simply wear themselves out. They travel many miles in the hunt for nectar, work every hour of daylight of the 22 days of their foraging and usually succumb to exhaustion somewhere away from the hive. Any that die overnight in the hive are thrown outside by workers the following morning.

Find the queen – there’s a clue in the text.

THE QUEEN Her majesty is far from bossing the hive. She is simply an gets out of the way of a newcomer, egg-laying machine. If she dies the causes the swarm. Usually a queen is workers will rear a new queen, and if good for around three year’s worth of this fails the workers themselves will lay eggs, except that by the beginning of eggs. However, if this happens the year 3 her egg supply is colony is on its last significantly reduced. legs indeed. (A queenAROUND MAY You can almost guarantee less colony is normally that a three-year-old very angry and noisy.) TIME THE queen will be near her The queen’s job is HIVE WOULD last days. to lay eggs and she will In order to tell how do so at an amazing NATURALLY DIVIDE old, and indeed to help rate, so long as there – SOMETHING you spot the queen are clean cells to lay in a series of and the temperature is THAT BEEKEEPERS amongst workers, beekeepers mark high enough. She will their queens with paint lay fertilized eggs in HATE on the thorax. The colour ordinary cells and code, which we will look these will become into in more depth another time, is workers. All the workers in the hive are repeated every five years. No one is sisters. She will lay unfertilized eggs in expected to have a queen that has lived slightly larger cells made by the workers this long. specifically for the purpose of raising males. She will lay in a queen cell which is DRONES noticeable by the fact that it hangs These are male bees. They are larger from the bottom of a frame, or sticks than workers but smaller than the out from the side of a honeycomb. This queen. They have only one function, but egg will be fed on a special substance, it is a very important one. They provide royal jelly, and this will cause the grub two things for the colony. Firstly, they to develop into another queen. provide sperm to enable the queen to Around May time the hive would create new bees. Secondly, they provide naturally divide – something that something given to them by their beekeepers hate. This is called mother. This is genetic variation. When Opening your own hive for the swarming. Often the old queen, who the queen produces eggs they firstdrone time is an exciting process


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KEEPING BEES are genetically slightly different to each other. This is the driving force of bee evolution, because, at the end of the day, the only hope bees have of overcoming microbial advances against them is to be genetically diverse. Over the years the actions of beekeepers have tended to be counter evolutionary, and this is reflected in the health status of honeybees – now under threat on all sides. Drones fly with queens in pre-determined sites. The queen knows where these are and will fly to where there are many drones, unseen above our heads at some considerable height. The queen will mate with ten or more drones and collect a large volume of sperm that will last her for the rest of her life. Inside the queen are many billions of sperms, all genetically different, and from many different drones – so it can easily be said that the worker bees in a colony are only half sisters. It is the workers that decide how many drones are provided for in the colony at any one time. The queen will only lay a drone egg in a drone cell, and it is the workers who limit the

numbers of drone cells in the hive. The queen herself has no say in the matter. When the autumn comes, the bees are in decline and the colony prepares for winter. Since it takes a teaspoon of honey to keep a honeybee through the winter, the number of bees in the hive is drastically reduced. The drones are expelled from the hive and die of either cold or hunger outside. The workers will not let them in no matter how desperately they fly around the entrance. Since drones have no sting they are powerless to resist and many an interested hour can be spent watching the workers expel drones again and again, with increasing ferocity. The entrance to a November hive is littered with dead bodies. Among the first eggs to be laid in the spring are drones. They are likely as not needed for a new queen, if one is necessary, she will need plenty of fertilized eggs as soon as possible if the colony has a hope of increasing its numbers in time to take advantage of the new nectar flow. E

All the honey removed: the final point of beekeeping.

Next Month We shall take a closer look at the bee year and how to set up your own hive.


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HOME FARMER HEROES

Osney Lodge Farm If it’s meat you’re after, Osney Lodge Farm is the place to get it HARRY IS REAL meat, powerful meat, imposing meat, but as calm and as gentle as you like. Sussex cattle are docile, well mannered and make wonderful meat animals. Osney Lodge Farm is populated with Sussex cattle and a number of rare breed pigs and sheep, geese, ducks and poultry. There is a timelessness about Osney lodge because everything has its own pace. You don’t find animals being forced into fattening quickly, there are no broiler sheds, but there are lots of broilers running around. There are no pig crates, but there are pigs rooting in the mud and having a wonderful time doing it. The natural increase that nature brings is enough for owners Graham and Sally Page, and there’s no need to rush it. This is the ethos behind the farm, animals grow, they are cared for – sometimes even loved, and then they become food. It’s what Graham calls ‘old fashioned farming.’ You can call at the farm and buy home produced and butchered meat from rare breed pig to Graham’s pride and joy, properly hung, Sussex beef. Whatever you do, do not ask to be shown the cold store. Graham gets really boring about his cold store. You will get a lecture on how and why beef should be hung, what is happening to the connective tissue, the meat and the moistness of the centres of muscles. But then you’d expect him to go on a bit, his meat is more than a bit special, as customers at farmers’ markets around the southern counties can testify – and they do too. Graham and Sally have done many things to keep the farm going through the torrid times the industry has experienced since they started 15 years ago. School visits were popular at one time until foot and mouth restrictions put an end to it. In the long run it is food that has been, and will continue to be, their mainstay. They are marketing a range of hot smoking machines that do not rely on briquettes for their fuel. They have opened a farm shop that sells vegetables and beer too! A really popular event at Osney Lodge are the sausage making courses they regularly put on. A three hour taster course provides you with hands on experience of making your own sausages – and you can take your creations home in a bag – no matter how much of a mess you made at linking them!

Contact You can buy from Osney Lodge Farm by visiting: www.osneylodgefarm.co.uk And for sausages and sausage equipment: www.sausage-maker.co.uk Osney Lodge Farm, Byers Lane, South Godstone, Surrey, RH9 8JH. Tel: 01342 892216 Fax: 01342 892399

NOMINATE YOUR FOOD HERO Write to: Home Farmer The Good Life Press Ltd. PO Box 536, Preston, PR2 9ZY. Or email: editor@homefarmer.co.uk

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KEEPING CHICKENS

There are many different breeds of chickens available, says Janice Houghton-Wallace

Choosing Your Chickens IF YOU ARE thinking of buying some poultry, one of the most important tasks beforehand is to do some homework. Decide why you want some birds and what they will be kept for. Are you looking for a breed that will keep you in eggs for breakfast, or one that will provide birds suitable for putting in the pot! Alternatively, you might just be after some attractive mobile garden decorations, pets for the children (or even yourself) or a quality pure breed that you can take along to a show. There are breeds of poultry that cater for all these niches and they are as different as a Shetland pantomime pony is to a thoroughbred Derby winner in the equine world. If you are serious about eggs, then a commercial hybrid is the answer. These have been bred specifically to produce eggs and will do so more efficiently than most of the pure breeds. Black Rock, Calder Ranger, Speckeldy, Warren and ISA Brown are just a few of the strains available and you can purchase as many or as few as you like. A glance through the advertisement columns of the poultry press will soon show you where it is possible to buy direct, or you might like to ‘rescue’ a battery hen when her commercial production period is over. Also, the British Egg Industry Council could probably put you in contact with a member in your area that would be willing to sell you some pullets. Should you prefer a particular coloured egg then pure breeds are for you, although they would not provide the same quantity as hybrid layers. For mid-brown eggs go for Rhode Island Reds, Wyandottes, or Barred Rocks. White eggs are produced by Leghorns (although these are not easy to find these days) and Minorcas. The Light Sussex lays tinted eggs. The popular dark brown eggs are from Marans, Welsummers or Barnevelders and blue eggs are from the Araucana and Cream Legbar. Some of these breeds are also called utility breeds, that is, they not only provide eggs but are suitable as meat birds as well.

Useful poultry contacts The Poultry Club of Great Britain, Tel: 01476 550067 E-mail: info@poultryclub.org Website: www.poultryclub.org Founded in 1877, is a registered charity which exists to safeguard the interests of all pure and traditional breeds of poultry, both in Great Britain and throughout the world. As guardians of the ‘British Poultry Standards’, the club has a crucial role in safeguarding stock bloodlines which have been maintained for generations. The Battery Hen Welfare Trust, Tel: 01769 580310 E-mail: info@bhwt.org.uk Website: www.bhwt.org.uk The aim of The Battery Hen Welfare Trust is to inspire as many as possible to do all you can to help us achieve a better future for the 20 million battery hens currently in their cages. The Battery Hen Welfare Trust is unique in that it does NOT condemn the battery farmer, but works in a constructive and positive way with the industry.They do not concur with extremist views or tactics and are not associated with any other

organisation or group linked in any way to battery hens.They seek to build only positive, constructive and mutually beneficial relationships with all those concerned with the egg industry. The British Egg Industry Council and British Egg Association, (commercial egg producers) Tel: 020 7608 3760 E-mail: louisa.platt@british eggindustry.com Website: www.british eggindustrycouncil.com The BEIC is an inter-professional organisation of 11 trade associations in the UK, which cover all aspects of the egg industry – breeding, hatching, rearing, laying, packing, egg processing and marketing. British Poultry Council, (commercial poultrymeat producers) Tel: 020 7202 4760 E-mail: bpc@poultry.uk.com Website: www.poultry.uk.com Poultry meat is one of Britain’s favourite foods. The British Poultry Council are a voluntary trade association with information on many poultryrelated topics including poultry breeding, poultry meat, chicken production, poultry farming, poultry transportation and much more besides. The Council actively participates in research on bird health, welfare and food safety.They are involved in developing codes of practice and assurance standards relating to all aspects of rearing and processing poultry.


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BREED CLUBS WILL HELP Most of the above breeds, along with many others, have their own breed clubs. If you are looking for a pure breed this is definitely the route to take when thinking of buying. It is also the recommended way to purchase when thinking of a pure breed pet or a trio to breed on for exhibition. Breed club secretaries will be honest with you about the suitability of the breed for your purpose and if you are convinced that their breed is the one for you, they will point you in the direction of a breeder in or close to your area. When you eventually become the proud owner of some birds it is also a good idea to become a member of the breed club. This way you will learn

IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT EGGS, THEN A COMMERCIAL HYBRID IS THE ANSWER


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KEEPING CHICKENS BUY FROM REPUTABLE SOURCES

more about your breed, how to look after it and how to identify good quality birds. But I have mentioned only a small number of pure breeds and there are well over a hundred different breeds of poultry in the UK, so how do you know what is available? The Poultry Club of Great Britain has a list of breeds, in different categories, such as Large soft feather or Bantam soft feather on its website. Some breeds are more difficult to look after than others. The soft coated Silkies, for instance, are immensely popular as pets and exhibition birds but a Silkie outside during a downpour is a very sorry sight indeed. Pekins are true bantams (the breed does not have a large fowl equivalent) that also make wonderful pets and are quite well behaved around the garden.

could be courting disaster. Sometimes birds go for very high prices just because they are classified as a pure I cannot impress enough how important breed or rare, but unless you know your it is to buy stock from breeders who poultry they could be a understand, care for and very poor example of the respect their birds. If ONE OF THE breed. Broody hens with someone is willing to have are also a no-no. you visit their home to OLDEST WAYS chicks You have no idea what the buy the birds you can see chicks will actually end up how those birds are kept, OF BUYING like and they are quite the condition that they POULTRY IS likely to be mostly males. are in and how they are When buying birds, cared for. Usually under THROUGH however it is done, never these circumstances you POULTRY SALES buy on impulse. Your get what you want and most breeders will want to OR AUCTIONS purchase will invariably cause problems. Either you see a contented new haven’t suitable accommoowner/breeder. Do not be tempted to ‘meet someone at a motorway dation prepared, you find you do not car park’ unless you have been convinced have space for the particular breed, or the breed may not be the best for your that the person’s stock is healthy and pure bred. This is where contact with the needs. “They are only chickens,” you might say. Yes, but if they turn out to be breed club comes in very handy. not what you really wanted they can end One of the oldest ways of buying up being a burden and keeping poultry poultry is through poultry sales or is all about the pleasure of having them auctions. Remember though, these are around. E the birds that are no longer wanted and unless someone with poultry experience is there to help you

Next month Janice looks at the different ways of housing your birds.


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ORGANIC

When is Organic not Organic – When it Ruins the Environment Paul Peacock questions whether it is acceptable to call products organic when their transport to the supermarket pollutes the atmosphere HAVE YOU EVER tried to go to the supermarket on your bike? It is a complete pain and I did it for one week to try and reduce my food miles. Apart from having to drive on a horrid road, with holes in it and buses that cut you up, you never realise how steep the hills are until you have to get up them by your own power. Then, coming back with a load of shopping was a nightmare. It cost me a lot of money in eggs!

WHY WE NEED A NEW DEFINITION OF ORGANIC

Moreover, the pollution needed to create the trucks and aeroplanes costs a Potatoes and salads from Spain, 1,000 fortune – not a fortune in money, but a miles away. Asparagus from Peru, 4,000 fortune in energy, pollution and miles away. Green beans from Turkey, degradation to the 2,500 miles away. Peas environment. from Israel, 3,000 miles away. In fact, the list is ONE OF THE much larger than this, SLASH – BURN PROBLEMS WE but as I wrote the details ORGANIC from the labels in the Yes, it is possible to grow HAVE IS OUR shop for this article, the crops on soil that has seen TRADITIONAL store detective was no chemicals at all for giving me a hard stare, thousands of years. You MARKET so I ran off to the wife. can grow organic food on GARDENS ARE The energy needed to virgin soil. Much of the bring potatoes, and organic food we get in this VANISHING many other foods, from country has come from abroad has a very sources that once were negative impact on the environment, so natural environments. Ecosystems ruined why label them as organic. They have for a few year’s farming, so we in this polluted the planet by releasing more country can pay a premium for organic than their own weight of CO2 into the food. But why should such destruction of the environment be termed organic? atmosphere, the jet engines have degraded the upper atmosphere with their ozone destroying engines, and if LOCAL produce does this much harm, what True organic food should be local, right have they to call it organic? conform to all the various organic

regulations as far as pesticides and fertilisers are concerned, and should be reasonably cheap. They should be shown to do less harm to the environment than their non-organic counterparts, and this equation should be based on more than the local environment in which they were grown. To be truly organic, food should have a global impact assessment. It is fine to call Kiwi fruit grown in New Zealand organic – if it meets the criteria, but not if it has been flown into the UK. One of the problems we have is our traditional market gardens are vanishing. The land that is now Heathrow used to feed London with salad, onions and potatoes. South Lancashire did the same for Manchester and Liverpool. But this hinterland has moved away from our major cities, and has spread across the whole world. So, if you want to buy organic food we would say, if you can’t grow it, make sure it is local, and maybe someone will just begin to think again about what organic really means. E


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HUGH FEARNLEY-WHITTINGSTALL

Hugh’s Birds Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s free range chicken campaign, Chicken out, has caught the imagination of the nation, if not the supermarkets. Clare Mulgrew takes a look at the week of the campaign, and what has happened since, particularly the provider of the equipment, Forsham Cottage Arks

poultry too. The Pellet’s imagination THE PELLETTS HAVE run Forsham Cottage Arks for three decades and pride and passion for animals has led to a themselves on their ability to help people long and successful business partnership aimed at helping likeenjoy animals and country living while minded people enjoy keeping chickens maintaining strict ethics, as demonand other creatures. strated by their involvement in supplying On the other hand, it seems that the poultry housing for Hugh Fearnleycommercial side of the Whittingstall’s free range poultry industry, the chicken campaign earlier provision of chicken and this year. COMMERCIAL eggs for the kitchen could Forsham’s ethos has hardly be more different. always been the welfare BIRDS ARE Even so called free range of the bird or animal and KEPT INDOORS, birds can have lives that they are firm believers are completely pitiful, that anyone can have a UP TO 40,000 nothing at all like the taste of the good life, IN ONE SHED cosseted existence of even those living in the backyard chickens. Broiler middle of suburbia. AT A TIME birds are bred in Located near Ashford abnormal conditions to in Kent, they were go it get their market weight of alone smallholders, kept two kilos in 40 days. It took 80 days 30 chickens for the first time and found years ago. themselves unhappy with the chicken Commercial birds are kept indoors, huts on the market, they decided to make their own. From these small begin- up to 40,000 in one shed at a time, without natural light and with nothing nings a business grew up – Robert to do but eat, rest and get fat. building arks, Cindy selling them. The Pelletts were therefore delighted In the poultry world the demarcation to be chosen to help support Hugh between shop and customer is a little Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Chicken Out! blurred. It is a little like a big family – campaign featured on Hugh’s Chicken mostly because the suppliers of poultry Run on Channel 4 in January. equipment and birds are lovers of

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HUGH FEARNLEY-WHITTINGSTALL He targeted curry houses, burger bars, sandwich shops and pubs across Axminster who agreed to stock free range chicken for the week, but he hit a brick wall trying to get the supermarkets on board. The volunteers kept their own birds at an allotment and reared them as free range chickens which they later slaughtered and ate. Most of the volunteers were distraught when they saw how the broiler chickens were kept and were very supportive of the free range alternative There was strong resistance from one particular individual, a single mother who said she could not afford to buy free range chickens. The volunteers lovingly tended to their birds, who clucked cheerily in their spacious runs, pecking away at corn and some, inevitably, grew too attached. It was a distressing time for the families when their chickens were ready to go to slaughter. Particularly when they were asked to make the kill themselves. “They’ve still got our chicken runs down there in Axminster. Robert wants to go down because they haven’t put the housing up right. They’ve put the perches in the wrong way round!”

SO WHAT IS HAPPENING

“We are totally behind his welfare TO THE BIRDS NOW? campaign,” said Cindy. Once Hugh left, the families interested Hugh set up his own chicken factory in looking after the hens gradually in his home town of Axminster and got dwindled until now only three or four the residents of the Millway estate to actually tend them on a daily basis. rear their own free range birds. These few now see to the hens’ every His plan was to get more than 50 need and in return, even in darkest per cent of the chicken bought and February, they are getting between ten consumed in Axminster and twenty eggs a week. to be free range over a “We haven’t bought an one-week period and to egg since this started,” LESS THAN show the UK consumer said Dave Brooks who, the harsh reality behind FIVE PER CENT with his wife Jane, are cheap supermarket one of the keeping OF THE chicken. families. He added, “they The campaign was all CHICKEN SOLD have been wonderful part of the Big Food layers.” IN THE UK IS Fight series, which also Like most poultry featured Jamie Oliver keepers they are FREE RANGE and Gordon Ramsay, to currently struggling with raise awareness and mud. The birds are quick encourage debate on to get out of their pens food production, animal welfare and in the morning. They race across the healthy eating. muddy paddock and the keepers throw Chicken Out! sparked a mixed down greens and all sorts of materials reaction in Axminster but was to keep their feet at least a little dry. ultimately a success. Sixty per cent of Interestingly the birds know when Dave chickens sold were free range in that is opening the gate, they charge over to week and Axminster Tesco saw a him to be first in the queue to snap up threefold rise in free range sales and a whatever treats he has for them. 50 per cent reduction in standard Dave described the horrid day when sales. they took the birds to Hugh’s farm to Less than five per cent of the have them slaughtered. One gets the chicken sold in the UK is free range, so impression they only really went Hugh’s campaign was a big challenge. through with the process for the

television. The birds were dispatched in the normal way, stunned by electrocution and their throats cut. “There was much crying that day,” he added. Since that time they have only kept laying birds until very recently, when they ‘acquired’ twenty meat birds. These will be grown on to full weight and then slaughtered but they have no intentions of doing the job themselves. Getting animals slaughtered in the south of England is no easy matter. Changes in slaughtering rules have meant that you can no longer go to a local butcher and get him to do the job. Abattoirs have to have a vet in attendance and the process is very closely monitored. Moreover, the numbers of abattoirs in the region have been severely depleted, and tend to be booked up with huge numbers of cattle,

Forsham’s top ten tips for keeping hens E You don’t need a cockerel to get eggs. Only to fertilize them. E Feed chicken layers mash, a ground corn based food, and steer away from pellets because the birds will eat them too fast. E Make sure you put down enough feed so the bigger birds have their fill and the weaker birds get a look in. But don’t put down too much else it will go stale. E Quality eggs depend on feeding your hens quality food. E Using a moveable ark can help protect the lawn.A fixed ark will create a dirty, smelly, dead patch in the garden but moving the hens around can help as the scratchings and droppings do the grass good. E Broilers and layers need very different types of housing; broilers – bred for meat - should not have perches or places to lay. E A moveable ark can help stop the foxes getting in as the predator will be unlikely to excavate a hole next to a run if it keeps moving.


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More info Visit www.forshamcottagearks.co.uk to find out more about the Pelletts’ work.

sheep and pigs. Even if the families wanted to kill the birds themselves, the strictest adherence to the law would mean they could not feed them to their families, sell or give away the meat. We will keep you posted on how they get on with their meat birds. One thing the families all agree on is that they felt a little alone when the experts disappeared. They have had contact with Hugh, but they have had more contact with Robert from Forsham. “Without their support”, Dave went on, ”we don’t think we would still be doing this.” The arks still belong to Forsham, but they are not going anywhere. The Pellets believe that anyone can and should keep their own poultry. After all it is exactly how they started. Robert advises against keeping cockerels, as they tend to take over the garden and upset the other animals. They discovered this when their old cockerel, Gorebash, had a run in with the cat in the vegetable patch and tried to give the poor ginger tom “the benefit of his manhood” amongst the potato helms.

Cindy Pellet is adamant everyone can have a taste of country living, eating fresh eggs for breakfast. Even people with nothing but a tiny back yard. “As long as there are no planning issues and no restrictions on keeping pets, chickens are an option for anybody. They can live in very confined spaces,” she said. Cindy is so focused in her concern for the animals that she will turn down sales if she doubts the intention of the customer. “We had a doctor come in who wanted a feeding trough for his birds. “I asked why he needed one and he said it was so he could leave them while he went away on business trips. “When he told me he was gone for two, three weeks at a time I told him chickens should be checked at least once a day and refused to serve him. “The welfare of the birds is paramount. The housing has got to be designed with the occupant in mind. You can get involved with the Pellets because they are planning to start poultry keeping courses among other things. “We have 30 years experience and we want to start doing courses and videos,” said Cindy. “We are launching a course in April. The idea is to offer people mini-breaks. “People can spend a day at our centre learning how to breed their own chickens and stay at the driving range down the road.

“Fred Hams will come to talk to people. He has 70 years experience. He has reared chickens since he was a boy.” Fred is a very well known poultry keeper, show judge and writer for all the major poultry titles, as well as producing his own books. E


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KEEPING GOATS

Mind Your S Love them or hate them, you cannot ignore them! Goats have been a staple for small communities around the world, and have a lot going for them on the smallholding or the allotment IF YOU WANT a cow, for milk or otherwise, you need a good acre, a shed and an inexhaustible supply of winter-feed. You also need a good shovel for the exhaust is pretty near as much as the intake. So why not try goats? But then goats are smelly, obnoxious creatures, bad tempered and angry, eat everything including your clothing and are nearly inedible when you’ve killed them – aren’t they? John Seymour said that goats are creatures he wouldn’t keep if he were able to keep cows. But that’s the point, very few people can keep cows because they have very little in the way of land. The point of this ad hoc series about keeping goats is to show two things. Firstly that they are not ‘second rate’ cattle substitutes and secondly they are actually very good smallholder animals.

CLEAN

Goat facts Iwas always taught that goats laid

waste to North Africa.The environment of desert and scrub was supposed to be created by the goat munching its way through the once lush environment.The truth seems to be somewhat different.The goat is happy to live in an environment of harsh scrub. But although it can live on very sparse food, it does much better on good feeding, care and shelter.

Female goats are clean, gentle and responsive animals. They are small and therefore easier to transport, they will eat rougher food than cattle, and seem to be immune to T.B. and brucellosis. Their milk is very good – especially if you suffer from eczema, and if you have a couple of females alternately in kid you should get six pints a day pretty much constantly. John was right, however, when he said that they will not survive on nothing. They do need a good deal of excellent quality food and concentrates. More than anything, however, they need looking after. You simply cannot leave them for a day. They need to be well housed. If you don’t have a big open space for them, their home must be clean and secure. Many a street brawl has been caused by a goat taking a fancy to next door’s washing.


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r Skirt, Madam! WHAT DOES A GOAT NEED? HOUSING Goats are not really up to the British weather. They need housing at night and also during periods of bad weather. This generally means they are inside in the winter quite a lot. It is cold driving rain that bothers them. Their houses should be around four metres square per goat – more or less. They should have the ability to stand on their hind legs and stretch their heads – something they do a lot. They are nosy animals, the ability to look out keeps them from boredom. It is obvious that you need a dry place to store food and bedding. If food gets wet it can spoil with fungal infections. There must be clean water and light and each animal should have access to hay from a rack, where it can raise its head to eat. OUTSIDE If your goats are not to be kept in the field, they must be on a surface that is washable. A decent exercise area is important, enough for the animals to move around freely and get up a trot when they want. They get hoof problems and do not do well if they are forever walking in mud. Concrete is best. Needless to say a good fence that is over a metre tall is important. Bullying is usually a function of space as well as power. The bigger the arena the better, and do not keep horned and hornless animals together. FEEDING The majority of goat’s feed is good quality hay, dry, well nourished hay. But they will also need all sorts of interesting food from cabbages, vegetables, concentrates, and of course – plenty of water. They do not take to change very well, so a new food needs to be introduced slowly.

It goes without saying that they should be fed in clean troughs / trays etc. An animal not eating is most likely to be unwell, and this is frequently the first sign of illness. The British Goat Society (www.allgoats.com) gives a good indication of the amount a goat will need to be fed each day. HEALTH Most people know a well animal by instinct. They have shiny coats, they are alert and interested in life, they eat well, their stools are firm (in the goat they are firm and hard) and they drink copiously. They smell sweet and their urine is not unusually coloured. Blood anywhere – in the urine, droppings or milk, should attract the attention of the vet straight away. The law states that it is illegal to withhold proper veterinary care for any sick animal. Consequently, home made remedies should only be used when the vet says so, not just because we believe they will do. An animal that does not feed well, will not mix with other animals and is increasingly doing badly might well be being bullied – so anyone keeping goats should have an isolation pen available. More than anything, a good goatkeeper is a good observer. He spends time with his animals and gets to know their ways. This isn’t such a difficult task because of all the benefits a goat brings, amusement is their greatest harvest.

BREEDS There are over a dozen different types of goat. Pigmy goats are more or less little lawn mowers with a whole load of fun as an added benefit. The major breeds are variations on the Saanen, Toggenburg, the Alpine and the Anglo Nubian. Many of the breeds originate from North Africa and Continental Europe. The Anglo Nubian is the one with lollopy ears and all sorts of colours. The Saanen is more or less all white and the Alpine is black and white. They all have their individual characteristics – something we will go into in a later feature, their own special needs and benefits. E

Next month We will take a break from looking at goats themselves and discuss goat’s cheese – how it differs from cow’s cheese and what you have to do to make it.


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POULTRY

Going

Broody


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65 learned by the chicks – something hormone process. Some research suggests that the broody hen is stimu- that starts to happen before they even come into this world. lated by warm days and fresh hay. The The behaviour that started with whole cycle is initiated mentally and sitting takes it out of a hen. They the rest of the process produces a work very hard leading their chicks to number of hormonal changes that safety, food and water, create both the on top of the constant behaviour and physioeffort of sitting. But her logical changes. I ONCE READ a book that suggested IF YOU USE AN ordeal continues for at This mental aspect that the food a hen is given is pretty INCUBATOR TO least six weeks after the to broodiness seems to much waste because you don’t get chicks are born. anything back for it. I couldn’t get my explain why it can be BRING YOUR The pecking order of head round this because every mother catching in some EGGS ON, THEN a group of hens bears flocks, particularly knows the importance of feeding her bantams, that have a children. The thought of not feeding YOU CAN REALLY little similarity to our human society and greater tendency them that much until they started DO WITHOUT conventions. Young towards broodiness. paying their way sends shivers down chicks are at the bottom For a start, a broody my spine. BROODY HENS of the pile and are just hen will go for long as likely to be eaten by periods without eating WHAT COMES FIRST, and drinking, and sometimes needs to the other hens as any other predator. THE CHICKEN OR The hen and her chicks need to be be shifted off the eggs to force her to THE EGG? kept away from the rest of the flock take water. Her underside feathers The hen needs to go through many and provided with shelter, chick food become more sparse to facilitate changes before she becomes a fertile, and water. The broody hen needs increased contact with the eggs. This egg laying creature. The first cells attention too, she will almost is called an incubation patch and that come, once the egg is fertilised, certainly be run down, be susceptible again is controlled by hormones. become all the eggs the bird will ever to parasite attack and should not be There are stages to broodiness, lay. So it is possible to say with some treated harshly. each one separated by a few days. certainty that in embryological terms Firstly, the bird goes off at least, the egg always her food and gathers comes first! BREAKING A BROODY eggs together to sit on, John Seymour’s To be honest, broodiness is a pain BROODINESS IS then sits and clucks. At method of raising unless you want to increase your MORE THAN A the time of hatching young chickens was flock. If you use an incubator to bring the clucking increases very natural. A broody your eggs on then you can really do HEN BIRD’S URGE which, together with hen would be allowed without broody hens altogether. But TO SIT ON HENS. the squeaks of the to take her offspring, you will also have to play mother. newly hatched chicks, and any others, off into But stopping a broody hen from IT CONTROLS encourages the the woods and they being broody is possible – you just HER LIFE FOR hatching of the rest of would return after a have to take your time. There are a the brood. couple of months with number of tricks. The development of MANY MONTHS The hen’s clucking young birds ready to an incubation patch means the bird takes several forms. join in with the rough doesn’t like being cold underneath. If Should you approach the sitting bird and tumble of poultry yard life. you put her in a cage with a strong she will squawk loudly, warning you Broodiness is more than a hen wire bottom, so that when she sits it away. When she is content she bird’s urge to sit on hens. It controls is cold, then it will take a week, but her life for many months to come. Her chirrups and clucks in a soft low tone. she will give up. Make sure that behaviour becomes compulsive, repet- The many variations of sounds during this time the bird has access coming from the mother hen are an itive and, above all, a little secretive. to food and water. Her comb becomes less brightly red – important communication tool to be I knew a keeper who put a bird probably a signal to everyone else, under a bucket for as long as it took – especially the males, to leave well without food and water, and whereas alone. this worked every time, it is harsh on Normally any hen has very little the bird. I have read of people putting choice about the act of mating, ice cubes under the bird – having romance is always a little rough in the removed the eggs, but haven’t tried poultry world. But when she is broody, this myself. and has a clutch of eggs to sit on she The trick is to reverse the process is very much ignored by all the that leads to a hormonal change. The others. bird doesn’t give up being broody just Broodiness is partly controlled by as an act of will, but the prevailing increases in the hormone prolactin. conditions against the raising of This is in turn stimulated by chicks do stimulate hormonal changes prevailing light conditions and the towards a more normal state. For the availability of good quality nesting most part, keeping the bird away from material and boxes. What passes for any others, and making sure there is the pituitary in the chicken brain no inviting nesting material, usually stimulates and controls many other does the trick. E The natural flattened shape of a sitting hen.

A broody hen is a wonderful thing to watch, but is sometimes a pain in the neck, says Diana Sutton


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HOME FARMER INVESTIGATES

Fairtrade – How Fair Is It? Anouchka Warren takes a rounded look at fairtrade, how it works, what it does, and is it really fair? ‘FAIRTRADE’ IS TRENDY. As an idea it has been around for several decades but has grown in usage and seems now to be frequently bandied about in this age of apparently increased social awarness. With more than 3,000 Fairtrade Foundation certified products on sale across the UK, we are one of the world’s leaders in what is a growing market. Between 2006 and 2007, the volume of Fairtrade produce doubled. And it’s not only the larger supermarket chains which have shelves lined with the increasingly familiar Fairtrade logo, but more and more smaller outlets too. You can even take your Fairtrade food products home in a Fairtrade cotton bag.

‘SO WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?’ The aim of Fairtrade is to alleviate poverty and encourage sustainable development. The main focus therefore is on disadvantaged producers and those who work for them, from developing countries who are being marginalized by the conventional trading system. It’s a fantastic idea. But how much do we actually know about the production, content and certification of the products? How ‘fair’ is it? And is it truly the most responsible and sustainable way to produce food? In 1988 the Dutch ‘Stichting Max Havelaar’ (the Max Havelaar Foundation) created the first Fairtrade Certification Mark. The UK followed suit in 1992 with the ‘Fairtrade Foundation’ and their official mark, the ‘FAIRTRADE’ logo found on packaging. Twenty-one other nations now also have their own versions and these combined make up FLO International (Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International), the association, which develops and reviews Faritrade standards. The FAIRTRADE logo acts as the proof to the consumer that the producer has received a fair price, which will have been agreed prior to production. The Fairtrade minimum price is not a fixed amount but is negotiated by both parties to ensure that the costs of sustainable production are fully covered. It also ensures that the producer receives a fairer deal at the point at which they sell to the exporter.

As well as this, a proportion of the cost you the consumer pays is invested in the future of the producers’ businesses. And on top of this is a Fairtrade fixed ‘premium’ which goes towards investment in projects to improve education, healthcare or environmental and farming improvements. Such projects are chosen by the farmers or workers themselves. Producers are also given further assurances, such as partial payment to producers at the time of delivery and long term contract agreement in order to allow farmers and workers more security and the ability to plan ahead. So it’s a sensible scheme, thoroughly thought out, but what can you buy?

‘AND WHAT CAN YOU BUY?’ In order to be certified and thereby carry the FAIRTRADE mark, FLO International demand that more than 50% of total ingredients must be sourced from a Fairtrade producer. Some products may also be eligible if over 20% of its dry weight is made up of one Fairtrade ingredient. Those products that are sourced entirely from a developing country under a Fairtrade agreement are said to be 100% Fairtrade and examples are; fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, coffee and tea, sugar and rice. The first Fairtrade product sold in the UK was unsurprisingly coffee from Mexico and today, around 20% of roast and ground coffee, and 20% of bananas sold in the UK are Fairtrade. (If you do want to find out further information on the labelling of Fairtrade products see www.fairtrade.org.uk.) Some products are made up of a mixture of ingredients from developing countries as well as more locally sourced ingredients. So the eggs or milk may be from a UK farm while the sugar, cocoa or spices are from further afield. It’s a common assumption that Fairtrade goods will be organic. There are set criteria to ensure that farmers use sustainable techniques and protect the natural environment around them. They are also encouraged to farm as organically as possible but there is no guarantee for this so it’s certainly not a

given. Fairtrade standards do, however, forbid the use of genetically modified seeds, but products aren’t always labelled as 100% GMfree if there’s a possibility there may have been contamination from nearby non-Fairtrade fields. So the beauty is that we are able to support less established producers, ensure they get a good deal and enjoy the products we want. So there’s no problem. Or is there? The flip side of Fairtrade is, of course, that most of the countries from which these delicious products hail, are quite a distance away. So, maybe the next question should be Is it local?

FOOD MILES Public concern about climate change and carbon emissions is growing, and rightly so. Global warming is a real and far-reaching problem and Fairtrade imports contibute to this just as much as anything else. The response by the Fairtrade Foundation to this issue, apart from noting the benefits to the Fairtrade producers, is to highlight the


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67 fact that food production is constantly driven by public demand. The Fairtrade focus is on products that either cannot be grown in the UK’s climate, or at least cannot be grown in sufficient quantity. Even with items such as honey, which can be and often is produced locally, supply simply does not match demand. The fact is you won’t ever get bananas from your local farm in midFebruary, but the British public want to eat bananas, grapes, oranges and aubergines throughout the year, or at least want to have the choice. Most of us take for granted the availability of these products year round and now expect it. It would therefore seem that imports are necessary in order to keep up with consumer preference. Fairtrade do impose environmental standards on producers. They are required to strive for protection of their natural environment and limit their use of non-renewable energy. The projects that the premiums pay for are also frequently of an environmental nature. Is there in fact an argument that, by buying Fairtrade, we are helping the environment in the source country? Similarly, if we only eat local produce, and obsess about carbon emissions from shipping and air imports, are we continuing to contribute to poverty in developing countries? The farmers of those countries have little or no social infrastructure. Agriculture can contribute enormously to the economic and social development of such countries and many areas of the world now dependent on the UK’s consumption of their produce. However, many UK farmers clearly face similar problems themselves, continuously battling to get a decent return on their produce, whilst simultaneously trying to farm sustainably. Fairtrade insist they are not in competition with UK farmers due to their products being different to nonFairtrade products, rather than duplicating them. However, if we continue to import and support other nations’ agricultural growth but neglect our own, will we continue to be able to afford this import cost, both environmentally and financially? It’s not always straightforward to establish exactly how the food we buy reaches the shop shelves. Even if we do work this out, however, it seems we are still faced with a complex argument. Reading this you will hopefully have gained some further insights on Fairtrade production and will feel more informed to make sensible choices. But you only really know where your food comes from if you grow it yourself. E

FAIRTRADE: what are the challenges that lie ahead? E Fairtrade means bringing food from abroad, sometimes great distances. Should Fairtrade include a greening element that takes account of the transport of goods from around the world. E How fair Fairtrade is for the individual workers remains a problem.Workers in Fairtrade farms around the world still receive pitiful wages. Somehow Fairtrade needs to be seen to be fairer. E If we are eating Fairtrade food, what are they eating? Some Fairtrade food comes from countries that have a food burden of their own – Should the extra money from Fairtrade help these nations? E Wine and booze are becoming more and more Fairtrade. Is this an ethical use of this marketing tool, especially when large companies such as rum manufacturers market themselves through Fairtrade? E Products are being developed that are specifically designed to be global and Fairtrade.When global economies take a down turn, it is the fairtrade ones that are hit first, because they are slightly more expensive, or their margins are already sqeezed. Is this really helping local economies?


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VISIT OUR WEBSITE

Try us and buy us online www.homefarmer.co.uk You can find HOME FARMER magazine on the website at www.homefarmer.co.uk where you can access the latest blogs, recipes, tips and information - and if you would like to contribute – just email the editor!

The Kitchen Table More than just cakes and bread, but cheese, pies, fish, your recipes, jams, preserves – in fact if you can make it yourself it will be there!

Getting Started If you are a first timer – or even just thinking about it – these pages will be packed with useful information. Tips, hints and contacts for everything from beekeeping to deep sea fishing!

The Editor’s Blog Well that’s Diana and me sounding off, most of the time, with all the expletives deleted!

Plus... ...the usual links, subscriptions and more – so if you are on line, come along and say hello!

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E Don’t miss out, just ask your newsagent to place a regular order for you. Once set up, your copy of HOME FARMER will be held for you to collect and will save you having to search the newsstand. E Some newsagents may even offer home delivery so just ask them about this service as well. E Don’t miss an issue. Simply complete the form to the right and take to your local newsagent. E To be sure of future copies of HOME FARMER, fill in your details and hand this form to your newsagent

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BRICK OVEN PROJECT

Buy the book You can buy Russell’s book ‘Your Brick Oven, building it and baking in it’ for £8.99 (normal price £10.99) plus £2.80 to cover postage from the Good Life Press Ltd. PO Box 536, Preston, PR2 9ZY. Telephone: 01772 652693 Email: info@thegoodlifepress.co.uk Subscribers to Home Farmer pay no postage, a saving of £2.80 or almost a whole issue of Home Farmer, so it makes sense to subscribe!

Building a Brick Oven You may well have seen Jamie Oliver cooking at his huge brick oven. Well you can build something like it, even if you don’t have any room. Paul Peacock gets his hands dirty

An ancient oven built into a smokehouse

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BRICK OVEN PROJECT THE POSTMAN CAME and I opened a parcel to reveal a brilliant book. It was from Grub Street, a publisher of both cooking and military history books. In the time it took to sit down I was sold. I had to have one. The book, “Your Brick Oven – building it and baking in it” by Russell Jeavons, was so inviting. The television was on. It was Time Team. We are all fans of Time Team, except Diana, who doesn’t understand why we keep having to dig up bits of the countryside. In it the man with the big hat and a feather sticking out of it stopped talking about beer long enough to describe what he was excavating. It was an oven! Over 2,500 BC, getting on for 5,000 years ago, it seems our ancestors were building ovens like the one I was looking at in the book. They built a framework of branches and covered them with clay to a great thickness. Next they set the oven alight, burning the wooden frame and leaving the oven behind.

RUSSELL’S AMAZING – AND ENORMOUS – BR

INSPIRED The brick oven book really inspired me, and I had only got as far as page 3! His introduction tried to put me off – without success. “Hardly a week goes by without at least one person pointing to the brick oven in my restaurant and saying ‘I want one of those in my backyard.’ My usual reply is something like: ‘Then all of your mates will come round expecting food, then they’ll drink all your beer.” Sorry Russ, it doesn’t wash! Most men will want one of those in the backyard.

SIZE, SIZE, SIZE, SIZE The basic idea behind a brick oven is to heat up a huge mass of bricks by starting a fire. All the heat energy goes into the bricks and then you can use this to cook your food. It goes without saying that in order to cook for a long time there have to be a lot of bricks. Sometimes you remove the fire before cooking, at other times you cook with the fire still burning. All in all a brick oven is huge. I only have a small garden. A brick oven is at least as big as me and burns wood. I live in a smokeless zone.

Big & Small This feature will show you how to make two types of oven.A huge brick one and a tiny brick one.The purpose is to inspire. You will need to plan your brick oven according to your own garden. No two ovens are the same.

The basic design has to bring air into a chamber where the combustion takes place. The exhaust smoke has to be vented safely away. All the heat of the fire goes into the bricks, which then take the rest of the day to cool down, and while it does you cook in it. Simple!

NO SMOKE One of the things you have to remember

(and it took me ages to realize) that we are not building a smoker.The idea is not to smoke the food, but to cook it.You don’t want smoke.The oven has to be very well ventilated. You need a good air flow and a well designed flue.This keeps the smoke down. The flue draws the air through by wind action at the top, so the smoke is sucked out.


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US – BRICK-BUILT OVEN

A traditional brick base is probably best

The dome attached showing the space

The flue to draw the air

THE BASE Russell describes many kinds of base.The traditional brick is about six or seven courses high – maybe about 80cm tall.The oven is just over a metre in diameter. The base has a cavity in it with a steel ash box set in it for receiving the ash. This isn’t completely necessary – you could simply sweep the ashes out when cold. Russell is a bit of a joker – well he’s Australian. His base made from a pallet on some oil drums he calls the raft, a base made from rocks he calls the primal, and one made of wood he calls the optimist! The base is filled with rubble until the last hand’s depth, which is filled in with concrete. Russell gives a lot of detail about how high the base should be and there are lots of mega designs for all sorts of constructions with storage facilities and cupboards.

THE OVEN Russell says,“ This job is going to be easier if you have a brick cutting machine, a mate with a brick cutting machine, access to a brick cutting machine…” You get the point! The first job is to make the floor of the oven. Ordinary bricks are fine. Russell’s ovens are made out of a dome, so you have to make a circle of bricks on top of the base.You now fill in with bricks that are not mortared in (clever – you can replace them!) Of course, you need to cut the bricks to fit the circular sides! You now build your dome on top of this first course of bricks, leaving an arch for the entrance.The arch, Russell suggests, should be made from a steel sheet, prefabricated by a sheet metal works. You build the dome with a dome gauge, which is set to the radius of the dome.You put the brick in the carrier and lay round in a set of circles. I have to be honest, since I didn’t make this oven, you’ll have to rely on the book. The arched entrance to the oven needs a door too, which simply fits in place without a hinge.

The final job – even with central heating!

There are local and national planning laws about flues and how they are to be erected and sited, so a check on building regulations is important.

INSULATION Once your dome is set, the top of it is filled with insulating material to keep the heat in the bricks.This is probably best with insulating material, but most probably is soil in many cases.The outside of the dome is built upwards and then filled in.The top is capped with concrete.

THE FLUE This is situated at the back of the oven.A good draught is necessary, preferably with a good metal flue attached to the back of the oven by the appropriate flange.The flue not only provides a safe exhaust, but also provides the vacuum that draws the fresh air into the oven.

FIRING You light a good fire in the oven and let it burn so all the heat goes into the bricks. Then the debris is removed and the heat used to cook.You can do a roast, then bread and then puddings in sequence, and by the evening the oven is still warm enough to keep your brew warm.


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BRICK OVEN PROJECT

PAUL’S LITTLE OVEN Now you will have to bear with me. I made this up because I couldn’t bear to not have a brick oven, but the only space I have is in a small corner and, whereas Russell’s oven is huge, mine is tiny.The full-blown oven will take a while to build and needs a lot of planning but mine took a weekend. My idea was to take a chimenea – one of those clay ovens you can buy, and cut it up so the fire can be drawn through to the back, which would be a brick structure. I cut the chimney off the chimenea and put it to the back of the oven so that the draw would be at the back – thus taking heat from the fire with it.

The cut off chimney is covered with a ceramic plant pot base, keeping the draw of gasses into the oven.An added benefit is that this can be removed to allow a frying pan to be rested on the chimenea – so the whole thing works like a cooker.

I have to confess that although Russell’s book got me going, the design of my oven was based on our old stove.When I was a child we had a fire in the living room.When we wanted to cook, we pushed the coals to the back of the fire and they would fall into the oven, which got so hot you could cook eggs and bacon on the top.


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THE PROBLEMS I have no space to fit the oven anywhere. I live in a smokeless zone and am only allowed to burn charcoal – but that’s all I need. I live in a rented house, so the oven needs to be removed easily when we move on.

THE SOLUTION The chimenea was bought for £30 because it was misshapen.The first thing to do was to set the floor on compacted sand as it can be easily dug up.Then measure out the lip of the floor to the base of the chimera.This allows you to saw through the back to produce a good open space.

Check for a level base and sides along the oven and across. Build your walls on the floor – my floor was made of two 40cm paving slabs, and make sure you have a space for the flue, which is made by placing a brick on its side.

The whole area at the back of the oven is cemented in place and to make a flue two dogmeat tins are moulded to keep the passage open.All the air spaces are then cemented in place. An alternative method would have been to lay two halves of a broken ceramic plant pot and fill the centre with half a brick probably providing better ventilation.

HOW IT WORKS

REDESIGN

You set a fire in the chimenea and put the lid on the walls. In my case I used a piece of slate. Slate has been formed in great heat, so should survive the tiny inferno I can make. Once the fire is going the heat is drawn through the oven area and you can bake in it.This oven remains alight – you can use barbecue briquettes and even shovel them into the oven area for more heat.

My next oven will have some modifications. I will make the oven space larger – it gets too hot, so why not cook more food in it? The chimney also needs to be better flued. It works, but at the beginning there is too much in the way of smoke!


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PRODUCTS

CERAMIC BAKING BEANS We all know that you can use a jar of beans baked to death to blind bake pastry. Well, I used

USEFUL PRODUCTS Each month we bring you a selection of products that come to our attention. Sometimes they will be special offers, but every time they will be really useful.

my pot of beans probably far too long, and one day I had the ugly brown stain on my flan pastry. I didn’t throw it away though – I simply covered it up with a flan. But, since that day, I have used these. I don’t know why and I can’t explain it – I just feel better baking with ceramic beans! TO ORDER These ceramic beans are available from Crocks and Pots for £3.49 plus 99p postage. Telephone: 0208 144 5517 Or visit the website at: www.crocksandpots.co.uk

GOAT SOCKS! Goat socks are made in Herefordshire using hair from a flock of pedigree Angora goats that live near Longtown on the slopes of the Black Mountains. Robbie, who farms the goats, said a measure of whether her Goat Socks were any good was if the local farmers would wear them. Ten years on just about all the farmers wear them in the area and she almost operates a "drive thru" Sock Shop to supply them in their landrovers. I know exactly why the farmers like them. They are cool in the summer and warm in the

winter.They let your feet breathe (if you know what I mean) and they are really soft and non-itchy on your skin. Since I tried a pair in January I have not taken them off! Well, not literally, but I have given up cotton socks.

GOAT SOCKS ARE: 70% Mohair for warmth and comfort, blended with 30% nylon.Wash at 40oC and the

instructions say do not tumble dry in bold text, but I have tried it, and they lived to tell the tale! Available in four styles: Plain is the normal short sock. Comfort is also a short sock but has a double thickness sole and is ribbed for comfort. Long comes to mid-calf and Landsman is an over the knee length sock to wear when wellies or waders are called for. FURTHER INFORMATION The Goat Company, Daren Farm, Llanveynoe, Longtown, Herefordshire HR2 0NG. Telephone: 01873 860240 Or visit the website at: www.goatcompany.co.uk

A PACK OF PEGS Imagine a six-inch nail, the handiest and quickest way to make a hook for hanging things. Then imagine a six-inch nail with a peg on the end and you have a really handy way of making hanging places in the shed or indeed the kitchen, bathroom, hallway or greenhouse - just hammer into wood.This is one of those ideas you really wished you had thought of yourself! You can order these pegs from Victoriana Garden Nurseries in packs of five, approximately 3 1/2" long, 1/2" diameter for £5.95 + p&p. TO ORDER Send payment to: Victoriana Nursery Gardens, Challock, Nr.Ashford, Kent, TN25 4DG. Telephone: 01233 740529 Or visit the website at: www.victoriananursery.co.uk


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PRODUCTS

THE EGG SKELTER

KNOW YOUR SHEEP Know your Sheep, by Jack Byard, is one of those books that is destined for the car.Well that’s where my copy lives.The back cover tells it all – “Here are the forty-one breeds of sheep you’re most likely to encounter on British Farms.” Each double page spread has a photograph and a good description

of sheep from the Lonk to the Devon Closewool. So when you are next driving past a field of sheep you are likely to be able to find out exactly what they are. This handy pocket sized edition is published by Old Pond and costs £4.99 and is packed with full colour photographs of, well... sheep!

TO ORDER Send payment to: Old Pond Publishing Ltd., Dencora Business Centre, 36 White House Road, Ipswich IP1 5LT Telephone: 01473 238200 Or visit the website at: www.oldpond.com

SECOND SIGHT Second Sight Productions have two lovely DVD’s for sale of interest to home farmers, regardless of how much land they have. A Guide to Keeping Hens in your Garden by Francine Raymond is a lovely programme to watch. Francine is a well known writer on all matters poultry, and she reminds me of the Delia Smith of the feathered world. She explains clearly and precisely how to keep hens in your garden, what to do, the best breeds and how to set yourself up. A great watch. Similarly, An Introduction to Keeping Bees is a remarkably gentle film that presents the viewer with an overview of the subject and gives you the confi-

dence to make a start. This video should be sold at bee keepers’ associations all over the country. Both films are available in DVD (£19.99) and VHS (£15.99) TO ORDER Send payment to: Second Sight Productions, Station House, 1 Station Road, Tiptree, Essex, CO5 0AD.

Telephone: 01621 817114 Or visit the website at: www.secondsight productions.co.uk

You can just imagine kitchens with these all over the country. Remember when eggs were sold singly? This would have been the ideal dispenser! You can have all your eggs in order of lay, and always use the oldest first. Customers on the poultry message boards have gone chicken crazy about them, the first batch of 100 sold out in 3 days! The Skelter is made of powder coated steel, and will hold up to 24 hens’ eggs. There is a bantam version too, for smaller eggs. You can buy the Skelter for £18.50, delivered, packaged with shredded paper, to be used as bedding, everything helps to keep the ‘footprint’ down. The story behind the Egg Skelter is one of the English spirit. It started out as a home made present for the wife that spawned a business idea.

TO ORDER You can buy the Egg Skelter by calling Kay Bromhead on 01237451689 or emailing: kprc@kprcbrom head.fsnet.co.uk

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GOOD LIFER’S DIARY

r e m r a F n a b r U The Mike Woolnough brings us some of the trials and tribulations of life on his urban farm (AKA a series of allotments, goats, chickens and other assorted wildlife). A DAYTIME TEMPERATURE of 10oC in the middle of February – whatever is happening to our climate? Whilst it is lovely working in temperatures more associated with mid-May, the consequences are very worrying. Are the amazingly cold night temperatures going to be enough to kill off the pests and diseases? Already there are cases of Blue Tongue being reported in various places around the country, which is very worrying for us as goat keepers based just a few miles away from where the disease began. We just have to hope that the vaccine is prepared in time. Will we be plagued this summer with swarms of wasps…or worse still carrot fly? I seem to have lost the latest round of my ongoing battle with these pests. I have always been under the impression that if you plant your seed after the end of July then carrot fly are not a problem, but I have just been looking at some carrots planted last October in the polytunnel and they have been ravaged. It looks like the wonderful warm conditions in there have altered the flies’ breeding cycle. I’m fighting back though - I have recently planted some Below: Beetroot experimentally grown in modules have germinated well.

seed given to me that come from an experimental farm, and they are supposedly totally fly-proof – I’ll believe it when I see it, I’m afraid! All my other carrots will be planted under flyproof netting this year. It’s fiddly, and a pain, but we eat too many carrots to have our crops repeatedly destroyed. Above: The expectant mother-to-be!

Beetroot Our new polytunnel is already making life interesting. Normally in February I would just be reading the packets of this year’s seed order, and daydreaming about the forthcoming season. This year I’m already planting and one new idea is that I am experimenting with is growing beetroot in modules and then planting them out, as I had terrible results with them last year with very poor germination when seeded direct into the ground. Seeds planted in January in seed trays in the tunnel have germinated well, so it will be interesting to see how well they transplant. A few courgette seeds went into pots in midFebruary, and once germinated and grown on a bit, will be planted out inside the tunnel. I’m a bit worried about the “hungry gap” this year as we are rapidly running out of a lot of our winter staples. Celeriac, parsnips, potatoes, swedes and sprouts are all coming to an end, with only the leeks still plentiful. Foremost

spuds planted in the tunnel in January will hopefully give us some first earlies in time for Easter and we have a few purple sprouting broccoli plants that should be coming on stream soon, and a lot of spring cauliflowers in the polytunnel that are coming along very nicely with luxurious growth – I just hope that they don’t make all leaf and no head though! The outer leaves have kept the goats supplied with greenstuff through the cold months, and I’m pleased to see that the warm weather has brought the brambles into leaf early. I cut great bundles of them and hang them in Gertie and Rosie’s pen and they love them.

Goats Their pregnancies seem to be advancing smoothly. Both the girls are now visibly new mums-to-be, with just two months to go. I will soon have to sort out a new shed for one of them, as they will be very intolerant of each other’s kids and will butt them, and as they are both horned this could be fatal. I’m looking at kidding with a great deal of trepidation. Sue got a book out from the library for me – The Goatkeepers Vetinary Book – the graphic photos of prolapses scared me so much I haven’t opened the covers again!


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Milking will also be an interesting new experience! Neither goat is particularly tame, although Gertie is quite good when I have to do hoof trimming or vaccinations, so getting them to stand still long enough for me to milk them will probably make me think that WWIII has started.

Fire! I had the strange experience of calling the Fire Brigade to the allotments this month. I spotted smoke coming from the vents of a soot-encrusted greenhouse and closer inspection showed the wooden benching blazing away furiously. I couldn’t get into it as it was locked, and had no idea what had started the fire, or what was stored inside, so I made the 999 call. I was afraid of a heater exploding and blowing glass everywhere, or the fire spreading to surrounding chicken houses and sheds. It turned out that an ill-adjusted old paraffin heater had started the blaze – a warning to all of us. There is no truth to the rumour that my young niece, who was visiting us from New Zealand, started the fire so that she could see some hunky British firemen. Below:The firmen tackle the fire.

Wire netting at the top of your frame makes it easier to fit your canes.

Runner Beans The good weather has meant that I have been able to do some of my outside preparation jobs earlier than normal. One of these has been preparing for the runner beans. Now I hear you say that “Runner beans grow easily anywhere with no preparation,” which is true to a certain extent as they do – but you get a heavier crop with a little work beforehand. It amazes me to see people growing runners on the allotments in the same place every year with no preparation and then wonder why their beans are scrawny. Runner beans are greedy feeders and need plenty of moisture to thrive. A couple of years ago I dug out trenches under my bean frame and lined it with old carpets to help with moistureretention. Each spring I dig these trenches out and refill them with all manner of organic material. Six months ago, when I cleaned out the goat shed and the chicken houses, I saved all the wonderful muck, straw, hay and uneaten vegetables and made a compost heap with it. I’ve now used it to fill

the runner bean trenches. You shouldn’t use raw muck as it can burn the plants and do more harm than good, but this lovely rotted stuff should work wonders and produce us some lovely beans. We’ll be sowing our beans in pots under glass at the end of March or early April, and planting them out into the trenches at the end of May when any danger of frost should have passed. We also pop another seed or two in beside the plant, to give a prolonged cropping season. This year we are growing two types – Polestar and Desiree. Both varieties are new to us. We will also be growing Borlotto beans, a variety called Firetongue. These unusual beans produce a bright pink pod which, when cooked, turns dark green. In the past we found them to be extremely good in drought conditions, which is hardly surprising as they originate from Italy. Last year we intended drying them and using them as Harricot beans, but had to eat them fresh when the runners were very late due to a lack of rain. This year they will definitely be dried, as part of our efforts to be greener and freeze less. Incidentally, when I took over one of my plots I inherited a permanent runner bean frame with it and was puzzled by wire netting stretched across the top. It has taken me two years to realise that this was fitted to make putting your canes up easier – you just poke them through the holes in the netting and ram the other end into the ground. It saves a lot of time tying each cane in place. The simple ideas are the best. E


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SIZZLING SAUSAGES

Get a Sizzle on... Slink into some skins and make the best sausages you will ever taste! WE ARE GOING to look at how to make a number of sausage recipes. Some of you will already know the fundamentals of the requirements of good sausage making, but we are going to skim over them. Anyone who feels they need a more complete treatment can visit the Home Farmer website at www.homefarmer.co.uk where you might also find some more recipes too.

SKIN Sausage casings, made from intestines or synthetic material, hold the sausage together. As the skin cooks it shrinks, improving the shape of the sausage and compressing the contents. The skin holds the flavour in the sausage and so it should not be pricked.

FAT Fat melts during the cooking process, distributing heat evenly inside the sausage and cooking it from within. Low fat sausages are trickier to cook and less tasty. A good sausage has some fat in it.

WATER Water is a vital ingredient in a sausage. Without water the meat will not stuff into the casings, but falls apart. Sausages are succulent and much of this comes from the added water, which might be as much as 10% of the sausage weight.

SALT When you make your own sausages – you control the amount of salt. You can have ordinary salt – 3%, that is 6 level teaspoons per kilo, low salt – 1.5% or 3 level teaspoons per kilo, or even no salt sausages. No salt sausages will not keep long and will need to be cooked or frozen straight away.

RUSK OR BREADCRUMBS Rusk, breadcrumbs or cereal, is an

Freezing Before you freeze your sausages, ask your butcher if the meat can be frozen. Some butchers sell nothing but previously frozen meat – completely unsuitable for re-freezing.

DÉJÀ VU Those of you who read our 20-page preview magazine will already have seen an article that details the basics of stuffing sausages, but just to recap...

Making your own sausages INGREDIENTS 1 kilo of pork shoulder 200g sausage making rusk, or breadcrumbs if you prefer 200ml water 1 tsp salt 1 /2 tsp pepper 1 mixing bowl 1 grinder or food processor 1 sausage stuffer An excess of sausage casing, hog casings are easiest to use for first-timers 1 tray to collect the filling sausage 1 knife to cut the links METHOD 1 Open your packet of skins (never mind the smell) and place them in a bowl of clean water. Replace the water several times until the smell goes away. 2 Now rinse the skins under running water, both inside and out. 3 Chop your meat into centimetre cubes and then grind or mince them. If you have to use a food processor, pulse the machine to avoid it becoming like soup. 4 Add your other ingredients to this mix, depending on the size of your food processor. 5 It is important that you mix everything as thoroughly as you can. 6 Once you have created your sausage mix and are ready to stuff your casing,

Wash your skins to remove the salt – and the smell!

you can fry a small amount to check that you are happy with the seasoning. 7 Find the end of your casing 8 Load the tube of your stuffer 9 Crank the stuffer, or flick the switch if it is an electric one, or start to push down with your thumb if you use a funnel. You can control the thickness of the sausage by gently holding back the casing as it fills with mixture; this will allow more meat per centimetre of sausage, and consequently you get a thicker sausage. Don’t worry about breakages in the skin. For your first try just let the meat take the casing without restriction.


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Skinless? If you want to try sausage making without buying any casings, ask your butcher for some caul.This is a fatty membrane found inside an animal and is nothing more than a thin sheet of fatty tissue. Give it a quick rinse and use it to roll your mixture. Pretend it is simply a sheet of cling film. Simply roll your stuffing into a sausage shape, wrap it up and cook.The caul all but disappears in the cooking.


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SIZZLING SAUSAGES important part of a sausage. They bind the ingredients, soak up the cooking juices and help improve the consistency. They add nothing to the flavour of the sausage.

the funnel with a wooden spoon or a thumb. You can also buy good old fashioned meat mincers. These usually have an attachment on them that allows you to grind your meat through a sausage stuffing tube. The modern food processors have a sausage stuffing facility, but don’t buy cheap; they are more trouble than they are worth! Plastic

A WORD ABOUT STUFFING EQUIPMENT You do not need a lot of equipment to make sausages. We have already mentioned that you can use the caul membrane. You can also buy a number of types of funnel that allow you to fill the dish with sausage meat and then simply force the meat through

fittings are difficult to clean, give way and I view the as completely unsuitable. Yet you often have to pay extra for these add-ons! Hand cranked sausage stuffers are the mainstay of the home stuffing fraternity. They are simply a steel drum with a hand cranked plunger at the end – forcing the meat through the tube. They are fairly cheap and can usually be attached to the table by G clamps. Finally, electric machines are usually vertical versions of the mechanical forms, more expensive and really only value for money if you make a lot of sausages.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF SAUSAGE For now we are looking only at wet sausages – what you might call breakfast

Top Ten Sausages from the United Kingdom CUMBERLAND SAUSAGES

EDINBURGH BREAKFAST SAUSAGES

This is formed into a ring which is fried in one unlinked piece. 500g pork shoulder 100g breadcrumbs 10g salt 5g nutmeg 3g dried mace

Your basic British banger comes from Scotland.

500g pork belly 150ml water 5g black pepper 15g fresh sage 2 metres casings

1Kg pork shoulder 100g breadcrumbs 3g black pepper 2 metres casings

MONMOUTH SAUSAGES

1kg pork shoulder 150g breadcrumbs 200ml cider 5g salt 5g black pepper 2 metres casings 2 Bramley cooking apples chopped finely

GLOUCESTER SAUSAGES This sausage leaks a lot of fat – you don’t need oil for cooking. 350g suet 250ml water 10g salt 3g dried nutmeg 2 metres casings

CORNISH HOGS PUDDING This calls for garlic – or ransoms (wild garlic) 1kg pork shoulder 200g boiled barley 5g black pepper 5g cumin 3 finely chopped garlic cloves

200ml water 2 metres casings

Leek growing in Northumberland is still very popular. 1kg pork shoulder 220g breadcrumbs 200ml water 2 metres casings 10g salt 5g black pepper 100g finely chopped leek

For recipe all these same s, follow grind instructiothe y n any fa our meat s, and t and evenl mix e y v befor erything e stuf f your casinging s.

The Welsh borders are famous for apples.

1Kg pork shoulder 225g breadcrumbs 10g black pepper 15g fresh sage 3g dried marjoram

200g pork fat 150ml water 10g salt

NORTHUMBERLAND SAUSAGES

5g salt 5g basil


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European sausages In future features on sausages we will look at some of the great European sausages ANDOUILLETTE is a traditional French sausage made with a blend of pork and spices, including garlic. TOULOUSE a less highly spiced sausage of the type enjoyed in the south of the France. A hand cranked sausage stuffer

sausages from England. At one time there was a breed of pig from each county – sometimes two or more. The pigs were bred to cope with local conditions, local foods and produced local meat. From this, local sausages grew up and have remained long after the pigs have disappeared. E LINCOLNSHIRE SAUSAGES Originally filled with any meat – rabbit was popular – they became the poacher’s sausage! 1kg pork shoulder 150ml water 5g black pepper 2 metres casings

150g breadcrumbs 10g salt 25g fresh sage

BIROLDO is a kind of black pudding from Northern Italy which is found in two forms, sweet and savoury.The former is pig’s blood and raisins, the latter calf’s blood with cheese. BOTIFARRA is a Spanish sausage made from pork and air dried with cinnamon. BOUDIN BLANC is a pork and chicken sausage which is often cooked in milk and stuffed into large casings. It is very finely ground and spiced with a little pepper. BIERWURST is not made from beer, but pork and beef and is flavoured with brandy or rum. BRESAOLA is a thinly sliced beef sausage, dried and spiced and stuffed into large ox casing.

YORKSHIRE SAUSAGES If you are going to Scarborough Fair… 1kg pork shoulder 200ml water 5g white pepper 15g fresh sage 10g stripped rosemary

220g breadcrumbs 10g salt 10g chopped parsley 5g chopped thyme 2 metres casings

CAMBRIDGE SAUSAGES Some recipes call for 5g of ginger too. 1kg pork belly (traditionally saddleback) 75g breadcrumbs 150ml water 10g salt 5g black pepper 5g nutmeg 2 metres casings

OXFORD SAUSAGES A posh sausage for the University Dons. 10g salt 200ml water 225g breadcrumbs 5g black pepper 5g dried nutmeg

500g pork shoulder 500g young beef 350g pork fat 15g fresh sage 2 metres casings

CERVELLATA was traditionally a way of making pig brain more appetising. Its name means brain sausage, though it is not always made from this ingredient these days. CERVELAT is a German sausage made of pork and beef and is lightly smoked.

EXTREMENZA is a Spanish blood sausage bulked out with potato or marrow. FRANKFURTERS are fine textured, lightly smoked and then boiled. KATENRAUCHWURST is a coarse German sausage made from a variety of ingredients including offal, and is translated as Cottage Sausage. LOUKANIKA is a Greek sausage, probably of Roman origin.The Lucanians produced a sausage that travelled the Ancient world with the Roman Legions. MOCETTA is an Italian goat sausage with juniper berries and garlic. It is sliced thinly and has the consistency of mild steel. MORTADELLO is a medieval sausage of Italy and France and has a complex recipe of pork, fat, olives, garlic, nuts of various kinds and all stuffed into large ox casing and then steamed. STRASBOURG sausage is a light coloured sausage made from pork and a wide range of spices and peppers and mixed with milk. It has a fine consistency, but with bits of meat in the mix. SALAMI is a wide ranging sausage of many different types and varieties and is salt cured. Sometimes they are stuffed into ox casings, other times pigs’ bladders.

CHORIZO is a Spanish sausage that has many varieties and is made from paprika, garlic and chilies.

SULZWURST is a brawn sausage which is spiced with garlic and comes from Germany. It is made, like all brawn, from pig face.

COPPA is an Italian sausage popular in the UK and is flavoured with nutmeg.

THESSALIAS are pork sausages from Greece that are flavoured with Leek.


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BRILLIANT BACON

Low, Low, Low Salt Bacon You might well be surprised to know that you can make bacon at home. It might be an even greater surprise to hear that you can make bacon overnight, and an even greater surprise that you can make and enjoy bacon that is not only great to taste, but good for the heart! Paul Peacock gets all hot under the collar about salt IT JUST SO happens that I got all excited about eggs when I purchased some bantams by mistake. I thought they were rabbits, but when it came time to pay for them at the auction, the lot I had actually bought had feathers instead of fur. I didn’t have the correct means of transporting these animals home, so they had to sit on the back seat, four bantams and a baby, and by

the time we had driven up the A34, there was an egg too. This egg was duly fried. It had a shell that nearly broke the pan when I tried to open it and the yolk was so wonderfully golden I almost needed sunglasses. Over the following weeks we enjoyed our eggs so much but were always disappointed by the standard of the bacon whenever we wanted a “Full English.”

This precipitated a hunt for good bacon, and you end up spending a fortune. The reason for this is that old fashioned bacon demands a premium price and when you haven’t got that much money it is hard to pay £5 for three or four rashers when you can spend £2 and get almost three times as much. But the cheap stuff simply made me mad unless it was used in a pasta or something. As ordinary fried bacon it was almost universally near useless. Bacon is made by machine. Wet cure is where the meat is soaked in a very strong brine solution. This is not as bad as people imagine because the bacon actually loses water in the curing process. Injected cure bacon is where a solution of salt and nitrite is injected


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First attempt – boy was it salty! Look at all the liquor that came out in 24 hours.

All the rashers spread on a tray ready to receive the cure, carefully sprinkled on the meat.

controlled and has been the subject of health scares, especially in America. The bacon we make has none in it. It is used as a double defence against spoilage and commercially cured products have to have it by law. The big reason why manufacturers use it is because it keeps the meat pink. For some reason people like pink bacon and sausages, and this is enhanced by nitrite. But the real colour of meat is more greyish. So the trek for home made bacon began...

but we don’t have that. Ordinary cured pork is around 3% salt and a tiny amount of nitrite. How do they do it? So I had a brainwave. If I get the butcher to slice my pork as though it was bacon, then I can put a tiny amount of cure just on the meat. This means for the first time I can vary the actual salt content of the meat I eat. Now I don’t always want to eat ultra low salt bacon. 1 teaspoon of salt and four teaspoons of sugar (brown or otherwise) makes a very sweet cure and is really lovely. Sometimes I just want more salt so I add less sugar. A cure of 2 spoons of salt and 3 of sugar is good and I also sometimes do 3 of each, which makes a good, robust bacon).

BELLY PORK IN SALT

into the meat to ensure the deep core of muscle gets sufficient curing chemicals, rendering it impervious to spoilage. This is the cheapest way of making bacon and you can tell when the scum comes out of the meat, and the bacon shrivels to almost nothing. Another beef (if that’s the right term) I have with pre-packed bacon is that it is usually sliced too thinly. You’d think it was smoked salmon! The amount of nitrite added (also known as saltpetre) is strictly

My first attempt at bacon was to buy some belly pork in strips, and cover them in salt. Left overnight in the fridge, a huge amount of liquid came out of the pork - enough to dissolve all the salt. The pork was removed and washed, sliced up with a very sharp knife and fried. It was very salty, considering it was only cured for 12 hours. There was no doubt that it really was bacon though!

BELLY PORK IN SALT:SUGAR MIX The second attempt was to add sugar to the cure. I covered the same quantity of belly pork with a 50:50 mix of salt and ordinary sugar. Not nearly so much liquid came out of the meat, and it was much less salty. I personally like rind (skin) but you may wish to remove this.

BELLY PORK WITH MORE CARE

Preference All this was done with belly pork because I like fat bacon – you needn’t use this cut – any will do. You have to remember that belly pork actually contains a rib – so you need to cut that out.

I read somewhere that salt doesn’t penetrate fat as well as it does meat. Since most of the fat melts when you cook it, I tried to put the cure only on the meat, but this isn’t as easy as you might think. Commercial bacon producers have special weighing machines and analytical chemists that ensure the salt content is just right -

Some maths Commercial bacon is 3% salt.This is 6 level teaspoons of salt per kilo. Half salt bacon would be 3 level teaspoons, but you can use only 1% salt if you like - 2 level spoons, or even less. You can also buy specific cure mixes and flavourings to make different types of bacon.


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BRILLIANT BACON When using very little salt I stack the rashers.

Diana’s bacon pasta This recipe would also work with shop bought bacon and is quick and easy. I make the bacon without sugar because I don’t like a sweet white sauce – I don’t know why, it seems to remind me of custard. I use 15g salt for this, and carefully sprinkle it on the meat of whatever pork I can get. For this recipe it is best not to use belly (much to my chagrin) because there is too much fat and the rind is a bit chewy. Some pork shoulder cut into strips, or leg, is fine. Once the bacon is ready you are ready to go:

STEP BY STEP 1 Ask your butcher to slice 1 kilo of whichever cut you like. 2 Spread these on a tray.

ACQUIRED TASTE Some people get a shock when they taste sweet cure bacon. It is surprising that shop bought bacon (and sausages too) have a lot of sugar in order to disguise the saltiness. So start with a saltier cure and gradually work your way down. Even if you make bacon that has 20g of salt per kilo, this is still a saving of 13g on the very healthiest bacon the shops have SWEETER to offer.

3 Weigh out the amount of salt you require and add sugar to make up the cure: • 5g or 1 level teaspoon is not enough to make it THE taste like bacon. CURE VERSION IS • 10g or 2 level teaspoons gives a BRILLIANT IN mild flavour but certainly smells of STIR-FRIES BECAUSE bacon when cooking THERE ARE A LOT • 15g or 3 level teaspoons is very OF SWEET defiantly bacon, and FLAVOURS IN is only a half of the commercial stuff. CHINESE COOKING 4 Rub even amounts of cure into the slice, being careful to sprinkle only onto the meat, not the fat. 5 Sprinkle an extra couple of tablespoons of brown sugar over the whole of the meat on the tray and rub in. 6 Cover and store in the fridge overnight. I have found that with very low salt bacon, if you pile the slices on top of each other, the underside of the slice above benefits from the salt on the slice below.

KEEPING AND COOKING

This bacon doesn’t keep so well as shop bought. It will freeze and last for months, and we find that with three rugby players in the house, a kilo of bacon lasts such a short while anyway. Clearly, the higher the salt, the longer it lasts, but if you treat the product like cooked meat then you will not go far wrong. Of course the bacon can be cooked in the traditional way, in a frying pan. (I have a real aversion to the term ‘pan-fried’ – it is either fried, shallow fried or deep fried) You can also use the product in pasta. I make a special sugar-less version to enhance macaroni cheese, which isn’t sweet. The sweeter cure version is brilliant in stir-fries because there are a lot of sweet flavours in Chinese cooking. E

INGREDIENTS FOR FOUR PEOPLE 150g bacon of your choice chopped into small pieces 2 garlic cloves chopped finely 300ml milk 150g favourite cheese grated (strong cheddar is fine) 1 level tsp dried mustard powder 1 tbs cornflour Salt and pepper to taste METHOD 1 Fry your bacon lightly and add the garlic. Pour over the milk except for a couple of tablespoons that you mix with cornflour to make a paste. 2 To the cornflour paste add the mustard. 3 Heat the mixture until it just comes to the boil, stirring all the time. 4 Stir in the cornflour and cook for 3 minutes. 5 Turn off the light and stir in your grated cheese. 6 Serve with any pasta you like. 7 This is lovely poured over your pasta with a little more cheese sprinkled over the top and baked for five minutes in a hot oven.


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HOME SMOKING

Go and Light Up! Home smoking of food is easier than you think. Joe Jacobs looks at some home blown smoking methods IT IS UNKNOWN who first discovered the curative properties of wood smoke Stone Age man more than likely. What was realised early on, however, is that by subjecting food to smoke, you can preserve it, cook it and alter its taste considerably. The great artisans of sausage making over on the continent have developed smoking to a fine art. Products are cured with closely guarded recipes of wood chippings and herbs, which are used to impart flavour to the meat. As a keeper of pigs, I can only marvel at the industrious way in which families in time past dealt with the almost ritual slaughter of an animal. The vast quantity of pork needed preserving quickly, smoking could be used as one method in a small armoury of techniques needed to help keep the meat. These days life has been made much simpler by the advent of the modern freezer, simply cut up the pig, bung it in the deep freeze and worry about secondary processing later on. It’s not just meat that can be smoked, fish, cheese and even vegetables can all be subjected to the same process with interesting results. For a balanced meal, however, you might want to shy away from smoking the entire lot at once.

SOME LIKE IT HOT Essentially speaking, there are two different types of smoking, hot and cold. Subjecting meat to hot smoke cooks it. In a nutshell, the smoke imparts a great deal of flavour to the food but the food is cooked in the extremely hot air. Most charcoal barbecues aren’t far off being hot smokers. If you want to hot smoke food, buy or make a garden incinerator. Any steel drum with air holes around the base will suffice. Simply light a fire in the bottom and add wood chip to it. The food should be positioned on a

A cooker top hot smoker is little more than a steel box that sits directly on the heat.

rack towards the top of the drum. A lid with a small chimney hole in it is advisable to help maintain the hot smoke in the device.

SOME LIKE IT COLD Cold smoking does not cook food, it cures it. The smoke is used to reduce the moisture content of the food and hence retard the mechanisms that aid perishing. Building a cold smoker isn’t at all difficult, although you might want to experiment on a small scale before investing in the materials necessary to build a larger device. A cold smoker consists of a compartment where the smoke is produced, an area where a degree of cooling can take place and lastly, the box or cabinet where the food is cured. If and when you attempt any of these projects, please don’t operate them indoors and, if using the electric heater model, bear in mind that 240v is fairly lethal and doesn’t mix with water or other damp outside conditions. The first contrivance is best described as a budget experimental model that costs peanuts to produce. The heat and smoke source is provided by a 300 watt soldering iron (available new for a few pounds). This heat source idea was not my own but that of a nameless Internet


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forum contributor, it works very well. In this instance I have designed my budget smoker to be made out of our current excess of Quality Street chocolate tins. The beauty of these is that you can get them to stack. The base one becomes the smoke box and the upper ones can be used as food compartments. If the produced smoke is too warm then the addition of an extra tin between the source and food will aid cooling. The lowest tin should have some air inlet holes punched around the outside at base level. One hole is used to allow the hot element of the soldering iron through the tin wall and into the smoke chamber. If using tins such as those described, they stack pretty well as they have a slight lip on the base that overlaps the tin below. Stack a second tin on top of the smoke box and punch a few holes through its base to allow the smoke in. You can experiment with smoking in a 2 tin device but be careful that the food does not get too warm. A third tin with holes in the floor and a lid with a few holes in it can be used to cure the food. To set the device in operation set it up outside and add a few handfuls of your desired wood chip medium to the smoke box, ensuring that the soldering iron element is covered before switching it on. Whilst this mini smoker will be useful in getting a start in curing food, a more substantial device is required if you are considering smoking larger portions. You are left with two choices of device, one that uses a small fire to generate your smoke or one that uses gas heating to ignite your wood chips.


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HOME SMOKING

A smoking cabinet can be anything at all that will keep the smoke around your food. Wood, timber, steel, terracotta, brick and concrete all could be used to construct an edifice of sufficient size. Look out for an old cabinet or a chest of drawers; they are ideal, but an old steel drum or a bin with a lid and food hanging inside would serve equally well. Shy away from using plastics as they can taint food and, in some instances, release harmful chemicals when warmed. The first method of smoke production is to use a small fire in a pit. Dig a pit about 2 feet square and the same deep and line it with bricks. Alternatively, you could sink a small, clean steel drum into the ground. About 6 inches down from the top of your firebox you will need to locate the pipe which will carry the smoke to the curing cabinet. The temperature of the smoke reaching your food is dependent on the length and diameter of pipe. By using a pipe of say 4 inches in diameter and eight to ten feet in length, you will ensure that the smoke reaching

your food is relatively cool. Burying the pipe will aid temperature reduction. The smoking cabinet is positioned over the other end of the pipe. To get the system running, light a small wood fire in the pit and, when it has burned to embers, throw on the wood chip that you have chosen to smoke with. The fire box should then be covered over with a suitable lid. A small amount of draught into the firebox is desirable to keep combustion going. The second method of smoke production is to use a small gas stove heater with a steel plate over the burner on which to heat your wood chips. The smoke is collected via an upturned steel can, tin or large terracotta plant pot. The smoke is piped to the cabinet using steel or flexible metal pipe. If you have little in the way of pipework available, 4” aluminium ducting is relatively cheap from large DIY stores. The smoking cabinet needs racks or suchlike on which the foo”d can be set. It will also need some small holes around its top edge to achieve a degree of draw on the smouldering wood chips. As smoke is warmer than air and wants to rise, ensure a slight uphill gradient between your smoke generator and the smoking cabinet. In practice, it is relatively easy to build a cold smoker, however, like many things it might take a little extra work to achieve the desired results. It’s best to operate a cold smoker on a cool day rather than a hot one, this helps limit the heat build up in the curing cabinet. A thermometer is a useful addition for

checking the internal temperatures. Recommendations on internal temperatures of cold smokers vary but as low as possible is the preferred option, in reality anywhere between 26 and 32°C (80 – 90°F) is acceptable. Days when it is cool or damp outside will also have the added effect of increasing the smoking times required to cure food. The all-important functional element of the cold smoker is the wood chip itself. Preferred wood shavings in the UK are probably oak or other native hardwoods. It is wise to avoid resinous woods such as pine as they have a detrimental effect on the flavour. You can buy proprietary brands of wood chip or sawdust suitable for cold smoking on the internet or, alternatively, find a piece of timber and a plane and make some of your own.

HOW TO ACTUALLY DO IT The length of time required to smoke different products is not set in stone and varies according to climatic conditions, moisture levels within the food and personal tastes. Most smoking recipes for either meat or fish recommend that the intended food is first saturated in a brine solution prior to smoking. Such a brine solution can be created by adding salt to water at a rate of about


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Next Month In next month’s Home Farmer we will look more closely at some recipes for hot smoked salmon and cold smoked sausage.

250g of salt to every litre of water; food should be immersed in brine according to its size and density. For example, a small fish might be immersed for 30 minutes, a larger fillet for an hour and cuts of meat may require soaking for anything up to 3 or 4 hours. Meat and fish should not be placed in the smoker if they still appear to be wet on the outside as this interferes with the smoking process. Hang meat for as long as required (whether soaking in brine or not) so that it appears to be dry on its outside.

IN THE SMOKE Time required in the smoker again depends on the size and thickness of the produce being treated. Food that is being smoked will lose a great deal of its water content. Fish will typically lose between 10 and 20% of its weight during the process and heavier cuts of meat may lose up to a quarter of their overall weight. Small fish may be smoked in as little as three or four hours if they have been filleted and split. Larger pieces of fish such as salmon may require up to 48 hours in the smoker. The benefit of the process is that the fish will keep for a week or more in the fridge after they have been smoked. Perhaps the only trouble with smoking quantities of meat such as pork or beef is that you do need to be on hand to maintain your low intensity fire or smoke source for several days. Bacon may take as little as a couple of days to smoke whereas a piece of beef might require between 3 days and a week to smoke it to a satisfactory standard. Whatever method of smoking you choose, you can have a great deal of fun experimenting with smoked food. The seemingly endless wait before the food is ready, the endless array of flavours that can be achieved by altering the wood chip mixture, the unmitigated failures and disasters. I needn’t go on so get your tools out, get lit up and give it a go! E


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SHOWTIME

Come and Visit Us! Itinerary HOME FARMER WILL BE AT THE FOLLOWING SHOWS THIS YEAR BLINDLEY HEATH SHOW May 4th – May 5th SMALLHOLDERS’ WEEKEND Builth Wells – fast becoming recognised as The Smallholders’ Show May 17th – May 18th THE ROYAL HIGHLAND SHOW June 19th – June 22nd SMALLHOLDERS’ AND GARDENING SHOW – ARDINGLEY South of England Showground July 5th – July 6th THE ROYAL SHOW July 3rd – July 6th THE ROYAL WELSH SHOW July 21st – July 24th SHEEP 2008 July 30th GARSTANG SHOW August 2nd Watch out in Home Farmer, and the website: www.homefarmer.co.uk for more details

If you have never been to an agricultural show before, it is a great day out, with lots to see, taste, learn and it’s also great fun! AGRICULTURAL SHOWS HAVE long been the mainstay of the rural community’s social calendar. A chance to show off, do a little business, win those treasured rosettes, buff and polish the best bullock and walk around in wellies.

But there is so much more to it than that! For a start, whatever your situation, there is always something to learn. You can talk to all the exhibitors and find out everything there can be learned in a day about animals and how to keep them. There are things to see that will really impress you, for example, you don’t get the chance to hand feed a huge Shire horse in all his brasses every day. It is really impressive how so much power can be utterly gentle. Then there are all the craft stalls to see – you can watch, or even help, craftsmen make you a walking stick with your favourite animal’s head on the handle, use a primitive lathe, cast a horseshoe, even throw a pot, or a welly! After all these activities there is food – real food! My favourite last year at the Royal Welsh show was (or should I say were because I ate a lot of them) wild boar sandwiches! You can buy every beer there is on the planet (well almost!) and some magical drinks. We bought a blackcurrant and apple liqueur called Black Mountain at

a show – it was worth going just for that! Most shows have a seminar programme, so you can turn up to a section of a great hall somewhere and sit on a bale of hay and listen to lectures on everything from beekeeping to lambing. Quite often the lectures are given by members of an association and there is plenty of time afterwards to talk in greater depth, find out about the association and even become a member! A great favourite are the numerous stalls from which you can pick up bargains. There are usually lots of clothing stalls, and you can arrive at the show looking like a townie and leave looking like a country yokel. There are usually lots of people selling smallholders’ supplies, all of them worth a good look. The showring is great fun. You will see everything there from ancient carriages being pulled by ancient breed horses, frequently driven by ancient old men. There are also displays of everything from scent hunting, falconry, dog agility and horse dressage to show jumping and my own personal favourite – ferret racing! E


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BAKING BREAD Make a bread you normally buy – it’s easier than you think

Five Breads WHEN I WAS young, we had lots of really good bread bought from our local baker’s everyday and it tasted delicious. But we only had brown, wholemeal or white bread and rolls, with the odd granary loaf to choose from, or fruit teacakes and hot cross buns at Easter. There was very little variety, my Mum would sometimes go and buy our bread from another baker’s just for a change of taste, though she did say she felt like a traitor. Nowadays we have a wonderful array of different types of bread, both in small baker’s shops and the large supermarkets. But making your own is much more fun and family and friends will be very impressed with the finished result and of course they will taste fresher than anything you buy from the shops. The ingredients you will need to make the recipes in this article can be bought in most stores or supermarkets and are very basic to most bread making. You won’t require any unusual utensils and it is even possible to make naan bread in a conventional oven.

Next month In our next issue I am going to look at fruited breads, malted or otherwise. So get the kettle on!

NAAN Naan has become very popular. The word naan or nan comes from the Persian word for bread. Obviously eaten with curry dishes, but it is also delicious filled and rolled like a wrap. This is a very filling meal and our local Bangladeshi takeaway make wonderful Naan kebabs filled with various spicy meats of your choice from donner to chicken tikka. Packet Naan bread is alright, of sorts, but it doesn’t have the taste or rolling quality that home-made has. To make Naan at home is very easy; you just have to make sure your oven is hot enough when it comes time to bake the bread. My family enjoys eating naan bread with soup. If you have any left over, it can be cut into strips and either quickly deep fried or drizzled with olive oil and crisped up in the oven. This goes

particularly well with salad dishes or humous and other dips. Naan is leavened dough and is made with yeast to give the final product its soft texture. It is traditionally flat and pear-shaped. The following recipe is for a plain flavoured bread, but other ingredients may be added to vary the finished naan. These are given at the bottom of the recipe.


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93 NAAN BREAD INGREDIENTS 225g strong white flour 1 /2 teaspoon salt 1 sachet fast action dried yeast 4 tablespoons lukewarm milk 1 tablespoon sunflower oil 2 tablespoons yogurt 1 egg beaten lightly

3 4 5

6

METHOD 1 Mix salt, flour and yeast together in a baking bowl. 2 Make a well in centre of flour and add the egg, oil, yogurt and warm milk. Mix these into the flour and knead with hands till dough becomes soft and pliable. Leave in a warm place till dough has doubled in size and heat the oven to its highest setting. After proving time dust work surface with flour and using a rolling pin, rollout 2 or 3 pear shaped breads Heat a little oil on a baking tray and place naan on tray immediately and cook for 4 mins approximately, they will balloon up as they cook so long as the oven is very hot. Keep warm in a clean tea towel till required, but best eaten straight away.

To vary the flavour of your naan bread add one of the following to the raw dough: E E E E E E E

Coriander leaves or seeds Onion seeds Chopped garlic clove Chilli flakes to taste Chopped chives Dried, fried onions Cumin seeds

TORTILLA A favourite of mine to eat with chilli con carne or as an alternative to naan bread is an easy tortilla recipe. Tortillas are thin pancake type bread that forms an important part of the diet in Latin America. They have become very popular

SHORTENED TORTILLAS Use exactly the same quantities and follow the same method except for adding 25ml of sunflower oil to the flour and salt before the water. Mix in well with a fork and proceed as above.

here and are eaten in many different ways, from alternative sandwich breads to part of a main meal. The tortilla is traditionally made from cornmeal, but may also be made from wheat flour as in the recipe in this article. In Spain a tortilla is made from eggs as an omelette and served cut like a tart, tortilla having its origins in the word torta, a tart. The following two recipes differ in that one uses a shortening agent to help prolong the freshness and enhance the flavour. The other is a simpler recipe but is just as tasty. SIMPLE TORTILLAS INGREDIENTS Makes 8-10 500g plain flour 1 level teaspoon salt Warm water

METHOD 1 Sift flour and salt in a mixing bowl. 2 Gradually add water, mixing all the time. 3 Stop adding water when a stiff dough is achieved. 4 If the dough becomes too moist, add a little more flour. 5 Break the dough into small balls, about the size of an egg. 6 Roll out each ball, dust with flour and fry in a tiny amount of oil in a small frying pan for one minute on each side. Serve immediately.

SALLY LUNN For a real teatime treat, try making this sweet bread. Sally Lunn loaf is named after the lady that first made it. Sally Lunn lived in Bath, she was a pastrycook and owned a shop in Lilliput Alley in the 1780s. Sally Lunn sold her wares to the rich and fashionable people of the time who came to sample the local waters. The cakes and breads were sold in the Pump Room and eaten alongside the drinking of the water. Her shop is still there to visit, and you can buy Sally Lunn!


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BAKING BREAD TWIN ROSE TEACAKES

SALLY LUNN LOAF This loaf is best eaten warm with generous amounts of butter, but be careful when slicing; use a very sharp knife as it can be a bit tricky. INGREDIENTS (Makes 3 small loaves) 380g strong white flour 1 sachet fast action dried yeast 150ml warm water 40g sugar 50g gently melted butter (not clarified) 1 large egg, beaten Finely grated rind of 1 lemon 1 /2 teaspoon salt

4 Add water and mix in vigorously. 5 Knead in melted butter and continue to knead dough till smooth, approximately 5 minutes. 6 Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and knead each section, shape into a round and place them on an oiled baking tray. 7 Leave to prove in a warm place for about 30 minutes, brush with beaten egg and bake in a hot oven 225 degrees or Gas 8 for 15 minutes.

METHOD 1 Sift flour into a bowl and stir in salt. 2 Add yeast and mix in thoroughly. 3 Make a well in centre of flour and add sugar, egg and lemon rind.

Brushing egg and milk before baking

Pat the bottom: a hollow sound means it is ready

These teacakes originate from Yorkshire and Lancashire alike, and that explains the name. They have always been a popular tea break treat and I remember coming home from school on a wintry day to a mug of cocoa and a hot, toasted teacake. Teacakes are said to be descendants of a medieval ‘hand- bread’ or ‘manchet’, these were small hand shaped loaves made with the finest flour of the time and cooked without a tin. Though the teacakes can be made without dried fruit for those who dislike it, but I love the fruited version. Spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg may be included in the recipe, but I prefer to save this for hot cross buns. TWIN ROSE TEACAKES INGREDIENTS Makes 10-12 450g strong white flour 1 sachet fast action dried yeast 300ml warm milk 50g currants, rinsed and dried 50g sultanas, rinsed and dried 40g well softened butter 50g sugar 1 level teaspoon salt


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95 6 Place on an oiled baking tray and leave to prove for 20-30 minutes. 7 Bake in a hot oven 225degrees or gas 8 for 10 minutes. 8 Cool and serve with butter and/or some homemade preserve or honey. PLAIN TEACAKES For plain teacakes omit the dried fruit and, if you want to eat them with savoury fillings, omit the sugar too.

METHOD 1 Mix flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl and add yeast. 2 Rub in butter and add sugar. 3 Make a well in centre of flour and add milk, stir in well and knead dough till smooth. 4 Knead in dried fruit and continue to knead dough for a further 5 minutes. 5 Divide the dough into 10-12 small balls, knead to shape into a ball and roll into 9cm discs.

A ball of dough

Roll two out at the same time

FOCACCIA We go to Italy for our last bread recipe. The bread has many names in different regions of the country, Stiacciata in Tuscany to Fitascetta in Lombardy. We call it Focaccia, but whatever it is called it is flat bread made with lots of lovely olive oil and coarse sea salt. It is ancient bread and dates back to when baking was carried out on hot stones over an open fire. After proving, the dough is pressed flat in an oiled tray and indentations are made in the dough using the fingers. These indentations are there to catch the olive oil during the baking process. This loaf was made by the Romans and has changed very little, though there are many variations cooked throughout Italy. This loaf is traditionally cooked in an oven after the fire has been raked down, but the temperature is still too hot to cook the larger loaves without them burning. Focaccia can be eaten as an accompaniment to main dishes or soups, but makes an excellent shared starter to a meal served with olives and sun-dried tomatoes. It can be varied by topping the bread with onions, sliced olives or thinly sliced courgettes. Various cheeses can also be sprinkled on top to add flavour. The Tuscan version Stiacciata is sweetened bread that has sugar, eggs and spices added. A really tasty version is Focaccia al formaggio, two thin layers of dough are rolled out and stracchino cheese is spread over the layers and drizzled with olive oil and baked until cheese melts. Some regions use polenta or buckwheat flour to make the dough. This recipe is the simplest form, but one which can be varied quite easily.

FOCACCIA INGREDIENTS 500g strong white flour 1 sachet fast action dried yeast Approximately 180ml warm water 1 /2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling over finished bread 20g coarse sea salt METHOD 1 Put flour, yeast and salt in a bowl and mix. 2 Add the oil and the water and mix thoroughly together. 3 Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. 4 Leave to prove in a warm place for 40 minutes. 5 Heat oven to 225 degrees C. Gas 7/8. 6 After proving, press the dough out onto an oiled baking tray until it measures about 2cm. 7 Press fingertips into the dough to make indentations and drizzle with olive oil. 8 Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown, drizzle more oil over hot bread. Allow to cool and cut into rectangles. DON’T OVER COOK Remember that it is fairly thin dough so will cook quickly, the time given is a guide only. Check bread to prevent over-cooking.

Bread is an amazingly versatile and interesting product to make. There are so many ways of preparing it, from all over the globe; I never tire of making bread. When I have spoken to people who regularly make their own, each has a few good tips or hints on how to make a recipe better. The best thing to do is have a go and experiment with your own ideas and please send them in to us at Home Farmer as we want to share them with our readers. E


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WIN

COFFEE CUP PAGES

Prize Crossword

A £15 B OK TOKEO N

We’ve really pushed the boat out and have a book token from The Good Life Press for £15.00!

Across 2. Two step corn in the summer 4. Bee non sting pipes 5. Not a brownie 8. Cowardly pie layer 11. Bread your grannie should eat 12. Rude disease of sweetcorn 13. Early wheat from Germany 17. Fairyland flower 18. Onion needs more than 14 hours a day (4,3) 19. Not bred in Bath (5,4)

Down 1. Beans grown the Somme way 3. Goats from Egypt 6. Blow the chaff aside 7. Feeling fit chick in the summer 9. Growing between the rows 10. Buttered pastry 14. Thin bread or thick omelette 15. Milk clot 16. Fattest pork cut

How to enter:  You can cut out your crossword  You can simply write the answers on a piece of paper  You can email the answers Mark your envelope Prize Crossword and post to: Home Farmer, The Good Life Press Ltd., PO Box 536, Preston, PR2 9ZY. Or send an email to: editor@homefarmer.co.uk

All the answers are somewhere in the magazine

Coffee T ime Fac ts

Icelan d hectar has far mo re trac es of c – mor t e than ropland tha ors per 1,0 00 n count t w any o ice ry, Slo venia. that of the ther nation next h Ukrain ighest e is th the wo e brea rld’s la d rgest p basket of E u roduc People er of b rope, and m i g h arley. t but pe ople f eat oats wh rom H e ungar n they’re h The av y un don’t e eat oa gry, drinks rage perso ts. n as mu ch tea in the Unit e as 23 d Canad Italian Kingdom i s. citizen ans drink m o s of an y othe re fruit juic e than r natio n. the


HF ISSUE 2 P96-97 BREAK

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W A POLY IN TUN Dandelion coffee/tea The dandelion,Taraxacun officinale, whose scientific name means ‘official cure for ailments.’ Everyone knows the dandelion, but hardly anyone realises that it is botanically very similar to chicory. Those of you who like French coffee will recognise this as the bitter constituent. Camp coffee used to be full of the herb. It will be no surprise, then, that dandelion can be used as a coffee substitute. It ought to have a name all of its own, coffee substitute doesn’t do it justice. MAKE YOUR OWN 1 Dig up some dandelion roots, and bake them dry in the oven. 2 Cut the roots into small pieces, seal in a plastic bag and pop them in the fridge to keep.

Competition

NE WORT H £50 L 0

WIN A £500 POLYTUNNEL FROM FIRST TUNNELS

You can win a polytunnel worth £500! You can even add money to it and get an even bigger one if you like! First Tunnels is a successful and established supplier of Polytunnels, Polytunnel Accessories and Polythene covers. Customers include leading garden writers from many of the UK Magazines including Bob Flowerdew and Alan Titchmarsh. Other noteworthy customers include the United Nations, Eden Project, the Natural History Museum, ITV, SKY and the BBC. Visit their website at www.firsttunnels.co.uk. All you need to do is match the photographs below with the pages they come from. Simple! COMPETION ENDS 30TH APRIL 2008

Mark your envelope Polytunnel Competition and post to: Home Farmer, The Good Life Press Ltd., PO Box 536, Preston, PR2 9ZY. Or send an email to: editor@homefarmer.co.uk.

HOMEFARMER MAY COMPETITION – CLOSING DATE 30TH APRIL 2008

3 When you want a drink, take 1 piece of root, about 2cm long, and bash it in the pestle and mortar. 4 Place the bits in a cup and pour on boiling water, sieving if necessary. Add a teaspoon of honey. Your first cup will be horrid, then you will get used to it. Do not drink more than a cup a day and if you are on any medication, consult your doctor first. (Or go to the health shop and buy some sachets of Dandelion tea!)

PIC ONE FROM PAGE ...............

PIC TWO FROM PAGE .............. PIC THREE FROM PAGE ...........

NAME:..................................................................................................... TEL: ................................................................ ADDRESS: ............................................................................................................................................................................. .................................................................................................................. EMAIL: ................................................................

Well I’m not eating that!

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CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING POLYTUNNELS

CATALOGUES/BROCHURES

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FERRYMAN POLYTUNNELS For for farms, smallholdings, allotments and gardens. Widths of 8’, 10’, 12’, 14’, 16’, 18’, 21’ and 24’ with curved and straight sides. A full range of Tufftunnels for windy sites. Other applications include animal housing, swimming pool covers and boat housing. Free brochure from. Ferryman Polytunnels Ltd, Bridge Road Lapford, Crediton, Devon. EX17 6AH. Tel: 01363 83444 Fax: 01363 83050 Email: info@ferryman.uk.com Website: www.ferryman.uk.com

FREE ADS

Dexter cow and calf ÂŁ350

E E FprR a ivate ds

She is 4 years old, pure bred but isn't registered. I have the sire here and you can view him if required. It is the second time she has calved, she is reasonably friendly with a bucket of nuts and of the medium to long legged type of black Dexter. I can deliver within south and west Wales any further and I would have to meet you. CARMARTHENSHIRE Tel: 01269 593556 Email: caesiarl@btinternet.com

Pig Troughs for Sale Traditional round cast iron pig troughs, all old but usable. ÂŁ25 each. SAXMUNDHAM/SUFFOLK Tel: 01728 603830 Email: colinorsue@hotmail.com

Livestock for Sale PIGS: Large Black and Mangalitza, SHEEP: Zwartbles POULTRY: Wyandotte ABERDEENSHIRE Tel: 0776 4845825 Email: quarryheadcw@tiscali.co.uk

HOME FARMER MARKET PLACE Your free ad will appear in the next available issue, subject to space. Simply fill in the coupon on the right and send it back to: BY POST Home Farmer Free Ads, The Good Life Press Ltd., PO Box 536, Preston, PR2 9ZY. BY EMAIL Use the coupon as a guide and send your free ad to: ruth@thegoodlife press.co.uk I am sorry readers’ free ads cannot be taken over the phone. Please note we will not accept 0870 and 0845 numbers.

FREE ADVERTS FOR PRIVATE ADVERTISERS Maximum number of words is 30. We need your full address, telephone number and email for our database, but only your town/tel/email will appear in the magazine. As a policy The Good Life Press Ltd. will not sell, trade or exchange your details with any third party. Title/Mr/Mrs/Ms ..................... First name ........................................................ Surname ................................................................................................................... Address .................................................................................................................... .................................................................................................................................... Postcode ................................. Tel No .............................................................. Email address: ......................................................................................................... ADVERT COPY Heading: (eg Pig arc for sale) ............................................................................. Manufacturer: ......................................................................................................... Age/condition: ........................................................................................................ Description: ............................................................................................................ .................................................................................................................................... How often do you buy Home Farmer? I Monthly/Subscription I Occasionally I Never seen before


HF ISSUE 2 P99 N-MONTH

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NEXT MONTH

In next month’s packed Home Farmer magazine Five ways to beat the carrier bag Is the death of the supermarket carrier bag just round the corner? We give step-by-step instructions for making your own alternatives

Blowing Raspberries One of the best crops you can grow for a summertime treat

Get the best from a small garden We look into the design and the care needed to get the most from your garden

Living on a barge

99

NEXT ISSUE OU MAY 2NDT

Fruit loaves From old fashioned malt loaf to bara brith – we cook a batch of fruit bread

Cooking with your brick oven We put the flaming beast to the test to see how many dishes we can cook

The Breakfast pie The world premiere! Egg, bacon and a fried slice, all in a pie – fat men in their kitchens everywhere will love this

Putting a new face on it Dozens of faces and dozens of ways of using nature to make them more beautiful

Peter Underwood looks at the long and thin – often a real alternative way of life

Bean feast Growing, cooking, preserving and saving beans!

Plus... Food, farming, keeping poultry, pigs, goats, bees and a whole lot more!


HF 2 ADS

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Profile for Ruth Tott

Binder[smallpdf com]  

Binder[smallpdf com]