Monthly Archives: April 2014

Fermentation Feed

Anyone tried enhancing their chicken feed this way?


Slow germinating Parsnips?

I love growing parsnip but the fact it takes weeks to germinate is so frustrating.  You are left wondering whether it is still waiting to pop or has it died off, is there a problem, or worse (if you forget to mark it up) you forget where it was sown!  This leads to random plants coming up in a few weeks time along with something else you have planted, not an ideal situation.

However I have learn’t a solution from my Grandad that solves all of these problems and I was amazed to see Monty Don use the same technique in Gardeners World this week! Thought for those that don’t have it broadcast or missed it I would share it.   He would create a drill for his parsnips, sow about 2/3 seeds every 4 inches and in the same row sow his radish seeds.  Parsnips take at least 5 weeks to germinate so makes it difficult to weed that area because you don’t want to damage the emerging seedlings but if you don’t weed, the weeds strangle the emerging seedlings giving them no chance at all.  Radish start to pop after a couple of weeks and you can normally start harvesting after 4 weeks, the parsnips will start popping at around the 5 week mark so you can leave them to sprout a bit more whilst continually harvesting radish, removing what is left of the radish at around 8-10 weeks when the parsnips are looking far healthier plants and more obvious to weed around.

You double up use of space, mark out where your parsnips are with the radishes and give the parsnips half a chance of survival!

Dandelion Honey Recipe

Any gardener sees dandelions as a complete pest, they have massive roots, pop up everywhere and it seems no matter what you do you never quite get rid of them! I do pull them up I have to say and my tortoise and chickens love the leaves however I have a lovely recipe that might make you think twice about getting rid of every single dandelion, after tasting this honey it may even sway you to build yourself a raised bed simply for your dandelions.   However I wouldn’t advocate this because I doubt there will ever be a shortage on dandelions!

The best thing about this recipe is I got my kids involved.  They loved going round the allotment searching for dandelions and competing with each other on who could pick the most.  So give your kids a bucket each, set them off  on the dandelion hunt and they will enjoy themselves for ages, in fact mine asked when we went for a walk the other day to the park if they could take their buckets to collect dandelions to make honey for their toast in the morning.  The only down side the quantities I have stated will only make about one jar but this time of year there are so many dandelions just increase the quantities of everything and make more.  I have a massive jam saucepan and I can get a yield of about 6-8 jars in there!

So here goes:

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time4 hours


  • 4 cups of dandelion petals
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 thick slices lemon
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split in half
  • 2 1/4 cups of jam sugar (you can use granulated sugar however I find jam sugar sets better)


Like I said give your kids buckets, take a trip round the park or the allotment and get them to collect as many dandelion flowers as they can, you may need to take a big bucket to top up but I found it a great family afternoon out and a promise of an ice cream at the end finished it off nicely.
Weigh the petals only 

Get a large heavy based saucepan and put in the petals, water, lemon slices and the vanilla bean (if doubling/tripling etc up the recipe then adjust all ingredients where necessary.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes,  Remove from heat and allow to steep for 6 hours.  Again to get my kids involved the little ones put all the ingredients in and my older one stirs the mixture whilst it is simmering.

Strain the dandelion tea through a muslin and compost the dandelions.  Put the liquid back in a heavy saucepan and bring to a low boil, add the sugar gradually whilst stirring until all sugar is dissolved, bring back to a rolling boil and then lower heat and simmer until it has a syrupy consistency,

Ready to eat immediately or if you have made a larger quantity jar and seal and store. 

Delicious warm on toast

Gardening with kids?

I have been reading so much about people struggling to garden due to having toddlers, school children, teenagers etc and I promise it really doesn’t have to be hard work. One suggestion (and I am sure was in jest) was this, a kiddie tazer. Before you get on amazon and buy one keep reading because as well as the carrot top idea I will have lots more ways you can get your kids involved. I can now spend a day down my allotment with my three children with no problems at all

Weights and Measures

I am from the UK so majority of my recipes will be in English weights and measures, and I also generally use pounds and ounces although I am trying to move on to the kilograms and grams, most of our recipes list both measurements so I will try really hard to remember to put both!  However because I know there is a strong American readership I thought a little bit of information about translating English weights and measures into American friendly measurements.

The most important difference to note when measuring liquids is that the American Canadian pint is 16 fluid ounces whereas the English pint is 20 fluid ounces.  This means the American half pint measuring cup is equivalent to the two-fifths of a British pint.  I have put a little table below for measuring solids.

English                                                                               American

1lb Butter/fat                                                                       2 cups

1lb Flour                                                                             4 cups

1lb Sugar (Granulated or Castor)                                       2 cups

1lb Icing Sugar                                                                    3 cups

1lb Brown sugar                                                                  2 1/2 cups

1lb Syrup/treacle                                                                1 cup

1lb Rice                                                                               2 cups

1lb Dried Fruit                                                                     2 cups

1lb Chopped Meat                                                               2 cups

1lb lentils                                                                             2 cups

1lb Breadcrumbs                                                                4 cups


I will update this list as and when I come across something that isn’t converted and please feel free to let me know if there is something you have come across and I will add it in.


Mr Fox hates urine?????

Yes I was a little bemused when I read and then researched this!  

Apparently if you get a man to pee around the garden it deters the fox.  Not a female, a full blooded male, apparently it fools the fox into thinking there is a bigger male around which makes him fearful for his life so he runs!

Perhaps this is the way forward with your poultry?  I have discussed this with my husband and he said colourfully ‘absolutely not’.

So who is going to give this a go?

Mr Rotavator

We have just bought one and it is a bloody brilliant piece of kit, highly recommend to anyone

John Norman's Blog

Now that the wet weather has finally given way to spring sunshine, we’ve at last been able to make a start on our new half-allotment. We strimmed it in the autumn, and killed the weeds with glyphosate, but we didn’t manage to dig it before it turned into a quagmire.

In order to make up for lost time, we clubbed together with our next-door allotment neighbours to hire the services of a man with a serious rotavator. The results were instant and highly satisfying:

F220 004a

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