Bridget

Posts Tagged ‘chives’

Musings from a Smallholding.

In Animals, Garden on January 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Serves me right! A few days ago I was going on about the lovely Spring weather we were having. Three days later and we’ve had wind, rain, hail and snow. This was the scene this morning, grey skies and a bunch of birds in the Rowan tree at the bottom of the field. Don’t know what they were…I was’nt close enough to tell.

Half an hour later it is bright and sunny. As you can see the wind turbines are turned north to catch the cold wind. It’s only about 4 c here in the valley today.

The animals run into the shed when it rains. Goats hate getting wet, their coats are not waterproof like Sheep. We do not lock them in at night, the shed is left open and they can come and go as they please. The field is well fenced so there’s no danger of them getting into the garden. Theres a saying that “good fences make for happy goatkeepers”. I certainly believe that to be true! Smokie, on the right, is our oldest Goat, she has been with us for 11 years. We bought her when she was 2 so she’s about 13 years old now. Enid is our milker, actually we’ve just let her go dry, she has been milking for 2 years. The one in the middle is Bella, Enid’s daughter. She will be put in kid next Autumn. I have lots of Goat’s milk frozen so we won’t have to buy milk for a good while.

In the garden Carvello de Nero is going to seed. Also known as Tuscan Kale or black cabbage it has given lots of leaves since Autumn. They are delicious steamed, in soups or even shredded and stir-fried. We also eat them raw in salads, shredded finely. They are going to seed earlier than usual but it’s that sort of year. The seed heads are delicious, treat them like Purple Sprouting Broccoli. The more you pick them the more they produce.

Chives are surprisingly advanced for this time of year. I won’t pick any until the promised frost of the next few nights have passed and mild weather has returned. According to the Met Office this has been the mildest Irish Winter for 53 years. Interesting year so far, unpredictable weather, an earthquake in Donegal (2.2 on the Richter scale), Aurora Borealis visible from as far down as Claremorris and a white Blackbird seen in Dublin. It’s going to be an interesting year!

Herbs from hedge and garden.

In Cooking, Foraging., Gardening, Herbs, sustainable living on April 2, 2011 at 8:10 am

Gorse showing first flowers.

It is nice to see the Gorse in flower again, it’s lovely yellow flowers always calling the eye. Gorse (Ulex europaeus) also called Furze or Whin is a plant that was much used in the past. It used to be burned every few years to provide fertility for the soil. The new emerging shoots would be eaten with relish by animals. It also used to be dried and hung in the stable to supplement Winter fodder. It was dried and used as a fuel which was said to give great heat. The flowers yield a yellow dye and also make a very palatable wine. The bark can be used to make a dark green dye. An essence can be made from the flowers which is used for healing the land.

Coltsfoot.

Coltsfoot is plentiful at the moment, it seems to like road verges and the shelter of hedges. It’s best known as a remedy for coughs and asthmatic problems. However, there is a caution that overuse can cause liver damage. It is much used in herbal tobaccos.

French Tarragon.

In the garden all the herbs are now providing fresh pickings. Many gardening books say French Tarragon is a tender plant, however it survived -18 here this past Winter. French Tarragon, with it’s delicious aniseed flavour is great in herb butter and salad dressings. It is a good remedy for indigestion and is said to stimulate the appetite.

Chives.

Chives belong to the Allium species and have a mild onion flavour. We have loads of Chives in the fruit garden as they are a good companion plants particularly for Apples as they keep away aphids, apple scab and mildew. Planted near Peach trees they control leafcurl and are said to enhance the scent of Roses. In the kitchen they have a multitude of uses, salads, herb butters, soups or mixed with cream cheese to mention  just a few. The only limit to uses for culinary herbs is your imagination!