About paulrainger

Smallholder trying to be selfsufficientish. Previously an environmental campaigner, and Founder of Bristol's BIG Green Week Festival. Me, I'm just a lawnmower, you can tell me from the way I walk.

Brewing up a Storm

May and June has witnessed a flurry of brewing activities here at The Secret Acre.

While last autumn’s cider has been maturing in the barrel, we have also been pushing our apple aspirations to two extremes. As well as trying our hand at Apple Brandy, we had a second successful go at producing Cider Vinegar.
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Apple Brandy

As I came round Bristol Temple Meads, blue flashing lights appeared in the rear view mirror. With the moonshine sloshing around in the back, there was only one thing for it. I’d have to make a run for the county-line, to the safety of South Gloucestershire!

Regular readers will know that we are not adverse to a bit of home brewing and cider making here at The Secret Acre. So when a friend suggested we tried our hand at Apple Brandy it seemed rude not to.

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Broad Bean Bonanza

We don’t know about you, but for us it seems to be a bonanza year for broad beans.

Our over-wintered crop, which in past years has struggled to get past knee height, suddenly shot up during May to waist level monsters.

Our first attempt at a spring compost dressing might have helped, as no doubt has the good spring weather. Continue reading

Planting Out

The strange feeling of ‘veg bed competence’ we had at the start of May has somehow survived through to end of the month.

Surely it can’t last!

The greenhouse seedlings (pictured left) rapidly turned into a veritable garden nursery vision of plug plants demanding to be planted out against the risks of any late frosts. Continue reading

Over the Moon

In previous years, last Friday would have seen me out on the veg patch planting our chitted seed potatoes.

The ‘Good Friday Potatoes’. I read it in a book way back and the idea stuck.

Apparently, Easter potato planting is a very English thing. The Irish prefer to use St Patricks day. Continue reading

Spring, Swales & Spawn

Although it feels like we are well into spring now, it was only this time last month that our local swales were heralding spring’s arrival with the first sighting of frog’s spawn.

Apparently the clumps of spawn (eggs) can be laid in ponds anytime from January onwards in the south-west England, but we’ve never seen it that early here at The Secret Acre. Continue reading