Move over Chris Packham! Because another advantage of the current Good Life on Lockdown has been spare time to finally play properly with the trail camera we received at Christmas.
moving in we have got used to observing the daytime wildlife, even when red in tooth and claw, but we really wanted a wildlife camera to also be able to capture the hidden nocturnal wildlife, in full on David Attenborough style. Continue reading
Posted in Good Life, Orchard, Wildlife |
Tagged animal, camera, Chris Packham, David Attenborough, Emma Alesworth, lockdown, nature, nocturnal, Paul Rainger, photography, Smallholding, Spring, springwatch, The Good Life, The Secret Acre, trail camera, wildlife |
When we were urban foragers living in the city, cherry trees were a favourite, especially the irony of collecting a free basket from the productive cherry trees at the end of a large supermarket car park while those inside paid for theirs.
So it was exciting to inherit an old orchard when we moved to
The Secret Acre. And although mainly apples and plums, there was also an elderly cherry. Continue reading
Posted in Orchard |
Tagged apples, cherries, cherry, Emma Alesworth, orchard, Paul Rainger, planting, plums, quince, Smallholding, The Secret Acre, tree, tree planting |
As Spring arrives, with the annual slight panic that we still haven’t completed all the planned Winter jobs, our lateness with the orchard pruning once again embarrasses us into action.
But at least this year I have a secret weapon!
Officially, UK Apple Day is this Sunday, 21 st October.
But after this year’s unusually hot and dry summer, it seems you’ll be lucky to still have any apples left on your trees by now.
September marks the start of Produce Show season, even if the football season, rudely earlier every year, has already kicked-off too.
history of mixed results continued this year…. Continue reading
Posted in Garden, Good Life, Kitchen, Orchard |
Tagged award winning, beetroot, cake, cider, Emma Alesworth, marmalade, Paul Rainger, Produce Show, Smallholding, The Secret Acre |
Has The Secret Acre gone to rack and ruin since our last blog 5 months ago?
In short, no.
What has gone to ruin, we’ve realised, was our resolve to only work part-time since moving to the smallholding. Both our hours have slowly crept up again over the last two years, almost without noticing.
Posted in Garden, Good Life, Orchard |
Tagged blog, cordial, drought, elderflower, Emma Alesworth, fig, flowers, herbs, horseraddish, orchard, Paul Rainger, potatoes, pruning, rain, River Cottage, Smallholding, snow, Spring, summer, The Secret Acre, veg beds, weather, Winter, work life balance |
The inevitable consequence of
Apple Day in October is of course a new batch of cider making.
And this year our friend Derek was on hand to record it all on film, leaving me in presenting terms somewhere between
Jack Hargreaves and Kevin McCloud I fear.
Anyway, grab your popcorn for the first (and quite possible last) Secret Acre movie…
Posted in Garden, Good Life, Kitchen, Orchard |
Tagged Apple Day, apple juice, cider, cider making, Derek Houston, Emma Alesworth, film, Jack Hargreaves, Kevin McCloud, movie, Paul Rainger, Smallholding, The Secret Acre, YouTube |
October of course sees the official arrival of Apple Day in the UK, and an opportunity for harvest weary smallholders to invite friends round to help out under the guise of having a party!
Although in truth our
apple crop had been arriving progressively in the kitchen since the start of August.
And The Secret Acre is certainly no stranger to hosting
our own Apple Day events, in our long standing quest to make cider, which fortunately seems to be getting better with time at least. Continue reading
Posted in Good Life, Kitchen, Orchard |
Tagged apple, Apple Day, apple juice, cider, cider making, fermenting, October, orchard, pasteuriser, Paul Rainger, Smallholding, The Secret Acre |
No sooner had we made our ‘ Beauty Bath Spiced Apple Chutney’, than August’s harvest arrived en masse.
Suddenly every spare minute was taken up in the kitchen with the preserving pan. The
Blaisdon Plums were our biggest crop, with Emma heroically creating over 100 jars of various plum based jams and chutneys for the storeroom. Continue reading
Posted in Garden, Greenhouse, Kitchen, Orchard |
Tagged apple, aubergine, August, Beauty of Bath, Blaisdon, chutney, Emma Alesworth, fennel, harvest, hazelnuts, jam, mulled, onions, Paul Rainger, pears, plums, potatoes, preserving, radishes, red onions, Smallholding, The Secret Acre, walnuts |
We’ve been quiet online last month, an indication of frenetic activity in the garden and kitchen, as harvest season started to kick in.
It all started with apples. Which may seem odd. Our main
apple orchard harvest occurs in mid-September and October after all. But up by the house we have a Beauty of Bath apple tree, a variety cultivated to crop very early in August, which resulted in it being awarded a Royal Horticultural Society First Class Certificate in 1887 no less. Continue reading
Posted in Garden, Kitchen, Orchard |
Tagged apples, August, Beauty of Bath, chutney, cider, harvest, Paul Rainger, River Cottage, Smallholding, The Secret Acre, vinegar |