Harvesting, digging and birthdays …

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Harvesting dominated the month’s activities again in September – figs, hawthorn berries and walnuts. There was a good crop of red figs but fewer ‘white’ ones (which are actually green!). They were all halved and dried in the dehydrator (around 40 hours at 40°/45°); satisfactory, a bit too dry at first for my liking, but after storing for a short while they became softer and pleasantly sweet. Online recipes for drying figs suggest about 55°, so maybe next year I’ll try this, for a shorter period. In general, instructions for dehydrator fruit processing specify the 40° – 45° range to conserve their raw nutritional value, but maybe figs are a special case. Work in progress, any comments gratefully received!

I also made several batches of fig compote for the freezer and dried more apple slices from Jane’s garden for vacuum packing.

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Planting, pruning, strimming … and wild flowers!

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Weather-wise, January has been a month of contrasts. It was cold until the new moon on the 13th, with most nights falling below zero and a low of -6°C on the 8th; then the rest of the month was very mild with overnight temperatures of 11° or 12°, and a high of 19° on the 28th. It was reasonably dry at the start of the month (13mm rain) but the mildness later on meant a lot of rain (114mm) and very unsettled weather in general. January went out with a bang, with a thunderstorm, gales and heavy rain late evening on the 31st!

The swales filled up very nicely as you can see above! This photo also shows the principle of the swales very well. Rainwater running down the slope is caught by the ditch and because this follows a contour line, the water is evenly distributed and slowly infiltrates the soil. Biomass is also placed in the swale; I have in fact added more since this photo was taken. The trees planted on the bank then benefit from moist ground with increased bacterial and mycorrhizal activity.

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