Bread-making, hügel beds and The Drought continues …

I started making bread in the area set up for the purpose in the kitchen (Blog, July 1st, 2022) about mid-September and have had a testing time! There have been several failures and near misses, but by the end of October I had produced my first satisfactory loaf, a mix of white, wholemeal and rye flours. I started my own levain (or sourdough) culture, because it is the character and nuances of flavour that this gives that interests me in bread-making. It represents working with the diversity of natural yeasts (so organic flour is essential) as opposed to the ‘monocultural’ store-bought yeasts, and learning from the infinite number of variables that this presents; it is thus in keeping with the ethos of the Sombrun Forest Garden Project. I hadn’t actually made that connection until a friend pointed it out to me the other day, and really it means that the process is the goal, and that the bread produced at the end is a bonus, particularly if it looks and tastes as good as in the photos below!

Continue reading

Coppicing and hedging …

(For my email subscribers: Remember to read this on the website – better design, more information, updates included, altogether a better experience!)

After last month’s collective sigh (from both the forest garden and from me!), December has been a very active month, and a large part of it has been spent on coppicing the Goat Willow (Salix caprea) on the north-eastern boundary.

Continue reading

Ouf! (as you say in France) …

….. meaning phew!, or expressing relief. We’ve had some rain (68mm), and more is forecast in the next few days. We had to wait until the third week of the month, and until then summer continued, with another heat peak around the 15th. And now we are getting noticeably shorter days (equi nox), the mornings and evenings are a lot cooler, and right at the end of the month I lit the woodburner in the evening for the first time.

Although over the last four months we have had about 190mm of rain, two-thirds of the published local average for this period (see the paragraph on weather recording below), the ground has been very dry to quite a depth, and together with the several heat peaks this constitutes a drought for the land here, not good news for young trees.

Continue reading

Drought, harvest … and lizards!

The weather has to be the main topic of this month’s blog. It has been very dry, but we have also had heat peaks of just under 40°C. These have stressed my plants considerably, but it is the underlying dryness of the land which is the main concern; in sum, we have had three months of drought, and it will be interesting to see if we get any significant rainfall in September.

We have had 50mm of rain, but half of that fell in the last four days of the month, plus a further 11mm on the 22nd. We had a short canicule (Blog post, August 1st) during the second week of August, but after that it became cooler and by the last week it was time for trousers and shoes again.

Continue reading