First order of the day was to dig in the green manure bed with the Hungarian grazing rye. The aim of green manure is to add organic matter to the soil, by growing something, then turning it under the soil to die off and rot down. The grazing rye turned out to be a bit of a pain to keep under the soil, so we may have to turn it again once it has wilted a bit to make sure it is out of the light.
|Turning under the grazing rye (don't worry - |
the crop in foreground is broad beans)
Then we planted some potatoes. At Windmill we plant them in dips to encourage them to stay moist, rather than raising a ridge over them first. It seems to work quite well in the raised beds we have, as they are free draining. It also allows us enough soil to earth up the growing potatoes well, which could otherwise be a problem in a raised bed with little spare soil. If we were doing it in a heavy clay area, we might do it differently.
|Hassan and guy planting potatoes.|
|Tracey finishes off the rows.|
Thanks to Joyce's suggestion, some of us also took the time to enjoy the sensory garden. It is looking nicely colourful at the moment, and the new lavender is growing away well. We also had chance to admire some of our daffodils, and to notice that the bees love the willow catkin flowers.
|And the prize for most beautiful daff goes to..|
|Willow - it's the bees needs...|
|Tracey and Joyce in the sensory garden|
Lunch was cheesy polenta and the first of our polytunnel salad leaves - a warming treat on a cold day, and very cheap to make at around 40p a portion (including salad dressing!). An added bonus is that it needs almost no cooking, so it's cheap for fuel costs as well, and any left overs can be put in a dish then cut into slices for later meals and snacks.
|Polenta and salad with fake (but still tasty) balsamic vinegar|
You can use a website like mySupermarket to check prices to identify cheap ingredients, but street markets and independent shops may well be cheaper, so check out your local area.
Polenta is a great ingredient, because it is ready almost instantly, and it's incredibly filling, so a little goes a long way. A good tip for budget use of cheese is to go for ready-grated cheese, as it's cheaper and at the moment, there are some extremely cheap offers. But make sure you choose a strong-tasting one, so you need less cheese to get the taste effect you are after.
Ingredients to serve 6
1 medium onion
1 1/2 mugs fine polenta powder (79p for 500g - the recipe needs about half a packet)
Boiling water - approximately 4 mugs
3 teaspoons vegetable stock powder (cheaper than cubes)
250g extra mature cheese (£1.50 on a 2 for £3 offer)
Finely chop the onion and fry in a little oil (we use coconut, rapeseed oil or olive (NOT extra virgin) for a minute or two, stirring to avoid burning it. Then add the stock powder and mix in the water. Now comes a trick - pour in the polenta in a thin stream, stirring as you go to avoid lumps forming. You should end up with a wet mixture like a thick soup. Boil for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. If any lumps form, crush them to even out the texture. The mixture will thicken until it is like mashed potatoes. If it still seems a bit goopy, then boil a little longer, or wrap it up and leave it for 5 minutes to firm up. Stir in cheese and serve with a leafy salad and a simple oil and vinegar dressing. Any left overs can be kept and sliced like a bread the next day to eat cold.
|Hassan was impressed!|