Green manures, earth floors and the inaugural mushroom

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Spring will be here any second now… I can smell it through the sleet. Ok maybe it’s a little while off still. But the wattles are flowering! And so are the fruit trees, down in the valley.

The green manures in the market garden are about to be turned into the soil to make our spring seedlings grow, and the shiitake logs are pinning! Soon we will be awash in mushrooms…

Our shiitake's are pinning! Photo by Gigi

Our shiitake’s are pinning! Photo by Gigi

We’re collecting mushroom recipes this week in readiness for a large flush of shiitakes – the logs are been slumbering under the benches in the shadehouse for ages, slowly being colonised by the shiitake mycelium.

We spotted that many of the logs were fully colonised and so proceeded to soak and whack the logs… and now they’re all pinning like mad, with little bumps all over them, as the mushrooms break the surface of the logs…

Roundhouse build: the stove is in! And check out that earth floor - it's nearly done too...

Roundhouse build: the stove is in! And check out that earth floor – it’s nearly done too…

Shane's slate-work in the entranceway of the roundhouse

Shane’s slate-work in the entranceway of the roundhouse

The round house is finally nearly habitable – the earth floor is so close to finished, the stove is in and the entranceway ‘challenge’ has been solved with some beautiful slatework…

Bottom dam

Bottom dam

We still await the winter rains, however. Actually, we’re still awaiting last autumn’s rains, and last summer’s rains, too.

It is dry here. We have enough water in the high dams for the market garden and our fruit trees, and our pastures look good (for a dry year), but it’s a different farm to this time last August…

We roll with it, even while we worry, just a little. And we do what we can, with what we have.

Yay prop-house!

Yay prop-house!

In other important news, the new greenhouse Michael has been working on making from scrap materials, got a skin!

And then we took it off again, to finish some fiddly bits of Michael’s awesome and extensive wormfarm/bench system, which will pump organic nutrients into the market garden while raising seedlings.

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Meanwhile in the top paddock, I’ve discovered dung beetle holes aplenty… which means that the dung beetle population is hard at it. This is really exciting.

No truly, it is.

Dung beetles break down the available dung (on our farm, sheep poo) and drag it down into their burrows… a fabulous pasture cleaning, aerating AND deep-manuring service , all in one… thanks little guys, stay at it.

Lemons from Stephen

Lemons from Stephen

And lastly, we’re awash in lemons. Which is fine by me.

They go brilliantly with all the eggs the muscovy ducks have decided to suddenly start laying, and together, they are getting made into Lemon Delicious pudding whenever i get a chance.

I’m also considering a limoncello making spree this weekend, if i can fit it in.

But after Nick’s 2 months of adventuring all over the planet (and back and forth to Sydney 3 times), we’re all actually home in the one place this weekend, so we might end up just making popcorn and cardboard robots instead.

Do you have any killer lemon-based recipes that we simply must try this weekend?

>> More posts about life in general at Milkwood Farm

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For me, this inherited erosion is painful to look at. For him, it’s a valley of adventure… I love that, in the face of everything…

13 Comments

  1. Alacoque
    Posted August 9, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink | Reply

    I’m currently working through my parent’s citrus glut and have so far made limoncello and lemon & honey marmalade to use up lemons in particular. My favourite citrus recipe is probably Impossible Citrus Pie- quick and easy!

  2. Hannah cooper
    Posted August 9, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink | Reply

    Eggs & lemons = mayo!! Hope you have a lovely weekend :)

  3. Posted August 9, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink | Reply

    I am just half way thru my garden another 6 weeks I will be drying like crazy and canning tomatoes and fruit. I have found it interesting following your growing season as ours is just the opposite. I hope you get the rains Have fun starting seeds

  4. Posted August 9, 2013 at 11:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    bathing in mushrooms and swimming in lemons, how lucky to be drenched in produce

  5. Posted August 10, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What about freezing the juice for later use in cool summer lemon or ginger beer drinks?
    Frozen lemon juice is good to use in late summer/autumn when it is time to slice up apples to dry and you need something to stop oxidation on the cut surface of the apples.

  6. Kathy B
    Posted August 10, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Lemon Butter! I love this recipe we just tried for the first time. It uses the whites as well as the yolks which means less waste and faster to boot.

    2 large lemons, zested and juiced
    100g unsalted butter
    175-200g sugar, depending on how sour your lemons are
    3 free-range eggs, lightly whisked and strained.

    Place the lemon juice, zest, butter and sugar into a medium saucepan and heat over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, stirring now and then. Remove the pan from the heat and add the eggs, stirring to mix well. Place the pan back over a low heat and stir constantly until mixture thickens, coats the back of a spoon and leaves a line on the spoon when a finger is ran through it. Don’t overheat, or the mixture will curdle. Watch for steam starting to rise off the mix.. a sign that the thickening is imminent.

    Spoon into warm, sterilized jars and seal. Keeps in the fridge for up to 8 weeks. Makes approx 500ml.

    Delicious on fresh bread, toast, pancakes and as a filling for tarts and cakes.

    The recipe came from Slow Living Essentials – http://slowlivingessentials.blogspot.com.au

  7. Sharn
    Posted August 11, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink | Reply

    So sad to have forgotten my log! Hope there is a log with my name on it (literally, in pen) blooming with shrooms.

  8. Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink | Reply

    I hail from North Carolina, USA, and I must tell you how much I love following your progress. Your work thrills & inspires me!
    Is there any chance for more detail on the construction of both the scrap greenhouse, and especially, the worm-seedling bed. I’m guessing: compost warming the seedlings while feeding worms . . . all in one space?
    Curious readers want to know!!!!

  9. Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink | Reply

    Preserved lemons…great for that lemon flavour all year round.
    For every dozen lemons you’ll need
    20 tbl sp sea salt
    1 tbl sp coriander seeds
    3 cinnamon sticks
    3 to 4 lemons(maybe more), juiced
    Cut the lemons into quarters but not all the way through and rub as much of the salt into them as you can, packing it into the middle and then pushing the lemons closed again.Take a large sterilised jar and pop the lemons in pushing down firmly and sprinkling in the seeds and cinnamon sticks as you go. Add whats left of the salt and cover with juice. Make sure all the lemons are submerged or the lemons will go off. Seal the jar and put somewhere cool and dark for at least six weeks.
    You can experiment with flavours. Some people add bay leaves, chillies,cardamon pods, peppercorns, cloves or no spices at all …whatever you’ve got!

  10. Posted September 4, 2013 at 2:02 am | Permalink | Reply

    There is a killer lemon bar recipe here: http://www.mygutsy.com/gaps-lemon-bars/
    The crust is a bit sticky to spread out but they are worth it.

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