Nettle beer

nettles

Having watched The Edible Garden on BBC 2 have become inspired for the spring to do two things – make homemade nettle fertilizer for the tomatoes and nettle beer for the family.

I know exactly the rampant patch of nettles I will be attacking, far enough away from the spraying of the neighbouring farmers and in a place where we want to take most of them out anyway.

I have found these recipes for the fertilizer and beer respectively and can’t wait to give it a go:

http://www.gardenstew.com/threads/use-stinging-nettles-to-make-a-liquid-fertilizer.19288/

http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/nettle-beer-recipe

Fairtrade, vegan and fashionable…um where’s the catch?!

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The big news on the street is-at least in Germany-there are plenty of brands now offering fairtrade, vegan, sustainable clothes and shoes that don’t break the bank and that also happen to be the kind of thing you would likely buy anyway. I recently discovered this company on Facebook and have just taken advantage of their stock clearance sale and bagged myself a pair of these beauties for 50% off!! That’s less than 40€ people.

This is what I mean. I have this idea in my head that “eco” means super expensive and vegan shoes look like orthopaedic versions of what I would normally wear. But no, the times they are a-changing. Not that I am in principle against paying more for well-produced sustainable clothing and shoes but within reason.

I also recently discovered a fantastic organic sustainable clothing brand for boys:

http://www.band-of-rascals.com/

It’s something which has troubled me a lot. Not from the perspective of putting chemicals next to my skin but from the perspective that we know clothes and shoes are often not produced under conditions which most humans would find acceptable.

As a part of our move I am getting rid of lots of stuff meaning I will have even less clothes than I do now (which isn’t really a lot). Surely that makes it super easy to take on the challenge of only buying second-hand or sustainable from now on, or buying fairtrade material and making it myself. At least for me, and then I can ease the husband and children in gently 🙂 It’s definitely a start and also continues with my ongoing challenge for 2017 of not being quite so all or nothing as my Gemini tendencies would encourage me to be.

 

Little steps.

 

Guilty secret….

I am a serial blog abandonner. One who repeatedly starts new blogs and then does them for a while and then just doesn’t. You can see evidence of this here and here and there is another one that I can’t even remember the name of -egal-! Blog-bigamy. Somehow, as a creative ideas person, I am more drawn to the virginal possibility of a potential new thing than the regular tending of keeping up with a blog. Well there has to be a first time for everything. So I’ll try and do better at this one and document what we are getting up to.

If you want an example of someone who writes a good blog, regularly, like clockwork, see here. This week I only knew it was Monday because I saw her blog posting on Facebook. Hannah you will be my inspiration.

For now, don’t judge me if these posts aren’t very regular. We aren’t moving for 5 weeks. In those 5 weeks I have to finish editing a book, pack up my whole flat, feed and clothe my children and all the other stuff and say goodbye to a whole lot of besties. But from then on I’ll be regular, not quite clock-esque but perhaps more like a weighted pendulum where the string is shortened and relengthened at random.

In the beginning there were brambles….

In the beginning there were brambles. And what I had been blissfully unaware of until we began to tackle this problem was how tricky they are to get rid of. I started googling “getting rid of brambles”, “kill the brambles”, “die brambles die!!!”. This resulted in a feeling of hopelessness, desperation even. All the people in the whole world were convinced the only way to get rid of brambles was to spray them with some evil mist or dig them out. Well the evil mist doesn’t really come under consideration, apart from the recent findings about how very evil it really is, I was from the start unkeen to spray bad stuff anywhere near where I might one day want to grow food. And we have young kids so, just no. But considering our plot of land is around 9000m² and about a third of it is occupied by brambles I didn’t really fancy the idea of digging them all out by hand.

Turns out I needn’t have worried. We just needed swords.

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No, really. Well no, actually. But all it took was cutting it, first with the strimmer, then again with the strimmer, then again with the strimmer. We didn’t do this all in one go because in the beginning we were living in Berlin and visiting our land 3 or 4 times a year when on holiday staying with my parents. But still there was progress. The more grass peeped through the brambles the easer it was to cut the next time we came. We also found that depending on when we cut the effect could be more or less depending on the whether afterwards. The results of these very scientific undertakings was that although it was absolute killer to do so, our greatest victories were won slogging away under the summer sun. Everything that was cut then died back around the edges and essentially shrunk much more than purely what we had cut. Oh, except the bit along the fence which was helpfully watered by the neighbouring farmer’s corn irrigation meaning it felt like it had had a good prune ready for a rampant expansion!

Na ja. You win some you lose some. But on the whole we are winning. And I’m going to share with you our winning technique for clearing big areas of brambles fairly quickly.

The problem with those pesky blighters is that they are leggy and lanky and long and you get to the point where you don’t know what is worse, the thick robust stems of the mother root or the spindly long new shoots that are just sitting ready to pounce and claim fresh blood. And though they take up a lot of space once you crunch them down there’s not much to it. So here’s the recipe:

 

Big Bramble Clearing

Ingredients:

A strimmer

A rake

2 people (with the strength and determination of ten bears)

 

Method:

Strimmer cuts a small channel from top to bottom into the brambles as far as the strimmer will reach in without having to climb in. Make sure you are wearing goggles and cover your arms and legs as there will be nasty little thorns and debris splintering off in every direction. Then strimmer person starts to cut underneath the neighbouring section right at the bottom again as far in as you can comfortably go.

Now here’s the magic bit. The rake person now pulls with the rake in the opposite direction up from the bottom allowing the strimmer operator to cut across the bottom further into the jungle. Once that is cut, trusty rake pulls again revealing more low stuff to be cut. Strimmer can then cut around the edges and rake can pull that section of brambles away in a big ball revealing the floor which can then be recut a bit more carefully to get rid of as many brambles as possible.

 

 

 

 

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We have been doing that then coming back and cutting it again. Last year we made a huge win by having someone cut it when we weren’t there. This was awesome as it meant we arrived and didn’t have to fight our way in but could advance out to conquer new territory.

And when the brambles get too much we just head off down to the river for a change of scene and a relax.

 

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