Weekly round-up – 18 August 2011

photo credit: keith ritchie

Welcome to this week’s round-up from around the world of wholesome growing, eating and cooking.


First up, a reminder from Arigna Gardener that the hedgerows are swollen with goodies as we move through August, blackberries, elderberries and sloes among them.

And Andy at Farm in My Pocket gives some useful tips here for recognising edible wild mushrooms.

Two reviews

A couple of interesting book reviews this week:

First, Organic Wales reviews A Slice of Organic Life: Get closer to the soil without going the whole hog. Basically does what it says on the can: actions we can all take, whether or not we have a big garden or smallholding. Read the review here.

And Deano at The Sustainable Smallholding reviews Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden. Although the Bird Woman of the title is a Hidatsa Native American whose stories were related in the early 1900s, Deano’s review (here) makes it clear that this is a useful as well as interesting book:

The book details cultivation techniques, harvesting, processing, and storage for the main crops grown by the Hidatsa. These are Sunflowers, corn, squash, and beans. The book is worth reading for this alone, and there is a lot that I have learnt just from reading this, but the insights into Hidatsa life, are fascinating. Burying food stores in caches, to hide them from marauding Sioux, put my problems with rabbits, rats and pigeons into perspective. Also interesting is the need to leave the fields fallow for two years, for the weeds to restore the fertility taken by the crops. It might not seem to be relevant today, but it shows the value of green manure crops, in this case weeds, to restore fertility.

And two recipes

First is a recipe for Lentil Dal from Permaculture Cottage. I can vouch for this one, I tried it last night and it’s delicious.

Second is from Wild Yeast: a recipe for a French bread called Miche, made with a whole wheat starter. Haven’t tried this, but I was really impressed by the different patterns you can score into the crust. (I know, I know, I care about appearances too much!)

And finally…

You may say I’m a dreamer… but I’m not the only one. The video below shows the story of how some of Norway’s prisoners spend time on a low-security “eco-prison” where they carry out farm-work prior to their scheduled release as a way to rehabilitate them into society. A kind of half-way house. The comments are interesting. One person says that the recidivism rate in Norway is 20% compared with our 50%. Thanks to Sally Lever for the link.

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