Saturday, 25 August 2012

Garden Organic trials progress

A while back I posted about our tomato plants that form part of Garden Organic's blight resistant tomato plant trials.  We'll since then we've had some potential blight appearing on the leaves of some of the A, C and D varieties, and as of this week a few ripe tomatoes from A and C, both of which seemed quite tasty (both on their own and halved, then popped on top of homous on a water cracker.  Looked like a sort of flat savoury cup cake!).  Lots more green tomatoes, especially on variety A.

Variety B has much greener, healthier looking foliage than the others, but has only just flowered.  Its obviously a later type - either that or its poor germination and the rotten summer haven't helped it.  I've a sneaking feeling that B is the odd one out... either that's the very blight resistant variety or else its some sort of control variety.

We're also taking part in the Garden Organic small scale wheat experiment.  This means growing a two square metre bed of organic wheat supplied by GO, and then recording how it was sown, grown, harvested, threshed, winnowed and used.  We've gone throw sowing, growing and now just done harvesting.  We got a good size wheat sheaf out of the bed - a bit green tinged in places but I've read recently that's OK, and lots of the farmers round here have been harvesting their crops so I guess its a good time to get it in.  Just as well, as its rained on and off for the past two days since we cut it.  Its currently sitting in my workshop out of the rain to finish drying off.

Next we'll have to thresh the wheat to release the dried grains from the stalks.  I've a cunning plan for this: I'm going to hold bunches of stalks upside down in a 25 litre brewing mash bucket and whack the heads against the sides!  This will hopefully knock the grains out and capture them into the bucket.  Winnowing is going to be more interesting: I tried doing it a few years ago when harvesting some quiona and wasn't terribly adept at the operation.  I ended up picking the chaff out by hand after coating the attic floor in seed/chaff mixture!

Assuming I'm less fumble fingered and we end up with a small measuring jug of grain, the next thing to do will be to use the grain in cooking.  I'd planned on trying to use it to make a loaf of bread in our Panasonic bread maker, but to do that we'll need to work out how to grind the grains into flour.  I did some web searching for domestic grain mills and, whilst they exist, they're pretty dear, especially for a one off experiment.  I did find a grinding mill in Lakeland for just under twenty quid  but it didn't mention "grains" amongst the things it would mince or grind (meat, vegetables, nuts, beans).  Might still get one though as it might be handy for make veg/nut/bean spreads and it can also turn out some pasta as well.  I'll also keep a weather eye on the local second hand shops - you never know if an old hand mill might turn up. I'll add it to my list of 2nd hand items I look for when mooching round such shops - still not spotted any fruit presses or large maslin pans yet!