Monday, 4 April 2016

Harvest Monday and a walk around the Roman Town at Caistor St Edmund

I've been away on a 3 day course 'building with straw bales' in beautiful Stanmer Park in Brighton, and am feeling pretty tired (in a good way), where we learnt lots of principles and actually made a small Straw bale building. So much new information has gone into my brain it's odd focussing back on this stuff that happened earlier in the week. I'll do a separate post on the course but in the meantime here's the usual....
The purple sprouting broccoli plant that I'd salvaged from pigeon damage has gone on to produce more tasty shoots. I've now actually moved the plant as I needed to get the space ready for red onion sets. I occassionally do this with brassica plants in spring where they're in the way but have a bit more to give.
So I dug a hole in the bed where my leeks were ( which isn't going to be needed for a while) loosened up the soil all around the PSB with a fork and levered the plant out, plopped it in the new hole, filled in any gaps and also piled up extra soil around the stem as an anchor, treading the soil down firmly but trying not to damage any roots and gave it a good water.
The pickings are more leafy than flowery but they're very sweet anyway
Nice with cauliflower and a cheese sauce
This week I've also sown my parsnips (variety 'tender and true'). I usually sow them inbetween my rows of autumn broad beans but having been battered by the wind and squashed by foxes, they've grown out at odd angles, making it hard to sow between them. So instead I sowed them all in one bed where most of the broad beans hadn't survived...if I get a few beans too that would be good but I'm not holding my breath.
Anyway, there was a whole load of self-sown lambs lettuce in that bed, so I harvested it all....yum. I left most of it for Jan to use up this weekend whilst I've been away on the course. She's also been left in charge of my seedlings (I'm still away, visiting my folks now), so I'll be inspecting them all on my return ;)
A walk around Caistor Roman Town (Venta Icenorum)
We're very lucky in Norfolk with so many cool places to visit, lots of which are within easy reach of the city. A little way south east of the city is the site of the Roman capital of the area, where much evidence of the town still remains. Fantastically, most of the site is open to walk where you like, plus it's next to High Ash Farm, who carry out a lot of wildlife-friendly practices and provide lots of public access (permissive paths). The farmer (Chris Skinner) even features most weeks on the local radio, chatting about wildlife.
So on Tuesday we got the bus down to only took a few minutes. Walking through part ofHigh Ash Farm to get to the Roman town we found a few geocaches - this one was actually inside a fake plastic rock (not a fake plastic tree, for any Radiohead fans out there).
The Roman town was surrounded by a flint wall for protection, and there's still some lovely stretches of it In place
Here's Jan enjoying the spring sunshine
I took photos of a few of the information if you're interested, you should be able to click on them to enlarge them and have a read. There's a new mobile phone app too, which includes an augmented reality hold your phone up at various places and it's as if you're standing in the town, with the buildings all around you....rather cool.

Couldn't resist these cute sheep
We walked back to Norwich following the Boudica Way trail but wandered through High Ash Farm again first. The wildlife friendly farming makes it particularly lovely to walk's a large strip of teasel, grown for insects in the summer (lots of little flowers) and birds in the winter (lots of little seeds).

So that was another enjoyable trip into our lovely Norfolk countryside....where to go next?

Thanks for reading this week - I'm linking in with Harvest Monday hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres

And here's a taster from the Building with Straw Bales course...ooh

More to come soon...




  1. Oh building with strawbales! There's a permaculture food forest near here that does a class, I'd love to go so I can learn more, I'm looking forward to see what you have to say about it
    That's what I should look at planting - beans and leeks! I'm just so much better with summer veggies :/

    1. Hi Erin, yeh straw bales are a great building material...I think I'll post about the course on Monday, haven't had chance so far.
      Yes I need to sow some leeks, and all the summer veggies can be sown now too....the sofa is covered with seed packets waiting to be sown this weekend :D

  2. I am admiring your harvested leafy greens, yum.

    1. Thanks shaheen, fresh greens in spring must be one of my favourites :)

  3. That straw bale course sounds fascinating. All I have ever done with them is make a compost bin, which worked quite well actually. Those PSB greens look good. I'm growing a leaf broccoli this spring that isn't supposed to make a head, we will see how that does!

    1. Hi Dave, yep bales have a lot of uses, they're very versatile. I'll write more about the course this week.
      Thanks, the PSB was really tasty, good luck with your broccoli!

  4. Definitely looking forward to any post you do on the straw bale building. My previous hometown had an arts centre built of straw bale construction from a local college program group - pretty neat stuff!

    Super cute sheep - ours (I should specify my particular area of Canada) are generally all white, not as pretty.

    And I sure wish I found lamb's lettuce self-sown - never tried it but it looks nice and tender.

    1. Hi Susie, yep I'll write more about the course this week. Cool...straw bales seem to be used for a lot of community builds. Funnily enough I recently watched a video of a Canadian expert Chris Magwood made by Passive Buildings Canada, interesting stuff.

  5. I never thought of moving a broccoli plant, but just read about someone else doing it for seed saving purposes, actually moving the plants to a different farm to isolate them. You do have a lot of interesting places to visit, so much history, so fascinating.

    1. Hi Michelle, yep I can't remember what first gave me the idea to move brassica plants but it works well, sometimes I've moved them in autumn rather than spring but it depends what's growing in the other beds. For me, I think they recover a bit better if they're moved in autumn but I've checked on the one I've just moved and it's still putting out new growth = at least a bit more food!

      There's a lot of great places to visit around here....definitely spoilt for choice.

  6. How interesting that course must have been! One of the employees at the farm I volunteer at lives in a straw bale house with his wife and 2 young children - and apparently loves it!

    That PSB with cheese sauce looks yum! It's been a while since I've drizzled cheese sauce over a veg - think I'll do that for tonight. And what a cool app!

    1. Ooh lovely Margaret, I'd love to live in a straw bale house...just need to get myself a bit of land to build one on!

      Mmm, cheese sauce is good. I just realised that in the photo it looks like there's a big cube of cheese or butter on top of the veg but that's actually a cube of cauliflower stalk :)