Sunday, 31 May 2015


Mama’s Sunday Lunch
My mother in-law came to the UK from Eastern Europe a long time ago.
She cooked this meal for us many times. I never quite achieve the same memorable taste of those formal Sunday afternoon lunches.
Horse racing on the TV. Table groaning with food. Handed a glass and a bottle of vodka. Sit! Drink! Eat!
We had a mutual respect. She never really forgave me for marrying her daughter.
Forty six years later! Maybe her opinion has changed.
Food was always important to her.  When your early years involve railway trucks and camps. Constant fear and hunger. Breadcrumbs are precious.
She had a lump hammer.
Pounding meat tenderizes it. I have a small meat hammer.
A vegetable cube would be crushed and mixed with flour. Dusted in this mixture the pork chop would then be dipped in beaten egg covered in breadcrumbs and very slowly fried.
This was always served with mashed potatoes. Cream and butter added and when available chopped dill. 
Sliced cucumber was salted and mixed with tinned cream. A little vinegar added to sour the taste. Today I buy fresh sour cream from the supermarket.
Pickled cucumbers were always on the table. The bucket full of them kept under the bed. Non’t ask.
Today we substitute white wine for vodka and add a salad.
Watercress, spinach and sorrel from the AP. Boiled eggs and anchovies.
Olive oil and whole grain mustard salad dressing.
A whole new generation!
Whisper it softly.

Mama’s pork chops were the best!


Two of the four tubes of the NFT system and now running fine. Purely for the sake of my own sanity I decided to switch off the top two tubes for the time being and divert the water to a DWC system.
The good news is that the two troughs I bought were cheap. £4.50 each The colour? Oh well you can’t have everything. Cut appropriate size holes in the ends and the plumbing was quickly completed using 22 mm push fit waste pipe. I cut four gaskets out of a plastic milk bottle for each side of the two bulkhead fittings. 
Two small sheets of polystyrene from B&Q were less than £6. Enough for two maybe three more troughs. 50mm for the net pots and 25mm for on growing of seeds germinated in rock wool. They both float on the water surface. Small cut out for the bulkhead fitting. Air is the next consideration. Approximately one air stone per meter is recommended. I have an existing solar powered air pump supplying two stones. I simply moved this from the FT to the DWC. This will only produce air when the sun shines. Not perfect but I think a fair compromise. Not seen in the photo but the water drops down into a 225 Lt  barrel underneath creating additional oxygenation.
So far so good. I may need to fit some sort of plastic cloche to cover them.
Planning on this only running during the summer but we will see.

In the rear of the photo you may see some of the anti slug methods I am using. Copper tape and wire and small quantities of Ferric Phosphate. I still do the late evening run with a torch but the numbers of slugs I am removing are dramatically reduced.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Monday, 25 May 2015


I am having a lot of trouble with slugs.
I placed small trays of beer in the GB and have taken to searching at night with a torch.
Not much luck.
The plants in the NFT tubes have been particularly badly affected.
The standard blue slug pellets contain METALDEHYDE  and are not suitable for use with the fish.
So I have done some research and come up with a few solutions.
Apparently slugs don’t like copper. I will get some copper tape tomorrow but in the meantime I stripped the insulation from some spare wire and wound this around the NFT tubes at intervals. 
Copper Wire Slug Barrier

Coffee grounds are another slug repellent. Apparently they find the caffeine bitter! I have also read an article about using coffee grounds to add trace elements but it was only in very very small quantities. So for the moment not my first choice. Need to do a bit more research.

There is another form of slug pellets rated safe for organic gardens. These contain FERRIC PHOSPHATE. These are said to break down into Iron and Phosphate so should be safe.

Visiting the garden center tomorrow.

Smoked Haddock Stack

Not so much a recipe as a serving suggestion.
Creamed Spinach surrounds an island of mashed potato topped with Smoked Haddock and a poached egg.
The cream spinach is made with a simple white sauce to which I add grated cheese and the spinach. I wilt the spinach in a little water and then chop with scissors. I find a little grated nutmeg enhances the taste of spinach. Steam the fish above the potatoes.

As it is a holiday here we had this with a bottle of Prosecco and freshly squeezed peach juice. Peach Bellini.

Smoked Haddock Stack

Friday, 22 May 2015


A long time ago, ‘Fish on Friday’ would mean the overnight lorry from Grimsby or Hull. In those days my family ran a fish and chip shop. The fresh cod and haddock would be delivered in the night.Kept cool on ice. Later on we changed to frozen at sea. Somehow getting a couple of blocks of cod  out of the cold room was never quite the same.
Today it means a live fish delivery.
I have decided to add some Mirror Carp to the main tank. This is the first time I have bought fish online. 
I bought  15 Mirror Carp from a well known Carp Co. This morning the driver texted me to confirm they would be delivered within the next hour.
On time my wife signed for a large box and placed it prominently on the living room floor. Bless!
Now at home I carried it through to the garden. Inside the twin oxygen filled bags the Carp were all alive. I floated the bag on the surface of the tank and had a cup of tea. This would allow the temperatures to equalise.
After about 30 minutes I removed the rubber bands and gradually added water from the tank. They immediately swam away to the darkest corner of the tank.
Delivery was right day right place and on time. I am happy with the service and would buy again.
They are slowly venturing out of the dark corners and exploring the tank.
Hanging around the SLO, and going with the flow.
Sorry couldn't resist that awful pun.
Bed with no supper. The tank is now closed up for the night.

Breakfast will be fun.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015


Ben asked me to post some photos of my system.
All water supply pipes are 22 mm push fit. The GB are animal troughs from E bay. They are drained by 21.5 mm waste bulk head fittings. Warmth and effort and you can, connect the two together.
The top shelf holds two filters. Both constructed from plastic storage boxes and then painted black.
The first is a 3 stage pre filter.  £1 shop heaven! Cheap plastic dust pan brushes ( with the handles cut off) The a 50 meter roll of gutter- guard . Then scourer pads!
Stage two is a bio filter The water trickles through holes drilled in a 22mm pipe. Through various multi fibre clothes and the base is filled with plastic bottle tops and Rawlplugs.

The LED light are only for additional lighting. These shelves are in the entrance to a shed and only get light from the front.
They are 10 Watt R/B spectrum cost £7 and waterproof. You get what you pay for!!
I love the ‘Purple Haze” at night!

The FT is a standard UK loft cold water tank. Price was right at £10 second hand. It was an exact fit for the space I had. 5 cm insulation under the cladding. I am unsure if I would buy again. There are baffles inside. The tank is centre drain. Fingerlings do not create the movement to move waste to the drain. OK  with the small power head or bigger fish.
However this is a particularly good photo of the anti-jump netting. Plastic cut to size.

The photo from the front also shows the fruit pot. In here I have three dwarf Raspberry canes and in the vertical tube Strawberries.

At the moment this is all connected to the main system.
When I introduce new fish into the system I drop an additional pump into this FT. Switch off the feed from the main system. The additional pump then feeds into the 3 stage filter etc. This reduces the water level in this FT and isolates  this part of the system. I can then add salt etc as required.

Not seen but I have a plastic curtain that I can drop from top to bottom in the winter.

Sunday, 3 May 2015


A wet Saturday night! Bank holiday weekend.
We have eaten our broccoli soup. Feeling good!
‘Age Concern’ says that dancing improves coordination and reduces the risk of Alzheimers in mature adults. 
Russian vodka from the freezer at minus 18*C and salted popcorn convinces me They may be on to something.
The red blue spectrum LED lights in the garden draw us like moths to a, “Purple Haze”
Jimi, sighs and The wind cries Mary!
Then it hits me.
High intensity strobe lights!
High density illumination for the plants with minimal electricity costs!

I’m Jumping Jack Flash and its just a Gas!


How is your day going?
It’s a bank holiday weekend here in the UK. Which means it’s raining!
Wife, got called into work but thats Ok we are going to my daughters for dinner.
Er No! She is not feeling well. Change of plan.
Phone rang.”A mink” has moved onto your boat! A what! We have a small boat on The Kennet and Avon Canal a few kilometers south from home.
Now this is not the USA. I do not have a high powered rifle. Even if I had I wouldn’t. You know what I mean. I am thinking furry rats. Bait. The only chocolate we have is my wife’s uneaten Easter Egg. I set off thinking. Here minky minky! No. These are American mink. Howdy Mr mink? Yogi Bear! Smarter than the average bear! keeps going round my head.
Nervously I eat some chocolate. Harry Potter!
When I get there he has gone! Moved on. Not before he has left me many presents. Hm next time raisons. I brush and wash the floors. Yes! Dear with bleach.
Dinner? We have some broccoli in the fridge. Broccoli and Stilton soup? All right broccoli and Danish Blue soup.
Peel and roughly chop an onion. In a pan with water. Roughly chopped broccoli in steamer above. Heat say thirty minutes. Cool. Blend. When you reheat add the cheese.
I am starting some more seeds.
When dealing with very small seeds I use a plastic chop stick we got free from Uncle Ben.
I open a bottle of wine and have a drink. I deserve it!

Only then do I realize I left the Easter Egg on the boat!