FROM THE MILL
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If you visit us this week, you may notice some new additions to our Gardens which our Head Gardener has installed. Several Hedgehog Houses have been placed in quiet areas to provide a safe location for Hedgehogs to hibernate in this winter.
In the last 30 years Hedgehog numbers have fallen by as much as 50%, leaving piles of twigs, branches and garden rubbish in the winter can really help. Our Hedgehog Houses are wooden boxes; filled with straw and are covered in polythene & soil to protect them, as well as leaves and branches piled on top.
Why not build your own Hedgehog House this winter and encourage these prickly yet adorable creatures to rest, hibernate and raise their hoglets in your garden > https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/give-nature-a-home-in-your-garden/garden-activities/giveahogahome/
Planting different crops together is useful for several reasons. Some help control pests, improve pollination, add nutrients, fill up some unused space or just provide some support to grow.
Runner Beans are nitrogen fixing so improve the soil, planting with Sweetcorn gives the bean plants something to grow through. Plant a few Sweet Peas with the Beans to attract pollinators
Marigolds and Nasturtiums attract pollinating insects, plant around the edges or in between crops like Courgettes, Nasturtiums will self seed in a mix of different colours plus the leaves and flowers are edible,
Onions & Leeks planted with Carrots help deter Carrot root fly and Spring Onions & Chives planted with Lettuce will help keep aphids away.
Radish and Lettuce both grow fast and are quick to harvest, sow in rows between other slower growing vegetables like carrots and beans early in the season.
Jordans Mill is home to all sorts of wildlife, not all easy to see but worth looking for!
In the recent very hot weather the gardens and meadow have been full of insects; Butterflies, Moths, Dragonflies and other bugs have been seen including some which are quite unusual.
Several different large Dragonflies can often be seen hunting smaller insects on hot sunny days; Brown, Southern and Migrant Hawkers, Common Darters and Black-tailed Skimmers. The smaller Damselflies are very dainty and prefer the areas of rough cut grass, pale coloured White-legged Damselfly can sometimes be found in the meadow but can be quite hard to spot sitting in the grass.
Unlike Dragonflies they sit with the their wings folded, look for white females and very pale blue males amongst the more common blues.
The moth trap has been very full in the mornings after the warm nights; lots of Hawk Moths, a Scarlet Tiger moth and recently a rare Jersey Tiger. Both very colourful and sometimes active during the day, bright orange colours under their wings make them easy to spot.
Our meadows are full of Grasshoppers, they vary a lot in size and colour but are mostly quite small and either green and brown. Roesel’s Bush Crickets usually have short stubby wings making them flightless, a scarce long winged form was found in the grass near the bee hives.
Crickets are less common, a little bigger and can be identified by the long thin antennae on their heads.
Why not visit us to see what types of wildlife you can spot?! We're open Wednesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Don't forget to share your findings on social media and tag our pages!
Photo: White Legged Damselfly captured by Richard Webb.
Bedfordshire has always been an important county for vegetable production, during the 1800’s the area was producing a wide range of crops on small plots, links to London and other markets first by canal and then rail created a large increase in the number of market gardens.
The Mill Gardens keep this heritage alive, using small plots with different rotations and demonstrate how crops like cereals were grown alongside vegetables. One of our rotations is the “Norfolk Four Course” originating from the county, it was developed by “Turnip Townshend” in the 17th Century as a way of protecting the ground from erosion and returning nutrients to the soil.
Charles Townshend spent most of his life working in politics, he retired to an estate in Norfolk to concentrate on his interest in farming, rotating crops and ploughing in Clover allowed him grow more crops with better yields.
We use Barley, Wheat, Clover and root crops in the area nearest the shop. On large scale farms roots such as Turnips were grown to feed livestock, they produced manure to improve the soil and Clover is used instead of a traditional fallow year, this adds nutrients and helps to smother weeds.
By the middle of May most of the beds in our gardens have been sown and planted. Wheat, Barley, Rye and Spelt are growing with all sorts of vegetables plus lots of different ornamentals, the range varies throughout the year so there is always something interesting to see.
The much loved desert that many shy away from home making ... the meringue! This simple no-fuss recipe will have you tucking into your delicious melt in the mouth desert in no time. The great thing about the meringue is that it can be combined with whatever you have in your cupboards/fridge - we hope you enjoy!
4 large organic egg whites, at room temperature
115g caster sugar
115g icing sugar
1. Heat the oven to 110C/ 100C fan/gas ¼.
2. Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick liner or parchment paper (meringue can stick on greaseproof paper and foil).
3. Tip 4 large egg whites into a large clean mixing bowl (not plastic). Beat them on medium speed with an electric hand whisk until the mixture resembles a fluffy cloud and stands up in stiff peaks when the blades are lifted.
4. Now turn the speed up and start to add 115g caster sugar, a dessertspoonful at a time. Continue beating for 3-4 seconds between each addition. It’s important to add the sugar slowly at this stage as it helps prevent the meringue from weeping later. However, don’t over-beat. When ready, the mixture should be thick and glossy.
5. Sift one third of the 115g icing sugar over the mixture, then gently fold it in with a big metal spoon or rubber spatula. Continue to sift and fold in the remaining icing sugar a third at a time. Again, don’t over-mix. The mixture should now look smooth and billowy.
6. Scoop up a heaped dessertspoonful of the mixture. Using another dessertspoon, ease it on to the baking sheet to make an oval shape. Or just drop them in rough rounds, if you prefer.
7. Bake for 1 ½-1 ¾ hours in a fan oven, 1 ¼ hours in a conventional or gas oven, until the meringues sound crisp when tapped underneath and are a pale coffee colour.
8. Leave to cool on the trays or a cooling rack. (The meringues will now keep in an airtight tin for up to 2 weeks, or frozen for a month.) Serve two meringues sandwiched together with a generous dollop of softly whipped double cream
This recipe has been sourced from:https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/ultimate-meringue