FROM THE MILL
Keep up to date with everything that's going on at Jordans Mill and never miss a thing.
Originally a working mill and factory site; the gardens opened in 2013, designed as an ornamental food garden with small plots of cereals grown with vegetables plus ornamentals planted to give a constant display of colour which attract bees & butterflies. A small orchard includes Apples and Pears, the fruit cage produces Currants and various berries.
Bedfordshire has a long history of Market Gardening and much of we do is linked to this heritage. Cereals are sown in autumn and spring, we don’t grow enough here to use them but the small plots are a great way to see how they all grow, this year we have sourced Barley seed from Italy and other organic varieties from the UK.
A wide range of vegetables are all produced on site from seed. Sowing starts in late January to have the beds planted by mid May, different rotations and successional sowing mean as something is harvested we have a new crop waiting to go in so there is always plenty to see.
No chemicals are used on our plants and much of what we grow is lifted fresh and available for sale next to the shop.
Watching the gardens change over the seasons is very rewarding, in just a few months beds that were dug over in winter are starting to fill with plants and seedlings, empty beds we cut back last year are bursting into colour. As the days get longer and warmer all this work attracts an amazing variety of wildlife.
The RHS website has some great ideas to get involved, the smallest garden can be a colourful place to grow your own tasty vegetables, and bring nature closer to home.
If you've been meaning to test out the number one trending coffee, look no further!
The Korean coffee drink taking the internet by storm, dalgona coffee is like a cappucino turned on its head, with the frothy coffee on top and the milk underneath. It only requires three ingredients to make and you can have it hot or cold. The hardest part is getting your picture just right!
Our Head Chef has sourced the following recipe:
2 tbsp instant coffee or espresso powder
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp very hot water
400ml/14fl oz milk
1. Add the instant coffee, sugar and hot water to a medium mixing bowl. Using an electric hand-held mixer, whip the coffee mixture until it is light brown, fluffy and holds stiff peaks when the whisk is removed.
2. Heat the milk, if desired, and divide between two heatproof glasses. Spoon dollops of the frothed coffee mixture on top and smooth out with a spoon. Serve.
This recipe has been sourced from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/dalonga_coffee_20606
More migrant birds have been arriving this month. The first Swallows and Sand Martins have been flying over, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers are singing in and around the gardens and even a few bats have been seen flying at dusk.
Peacock, Orange Tip and Comma Butterflies plus a few Damselflies are now emerging in the warm weather. Unlike the much larger Dragonflies these are tiny Blue Tailed and Large Red Damselfly have been seen on the calm sunny days, slightly larger Banded Demoiselle are common all over the gardens and Meadow.
Some of the wildlife here is easy to overlook, the gardens are home to all sorts of animals, reptiles and insects, in the summer months a harmless Moth trap is placed in one of the meadows, the special light attracts all sorts of large Hawk Moths, plus some strange beetles and other bugs.
Grass Snakes are very elusive quickly moving into cover if disturbed, on warm summer days they can be found basking in a sunny spot, often on piles of rotting garden waste which they use to lay and incubate their eggs.
The Kingfishers are probably nesting now so have been seen less frequently, our regular Little Egret is being joined by two or three more. A Barn Owl has also been seen hunting along the roadside verges near the Mill, an Owl box has been put up in a secluded spot which will hopefully encourage them to nest in the next few years.
Using green manures in beds that are empty at the end, or very early in the growing season is a great way of keeping weeding to a minimum, plus helping to improve soil structure and nutrients.
With the various rotations in the Mill Gardens we often sow different types at various times of the year; Forage Peas, Italian Rye, Phacelia and Clover are all easy to grow and have numerous benefits. They can be cut and dug in to the beds before sowing starts in the spring or removed and composted depending on the season.
Phacelia tanacetifolia is fast growing and has the added benefit of very attractive flowers which bees and butterflies love, followed by twisting seed heads, we sow this in late summer/early Autumn and again in the spring. Red & White Clover are also great for insects and look very ornamental when in full flower.
Forage Peas are sown in late Autumn to overwinter, part of the Legume family of plants the roots have small nodules which form a symbiotic relationship with Nitrogen fixing bacteria, this allows them to “fix” Nitrogen creating a natural plant food.
Different green manures can also been sown together to combine their benefits, Tares is a form of Vetch & Rye Grass can be mixed, either by sowing together or Rye first in the autumn then Tares broadcast over the top in the spring.
More info on the benefits and how to grow Green manures can be found on the RHS website.
Last spring our hives were moved to a new location in a small wild flower meadow, with the help of a local bee keeper we now have two very healthy colonies that are thriving. Now the weather is warmer work has started to get our first crop of honey.
Over the winter months the bees cluster together to keep warm keeping the temperature inside at around 25 C, feeders containing a mixture of sugar and water are sometimes placed in the roof to provide extra food. They use a mixture of saliva, beeswax and plant resins call Propolis to seal the hive, as the weather warms up in spring the hives are opened and checked.
Colonies in winter are typically made up of 10 – 15,000 bees, this rises up to 50,000 in summer. With the hives opened the frames are all removed and checked, a smoker is used to make the bees go down into the hive while they are being disturbed. Queens are marked with a small blob of bright paint on their backs so they are easier to find.
Both the hives are now full so extra boxes called “Supers” are placed on top, a yellow plastic excluder is used to keep the queen in the lower part where she will continue laying eggs to raise new brood, a worker only lives for 5 – 6 weeks in the summer so new bees are constantly being born, the queen can live for several years.
The new boxes contain the frames where the honey will be harvested, over the next few months the hives will be regularly inspected and the honey extracted, the bees are now very busy all over the gardens and meadow, more updates to follow!