The Wartime Garden: Plot to Plate

You may think that we would be austere for our Wartime Christmas but you underestimate the rural Wartime spirit to barter, and the bartering we have being doing over the year was cashed in for something special for the holidays. We bartered spuds, assorted veg and a jar of chutney for ham and we bartered our time for a turkey. The sight of these goodies had this effect on Little D:

How a real Christmas is worth more than a corporate Christmas for kids.

On Christmas Eve we cooked the ham (someone on our Facebook Page pointed out that this looked like a pig, we hadn't noticed and did laugh when saw the pig). We love ham on Pig Row and one day when we can rent some land or buy some more pigs will make a comeback, to clear and manure the land. 

Piggy ham - the odd faces that appear.

Over the holidays Andrew has been reading John Seymour's views on pigs, a Christmas present with wonderful images that are sumptuous. 

Some great images from a second hand edition of self-sufficiency from John Seymour.

Pigs are useful creatures, they will clear the land for you, rooting out all the weeds and turning it over with their snouts. They are a necessary part of any small holding, get chickens and pigs will follow, get pigs and cows will follow, then will come wheat and barley. Though we may not be on the same scale as a small holding, we can dream of pigs and there wonderful usefulness on the plot and on the plate. Below is our wonderful Boxing Day omelette.

A good ham will last for days over Christmas and the last cuts will make a wonderful omelette with spare roast spuds.

Turkeys too have been recommended to us, to keep and raise. We have been warned by many people that they are incredibly stupid creatures from friends on our Facebook Page warning us to get the smallest holed chicken wire possible to stop them from poking their heads through and hanging themselves to tall tales of the demise of them in waterbutts. We can only assume that turkeys are depressed creatures and maybe a spell of therapy will help them. We decided to have turkey this year, it was the easier meat to barter for, as it is produced in mammoth numbers every years. 

No part of any animal should be wasted.

We went for a organic bronze turkey, it meant we had to give up some time to get it, a skill share moment that resulted in this:

We haven't eaten turkey in years and it was really enjoyed. Nothing was wasted, even the bones were boiled for stock and soup. That can be the problem with turkey in the average home. There is an incredible amount of waste, meat clinging to the bones thrown in the bin. Brown meat, never the favourite for many, forgotten in the back of the fridge. The inevitable farting that comes with turkey and brussel sprouts puts many off eating the leftovers, along with the few who somehow, give themselves food poisoning. We ate ours with Carol's family but the meat we had leftover we deep froze for future cooked meals, like curries. We left some out for sandwiches and we wasted nothing, not even the bones. Of course, all the vegetables came from the Wartime Garden including our first attempt to grow parsnips (this variety is Half Long Guernsey from 1852 bought from Thomas Etty). We sowed them late, using a bulb planter to take out a core of soil and replacing with our own compost and some sharp sand. We sowed three seeds to each station and the results speak for themselves.

Heritage parsnips showing that they do well with novice growers. 

Half Long Guernsey Parsnips - if we can grow them for the first time, so can you.

We roasted them beside our own spuds, brussel sprouts (none for Andrew, he hates them - yes, he's wrong), carrots and parsnips mashed together and roasted parsnips. The final plate was a wonderful feast for the eyes and tastebuds.

Pig Row Christmas Meal 2013.

The great thing was that we appreciated every mouthful, as it only cost us our time, and that time was well spent. Plus, when we went for a walk on Boxing Day to burn off the lovely food we got to dress Little D up like this:

Wonderful ways to dress your boys. Let;s avoid beige and black.

We hope you all had a good Christmas and a Happy New Year. Here's to 2014 on the Wartime Plot as we expand into poultry and bringing more of the garden into use.

You can view more on our #wartimegarden plans on twitter and through the following links:

Wartime Garden: Harvest Festival

Digging for Victory: The Guardian Blog