Posts Tagged ‘harvesting’

Whoooosh…..And there goes another year. Three weeks ago, 2016 sauntered right in and made itself at home while my head is still entertaining 2015. Time is a strange thing. It has absolutely no regard for my preferred pace of life. Marching along steadily, refusing to wait for me as I ramble off-course. If Time were not so regimented and I not so easily distracted, we might make better friends. Meanwhile, we put up with each other’s shortcomings and carry on regardless. As with any fractious relationship, a little venting eases the irritation. And what better bugbear to start with, than this very blog.

At the beginning, Time left lots of room for blogging. But the novelty lost it’s sheen somewhat when everyday stuff demanded attention. Other activities got priority and Time refused to wait for me to catch up. Time does not tolerate excuses. He is well known for forging ahead regardless. I have noticed that the more activities I plan to cram into each day the more indifferent Time becomes. So perhaps I need to narrow my focus to only include the activities that mean the most to me and allocate a realistic amount of energy to them.

Blogging is most definitely among my favourite activities. I’ve selected a few favourite images from 2015. A look back through the year helps me mend my relationship with Time and be more forgiving. After all it has been a great year! It also helps me reflect on what activities are closest to my heart.


I love the treasures that foraging brings, the act of gathering food from the hedgerows is such a delight. Thinking up new ways to use my bounty is so much fun! Home remedies, food, cosmetics…the list is endless. I’ll never tire of learning and exploring more about the natural world and as for making things by hand- it’s the perfect antidote for someone who spends too much time pushing pixels around a screen for a living.


Our new veggie patch of raised beds was a great success this year and for a few months we just ate what came out of the garden. That gave us a great sense of satisfaction with the added bonus of great-tasting, chemical-free, fresh ingredients.

If there are any fitting subjects that you would like me to cover here on Green Jam Jar please let me know. I like to think there are folk getting something out of my monthly musings – other than the other end of therapeutic venting! (But therapeutic venting alone is good enough!)  So, with your help, and that of my old pal time, Time, let’s take Green Jam Jar into 2016!

Happy New Year to you all! Make it the year to follow your heart.

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BeechLeafNoyeau_SMI’m not one-hundred percent sure what Noyeau actually means but from mooching around blogville I’m picking up that it is a tipple with a vague association with brandy. Interestingly, the addition of a single French word always transforms the mundane into instant sophistication. So I’m sticking with it.

It’s too late in the year to make this drink as the beech (Fagus sylvatica) leaves have now lost their fresh, bright green lustre. When they first emerge in spring they are beautifully soft and downy with a translucency that plays with the early May sunlight. And that is what we are looking for. I picked my leaves at the end of May and already they were beginning to take on a more robust, viridian hue. Sensing the urgency, I filled a large bag. Although it looked like a big harvest, when I packed them tightly into a Kilner jar they only half filled it. But that was fine – it seemed a bit mean to strip the tree bare. I washed the leaves before making sure to press them down into the jar with some force. Apparently that’s important. I then poured in enough gin to cover the leaves and left them to stew for four weeks.

Four weeks later I strained the gin from the leaves, squishing them to extract as much liquid as possible. The boozy leaves went on my compost heap – your  compost heap is allowed to get a little tipsy once in a while. As with us- moderation is key. The gin had taken on a greeny-brown hue. I then made a syrup by boiling sugar and water. When it was cool, I added it to the gin along with the obligatory splosh of brandy and decanted the lot into a suitable bottle. And….oo la laa…. we have noyeau! Drink neat or enjoy with a mixer of choice. I’m going to sip mine, very lady-like, with tonic water… and a certain air of decadence…

As a guideline should you want to make this next spring: for every 100ml of beech leaf-infused gin you will need about 43ml water and 32g of sugar to make the syrup. I added a modest 15ml brandy per 100ml but you may prefer more.


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EcoView_JamesFinlaysonJames Finlayson is a green freelance writer. He become interested in water conservation issues when he first started working for http://www.londonpumps.co.uk, where he still works today. In his spare time James loves to cook and grow his own veg.

Me: Hi James, I know you are passionate about water conservation – can you share your thoughts on the subject with Green Jam Jar readers?
JF: Gallons of one of our most important natural resources falls all around us and leaks into the ground almost daily and many of us do nothing about it. Of course, this natural resource is nothing other than water. On average, each person uses about 150 litres of water per day, and for many, that water comes through our pipes from water treatment plants which purify the water so that we can drink it. But the majority of our water usage is for purposes other than drinking, like watering plants and lawns, washing clothes and vehicles, and flushing the toilet.


150 litres of water per day? Wow! So basically we are wasting the valuable resource that is drinking water. What can we do about it?
JF: Harvesting rain water is a great way to save on purified water, and it helps the environment, which is always a good thing! You can also save money on water bills. Another advantage to harvesting rain water is that you get to have your very own source of water. This may not seem like a great benefit, but it will in those hot summer days when the country’s suffering from a sudden drought and there’s barely any water coming from the taps. You’ll be the envy of your neighbours with all your harvested rain!

Me: What’s the best way to go about collecting rain water?
JF: The best way to collect and save rain water is to set up a harvesting system. There are plenty of different types of systems, ranging from simple water butts to whole house water systems like the Lowara rainwater harvesting system. Most systems work in the same way.

Me: Can you explain how a water harvesting system works?
JF: Rain water is collected from the drains around the roof of your house. The water is diverted down a pipe to your water butt. This is where you decide if you want a simple butt or something that will supply rain water directly to your house. If you choose something more professional, the water is then be filtered to get rid of dirt and residue from the environment. It then drains into a collection tank that can be buried out of sight beneath your garden.
This it is then hooked up to your house so you can use cleansed rainwater to run your washing machine and flush your toilet.
A simpler water butt is great if you just want to use rainwater to water plants in the garden or wash your car. But if your household uses a lot of water you may want to connect it to a good harvesting system with pump. This basically provides your home with a second source of readily usable water, and the best thing is, you will never have to pay for rain water.

Me: Sounds like a terrific idea. Thanks James for the useful information!

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