Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Local food and adventures in fish boxes

Ok, pardon for the first snowy picture - yup I awoke to snow and gale force winds today (bit of a shock) - hence the snow splattered against the windows upstairs today!
OH, how I've missed the wind my living room is upstairs and this is the snow/hail was thrown at the windows this far up!! The weather didn't interfere much with my the plans for the day. Just meant a very cold (snow in the face, can't quite stand up in the wind out there, whilst feeding the hens) start to the day.
 NO biggie just more clothes (think micheln man) and rocks in the pockets.
 Anyway, having been obsesing about fish boxes and local food I finally had a blow to the head, I think the more 'wordy' among us call them an epiphany.
I'll explain.............I've been thinking and rabbiting about eating local food and obsessing about our climate - then whiffling on about fish boxes on the beach. UM, hello!!! Fish boxes are so handy! I've just whiffled on about that and you can grow food in them - hmm. Local food also requires thought as to what on earth you can grow at this time of year. Looking 'oot [out] there' - with not alot growing, we weren't going to grow much just yet.  The only thing even popping this head up in my garden right now is my Rhubarb (Rheum rhubarbarum) and that aint giving me a crumble anytime soon. Look at it - whilst it's up; its asleep!! I wonder if there might be a way of growing it more quickly?......
Anyway, back to the local food thing - rhubarb is one of the first fruits in the UK to fruit - even here. I love this plant – it’s so hardy, so encouraging and up earlier than just about anything else. I don’t know why – but rhubarb does extraordinarily well in our climate.  It’s originally from Siberia, which is probably why it likes it here. Whilst it’s a lot colder and drier in Siberia in the winter than here, our summer temperatures do compare quite nicely. There you have it, come to Orkney and experience a Siberian summer! I'm seeing rhubarb in the shops here - it's a forced early crop in houses from the ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ in Yorkshire, It tastes sweet and lovely, a real treat at the end of the winter, but I won’t buy any from that far away - not local (and a bit like being in jail for a vegetable/fruit) - therefore I decided to see if I could find any locally.....

I asked at our local greengrocer/ironmonger/health food store – unfortunately no one locally produces an early crop. I did get a quizzical look from the lady in the shop. ‘Have you nane (none) in yer gairden [your garden]’. I do, I replied – but it’s not up yet. ‘It’s too cauld yet, ye’ll hae tae wait on by a peedie blink tae hae yer rhubarb crumble lass’ [You’ll have to wait a short while yet to have your crumble girl!]. Um no, maybe I can do it now, therefore - I decided to think about how I can do it on my own, at home, earlier. In my local garden evening class the variety 'Timperley Early ' was suggested by the local garden guru chap as being the best variety for early growing, often used for forcing. Oh look, I found a bit of it locally......

We can't force rhubarb here with normal pots they would blow away in my garden. Bingo I've had an idea.......! I have found the very same growing rhubarb crowns in the local shop. Look they are trying to get out of the bags.
I have fish boxes and I have a dark shed like the ones in Yorkshire where they force rhubarb. Good lord I feel like an idiot! The solution to early fruit in my climate depends upon thinking in the box, a fish box to be precise.
I bought the rhubarb,  I found a fish box found the compost in the shed and brought them alltogether. Big box, dark room, early rhubarb crown - woo hoo- local early fruit - I'm expecting my first crop soon - with the help of my shed and a fish box. By which time the outdoor garden stuff will be fruitng. One for local food and adventures in fish boxes!
I'm hoping it may be a beginning of a local food being helped by adventures in fish boxes! Don't worry I will let it out for good behaviour later in the year.


  1. Very clever. Those plastic boxes are used for lobsters in Maine and are always washing up on the beach. Great idea to find something to reuse them for and get people to collect them off the beaches.

  2. Hi Fay,
    Thats a brilliant idea and I might just pinch it.Rhubarb crumble is one of the best puds in the world.
    I hope you don't get too much more snow,we've only got horrible showers blowing across.Spring is on hold for a day or two!

  3. So funny is your attitude to the dismal Orkney weather, if you didn't laugh you would cry so I guess its a case of make the best of it. I should think fish boxes would have drainage!

  4. Fabulous inspiration despite another rocks-in-the-pocket day. I heard the forecast last night and wondered about you... Enjoy your canny early rhubarb taste sensation, and I hope winter runs away again. There are flowers to grow and a polytunnel to erect! You know I need my vicarious polytunnel experience...

  5. Er, I don't like rhubarb, but I think after your dedication, it would and will taste delectable!

  6. The scenic pictures at the top of your post are beautiful! I'd love to visit your part of the world one day!
    We'll be getting our garden going this year and I love rhubarb!

  7. Thank you all for your lovely comments - I've been away to the mainland and will reply to them all as soon as I can. xx

  8. Alistair - If I didn't laugh I'd cry buckets most days - watch out for a post coming soon - we had terrible snow on Thursday!!!

    Welcome sandpiper! Nice to see you - its a truly wonderful place to visit!

    Janet - Thank you for worrying - its been horrific here - and of course the day I had to fly south, gales and severe snow - but we did get away! I do hope it settles soon. I'm hoping the tunnel will be up by the early summer - !

    Elephants eye - I do like it, but we've probably less choice for fruit growing than most folk - so if it grows I try and cultivate a taste for it!!

    Julie you pinch away - I'm daft as a plank not to have thought of it before!

  9. Carolyn - they are so helpful for many uses - I love them and you're right it also gets them off the beach! Thank you for popping by!