Munsterweb website design

In all of our work over the past 2 years to get Good & Green running as a business, one of the most important developments for us outside of the garden itself has been the design, construction and layout of our website. As a marketing tool and means of bringing our smallholding to the public, our website has been invaluable.

We have had so many compliments on the site that I have to give a big mention to the man and the company behind it… William Llŷr Jones (Llŷr to those who can pronounce it, and William to those who have difficulty!) and his website design company – Munsterweb, who are based in Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

At a time (still ongoing) when my attention is largely concerned with the work of the smallholding, Llŷr singlehandedly came up with a format for a site for us that would reflect our business and our style and we all think he did a fantastic job. He also added a bit of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) magic to ensure we can be found in the search engines for relevant keywords and phrases. The result has been a very healthy flow of web traffic – in fact, our website has replaced most of our traditional forms of advertising which has helped keep our marketing costs down.

We are delighted with the layout, the artwork, the links and the use of our photos to show off our work. It has been the single best business tool we have had for potential customers, regular customers, and is great PR when applying for grants, bank loans etc. etc.

I must also add that he has had great patience with me in training a commited technophobe to blog and he set the site up to be very user friendly… that was important for me, with a fear of the technology! So to have ongoing professional backup to keep the site running and update photos is very comforting.

THANK YOU LLŶR!!!

Link: Munsterweb Web Design & SEO Nenagh

Courgette Cake

from ‘100 great recipes – Farmers Market’

A variation of the more familiar carrot cake – the courgette adds sweetness and a moist texture. A half and half mixture with carrots is also an option.

Ingredients:
3 free range eggs
75g golden caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
225g courgettes, trimmed and grated
25g butter, melted
25g sultanas

Icing:
175g full-fat cream cheese (eg Philadelphia)
1tbsp lemon or orange juice
75g icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180c,350f or gas mark 4.
2. Lightly oil and line the base of an 8inch round cake tin.
3. Place the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk until very pale and thick.
4.Fold in the courgettes. Carefully fold in the flour. Drizzle over the melted butter and fold in. Add sultanas.
5. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25-35 mins or until springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for 5 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
6.Beat together the cheese, lemon juice and icing sugar until just combined. Spread over the top of the cake.

variation – substitute 25g ground almonds for 25g of the flour.

Fresh produce from our garden

Our farm gate sales are now up and running 2 months and business is going well.

We harvest every Friday and Saturday to sell from our log cabin beside the garden and tunnel and regular passing trade is building up steadily. Our regular veg box customers are a great core to the business and we very much appreciate their weekly orders.

As the summer progresses the range of produce is increasing – and we are adding new items weekly. The tunnel ensures that we have crops earlier than would be possible outside – and we now have a great range of salads, scallions, potatoes, carrots, courgettes and soon will have cucumbers. We are still topping up our own produce from an organic supplier when we are waiting for our crops, but the garden is doing very well this year and things are coming on quickly.

We still have capacity to take on weekly veg box customers who have the added benefit of 15% free extra produce. So for a box costing 20 euro you get 23 euro produce. If you are interested in joining this scheme you are welcome to get in touch.

Spiced potato & bean salad with roasted red peppers

from Avoca Salads

A substantial salad to have on its own or with barbequed meat or fish. Easy to prepare ahead of time.

Ingredients:
3 red peppers, seeded and cut into thick strips
8 tbsps olive oil
500g new potatoes, washed and halved
2 tsps powdered cajun spice
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 chillies, finely chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Preheat to oven to 180c.
Toss the red pepper strips in 2 tbsps olive oil and roast for 10-15mins, turning occasionally. Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover with clingfilm. Peel when cool enough to handle.

Toss the potatoes in the cajun spice and remaining olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast for 30-40 mins or until tender. You need to toss the potatoes once or twice during this time.

When the potatoes are cooked, combine with the beans, scallions, garlic, chilli and roasted peppers. Toss so everyting is well coated. Allow to cool and add the parsley, salt and pepper and toss again.

A BIG thank you to our helpers

Since early Spring we have been constantly busy keeping up with sowing, transplanting, planting out, hoeing, weeding, manuring, rotavating etc. etc. With our new tunnel we have been working extra hard to bring on all our new tunnel crops – tomatoes, cucumbers, french beans etc and the volume of work is a little knee weakening at times… The tunnel is now fully planted and looking good. All the crops are doing well, and, as we approach the summer solstice (the longest day of the year and height of the growing season) we are very pleased with how the garden is going.

At this point I want to thank all the volunteer helpers who have boosted our efforts enormously all year. We have been very lucky to have offers of help from others who are interested in growing and learning and have been very generously giving their time to help us get the garden planted.

Una, Denise and Fiona have been helping us regularly and their help has pushed things along and stopped us running out of steam. Alexander has been with us for the month of June and Mark and Sally came for a day when we were urgent to get outdoor crops into the ground. And of course Jim and Rebecca have helped us time and again in keeping us on track.

It is really nice to have extra hands in, and extra thoughts on the garden and it is a great boost to feel part of a team. So a BIG thank you to you all – and looking forward to sharing our crops with you.

technical hitch

At the moment my internet connection is intermittent, which means that I can’t always access my emails. The problem is being repaired at the moment, so I hope to be back on the air regularly from next week.

I can access email from another location, but if you have any requests it would be a good idea to text or ring me on 087 6187908 to confirm.

Sorry for any inconvenience for the time being… I hope it will be a very temporary situation!

Direct sales from our gate

We are delighted to announce that we are offering a new service from our garden this Spring.

From Friday next, 30th April 2010 we are restarting our veg box service, for collection from our packing room every Friday and Saturday, 12pm – 7pm.

We are also open to customers to call and buy freshly harvested produce from our garden aswell as eggs and herb plants, 12 – 5pm every Friday and Saturday.

If you are interested in ordering a veg box please contact us, or we are looking forward to welcoming new and old customers to buy our produce and see our garden.

A new season has begun…

jimcronin_ploughingWell, after a very hectic season in 2009 we took time over the winter to think through our plans for the smallholding. After much thought, debate and calculation during the cold and dark months we have decided to press ahead with developing the smallholding with the kind support of Clare Local Development Company – leader funding.

So far we have added a new polytunnel which will replace quite a few of the outdoor beds which were difficult to make good use of with such poor summer weather. We are delighted with our new tunnel which gives us lots of room to grow loads more tomatoes, chillis, french beans, corn etc – all crops that depend on having protection and warm growing conditions. It is ready to be harrowed (with the kind help of Jim Cronin again). Jim is coming with the horses this week and we are looking foward to getting started on preparing the ground for this season’s crops.

Other developments on the holding are a woodturning workshop for John and a log cabin alongside the new tunnel that will be used for packing veg boxes and direct sales. So, from May we will be open for customers to call on Friday and Saturday every week – either to collect orders or to buy from the week’s harvest. More on that closer to the time, and we will put signs out with directions for anyone interested in calling.

So, all in all the Spring has sprung for us here – work is well underway, both on the new projects and in the tunnels. We are sowing and starting to plant the new season salads, spinach and herbs and, despite the cold weather all the tunnel crops are looking good.

I will add photos of our new setup when I get a chance – and hope to get back to adding recipes for all our new season produce.

Broccoli & Kale Stir Fry

from ‘www.vegbox-recipes.co.uk’

This is a great recipe for a quick lunchtime stir fry. It uses broccoli and kale (or dark-leafed cabbage or spinach) because these are so rich in nutrients. It can easily be adapted to have a Japanese style, if you prefer.

Ingredients
Serves 4

* 100g curly kale (or cabbage, or spinach
* 200g broccoli or calabrese (full heads or sprouting
* 150g mushrooms
* 2 cloves garlic
* 200g firm tofu (optional or halloumi cheese)
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
* 1 teaspoon barley miso paste (optional
* 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Method

1. Wash the kale and the broccoli. Dry well.

2. Slice the kale roughly and chop the broccoli into medium-sized chunks.

3. Peel & crush the garlic. Wipe any mud off the mushroom and chop it roughly.

4. Heat the oil in a wok until hot. Add the garlic and the mushrooms. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are lightly browned and their juice has evaporated.

5. Chop the tofu into cubes (if using). Add to the pan and cook on a high heat for 3 minutes, stirring regularly, until it starts to brown.

6. Add the broccoli. Stir and cover for 3 minutes.

7. Add the kale. Cover for 2 minutes, until it starts to wilt. Remove the wok from the heat.

8. Mix the sesame seeds with the tamari (or soy sauce) and miso paste, if using. Add to the pan. Mix well. Serve immediately.

Time From Cupboard-To-Table
15 minutes

Notes & Variations on Broccoli & Kale Stir Fry

For even more flavour, you can toast the sesame seeds in a dry wok, before you start cooking. Cook them for 2-3 minutes until some of them start to “pop”. This releases their delicious flavour.

You don’t have to use the Japanese flavourings. Use any stir fry sauce you have to hand.

The pig’s departure…

The tunnels are full of salads, herbs, rocket and spinach – as green as any time during the summer. It is a lovely contrast to the outdoor beds, that are looking a bit cold and empty compared to the height of the growing season. Our winter crops are doing well – leeks, cabbage, kale and cauliflower all growing well, but the summer crops have all finished outdoors at this stage and it is only inside that young leafy plants will do well. Our brussel sprouts are coming along nicely and hopefully will come into their own in December.

We still have work to do outside (surprise, surprise) – the empty beds have been ploughed and need harrowing and manuring for next year. We are hoping to sow green manure, but time is running out now, so it may be that we manure and cover the area in preparation for Spring. I have daily growing respect for all growers who have the skill and energy to keep up with the forces of nature in the garden… weeds never sleep!

It is the pigs that have us feeling a bit lonely this evening though – they went today to the factory and we are missing them around the place. I don’t think I would be a good livestock farmer – I couldn’t look them in the eye for the past few days and spent most of today feeling a bit tearful. It’s not like they were in the living room as pets, but they lived beside the tunnels, and were great company as you worked – you could always hear them snuffling around, particularly if they realised you were there. Don’t get me wrong – we are looking forward to the excellent meat they will give us, it’s just that it does feel a bit empty outside now that they have gone…