An April free of frost is what we wanted and its what we got this year, that and a lot more too!
The warmest April for ten years in these parts has had the orchard out in its finest floral glory and – fortunately – there are still bees there to do the pollinating.
Even more fortunate, albeit long overdue and not yet enough, is the news last week of the EU’s ban on the outdoor use of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam i.e. the neonicotinoid pesticides that have had such a devastating impact on bee populations across Europe.
Back in the days before Bayer & Co, my German farmers’ almanac had this to say:
April warm, Mai kühl, Juni nass, füllt dem Bauer Scheuer und Fass
April warm, May cool, June wet, fills the farmer’s barn and barrel.
We’ve had the warm April, so now we wait to see whether May fits the pattern or not…
“IN ANCIENT AGRICULTURAL SOCIETIES, EGGS PROVIDED A VITAL SOURCE OF NUTRITION. BY MID-MARCH, FOOD STORES FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR WOULD HAVE BEEN RUNNING LOW. THE FIRST EGGS OF THE YEAR, LAID BY DOMESTICATED FOWL OR FORAGED FROM THE NESTS OF WILD BIRDS, ADDED MUCH-NEEDED NUTRIENTS TO PEOPLES’ DIET. …”” read more
All quiet in the orchard at this time of the year (but Hermann the German is sharpening up his specialist tree pruning saw for the winter pruning due to start any weekend now…) so we (mainly me and sometimes Mini-Kraut) have been busy in the kitchen creating some more exhibits for our gingerbread gallery.
This year’s main creation has to remain a secret for the time being until this year’s Christmas Guests of Honour have been able to peruse and applaud it live, but we have been busy baking building components for lucky recipients in the neighbourhood, complete with building instructions, in German:
Here are a few flashbacks to past creations where we have gained all this skill and experience 🙂
2016:Recreated in gingerbread, the little village in the Wiesent Valley, close to Erlangen, where we like to spend our holidays and long weekends
2015:The tree house that collapsed and became a forest hideaway (Waldversteck)
Featuring four candles representing the four seasons enjoyed during the course of the year, the candles on the Advent wreath are lit one at a time on each of the four Sundays preceding the “Wend”, the Winter Solstice, now ‘Christianised’ as Christmas Eve (in Germany) or Christmas Day (in the Anglo Saxon realm).
In our family we celebrate Advent as a four week festival of remembrance of all the good things the four seasons have brought us in the past year.
Join us on social media for a daily stroll through the seasons this Advent: TheOrchardScribe
For those of you who do not already know it, meet:
Think: mild ginger with a soupcon of camphor and a peppery punch if you use lots of it!
A root related to ginger, widely used in Far Eastern cookery, and described by German medieval medicine woman Hildegard of Bingen as “warm and healing”, particularly for those suffering from “heartache”.
For those with a bad back she recommends Glühwein with galangal.
In the kitchen Hildegard of Bingen paired galangal with quinces (as well as with pumpkin, fruit salads, jams in general and marinades).
Clearly a lady after my own heart and so I have followed her example: the very last of this years’ quinces have become
Quince Jelly with Galangal
And what a very good idea that was: love it!
If you are quick you can get a jar with a subscription from our Online Orchard Shop – limited edition!