sansho

They've sidestepped the frosts and a good first-year munching from the deer (who like the young shoots but not once the plant gets a little woodier as it grows) and the first handful of Japanese pepper is jarred



For the most part it's the leaves are used in Japanese cooking, the peppercorns are a fair bit pokier and the gentler, subtle leaves seem to suit classic Japanese food. But i love the peppercorns - they're more aromatic than a wham in-your-face heat, although they do have (strangely) a weird undercurrent of white chocolate

No apricots, a few quince, a fantastic haul of Devonshire Quarrenden apples and a bag or two of medlars are pretty much it in this wet, cool year, until these peppercorns ripened nicely

a bunch

Biodynamic wine makers always reckon that the best sound a vineyard can hear is the sound of the owner walking through the vines...in which case mine are going to be lining up quite a miserable harvest in years to come



If this healthy looking bunch from a first year vine looks like an encouraging sign, think again - it's the product of being too busy writing to give the vines all the attention they desserve. For all the energy to go to the development of an extensive root system you have to nip off all small flowers at an early stage so that they don't divert precious resources to the formation of fruit. Clearly I haven't been out there giving the vines the time and dedication they need. I'm hoping they'll forgive a little first year ineptitude

The lack of time outside has been reflected in the lack of blog-writing inside - I intend putting both to rights in time for Autumn

Go to Otter Farm | by Mark D