From Plot to Plate, Veggie Dog Treats & Fantastic Foxgloves

Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 19th August 2017 Leaf_Para_DividerFrom Plot to Plate

Hooray! At last I am managing to ‘eat my tea’ from my garden most nights!  And eat out in the garden too – despite it feeling distinctly autumnal.

Most evenings for the last fortnight I have picked spinach, runner beans, kale, courgettes, lettuce and beetroot from the garden – resulting in some weird and wonderful concoctions for tea but nonetheless, all of it home-grown.  And I’m feeling quite smug about it (as you can probably tell) as you may remember me sharing that I had had a pretty poor start to my veggie year.

Just goes to show that you have to persevere and keep sowing, and eventually you’ll reap what you sow!

Despite eating runner beans most days, I still miss some and have been cooking the ones that get a bit too big (and the stringy bits from mine) for Yogi. She likes them raw as a treat but cooked in her dinner!  The chickens will also eat them cooked, but not raw, so they have some too. And then anything else that is left, is devoured by my pet pigs! Honestly it’s like an Animal Café here.

I have been using a glut of kale to make kale crisps, just by tearing up the leaves and baking them in the oven – do keep an eye on them, they don’t take long to crisp up!

I have also been making beetroot crisps by thinly slicing and baking; it’s a great way to use them up.  Parsnips, carrots and sweet potato can be used in the same way of course.

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Veggie Dog Treats

Dehydrated beetroot, carrot and parsnips are excellent treats for your dog, with beetroot and parsnip having FIVE times the nutrients of an equivalent raw veg. Dehydrated carrots have a whopping 17 times more nutrients than when they are raw.

Parsnip is a great source of antioxidants and can be helpful to dogs with cholesterol or diabetic issues, and beetroot is great for strengthening the immune system as well as promoting a healthy heart and blood chemistry.  Dehydrated apples and sweet potato make great treats too.

Don’t be put off by the word ‘dehydrated’, although you can buy a dehydrator, you can also just ‘dry’ the sliced veg out, long and slow on a low heat in the bottom of your oven.

Preheat to around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice veg/fruit thinly. A half inch is a good thickness and will leave pieces a good size even after dehydration is complete. Line a large cooking sheet with parchment paper and add the slices making sure they don’t touch. There is no need to add any oil or seasoning. Fruits and vegetables taste fantastic naturally and dogs do not need excess salt, plus using parchment paper allows for easy release from the cooking sheet.  Place the sheet of sliced veggies and fruit on the top rack leaving at least a few inches in-between the rack and the top. Because heat and moisture need to be able to escape during the dehydration process, leave the door open a little. Check, flip and rotate the slices and sheet every half hour until the vegetables are completely dry. Carefully feel them for firmness. Since all ovens have different appliance temperaments, you may need to play around with the heat and dehydration time. When done, remove sheet from the oven and place on a wire rack for cooling. Make sure the treats are cold before feeding them to your dog. Store treats in an airtight container.

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Fantastic Foxgloves

I have also been harvesting ,and re-sowing, the seeds from various perennials in the garden for the last couple of weeks.  I had a great show of foxgloves this year and have been shaking the seeds from the spent flowerheads around the garden to spread ‘the magic’.  

Folklorists are divided on where the common name for Digitalis purpurea comes from. In some areas of the British Isles the name seems be a corruption of ‘folksglove’, associating the flowers with the fairy folk, while in others the plant is also known as ‘fox fingers’. The blossoms used as gloves by the foxes to keep dew off their paws or, a little more sinisterly,  that their feet were made quiet by wearing the gloves, allowing them to raid the nearby henhouses.

It is thought that there are two Welsh names for the Foxglove, one is Ffion, from which the popular Welsh female name is taken and the other is Maneg Ellyllyn which translate as  “The Good People’s Glove.”

Most people know that foxglove is used in medicine, but foxglove heals plants as well as people. An old name for digitalis is ‘Doctor Foxglove’, because garden plants near it grow stronger and resist disease.

Foxgloves also produce a huge amount of seeds – apparently around 80,000 seeds per ounce, so I am expecting an even better display next year, but hope the local fox doesn’t find out!

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