Monday, 16 January 2012

Mangel Wurzels!





Monday 16th January 2012

Mangel Wurzels!
Not a countryside expletive, but a delightful form of beet which I tried growing last year as a fodder crop. I also tried stubble turnip and swedes, but the wurzels won hands down. Beautiful to look at; growing to hefty lumps; the pigs' favourite root; providing luscious green tops; standing through the winter; unaffected by the pests which devastated the other experimental crops. And a whole stackful for the price of a packet of seeds and a small parcel of land.
The seeds were not easy to find, but if you decide to give them a try, this site is where mine came from:


Tuckers Seeds

I would love to say I grow all my pigs' food, but these days that's not practical on a small scale, and I sure don't have enough knowledge of how to ensure the correct balance of protein and nutrients by doing this. So I rely on bought in pig nuts. These account for 90% of the cost of keeping pigs, but there's no way round it. The fodder crops I grow will make a small contribution and more importantly will give the pigs the opportunity to root and munch and crunch as nature intended. To be fair though, the pigs will leave whatever they are eating in favour of the bought in pellets. 
But I will certainly be growing a bigger crop of Mangel Wurzels this year. It says on the packet you can make wine out of them! Now there's a little project for next winter.
I am also going to try chicory for the pigs this year and maybe a couple of other experimental crops (more on these later, if they work out).

While trying to find out about mangel wurzels I came across this site.

http://www.theoldfoodie.com/2006/06/scarcity-root.html

Here's the gist of what I found out from a little surfing.
The original name, still often used, is mangold wurzel, meaning "root of the beet". This has morphed into mangel wurzel, meaning "scarcity root". Grown primarily for animal fodder, it is also edible to humans, though the palatability is questionable. The abundant succulent green leaves are said to be very tasty. If I remember I will try these next year.Traditional German recipes for mangel wurzels include pickling and turning into beer. More information, and most importantly recipes for beer and wine, are easy to find on the internet. Then of course, there's the 70's group The Wurzels

 
European Settlers Very Welcome Here
I took the back route on the way home from work today. I was rather hoping that the frozen dykes might have displaced some of their hidden birds into the fields or onto the Main Drain. As it was, the fields were rather empty save a small flock of lapwings and golden plovers. The Main Drain was frozen too. All that was on it was a carrion crow, stood on the ice trying to extract something from the frozen sheet beneath. A somewhat odd sight as furnished on one of the wider dykes, where a grey heron and two snowy white leiitle egrets stood hunched on the ice. As a teenage birder, a Little Egret was a major rarity in this country. However, I was distracted from birding while at University and living in London, so when I came back to the pastime it was a surprise to find them everywhere. They initially colonised along the South coast, but spread rapidly and are now regularly found throughout the country and even North into Scotland. They arrived here naturally, of their own accord, and are a very welcome addition to our avifauna.

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