Wednesday 24 July 2019

BAYleaves buy mi bayleaves

Sing it! like Nina and Frederick with their MANgoes. There is no harm in wanting to make an honest living creating things which are fun to make and useful to/for other people. Everyone who's had the benefit says I make an mmmmmm good flapjack and a just-right pot of marmalade. I am getting better and better with my sourdough bread too. But it is only because I stand on the shoulders of my grandmother (flapjacks) and Delia Smith (marmalade). Several people, over the years, have said "These are so good, you should sell them." But I always demur with a blush and flutter of my eyelashes. Making a slab of flappjes and watching them go down a graduate student's gannet-hungry throat give a lot of pleasure. Making many slabs and weighing them, packing them, driving to the farrrmer's market and selling them requires a whole other set of skills, few of them delightful. And the health and safety regulations are now nightmare intrusive.

Now here's a picture from shortly before the big thaw of January 2010 which washed out our lane and left us prisoners in our own home for a week.  It shows a couple of small bay trees in the garden behind the house weighed down with snow. A quick shake by Dau.II and they soon rose upright again.
I was up in the garden taking a few progress pics and I snapped the now wall of baytrees, which we have to walk through to reach the polytunnel:
I include some laundry for scale.  We planted the pair of trees in ?2008? as a garden feature and source of bayleaves which are a culliunary essential on our kitchen.  They are now 6m tall and 4-5m across at the base, so I try to harvest the bayleaves from inside the tunnel between the two trees so that we can walk directly to the polytunnel without getting soaked from the rain-wet leaves. I paused to wonder just how many bay-leaves there might be: because I believe guesstimation is a core skill in science and I need examples for teaching this up-coming year at The Institute. Accordingly I counted 100 leaves and reckoned they filled a sunlight-space  / surface-space of 0.1 sq.m. You can work out the surface area (excluding base) of a cone from first principles or you can go to the cone-heads site: to find the formula. The Lateral surface area of a cone  L = πrs = πr√(r2 + h2) where s is the slant height which is the hypoteneuse of the h[eight] and r[adius] triangle hence the Pythagorean square root of the sum of the other two sides.
Putting in r = 2.5 m h = 6 m yields the other parameters:  slant = 6.5 m ;; Vol = 39.3 m3 ;; L.area = 51.1 m2 ;; Base.area = 19.6 m2 ;; Total.area = 70.7 m2.  If there's 100 leaves in 1/10th sq.m there are 1,000 leaves in 1 sq.m. and 50,000 across the surface of each tree. I'll add another 50% because, although it is dark in the interior of the wall/bush there are lots of leaves running back almostvto the trunks. So we don't have a million bay-leaves or only a thousand but somewhere in the region of 150,000. If we use a flaithulach 10 bayleaves a week we have enough to keep going for 300 years.

That's clearly a) an under-estimate because it is the nature of trees to make more leaves, possibly in a sustainable manner b) selfish, stingey and inefficient for the culinary happiness of the sunny south-east of Ireland. So you're all welcome to come for a handful. In Tesco, bayleaves sell at 49c for 3 grams or [Schwartz] €1.19 for 6g. 6g is about 20 leaves. So, cutting out the middleman, the packaging, the labour, the plastic, the airmiles then our baytree harvest is 'worth' 150,000 / 20 = €7,500.  Maybe when I'm reduced to my OAP next year, I'll use my free bus pass to bring 50 or 100 packets of  bayleaves up to the Big Smoke once a week and sell them on a street-corner so I have money for my meds and my Paris pants.
Q. What's this about Paris?
A. Why, it's in-Continent

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