Saturday, February 22, 2014

From compost to dinners...

After removing the last of the compost from the location in the
foreground of this photo, I added a 6" layer of leaves and pine needles,
and then addedthe old lime basil twigs and sugar snap pea vines.

Spring compost!

It was time to clear out the last of the compost from last year's pile. I needed to use it to refresh some of the rows where I'd harvested the crops and it was time to nourish the soil around various shrubs.

When I get to it, I'll turn the old compost pile onto the freshly prepared space. Then the cycle will start all over again.

Isn't it amazing how one spring garden chore leads to several others?

Adding compost around the roots of the blueberry bushes. I pulled the mulch from around the blue berry shrubs, laid in the acidic balsam from the Christmas wreath, placed an inch thick layer of compost in a circle around each of the shrubs, and then returned the pine needle mulch. This is a good time to do this to boost the spring growth.

The last of the first crop of carrots. Most of this crop was harvested in December. These were the runts and maybe they could have grown more, but they've been in the ground since September so it was time to give it up. Like gamblers, gardeners need to know when "fold." These carrots ended up in a tabbouleh--see below. I added compost to the spent carrot row. The other crops are parsley, cabbage, romaine, and the last of the sugar snap pea vines, which ended up in the new compost pile. Some new peas were growing there already, so I planted more along the tomato cages.
Adding compost to an old lettuce row. There's one stub of lettuce left, but the rest were eaten. So it's time to lay down some compost for a new crop.Since this was a leaf crop, I'll probably plant a fruit crop next, such as pepper. Other crops are garlic, Swiss card, and dill.
I saved the seed from the lime basil and the marigolds
that were growing in the space where I wanted to
build a squash mound.

Building a squash mound

I had a 4x4 bed that grew only marigolds last year--no crops. Along the far edge was a row of lime basil, which we really enjoyed. (Link to Nematodes, marigolds, and crop rotation to see it in the summer and find out why I planted so many marigolds.) The bed had been just sitting there through the winter, but now it was time to clear out the dead stuff and build a squash mound. I wanted to do this quickly because a rainy front was coming through.

First I collected the seed from the marigolds and the lime basil, and then separated out the marigold skeletons from the basil stems. Then I raked the soil back from the front half of the bed to about 4" deep, laid in the dead marigold stems, added a 4" layer of compost, and then raked the original soil back. I did the same thing to the back side. After that I build a squarish swale and mulched the sides with pine needles. I'll bury my next batch of kitchen scraps in the center. It's still a little early to plant squash, so I'll let it sit for a couple of weeks to let it settle.

This bed had mostly marigolds growing in it last year with some lime basil growing to the side. To prepare the bed, I raked the soil to the back half of the bed, covered the soil with marigold skeletons, added 4" of compost, and then raked the original soil back..

The second phase was to rake the top 4" of soil from the back toward the front, add the marigold stems, and compost the same as the other half..
Squash mound with its center swale is now ready for some kitchen scraps in the center, and then I'll let it sit for a week or two before planting squash seeds. As I was finishing up this task, the rains came--2" in just a couple of hours.

Vegetarian hash.

How dinners have been changed by our harvest-of-the-day

We enjoyed a lovely vegetarian hash dinner the other night. It includes: wild garlic, garlic chives, oregano & rosemary from the garden. Plus store-bought zucchini, red potatoes, onion, green pepper, and celery all browned in olive oil in a covered frying pan until the onions were caramelized and the potatoes were soft. I then divided the hash into two servings on either side of the frying pan and topped each serving with an egg and covered again until the eggs were cooked. Topped with freshly ground pepper and salsa, Yummy!

The next night, my husband created a batch of tabbouleh, which will last us 3 days or more. The recipe varies and one of the factors is the harvest-of-the-day.

Harvest for tabbouleh: garlic chives, wild garlic, carrots, and a good-size bunch of curly parsley.
Juice drained from a can of diced tomatoes and
heated in the microwave is poured over the bulgur
wheat to soak while the rest of the prep is done.
The de-stemmed parsley is chopped in the food processor. After this the cucumber, celery, olives were also chopped in the processor, but the carrots, garlic and garlic mustard were hand-sliced.
Adding the soaked bulgur to the rest of the salad. Ready to serve. Yummy. We'll probably add shrimp tonight or the next for variety.

Our recycling neighborhood, Mother Nature, and more...

A found bench! Our neighborhood has a tradition of putting stuff out on the curb the day before trash day and people roam the streets for stuff they can use. Recycling at its best! Mistletoe really stands out in the spring!
For more on how the neighborhood  recycling works, see my post Two geezers and a shed. The shed in question is in the background of the above photo.

Carpenter bees have been chewing into the blueberry flowers to rob the nectar. I hope that there is at least some cross-pollination happening so we get a good crop this year. For details on why this is important, see my article Florida blueberries.
A fluffed out red shouldered hawk the other morning. It's saying, "Hey, you lookin' at me?"
Sometimes natives don't look so great in their pots, which is one reason big box stores would have a hard time selling more of them. There's been a good discussion about this over on my Sustainable Gardening Facebook page.  This is a beautyberry bush (Callicarpa americana) that sprouted too close to its parent. I put it in a pot for the winter, and now is a terrific time to plant this tough and attractive plant. Let's see... Where will I put it?
I hope you are having fun with your spring gardening chores.

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt


  1. If I knew that was a Beautyberry, I would buy it! I tried to grow some from seed last year, and I have more seeds that I collected myself. Is there a special trick that you know of???
    Love all your posts. Thanks for all your hard work and for sharing!
    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks Julie. Glad you've enjoyed my gardening adventures.

  2. I just read your link on blueberries.Have you come up with a solution for keeping the birds away? Last year the birds only left me with a handful. I'm positive they are waiting for this year's feast. I thought about using 1 inch fence so the bees can still pollinate the flowers.Any advice is appreciated.

    1. Yes, I think 1-inch mesh or chicken wire should keep the birds out. Hopefully, you've planted other berry-producing shrubs for the birds--they have to make a living, too.