Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Modified recipe with edibles from the garden

Winter harvest includes*: (clockwise starting at the knife)
3 small cabbage leaves, 5 meadow garlic plants, 3 bunches of
garlic chives, parsley, rosemary, 3 come-again broccoli crowns,
1 sprig of dill, and 1 sprig of oregano.

Cream of crab soup--modified!

I've modified the standard cream of crab soup in several ways. First I've included the winter greens from the garden and I've also taken some other shortcuts from scratch cooking.
Ingredients:
3 bunches of garlic chives, coarsely chopped
5 meadow garlic plants with roots removed, chopped
2 small cabbage leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 or 4 heads of come-again broccoli
2 tbs of rosemary leaves
2 tbs of oregano leaves
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tbs of minced garlic
3 large onions, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cups of water
1/2 cup potato flakes (or buds)
1 package frozen fake crab, thawed and chopped
1 jar mushroom Alfredo sauce
1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
black pepper to taste
fresh dill, chopped for garnish
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Brown the onions, garlic, celery, garlic chives, cabbage, broccoli, pepper, and meadow garlic in olive oil in the bottom of soup pot until onions begin to caramelize. Stir in the parsley and oregano, add 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Blend the whole mass in a food processor until you can no longer discern any of the original ingredients. Pour back into the pot and turn on the heat to medium. Add the crab, the Alfredo sauce, potato flakes, and the rest of the water. Stir until everything is well heated. Remove from heat and stir in the yogurt. Garnish with fresh dill, grated Parmesan, an extra dollop of yogurt, and freshly ground pepper. Serves 6 or so.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Florida's Arbor Day

Hard-working native trees are also beautiful
and add value to your property.
While most of the country celebrates Arbor Day in April, both Florida and Louisiana celebrate on the third Friday in January. It’s a much better time to plant a tree because deciduous trees are dormant and others are less active, so they can withstand the shock of transplanting better. One thing to keep in mind is that January is right in the middle of Florida's 7-month dry season and extra irrigation will be needed at least until the wet season starts in June, and if the tree is large, it will require extra attention for even longer. I've covered the details of planting trees in my article Trees & Shrubs: the Bones of your Landscape.



Marjorie Shropshire drawing to illustrate transpiration for
an article I wrote in Palmetto.

A day with an artist

I spent Arbor Day Friday on the road and then talking to Marjorie Shropshire, illustrator for Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida, about the drawings for my third book "The Art of Maintaining a Native Landscape." I'm quite excited about this project because I think it will help to manage people's expectations when they convert their landscapes to include more natives. Marjorie's drawings will help illustrate the topics I cover. Not only is Marjorie an excellent artist, but she also has an innate understanding of plants and animals. It was a fun and productive meeting.

Lake Worth's Festival of Trees

Lake Worth's Festival of Trees!

On Saturday, I went to the Festival of Trees in Lake Worth Florida. The town had organized a great celebration with educational booths, speakers, native trees to purchase, a kids activity table, and music. Wouldn't it be great if more communities were like Lake Worth, which took the initiative to increase its tree canopy with indigenous trees.

As I explained in my Arbor Day post over on the Florida Native Plant Society blog, trees provide services to communities that translate to actual dollars saved. They purify the air, they soak up water,and the cool the environment. 
"In 1991, Chicago's 51 million trees “removed an estimated 17 tons of carbon monoxide, 93 tons of sulfur dioxide, 98 tons of nitrogen dioxide, 210 tons of ozone, and 234 tons of particulate matter. They [also] sequestered about 155,000 tons of carbon.

"New York City's 592,000 street trees reduced stormwater runoff by nearly 900 million gallons each year, saving the city $35.6 million it would have had to spend to improve its stormwater systems. The average street tree intercepted 1,432 gallons, a service worth $61.

"In Sacramento, California a tree planted to the west of a house saved about three times more energy ($120 versus $39) in a year than the same kind of tree planted to the south.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Green gardening DOES matter

A bluebird at sunrise in my yard.
Bluebirds are important bug predators in the ecosystem.
At the beginning of a new year, there are many speculations on what might happen and to-do lists of what you could do to improve your own situation.  Normally, I shy away from making such proclamations, but this year I decided to make a short list on what gardeners could do to improve the planet and encourage wildlife.

One of the reasons for my making this list is learning that it takes 17 repetitions for most people to fully understand a new idea and commit it to their immediate recall memory banks. Even though I've been writing about green gardening for ten years at this point, there are still people who have not heard enough about Doug Tallamy and his research showing that even small patches of native plants have a positive impact on birds, insects, and other members of the local ecosystems.