Sunday, March 15, 2009

Recession Gardening in pictures

We're not calling this a Victory Garden, but instead a Recession Garden. This is our way of fighting the cost of foods in the grocery stores, and making sure we're eating local and organic. As you can see we're giving up lawn to add more gardening space. We have other beds on the sides of the house, too, but it's time to get serious about our endeavors.

Here are the square foot garden boxes my clever husband built two weeks ago. Hopefully you can see the boxes in the background are lined with several layers of newspaper, and then shredded leaves. Thankfully the night he added these layers we got eight inches of snow to wet them nicely.

Shadow is the "super" for any work we do in the backyard. Here she is trying out one of the boxes. She made sure she sat in each box while keeping an eye on the master.

This photo shows me raking more leaves. My husband mows over the leaves, bags them and dumps them into the compost bin, and a couple of holding bins we have just for leaves. Our compost bin is in the background. We sometime see deer helping themselves to goodies at the top of the bin.
Composting our leaves and our kitchen scraps is an added benefit to our garden, and it's very easy to do. It's our version of "Black Gold."

Here is my husband dumping a wheelbarrow of our compost onto a tarp. The bags you see are vermiculite and peat moss which he'll dump out also onto the tarp. We've been reading Square Foot Gardening and Lasagne Gardening and have learned a way to mix these three things all together.
We had to really put some muscle into dragging this mixture in the tarp to combine it, but it only took fifteen minutes of back and forth mixing.

We mixed the components by walking and dragging the tarp to combine everything together. We were surprised at how well this worked without any raking.Here we are dragging it back down the hill to mix again.

One more time up the hill.

See that nice rich soil. My husband added fifteen shovels full to the wheelbarrow and then it took two loads to fill the four by four foot boxes, and doubled that amount for the large boxes.
Here a pic of our cute photographer taking a break from laundry and homework to see what mom and dad are up to. Of course some lovin' time with Maggie, our thirteen year old lab is always in order.

Here's one of the boxes filled and waiting to by planted. We sprinkled them all down with the hose and then it began to rain. We're supposed to have a drizzly rain for the next two or three days so a weather-imposed break from the garden will give us time to get our seeds organized and ready for their new homes. MMMmmmmm...... I can just taste those home-grown tomatoes now.

Five years ago this Brandywine tomato from our garden won a blue ribbon at our county fair, and we'll be growing them again this year.

It weighed 2 lbs. 6 ounces!
Working in the garden on these cold March weekends will have it's rewards! Tell me about your Recession Garden plans and what you'll be growing.
Here's to vine ripe tomatoes and the Lord's favor upon our gardens~

Friday, March 13, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

In our home St. Patrick's Day is a fun day to celebrate with family, food, and traditions. Even if you didn't celebrate yesterday, make this bread! It's basically a large buttermilk biscuit studded with raisins. Slather it with good organic salted butter if you want to go to Shamrock heaven. LOL!

You don't have to be Catholic or even Irish to celebrate this saint. He was a follower of Jesus Christ and sacrificed his life to spread the gospel in Ireland. Go to the library and find a book about this saint before you don your green, or even think about putting green food coloring in everything you eat March 17th.

Although not the traditional way to celebrate St. Patrick's day in Ireland, we enjoy corned beef and cabbage along with Irish Soda Bread each year. Below is a recipe shared by my husband's boss's wife. This man was from Ireland and came to America with the name of one man to contact for a job. He was given the job, and then later when he became President of that same company, he gave my husband a job in the same circumstances. My husband became Vice President of that company and then later went on to start his own business.
Try this bread recipe, it's more like a large biscuit with a nice crust and yummy raisins.

Mary Ward's Irish Soda Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9 inch round pie plate or cast iron skillet.
4 cups flour3 Tbsp. sugar1 Tbsp. baking powder1 tsp. baking soda1 tsp. salt6 Tbsp. butter, cold and cut into pats1 1/2 cup raisins1 1/2 cups buttermilk2 eggs, beaten. Reserve 2 Tbsp. for brushing on the top.Extra flour for kneading.
Mix the first 5 ingredients together. Cut in butter with two knives or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in raisins until they are well coated with flour and separated.Mix buttermilk in with remaining beaten eggs. DON'T forget to reserve two Tablespoons. Stir into flour mixture until flour is moistened. Don't over mix. Dough will be sticky.
Turn dough onto well-floured surface. With floured hands knead into a ball for about 10 strokes to mix thoroughly. Shape dough into a neat ball, place in plate or skillet. ( I prefer the skillet)In center of bread with a sharp knife cut a 4 inch cross about 1/4 inch deep. Brush with reserved beaten egg.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes.
This is best eaten hot out of the oven and slathered with butter. My family fights over the big, chunky, crusty parts.It's also good toasted the next day. Enjoy.

Our St. Patrick's Day menu:

Roasted Salmon with Pesto
Corned Beef
Colcannon, a mixture of cabbage and mashed potatoes, and onions
Regular Mashed Potatoes
Sauteed Cabbage
Irish Soda Bread
Yingling (for the beer wimps, uh, that would be me!)
Key Lime Pie

No, Key Lime Pie is NOT Irish, it's just this Irish family's favorite so my daugther makes and we eats it, with lots of whipped cream. Yum!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Surprise Giveaway

I love surprises AND giveaways, and I also love this new blog I found while browsing today, The Farm Chicks. They've recently published a new cookbook, so my bet is the cookbook just might be their (shhhh.....surprise) giveaway. Who knows, but I'm willing to take a chance and encourage YOU to go check it out.