Dig This

A proverb from me:  A sunny day makes the heart happy.

The temperatures climbed today and gave everyone around here a bad case of spring fever.   And then to make matters worse,  a Gurney’s Seed Catalog arrived in my mailbox.

Oh the joys of gardening!  I would love to reap the rich rewards of a well planned garden.  But alas, the word “plan” is not really in my vocabulary.

I’ve never been a planner.  I wasn’t taught to be, and it’s a good thing because it just doesn’t suit me.   I would rather meet each day as it comes.  Head-on.  I don’t lay out my clothes the night before, nor do I pack my lunch.  I’d rather be in a frenzy every morning.  Obviously. 

I rarely think about what’s for supper until my stomach growls and then I realize I have no meat thawed.   Good thing I love cereal.  If only my husband would learn to love it half as much.

The occasions I have planned,  have usually gone okay, but I’ll tell you what.  When those plans get a kink in them, I don’t bend easily, which is why it’s best for me to not plan at all.

With one exception.  The one area of my life that I am forced to plan is my job.  And let me tell you, it was a lesson learned the hard way.  Teaching a classroom full of kids typically means if you don’t have every single second of their day filled, they’ll find something to fill them with.  Which usually isn’t good.  So I am diligent about planning my school day.  I have to be, I learned early that it saves me from heartache,  high blood pressure, and murder.  Nevertheless, it was a hard habit for me to attain.

And then there’s the garden.  You can’t really have a garden if you don’t plan for it.  One year I attempted to grow pumpkins without planning.  Or watering.  And that just doesn’t really turn out well.  I don’t advise it.

This year I’ve decided to be a planner in the garden.  I’m playing offense instead of defense.  I’m being proactive rather than reactive.  I will have pumpkins in October not December. My summer will be filled with the earth’s bounty.

I am experimenting with a gardening technique I read about called a No Dig Garden.   Basically it is gardening on top of the ground, layering your soil with organic materials that compost and feed your soil and you don’t have to dig.  It doesn’t matter what kind of condition your soil is in either.

It’s kind of like seven layer dip: the beans, the sour cream, the salsa, the guacamole, the lettuce, next the tomatoes, the cheese, and if you must eat those nasty little black olives, go ahead.

I did a little studying up on the No Dig Garden Technique, filed it away in a filing cabinet in my brain under G for gardens, and went about my business. 

Well on Sunday I was piddling around out at The Place while Jason worked inside our little trailer house and I decided I’d just go ahead and get started on my garden.  No time like the present right?  So I chose my garden spot, then I began the layering process. 

This is the recommended layers:

  • Start with newspaper or cardboard
  • Then a little alfalfa
  • Add a little nice manure (chicken, horse, cow, whatever you’ve got on hand) or Commercial Fertilizer
  • Straw
  • More fertilizer
  • Compost

Next you water it well, and you can begin planting seedlings for an instant garden.

This sounds wonderful right?  So I began laying down leftover cardboard from a gajillion boxes of laminate flooring we purchased.  The next layer is manure, so  I got a bucket and a shovel and walked out to the pasture to find some.  I soon found out, a bucket of crap doesn’t go very far on a garden plot.  After about 3 buckets full of grunt (my grannie’s word for dookie), I was about 1/5 of the way completed, and I happened upon my husband, who eyeballs my project and calmly quips, “You’ll never finish that before sundown.”

I gaze off into the west at the hot ball of gas nearing the horizon.  Sundown?  Oh yeah.  That’s when it gets dark.  I can’t build a garden in the dark can I?  Hmmm, just another example of my inability to plan.  Nice thinking, beginning a lengthy project at 5:00 in the evening.

Since my daylight was short, I then decided to use two buckets instead of one and walk faster.  Back to the pasture, shoveling my poo, carrying two buckets to the garden, dumping them on the cardboard, doing the  fast walk back to the pasture, shoveling my poo, carrying two buckets to the garden, dumping them on the cardboard, doing the  fast walk back to the pasture, shoveling my poo, carrying two buckets to the garden, dumping them on the cardboard. 

Never. Ending.

Needless to say, I was never happier to see the sun go down.   I found some bricks to lay on the cardboard so the wind wouldn’t carry them away, and then I high tailed it to the bed. 

I don’t know when I “plan” to return to my No Dig Garden.  Or if I “plan” to at all.

A roto-tiller is sounding pretty good right now.

Everything you ever wanted to know about a Leek, but were afraid to ask

I’ve been reading this book called “French Women Don’t Get Fat”. I’ve been reading the parts I understand anyway.  It’s a bestseller and I trust that.  The author Mireille Guiliano (pronounce that if you think you’re so smart) claims leeks are magical. 
Leeks. 

If you’re anything like me, perhaps this will help.
They’re hidden on the produce shelf. 
They’re a vegetable. 

The skinny French woman has a soup called “Magical Leek Soup”.   You are supposed to drink leek broth for 48 hours.  Straight. 
Leek Broth, doesn’t that sound yummy?
 If you get hungry, you eat the leeks with a little olive oil drizzled, until the 2nd day’s supper, then you have a little fish or meat with some veggies. I’m thinking fried taters and gravy qualifies after 48 hours of leek broth.

And that my friends is why I’m reading this book.

This 48 hour cleansing is the jump start to a great lifestyle change.  Kinda sounds a little like starvation if you ask me, but who am I to question the French?

Yet, there is something about magical leeks that appeal to me. 

I like magic. 
Birthday candle blowing magic, shooting star wishing magic, genie bottle rubbing magic.

I could use a little magic around here. 

For starters, I’d like to:

Magically-lose-all-my-cellulite.
Magically-have-a-clean-house.
Magically-have-Ed-McMahan-ring-my-doorbell.  Wait.  Is he dead?
Magically-have-Ed-McMahan-return-from-the-dead-and-ring-my-doorbell.

There’s just no limit what these leeks might do for me.

I called the grocery store to make sure they carried them before I ventured out.  They did, they were hidden but they were there.  I was curious to how fresh they were.  I pondered how often people buy these things. 

 I had to watch a video on how to prepare them.

I couldn’t help but wonder where they’ve been all my life.

But truthfully, I didn’t wonder too hard.

I really didn’t think I could handle the Leek Broth.  I know my limitations. Thankfully, the skinny french woman has a recipe on her website http://www.fwdgf.com/ for Leek Mozarella with a lovely picture, so I decided why not get a jumpstart on my new year’s resolution and prepare a healthy vegetable.

I’m thinking anything covered in cheese has got to be tasty.
Anything that looks like a pasta dish from Pizza Hut surely is yum-o.

Evidently the leek is from the onion family. You only use the white part of the vegetable.

Which means all this goes in the trash. Doesn’t that seem like such a waste?  I was half-way raised by my Grannie, who was half-way raised during the Depression. She would have never thrown these out. The skinny French woman says they can be saved and made into stock. But okay, we’re talking about me here.  So into the trash they went.

Then you boil the white parts, after you rinse well, because there’s a lot of dirt in there.  That’s because they’re a vegetable, and vegetables grow in dirt.

Kinda looks like a cross between onions and celery, with a severe case of hypothyroidism.

Here’s the recipe, if’n you’re interested.
INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds leeks, white parts only
1 cup fresh basil leaves (I didn’t have this of course.  We’re talking about me here.)
8 ounces mozzarella
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon wine or sherry vinegar
Salt (preferably freshly ground—fleur de sel works magic) and freshly ground peppe
Yield: 4 Servings
RECIPE
Preheat the broiler.
Clean the leeks thoroughly, and boil in salted water 6 to 10 minutes, until cooked but still firm, then drain.
Put the leeks in a baking dish, and cover with a layer of basil leaves. Cut the mozzarella into 1/4-inch slices, and place atop the basil layer. Put the dish under the preheated broiler, and watch carefully. In 3 to 5 minutes the cheese should start to melt and brown; at this point, remove the dish.
Mix the oil and vinegar and drizzle over the mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately with a slice of country bread.

So far, I’ve eaten them twice.  They aren’t terrible.  They ain’t taters and gravy either. 

I’m still waiting for the magic.
So far, I’ve gotten better results from birthday candle blowing and shooting star wishing.

But Wait.  Somebody’s at the door.