Friday, May 6, 2011

Some ideas are better than others!

Yep, The hottest day of the year to date and of course what happens? My free wood chips arrived from my arborist pals at Andersons Tree Care. Thus, I arrived home today to a driveway full of aromatic, bug inviting organic matter.  The Scrub jays are going be ecstatic - the neighbors, not so much!
After last Septembers shovel-a-thon, I've recruited Dalton (my neighbor's son) and his buddy Parker to help me spread all of what you see above, over what you see below. I call that a good idea!
We hope to get it done in one day (Sunday) - watch this space!

Another idea that is nearing fruition - I've been experimenting with growing potatoes in bags and pots.
As they grow, I just roll the bag up and add more compost. Potatoes don't like to get too hot, so I have covered the black pots in aluminum foil to reflect the sun's heat. Another alternative would be to paint the pots with white latex (emulsion) paint. I used the empty bags that the compost came in. They are white so won't get too hot. The taste will tell if its been a good idea or not.

It was a bad idea not to spray for peach leaf curl. My nectarine got heavily infested by peach leaf curl this spring. There was nothing I could do about it once the leaves broke bud. But it dropped all those deformed leaves and has put on a whole new coat of healthier looking leaves. It will have to be treated with a copper spray in the autumn. This is still considered organic practice, and I've no other choice but to do it even though I hate the idea of using any chemicals.

Still, it has set fruit, but the graft doesn't look like it will do much this year.  I hope it comes back next year.

If you love something set it free - or so the saying goes. I had a Plectranthus 'Mona Lavendar' growing in a pot in the house that was threatening to take over my living room. After researching this hibrid and checking that it was not on the invasive list nor was likely to 'escape,' I planted it outside in a shady spot by the front door.
It was developed in South Africa, can do well in sun or shade - the plants in the sun are more compact - and needs well watered. I hydrozone my plants and have this is in with primulas and begonias. It's a small patch that I do water daily and don't feel guilty about, seeing as how I've given the rest of my front garden over to drought resistant natives.

The Mona Lavendar has gorgeous pale lavender bell shaped, one inch long flowers that blossom unpredictably.

And my last brilliant idea this week helped me deal with the glut of lettuce and scallions that my garden is now producing - Lettuce soup. It was delicious. I was able to find all the vegetables in the garden except the garlic - which was grown in Gliroy, just down the road. Here's the recipe:

Lettuce and scallion soup

2 cups scallions finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped or minced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 head of lettuce (or medium bowl of mixed leaves)
5 cups of stock (I used home made chicken stock but you could use vegetable stock or just water)
1/4 cup of coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/2 to 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or you could try lemon juice)
Salt and pepper to taste

1)   In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat until hot.
2)   Add scallions and sprinkle with a little salt and saute for about two minutes.
3)   Add garlic and saute for another two minutes.
4)   Add stock, potatoes, and some salt and pepper.
5)   If the lettuce is older and tougher add it now. If you have tender leaves, simmer the soup for 10 minutes before adding the lettuce.
6)   Simmer for another 7 minutes then add the basil.
7)   Simmer for another 7 minutes or until everything is soft, then add the vinegar.
8)   Blend in a blender or with a hand blender

With its rich green color you could have fun freaking out your kids and telling them it is frog soup. Perhaps not a great idea if you actually want them to eat it though!

Byddi Lee