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February Gardening

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  • Traveler in Thyme
    Spring is springing all over my yard, isn t it fun to see all the little greenlings peeking out? That green haze you see all over our raised beds is
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 18, 2007
      Spring is springing all over my yard, isn't it fun to see all the little greenlings peeking out? That green haze you see all over our raised beds is lettuce.......billions and billions of baby lettuces. Some of them will have stripes and polka dots, which makes the cool weather garden a psychedelic place to wander. All those neon pinks and greens with ruffles----what if we really are what we eat?

      Verbena, henbit, dead nettles, thistles, corn salad, dandelions, anemones and pennyroyal have all seeded themselves inside the fence where the deer can't eat them. They each have an area where we showed mercy and left them for the butterflies. Most of the beds I seeded three weeks ago are still dormant, though the brave little snow peas are almost two inches tall, the aforementioned lettuce, and some parsley in the back yard where the ground was not disturbed this year. Not as much cilantro this year as usual, either, but the chives are back already, after freezing to the ground. I need to weed back there, the henbit and dandelions are thick, and while everyone appreciates the wildflowers, enough is enough!

      My most invasive, obnoxious weed is lambs quarters, so it's lucky that's also my favourit food (LOL). You have to hack your way thru the Killer Veggies it if it gets ahead of you, so take a firm hand and thin keep each veggie or herb in it's place. A book or chart of companion plants will help you decide who should be neighbors and who might not get along so happily. Just be sure to leave a stand of "weeds" for Mother Earth's other creatures, so they will leave your food alone.

      I picked up several marjoram plants at Blanco Gardens, and they are loving their new home on the shady side of the garden. That soil has more clay than the hot side, and holds the cool moisture for those tender plants that might suffer from our brutal summers. A lovely stand of Eupatorium (Boneset) nearby was happily blooming all through last year's drought. I know they seeded and suckered all over the place, too, and will have to be "weeded" eventurally, but until they start crowding out the marjoram, I will enjoy the pretty blue flowers when nothing else can stand the heat.

      If you plant your own seeds for tomato and pepper transplants, now is the time to get those in the cold frames. We invested heavily in Italian food this year, and will hopefully make a nice cash crop to share with Papa Joe's Pizza this summer. He had some fresh marjoram last week from the cutback I gave the new transplants, I bet he made something tasty!

      We are living on a lot of frozen, canned, and dried food, since the wild greens are rather scarce in our garden this year, because we dug it all up to improve the soil. Real Foods Market has a great selection of frozen veggies for $2/bag, very useful for quick and easy suppers.

      *RECIPE OF THE WEEK~Vegetarian Dirty Rice~
      Here's a nutritious kettle of swill that feeds 8 or leaves plenty of leftovers for my husband to fry up for breakfast. My son's friend, Tanker, used to call up just to see if Jake's Mom was fixing Swill:

      In cast iron kettle or soup pot, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil, sautee 1 chopped onion and 2 cups brown rice until lightly brown.

      Add 2 1/2 cups water, one can of blackeyed peas, 1 Tbs. garlic powder, 1 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. ginger.

      Bring to boil, cover, simmer for 45-50 minutes until rice is cooked.

      Add 1/2 cup more water, 3 Tbs. soy sauce, 1 cup frozen green beans, 1/2 pkg. baby carrots, and any wild greens you might have (cilantro is very good here).

      Return to boiling, stir well, cover and turn off fire. Let set 15 minutes, then fluf with a fork and serve topped with grated cheese.

      ~~~Carnivorous variation: brown one pound ground beef at the beginning of recipe, then proceed with everything else in the same order.

      If you add a touch of Liquid Smoke, you'll get a good sausage flavour without the pork or preservatives. Some people prefer picante sauce to soy sauce, for a Tex Mex variation, then you use pinto beans instead of blackeyed peas, and comino instead of turmeric and ginger. We are fond of blackeyed peas with canned chipotle sauce, too.

      You can live on this stuff in any of its incarnations; all your food groups in one bowl!

      ---Marcia Cash
      Traveler in Thyme

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