Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Granola bars vs. Lemon buns

Yes, I will eat you granola bar. But I am not going to enjoy it.

Ok, I will enjoy it. But not as much as I would have if I wasn't limited to what was available in my cupboard, baked in the spirit of "use it up." Based roughly on Sprouted Kitchen's recipe, minus the dates, plus raisin paste, wheat germ and hemp seeds.

But you! I am going to love eating you, you delicious sticky lemon roll.

Made using the Kitchn recipe, but in a bread machine using the dough cycle. I reduced the yeast to 1 1/2 tsps, and probably should have reduced the flour to 3.5 cups. I had to hand knead it at the end of the cycle, as not all the flour had worked in to the dough. I let it rise an extra time for good measure.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Ornamental Vegetable Plot

garden June 10 2014
I can't recall where I first heard of potage gardens, which have now become a source of inspiration to me. Books on the subject and it's related subjects - potager,  kitchen gardens, ornamental vegetable gardens - are the ones I turn to most for developing my garden plans. After inheriting some very high-maintenance gardens with the purchase of our house 3 years ago, I have slowly started to convert the beds to be 1) more easily maintained and 2) able to produce food.

garden June 27 2014Nowhere on our property is there a chunk of land eligible for the perfectly rectangular veggie bed that I grew up with, so I had to get creative. Our house backs on a river, making the backyard a regular wildlife sanctuary. Yes, groundhogs. Yes, deer. Yes, fluffy bunnies. I decided that it would be better to grow food closer to the house, as the larger, hungrier animals tend to stay "down by the river." However, this means working with oddly shaped beds, and ones that are already occupied (overtaken, in most cases) with perennials and even some wildflowers. And serious weeds. Eek.

So I started the conversion with the least populated, most rectangular bed, a front bed that lines our driveway up to the sidewalk. While formal French potage gardens require fairly large spaces to incorporate their geometric layouts, I simply tried to make a "pretty" veggie plot, incorporating some patterns into planting and including flowers throughout. I planted radishes, cabbage, kale, beets, and runner beans with nasturtiums, marigolds, borage, and ageratum, which was completed buried under the foliage from nearby cabbages. Tomatoes reseeded themselves from last year and I was literally pulling them like weeds. By the dozen.

garden July 11 2014
These pics show the garden shortly after planting on June 10th, on June 27th, and July 11th. I clearly tried to squeeze too many plants into the bed. But that is kind of my style.

I try to take road traffic and potential pollution from passers-by into consideration when planting. While it seems wonderful in theory to grow food on your front lawn, you don't want dogs to water your lettuce. For this reason, much of this front bed was planted as it was purely because I liked the look of the plants, and as a growing experiment; I was hesitant to harvest much leafy growth from a road-side location. This year I am going to try to push back the edible plants even further from the road by moving more blooming perennials to the front of the bed, and will try to find another location for my leafier plants.

Tilling near bulbs isn't practical, meaning most perennials don't mix well with annual food plants. In the top most photo, you can see two bean tee-pees; I roughly allotted the space in between them for tilling and vegetable growth. However, easy grow annuals that don't need much tilling can easily by set amongst your perennials to add a decorative effect - I personally love nasturtiums.

Though this bed wasn't a total success, I did learn some things about what thrives in it and what doesn't. And most importantly, the bed is better organized for growing this year.