Monday, May 9, 2016

And the Gardening and Kitchen Experiments Continue...

It's been roughly two months now since I decided to revamp the garden, and I'm finally happy with its progress. During the first month, since I'd let the front yard atrophy for a year, I was weeding, hacking back bushes, and pulling ivy.  Also, I'd never been happy with the previous landscape design, and I wanted something that was more functional (more vegetable gardening space), yet not an eyesore. Since my only choice for a food garden is to have it in the front yard, it gets tricky. 

For those of you not in California, we're in the midst of a drought. For me, this means that anytime I use water in the garden, it has to be for edibles 99% of the time. The succulents, once established, can be watered once a month. We put in a rain barrel system and it's been unusually rainy, so all this gardening I'm doing now hasn't used city water.

Chinese Dunce Caps are branching out!
I've added three more vegetable gardening areas, either by wall or by tearing out the previous, inedible landscaping, and now I'm in the process of growing green manure and clearing out yard waste (old scrap wood) around the house. It's amazing what you can put out for free, sometimes with the help of Craigslist or the homestead hookup list, and the creative things people use what I would normally throw away is astounding. For example, the guy who picked up the old oak scrap leftover from taking apart 3 wine barrel planters is going to turn the wood into biochar.

My favorite succulent, the dinner plate aeonium
I have a tray of succulent leaves I've culled from the new plants. Now, 6 weeks later, I have succulent babies! Once they're a little bigger and they've used up all the nutrients in the mother leaves, I'll put them outside because the front yard is still has bare spots that need some erosion control.

Yesterday, I ordered a grow light setup online, mainly because when I grow most seedlings outdoors they're wimpy! This is what I didn't see before when I was lured by all the exotic seed packets that were all under $3 - there's a hidden cost!  The best grow light reviews, not surprisingly, are from people growing weed. It took me awhile to sort out what type of lights I should use and what would fit into our tiny house without looking like an eyesore.

The boy has mentioned several times that the cost of the vegetables we grow better be more than what we've put out, but I can stifle that conversation by pointing out his various toys in the garage that will never yield anything useful for us to both enjoy.

The collard and kale trees are recovering from the slugs. Favas are going well!
Sesame is back in Canine Circus School, and she likes to use school time to catch up on her sleep. If you want to see some adorable and impressive dog tricks, follow Canine Circus School on Instagram. You may even see some action shots and videos of us, that is, when Sesame isn't sleeping through school.

Circus School is the perfect place for a nap

Hiking it
Back in October, I started fermenting a jar of habaneros. 6 months later, I blended the fermented habaneros with lime juice and some of the brining liquid. It's good! Wicked hot and a little tart. Between this and the homemade Sriracha, I don't think we need to buy commercial hot sauce anymore.

The habaneros are finally ready to become hot sauce
I also brined some eggs for 40 days in preparation for making joong. Joong, at least in California, is usually described to those unfamiliar with it as "Chinese tamales" - I love how Mexican food is so prevalent here that I can use a tamale as a descriptor and people shake their heads in recognition. The reasons joong is likened to a tamale is because it's sticky rice mixed with a salted egg yolk, beans, and various pork products all wrapped up in a bamboo (traditional) or banana leaf. I've been using banana leaves because I have them on hand for making tempeh.

Brining eggs
I used this recipe for brining the eggs, but for my next batch, I'm going to add a splash of rice wine and star anise per this recipe. The previous attempt was good, but the flavor was a little flat. It still tasted better than what I get from the Chinese markets, and by using my own eggs I know that the quality is better, but I think a seasoned egg yolk will be delicious. This time, I have a dozen eggs I traded with friends. The boy makes beer, and our friends use the spent grains to feed their goats, chickens, and turkeys.

Finished yolk!
The hardest part is waiting for the yolks to be finished, but since making joong is a lot of work (nothing hard, but a lot of preparation), the 40 days gives us enough time to recover.

Until next time, blogosphere! I notice that a lot of bloggers I follow have moved to Instagram, and that's where I spend the bulk of my social media allotment. So, follow me there if you'd like to see more pictures of Greaseball, Sesame, or be bombarded with succulent and garden photos.  My user ID is sungoldtomato.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...