Friday, July 22, 2011

Little bites

My camera is on the fritz, but I promise to have a new one in the next week.  I won't let it stop me though, and still want to chat about the ongoing saga of backyard gardens and food.

The garden is getting a little makeover for the fall!  Since one bed is completely empty, and the other two have only a tomato each (plus a couple basil plants and one cayenne pepper), it seemed a great time to amend the soil.  The soil in all three beds had sunken as the existing organic matter decomposed, so the soil surface was six to eight inches below the sides of the bed.  It looked bad, and gave spiders (shudder) a place to hide.  So we have refilled the beds with composted organic matter!  I pulled out the two basil plants and then put them back, but I just buried the stems of the last tomatoes and the pepper.

Now this is the really inexpensive stuff from the county pile, so it is not fully decomposed.  I don't care.  I am just thrilled to have all three beds filled to the top again.  This new organic matter will be stirred into the top 8 inches of the existing soil so that I have as uniform a growing medium as possible.  Since the new amendment still needs to decompose quite a bit, I will have to make sure I add plenty of nitrogen for the next crops; the plants and decomposing microbes will be competing for all available nitrogen.  All this has me very, very excited to start my fall garden.

Even with the current vegetables on their last legs, I have been eating lost of fresh foods.  The ladies are producing lots and lots of eggs.  We are having a great deal of trouble keeping up.  I grab a handful of tiny sungold tomatoes every time I am in the yard.  Most afternoons I snatch and snack on a small plum on my way to feed the chickens.  Two mornings this week my breakfast was two figs, just ripening on the bush beside the driveway.  Tomatoes from the now deceased vines continue to ripen in the kitchen, and have been great in salads and pasta sauce.  I have honey in my tea each and every morning.  But the best fresh food from the yard right now?  Blue crabs.  Oh, yum.  The pot at the end of the dock yields 4, or 7, or 13 each time it is baited.  It doesn't matter how few there are, it is worth the effort to cook them.  This is one of those foods from my childhood, not to mention a sweet, rich seafood like no other.  I'm glad I can grab a few now and then with so little effort.  Oh, and don't get me started on the pasta with white clam sauce from clams we dug and garlic from the garden . . .