Monday, August 4, 2008

Photos of Paradise

These gorgeous photos were sent to me by my friend Jan Barker from Birmingham, England, UK. She took the pictures in Devon.

Golden Acre Update

After checking my blog, I see that I’ve only been at this challenge for eight weeks. Eight weeks that changed our lives. The difference between our early photos and NOW is amazing. Our courtyard garden is a paradise full of colorful birds, busy bees, noisy hummers and lots of flowers, herbs and greenery. We took down the two art-glass hummingbird feeders and hung up the old Big Lots version, and as quick as that we have non-stop hummers in the yard.
Harvested: The garden is producing, there are no weeds, so all there is to do is water, water, water. And harvest tomatoes, squash, cukes, okra, black beans.
Coop orders/ Storing: We picked up our Breadbeckers coop order. The Beckers are an excellent source for some bulk products, especially bread baking supplies. Since we had prepared the pantry ahead of time, putting up our Becker’s booty didn’t take long.

Local Food Systems: I arranged to meet a local beekeeper at the Columbia Farmer’s Market who sold me a pound of beeswax for $5. I’ll use the wax for many purposes, including salves and balms for the feet.
Managing: We put in some time tying up the tomatoes again. Staking tomatoes can work wonders and yield higher production. Our plants are huge; prolific producers. We’re enjoying lots of fresh blood-red tomatoes. We also put out strings for the peas to grow on, and used my recovered lumber to build a sort of arbor in the courtyard. On Thursday I took all the veggies and broths out of the freezer and made killer soup.
Herbals: I’m working on more tinctures, and also foot teas. Since the bottom of the foot is very absorbent, using teas in a foot soak is a way to ingest herbs. One of my favorite simple soaks is dried lavender flowers in warm water, a very relaxing practice. If you don’t know how absorbent your feet are, try soaking your feet in warm water into which you’ve put with a mashed garlic clove. After ten minutes, ask somebody to smell your breath.
Harvested: This week I harvested and dried a bushel of lime mint. My mint tinctures will be a refreshing addition to the foot soaks I’m making. As for the remaining mint in the yard, I’m going to allow it to flower, then I’ll cut the flowers to add to potpourri.
Cook something new: I cooked Carmela’s Eggplant Parm using the recipe from the official Sopranos cookbook. I used heirloom eggplant. Outstanding dish! Recipe available. Also, I made bread using a new recipe from Breadbecker’s cookbook. The recipe calls for flax seed and gluten as added ingredients. Very good bread.

I also sprouted organic alfalfa seed this past week. The spouts are so fresh, they’re hard to beat. I mentioned before that I’d bought two sprouting jar lids. The lids fit a wide-mouth canning jar. And last, I made jalapeno and garlic jelly with honey. We use this jelly on just about all meat or fish we grill. Recipe available.