Musings

In Which I Wax Rhapsodic About Manure… And Other Little Stories

I hope it stops raining today at some point so I can go out and take pictures of the gorgeous compost on some of the gardens.

I know – oooooooh!  Sounds thrilling!

On Tuesday I picked up the kids after school/daycare and got them Happy Meals to eat on the ride to get a yard of compost.  Not just ANY compost, either.  It’s the "Raised Bed Mix" – one of several types of compost you can get from Earth Care Farm.  The place (if you’re into this sort of thing) is awesome.  Huge mountains of compost…good stuff, with – well here’s an excerpt from their website:

COMPOST INGREDIENTS

We start with farm animal manure, such as horse, chicken, cow, sheep, goat, and rabbit manures. These we gather along with whatever bedding material was used, such as sawdust, wood shavings or straw. We also mix in elephant, camel and other exotic manures from Roger Williams Park Zoo.

Other raw materials added include: clean gurry (fish scraps), shell fish, seaweed, paper, wood chips, spent bark mulch, wood ashes, mulch hay, flower, vegetable, and shrub trimmings and also food scraps. Our major bulking agent is leaves which we receive from local towns. These ingredients are lended, mixed, and turned in an aerobically managed compost system on our certified organic farm. It takes approximately 18 months before the ingredients are properly cured and considered mature, finished compost.

Nice, huh?  So the owner loaded up the bed of our truck and away we went. 

Then I spent the afternoon clearing out dead leaves and other debris from most of the flower gardens in the front yard.  Mainly the irises, as their rhizomes need sun and dryness to flourish.  I transplanted a few that weren’t doing all that well – hopefully they’ll improve this year in their new spot.  The kids helped for about 3.4 minutes and then grew tired of all that manual labor.  So they played in the back yard or drew with chalk on the driveway.

When Bill got home he was all excited about the compost and got that truck bed cleared out pretty quickly.  Julia "helped" by standing near a wheelbarrow while he shoveled compost into it.  I would have taken a picture, but my hands were too muddy to touch the camera.  I really need to remember to wear gloves.

Anyway, Bill distributed the compost to the raised bed and to the other vegetable garden areas in the yard, and I added some to the windowboxes as well.

Eventually, it was too dark and too cold to do any more outside.  But things are looking really good.  Nice black compost out there…ready for planting.

~~~~~

So…what to do with leftover vegetables after having a huge Corned Beef Dinner?  I’d already used the potatoes in the hash, but there were still turnips, carrots, parsnips, onions and cabbage left. 

After a bit of thought, I decided I could use some of it in lasagne. 

I was in a lasagne and eggplant parmesan mood anyway, so I got an eggplant, some mushrooms, ricotta cheese and fresh mozzarella at the grocery store.

I mashed up the turnips, carrots and parsnips with some oregano that I’d frozen in olive oil last fall, and some salt and pepper.  I set that mixture in a collander to drain off some of the water, but in retrospect, a better choice would have been to cook that mixture a little in an open pan, to get rid of more of the moisture.  Ah well, live and learn.

I also sauteed mushrooms in butter and marsala til they were dry…and I made a bit pot of sauce, with a lot of the frozen oven-roasted tomatoes I packed away in the fall, and a little container of pureed basil and olive oil…and a cube of oregano/olive oil…and one of parsley.  I’m trying to use up a few things from last year’s garden.  Not that I’ll freeze anything again til next fall, but still.  It needs to be used.  Oh, and I threw in some garlic, too.  And some chianti.  Let that cook for a while and then put it through a food mill to get rid ot skins and seeds.  Then back onto the stove to simmer some more.

I mixed the ricotta with salt and pepper, two eggs, and a thawed, squeezed-dry (in a dish towel) package of frozen spinach.  And I sliced the mozzarella.  And ate a few slices.  Just the small ones.

Oh, and I peeled the eggplant, sliced it very thin, dredged it in flour and fried it til it was nicely browned.

From all that, and, of course, lasagne noodles, and grated parmesan, I made two pans of lasagne.

ALSO, I made meatballs.  My original plan was spaghetti and meatballs for the kids (I knew Alex, at least, wouldn’t want the lasagne – the ricotta mixture alone would turn him off), but when I mentioned that to Alex earlier in the day, he thought a moment, and then said "How ’bout this?  How ’bout you make Sesame Noodles and meatballs?"  And you know…that sounded like a pretty good idea.  So Bill mixed up his tamer (no chile peppers) version of Sesame Noodle sauce while I cooked the pasta, and so that was our weird dinner.  Sesame Noodles, meatballs, and vegetarian lasagne.

Weird, maybe.  But everyone was happy and full when they left the table.  And that’s kind of the goal, right?

~~~~~

It’s supposed to clear up at some point today – I hope. 

Indoors…I’ll be moving the trays of seedlings to their next home at the south-facing dining room window.  Not that it will make much difference in their lives today, if it stays gray like this.  But eventually they will soak up the warmth of the sun and grow strong.  Then we will plant them outside, where they will continue to grow tall and strong.  And then, one day…we will eat them.

The End.

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