Petite Inspirations

In the name of inspiration and all things interesting to me and hopefully you.

My Lazy Attemp at Hugelkultur

Occasionally, I get really inspired (or crazy as Mr. Wonderful might call it) to just stop what I’m doing and start a new project. I’ve been reading a lot about hugelkultur lately and decided to attempt it. It really was a half assed attempt to tell you the truth. I just dug a hole, threw some wood that was from a tree we cleared from the lawn, piled smaller branches and uncompleted compost from the compost bin and finally, topped it off with some compost I bought from Home Depot that was on sale. Thinking about it, I don’t think it was compost, more like amending stuff for the soil. Anyways, we’ll see how it turns out.

The hole I dug was about 6 inches deep. Honey is inspecting my job. I think she approves. I forgot to take a picture of the firewood underneath the unfinished compost that you see.

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This is with the amending soil on top of the unfinished compost. It looks exactly like a raised bed!

 

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Mr. Wonderful suggested I put the extra wood we had around the bed to help Honey from walking on it. It seems to be working, but now instead of walking on it, she eats the dirt that she can reach from the sides. So far it seems to be working well. Only time will tell.

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The idea behind Hugelkulture is pretty much like a huge compost pile. Over time, it will break down and provide a lot of nutrients for the plants on top. Mind you, mine is the lazy mans version, so I don’t know how effective it will be or if I even did it right. As far as I see it, it doesn’t hurt to put compost or unfinished compost underneath what you are planting. It just takes more time for it to decompose to provide the nutrients.

Easter Chicks

For about 3 years now, I have been dreaming of owning chickens. They provide fresh eggs, they help till the garden and eat the bugs while at it, and provide fertilizer. My dream has finally come true this past weekend and it so happened to be Easter. Hallelujah!!

The chicks I bought are actually pullets or the teenager versions of a chicken. I wanted them old enough to not need a heat lamp (chicks are too much work for my taste!). There are so much breeds to choose from. Originally,  I wanted a barred rock, but the breeder only had 2 week old chicks. Those are way too young and need so much attention, which I can not provide right now. They only had a few breeds that met my criteria, old enough to not need a heat lamp and be hens, no roosters allowed in my city. I wouldn’t want them anyways waking me up at the crack of dawn or even before that, crowing to let everyone know ‘it’s early and you should get up’! I have enough of some sort of tiny birds on my patio, that chirp like they’re debating loudly at each other, every morning.

So the breeds we bought are, 1 black and 1 white australorp, and a welsummer. The 2 australorps lay brown eggs, while the welsummer lays dark brown or sometimes speckled eggs. I can’t wait to see them eggs! I think these pullets are about 15 weeks, but I have to call the breeder and double check. I’m hoping to get eggs in the next couple months or so. We’ll see.

Here they are in action! Well, not much action, but they are so fun to watch. I’m going to try to handle them everyday so they won’t be so afraid around me. Speaking of training, Honey had her share yesterday. My goal is to have her off leash around the coop without running around and scaring the chicks.

 

Albondigas Soup

It was a bit cold in the evenings a few weeks ago and Mr. Wonderful wanted some soup to warm up, so I decided to make Albondigas (Meatball) soup again. This recipe is adapted from here. The key is fresh herbs from the garden and great broth! This version has no bread crumbs which still works great and is gluten-free!

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Ingredients:
1/2 cup cooked rice
salt to taste
1 pound ground beef
2 eggs
1 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
1/4 + 1/4 cup fresh oregano, minced
1/4 + 3/4 cup onions, chopped (divided)
1/2cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 – 1/2 cup of oil (i used grape seed oil)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
1 – 15oz can diced tomatoes
3 quarts beef broth
2 cups chayote, cubed
1 1/2 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper2 Limes, wedges

 

Prepare the meatballs: Mix first 5 ingredients, 1/4 cup oregano, 1/4 cup onions, and  1/4 cup cilantro in a bowl and make 1″ meatballs. You can stick them in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden them up a bit if they’re too mushy, but if you work quickly, you can heat up your dutch oven while your making the meatballs and toss them to pan fry it with a bit of oil on medium high heat. Brown on all sides. It’s not necessary to make sure the insides aren’t pink because you will be cooking it in the soup later. Do this in 2 or 3 batches, you don’t want to overcrowd your pan because they won’t brown properly. The brown crispy bits when frying will give the soup a really good flavor!

Tip: I pan fry a small sample of the meat and try it to see if there is enough seasoning and adjust accordingly, before frying all the meatballs.

When all the meatballs are done, reserve some of the drippings from the pot and add the rest of the onions, carrots, and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions are see through, then add the tomatoes, broth, and the rest of the oregano. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add the chayote,  meatballs, salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the chayote is fork tender. Take a taste of the soup and adjust with salt and pepper.

Serve with cilantro and lime. Enjoy and warm up.

Tips:
I like using chayote because it has a neutral flavor and picks up the flavor of the soup nicely without overpowering any of it’s flavor to the soup. If you don’t have chayote, use any other summer squash you like.

Double the batch of  meatballs to save time the second time around,  for another quick  fix of this awesome soup. Lay the second batch of meatballs separately on a cookie sheet and stick it in the freezer. After a few hours (when it’s frozen), I seal them up in a ziplock.

 

April Update

Here are some of the things going on in the garden. Mr. Wonderful and I went to LA about a month ago to visit Centrose Nursery in Gardena, CA. I heard about it from a YouTube channel I subscribe to:  Growing your Greens, with John Kohler. His site is where I also first heard of tree collards and that’s the reason why we went to this nursery in Gardena. We purchased the two varieties of collards, green and purple. They said the difference was that one was milder tasting. I believe the green is the milder one if I’m not mistaken.

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Tree collard, green vaiety

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Purple variety of tree collard.

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Okinawan Spinach or AKA Cholesterol lowering plant

The Okinawan spinach is supposedly an aid to lower cholesterol. We decided to purchase this for Mr. Wonderfuls’ dad. I’ll grow them this summer and give it to him when they’re a lot bigger. The seem to be liking their new pot and thriving in an area in the yard that receives about about 4-5 hours of sun.  I tried a couple of leaves and it was mild and not bitter at all. I really can’t tell what it tastes similar to though.

 

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Nasturtium – Spitfire

 

 

 

 

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Kale – Lacinato and Red Russian

This is the first time I’ve planted my kale in the ground. Usually, I’ve just planted them in containers. I had extra seedlings and wanted to see if the would grow in our not so rich soil. They seem to be liking it, although I did mix in some compost in the ground before planting them. If you notice, there are about 3 growing (2 red russians, and 1 lacinato). I know it’s a bit crowded but I really didn’t want to thin them out. They seem to be doing ok, even with scarlet runner beans growing behind them. This is my experimental bed anyways. We’ll see what works and doesn’t.

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I’m finally using my potato sack for….potatoes! This is my first time growing potatoes! I’m so excited!! They seem to be doing well. You can see some dark leaves poking out of the ground. I’ll add more compost on top of the leaves when they’re taller. That supposedly helps more potatoes grow.

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My cymbidiums are in bloom! So pretty and but so diseased! grrrr.. They have black spots growing on some of the leaves and now the flowers have something that’s eating them up slowing and turning the edges brown. Any suggestions are welcomed!!!

How’s your garden growing?

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Propagating Azaleas

 

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I got a couple of azaleas (white and pink variety) this February. They look so gorgeous. They were actually on sale in the store for Valentines, and I couldn’t resist. The pink is still hanging on to their flowers, while the white variety has pooped out.  I’ve since repotted them and if you notice on both plants, I’ve placed some rock in an attempt to do some propagating called layering, which is just one of several ways to propagate azaleas. Hopefully by next year, I’ll have a few more azalea plants! Then I have my very own azalea plants to give away….or keep for next Valentines.

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