Less Noise, More Green: March 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Front yard edible landscaping redesign - second time's a charm!

This is sunrise at Still House Cove, just around the corner from my house.                  Photo by Michael St. Jean

We were very lucky this week and just got grazed by a major storm. We had strong winds but barely a dusting of snow. Today is cool but the sun is shining and it feels right to be thinking about all things green! 

As I shared in my last post, a big rethink has happened concerning the redesign of my front yard. I was never really happy with the original plan I came up with (you can see it here). My vision for these beds is using edible plants to create an attractive but useful landscape and I feel I have achieved that better with this redesign.

Here is the new lay out:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rethink of the Front Garden Redo and Other Happenings

Bakewell Tart Squares, British Food
Bakewell Tart Squares

Last weekend almost felt like Spring, here in Rhode Island. I took advantage of the weather and dug up all the remaining hostas in the front yard. It only took me five hours. Let me tell you, those plants did not want to come out!! I also removed a dead hydrangea and an invasive barberry. Lots of work still remains though, including pruning and the removal of a yew tree to make room for two elderberry bushes.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Urban composting: green and brown ingredients

Lush vegetable gardens need lots of compost. This is my garden, last August.

Spring is being such a tease this year! One day in the 50s, the next in the 30s. I have so much digging to do and less and less time to do it. One thing I can do now is start putting my compost plan into action.

Gardening in an urban setting comes with a unique set of challenges, not least of which is creating compost. Making compost requires lots of raw materials and finding those materials in a small garden is not always easy! To make compost, you need a mix of "greens" and "browns".

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bee School

Beekeeping, URI Master Gardener
Bee wings always remind me of stained glass.

Last week, I completed a beginner's beekeeping class taught by the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association. One of the Master Gardener projects I volunteer at, an Edible Forest Garden located in Roger Williams Park in Providence, won a hive and nuc of bees from Whole Foods Market last summer. Part of the prize was lessons and I was lucky enough to be one of the people to go through the class for the project. The project leader is in the process of finalizing the location of the hive and other details before we receive the nuc, which should be in April.

Friday, March 14, 2014

British Food: Leeky Pie

Leeky Pie, British Food

Leeks and cream are a classic combination found in a many traditional British recipes. Bacon and Leek Pie or Leeky Pie, is an old recipe popular in Cornwall , Somerset and Devon and is real country food. Here's how to make it!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Working the soil and the first signs of spring!

urban farming
Rhubarb breaking through the soil. I'm so happy to see you!

It is time for me to show my soil some love. There is so much to do before I can plant outside and I feel like I am running out of time! Luckily, yesterday was a balmy 60 degrees and I jumped at the chance to get outside, do some inspecting, and work the soil. Here's what I found.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Svalbard Global Seed Vault is one of the coolest places on earth

Food security
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault                                                                                                           Bjoertvedt/Wikipedia

I have been thinking a lot lately about food security and just how fragile our local, national and global food systems are. Then I stumbled across the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and there is nothing insecure or fragile about this facility or it's mission! Plus, one day it might just save humanity.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lemon Almond Tart

Lemon Almond Tart, dessert

Sometimes wonderful mistakes happen in the kitchen.

The plan was to bake a Bakewell Tart, which is a classic British dessert. This tart, which by the way was also the result of a kitchen misunderstanding, is a beautiful jam and almond meal creation in a pastry crust, sprinkled with almonds and drizzled with icing.  Sometimes you find individual Bakewell Tarts in English bakeries, covered with icing and with a cherry on top.

The classic Bakewell Tart is made with a layer of raspberry jam between pastry and almond filling. I have a cupboard full of homemade jam but none of it is raspberry so here was going to be my first compromise! Having just defrosted some home made meyer lemon curd, the decision was made for me!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Urban gardens provide an important source of food for bees

urban bees, flowers to attract bees
My marigolds were a big hit with the bees last year. Note the pollen sac on the bee's back leg!

Here is my latest Garden Blog post for the Providence Journal:

It seems as if there is nothing but bad news lately concerning bees.  Mites, diseases, pesticides, monoculture  farming practices and the reduction of open spaces and wild habitats are all potentially working together to make it harder for bees to survive.  We have all heard the dire predictions of what a world without bees would be like. There is, however, hope for the bees and it can be found as close as outside your own back door.

read more....