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February 17, 2013

Fried collard greens from the garden

This year I am having an exceptional crop of collard greens. I seeded them in October, first in nursery containers, and then replanted into the garden. I have not grown collards before, but now this is one of my favorite vegetables. The leaves of the collards can substitute for the leaves of cabbage, as they are of the same family. In fact, collars are just like cabbage, but they do not form heads. It is pretty challenging to grow cabbage in Florida as our cool season is so short, but collards do seem to adapt to our weather pretty well.

Tonight is one of the last dog freezing nights and I wanted some comfort food. So, I picked fifteen collard leaves, two small heads of broccoli, and made a warming southern meal.

Full recipe is on my other blog, Vegetarian Cooking From Scratch. Now, this meal can be made with bacon or chopped hard boiled eggs to remove the "vegetarian" part. Full Recipe Here

And here's the picture before this dish was savored by me and my family:

February 16, 2013

Planting Vegetables in Wood Chips

I am trying something new. Instead of planting in soil, I am plating in wood chips. I did not plan it like that, it just sort of happened. I had a new set of raised beds built, but did not have soil for them. Then, after some research, I found that the beds can be filled with free wood chips that the power company delivers. The plan was thus born. I had a huge pile of wood chips delivered to my front yard, and there I went. Loading wheel barrows of chips and loading my new raised beds.

The wood chips themselves are not just pieces of wood, there are also chopped up small green twigs and even some palm leaves. That is a good mixture, although a bit poor on nitrogen (green matter), but still not totally devoid of this important nutrient.

Next thing I did was to seed some legumes. I am preparing this bed for the Spring planting of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. So the fast maturing legumes will serve as a cover crop. I planted the whole bed of black beans, just sprinkled with soil on the top of the seeds. Here they are starting to sprout:

And the rest of the beds I planted with cowpeas with the intention of tilling them in. I left a portion of the bed completely with no soil, as my test bed. Looks like cowpeas do not care if they don't have the soil. They are sprouting just as nicely:

I have cardboard on the bottom of these beds. Once cardboard rots it will allow the roots of my vegetables to penetrate even deeper into the soil below, under the decomposed wood chips. I do expect this whole concoction to pack down very heavily, but then I can always call the power company and have another load of wood chips to be delivered and added to these beds. 

I am very hopeful of this growing method, and in fact if this goes well, my next plan is to raise all my existing beds and add piles of wood chips to them.

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