The Giant Tree Trim!
Spring is here! While I have been feeling the blogger blahs, I am ready to start planting seeds! We'll set up our seed starter stand and get things going under the grow lights. Last fall we decided to get more sun on our backyard vegetable garden area. I could see the writing on the wall with potential food shortages and other issues at that time. We have a huge maple tree that we absolutely love! Gives us tons of much-needed shade on the hot west side of the house. One of the challenges though has been getting enough sun over the garden. Quite a few years ago we used a really great tree service (Wolff) and they trimmed the south side of the tree enough to open up the garden and keep the tree healthy. Tree preservation here is key. They've also done some other trimmings of the tree, taking down some dangerous huge branches. We called them again this winter and got a bid on thinning the south side again. I had them leave enough branches, however, over the coop to give the hens some shade. Our huge tree you can see from the front yard-
I left the chickens in the coop in the early morning with snacks. I went over with the tree crew to try to keep the chicken's sunroom intact. They did a great job! Sometimes you have to make these tough decisions for food production. We also had them trim back our apple tree in the front, so that we can reach it for better harvesting. When a fruit tree gets too tall it gets to be impossible to harvest the fruit at the top. We had them trim it a few years ago and this year just had them shorten the top a bit. Problem solved.
Tree over the coop, left some for shade
Much more sun on the right!
Tree all trimmed!
Success Wintering Over Veggies w/Row Covers-
In the photo above you can see the white row covers covering some of our winter veggies. Usually in the fall I have always ripped out our collard greens, etc. and gave them to the chickens. This year I decided to cover them with row cover and see if they would survive the winter or not. They are collard greens and kale. I cover them really well with a double layer of row cover and secured them with some heavy rocks. Other than that I didn't really do anything else. Dave and I uncovered them a few days ago and they look great! If some of the leaves are bitter we can give them to the chickens for feed otherwise we will be eating them. Row cover is so cheap here, about $10 for a long packaged piece it's worth the investment. Just another way to increase food production! I expect they will really take off with the warmer weather now with some water and a little bit of manure.
Last week I saw an old PBS episode of Emeril the Chef, and it reminded me of an old recipe I used to do. Years ago I saw some travel show where they did a lowland boil. It's traditionally done with a spicy broth with crawfish, beer, vegetables and sausage. One of the secrets was putting in a can of beer. Old Bay Seasoning is used, easily found at all grocery stores. I used this recipe as a base McCormick.com To do it economically I bought a bag of frozen seafood mix. It has shrimp, scallops, squid, and muscles. I bought an extra bag of medium-sized frozen shrimp. I went ahead and bought some fresh Old Bay seasoning. I followed the basic recipe here but cut it in half. I also eliminated the sausage, trying to be a little bit healthier. I did about 2 to 3 quarts of water with almost a half a container of Old Bay seasoning, onions quartered, Yukon Gold potatoes chopped, six large chopped carrots. At add one can of plain beer, don't use a lager or anything dark! Adjust water as needed. After the vegetables were fairly well cooked through I added the seafood for about 15 to 20 minutes. I served this with cornbread and it was great! Keep well in the fridge.
Mason Brand = Pur Brand-
Last year I noticed Pur brand lids showed up in stores. Now I'm seeing jars with both brands listed. Looks like a merger or something similar. Luckily I am seeing canning lids in grocery stores! Nice to be able to stock up.