Monday, June 6, 2011

Creating a small kitchen garden

It is June and I know it is a little late to be thinking about a kitchen garden, but here in the Northwest our spring was cold and wet. It was not a typical spring and certainly not a spring for building a small raised bed. In the last week the weather has dried enough to work the ground, mow the lawns and contemplate sowing seeds. With any luck this part of the world will see a summer and reap the benefits of a carefully planned kitchen garden.
My garden beds started out in the form of four uncut 2x4 lengths of lumber. Each length was eight feet, was cut in half and was nailed together to create a four foot by four foot square.
Once the frame was completed I placed a cardboard liner inside the frame and then covered the cardboard with untreated landscape fabric/weed barrier.
After lining my garden bed with the landscape fabric, I filled the area with a mix of steer manure, top soil, sand, pearlite, compost, alfalfa pellets, and a blend of nursery soil. I filled the frame so that the soil was approximately 4 inches deep.
It is my hope that this small garden spot will serve as a good location to grow lettuce, herbs, and chard. I plan to start a few summer squash and cucumbers in these beds, but I know that I will have to transplant them to another location. Cucumbers and squash need more area for their vines to spread.
My  tomatoes, beans, peas and cilantro will be grown in containers and I will feature them in later post.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Astronomy Friday....chasing asteroids

The asteroid Vesta makes it's appearence in June, and now is a great time to begin you search for this object.

 A pair of hand held binocular will help you spot it nestled among the stars of Capricornus. The asteroid is shining at the 7th magnitude in early June, but before summer ends it will be a bright 5.6 magnitude and visible to the naked eye.
To locate Vesta, use Iota Capriconi as a guide, Vesta lies less than 1 degree east of this star tonight!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Carrot Cake

So common to many spring gardens is the deliciously sweet and vibrantly orange carrot. Carrots are filled with great taste, crunch and vitamins. Just some of the reasons I love carrot cake. This recipe uses applesauce instead of oil and is very moist and flavorful. Diced pineapple replace nuts, but you can certainly add them to this recipe if you wish. The entire cake is topped off with a thick cream cheese frosting, for a wonderfully decadent dessert.

4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mace
1  1/2 cups applesauce
1  1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
the zest of one entire orange
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pineapple, diced
3 cups shredded carrots

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar, applesauce, orange zest until smooth.
add the carrots and stir thoroughly.
Add 4 cups of sifted flour and the remaining dry ingredients, fold into wet ingredients until almost incorporated.
Add the raisins and diced pineapple combine all ingredients until completely combined.
Pour into prepared baking dish, place in the oven and bake 35 to 40 minutes.
To test, insert a toothpick, if it is clean when removed the cake is done.
Do not over cook.

Serve cooled with a cream cheese frosting and an ice cold glass of milk.