Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thank You Universe for Spring Bounty

I love this abundant time of year in south Tampa! Time to begin blanching and freezing various brassica leaves to use this summer and early fall, and the chickens are laying so many eggs I will begin stockpiling them for next winter using a method I learned many years ago in Denver.....crack a bunch of raw eggs into my blender, add a teaspoon of sea salt, buzz, let sit a few minutes to be sure the salt has dissolved, buzz again, then pour into recycled yogurt etc. tubs, label and freeze. This allows me wonderful omelets and quiches in mid-winter when the chickens are barely laying.

I noticed the emergence of flower bud stalks on the San Ho Giant Mustard I grew very fond of this winter so today I will slip the foot ends of a couple panty hose over them and secure with a twisty to prevent cross pollination from other brassicas so as to grow my own seeds of this wonderfully mild crispy cold hardy veggie I love raw or cooked.

I have a nice crop of daikon radish and am getting low on the last gallon batch of kimchi I made almost 5 years ago that is now beyond yummy, so I will scour the house and shed for a gallon glass jar to make a new batch. This time I will make it lower sodium and use a wider mix of veggies, possibly sweet potatoes to provide sugars for the lactic acid producing bacteria while balancing the flavor. As with that last batch, I will add crushed dried salted greenback fish I netted from Tampa Bay to add flavor and protein. Of course I will add a lot of hot pepper and garlic but this time include roasted sesame oil to add a hearty backdrop to the flavor. I have an abundance of green papayas from the huge plant out front and will include that in the raw veggies mix that will sit in sea salt overnight to draw out excess moisture before packing and aging in the fridge for several months.

My front yard is a sea of nasturtiums! The chef at Wimauma Restaurant loves them and my arugula and thornless optuntia cactus and more, and I in turn am grateful for the two or so buckets of scraps that he and his staff save for me daily to feed my ducks and chickens. A true win-win situation.

While I am usually a food crops man I am excited to see ample germinations in in seed trays of several flowers, including Showy Primsose, Missouri Primrose, Tuber Vervain and quite a few more. I want my gardens, especially in back, to be MUCH more colorful as I revamp the yard to learn to embrace tidiness as a habit vs. the exception. Plus I intend to stock the top bar hive with bees and I'm sure they'd appreciate nectar-filled flowers close at hand.

Thanks to the folks, like my neighbor Don across the street, who bring me their bags of spring leaves as I need 200-300 this year to fully enact my plans for a far more well-organized and productive, deeply mulched back yard.

With the scent of citrus blooms from my trees riding the spring breezes, I am once again so glad to be back home where I belong after fifteen LONG years in frigid Denver!

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