Friday, September 23, 2005

Garden notes

It's Fertilization Friday in the garden, which means it's the day that, instead of watering via hose sprayer, I make a series of five-gallon bucketfuls of murky kelp soup (see item H312 here) and pour them slowly over my growing vegetables. This, in addition to the composted manure I've been working in wherever new seeds are planted, seems to be helping the plants along quite nicely.

On days like today, I also take the time to look more closely at the plants--noticing, for example, if weird beetle larvae can be found snacking on my waning eggplants. And yes, it turns out they can. Die, foul vermin, die!

The front flowerbed where I've planted my red cabbage seedlings is much more organic-y and leaf-strewn than the main vegetable garden area, so it is rife with slugs. Our slugs here are small (aside from very occasional imported giant banana slugs), but they can still make pretty large holes when they're hungry. In fact, the littlest cabbage was cut down altogether two days ago. So last night, before retiring, I took two teeny Asian condiment bowls and filled them with beer, then embedded them in the leaf mold outside. This morning I was gratified to find that five slugs and one beetle had died drunken deaths. Excellent--I need to remember to do that every night.

Most exciting discovery du jour: My purple sprouting broccoli has germinated!

Additional non-garden-related information: Nutella is really good on dense, custardy cornbread. I'm sure it's good on dry-ish fluffy cornbread, too, but there's something about the moist, almost polenta-like texture that is particularly dreamy. Craig Claiborne has a recipe for this kind of cornbread, if you happen to have his southern cookbook. But I like this recipe (which I've adapted from Sheila Ferguson's Soul Food: Classic Cuisine from the Deep South) much better:


2 Tbs. butter
1 1/2 c. cornmeal
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbs. sugar
2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. skim milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 Tbs. melted butter

Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet with 2 Tbs. butter in it in the oven while it preheats to 400 degrees F.
Meanwhile, whisk together cornmeal, flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar.
Add buttermilk, milk, eggs, and melted butter and blend together until smooth. Pour into warmed, buttery skillet. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.