Eden Gardening – Part 2

Oops…this was supposed to be up a while back, but it did not post…sorry…tech scheduling error .

I know it’s no longer winter and spring is upon us, but this may give you ideas for next fall.

This is a continuation of my epic garden fail this past spring 2015.

If you read the Eden Gardening – Part 1, the whole sordid story is publicly posted for the world to read, and laugh, or cry – like I did. There is also a nifty film recommending Eden Gardening – a very productive and deeply naturalistic gardening experience that I think you will enjoy….IF you enjoy gardening.  Back to Eden Film

Are you ready to do something different this next year – the time to start is now!

Now?  it’s near winter for crying out loud! ~ yep it sure is.

It would have been even better if had suggested this in September as the last of your last withering crops were being tilled out of the ground, but that would have made too much sense.  I, unfortunately, neglected to layer my garden this past fall – I was still licking my wounds over an epically failed garden.  Next year – I’ll supplement my wood chips in the fall.  

The BEST part about spreading wood chips is:
No pre-weeding or plowing is required…just pour, spread and ignore.
Love It! 🙂

The reason to start laying your wood chip foundation in the fall or winter is so that it will have time to compost underneath and provide a nice bed for your growing plants next spring.  By year spring number two, after you have applied your second layer, the soil below will be a deep brown-black color and very rich in vital nutrients your plants will love!

Where to Find Wood Chips:

Fall wood chip pile. source: Restored Roots

Fall wood chip pile.
source: restoredroots.com

Your local city waste management company may be able to direct you to where the tree and brush recycling centers are located.  Often you will need to bring your own pick-up truck, and there maybe a cost to obtaining wood-chips.

There are also businesses that will deliver wood chips to your garden location, but most will only dump them in, or near, your garden space.  Delivery drivers usually do not spread the chips, so you will probably have to do that yourself or hire someone to spread them for you.

Note: Sawdust is NOT the same as wood chips.  The wood chips I am referring to, come from natural roadside gleaning, where the utility companies come in and cut local wood to clean up a street or neighborhood.  Using treated wood chips – either pre-sprayed for weed suppression – or treated wood for insect prevention will negatively effect your garden area and possibly introduce contaminates into your garden harvest.

How to Spread the Wood Chips

When your wood chips have been dumped on your garden space, you will need to spread them over your garden area. Spreading wood chips is hard work – sorry, but it is.  I suggest the employment a few family, friends and neighborhood kids, well armed with rakes, shovels and wheel barrows.

For a garden foundation spread the wood chips over the garden area at a minimum of 8 inches – deep.
(If you are planning to use as a mulch over settled beds, then 2-4″ would be a better spread.)
The reason for 8 inches is to allow for complete weed suppression and self-heating composting for next spring plantings.
It will take a large truckload of chips to create an 8 ft x 6 ft’ garden space at least 8″- 12″ deep.  Most truckloads will cost you 60.00 – 150.oo to deliver, unless your area is giving truckloads of chips away for free. If so, they may deliver the fresh truckload to your garden space, at the end of the day, on their way back to the office.

Raised Bed Eden Garden

If you want your wood chip garden to be uniform or in a raised bed – it is easy.  Rake the edges of the chips to your desired height and then surround the garden bed with either raised bedding materials or set edging material around the wood chip area. Then fill your raised, bed-to-be with wood chips.  You can also mix in dried leaves as a compost extra.
Caution: avoid Walnut leaves, they inhibit germination 

When the wood chips are spread, cover the bed with dark plastic and let it sit through the winter to break down into a nutritive soil.

What Happens to the Wood Chips After they are Spread?

When the thick bed of wood chips has been spread over the garden bed in the late fall and left to sit until spring, the wood chips at the bottom begin to compost.  This composting causes heat to develop in the wood chip bed and promotes wood chip disintegration.  This composting is a good thing, because nutrients trapped in the plant material, mainly wood chips, are broken down and absorbed by the soil to aid is providing the proper diet the garden will need during the growing season.

Gardening in Wood Chips

The first spring after wood chips are laid down, there may not be sufficient composted wood chips beneath.
The wood chips continue to break down through the growing season and into the next winter, but the first year the composted bed is just beginning to establish itself.  You may need to purchase some composted soil to make up the difference sue to a lack of developed compost in you first year gardening bed.

During this first year, the soil surrounding the pre-sprouted plants will provide extra growth medium while the compost bed further establish themselves.   Remove the excess potting soil surrounding the plant roots, without leaving them bare, and mix the loose potting soil with the compost in the hole prepared for the plant, then place the plant into the mixed dirt.  When the two mediums are mixed like this, the plant roots ‘taste’ the composted soil mixed with the potting soil and accept this new mix as part of its natural growth medium.

Maintaining the Wood Chips

Just as a harvested garden is plowed under and prepared for the next planting season, so too will the wood chip garden need pre-winter maintenance.  Before you break a sweat, I assure you that this part is easy compared to the old-fashioned way of maintaining a garden.

Here’s what you won’t be doing: Rototilling, plowing or preparing the ‘soil’.

The step is simple, remove any unwanted plants, (ie: weeds), leave the rest for compost, then spread more wood chips – another 4″ to 6″ – and let it sit for another winter season.  You can weed if you want, but it is not necessary.  If you choose not to weed then add an extra 3 inches to the wood chip layer to ensure that the weeds get well composted.

By year two, the Spring wood chip compost layer will be rich and dark, basically like fresh new soil.

Maintaining the wood chips is easy.  Each year, all you need to do is add another thick layer of wood chips in the fall, (cover them, if they are in a bed), and let them sit.  That’s it!

Follow the Restored Roots Gardening Experience, parts 1 and 2:

Our First Back to Eden Garden (Part 1) – Early Summer

Remember, if you purchase a soil supplement, such as compost, topsoil or potting soil the first year, your seedlings and seeds will not have so much of the struggles that restoredroots started with.  As for slugs, they can be managed with an organic slug bait or with the old-fashioned near-beer in a tuna-can ritual.

Our First Back to Eden Garden (Part 2) – Early Fall

I love Eden Gardening, Restored Roots loved Eden Gardening and I think you will too!

May the Storage Be With You,

Anne  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

News Flash…White Flour is NOT Forever!

For years I  have assumed the accepted  belief that white flour has an indeterminate life cycle and that once it’s packed, it is good for life.

Home Storage Friends, I’ve got some seriously bad news for you, white flour is not forever!

Boy – did I receive a tasty surprise when I discovered a couple of white flour buckets that had gotten tucked behind other items.

These flour buckets were dated 2009 and yes, it had the original flour still inside.
I thought, “Ooooh, I need to use this stuff!” and proceeded to make a double batch of biscuits.

Well, That was a BIG mistake!

During dinner, my kids and their friends – (what a way to make an impression) – seemed to turn bit white, while gagging slightly, when they took their first bite of these mirages of flaky goodness.  Even after their first  bite,they were troopers as they attempted to mask the beyond bitter taste with butter, honey and/or cinnamon sugar.

One of the neighbor kids at the table stated that my biscuits tasted like really bad play-dough.  The expressed consensus throughout the meal was that rancid play-dough doesn’t really taste very good.

The last time I had gotten a ‘compliment’ like this from a non-bias crowd was when I served some roll-out sugar cookies several years ago to the children of a good friend – the recipe for these cookies I found on the Martha Stewart website and had felt pretty confident that they were be the ‘bees-knees’.

My friends kids were kinder than my own.
The older girl in the car simply asked me if I was serving the ‘play-dough’ cookies again.
It was an awkward moment, but I took it well by incorporating generous amounts of humor.
If I can’t laugh at myself then I won’t have any fun when my friends are laughing at me.

FYI: I am very sure that it was the slightly aged flour, not the recipe,
that brought on the less-than-desirable play-dough taste.

My mistaken imaginations of forever white flour were shattered this past week as I slaughtered a double-batch of innocent biscuits.

I will say it again: Home Storage Friends, I’ve got some seriously bad news for you, white flour is NOT forever!

I truly feel concern for those who have acquired their ‘food-storage’, (hunkering down for decades in grandmas basement) either by early inheritance, or by personal investment…the day will come when you will need to eat it.  Make sure it is edible today to ensure you can eat it tomorrow.

If you have those #10 cans or 5 gallon buckets of white flour that are dated beyond two years from their original packing – unless they are vacuum sealed in Mylar or food sealer bags – then your white flour probably tastes pretty nasty right now.

This past incident with my flour being 7 years old just topped my record of serving some pretty nasty food.  Believe me, starvation would definitely more flavorful that those biscuits.  I don’t think there is any amount of sugar, milk, butter or other flavor altering ingredient that can fix rancid flour.

I mean it was rancid!  Not just the “Ewe, that’s stale.” taste, it was more like the “Ugh! Get this nasty tongue stinging, stinky, nausea party out of my mouth!” kinda taste.  There was no fixing it….there IS NO FIXING IT!

Wheat and other grained flour is worse – 6 months tops for wheat flour before it goes, unless you keep it in a 45-50 degree environment, then it may have a bit longer keep.

My advise to you is to open TODAY an older #10 can or 5 gallon bucket to verify that the flour is still good.  Sometimes food in the can will also take on a tinny taste over time.

My theory is: If one can. or bucket of white flour is bad then be assured that all the cans or buckets of white flour reflecting the same date, or close to it, will be bad as well.

If your white flour is vacuum sealed in Mylar or food sealer bags, it may still be good.  You will not know unless you open it and the worst time to discover your stores are bad is when you are ready to eat them.

Remember stored food is not meant to sit in your basement, crawlspace, stairway space or closet waiting for an apocalypse.  It is supposed to be regularly consumed and replenished just like your cupboard.

Eat What Your Store Today ~ Store What You’ll Eat Tomorrow

May the Storage Be With You

Anne 🙂

 

 

Making Pancakes…eggs are optional…oil is not.

This morning I ventured into the kitchen to whip up a stack of pancakes.  Upon opening he fridge, I realized I had neglected to buy some eggs when I was in town yesterday.

Well, I didn’t want to disappoint the strawberries, whipped cream or maple syrup so I went ahead its my plans.

I made the pancake batter without the eggs and it came out fine.

Yea…don’t need eggs for pancakes, but eggs do provide healthy protein, so if you have them, add them.

What you do need is oil.

Honestly, ‘cakers’ are better with oil.

 oil, the If we neglected fats and oils cake would stick to the pan and will bake up dense and dry.  I often add oil to my batter, as well as making sure my cast-iron skillet has a drop rubbed into the cooking surface before I begin.  This way, my cakes are moist and don’t stick to the pan.

Oil and fats are an often overlooked component in food storage.

Look over you recipes, how many of them require oil in the mix or as part of the cooking regimen?

Most recipes, for baking, call for 1/4 to 3/4 cup of a liquid or solid fat to add moisture to the baked good.  I have accidentally left out this vital ingredient in a recipe and it ultimately became bird food because the kids were not interested in super-dense and dry muffins.  :/

Fats and Oils are essential to the human diet.  Natural fats are not dietary demons.  It is man-made fats such as hydrogenated fats and fake fats made in a lab that are bad for your body, because fake and chemically modified fats cannot be processed effectively.

Oils are important for your body as well, but there are oils that should be avoided.  All corn, vegetable, canola and soybean oils on the general market, at this time, are genetically modified.  While some people think that this poses little to no health threat, there is plenty of concern that the long-term health issues from consuming these substances has yet to be substantiated.

So choose your fat and oil wisely ~ your body is counting on you to make the healthy choice.

How much oil should I get?  

Let’s say you decide that 1/4 cup of oil is all you need each day. 
1/4 cup = 2 oz.  Multiply 2 oz by 7 days = 14 oz a week.  
There are 52 weeks in a year, so 14 x 52 = 728 oz for one year, or   30+ 24 oz bottles of oil.

Will it store?
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I initially thought that my oil would go rancid within six month and could not be stored for long.  I learned, by experience, that my beliefs were mistaken.

It really depends upon what type of oil you get and how you store it. Corn, vegetable, soybean and canola oils are notorious for going rancid quickly, even in a dark, cool space. 

I recommend olive, coconut and safflower oils in smaller bottles, such as 24-30 ounces each.  Store them in the dark, in a chilly place of the house…temps between 45-65 degrees.   Other seed and nut oils have varying shelf lives, but storing in optimal conditions will help.

When I first began researching and developing my own ways of storing oil, I found the need to establish a storage baseline.  Not surprising, this baseline was the same as storing all my other food storage – in a cool, dark, dry environment. 

There are ways to achieve dark conditions for your oil, other than covering the windows with foil and black curtains.  I have stuck my smaller bottles of oil inside a large black sock, wrapped them in aluminum foil, or have draped a blanket over the shelf they are stored on.  you can then store them in storage containers on shelves or directly on a shelf. 

To keep the room your food is in cool, close the heater vent that goes into that room, you can also remove the heater vent and tape plastic on the underside, then reinstall it with the vent closed, that should help.  Having a door draft stopper on the bottom of your storage room door will help to keep it cool.   Door drafter stoppers can be a simple as a rolled up blanket or a commercial creation sold at your local store.

Lastly – you need to date your bottles with the month and year you purchased it.  Do your best to keep your oil in their original bottles, to ensure that they stay uncontaminated.  Set bottles on your shelf, oldest to youngest, use oldest bottles first. 

For example:  if I have three bottles dated for 01/12, 06/12, 02/13 – which I have, btw ~ and they are still good, I would use the 1/12 bottle first, because it is the oldest.  I would then have the 06/12 behind the first bottle followed by the 02/13, so they are used in order of purchase.

With oils and fats you won’t have to worry about dense muffins and waffles stuck to the griddle.

~ May the Storage Be With You ~
🙂

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