facebook page up and running

I finally have a Facebook page for Culinaria Eugenius!  All signs point to yes that it will be automatically updating the feed.  There’s a rather unattractive badge in my sidebar that will take you to the page.  (I also have a Twitter account, but I rarely use it, so it’s hardly worth mentioning.)  I have also installed a widget that allows you to receive Culinaria Eugenius posts via email.  If something goes awry, please let me know.

And, in other news, I am very proud to announce the birth of my Dissertation Draft Memorial Raised Bed.  It reclaims part of our lawn for vegetables, and one of the sunniest spots in the whole yard!  The perimeter bed is also greatly expanded this year.

The DDMRB was made using the cold composting lasagna method.  Several months before you plan to plant, combine brown (carbon) and green (nitrogen) sources in a pile, then wait as it slowly rots down.  I combined mixed leaves from the city delivery, pounds of paper shreds made from my dissertation drafts, food scraps, coffee grounds, and blood meal.  I think it’s a fitting tribute to the blood, sweat, and tears shed over my dissertation.  And if we can grow something from it, it will have been worth it.

I was going through some old photos a moment ago, and found this one.  I hope it’s an inspiration for everyone who is thinking about growing a garden but doesn’t feel like getting out there in the rain/cold to prep the beds.  My mom has gardened for many years, but last summer she doubled her efforts and had a huge garden, growing all sorts of things she hadn’t tried before.  It makes me miss that good Michigan soil to see that big ol’ cabbage and the celery.  I hope my garden is half as good as this next summer!

spreading the dirt on off the waffle

If you haven’t tried Off the Waffle in Whiteaker yet, here’s another reason:  a new savory waffle with goat cheese and egg.  The “Goat Cheese Louise” is filled with said goat cheese and juevos haminados, or slow-cooked eggs Sephardic-style.  Lovely.  You can also choose from the wildly popular Nib-tella (made with a cocoa-hazelnut spread whipped up by Nib Dessert and Wine bar in town), banana chocolate chip, and a vegan coconut-banana concoction called “No-Dairy Gary.”  The Gary is made on non-vegan waffle irons, so purists might want to go eat a carrot or something instead.

I’m a big fan of these guys, if you haven’t noticed.  Dave and Omer Orian are kind and conscientious business-owners, offering a unique product and forging bonds between other food purveyors and the community at large.  They now have a barter board set up in the waffle shop, where Eugeniuses can exchange goods and services.  And you can always take some good stuff to barter for waffles.

But the main reason I’m posting this is to spread the dirt (haha) about another way the shop is sustainable.  They compost the waste from waffle-fixins, and have too much to use themselves.

A 5-gallon-bucket-worth of fruit and veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells (organic from Deck Family Farm) can be yours for free if you give them a call at 541-653-3972.  Bring your own bucket.

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Omer tells me that they can fill up a bucket in a couple of days.  They also have waffle scraps and dough for chickens, if you’re interested.

It’s too late to start your own compost for amending veggie beds, but you can start it now if you’d like to use the finished compost as top dressing later in the summer or create new beds that will be ready next spring.

I filled the bin in the picture almost to the top about two months ago, and added grass clippings and food scraps (including some from Off the Waffle) after I returned home.  With the warm weather and a dedicated aerator (namely, me and my pitchfork),  it’s almost ready to go.  I’ll be using this batch for my new pepper bed.

it’s business time

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“Have fun!” he said, clean as a whistle and handsome in his slicker as he pedaled away jauntily on his English three-speed.

“Can’t wait to see you tonight!” she said, equally vigorously, drenched and covered in compost mud.  She waved her shovel in the air as he sped down the street.  He didn’t look back.

seeds for lasagna master gardener victory compost

As yet another sign our vegetable love is growing vaster than empires and more fast, the White House breaks ground for its Victory Garden today.  Good luck, Mrs. Obama, with your first dig!

I love the way we’ve taken back the concept of Victory Garden in 2009.  Victory Gardens were marketed in WWII as a means to support the war effort by growing your own food so the government could devote more national resources to war.  Now, of course, we’re devoting our taxpayer dollars to bonuses for executives and, um, war.  But at least we’re not telling people to grow vegetables to support jingoistic nonsense.  Progress?  Hm, not so sure.

Out here in Eugene, we’re all about amending soil right now.  Food for Lane County’s Grass Roots Garden, which gleans food and paper scraps from local businesses to produce tens of thousands of pounds of food for Lane County hunger relief, recently taught composting to the Master Gardener trainees.  Lasagna, anyone?

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Lasagna or sheet composting is a method of cold composting, where layers of nitrogen and carbon material slowly break down over a 4-6 month time frame.  I snapped this shot during a demo at Grass Roots, and have never felt so inspired by garbage.  Now, I’ve got my own lasagna beds in the works.  Puttin’ ’em in before my husband gets home from his business trip and sees what I’ve done to his lawn.

Last year, I had soil shipped in for my raised beds, and I’ve been integrating compost and organic matter all year, so I’m hoping it will be all right.  Peas, potatoes, rhubarb, fennel, garlic, artichokes, lovage, and leeks are all doing well so far, as are the berries.  I’ll be expanding my beds this year by a foot or two in length, and am considering putting in two more rows.  I’ve always been a hobby gardener, having fun in the dirt and not really caring if all my crops turn out, but I’m becoming more serious about produce yield and feeding our family from our garden, so I’m going to be more careful this year.

To that end, I’m finishing up my Master Gardener training program this week with the certification test.   I’m really excited to start helping other gardeners when I return from my trip to Buffalo in April.   I startled myself (secretly) at my volunteer shift at the home show last weekend when I realized I actually know something about gardening now.  It was a great pleasure to talk to dozens of people about vegetable gardening in Lane County.

If you’re new to vegetable gardening, you can buy choices someone else picked out for you, something like Territorial’s clever pot of seed packets for a complete garden, or a pack of starts that allow you to transplant a group of vegetables.  If you are new, please take my advice: you don’t want seeds.  Try the starts this year, and invest that extra cash in good soil, organic fertilizer and compost.  Log House Plants in Dexter, OR, has developed “Grab and Go” start packs geared toward our finicky summer conditions in the PNW.  They don’t have them listed yet on their website, so I’ll quote from their newsletter:

Grab & Grow, a new series of regional vegetable gardening kits.  After talking to nursery owners and expert gardeners from all over the Northwest, we’ve designed several collections for each region, with varieties chosen for flavor, productivity, and ease of care for a novice gardener.  Each convenient half flat contains a carefully chosen mix of vegetable varieties, along with detailed planting and growing information.

I love this idea.

It’s also worth slowing down and growing only a few things in your Victory Garden.  Like lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, and hot peppers.  You can make a killer pesto at summer’s end with a few basil plants, for example, that would be lovely on your tomatoes.  Zucchini is easy to grow if you have space, too.  Then you can be one of those people begging friends to take your squash, please, at the end of the summer.  Good times.

If you’re interested in learning how to compost and you live near Eugene, check out Extension’s Compost and Worm Bin Composting Classes.  They’re cheap as dirt (heh), free for the compost classes and nearly free for the worm bin classes since you get equipment and worms with your fee.  If you haven’t taken any classes with Lane County Extension, you’re missing out!