Salad With Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Salad With Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

‘Tis strawberry season here in the South so I have a ‘crazy good’ family favorite for you which is perfect for this time of year…

This side dish is a delicious compliment to any meal!

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 2 -3 teaspoons strawberry jam (I use homemade freezer jam)
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Place jam and vinegar in a bowl and whisk.  Pour EVOO in slowly and continue to whisk vigorously.  Salt and pepper to taste.  This is best made ahead of time so the flavors can get’ all married up and everything’.     🙂   Make a double batch of this vinaigrette so you can have a salad for lunch the next day.  You will want to – it is that good!!!

Garden Fresh Salad

  • Mixed baby spring greens
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • Roasted walnuts (optional)
  • Gorgonzola cheese (optional)

Use greens of your choice – we prefer mixed baby spring greens from our garden on the front lawn.  Pour vinaigrette over greens and toss gently.  Add roasted walnuts and gorgonzola if desired (we DESIRE big time – such a great combination of flavors!).  Spread sliced strawberries over the top of the greens.

Serve and enjoy!

 

What Time is It???  IT’S TIME!

What Time is It??? IT’S TIME!

Yes, it is time to start the planning, and in some instances planting, for your spring/summer garden.  I highly recommend the following tools:

  1. Notebook or composition book for notes/pictures
  2. Almanac
  3. Calendar
  4. “Garden Planner.” Organic Gardening <www.organicgardening.com/spring-planner>

The notebook has proven to be an invaluable tool for obvious reasons.  I look back over the pictures I have taken of my lush spring/summer produce during the winter months and dream, as well as drool.  I plan my crop rotation each year  by looking back at previous year’s pictures and notations.  The crop rotation prevents some pests from recurring and puts you one step closer to being a ‘biodynamic farmer’ instead of just an organic one…more on that later.  I also keep notes on what plants have worked, as well as the ones that have not so I do not waste my time or money on them again.

 

As for the almanac, my grandfather used it as his guide and he had some of the best fruits and veggies I have ever eaten.  I prefer  Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac for that very reason.  My husband and I wear this little book out!  He checks it repeatedly as a weather and hunting aide while I am checking the “Planting Table” and “Best Days To:” as a guide for what I can/should be doing regarding gardening, transplanting, pruning, etc. While it can seem a little intimidating at first there are explanations of the characters and terms and, before you know it, you will be using it like a pro.

 

Regarding the calendar, I prefer a desk calendar with plenty of space to write. Being the organize ‘freak’ that I am (or try to be) I keep up with everything in my calendar and I do mean everything.  I found one this year with columns which you can use for different family members or for different aspects of your life if you don’t have children or are an empty nester.  I LOVE it!  I make  notations in the calendar based on my almanac findings.  It may sound cumbersome but it really isn’t as I only refer to the almanac once, transfer the pertinent info to my calendar and *poof* I am good to go for the month.

 

And finally…I received this little guide when I subscribed to Organinc Gardening magazine (which I recommend as well).  One of the most helpful parts for me is the ‘Spring Planting Guide’.  This guide allows you to chart, based on your last spring frost date, when to plant seeds indoors and when to transplant them to the garden.  There is also a list of which plants do well when you direct-seed them into your garden.  There are many more useful tools in this compact guide…too many to mention.  Even if you cannot get this exact one, I feel certain you can download a guide from the internet that would serve the same purpose.

And there you have it- my planning basics!!!

I have gotten so psyched writing this that I am going to take inventory of my seed stockpile right now to see what I need to get ordered…ah, the life of a city farmer…my work is never done…

Until next time, happy planning!

Composting

Ahhh….a beautiful, sunny day here in the Piedmont.  I have been transplanting hosta today and soaking up some Vitamin D in the process.

As promised, I want to share my composting methods with you.

First and foremost, I make it as easy on myself as possible.  I found this little jewel at Target and, thankfully, it made its way under the Christmas tree this past year (thank you, Kiss and Rob).  It is stainless steel and has a charcoal filter in the lid which completely eliminates odors.  The recommendation is to change the filter every month or so but I have been using it daily since Christmas and have not had to replace it yet.   I put a little bit of shredded paper in the bottom of the pail after I empty and wash it which may help prolong the life of the filter.  Once full, I empty it into my larger bin outside.  Though it normally gets emptied several times per week, I have gone as long as a full week without emptying it and there was no odor in my kitchen whatsoever.  Love it!!!

This is one of my outside bins (and my beautiful Golden Girl, Bailey).  I use this bin in the winter for my kitchen scraps.  Since it is black, it absorbs the heat from the sun and expedites the transformation of the materials inside into compost.  Periodically, I throw in a little peat moss, some extra shredded paper and any earthworms I can find.  My husband drilled holes, approximately two inches apart, around the top for air circulation (thank you, honey).  Once or twice per week, it gets turned over on its side and rolled around to keep the contents loose and mixed up.  If you are interested in getting one of these for your composting needs, let me know.  I may be able to get you one for a better price than the stores can offer.

And finally, this is my large compost bin on the corner of my property.  It is approximately 3’x 6′.  My husband built this using fencing material.   The front side is latched but can be opened so that I can get inside and turn the materials.  Yes, this is where I put yard waste (grass clippings, leaves, etc.) but I also add kitchen scraps and earthworms in the summer.  Due to the fencing and the fact that I do not ever put any meat (cooked or uncooked) or any cooked fruits/veggies in my compost pail, barrel or bin, I have not noticed any issues with rodents, etc.

And there you have it… how to make your own compost for your lasagna garden.  It surely beats having to pay outlandish prices for bags of it… and  I see it as just another way to recycle and reap the  benefits of my labor.  Besides…I just really like picking up earthworms 🙂