• Personally speaking….

    Just the thoughts and cookings of a software engineer that likes to make foodstuffs from time to time in the bay area of California.
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Composting for fun and profit

OK, maybe not for profit unless you consider that you’re saving money by not buying fertilizer and saving the Earth by not putting perfectly good composting material into a plastic bag in the landfill. Fun is arguable too. I find it all overwhelming!

On a recent visit to a city-run farm, I wandered way back into the garden that is maintained by the local Master Gardeners’ group. Other than noticing that it was much larger than my last visit, I noticed composting bins.

Compost bin

Makes sense that they would have good examples of how to do composting! (Though I wish they had a sign that had more information.) This looks like the type I’m used to seeing with the stages. The first pile was manure, then there was an empty one that showed a grate. I guess that’s how they allow air to move around underneath. I’m not sure why that one was empty. The last one that is really tall had a lot of stacked plant pots. There were pots of plants on a tarp near the composting bins.

Compost bin

I read about starting a pile each year. When the new year comes, so does a new pile. Perhaps that’s their system? Seems easier than shuffling them down the bin line.

They also had the tumbling type that I’ve been thinking about getting.

Tumbling composter

I like that it is contained. Might be easier to move piles of dirt though. The idea of just doing a turn of a drum is appealing. Seems easy. I’m still confused, however.

I bought some organic apples this weekend. I hated tossing the core. I don’t do much outside except walk from my house door to the car door, but I know people that would love that apple core for composting! It’d be better put in a hole in my backyard than in the trash. What to do! How to start! Danger! Danger! Overwhelm Mode!

Not sure where to start. It’d have to be easy. In my research, the easiest seems to be to make a pile of stuff and leaving it there till it’s done. But if I keep adding to it, then it won’t ever be done! But I guess that’s where a pitchfork comes in handy for getting out the ready compost. Not so easy seems to be all those formulas like soil, brown (leaves), kitchen waste, at a temperature of X, with Y of water, for Z amount of time. Danger! Danger! — [insert brain explosion here]

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Dilemma: Buying locally vs Having money

Yorktown Market I, like many others, have a dilemma when it comes to buying locally. I want to buy locally. I prefer the taste. I prefer the idea of it. I, however, don’t prefer the cost in both price tag and gas to get there. What to do!

I check the grocery store sales to save there in order to splurge on locally grown foods. Lately, when I travel up to farmers’ markets to find no produce or produce that makes me feel like they purchased to sell it. This weekend, however, the market about 30 minutes away is promising produce.

All these thoughts keep leading me back to one solution: grow it myself. But, even that, is expensive. The soil isn’t expensive and neither are the plants. My time, however, is very expensive! I also don’t like to work outside when it’s over 90 degrees outside. My neighbor has a large garden. He’s also retired. I have no “free” time when I factor in both job and school work loads. Not to mention all the normal necessities like cleaning, cooking, and sleep.

How does one do it? Should I spend 30+ minutes on the road weekly to get to the best (that I’ve seen) farmers’ market to buy a few vegetables for one or two people? Gas is getting near $4 here. I nearly fainted yesterday when I filled my car up. I’d start to have heart problems if I had to gas up more than twice a month.

Dilemma. Yep. Big ol’ dilemma. Advice welcome.

Yorktown’s “Market Days at the River”

Yorktown Market

Checked out Yorktown’s “Farmers'” Market today. The quotes are because most of the vendors I saw were baked goods or other such things. There were a few meat vendors including the above seafood vendor with live softshell crabs. I saw at least one flower vendor. There was a big flat cart of produce crates but by the time I got there most were empty. Note to self: Don’t go after 10:00 a.m. It was also very bright and it made photographing stuff difficult since I couldn’t see.

As with Williamsburg’s Farmers’ Market, there were lots of dogs. Since this market was on the river, there were also oodles of families with small children. I enjoyed the art and the rest of what the area had to offer. I hope that the next time I visit that there’ll be more produce vendors.

At least the rabbits are eating healthfully tonight….

Little bunny frufru So. Yeah. Since I knew I’d be packing for the trip tomorrow and finishing my project before I leave, I stopped off at the local grocery store and picked up a …. pizza. What! Don’t judge. And since I cleaned up the fridge of veggies that meant no salad even! But when I emptied the trash as the oven preheated, I ran into two rabbits.

After conversing a bit, I went back inside and grabbed my camera. They munched away happily on the plants and let me photograph them though I didn’t get as close as I was when I took out the trash. I want them to continue to live there. Last year, I had a lot of rabbits in the yard and would love to have a family again.

I’m sure my neighbors thought I was nuts since I was taking pictures of my yard from the side and making little reassuring noises. Maybe that’s why the rabbits didn’t run — they thought I was nuts and were entertained.

Little bunny frufru After snapping pictures of the two, another appeared from under my shed. Three rabbits! He or she slowly joined the other two and I tried to get closer. I guess I got too close and — WHOOSH! Talk to the tail!

So. Yeah. I fixed pizza. I ate pizza. But at least someone in the “household” eat healthfully. Rock on, bunnies, rock on. You’re an inspiration.

Local plants at the Virginia Living Museum Native Plant Sale

Virginia Living Museum Native Plant SaleWent to the Virginia Living Museum Native Plant Sale even though it was thundering! What dedication! It was wonderful and had a good turnout. A few of the plants that were favorites were milkweed and butterflyweed because people want to feed/grow the butterflies. I hovered around the Phlox again because I have a dream of one day having a theme garden. Phlox, Cosmos, etc.

I enjoyed looking at the not so plant like things such as the carved animals. Virginia Living Museum Native Plant Sale The eagle held up the caution tape to keep us from going near the shed. I didn’t go inside the museum to witness the Earth Day festivities with the animals though. I don’t stay away from my eye drops for too long while I heal from Lasik.

They had a great handout on the various plants that they sell and I scanned it for all to read. I apologize for the crinkle and bleeding text. It was raining and it’s very hard to take photos while holding an umbrella and keep a piece of paper dry at the same time. I recommend that if you’re interested in picking up native plants and finding out more about them that you should go to there next weekend. It’s free to check out and the prices are comparable to local nurseries.


To market we go!

Checked out Williamsburg Farmers Market Dogs aplenty at market this weekend. It’s only open about one Saturday a month still and had quite a few vendors that sold flowers. There were also sellers of fish, goat cheese, bison meat, and honey. I went there to buy some local honey. I enjoyed the multitude of dogs that were out and about with their owners. I think I saw every breed except Great Dane!

I picked up a magazine called Edible Chesapeake that had some great information about what one can buy from local markets and a good list of what’s in season. I can usually tell what’s in season by the sales at the local grocery stores though. Asparagus for $1.99 a pound, anyone?

I am looking forward to checking out the Yorktown Market. A lot of the same vendors that are at the Williamsburg market look like they are going to be at Yorktown so I’ll save in gas!

Flowers for sale at the market If you’re thinking about going to a local farmer’s market, I recommend a few things.

  • Bring a camera. It’s fun to take photos of the displays, especially if you buy something and can’t remember the name of it. 😉
  • Bring cash. That way you don’t have to worry about local check and ID, or whether or not plastic is taken.
  • Bring your own bags. And make sure it will hold what you’re buying.
  • Bring a cooler. If you’re going to buy anything that needs refrigeration like cheese, bring a cooler or cooler bags to help keep things from spoiling.
  • Bring your sense of adventure. One of the great things about buying from the person that grew/raised what you’re buying is that she or he is a wealth of information. Try something new! That ugly vegetable might be your new BFF. Also ask about recipe ideas.