Saturday, April 10, 2010

I've made my bed, now I'll grow in it

The end goal, I suppose, is getting rid of the last of the grass, although my husband says it creates "negative space" as well as giving the eye a rest from the relative chaos of the flower and vegetable beds. But pretty much every year I manage to sacrifice another patch of grass.

Last year I added an ornamental bed, ambitiously called the Woodland, which was supposed to be smallish trees, shrubs and an understory. But after I put it in I started realize it would cost me too much sun on the adjacent vegetable beds, so now it's more of a prairie and vegetable overflow patch.

This year, I extended the main vegetable bed, so I would have another sunny patch for tomatoes, and also to aid in crop rotation. My whole yard is only 23 x 60, with about 1/4 of it planted in veggies, maybe a total of 400 square feet of vegetables in all.

Digging through sod is a terrible way to spend a weekend, so I generally kill the grass first. For flower beds I use a thick layer of wood or bark mulch, but the wood takes too long to break down for a vegetable bed, so this year I dragged some old area rugs out of the basement (first picture, left) and put them out in the approximate shape of the bed in March, then left them there for 5 weeks. They killed the grass beautifully (pictured, below right); it took maybe 10 minutes to cut the soil into 1 foot squares, which we then simply turned over. This will compost, mostly, in the 7 or so weeks until I need to plant things in this bed. I'll just need to spade and hoe it.
No clever connection to today's recipe (maybe chocolate cookies same color as healthy dirt?), just some really delicious cookies.

Chocolate cayenne cookies
• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

• 1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 eggs
• 4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled/ or ¾ cup cocoa + 4 T butter
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in chocolate and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cayenne; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until tops are cracked. Remove to wire racks to cool.

These are so delicious with milk that they really should be illegal.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, chocolate Cayenne cookies sound good. Linda (Garden Girl) mentions she makes bacon chocolate chip cookies. Dear Lord, I could be a vegetarian if it weren't for bacon! I also kill grass in a similar way. My house is tiny but my yard is fairly huge. Huge I tell you. P.S. Might you save one of those cookies for my visit?! :)