Our Annual Wood Chip Day

All summer we planned to get our free leaf mulch and wood chips from the city mulching site.  We set the day for Saturday, October 6th.  Last week I scheduled a rental pickup truck at 7:00 AM Saturday.  That day we headed over to the mulch site with the truck, eager as beavers.

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As they were loading the first of what we planned as 3 trips (1 leaf mulch, 2 wood chips), Bob said to me, “Do you see any wood chips?”  Panic spread instantly as I scanned the area.  “Um… there’s a small pile over there.  But we can ask them as we leave.”

No.  There were no wood chips available!!!  Truck rented and no free wood chips.  I would have to call around when we got back home to see where we could buy some, and fast.  The truck was only rented until 3:00 PM.

As a possible quick fix, I posted our photos at at the city mulching site on my Facebook wall and asked my friends for help locating wood chips “TODAY”.  It worked!  Before we arrived home, a suggestion was shared and the place was close by and their chips were $10/sq. yd.  Not bad.

Since it hadn’t rained too much in the week prior, we were, THANKFULLY, able to drive the truck into the back yard and shovel the leaf mulch out into the garden over the fence.

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After we were done with load #1, we ate something to tide us over and headed out to the mulch business.  They had grass seed, gravel, mulch, and plain old untreated wood chips.  Nice!

Here we are, way back into the thick of their giant piles of various mulches, waiting for our load.

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I think these huge machines are cool.  But none of them were in use at the time, just the little bulldozer, or whatever it’s actually called.

Chips ahoy, I mean, away! (sorry, had to)

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This guy was so nice.  He loaded us up, fully.  So full in fact, that we didn’t need to come back for the 3rd load of the day.   Whew!

Back at the house, it took us both shoveling for about an hour to transfer all the wood chips from the truck to a big pile in the garden.  And yes, we were quite SORE for a day or two afterwards.

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Since we still have a large portion of the garden growing peas, okra and tomatoes, the leaf mulch and wood chips are in piles awaiting the day we can spread them all out, along with rock dust (restorative minerals).

This was our first season growing in no-till gardens.  Last year we obtained our mulch and wood chips from the city free site, and we planned the same for this year.

I’ve since been told that we should be more careful with these sources because cities often spray along roadsides and chip those overgrown areas up.  This means chemicals might still make it into our garden.  This good samaritan told me we should let our chips rest for 6 months or so (turning occasionally), until we find that earth worms are enjoying the piles.  Earthworms, he said, won’t move in if it’s toxic.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of such space in our quarter acre suburban property.  So for now, we get them where we can, place them in the fall, and hope the fungi does its work and the worms come crawling in.  They did this past year anyway.  We had tons of fungi AND red wigglers, neither of which we supplemented (all natural).  So fingers crossed for next season!  I think we will have next year’s garden still at this residence, then the following year… maybe somewhere else. 🙂

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Sunday, Meal Making Day

Updates: Added, photos & some notes of meals after being made.

The morning is slipping away towards afternoon, and here I sit still, with the backdoor open to let the not yet too warm air waft in.  The birds are chirping and the breeze gently swaying through our neighbor’s maple tree branches.

My tea is long gone, but here still I sit… wondering what will I do with my day?

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My cuke stash 😀

There’s a couple cucumbers ready to pick again today, one of which is really FAT.  And this is my chance!  Bob has been pickling everything!  It’s time to get my hands into the mix.  I’m the newbie, and I am discovering I need to take what I can get and run with it.

Refiningcotten posted a recipe for Spicy Cukes that I really want to try.  I just need to figure out how to make my own Chili Lime seasoning instead of driving all the way across town to a Trader Joe’s.

Update: The fat cuke was bitter!  Now I know!  I used the skinnier one.  Here’s the result of my using fresh ingredients instead of the spice from Trader Joe’s (except for chili pepper -used powdered).  It was pretty good.  

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Refiningcotten’s Spicy Cukes

Also on my list of things to do today, is making another batch of this wonderful shrimp alfredo dish, made with some zucchini left over from what I picked up at the farmer’s market last weekend.  I make at least one main dish for me and one for my daughter each weekend for us to take to work for lunches all week.  We’re losing weight together and this helps us always have at least something on hand to reach for instead of all the wrong stuff.  We’re 6 weeks in and meal prep has really been key.  She’s about to turn 19 at the end of the month and so this has also been a God-send for helping to teach her not only to cook, but to cook from whole foods.  I never thought I’d see the day! Struggling parents everywhere can rejoice in my personal victory. lol

Update: Even with a group effort, we could NOT find my Veggetti Spiralizer. 😦  So I used my mandolin which made wider strips of zucchini.  I just made sure to steam them a bit longer after all was combined.

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Last week we made low-carb lasagna. It’s delish!  Even Bob is loving it!  I really love making our meals ourselves like this.  I didn’t make the sauce from scratch, but one day… I will.

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BBQ woes… on left: Stubb’s, on right, a North Alabama white bbq sauce (low carb)

In fact, last night was the second dinner lately that I really wished I had a good homemade BBQ sauce recipe that I can make low, low carb somehow.  I have been searching stores high and low for a red low carb bbq sauce that actually tastes good and doesn’t have bad for you sugar substitutes.  It’s been underwhelming. So, the plan is to make my own, though as of yet I have no recipes to go by.

I want to make my own ketchup, too.  Unfortunately, we did not plant any roma tomatoes this year. So, I will have to pick some organic ones up wherever I can find them.  I might have to go conventional. We’ll see.  But next year, roma tomatoes are going into our garden, no doubt.  Eventually I want to make large batches of the BBQ sauce and ketchup and can it, for the sake of convenience.

As a random little bit of sharing at the end of this post, totally unrelated.. have a look at the fruits of our no-till garden, a cute little mushroom (inedible!).  Fungus in the garden is a great sign of soil health.  And since this is our first year employing the no-till method, I’m super stoked to find a variety of mushrooms from time to time.  Here’s one from this morning.

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