Archive for the ‘Doing Things The Hard Way’ Category

My parents bought me an organic gardening book for Christmas, and in it, it says to prepare a new garden, you must “double dig.”

The first thing you have to do is remove the sod. When you guesstimate how long this will take you, multiply your final number by 3. Then square it. That’s probably how many hours you’ll be tossing grass chunks around your yard.

My New Plot, Free of Sod

Once the sod is removed, it’s time to get digging. Mentally square off (or rectangle off) a small portion of your bed, probably only 5 or so sq feet. Then start digging, setting the topsoil aside in a wheel barrow or other out of the way space. You can stop once you’ve reach the second layer of soil, normally a different colour, type, and consistency than the top soil.

Top Soil and Sand Below

When I was a kid on the East Coast, the second layer of soil was clay and often very close to the top. It was very hard to dig through, especially for a little 40 pound weakling. Yet I really loved to “help” my dad turn over the soil in the garden with my kid sized shovel. I loved the treasures I found hiding in the dirt. Like old chicken bones, I remember imagining that were dinosaur fossils.

Someone's Garden Glove

I found this garden glove yesterday, long abandoned and decomposing. See the roots growing out of it? Treasure hunting is still fun as a grown-up.

As I kept digging for what seemed like forever, I couldn’t help but remember wanting so very badly to dig to China as a kid. My parents being the awesome people that they were let me try once. I didn’t get very far at all. I don’t think I cracked the top soil. I do remember coming away with the feeling that if I worked hard enough, I could reach my dreams .. I just hadn’t worked hard enough yet. A good take away lesson, I think. Anyway, it helped me get through the next 2 hours of digging yesterday, until I struck gold.


Or well, yellow dirt. On the East Coast it was clay, but on the island, not surprisingly, it’s sand.

Sandy Soil

After you’ve reached the end of the top soil, you fill the hole with compost or manure, and use a pitch fork to dig it in a big further. Then fill up the hole again with the dirt you’ve set aside, layer with compost on top as well. And you’re done. With that little section. Many more to go. The good news is that once you do it once, you shouldn’t have to do this again for your garden — as long as you don’t step on your beds and compact the soil.

This is either torture, a chore, or a nice meditation technique. You can take your pick.


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This article sums up a lot of the questions I’ve been asking myself lately… is it cheaper and tastier to make staples (like bagels, cream cheese, yogurt, jam, crackers) yourself at home, or just buy them? Yogurt is on the make list — as are many of the other items … check it out!

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I am looking to exam-free time (next week, people) where I can do things that modern life has made extremely easy and uncomplicated, but I’d like to do in a very tedious and time-consuming manner. Like make your own yogurt!

Let the milk cool to around 115 to 120 degrees, somewhere between very warm and hot. For each quart of milk, stir in two tablespoons of yogurt, either store-bought or from your last batch, thinning it first with a little of the milk.

Then put the milk in a warm jar or container or an insulated bottle, cover it, and keep the milk still and warm until it sets, usually in about four hours. I simply swaddle my quart jar in several kitchen towels. You can also put the container in an oven with the light bulb on.

Full story here at the NYT.

Yogurt is on my list of absolutely favourite foods … and I’ve been weaning myself off the fruit-flavoured, sugar-loaded stuff … to just eating plain old skim yogurt. Is that weird?!? I love it! I eat it every day, and I am not a scientist, but after eating yogurt daily for the past 6months or so, my lactose intolerance has pretty much gone away. I can eat ice cream with impunity. Which is also on my favourite food list. Which is also good for exam time. Win win situation here….

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