Landscaping: The demolition

You know what I really hate? Grass! I have to waste a lot of water to keep it green. We waste a lot of time mowing and trimming it. And the worse of all, you can’t eat it and it doesn’t even smell nice.  Well, we were finally fed up with grass, so we decided to hire some landscapers to do some work in our front and back yard.

Goodbye grass, hello drought-tolerant plants and useful things like another veggie bed in the backyard.  Here’s how it looked after they demolished most of the grass and plants in the front and back.

Landscaping ProgressNo more grass in the front yard.

Landscaping ProgressRipped out the grass on the side strip under fruit trees too

Landscaping ProgressThe lone veggie bed in the backyard is staying, but most everything else is gone.

Raised Vegetable Bed

A weekend project I’ve been meaning to undertake was to create a raised garden for extra vegetable growing space. Right now, our backyard has a medium piece of lawn, which I hate because it uses up water and I can’t eat it.  The solution: put in a 4’x8′ raised bed for planting vegetables in.

Will and I went to Eagle Rock Lumber & Hardware, one of the few lumberyards open on a Sunday and they couldn’t be nicer. The guy working at the lumber department knew exactly what I needed and cut all my pieces to size and even threw up two scrap pieces to use as stakes for the long sides of the bed. We used untreated redwood.

Then we stopped by the San Gabriel Nursery (which I highly recommend) to get some soil, compost, and vegetables. I drew out a handy little diagram to help in planning.

raised bed

First, we had to build the bed, which probably took the longest time.  Just four sides secured to four posts.

raised bed

Then, we put in one layer of cardboard and hosed it enough to be soggy.  This is one step I learned while looking up lasagna gardening.

raised bed

Then, a layer of newspaper, also hosed down to be soggy. These two layers of paper should help in killing the grass under as well as compost and become nutrient for the soil.

raised bed

Then, a layer of dried leaves that were raked last week. Finally, the soil. The people at the nursery recommended us using this potting soil. I guess we got too little of it because it didn’t exactly go as high as I planned. I’ll need to pick up 4 more bags tomorrow.

raised bed

The last step (not shown because we didn’t complete it yet) is to put in a layer of compost.

After that, it’s only a matter of putting the plants in, watering them, and hopefully, watching them thrive.

Zucchini Pancakes

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Summer is probably not the best time of year to be standing over a hot frying pan, but I had some zucchini in the garden that was in need of some eating. These zucchini pancakes were as easy to make as they were to eat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sized zucchini
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oil for frying
  • whatever random spices you think will taste good in here

I stuck the zucchini in the food processor to shred into thin strips, then lay them out in a colander on top of a large bowl and salted lightly.  While that was draining for 10 minutes, I also shredded some onion.  After 10 minutes, squeeze out any remaining liquid and reserve that liquid for later.  Mix with the onion.

In a separate bowl, mix the chickpea flour and all purpose flour together with a healthy pinch of salt, lots of black pepper, and whatever spices you find delicious. In my case, I put in garam masala and cayenne pepper.  Mix those dry ingredients together and then slowly pour in the reserved zucchini liquid till you get a rough pancake batter.

Mix this pancake batter together with the zucchini bit by bit. It’s mostly a preference thing, but I put just enough batter so that there’s still zucchini bits sticking out.  Some people like just a little bit of batter, enough to bind the shreds of zucchini.

Heat the about a 1/4″ oil in a cast iron skillet and once it’s hot, drop in a tablespoon-ful of the zucchini batter. Press down to flatten. Fry till the edges are golden, then flip to the other side and repeat.

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I like eating this with yoghurt and unsweetened apple sauce to cut down on the heat of the frying and the slight heat from the cayenne pepper in the batter.