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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Wicked Garden Project - Phase One

It has officially begun...

Ground has been broken. Seeds have sprouted. Saplings have been replanted. Recipes are being devised.

It is actually going quite smoothly. We have to do this project in phases due to available funds, but I think we've got it all planned out well enough so we don't go broke.

Granma had a fantastic idea (thanks, Mom!) that we (being inexperienced gardeners) didn't even think of:  Rent a tiller! It saved us (well, Papa Bear anyway) hours and hours of work.  Renting one wasn't too expensive at Home Depot and it was really worth it. The lumber for the structure was the most expensive thing so far.

Here is the garden BEFORE:

And here is the garden AFTER (or, more appropriately, so far...):

Phase One...Complete!

The kids were a great help all weekend. They got down and dirty and had fun doing it!

The Dirty Drama Queen

We have three trays of seeds going, plus some other plants I purchased while at Home Depot renting the tiller. 

The two trays we started last week were growing quickly, so we needed to transplant some of them into bigger peat pots.

At one point, we all thought we were growing Catzilla plants...either that, or Gizmo was trying to take a nap.

Papa Bear asked me if I would like a potting bench for the garden, and of course I said yes. So he built me one with the leftover lumber and I got to use it all weekend! It took him like 30 minutes to throw this together for me.  Once we start on Phase Three of the garden, it will be attached to one side of the structure.

After we were done for the day, we let Little Lawyer play with the hose. She had more fun doing that than anything else the whole weekend...

This weekend begins Phase Two in the Wicked Garden. We will be spreading the poo. Yup, you read that right. The neighborhood may smell of manure in the morning, but my crops will love me for it (and I could care less what the neighbors say anyway). Now that the soil has been churned like buttah, I want to do a layer of poo and a layer of really good top soil.

Phase Three will include the addition of either chicken wire or screen on and/or around the structure.  I am a little more than concerned about opossum and squirrel dining out in my all-you-can-eat garden buffet smorgasbord while I am not paying attention.  I have read and researched multiple remedies for this potential problem, such as cayenne pepper spray around the garden and electric fencing (ZAP!) for keeping these little critters at bay.  I am still mulling over what to do...

I need to start planning the layout of where to put these luscious little plants. I have read many a theory as to where to put specific plants according to where the sun rises and sets and whether Jupiter is aligned with Mars in the proper moon phase, etc., but I think I want to draw out a map so that everything will fit and when it comes time to plant, everybody will know what goes where. You know, in case I get hit by a falling house or something.

So that's where we stand so far. 

As I always like to leave on a yummy note, here is one of my favorite recipes.  This one is comfort food at its finest (well, for me anyway...). Takes minutes to make and is magically delicious!

Honey Cream Shrimp and Scallop Pasta            Makes 6 servings

You will need:

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined *
3/4 pound bay scallops (you can certainly leave these out if you don't like them. I happen to love them.)
3 shallots, chopped
1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
12 ounces heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp honey
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 tbsp fresh chopped basil (or dried is fine, but just use 1 tbsp if you use dried)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 box of your favorite brand of angel hair pasta

Now do these things:

Put water on to boil for pasta. Salt water. Wait (but don't watch!) for water to boil.

Hey, while you're waiting...heat the olive oil in a big skillet or frying pan over medium high heat. I prefer one with high sides for making this dish.

Did you notice the * that I put next to the shrimp up there? Well, I did that so that I could tell you that you can do this one of two ways depending on your grocery budget and what's readily available in your grocery. If I can, I will always buy fresh, uncooked shrimp and peel/devein it myself. Sometimes, when I want shrimp, I buy it already peeled, deveined and cooked in the freezer section. Sometimes it's on sale and I buy two bags!

If you have fresh, uncooked shrimp, add them with the scallops and shallots to the hot olive oil and cook until the shrimp just turn pink.  If using frozen shrimp, please have the good sense to thaw them first.  You don't have to throw them in the skillet with the scallops and shallots at this point...it will severely overcook them. That's disgusting. Just hang on to the thawed shrimp until I give you the "Shrimp Signal", okay?

Remove the scallops (and shrimp if you used fresh) after 3-4 minutes. Set them aside.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduce by about half. Add the cream and cook until it thickens up a little bit, stirring all the while (feel free to whistle if you're into that sort of thing). This will probably take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Watch it carefully so it doesn't boil over.

By this time, your water should be boiling away, so go on and add your pasta! You know you want to.

Then add the honey, tomatoes and basil and stir with all the love you can muster! Return the scallops and shrimp (or use thawed at this point) to the pan. Cook to heat shrimp and scallops - about 1 minute or so. Salt and pepper to taste.

Drain pasta and divide between serving bowls. Top pasta with the yumminess that is now yours located in the pan on the stove.



  1. wow....great story, one question??? do you hire out the family for weekend backyard makeovers????love the photos too!!!cheers jacintacook............

  2. Ha! I probably should do that! I could fund my garden and cooking habits that way....

    Thanks for the idea!! :)