Screening for compost

It’s time to fully reclaim our driveway.

It had shrunk a bit over the years, as wood and leaves rotted down and built up along the edges and more. Weeds invaded too. Before winter set in, I shoveled it to what I think is the edge of blacktop, figuring that extra six or 12 inches would come in handy when snow narrowed the driveway even more.

But it’s been a pretty mild winter and today I decided to see if I could screen out all the bad stuff with a piece of metal cloth wire (or whatever it’s called) that had once been used to build a compost bin.

So here it goes:

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Time had certainly done its job in creating compost. We stopped after nearly two buckets of crumbly, rich, black compost (and a few worms) and dumped what I hope is pretty weed-free on parts of the flower beds. Plenty more to go, and more of the driveway still to reclaim.

The marmalade challenge

marmalade-jarsI know these ingredients aren’t from the garden, but I wanted to blog about my first time making marmalade as part of Food in Jars‘ Mastery Challenge. Plus there’s really not much to say about the garden in January (or even the yard, beyond some wood-chopping to keep the firewood well stocked)

I went for a recipe for thick-cut ginger, grapefruit and orange marmalade from my mini Australian Women’s Weekly jams and jellies book, using standard supermarket navel oranges and grapefruit. I needed 2 of each, plus 7 cups of water and 7 cups of sugar — and 2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger.

I used up all the ginger in the fridge and think I had that much, but given that I think ginger is an essential food group, I would have preferred to put in at least twice as much. Plus I’m searching to get any hint of ginger now. That’s pretty surprising considering that I’ve always found Australian Women’s Weekly to have big flavors (see the chili cordiander jam/chutney that I’ve blogged about before and adore.)

This doesn't look like much, but it's the marmalade boiling.
This doesn’t look like much, but it’s the marmalade boiling.

Another lesson I learned is that I’d prefer smaller slices — mostly not as long, though also not as thick would be fine too.

I ended up with seven 8-ounce/half-pint/jelly jars and one jar half that size

Next month’s challenge is salt preserving. Any suggestions? Maybe I’ll learn to make gravlax? (Does that count?)