So, I've finally made it back to Carrboro. There's been plenty of excitement from the moment I arrived! As I pulled into the driveway on Tuesday morning last week, I had an adorable gift waiting for me on my front step.
Yes, it's a lovely poster. It made me feel very loved upon my return to town, and I now have it displayed above my oven. But most importantly, the cookie cake! Perhaps my favorite dessert -- at least the store-bought kind -- of all time.
Lucky for me, the Wednesday afternoon farmer's market started just a few weeks before I arrived, so I was able to get to my first one on only my second day back in town. I needed to stock up my new fridge of course, so I picked up a whole variety of lovely items: a bunch of lacinato kale, a quart of strawberries, three shortbread cookies from Box Turtle Bakery, a newcomer to the market a dozen eggs, a head of lettuce (I can't remember the exact variety name, but it had "Boston" in it -- it turned out to be somewhat bitter for my taste),
Later that evening, the strawberries and the shortcake turned into dessert with the help of some vanilla ice cream from Trader Joe's.
Aside from the gourmet excitement at the farmer's market, I've been keeping myself busy unpacking the house, enjoying my spacious kitchen complete with island and bar stools, and doing exciting pieces of business like getting a North Carolina driver's license and spending a few hours attempting to get the wireless internet to function. But so far, the real excitement has been taking place in the backyard.
Excitement #1: Setting Up the Compost Bin!
After being part of a community compost in Brooklyn, the idea of throwing away my food scraps is really unappealing. I love the concept of using the ends of my carrots, the scraps of my potatoes, and the stems of my leafy greens to create rich, dark soil instead of creating more trash. We decided to go with the trash can bin, as this is portable, cheap, easy to set up, and easier to "turn" than a wooden bin, the more traditional compost holder.
All it takes is a trash can with a secure lid and a drill to create some air holes in the can. I ripped up the newspaper I used to protect my breakables during the move and added them to the bottom of the can. Then the food scraps can go right in!
The trash can makes it easy to turn the compost so the "green" and "brown" elements get mixed -- just roll it around on the ground for a while. No pitchforks! No shovels! No turning at all! Just a little watering now and then to make sure the newspaper is good and damp.
Excitement #2: Purchasing Plants
One thing I've been very excited about regarding my life in Carrboro is finally starting a vegetable garden. I've never had one before, but my landlord told me that in the past there was a huge community garden in the backyard of this house, meaning that the soil is rich. Plus, all my neighbors have gardens, and it seems like the thing to do after work and on the weekends is work on your garden and help your neighbors out with theirs. Can't beat that!
On Saturday morning at the farmer's market we picked out what we wanted to plant. We had a pretty clear idea of what we wanted, but seeing the plants and talking to the farmers really helped.
We decided on yellow squash, burpless cucumbers, yellow peppers, and three varieties of tomatoes: sungolds, better boys, and cherokee purples.
They are enthusiastically awaiting their new home in the backyard! Until then, they have to sunbathe on the table in the back. Which brings us to...
Excitement #3: Setting Up the Garden
After much advice from neighbors, input from the farmers, both discouragement and support from the local garden supply store, as well as our own independent research, we decided to create a 10x10 foot plot in the ground. The first step was picking out a nice sunny spot, and we chose one adjacent to one of our neighbor's gardens, though ours is a bit smaller. Then we measured out our plot and started digging! We've got to get the grass up first, which proved a difficult task at first. We were using shovels and digging hard to get the roots out. But after several hours of work getting us about 2/3 of the way though, our neighbor with the adjacent garden came out of his house after watching us and gave us a miraculous tool that got the rest of the grass our lickety-split! It's a very sharp hoe that he used in Guatemala, and it hacks right through the thick grass roots. After using the hoe to get the roots out, our plot was done in no time!
Now, of course, we need to fortify the ground soil with nice, black potting soil and compost or manure. Buying it in bags can be pricey, so I found us a deal on the internet. Caleb, a full-time local fireman and part-time soil delivery man, dropped off an enormous truckload of fragrant (read: smelly) soil and compost right in the backyard for a pretty reasonable price.
Our elementary school age neighbors came out and watched the truck dump all this dirt out. It was pretty exciting.
Next up, we've got to get the dirt in the ground and get our veggies in the dirt! Soon the hardest parts will be done and we'll be getting closet to eating our bounty.