Archive for the 'Garden' category

Repost: The ethics of snail eradication.

Oct 20 2010 Published by under Environment, Ethics 101, Food, Garden, Personal

Since I recently reposted an explanation of one method for dispatching snails and slugs, it seems only fair that I also repost my discussion of whether it's ethical for me to be killing the snails in my garden to begin with.

In the comments of one of my snail eradication posts, Emily asks some important questions:

I'm curious about how exactly you reason the snail-killing out ethically alongside the vegetarianism. Does the fact that there's simply no other workable way to deal with the pests mean the benefits of killing them outweigh the ethical problems? Does the fact that they're molluscs make a big difference? Would you kill mice if they were pests in your house? If you wanted to eat snails, would you? Or maybe the not-wanting-to-kill-animals thing is a relatively small factor in your vegetarianism?

Continue Reading »

10 responses so far

National Chemistry Week repost: How does salt melt snails?

Oct 19 2010 Published by under Basic concepts, Chemistry, Critters, Garden

It should be noted that for some of us, nearly the whole world comes to us through the lens of chemistry, every week of the year. Here's another post from the back-catalogue that brings my chemical sensibilities to the garden:

In light of our recent snail eradication project:

Why does salt "melt" snails and slugs? (And how do people manage to prepare escargot without ending up with a big pot of goo?)

To answer this question, let us consider the snail as seen by the chemist:


Continue Reading »

2 responses so far

Zucchini utilization: two recipes.

Aug 12 2010 Published by under [Etc], Food, Garden, Personal, Uncategorized

The Free-Ride family has spent the last several weeks dealing with an abundance of zucchini. Here are two of the smaller ones we harvested this week.

Since there's a limit to how many zucchini you can give away without alienating your friends and neighbors, it's good to have some tasty strategies for eating them. Here are to of the recipes we've been working.

Zucchini Faux-Risotto

Wash and trim about 3 pounds of zucchini. Halve them lengthwise and slice into semicircles (about 1/8 inch thick).

DIce one large onion.

Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.

Heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and zucchini and toss to coat with oil. Cook on high heat without stirring too much (so that the zucchini and onions brown a bit). As you cook, the onions will get translucent and the zucchini will cook down significantly.

Meanwhile, boil 1 pound of orzo. (Ours is al dente after about nine minutes.) Drain, add to the skillet with the onion and zucchini, toss gently, and turn heat off.

Finely grate some asiago or other hard cheese until you have 1/2 to 1 cup. Toss with the orzo and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This dish is good hot or at room temperature.

Zucchini Bread

Preheat your oven to 350 oF. Lightly grease a standard loaf pan, or line with parchment paper.

Grate a very generous 2 cups of washed, unpeeled zucchini. (In a two-cup Pyrex liquid measuring cup, you want it to be overflowing with the grated zucchini.) If you have a food processor with a grating disk, this is a good time to break it out.

Put the grated zucchini in a large bowl with 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, the finely grated rind of half a large lemon, and a large egg. Beat together with a fork.

Sift together into the zucchini mixture 1.5 cups flour (this last batch I used 1/2 cup whole wheat, 1/3 cup white whole wheat, and 2/3 cup all purpose), 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom. Stir together until incorporated.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake for about 55 minutes. Cool before removing from the loaf pan and slicing.

This is so moist that you won't even think about buttering it until after you've gobbled it down.

9 responses so far

Friday Sprog Blogging: innocence about plants.

Feb 26 2010 Published by under Biology, Garden, Kids and science

Younger offspring: Hey, look what I grew!
Dr. Free-Ride: Wow, those are tall.


Younger offspring: It's a bean plant.

Continue Reading »

4 responses so far

In which I try to outwit the gastropods

Jun 18 2009 Published by under Critters, Environment, Garden, Personal

... from a secret location. Because, in light of fluctuations in the slug and snail population when I go away, I think they may read my blog.

Continue Reading »

3 responses so far

Snail eradication (day 38).

Jun 15 2009 Published by under Critters, Environment, Garden, Personal

When the snail hunter is away, the gastropods will play.

Continue Reading »

2 responses so far

Garden update: fruit tree status.

Jun 14 2009 Published by under Garden, Personal

One of the fabulous things about living in our Northern California climate (zone 16) it the ability to transform our yard into a mini orchard. The biggest challenge so far has been patience, given that it takes fruit trees at least a few years to hit a level of maturity at which they produce fruit.
Even if we want fruit right now!

Continue Reading »

11 responses so far

In which I paddle a canoe while the younger Free-Ride offspring minds the yard.

Jun 13 2009 Published by under Critters, Environment, Garden, Personal


A highlight of reunion at my alma mater, as far as I'm concerned, it that they open up the boat house and let alumnae paddle (or sail, or crew, depending on their druthers) around the lake.
I've missed the lake.
I was also missing the rest of the Free-Ride family, so I took advantage of the excellent cell phone reception from the middle of the lake and called home.

Continue Reading »

3 responses so far

Garden report: recently planted.

Jun 13 2009 Published by under Food, Garden, Personal

There are two main reasons I like harvesting crops from the Free-Ride garden. First, it means we'll have yummy, super-fresh fruits and vegetables to eat. And second, it often means we're freeing up space to plant another crop.
Even in Northern California, where it is said we have "climate" rather than "weather," there are crops that are seasonal. We are definitely past the "spring" planting season, and some of the spring crops are really looking happy.

Continue Reading »

4 responses so far

Garden update: the harvest.

Jun 12 2009 Published by under Food, Garden, Personal

Owing to the fact that the snail eradication project (or at least, my direct involvement in it) is on a brief hiatus while I'm on the East Coast (and while my yard is still in Northern California), I'm going to be bringing you up to date on the garden in whose service I have been trying to control the gastropod population.
Long time readers may recall that the raised garden beds are almost a year old. We actually didn't get the first seeds planted in them until near the end of July, 2008.
Some of the seeds we planted then are just now giving us plants that are ready to harvest.

Continue Reading »

3 responses so far

Older posts »