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2013 0420 compost

Bring your own shovel: Compost detail at the community garden today

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I know I’ve talked about it ad nauseum, but River and Roots is still in recovery mode after Sandy ripped through our area. We’ve managed to get a lot of work done, despite the cold, unending winter.

Reluctant gardener badgeWith the help of Cornell Cooperative Extension Department of Family Wellness Creating Healthy Places grant, we were able to secure wood to rebuild some of the shattered beds, as well as increase the height of some of the existing beds. We have a few gardeners with health issues who will find a two foot high raised bed a preferable alternative.

We also hope that with the extra height, when the river rises next time, perhaps it won’t engulf the garden. Even in a regular storm, the Peconic frequently surges and comes frightfully close to our southern most beds. Since that area of the river is brackish water, we would like to keep it away from our soil.

With the loss of soil due to storm water and the newly made double high beds, we found ourselves in need of a great deal of compost. Once again, Long Island Compost stepped up and gave generously. Some of you may remember that in our first year, they donated 60 cubic yards of compost to River and Roots. It was quite a sight when the mountains of compost topped six feet. We shoveled our hearts out and somehow, reduced the pile to nothing but a dusting.

Thankfully, we do not require nearly as much compost this time. Long Island Compost donated 20 cubic yards to the garden and we’re expecting delivery today! So….if you happen to be around and feel like working hard for a good cause, I’ll happily give you a cup of coffee in exchange for labor! No seriously, I will. (Please bring your shovel with you. Delivery is at 9:15 a.m.)

After the last delivery, when we were spending every free moment bringing River and Roots to life, I was at the garden, shoveling, for seven hours one day. I had my then six year old with me. She became so desperate, she began making compost castles (in lieu of sand castles) and ended the day looking like she’d spent it in a coal mine (or climbing, rolling down and otherwise frolicking in a huge pile of dirt). It took several baths to remove all the filth and there was no hope for the clothes. They are now “gardening gear,” so she’s super ready for another truck load of compost!

I actually don’t mind the manual labor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for any and all help we can get, but there’s something very satisfying about doing good, honest work for something you believe in and love.

It also keeps me busy and focused on a task. I need (and I’m sure everyone needs) a break from the real world after this week. The overwhelming tragedy and destruction in our nation has been devastating. Additionally, we suffered some personal difficulties this week. The simple act of getting River and Roots ready for planting, ready for rebirth, ready for new life, allows me to channel the frustration and feelings of helplessness into something beautiful and good.

All that and a cup of coffee, too. What else could you ask for? I hope to see you later.

I’m not sure I can squeeze in any baking time before I start shoveling, but if I can, I’ll make these flour-less peanut butter cookies I found oin the Food Network website. The sweet and salty mix is a great pick-me-up when you’re working hard. My kids and husband absolutely love this recipe and they never last long in our house, even when I double it!

Flour-less Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until well combined. Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture about 1 inch apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten the mounds with the tines of a fork, making a crosshatch pattern on the cookies. Sprinkle coarse salt on top of the cookies.

Bake until golden around edges, about 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.

What’s your favorite chore? Do you find peace in hard work, too? Let me know at laurie@riverheadlocal.com