My favorite spring bloom is forsythia (I always think of the holiday song "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" as I say the word.) These delicate yellow blossoms finally popped out around our neighborhood within the last week and will forever conjure up memories of the forsythia bushes between our house and our neighbors', Cliff and Vera Schroeder (who our little V is named after), when we lived in Racine. I'm hoping to clip a few branches from somewhere this weekend--maybe our across-the-alley neighbors who are also the parents of a close friend--because I don't have any in my own yard.
Last Monday when we had all that sunshine and warmth I took advantage of the day and got a running start on direct sowing some vegetable seeds. The raised beds I installed last year looked crusted and lifeless. In hindsight I should have gone with the organic topsoil source recommended by my friends from the Victory Garden Initiative, but at the time the gentleman's truck was out of commission and of course I needed my topsoil now! Instead I called a southside mulch and topsoil company who unloaded several cubic yards of both mulch and topsoil at my house. The mulch was great, but the topsoil was like that of the nutrient-depleted, crusty clay I've seen in conventional farmers' fields. When the sky came down last July and all that rain flooded our city--though we were the lucky ones--it was all my veggies could do to hold on. The drainage in these beds was horrible. So I hand-tilled the soil this week, spread a thin layer of compost, and topped it off with some nice fluffy organic topsoil that I picked up at our neighborhood hardware store. Not ideal because of all the plastic packaging I had to throw away, but I know that this topsoil will give better results. The original raised bed I installed six growing seasons ago and filled with this same topsoil is still the best soil in our garden. I may not know much about soil fertility, but I know crummy "dirt" when I see and feel it.
Aside from our outdoor activities, V and I had more fun indoors this week. On Monday we made egg salad with the hard-boiled eggs we dyed last weekend. I did most of the peeling--though she wanted to help for a minute. She cut the eggs with my Gram's old egg slicer, I tossed the main ingredients into the bowl (homemade mayo, home-brined "Midwest capers," celery), she mashed (with a potato masher...then I helped with a pastry cutter) and mixed and shook in some dried dill, then I seasoned. I had no idea what a great kid-friendly activity this would be. The egg slicer is not sharp--just a series of taut wires that cut into the hard-boiled heuvos--and the mess was minimal. Too bad it's not on my list of kosher foods these days, but Daddy likes it so perhaps V will grow up perfecting an egg salad recipe. (My favorite quote as she's pulling a celery stick through the globs of mayo along the edge of the bowl, "Should we add more mayo?" I love her suggestive nature these days.)