Monday, April 12, 2010

Getting Dirty at Downing Hollow's City Farm

Posted by on Mon, Apr 12, 2010 at 3:50 PM

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On Sunday, a trio of novice gardeners (one of them was me) made lasagna, and we never left the backyard.

Actually, it was Lori Greene’s backyard, or more accurately, her city farm near the University of Memphis. This weekend, Greene was at Downing Hollow Farms in Olive Hill, Tennessee, getting ready for the opening of the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market, which she is spearheading, so her sister, Sue Easley, supervised the work in town.

Now back to that lasagna ...

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A lasagna garden is a no-dig, no-till method of gardening that stacks organic matter in green (leaves and grass clippings) and brown (compost, peat moss, newspaper) layers. For our bed — one of 33 beds in Greene’s yard — we sprinkled a little lime on the grass and then covered the bed in thick layers of wet newspaper. Next, we layered on coffee grinds and coffee filters (local coffee shops them give away!) followed by several inches of leaf and grass clipping confiscated from a neighbor.

“Make sure the clippings come from yards that are not chemically treated,” Easley reminded us, which is a nice way of saying, look for lawns with weeds.

The lasagna bed should be ready for planting in a few weeks, but lots of other produce already is happily growing. As a thank you for our efforts, we toted home a few heads of Yugoslavian red, an heirloom bibb lettuce with creamy white, red, and green leaves.

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At my house, the lovely greens became the star of a mixed salad. I added strawberries, a little blue cheese, sliced red onions, and toasted almonds and then tossed it lightly with this vinaigrette:

One-half cup vegetable oil
One-quarter cup white wine vinegar
One-quarter cup sugar
One-quarter teaspoon paprika
Several tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds

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