Sunday, May 31, 2009

Up for a visit?!

One of my lovely readers sent me a message saying she was going to be in town and if I could e-mail her some suggestions for cool things to do around here. Well, I tried I really did, but her spam blocker hates me soooo....

How 'bout a post for everyone! Let me know when/if you're in town if you want to stop by for a cup of coffee and a tour of the garden, I'd love to have you over!

PS: Welcome newest readers Rosey Pollen and Toni!! You're invited to come visit anytime too... =)

"Cannon Beach: Is really great even if it's a little commercial. There are a lot of fun touristy shops, wine merchants, restaurants, glass blowers, quilt and yarn shops, surf shops, etc.

Tillamook: If they're on the coast they should stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory and take the tour. It's fun and the cheese curds (aka Squeaky Cheese) are the BEST! You can only get it there - not sold in stores. What a shame, it's awesome. It's kinda cheesy, salty, chewy, squeaky... fun food.

Of course there's Crater Lake which is completely worth the drive to; it's sort of an isolated spot in the SE part of the state. The Crater Lake Lodge is's such a neat place we talked about having our wedding there. They should still most certainly make the visit if they can.

BEND, OR: This is a great town... I lived here for a while and there's so much to do! Loads of easy paved hiking trails to serious crampon hiking trails. Kyaking down the dechutes, rock climbing, downtown has lots of quaint shops and resturants. Sir Francis Drake Park is a nice place to have a picnick lunch and watch families play with their kids and dogs. I think their website sums it up nicely, "Bend is a land of extremes and contrasts - desert and forest, lava and snow, volcanoes and plains, rustic and urban hip. Everyone here mixes and mingles in a big happy soup pot of snowboarders and professionals, families in shorts and sandals and couples in casual chic, locals and visitors. Maybe that's why people in Bend are so friendly - because most of them were visitors first, too."

The High Desert Museum is just south of Bend and worth an afternoon. They'd really get a feel for the area with a visit here... and just down the road from there is Lava Butte that has a short easy flat (paved) walk through the base of it. Above which they can drive up a 5,000 foot extinct cinder cone and get a beautiful view of the east side of the Cascade Range (Mt. Hood, The Three Sisters, etc) and the whole surrounding area. It's pretty breath taking!

And of course PORTLAND! There's a lot to do here in the City of Roses. It's such a garden intensive area it's worth checking out the Japanese Garden with it's spectacular view of Mt. Hood (and Timberline Lodge) or the Chinese Classical Garden in China Town. It's close to the Pearl District (the sleek art / metro neighborhood) as well as downtown where they can take the streetcar to places like Nordstroms, Pioneer Courthouse Square, Starbucks, etc... Or they can take a walk along the river bank or check out Saturday Market. There are farmer's markets all over town and don't forget Last Thursdays in the Alberta neighborhood. It's an open art market that's really more like a living carnival with food and art and fire artists and all sorts of very interesting people. There's also first Thursdays in which all the downtown art galleries open their doors, it's much more respectable and perhaps a bit less fun. ;^) Portland is also known for it's hand crafted brews, there are too many pubs to choose from but if you leave me a post I'll try to pick the best. McMenamins is probably another must do that's completely unique to the area. I'd pick the Edgefield if you had to go to just one. They're a hotel, spa, gardens, glass blowing, winery, distillery, hot tubs, pitch n' put, pub, grub fun kinda place all with its own very unique aesthetic.

I can't begin to go into all the cool stuff to do around here so I'll end with my favorite day drive out of Portland up the Historic Columbia River Gorge. You must stop and see Multnomah Falls with it's easy paved hiking path through the woods. Also the Bonneville Dam and Fish Ladder. And if they get tired of the RV they can stay at the Skamania Lodge. If nothing else they should stop and have lunch there. It's just a neat place. "

Landscaping and Strawberries

*The first of the strawberries were picked for my daughters oatmeal this morning.  She was so excited!  (She's been sneaking little bites off the not quite ready berries for days now.) Also fed the strawberries and blueberry plants yesterday. I can see the blueberries just starting to form.

*Compost was up to 125° yesterday!

*Landscaping is coming along slowly but surely.  We dug out 2 tons of dirt yesterday and found people through Craig's List that wanted fill.  We delivered.  People without trucks were loving us! 
The first ton went to an older couple living in a newer mobile home park, filling a new raised bed.  Apparently they built the park over an old quarry so the top soil was minimal at best and no large trees. They were building raised beds and very happy to have our nice fill dirt which for unamended dirt is pretty healthy soil actually. They tipped us $7 which I thought was really, really nice as we didn't expect anything at all. It paid for the gas so we were happy. =)

Our second run was to a young couple who'd just finished school and had moved into their own place and wanted to fill a garden bed they'd just built. They were also having a yard sale and had a few friends over and had cute puppies and a hamster and were generally really, really nice. They made our kiddlet a jelly sandwich and put on a movie on for her. So sweet. The woman also asked us what I thought was a funny question, "How come you're doing this? People don't just give stuff away, they always seem to want something for it. You don't want us to pay you for any of this?" I had to laugh! Of course we were getting something for it! We were getting room to build our patio and well, if it helped them out in the interim, all the better. Silly girl. lol

She did let me pick through some of her yard sale items and take them for free since she was going to box them all up and donate them in a few hours anyways. I took some Christmas ornaments and 2 yards of this cute girlie flannel to back my round robin quilt with. Perfect trade if you ask me.

I think we might try to do another load today - see if we can't hit up some of the other people who e-mailed us interested in crazy people that would just deliver dirt for nothin'!

Bed number six with the compost laid in! Note the large pile of dirt in the back ground behind the bed...

Pumpkins and squash planted for the season. This fall a semi-dwarf apple will go in there with some shade plants. Note the smaller dirt pile in the back ground.

So much more to do!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Oh gourds how I adore thee

*Yay! DH emptied out the truck bed (full of gravel) and went and got a load of compost for the new raised bed. I'll be planting my pumpkins tomorrow morning!!
*Compost is up to 115° this afternoon too.
*Also found baby snow pea pods on the vine. It never ceases to excite me to see the plants grow and produce yummy eatables.

Caffeinating the Compost

Yesterday we went and hit up the local coffee shop for a giant bag of coffee grinds. They pulled what they had laying around and I gleefully ran off with it. I think they were laughing AT me and not with me as I hugged and cooed the grinds while running out the door. ;^) I plunked them in the compost pile when I got home, gave them a little watering and a toss to add in some air - the pile is heating up! I checked on this morning at we're at about 110°.

Also noticed that about half the green beans are shaded now by the broccoli. The vines in the shade shot up and are twice as high as the other green bean vines that get more direct sun. I wonder if they'll produce beans sooner too?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Well the first of the lettuce is finally ready to pluck from the garden!

We also pulled the last of the Easter Radishes - put them together with a bit of steak and salsa and yummy!

For the most part the veggies are looking good. I'm sort of waiting till the first to post pictures. I did put the last of the summer starts in the ground today - finally! Also since some of my cilantro didn't quite pop up I found I had extra space in the bed so I added in a little sunflower for fun (scandalous I know!) and a few marigolds for their obvious benefits. I also found myself with three extra pepper plants (even after I filled the empty spaces left by the uncooperative herbs with other extra basil and peppers - not that I'm complaining about that mind you!) Also with all the radishes gone I had room for more basil. So the extra peppers are now planted in the front garden between the topped New Zealand flax that took such a hard hit this past winter. I figured it was better to grow peppers then weeds. Tell me I'm wrong. (It's so sunny with no large flax to shade the ground). Also if they die it's okay because I have more then I was planning in the back. I just can't bare to throw them away.

My Irises are in bloom now too and look lovely.

However, since I was out in the front yard planting peppers, I realized that I hadn't actually done any weeding since FEB! It's a biiiiig mess. I've been so focused on tending the veggies in the back the fronts gone all to hell. I really need to get the truck bed empty (it's full of gravel still from the stone wall building project) and get a load or two of compost so I can suppress the weeds and clean up the front beds. This should've been done a month ago at least.


My one pink poppy is also in bloom now.

The bees are really enjoying the lavender too. I did a hard prune after the blooms faded off one of my lavender and it's got a zillion flowers on it now - more then the other one I think. Might have to cut them both back this year.

My Autumn Ferns are both also looking pretty vigorous too which I'm surprised to see since I thought for sure at least one of them was dead with the hard winter.

This bush, who's name I can never remember is also doing great now that the silver bush is dead and gone. It's movin' in and takin' over that spot nicely.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I'm wondering if my fungal issues are actually stemming from the rain barrel? It's transparent enough to let in light allowing a mucky growth to form at the bottom. When I bought it I didn't think that it would be an issue because it didn't look like it would allow light to penetrate. Now however it's definitely the case. I've refilled the barrel with misted hose water to help disperse the chlorine and added a 1/4 cup of baking soda. I'll have to test a small portion of some plant tomorrow morning to see how it reacts to the rainbarrel/soda water. I'm hoping it's enough soda to help kill (or control) the fungus that may or may not be in the water but not enough to bother the plants. My only concern is if it lowers ph how will my acid loving plants react. Does anyone know if that's what baking soda does?

Too busy to blog. Oops!

It's been a busy week! We've had a lot of sunshine so I haven't been on-line much. The garden calls! Things are finally starting to take off with the warm weather. Most of the tender summer annuals are hardened off, I just need for our night time temps to warm up enough before I get them in the ground. They've been in the mid 40°'s but after monday they should bump up to the mid 50°'s so I'm holding off till then just bringing them in and out of the house everyday for the warm daytime sunshine.

I'm *still* having fungal issues! Bah. This is getting to the point of being a real pebble in my shoe. I went to check on my peas which so far have looked beautiful and are nearly 3' only to find one with curling yellow leaf tips. I removed the infected areas and hope it doesn't spread. I'm also concocting another organic anti-fungal spray to hit them with so it doesn't spread. I'll let you know how it goes.

2 cups camomile tea (cool to room temp)
1/8 tea baking soda
1/8 veg oil

I also finished building the wall on the sixth raised garden bed. Whew~ Considering our entire back yard was a giant weed patch last year at this time I feel REALLY good about our progress! I need to put down 5" or so of compost to top it off which will inoculate the soil with good microbes and nutrients. Then I'm gonna take advantage and plant pumpkins there for one season! This fall I'll be planting a semi-dwarf apple tree in that spot and some shade plants up against the fence.

Sorry for the weird color I think my kiddlet was playing with the settings. Anyway you can see the finished bed in the back ground and were I've started digging out for the seventh (and FINAL) bed in the foreground. Yay! A light at the end of the tunnel. In between we'll dig out all that dirt and lay gravel for a patio.

Now if I could just stop running into these ground spiders. They *really* creep me out. ::shivers::

Also I was looking at the difference between the potatoes in my bed that I started from seed (left side) and cut up full grown potatoes with 'eyes'. What a big difference! Bet I don't get much of a crop from the seed taters. Looks like lesson learned. ;^)

Last Friday my Mom and daughter and I went down to the Oregon Gardens in Silverton. It was a beautiful and perfect day for it. Warm, sunny and the barest of breezes. It's a HUGE public garden, covering acres and incorporating multiple types of gardens along with a Frank Lloyd Wright house (which under thread of being bulldozed (!) was moved to the garden to save and preserve it), a hotel and wedding/conference facilities, cafe, etc. It's a wonderful way to spend the day.... very relaxing. Since we were there midweek it was also not crowded. We packed a picnic lunch and had a wonderful time.

I thought of ya'll when I was there too and took a bunch of pictures of their Market Garden. I will have to say that your gardens are much better looked after! I guess that makes sense with the motivation of personal consumption at stake. ;^)
The entryway to the gardens was lovely!

Looks like they got a late start on planting peas!

This was their sq. ft. gardening bed....

Most of the beds lay pretty fallow for now or just have tiny little starts. Maybe they'll just add in the easy to grow summer crops?

A few pictures of flowers currently blooming in my garden...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Eat at Joe's

We're having a beautiful summer like day today for the first time in ages! I love it. I got out and fed and watered the green babies this morning. I can't believe what a huge difference it made to the garlic which was lookin' pretty droopy and sad. I applied worm castings and general purpose veg / tom food to the beds. Between that and the sunshine all the plants are having a great day. The garlic perked up in less then two hours. I'm happy about this. Who knew? Sometimes I forget compost isn't enough.

I also started to harden off the last of the summer starts that are down in the cool basement (marigolds, cilantro, chives, morning glory, basil, summer savory, pickle plants, etc). They went out for an hour this afternoon under glass in the cold frame. Tomorrow I'll put them out for a couple of hours, then a couple of more etc. I figure by the end of next week I'll be able to plant them in the garden. The timing is just about right - the blooms are just starting to drop off the dogwoods.

Okay break time's over - I'm off to dig up the triangle area some more. Maybe I'll even get the rest of the brick laid this afternoon!

Oh and hubby is so cute, he was working in the back alley and kept bringing me worms for the compost bin.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Books, blocks and bucks

"Sometimes ignorance really is bliss; however, in this instance a little knowledge is not going to hurt you and will actually help you be a better gardener. Just remember, you put your hands in the soil before you knew what was there and never got hurt.

A quote from Teaming with Microbes A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis

If you garden, if you read, you must stop what you're doing and go get this book. It really has opened up a whole new world of how to look at plants and the systems they depend on which allows them to grow vigorously. I am amazed at some of the connections I've made about the natural world around me. Just understanding a bit of the science has verified many of my garden practices and opened my horizons to try new things. I was never a proponent of chemicals for the garden before and this in many ways confirms that decision. I'm not done reading yet so I reserve the right to change my mind but I somehow don't think I will. It's really fascinating to think that a teaspoon of good garden soil is busier then Tokyo on a Friday night. Seriously, go check it out.

In other news I'm making a bit of headway on the next garden project. I wheedled out some time on Mother's Day to stack stone blocks for the new raised bed.

It's about 1/2 done now but I still have to deal with the ugly part of shoveling a LOT of dirt. Bleh. I would make a terriable trench digger! It took me forever. Of course standing there staring at it wishing it was done sure didn't help it get done any faster... lol. I need to move the piles on the right, further to the right so I can get in there and lay a crushed rock foundation and stack more stones.

After all that's accomplished I'll dig out the excess dirt in the bed and level it to just about the top of the second stone. After that I'll fill it the rest of the way up (about 1/2') with compost. Then I can get to the fun part and decide what to plant. I'll most likely get a self pollinating semi-dwarf apple tree of some sort this fall. Not sure what to do with the rest of it. I might plant pumpkins in there just for this summer for fun. I do love me the pumpkins. lol

I also had a great time last Saturday browsing the nursery sans kiddlet. Ah. I was pretty good and only bought three gardening books and a couple of strawberry plants. Compared to what I wanted to buy, I was a *saint*. I seriously have never smelled anything so lovely in my whole life.

I want one! (But I don't have a spot for it - yet. I also most certainly don't want to spend that kind of $$ either.) I'll have to look into seeing how hard they are to grow from seed. I bet they grow real S.L.O.W. Oh fudge! Me and my expensive tastes! Never mind all the beautiful pots and trees and benches and water fountains and birdbaths and trellises that I also wanted to take with me... ::runs off to buy a lottery ticket::

Otherwise not much going on in the garden. Just pickin' bugs off the broccoli and making sure things are more consistently moist - it's been raining so uh, that one's easy. Still don't know what to do about the blankety-blank fungi problems I'm still having. I might try a compost tea next... or set up some hoops to keep the water off some of the plants or both. The garlic is starting to look bad again! Bah.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pests and Plans

Glad I did garden patrol this morning.  I double checked under the broccoli leaves and found little yellow egg sacks on three of the four plants and a teeny tiny little caterpillar munching away on the leaves of the fourth one.  It probably wasn't more then 1/4" long and very slender.  It was just getting started.  I booted him out the garden bed... and well, the world.  


Sorry little caterpillar.  In general the broccoli is looking pretty good and didn't sustain too much damage - a few pin holes.  I seem to have caught it quite early.  I'm not sure I would've even thought anything of it, except Liisa was having a bit of looper trouble a week or two ago and noticed some butterflies and egg sacks.

After doing a little research it looks like my troubles were caused by the egg and caterpillar stage of an Imported Cabbage Worm.   I'll be sure to keep checking for egg sacks till harvest since there will be multigenerations over the course of the season.


On another note, I reseeded those areas where my first round of carrots didn't come up. I was surprised at the low germination rate.  Hope this next round is more productive.  (62% germination for the first round of Sugar Snax Carrots and 50% germination of Purple Haze) 

I was also inspired by Sinfonian's interplanting of blueberries and strawberries.  My shrubs are still quite small (only two years old when I planted them last fall) and I don't see why I shouldn't use the bed to its best advantage.  I'd rather be eating strawberries then pulling weeds!  So I grabbed a few of the runners off some of the potted stawberries I have around the yard and plunked them down in-between my blueberries.

I had fun today too and harvested a few radishes!  It was nice to actually go into the garden and pull something out and eat it.  It's been a long, long time coming!  Four years in fact.  They were the best damn radishes I've ever eaten... lol  If you check out the side bar you'll notice that I've set up a harvest tally.  There's no way I can keep up with either Granny or EG (besides if I even got close EG'd just build 12 more beds and Granny'd take over the truck bed again and I'd never catch up!) but I'll be happy knowing how much I was able to grow this year.  ::g::  


No matter what I do something always seems to go amiss.  I pulled my radishes and couldn't believe the plethora of problems I was confronted with.  First there was the inconsistent watering which causes the root to split thusly:

I also ran into some not so friendly cabbage maggots which were dining on my lovelies.  Looks like they can be taken care of by applying nematodes.  I also had one radish that never formed a bulb which can happen apparently when it gets either too hot (85° + ) or too much nitrogen.  I'm thinking it was the few hot days we had a while back - which would also explain the few radishes with cracked / split forms.  My greatest challenge has always been maintaing consistent moisture...  I need to work on that.

Speaking of work, just because the beds are in and most of the plants are planted doesn't mean I get to rest on my laurels.  I started the next landscaping project today... well I lifted the first shovelful anyway.  I've been thinking about it for a while.  (I've also decided to nix the chickens for now.*) This is what I'm currently up against:


This is what I'm hoping I knock out by the end of fall.  Maybe I can get DH to help.  He's not really into any sort of gardening but if I pester him he'll oblige.... though come to think of it he did turn the compost pile today.  Hum.  Maybe he secretly wants to be a garden guy.  Heehee.


I've got such a loooong way to go.  I had two bricks left over from the blueberry bed wall so they went down.  I need to get over to McDepot and pick up a whole lot more if I want to get anywhere with this wall building business.


* I thought I'd take my kiddlet to visit some chickens.  It went badly.  She really wanted to hug them.  When they wouldn't oblige and ran away she tried to get their attention by throwing (small) rocks at them.  Oh noze!  I think we're going to wait a few years before we think about keeping them.  I also think our yard is just really too small as I'd like to give them more free range then just the run they'd be confined to most of the time while waiting for my daughter to grow up.  lol

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Weighing In

This has been a busy week, unfortunately none of it was spent in the garden.  I did however manage to pick up a food scale.  I guess I really can't resist seeing how much I wind up producing out of the garden this year.  Heehee...

We've also had a lot of rain the past couple of weeks so that's kept me indoors as well.  Looking at the plants this morning I've realized two things, one: even mother nature sometimes overwaters (a few of the squash varieties have very yellow leaves) and two: I really need some hoop frames to better control temp and some of this excessive water we're getting.  It needs to be a bit warmer and dryer.  

So my question to those of you using material for hoop frames, what do you like best?  I'm pretty handy with a sewing machine so I was thinking I could make sleeves for the pvc pipe to slide through or is that overkill?  Are clips better?  What do you say?

PS: Looks like good news with the toms... they're putting out new growth and are starting to look a little better.  I was wondering there for a while.  Bad news?  Lost the cucumbers but I sort of thought I might.  It's really too cold for them still.  They need to go out the same time as the peppers and basil, etc.  I still have a few from starts growing under lights so I should be okay.  They could be potted up though.  Also hope it stays dry long enough today to reseed the carrots that were duds and didn't come up on the first round of planting.

Monday, May 4, 2009

How does your garden grow?

I have to mention that this past weekend our Farmer's Market re-opened. I couldn't have been more delighted to have local fresh veggies again.

On the home front things are coming along slowly but surely here. I was able to harvest my first few radishes the other day!  I'm not sure that I'm going to keep a record of how many lbs of produce I harvest this year.  I think I might like to know but I don't actually have a scale.    I should probably invest in one.

Still waiting on so much more. I was thinking at this point I'd just post pictures of the beds once or twice a month now. It'll be fun to see how they grow up over the season. These were all shot on May 2nd...

You can see the new garlic I planted toward the front and my kiddlet with her blanky and Bebe (the stuffed bear that goes everywhere she does).  There's no compost in the mini bed in front - it's all crap soil just the way nasturtiums like it!

I've taken the boards off of this bed now as the cilantro is finally starting to come up.  You can see the little lilac I bought in the defunct cold frame on the left... tiny little whelp of a thing.  I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with those pumpkins yet either but I better figure it out soon or they're gonna die in those little pots.

I bought chives to put in the perennial bed since I can't seem to get celery to grow to save my life.  What you can't really see is the asparagus which is nearly a foot high now!  Of course being only one year old crowns they're only putting up one stalk, so they look a bit spindly.  

This is nearly a three sisters garden... I should've planted the pole beans over here instead of the peas... lot of pumpkins, squash and corn. BTW all the corn I planted sprouted except one - that's a great germination rate.  You can just barely see them down on the right toward the front.  

The flowers in the pot are nearly spent now but the sage is starting to bloom and it's quite pretty.  The mint is starting to fill in nicely too but that's to be expected. 

The Hulda Klager Lilac Garden

Last friday as a bit of a Mother's Day pre-celebration I took my mom up to the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens for their annual spring Lilac festival. In general my mom has a black thumb but adores lilacs. She has five and when she moves she's taking them with her. Oh yes. She really looks forward to this every year and I'd never been. It's pretty cool if you click over to the website and read the history of the place.

In brief it was the property of Hulda Klager, The Lilac Lady. (1864 - 1960). After her death it was maintained for a number of years by a new owner but it got to be too much and they sold it to a party that was going to bulldoze it and turn it into an industrial site. It was saved by being named a historical landmark. A society was formed, money raised and it was brought back to it's former glory. It really is a lovely, lovely place. This was my first time visiting there. Even the old farm house was restored and full of quilts! What's not to love? We stopped and got coffee on the way in so it was, coffee, gardens and quilts. (Three of my favorite things) We had a great time!

This is Hulda Klager and her family at the world's fair in Chicago in 1893.

This isn't even a drop in the bucket of all the lilacs they had! Imagine this 100 times over. There are rows of lilac bushes that go back all the way to the white bench on both sides of the path and again beyond that and in front of the property and behind the farm house and pretty much, well - everywhere!

This was "sensation" and one of these *might* have come home with me. ;^)

The whole property is pretty neat. There's an old windmill to pump water from the well (hand pump is at the base) with a water tower near by and the old carriage house which is now a gift shop and the "shed" to the left of those buildings is where you can buy lilac bushes ranging in size from 5" (like mine ::g::) up to five feet.

There are many other plants there besides lilacs with sweet little garden spots that call you to walk their paths and discover their secrets.

Like all real gardens there are even a few weeds here and there... and yup that's my kiddlet running around by the side of the restored old farm house. Inside was cool too with antiques (many were pieces that had actually belonged to HK and one amazing piece that was donated but had come by wagon over the Oregon Trail)

HK was a hip lady. I'm diggin' her gardening hat. How ahead of her time she was - gotta keep that hot sun off your skin, nothing like a big ol hat!

These were also at the HK Gardens but it'll be a nice segue into our next planned outting, the tulip festival just down the road from the Gardens. We're just waiting for it to stop raining so we can go! (Maybe Thursday?)