Thursday, September 6, 2012

Summer's still here, but not for long...

It's harvest time!!! The potatoes I planted in the wine barrels didn't do so hot this year- I suspect the quality of the soil, but check out the size of this volunteer from last year!!
This is a Yukon Gold that I obviously missed during last year's harvest. It grew three of the largest Yukon Golds I've ever seen.

I also had a Norland Red volunteer as well, which outdid itself too! The carrots did much better this year; I've been pulling them as I need them and they're so sweet tasting!

Here are the potatoes I planted in the wine barrels. Not much for size, but I did get enough for a few dinners and they tasted great. I'll just tell people they're a mini-variety or something :-)

I caught a glimpse of one of my preying mantids while watering the strawberry pyramid. Look at how big they've gotten! I'm really hoping to see some egg sacs appear in my garden this year. It's been doing a great job keeping white fly infestations down on my strawberry plants.

I finally potted up the succulents I bought at Gardenpalooza in April. I found this plant stand on CL for $20 and got the pots at Al's nursery in Woodburn. So far, they're really happy and starting to root nicely.

Also, my toad lilies are blooming this year! I planted them last fall and have been waiting patiently to see what the blooms look like. I liked them because they looked so much like orchids, but without all the hassle. Very pretty!

My onions also did much better this year than last year. I planted seeds instead of onion sets this year and they've really made some nice bulbs. I've used a lot of fresh onions in cooking and when I canned salsa last weekend. It's very convenient just to go out back and harvest what you need.'s September and I'm still harvesting carrots, onion, and tomatoes, but Fall is in the air, I can feel it!

Gosh, it's been a while...

Hello loyal followers! Sorry I've abandoned you for so long...
Just a quick recap of what's been going on at my house! Mom did her annual cherry pitting this year, with pretty stellar results. We put up three jars of Bings and three jars of Rainiers.

My strawberry pyramid really took off this year and produced enough strawberries to make a few batches of strawberry jam!

Some home improvement: I ripped out the corner cabinet that used to be perminently installed next to the old stove and replaced it with a cart off of CraigsList! It moves away from the stove so I can get everything clean and it provides much better storage and surface area. It's been great for canning!

More home improvement: we ripped out the carpet in the frontroom finally! I still have a ways to go before I can afford to repair and refinish it, but just having the nasty old carpet out is a big improvement. Although, it breaks my heart that someone would PAINT original hardwood floors- why, WHY?!?! The good news is that I don't think the floors in the bedrooms are painted, since the hallway was also spared. Someday soon, the carpet in those rooms will disappear as well...

Here I am pulling up sections of carpet and padding with Mary's assistance. Getting the carpet up wasn't what took the time- it was all the tack strips and thousands of staples! We were at it until dark.

You can see Mom's enthusiasm about pulling staples, even though ripping up the carpet was her idea...

And here it looks, done! Much better- the improvement in air quality alone made it worth it.

Here are a few shots from the scarf dye-day we held at my house. I attracted quite a bit of attention by wearing the scarves I dyed at Mom's house last summer, so there were a lot of Kettle ladies that attended the dye day at my house. Behold our creations!

My three. The one on the left has inspired a new colorway for Tanglewood Fiber creations: Becky's Blackberry.

How Alice felt about the excitement:

So, sorry again that it's taken me so long to post. I'll try to be more prompt in the future!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's a good time to have a garden...

I've been at home with a sinus infection the last few days and took a few pictures during the few times I went outside to get some fresh air. All the plants are really starting to take off and my garden has transformed into an oasis of green! It's a great place to read a book, putter around, or just sit and enjoy the birds singing. I recently put up a few hummingbird feeders, but the hummingbird at my house still prefers the red cape fuschia... My sweet peas are starting to bloom: As are my pole beans. I've already got one small harvest from my bush beans. The garlic is starting to dry out and flop over. Harvest time should be around late July. The thyme and basil seeds I planted in this hanging basket are doing well... Here is a "cycle-up" project I've been working on: vertical gardening in plastic bottles. So far, it's worked really well for shallow-rooting plants like salad, radishes, onions, and herbs. My strawberries are going to town, too! This is the first full growing year for the strawberry pyramid and it's evident that the plants are better established. The berries are bigger and better this year! I also finally created a support for the loganberry and thornless blackberry canes. With more support, they won't be climbing onto the patio and tripping innocent bystanders. My potatoes in back are growing pretty well; I think these are Yukon Golds.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No Grass Allowed!

As many of you know, I hate grass. I hate that it takes several gas-powered machines to keep it short, looks like crap in the summer, and that Silverton fines you if it gets too long. I've been thinking of what to do in the front yard ever since I moved in and every plan I've come up with has including getting rid of the grass altogether. It's not like I'd be losing much- it's really only clover and moss and dandylions, and crabgrass. The same combination that many people in my neighborhood have. It's a waste of space and resources. So, with that in mind, I began to scheme. I was very adamant about having an espalier. I liked the way they looked and how they usually give a lot of fruit in a very small space. I decided that the long stretch of yard along First Street would be perfect for a free-standing espalier for apples and pears. In theory, it was a very simple idea of setting posts, stringing wire, and planting trees. In reality, my house sits on an old river bed and there are little rocks scattered throughout the topsoil, which made rototilling a very difficult task, indeed. Combined with the boulders that were found a foot below the ground made setting posts a labor of love. A big "atta-boy!" for my handymen! Here's the cleared area by the front door:
and here is the cleared area for the espalier and the posts set:
Here is what it looked like after the posts were in and the wire strung:
One of the apple trees in the ground! Soon, I'll start to train and tie the branches to the wire.
I also had the handymen put in a new front walk. Before, it was nothing but dirt and mud leading to the front door. I got these pavers from a friend who is also re-doing their backyard. Yay for repurposing! I think it looks rather sharp. I plan to put in several bulb spirals on either side as well as some nice potted plants along the walk. Something fragrant...
While all this work was going on, there have been some additions to the "Andersen Household- Silverton Branch" this week. One of the Preying Mantis egg sacs finally hatched! There were hundreds of babies waiting to be dispersed outside.
They found homes on the strawberry hanging baskets and pyramid as well as on the grape and columnar apples. I hope they're happy and that I get to spot a few adults come Fall.
The other new addition is a worm bin! I've been wanting one for a while and finally saw a good deal on CraigsList. My one pound of worms are working their way through the first tray. As they eat up all the food, you add additional trays to the top for them to move into. The bottom tray then contains worm casings and compost tea which is great for baby plants in the greenhouse!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May Sunshine Works Wonders!

We've had an unseasonably nice May here in the PNW and the plants are loving it! My columnar apples actually bloomed this year and I can see tiny little apples starting to form
My bush beans and broccoli are out of the greenhouse and into the ground,
As is my cauliflower.
I nailed left over chicken wire to the fence so the cucumbers have something to climb on. The row of spring onions I planted in this bed are also coming up.
It's the strawberry pyramid's first established spring and it's going to town! All the blank spots I filled in last summer with runners have rooted nicely. I hope to get a bumper crop of strawberries!
And all my potatoes are sprouting. Here are the Russian fingerling potatoes...
And here are the red, Yukon Gold, and Russet Potatoes...
And I even have a couple of voluteer potatoes that I must have missed last year!
The plants in the greenhouse continue to grow like crazy, some of the tomato plants are so big that they are starting to lean over and put out flowers already.
Here are some craft projects I've been working on. I repurposed some plastic soda and water bottles as hanging planters. I've planted salad, thyme, and basil in them. We'll see how well they work- no slugs!
Matt and I built a support for the Raspberries finally. Once they grow tall, we can tuck them in between the wire to keep them from falling over.
My vertical pots are doing well- the larger pots hold water much better and don't dry out as quickly. The parsley I planted should fill out nicely. Again- no slugs!
A nice spring also means lots of asparagus! I bought this batch from Bauman's- a local nursery and market in Gervais. I find it easier to can if I first sort the stalks by size.
Then, I cut the stalks to fit the jars and peel the bottom half of the really thick ones.
Ta Da! Seven quarts of pickled asparagus! I used my brussel sprout brine recipe, since I thought the brine I prepared last year was too sweet. We'll find out in three weeks if it's any good!