Thursday, June 28

Community Garden Update: Weeds, Eastern Bluebird and Lettuce

I arrived at my community garden plot to find mostly weeds. We haven't been over in a couple weeks due to rain. It was too many weeds to deal with today, so we will return tomorrow morning with tools to tackle the weeds. After we weed, we'll be putting on some seaweed and straw mulch to fertilize and keep the weeds down in the future.

Today we saw a little drama going on at one of the bird houses. A Sparrow was protecting her nest from an Eastern Bluebird. She was so flustered and kept chasing that Bluebird off. I wish I had brought my telephoto lens to catch a good photo for you. I know Blue Jays can be aggressive, but was surprised to see an aggressive Bluebird. If anyone knows anything about these birds, I'd love some insight as to what was going on.
 The lettuce at the community garden is doing well. I planted a mixed pac of seeds so have many varieties.
I think this one is iceburg lettuce. I've never tried growing this before. I think this one looks a bit like a green rose.
A few peppers are already producing, however, something is eating some of the leaves. Last year we had no problems at all with the peppers. Any idea what it could be?

Wednesday, June 27

Note to Michele: Garden in Late June

Hi Michele,

Here are some photos I took today in my garden.
The blackberries are forming in the berry patch...
and some cherry tomatoes.
 I don't know what these are called even though I've had them for years.
Some blooming cilantro....
And seaweed. Seaweed is amazing for the garden. Full of minerals, I just lay it on the garden bed around the plants. It can also be used for mulch or added to a compost pile. It can also be dried and powdered to add to water like a plant food.

Monday, June 25

Flowers at Willowbrook

I'd like to share with you a pretty, old fashioned perennial border at the Durgin Moore House at Willowbrook. We visited Willowbrook this past weekend and had a lovely time despite some rain. Willowbrook is a 19th Century open air history museum located in Newfield, Maine. If you'd like to see more photos of the buildings and vistas, check it out at my family blog here.

Sunday, June 24

Response to Caroline: First Harvest

I was able to harvest chives, oregano, radish and sage today. I am going to dry the herbs in my new dehydrator. I also just tied some up to air dry. I want to see what the difference is?
 The peas are nearly ready.Maybe just a week to harvest. My pole beans are making an attempt to fasten themselves to the chain link fence that is on one side of the plot. The thought of having a whole fence of runner beans is exciting. The tomatoes as usual look pathetic. I think it is just too wet here to grow nice tomatoes. Does anyone have any tricks for growing them here in the pacific northwest?

The beets have begun to show, but I need to thin them out. The bush beans look like they are waiting for warmer weather to take off. Below is a picture of my beets with oregano and a pea peeking out. As you know I am not a neat gardener.

Look at what I discovered today on my plot. It is a Peruvian Daffodil that I put in the ground only 3 weeks ago. It comes back each year and will spread hopefully. It is very fragrant.

Here is the bottom half of the Daffodil.

Sun and warmer weather is still rare here even though it is nearly July. It has really slowed growth down.


Monday, June 18

Note to Michele: Roses, Wind chimes and Mock Orange

My mock orange is in bloom so I wanted to take a photo to show you. That we have any blossoms this year is a miracle really because early in the season the bush had a terrible problem with aphids. I noticed ladybugs and wasps feeding on the aphids but I think the result was very few blossoms. Here you see one branch in full bloom along with some of my wind chimes. I collect wind chimes and this bush is full of some small sets.
The mock orange always blooms at the same time as my climbing roses which are abundant this year.
While tending to the roses, I noticed this little surprise on our nearby grapevine. The vine has yet to produce grapes as it is only a few years old but it looks like we might get some this year.
I am quite happy to see this tiny bunch. In other news, the daylilies are almost ready to burst into bloom. The Egyptian onions are producing and my daughter made the best onion soup with them today. What's going on in your Portland plot this week?

Sunday, June 17

Perennial Polyculture

I've been researching perennial polyculture. I love the idea of edibles that come back year after year. I already have some perennial edibles in my gardens such as egyptian onions, asparagus, berries, fruit trees, herbs, and rhubarb. This video gives an introduction to lesser known edible perennial plants that form a food forest and how they work together as a polyculture.

Saturday, June 16

Gardening in World War II

For those of you who love history in addition to gardening, I just had to share this series I stumbled upon. Watching this British show is like visiting a living history museum. You'll see gardening and cooking methods necessary during wartime. I particularly liked the little greenhouses to cover rows though I wouldn't enjoy assembling them. The show also includes recipes. This video contains the first two episodes of the series. If you love history, you're in for a treat.

Wednesday, June 13

Portland thing?

Not sure if this is just a new trend around the country? Since I have relocated here I have noticed these informational boxes in certain neighborhoods. Usually put up on tree lawns, you know that skinny strip of city owned land  before the road. Most people here take them over and plant gardens there. Here is one box that I passed on the way to catch my bus to the community garden the other day. I also took a photo of the intriguing note left inside. Notice the yarn bombing around the post.


A rose must remain with the sun and the rain or its lovely promise won't come true. ~Ray Evans

Today in my garden- raindrops.

Sunday, June 10

June Blooms

The roses are opening up so I took my camera out to the garden this morning to share the blooms in my garden with you.

Saturday, June 9

How To Use a Garden Hoe

I'm teaching my kids how to use a hoe properly and found this video- simple but important information from this gentleman in the UK.

Friday, June 8

Farming by Hand

As I mentioned, my daughter and I have been reading The Rose Years books by Roger Lea MacBride, about the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family as they built up their farm in the late 1890s. The Wilders did everything with human or animal power on the farm. It seems incredible to us today that everything was done without the use of fossil fuels on their farm and amazing they got everything done. We're learning their work was never done which has us doing some deep thinking about the future of food production in our world.  I found this interesting documentary to share here about a farm in Britain and this problem in general.
In addition, the following video by Peak Moment visits a store which sells old fashioned hand tools every purpose imaginable.  

Thursday, June 7

Note to Michele: Planting in the Rain

The rain has been falling for nearly a week now.  So, today I decided we’d just have to do some planting in the rain. Together, my daughter and I have been reading a series of books by Roger Lea MacBride about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life as an adult on her Missouri farm. These books, known at the Rose Years, are told from the perspective of her daughter Rose. Farming in those days was back breaking work we’ve been learning, so we figured a little rain wouldn’t hurt us compared to the trials they endured. In the book we just finished, drought and fire nearly ruined their crops, making us appreciate this rain we’ve been having.

We planted bush beans and chard seed today. I also noticed some tomato volunteers popping up so I moved them around into a neater formation than they had chosen for themselves. Perhaps we’ll get some more tomatoes from them. The plants these came from were volunteers in my home garden last year, so this is the third year we’ll be getting tomatoes from the original seedlings I bought.
At home, there is much work to do and I just might go out and work in the rain this afternoon too. The weeds are doing quite well with all this rain and my garden is being overtaken quickly. I bought some seeds for pickling cukes as I’d like to learn how to make my grandmother’s bread and butter pickles this fall.
Above is a photo of the garden in the rain today. In the foreground are the peppers we planted last week, followed by eggplant, then two rows of chard, two rows of lettuce, bush beans, the tomato patch, and more bush beans. I think that about fills up our community garden plot for this year if everything comes up.
Soon, I'm hoping to share some photographs of my climbing roses. I noticed today they are about ready to burst into bloom. I can't wait!
What is going on in your garden?

Saturday, June 2

Bonsai in Bloom

On our most recent visit to the Boston Museum of Science we were able to make a second visit to the Bonsai exhibit. The specimens are changed every so often because too much time inside the museum is unhealthy for the trees. This was good news for us as we were able to view new specimens.
I was most impressed with the blooming bonsai so took a few photos to share.

Friday, June 1

Note to Michele: Veggies, Flowers and Fiddleheads

Today we got started at our community garden plot. I’m lucky to have kids who were able to get the work done in no time at all. One turned the soil, one pulled out the weeds, one added compost and I followed along and popped in the plants. We still have more work to do but today was a productive start.

So far we’ve planted:
Three varieties of peppers-sweet, hot, and, by request of my daughter-purple! 12 plants total.
A variety of lettuce seedlings
4 eggplant starts

In the wild-crafting department, we enjoyed some fiddleheads recently. I boil or steam and then serve with lemon. Some I add these to rice and stir fry dishes (note: always be sure to cook thoroughly. Raw fiddleheads can make one ill.)

 I found an interesting way to eradicate the pokeweed plant I’ve mentioned before. It’s spreading and popping up in the strawberry bed. I read about a non-toxic way to kill it- by pouring boiling water over the plant. It seems to work but we’ll have to wait and see if it tries to sprout again. It’s a pretty plant with beautiful berries but I just don’t want it in my strawberry bed and the fact that it is toxic worries me with kids and pets. We think it was introduced to our garden with a load of compost a few years ago.
The flowers are all blooming early this year. My rhododendrons are going by with blossoms falling to the ground like rain. Irises are in bloom. My daughter is planting her raised bed with annual flowers this year rather than veggies. She is planting snapdragons, alyssum, four o'clocks, bachelor's buttons, cosmos, gladioli, and candytuft. The perennial beds are in desperate need of an overhaul and dividing of plants. I think we'll tackle that in the fall.

What to do when it is just too Darn hot to Garden?

It has been a very hot summer everywhere. From what I have been told it is normal to get 100 plus days from the months here from  May to Oct...