Saturday, June 27

Greenhouse Advantages

I've enjoyed having a little greenhouse this past year. It's made a great difference in my gardening. For one, it extends my growing season considerably.  Also, I successfully started many plants from seed. I've been particularly happy with my petunias. I collected seed pods from last year's petunias and have had great success. They don't necessarily breed true to original color, but I enjoy seeing what nature comes up with. I've also had success with tomatoes. Never before have I had much success at all growing anything from seed.

 I was recently gifted the big tent like greenhouse you see in the photo above. You can see the comparison in size and shape with the smaller greenhouse next to it. I have both. The smaller is easier to assemble but the large one has much more space to move around as well as windows for ventilation.

You can see how the shelves are designed to fit nicely into the round shape of the greenhouse. I assembled mine the other day and will do a post on that soon. These were quite simple to assemble.

A variety of pink petunias I grew from seed in my greenhouse this spring.

Here are two good YouTube videos showing better than I the advantages of having your own greenhouse.

Wednesday, June 24

Potato harvest in June-Portland, OR

Another early harvest due to the heat. We are expecting 100 degree weather this weekend. Yikes! Last week I pulled out all my pea plants because they were dying due to the heat. Tomorrow I am planning to harvest my lettuce. I am just doubtful lettuce will survive that kind of heat. I know many of you are having the same problems with heat in the West and Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday, June 23

My New Deluxe Greenhouse- Assembly

This was my mother's day present this year.
I have been having such fun with my little greenhouse it was overflowing with plants. So now I have two. Recently, my kids helped me assemble it. I'll be honest- it was much more challenging compared to the little greenhouse assembly, but with some help from my son (who is 6 foot 2 inches tall) it's up.

In the photo above, you see the parts just out of the box. The clear plastic cover came in the round carry-case you see.

When my kids were young, they had a set of PLAY HUT forts. Does anyone remember those? They were made of flexible poles that could be bent, twisted, and flattened down to fit in a small bag. This greenhouse is basically the same idea. Uncoil the poles and it springs open.
I imagine it's going to be another challenge to fold it down when winter comes, but we won't think about that now. Perhaps my previous training with PLAY HUT will come in handy!
This was the challenging part. Even with a step ladder, it was difficult because the center peak is so high up.
We gave up at this point. Later, my other son gave it a try and he was successful. Kudos and a big THANK YOU to him! If you decide to go with this model, I recommend you enlist a tall person to help!

It's HUGE! I'm looking forward to being able to move around comfortably in this one much easier than my small greenhouse. I do believe there is enough space for a lawn chair.

Another perk- it has windows for ventilation. I have found that to be a slight problem with the smaller greenhouse and too much humidity.

I still have to assemble the shelving which came with it. I'll show you that project in another post.

Thursday, June 18

June Garden Update-Portland, OR

View of some of the community beds

On my mind right now


The weather here in the Pacific Northwest has been very warm this year. With long stretches of 80's and 90's degree days. It feels like August here instead of June. It has had an effect on the garden. The spring producing vegetables like peas are confused and are dying off . As a result, I have been harvesting vegetables sooner. Caroline told me that her peas in Maine are a few inches while mine are ready to die off. It feels like we are a whole season apart.


They are everywhere! So far I have not resorted to using the slug pellets that most gardeners use here.  I have tried egg shells, which seemed to work somewhat. Lately I have also been cutting down bramble berry branches in my battle with the slugs. I strip off the leaves to expose the thorns and use the branches to line the raised bed. It seems to be working and brambleberry is an invasive plant that can be found everywhere here. I think you could also use rose branches.

Epsom Salts

I have been hearing about using  epsom salts in the garden as a fertilizer for a while. This season I decided to try it, and so far I am excited about the results. I sprinkled some on the surface of a few of my beds and was amazed that my plants perked up in one day. I also diluted some with water in a spray bottle to use on the plants. Here is some information on how to use it.

Community Bed Tomatoes

My bed of  Onions, Potatoes and Peas

The Peas have started to pod finally

Mini beds of Strawberry, Lettuce, Onions and Beans in the area at the back of my home 

Mini drawer beds of Beets and Tomatoes
A Pea has taken over this Tomato Cage

Mini drawer beds of Beans

Sunday, June 14

What I had for dinner tonight-Quinoa and Peas

I am trying to  harvest and cook in the same day. Something that has always been a challenge for me. I should add that I am also an amateur in the kitchen. So I will be cooking with simple recipes and will be posting what  I am cooking, as sort of as a challenge to myself.

Tonight I sauteed fresh peas. I used about 1 tablespoons of butter and heated that up in a saucepan along with onions and garlic from the garden. I added the peas, strings removed, and cooked them for 10 minutes. They were cooked, but sill crunchy.

Before I started the peas, I cooked the quinoa substituting chicken stock for the water, in rice cooker for about 20 minutes. It was delicious.


Thursday, June 11

The Grotto-Portland,OR

The Grotto is a beautiful sanctuary for mother Mary, right in the middle of the city of Portland. The property includes acres of shaded woodland gardens and unexpected delights, such as the very modern meditation building with a glass wall that looks down on the city. Parts of the grotto are built on a 110 feet basalt cliff.

At the base of the cliff is a beautiful altar and outdoor church. Services are still held on a regular basis here. There is a beautiful bronze statue of of Mary that was dedicated to mark the 700th anniversary of the the Servite Order. There is also a small church with distinctive bronze doors for when the weather gets bad. There is a elevator that takes you up to the second level where most of the gardens are.

The land was acquired in 1923 by Father Mayer from the Union Pacific Railroad Company. Father Meyer was part of the Servite order. The order was started in 1233 with seven men who founded a society that was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Cost is free except for a $5 charge for a token to take the elevator up to the second level. The property includes a gift shop and free parking. The Grotto is open most days of the year. For more information go to the Grotto Website

Chapel of Mary

The modern Meditation Chapel

View down from the glass walls of he Meditation Chapel

One of many statues throughout the shaded grounds

Tiny Chapel of St Anne

Rose Garden outside the Monastery

Private Servite Monastery

One of many water features on the grounds

Tuesday, June 9

First & Second Harvest of the Season-Portland, OR

Beets-They are a tad small this year, but with 90 plus weather I am starting to harvest all my spring crops earlier than usual. The goats next door loved the beet greens. I managed to save a few leaves to eat for dinner tonight. I boiled my beets last night using the instructions in the video below.

Lettuce-I don't think the holes from the slugs are showing in this photo. Slugs are bad this year! It is always a major battle with slugs in the pacific Northwest.  The lettuce are another victim of the mini heat wave. Looks like I will be eating a lot of salads this week.

Onions and Garlic-The stems of my garlic and onions are starting to fall to the ground. I read that the onions are ready when the main stem closest to the bulb feels dry and not solid. I am leaving the bulbs out in the sun to dry out before I store them. The garlic is small, but smells wonderful!

Chamomile and Basil-I have been collecting chamomile flowers for a while now. If you have never grown this herb, don't worry about being aggressive collecting the flowers. As soon as you remove the flowers, more appear in a few days. 

Raspberries-I am not sure what variety the peach ones are, but they are way sweeter than the usual red varieties. 

Sage-I am just drying these on the kitchen counter on a paper towel right now, but once I get more I will start using the dehydrator. Of course I saved a few springs to use fresh. 

Peas-The pea plants are getting brown already from the heat. So I have decided to get aggressive with harvesting the pea pods this year.

Lemon Thyme-I am going to use this to make tea.

Saturday, June 6

Friday, June 5

Tomato Plants in the Greenhouse

Back in March, I started a twenty cent package of tomato seeds indoors.
Once it was warm enough, I moved them to the little greenhouse.
I'm testing out growing a few plants in this fish box. I've also put in a little basil and oregano. I've been fertilizing with seaweed tea.
 I have fifteen plants which I'll be transplanting soon. I can't wait to see how much yield I will get from a twenty cent package of seeds. I've never raised tomatoes from seed before, other than volunteers which seeded in, so I'm eager to watch how this year's tomato crop grows.

Wednesday, June 3

Mailbox Planter Makeover Before and After

Mom and Dad have always enjoyed prettying up their mailbox with flowers.

This winter was rough on the old whiskey barrel planter, so it was time for something new and different. The mailbox was painted a copper color and two coordinating window boxes were added on either side.
 Some decorative metal work dressed up the front. Dad built a new planter with some timbers he had.
Solar lights and annual plants were added to the planter and boxes. 
I think these small red petunias are so pretty. 
...and the final effect is fantastic!

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...