Buttercups and Quince

Harvesting by myself in the garden this morning.  Picked 65 lbs of produce – the bulk of which was winter squash and quince.  The quince are just starting to ripen, so I didn’t pick very many, but a few were definitely ready.  Quince (Cydonia oblonga) may not be the most lovely fruit in the world – looking like a misshapen pear covered in shedding fuzz – but the aroma from this crate of fruit was nothing short of heavenly.  The scent is likened to guava and honey with overtones of vanilla and rose. These ancient pomes are a fruit worth keeping in

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Elderberry Harvest

This morning I had three brand-new hardworking volunteers helping us pick product for Birch Community Services.  We spent a good chunk of time picking hard-to-reach elderberries, which are in full production.   Fresh organically-grown elderberries go for $3-6 dollars/lb, and we picked about 25 lbs today. We also picked tomatoes, green beans, and a big flat of plums.  Sungold cherry tomatoes are my long-standing favorite.  They produce reliable, very sweet and split-resistant fruit over a long period and in great quantities. This is the first year we’ve gotten plums off a tree I grafted as a tiny little twig four

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Tuesday Evening

The garden always starts to look a little more wild and unkempt than normal this time of year.  Some plants are past their prime and looking scraggly.  Some have spilled over their boundaries to scramble over paths and up tomato cages.  Some (like the mile-high lettuce in the center-background) are allowed to bolt so I can save the seeds or are permitted to self-sow about the garden. After dinner, George helped me pick some tomatoes and plums and summer squash for a delivery in the morning.  He got a thrill out of being hoisted up to help reach the first

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Produce Picked

So, I haven’t been blogging much lately.  We’ve been in summer overdrive – husband job-hunting (he starts his new job Monday!), ferrying kids to summer camps, derby derby and more derby, sewing and knitting like crazy in preparation for opening my Etsy store this fall, and most of all: harvesting produce twice a week with volunteers in our garden. Before I start back to regular posting, I wanted to share some pictures of the harvests over the past couple of weeks.  We’ve had all sorts of new volunteers helping, most of whom have almost no previous garden experience.  It’s been

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  Sharing a few shots of some of the crates of produce we’ve picked in the last two weeks.  Our gardens grow organic produce for Birch Community Services, and volunteers come twice a week to learn about gardening, harvest and do a little weeding with me.  It’s still early in the year, but there is a fair amount to pick. The herbs are loving the warm weather!  Lavender is a high-value crop, and we grow a lot of it – 6 edible varieties as well as 3 types of Spanish lavender for the bees.  This time of year, all of

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Early June Garden

After a few months on break (WordPress troubles, another surgery), I’m back to blogging. A few shots around the garden yesterday (the one above shows part of our new rain garden).   Early June is so lovely.  Everything still tidy and unfurling.         It’s shaping up to be a very good year for berries.  The kids have been picking a basket of berries to accompany every meal, and snacking on them in between. All of the apples have set very heavily this year.  I did a lot of hand-thinning after the natural fruit drop at the beginning of

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Fall Chop n Drop

Saying goodbye to the abundant tomato crop:  This year has been the best and longest tomato growing season since we started gardening in this location five years ago.  George and I spent yesterday ripping up, chopping up tomato plants, and stripping the last of the fruits from the vines. We had quite a lot of ripe/ripening tomatoes, especially considering a volunteer had picked a much larger quantity earlier in the week.  There were also quite a lot of tomatillos (bottom right).   Most years, the tomatoes are long gone this far into October, so we are lucky to be picking

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October bounty

A few images from the past week:   Picking highbush cranberries (Viburnum trilobum) back by the chicken coop.  There are many nurseries that stock this species (or group of species), but unless you acquire a variety specifically selected for eating, the fruit will be highly unpalatable.  These are from a specialty nursery and the fruit taste very much like a true cranberry (Vaccinium spp). The birds get about half the fruit, but those we manage to pick substitute nicely for cranberries in any dish.  They also make a lovely red jelly, and dehydrate well.  If you have room, they are

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First Day of Autumn

It has been three months since I last posted an update.  Three months ago tomorrow, I broke my leg quite badly at derby practice, and have spent the summer recovering from two subsequent reconstructive surgeries. They tell me it takes a full year to be back (as close) to normal (as the ankle can get).  In the last two weeks, I’ve finally been able to get out in the garden for a few hours each day.  While I have some complications, and still have a brace and need to use one crutch, being back in the garden has done wonders

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Early Harvests

  Some of the organic produce we have harvested in the past week and a half or so (thank you, volunteers for all your help!).  Slowly, slowly, the gardens are producing more and more food as soil fertility improves, perennial food plants begin producing, and the entire permaculture system matures.

Early Summer Evening

    Walking the gardens in the evening is one of my favorite rituals.  It gives me a chance to take assessment of the various beds, dead-head flowers, pull weeds, prune as necessary.  The front yard perennial bed is beginning to fill in.  Late in the winter, several plants were damaged/destroyed when heavy tree rounds were accidentally dumped in my yard.  Slowly, new perennials are filling in the gaps.  Columbine, Sea Kale (Crambe maritima), Bee Balm, and several other new plants are beginning to establish, despite the slug onslaught. The young plum trees (a Methley and an Early Laxton), have set a

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Early June in the Permaculture Garden

  The first of the goumi berries (Eleagnus multiflora) are ripe.  I picked a handful, and my eldest promptly ate them all. We have four goumi bushes (2 of Sweet Scarlet, and 2 of Red Gem), but only two are old enough to produce any berries.  The young plants will produce a few pints of berries -which as you can see in the above photo, ripen in succession – but in the future, we should get more than enough for batches of jam and fruit leather and fresh eating.  As a bonus, the shrubs are nitrogen fixers, so I have situated them

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Hidden Corner and Weekly Harvest

Our chicken coop is a giant monstrosity we acquired four years ago for next to nothing on Craigslist.  It got a window and bright paint and sits very happily in the back of the yard. Because it is so tall, I knew it needed a vertical climber trained up the side.  I chose Concord grapes, which my grandpa always grew, and remind me of childhood visits to his garden in Indiana.  Concords have a distinct flavor, which grape enthusiasts call “foxy.”  My kids aren’t especially fond of the flavor, but I love them. (There are plenty of other grape varieties

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Early September in the Garden/ Transitions

Well, the photo editor/uploader issues with WordPress haven’t been fixed yet, but I’m going to try and get a few images to upload for this post.  I wish the uploader would cooperate, and I could share photos of all the garden is producing – Sunchokes 10 feet fall, baskets (and bellies) full of “Fall Gold” raspberries, ducks laying pale green eggs every day, broody chickens, yarrow and salvia and dahlias splashing every corner with color… I love the transition of early September, when we are just beginning to be weary of summer, but not quite ready for the dreariness that

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Garden Late June Part Two

Part two of Late June in the garden:  the backyard.  Rhubarb, beans, amaranth, garlic, pole beans, tomatoes, tomatillos, volunteer chard and sunflowers. Raspberries in the back and side yards are still cranking out the berries.  The side yard patch (on the left) has encroached upon the path and blueberries, columbine and dahlias (to the right).  Ah well, I do love that wild, overgrown look to the garden. It’s going to be a great year for elderberries.  Both the native and Asian elderberry in our shade garden are loaded full of young fruit. We will finally be getting apples this year!

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Late June in the Garden Part One

Some images from our front-yard permaculture garden, as we slowly transition more and more beds to perennial crops (as time and budget permit). Oh yeah, it’s a jungle.  I still think it’s more beautiful than any monoculture lawn, don’t you? Planting beneficial, useful, and edible plants doesn’t mean sacrificing beauty and blooms in your landscape. All of this was lawn four years ago (plus the neighbor’s hedge).  Of course, it’s all in transition, but as the trees and shrubs mature, it will continue to move from scraggly to ever-more beautiful and diverse and productive.  (But always look a bit wild,

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Saturday in the Garden

Most of the currants have been a dud this year, the strawberries are nearly gone, and the blueberries not-quite-ripe yet.  But the raspberries!! Oh, what a fantastic year for raspberries.  Many, many pints have been delivered to BCS, and many more wolfed down by neighborhood children flocking to our backyard. Breakfast, snack, dessert – we cannot get enough of them.  The kids are especially loving them blended with plain kefir, a little honey, and ice cubes for a smoothie snack.   Now that garden chores are finished for the day, we’re off to a Bonsai festival.  And then the girls have

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Peonies and Raspberries

Well, I’ve been knocked down somewhat with a summer cold, and didn’t make the Yarn Along this week.  I finished a pair of socks for a friend, and hope to post photos next week. We have company visiting, and volunteers in the garden, and swim lessons and so much summer goodness and fun.  We’ve been baking and playing with the neighbor kids and cutting posies in the yard.  And stuffing ourselves full of raspberries on a daily basis. I had volunteers here this morning, and together harvested loads of organic produce for BCS – baskets full of Spanish shallots, raspberries,

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This and that

  After a weekend full of hiking and trips to the playground and ice cream cones, we are launching headfirst into a busy week.  The three older kids start swim lessons, my folks come to visit, and summer is in full swing. For now, a few pictures from our weekend:   Ruth sorting a 25 cent bag of bias tape she picked up at the thrift store. Making kraut. I’ll be back later in the week for the Yarn Along.    

Waiting for spring

It has been a while since I’ve posted.  Life is tremendously hectic (I feel like I say that too frequently).  Friends having babies, and they need meals.  Kids sick with colds that become pneumonia and bronchitis.  Hours of garden work every single day.  House chores I cannot keep on top of. The grey rainy days and too many hours inside being ill are starting to wear thin on everyone.  We are looking forward to spring. During George’s nap today, Harold and I went outside to spread mulch (an unending chore when you are trying to build biomass and increase fertility

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Saturday Garden Planning

I spent a considerable amount of time in the garden this week thanks to temperatures in the high 30’s ad low 40’s.  We had planned on finishing the chicken run re-do this morning.  However, a bank of freezing fog moved in, and the children quickly got chilled, despite being well-bundled. So, we headed inside, to make raspberry-swirl brownies.  While the brownies baked, little George and I sat in the dining nook – he played with toys and rosemary sprigs, and I tried to finish up some garden planning for the coming year.    The big kids sat warming cold fingers and

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Out in the Chill

Some images from the garden this week: My little garden helper.  Love spending time out in the garden early in the morning,  just me and George (and the poultry, of course). We found some gorgeous mushrooms (Turkey Tail?) growing on old plum logs bordering the rhubarb patch.  Aren’t they beautiful? And this feathery mycelium on the underside of a board that had been laying on the ground since the children abandoned their fort with the onset of chilly wet weather.  Every time I see gorgeous fungus in the yard, I resolve to learn more about this fascinating Kingdom that brings

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Late December in the garden

Our Christmas was the first spent at home in Oregon, instead of visiting Grandma and Grandpa B.  We had a peaceful and happy holiday. Since, in the past, the children and I have been in Florida for 4 to 6 weeks in the winter, we have missed out on enjoying the garden in this season.  But not this year!  Every morning, we have bundled up and spent two or three hours outside. Our temperatures have been mild (high 30’s to mid 40’s) and we have taken full advantage.   The poultry love it that we are out improving the garden, too. 

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Hiding Amongst the Beets

It’s Friday, and time to join up with This Moment.

Care of the Raspberry Patch

The raspberries have yet to drop all their leaves, but with plenty of rain in the forecast, now was the time to get the patches cleaned up for winter.  What better way to do it than in the last blush of sunshine before the return of fall rains? We have two raspberry patches.  The one above is for the children of volunteers to snack on.  It resides in the side yard, next to a strawberry bed that serves the same purpose. The other, larger patch is in front of the chicken coop in the backyard (half shown here).  It is

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