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Front Garden Fruit

We have a Fruit for the Home Garden workshop this Saturday, and in light of that, I’d like to share a small selection of the fruit in our front yard garden.   Okay, artichokes are flower buds, not fruit, but they grow in a polyculture with one of the plum trees and a selection of grapes, which are…And I love the contrast of the grey sharp-angled foliage with the green roundness of the grape leaves. Next to the artichokes, the young Early Laxton plum as set fruit for the first time.  I’m looking forward to trying these plum, which mature earlier

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Unexpected

Out doing my usual evening walk of the garden yesterday after dinner, weeding and pruning as I go, and something caught my eye… A friend gave us loads of new tomato varieties to try out in the garden this year.  I’ve never tasted or grown Rambling Stripe Gold before, but it was amongst the collection. And lo and behold!  In the first half of June, in Oregon – there’s a ripe one!  I was totally taken aback.  Tomatoes don’t hit their stride until late August and early September, so to find a ripe on in early June is just unheard

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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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Back to the Routine

After a break of just more than a month, the chickens have finally started to lay eggs again. George is tall enough now to help me collect the eggs, and very glad to do so.   After collecting the eggs, George helped me turn shredded paper, coffee grounds, composted duck manure and straw bedding into the garden beds.  I was pleased to see the beds teeming with earthworms.  It won’t be too long before we’re planting in them. Blackie McBabTalky the Black Australorp.  She’s almost five, and doesn’t lay frequently, but the children love her. It will be good to

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Healing Salve Recipe

‘Tis the Season to make Christmas gifts, and Bea and I started yesterday morning, making another, larger batch of comfrey-rosemary salve.  (Joining the KCCO today.) Comfrey, also known as knit-bone, is touted as having strong healing properties.   I have used it daily on my broken ankle once the stitches healed (don’t use the salve on open wounds), but it is also commonly used on bruises and other injuries.  It is a soothing salve to rub onto bumps, bruises, sore muscles, etc – all of which are common place in a house with 3 roller derby girls and very active, energetic kids.

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Mending and Muscari

One of my favorite wool sweaters finally wore a hole in the elbow.  It was from the thrift store and had quite a bit of wear when I found it, but I liked the blue-grey color, and I’m always a sucker for wool. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize there was a hole in the elbow until we were on our way out the door, and my eldest pointed it out to me.  With no time to darn it, I sent her back into the house for a block of foam, some roving and a needle-felting needle – I’d have to mend

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Archangel

The forecast for today is miserable – snow, freezing rain.  In anticipation, we finished winterizing the garden and got the garlic crop planted and mulched (weeks and weeks later than normal).   The duck house and chicken coop have been mucked and loads of fresh straw added, since the birds are not yet acclimated to the cold weather just now coming our way.  With the outdoor chores done, we can keep to the house knowing everything is taken care of outside. I got a pot of white bean soup going first thing so I wouldn’t have to worry about dinner

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A short November day…

A few images from the garden in early November.  There are a few carrots, and oca and potatoes to dig, and still an abundance of Swiss Chard and kale.  Most everything else has been harvested, although there is still some cleanup to be done, and there will be winter pruning in two months.  Here and there, a few calendula flowers are the only thing still blooming, but they are bent down with persistent raindrops.   Tomatillos in their skeletal husks will germinate in the spring and yield a crop next year with no help from me.        

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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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Elderberry-Rose Hip Syrup

A friend very kindly picked me loads of wild rose hips.  These red-orange fruits of fall are loaded with vitamin C, lycopene and beta-carotene.  They can be dried for tea, or used fresh for syrup and jam.  (Take note – the seeds inside are covered with irritating hairs, and if the fruits are cut up, the hairs need to be removed.  The seeds and outside of the fruit are edible.) Late in the summer, when our elderberries were in full production (and I was still out of commission), my husband picked and froze loads of berries for me.    Adding

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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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Pippins

The Cox’s Orange Pippin apples are ready.  We didn’t get but just a few, as the tree can be fiddly in its fruit-bearing, and I had pruned it heavily the winter before for shape, not fruit production. Nonetheless, these are spectacular apples.  The flavor is purported to be one of the best in the world.  The first time I tried one, I was hooked.  And since they aren’t available unless you grow them yourself, we planted in a tree by the duck house. And the color – a pumpkin orange undertone with mottling of red, yellow and pale green, and bits

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Hop Blossoms and Dragonfly Wings

A few pictures from the last two days: The boys helped me pick hops this afternoon, which we will dry for tea.  Usually, we pick them for brewing beer, but I’m told a few blossoms steeped in hot water with a little honey makes a very soothing bedtime tea, so we are going to try it this winter. Baking sesame-oat and shredded-wheat spelt breads yesterday so the kids could have a snack before derby scrimmage. My ankle swells very quickly, and I spent a lot of time with my foot propped up, reading to the children and knitting Christmas presents.

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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 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 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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From the Fig Tree

A cascade of very fresh, very ripe figs the kids poured out onto the kitchen table.  They are from a neighbor’s tree.  She doesn’t know the variety (they are actually her next-door neighbors, but a large portion of the immense tree overhangs her driveway, and no one family can consume the vast quantities of fruit. The figs are pale green with a pink flesh, and very soft and sweet.  I think they may be “Desert King”, which does quite well in our climate, and typically produces a large good-quality breba crop (we have a young one in our yard, and

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The Best Dilly Beans EVER

Lately I’ve been getting back to making home fermented foods, for our health and for simplicity’s sake.  I routinely make sourdough, yogurt, and buttermilk, but had gotten away from cultured vegetables (life gets busy).  But the past several weeks, I have re-discovered how much we love lacto-fermented veggies. Lacto-fermentation is the process of using beneficial bacteria (primarily Lactobacillus acidophilus and L. bifidus) to create lactic acid and ferment raw fruits and veggies into foods that are more easily digestible and have more bio-available nutrients.  The process also preserves food for many months. The garden is bursting with produce, but my

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Permie Book + New Socks

  Taking a break from a busy day to quickly join the Yarn Along.   I have a penchant for permaculture books, and something about reading up on landscape design and permaculture theory just pairs well with knitting.  This morning I finished The Resilient Farm and Homestead while casting on a pair of socks. The book is well-written and not-t00-technical.  It is geared toward those folks with property, and/or those new to the ideas of resilience and permaculture homesteading.    While I may not have enough land for sheep and goats and a duck pond, the book still had a lot to offer, and

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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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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.    

Gratitude

  Joining Taryn of WoolyMossRoots for her Gratitude Sunday: -Very glad to have a little free time to return to blogging, and catch up on some of my favorite blogs. -And grateful to return to some much-beloved routines and habits (like baking bread nearly every day, knitting, reading aloud to the kids in the afternoon, making pickles).   -Grateful for the intense and much-needed rain this week, followed by a bolt of growth all over the gardens. -Feeling very blessed to have such kind and thoughtful neighbors, who lavish such unconditional love on my kids. -Bittersweet to see my youngest,

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June in the Garden

Spent a cool, cloudy morning helping volunteers harvest in the garden.  We picked 37 pounds of produce for Birch Community Services, and finished up some weeding and yard maintenance (and tended to herds of small children).  Looking forward to a few more ladies coming on Friday to help me pick more herbs and berries. While today’s harvest may not seem that large, it is a good size for this early in the season (greens and herbs don’t weigh much).  The good gardening weather is finally here, and we are looking forward to the raspberries, beans and potatoes coming into production

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