Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Why Wait

I SHOULD wait to post this until it flowers, but why wait alone? This bromeliad (or air plant) has happily moved to our bathroom for the winter (from the kitchen). We've had it for years. It just sits on the stones for support and takes its nutrition and moisture from the atmosphere (plus a dunking now and then). In the photo, its slightly furry texture shows up as frosted white areas. Soon after flowering, a new plant clump, or pup, will appear to the side. They could be broken apart, but we've just left them together so far. This is my kind of house plant.
This is a small century plant that keeps the bromeliad company. Seems rather content, but with more light, it would probably be more compact. I suspect the roots have reached the bottom too. The damaged lower leaf was from the cutting required to remove it from the crowded pot it was in when it was tiny. Other than that, the leaves are beautiful and the face makes me smile in the mornings.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Winter's Grasp

Gourd bungee cords. This is just to remind me that it was still quite frosty this morning. Iced over water puddles and everything. I wonder how the sprouting garlic greens are handling it. This photo is from the frost on Oct 30th. See here and here for other frost photos.

Has anyone planted peas yet?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Radiant Flower Power

Good, this warms me up a little! And are you noticing more light at the beginning and ending of each day? I can tell even on these gray days.

A few more extra busy days and then I'll be around to catch up with everyone.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Key word: Unusual

The unusual bit could also be that I'm a paper magnet. Just cannot keep the stuff from latching on. Time to fill up that recycle wheelie bin again!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Beets, Beans and Other Treats

Dear Husband, pondering (sadly) the selection of certain vegetables. Sorry, Dad B., there are some beans in there too. Special beans, though. You might like them! Overall, the order is a mix of hybrids, heirlooms and organics. I just could not resist the Bubbles hybrid and powdery mildew resistance! Here is the 2007 list.

Sweet Nikko, below, hoping that "beets" taste like "treats"! She definitely knows what "treats" mean and I even think she knows how we spell it.

2007 Vegetable & Friends List

This list includes the vegetables and other plants I will be growing this year. I hope to get it in a better format, but this will do for now. I'm tracking it in an Excel file with sowing/growing information. Some of the seeds are left from last year and some were just received today. A few flowers and herbs are listed, but most herbs already in the garden are not on this list.

  1. Alyssum
  2. Anise Hyssop
  3. Bachelors buttons-self seeded
  4. Basil-Spicy Globe Basil
  5. Beans, bush-Romano Gold
  6. Beans, French/Filet-Cupidon
  7. Beans, pole-Helda
  8. Beans, pole-Violet Podded Stringless
  9. Beans, runner-Scarlet Emperor
  10. Beet-Kestrel
  11. Borage-self seeded
  12. Broccoli-Hybrid Blend w/ Southern comet, Everest, Small Miracle and Packman.
  13. Brussels Sprouts-Bubbles
  14. Carrots-Jeanette F1 Hybrid Organic
  15. Coreopsis-Tinctoria Mixture
  16. Cucumbers-Lemon
  17. Echinacea-Purple (in the garden already)
  18. Fennel-Perfection, organic
  19. Four O'Clocks-Tea Time
  20. Garlic-California Garlic (?), planted Feb 10
  21. Garlic-Elephant Garlic, planted Feb 10
  22. Lettuce-London Springs Mix: Red Sails, Flashy Trout's Back, Outredgeous, Hyper Red Rumple, Capistrano
  23. Lettuce-Super Gourmet Salad Blend: Slobolt, Buttercrunch, Red Sails, Salad Bowl, Valmaine
  24. Marigolds-Mr. Majestic & other self seeded
  25. Nicotiana-Only the Lonely self seeded?
  26. Oriental Poppy-Papaver orientale "Karine"
  27. Parsnip-Harris Model
  28. Peas, snap -Cascadia
  29. Peas, snow-Oregon Sugar Pod II
  30. Pumpkins-Rouge vif d'Etamps Heirloom
  31. Pumpkins-Snackjack
  32. Radish-Easter Egg II
  33. Rudbeckia Hirta-Black-eyed Susan (in the garden already)
  34. Spinach-Olympia
  35. Squash, winter-Delicata
  36. Squash, zucchini-Romulus PM
  37. Sunflower-Infrared mix
  38. Sunflower-Italian White
  39. Sunflower-Sorya
  40. Sunflower-Sunseed
  41. Sweet Peas-Garden Orchids, perennial sweet peas
  42. Sweet Peas-Jewels of Albion, antique sweet peas
  43. Swiss chard-Bright Lights
  44. Tomatoes-Lemon Boy (to buy plant)
  45. Tomatoes-Sungold (seeds)
  46. Tomatoes-Sweet Million (to buy plant)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Blossom (the Travel Bug) Update

I cannot photograph the critter hooting outside tonight so here is a critter from the summer garden. This Tiger Swallowtail was looking like (s)he'd had a late night and and was hanging out in the cosmos soaking up some sun.

Remember Blossom, my geocaching travel bug? See her release, more about geocaching and travel bugs in this post. Apparently, releasing a garden seeking travel bug at the end of the traditional garden season isn't a good idea. (Any type of garden, natural or tended will do, though.) She has finally moved a little and is in Utah. I hope she doesn't get lost before spring. I'd love to see some pictures of her travels, but none have been posted yet. Here is the link to track her travels. If you see her, please give her a tour of your garden (and post photos!).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I'm going to the "library"...

We have a wonderful library system in this area. Maybe they're all like this now. No matter which library in the system has the book, I can go on line and place a hold on it. Then it will magically appear on a shelf at the library of my choosing waiting just for me! An e-mail will be sent when the book arrives and I tell dear husband that I'm stopping at the library tonight.

The library of my choosing is on the way home, but it is also near my favorite charity / second-hand store that just happens to be open a little later in the evenings. Thrifting and librarying all in one evening! That's my library card, above. Self-service check-out means more time for browsing (at both locations). I'm always watching for older or interesting items and just never know what I'll find. Tonight I was pleased to find this aluminum chair (and even with the comfortable curved seat bar) and solid stepping stool (I can see it in a colorful coat of paint). I have one aluminum chair now that came with DH years ago. It's always in the garden or barn, but it's getting very wobbly. They're so easy to move around and remind me of childhood camping trips.

And with the stepping stool, I can even reach the top of the white board in the barn! With no sheep supplies sharing the space now, I'll be doing a spring arranging in the garden shed part of the barn.

And the book? Two Gardeners, a Friendship in Letters, Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence. This is the February selection for Carol's garden bloggers book group. Here is her post about it. And see this post about what happens next in the book club. I think Carol has some fans here locally as all of the copies were checked out.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Seed Order in the Works

Ok, so much for getting everything else under control before ordering seeds! I'm placing my order tonight (yes, that means regardless of the state of control or no control). Some of the projects I wanted to get done pre-seed starting season have progressed, some have not. As mentioned, I had hoped to shop (carelessly) for seeds at the NW Garden Show. The seed companies weren't there and it is probably just as well. I've now reviewed what I had left from last year and what I want to order (except there are still many "maybes").

Another lovely chalkboard drawing on the Territorial Seed spring catalog. There are a few things that TS doesn't carry, but I hate to do an order for only a packet or two from other company so I'll go with the NW regional offerings in it. (But I have ordered a catalog from other recommended company to peruse - a downfall to come I'm sure.) The list will be posted soon.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bloom Day February

Carol, May Dreams Gardens, encouraged bloggers to post a list of what they have blooming on (or around) the 15th of each month. See her Bloom Day post and all of the comments with links to the posts of others.
It was only after I saw the photo that I realized there were tiny red blooms (see right side of photo above, or click on it to enlarge) to go with the catkins on this Contorted Filbert. (I was going to ask if the catkins qualified as blooms). Corylus avellanaContorta’, aka Harry Lauder's Walking Stick.
I have Snowdrops! Others have been posting pictures of them, and I thought I should add some. Just happened to see these in a rough border under the cherry trees.
Is this moss in bloom?

The Heath and/or Heather is blooming in lavender and white. They really are a nice touch this time of year. I just didn't manage to get a photo today. I'm seeing lots of leaf and flower buds out there. A few more nice days and something will break loose.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Reachable by E-mail

After work tonight, I went to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show (I still smell like hyacinths!). I think attending after a work day especially made this outdoor office appeal to me. And with our new laptop, I may be blogging from amongst the sunflowers this summer! How far does wireless internet reach?

This year's theme is "The Living Room" so there were many ideas for outdoor living room spaces. The many pergolas/arbors used in the display gardens often included a covering (like the clear one here) to protect from the "Seattle Sunshine" (rain). I didn't know the theme before I went, but this was just the type of ideas I hoped to find. The plants are always exciting, but display garden plants seem to have very little to do with reality, especially if one prefers low maintenance.

Unfortunately, the seed company I like was not there. Guess I'll need to get my internet order in. I did pick up a couple types of flowering sweet pea seeds. I wanted to add them this year.

Dear Husband didn't go with me, but I knew he would want to see this. How much fun would this be around the yard & garden!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

February 15th Garden

Looks a little bare and messy without the sunflowers, bean tower and vegetables. The area covered with leaves between the herb bed (with birdbath) and the first vegetable bed will be dug up this year to remove the grass and expand the herb bed.

You can see some burlap coffee bags throughout used for paths or mulch, but the furthest area covered in them will be tilled up for two new beds this year (4 veggie beds now, will have 6).

Here is the link to the January 15th, 2007 Garden.
Here is a link to August 10th, 2006.
Here is a link to early & late July, 2006.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

Monday Muscles

Monday mornings are always a little hard (especially after a weekend weed and dig, however brief). Even the cats are tired from having us home and their napping schedules interrupted. Maria lays out flat with her head on the floor when she is really tired.

Or, like today, when she's found an alternative heat source (vs. our laps) and she doesn't want the other cats to find it.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Herbal Affairs

Chives on February 10, 2007. They stand out in the herb bed like legs on the first nice day of summer. Just like gardeners conned into wearing shorts by a sunny day, the chives may soon find out that it might not yet be shorts temperature.


Oregano


Self- seeded parsley
Lemon balm


But the rosemary did not like the snow and ice.





No sign yet of mint, catmint, bee balm or catnip (although Emily was all over the spot where it grows looking for it).

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Poppy Shells & Flowers

Found these dainty shells today while doing a little weeding. Any bit of wind sent them flying off the fence where I was trying to take the photo.


I didn't realize the Oriental Poppies (Papaver orientale 'Karine') would bloom frequently over the summer. Here is one of the flowers in September 2006 with a little rain damage:

And this was at the Summer's End party when everyone let their hair loose and even danced with the spiders:


Planting Garlic


Finally, the garlic is in the ground. I admit that I bought the starts (bulbs) in late October. Oh, but it has been so wet/cold since then! Surely, I was smart to wait (right?). Today the soil was very nice for digging.

In case you are wondering, the burlap green coffee bags you can see on the left side of the picture have been working hard all winter to smother/shade out the grass. This is where two new beds will go this spring. Here is the post about the new beds last year.

I also have to admit that I don't know exactly what variety of small garlic I planted. It's just called California Garlic. I know I should have researched, but it was one of those moments of weakness when I didn't want to spend more time hunting. Not that I would have known what to choose if I did have more choices. It was elephant garlic I knew I wanted and the local store did have it, so I got them both. How long until I can have roasted elephant garlic on the menu?

Please let me know your garlic tips and your favorite varieties so I can plan better next time.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Treat Box

Here's a nice little paper container you can make. It started with a piece of 12 inch x 12 inch card stock scrapbooking paper, but I didn't think about photos until I had already cut the curved ends. Follow the pictures going from left to right to see how it progresses.
Above left-approx. 12 inches wide by 9.5 inches from curved side to other curved side. Above, right-Scoring the curved fold that will form the ends of the container is the trickiest part. You see the white template I'm using. It is the same one that I used to cut the curves.
Above left- Now can you see the curved scoring? Above right-just before putting double sided tape (or glue) along the skinny flap on the right side.
Above - see how the curved flaps fold to close the ends? You can carefully crease the folds a little more to make them sharp. The ends are not taped. They stay closed on their own. When the flaps are not folded, the containers are nice and flat until needed again.
Above-Wrap the gift in some tissue or paper to keep it from moving around too much and drop in the container. Packets of seeds would fit just right, or in this case note cards.

A little ribbon or bow finishes it up. Of course it has to go inside a box if being mailed, like this one was.

It can be used again too.

DH & I have a little collection of nice containers and boxes we use for surprises and no further wrapping needed. The template for this one came from one we used for a while. It was showing some wear and I wanted to learn to make another like it.

I hope the post layout comes through to your computer ok - these side by side pictures seem to shift around some. And now I see the photos have gone wavy! Reposted so many times to get them in the right spot, I think I wore out the bytes. If you need clarification on any of them, letme know. Back to 'Allo 'Allo! now before the whole post goes wavey!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Baker's Friends & Family


Every baking experience needs a special potholder, well, one for each hand. After taking the last of the pumpkin out of the oven last night using the darker blue potholder above, I decided to share it tonight. This collection has been given to us over the years by my sister-in-law. Yes, this is DH's sister who made the angel and the moose.

The top right one is a pieced Christmas work that provides year-round calm in the kitchen. I love the fabrics she uses. The green one is a wonderful garden of its own and should have its own picture so you can see all of it. The purple one is another year-round Christmas favorite.

Can you tell what the two round ones are from? Blue jeans! You can see where a pocket had been on the light blue one. I think these round ones were made for a fundraiser by a community group she's in. I must say every time I use them, I remark how wonderful they are. Just the right size for my hand and no corners to end up stuck in the food. The old denim has such a nice feel and they wash up very nicely. How lucky we are to have such creative and generous family!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Gardening in Small Spaces

The lichen garden in October. I think it has pyxie cups and maybe cracked shield lichens in it. The garden is on a fence post along the path to the hillside retreat.

So much for catching up with everyone tonight. I'll try again tomorrow. I'm very tired and we have a DVD with 6 episodes of 'Allo 'Allo! to watch. I'll probably fall asleep on the sofa, but that's ok. I'll watch what I miss later.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin bread for breakfast, plain bread & pumpkin butter for after work snack. Not too bad! No chance it will go uneaten. And fortunately DH won't even try anything with pumpkin in it. More breakfasts for me then.

So here's the recipe for those who want to give it a try. I'll be interested to know what you think and how you adapt it. Recipe comes with a quarter pumpkin for someone nearby!

Honey-Pumpkin Butter (like apple butter - not buttery)
2 cups pureed, cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (yellow part only)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in saucepan. Simmer uncovered over low heat, stirring frequently, 35-40 minutes. Mixture should get quite thick - the same consistency as stiff apple butter when a spoonful is dropped on a chilled saucer. Ladle into jelly jars and refrigerate. Makes 1.25 to 1.5 cups. From Asparagus to Zucchini, a Guide to Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce.

Or my version:
Roughly measure everything, trying to remember which spices were just added so as to not add again, but do add a little more pumpkin 'cause we have lots to use. Squeeze fresh lemon from AZ lemons, but have no luck grating the slightly drying peel so decide fresh lemon juice is enough.(Taste the lemon juice from the bottle in the fridge for comparison. Now lemoned out, go with the fresh.) In between checking on the bread and cleaning up the bread mixing mess, try to remember to stir. Realize it is not on low and turn it down. Wonder if honey burns easily. Do saucer test successfully, but then get distracted, stir some more and declare it done. Cool slightly before scooping into handy Tupperware. Eat the saucer test sample.
Maybe tomorrow we'll move on to a new subject.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Pumpkin Kitchen

So I started my search for the recipe when I got home later than I expected. Any recipe must use at least 1 cup of pumpkin (and then it still gets an extra spoonful). Bread used 1 cup, butter used 2 cups and I still have 1.5 -2 cups left from the first pumpkin half.

This is pumpkin bread with spices & raisins. Tomorrow's breakfast.

The honey-pumpkin butter is done when it has the consistency of stiff apple butter when dropped on a chilled plate. Mine wasn't chilled, but I decided it was done. It will be good on plain bread. The cloves are a bit strong, but maybe they'll blend in after setting.

Here's a very determined Maria helping me inspect for the bread batter I splattered everywhere. Next time wear cute flowery thrifted apron, not robe & pjs! And use the deeper bowl. Looking forward to Wednesday when I can catch up with everyone's blogs.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Lurking Pumpkins?

This Wyatt's Wonder pumpkin has been lurking in our garage. Now he is in the oven! A little vitamin A and iron should be just the boost needed for the ongoing winter predicted by the groundhog. See pumpkins growing, and harvest day Oct 14.
The other Wyatt's became Halloween decorations, so this is the first one I've cut. Seems to be a lot of pumpkin meat in there.
I have been cooking the smaller Snackjack pumpkins conveniently cut in half with shell side up. Since this larger one is more cut up, I added coverings just after I took the photo. This is just half of the pumpkin. I'll bake the rest tomorrow.

I'll mash up the cooked pumpkin tonight and make a pie or something tomorrow. Just saw a recipe for honey-pumpkin butter (like apple butter) I'd like to try also (From Asparagus to Zucchini-a Guide to Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce, from a community supported agriculture organization). There are still few other little pumpkins in the garage, but no more Wyatt's Wonder.

Stay tuned....

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Robin Spa

Yes, the NW groundhog saw his shadow yesterday. And just to ensure we got the message, the beautiful clear skies we've had for a week are gone and it's sprinkling. So much for a little digging today.

On the other hand, the robins have been everywhere today. I was happy to see these two make use of the little garden pond off our patio and dining room. It isn't especially bird friendly, but the robins used the water plant stalks in their winter state to let them do a little bathing. I stuck the two tree branches in during the snowy weather since the pond did not freeze near the little bubbler, but the bird baths did.

The pond was in place when we moved here. It was very grown over and we've only tried to keep it a little more maintained.

I'd like to change out the invasive ground cover around most of it and come up with a wildlife & gardener pleasing plan this year. This is where the frog and dragon flies lived last summer so it must have some qualities they liked.