Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Winter Harvests

During this weather, the birds have been busy harvesting seeds from the flower stalks still hanging around in a whiskey barrel. Hmmm... sure, I left them there on purpose.

That's the barrel, at the bottom of the photo. Photo from Christmas Eve.

And, I hope this will be the end of the snow posts for a while! I awaiting my seed catalog. January will bring garden planning. I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Inside Days

Nikko, watching the snow, squirrels and birds. (Christmas Day)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cloche Damage

Yesterday, we checked on our collapsed cloche. The top was all the way to the ground! The "ribs" didn't break, just bent. We removed the ice and the plastic.
With a little pulling on the "spine" along the top, the ribs straightened out some. On a sunny day, we'll see if we can work out the kinks further. As you can see, all of the plants under it have been squished and frozen!
I'm glad to have the piles of leaves in the beds, under the snow. Hopefully, the wormies are happy with this insulation and are still busy at work (or will be as the temps warm up).

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Anniversary Decoder

What? You didn't know? Now there is just the gift for the 21st year!

The Pocket Decoder Geocoin. DH's honey-do list will never be the same!

It will stay with me and check in and out of caches or events I visit.
You can follow its travels at this link.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Cloche Collapse

Christmas eve morning, more snow, and maybe a little sagging going on at the cloche. (Left side, middle of the photo, above.)

In the proceeded to collapse! I'll investigate the damage tomorrow.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

...From Petunia, the Gardener, DH and the Critters!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Garden Snowglobe

Snow falling on Petunia's Garden, a few days ago. And there is more to come!

Remind me of these days, if I ever start complaining about rain in the winter.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


We had snowphers popping out yesterday.

Some memory! A few days before, we had thrown some sunflower seeds out for the birds and squirrels. The icy topping kept the seeds from sinking into the snow. Then more snow arrived. These guys where burrowing down to the icy layer and popping up whenever they had success.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On to the Inside Garden

This is the orchid DH sister gave us in Oct. 2005. Every year, about this time, it blooms (& for a long time). I've divided it once and now both pots need divided again. I always thought orchids where finicky but this one seems quite content! Maybe it is simply who it came from. See more of Sis' special gifts in earlier posts: the Moose, the Angel and the Potholders.

It sits in our magic kitchen window. That's my grandmother's pig shaped cutting board behind it. We have spent a lot of time at this window watching those hummingbirds during these frozen days.

...And just in case we never thaw, I'm growing my own coffee trees.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Getting Through the Freeze

This is one of the Anna's Hummingbirds we've been seeing this winter. We've seen both a male and a female, but it hard to tell if there are more than one of each. Anna's Hummingbirds remain in this area and along the USA west coast year around. I think this is the one that spent the night in the garage, earlier this week. This was the best shot I could get through the kitchen window. Even when just sitting, they keep something moving most of the time. You can see the white Christmas lights we put on our patio last year. We can see them though the kitchen window and they added a bright spot in the dark nights. Then we decided we like them there year-round!

Here is more information on my feeder of choice, shown above.

What a week! Our temps have stayed in the teens & twenties, much colder than our usual weather. Between starting off the week with a throat infection, and ending the week staying off of the roads due to the weather, the only place I've been in 7 days is to the dr. on Tuesday! One way to slow down the usual rush of activity before Christmas!

And there is supposed to be more weather coming, including high winds and continued low temps. Winds bring down trees and power lines in this area! This motivated us to do something about our wood burning fireplace that always seemed to create a lot of smoke in the house for some reason. There is evidence that previous owners had assorted issues with it also. We've studied it before to see what we might do about it, but just thought we'd replace the whole thing at some point, for several reasons. When it works just right, it does do a good job of warming up the space.

So, remembering that Libby had recently replace the fireproof rope on her stove, DH and I took a closer look at the rope on our fireplace doors. We also looked for any other possible smoke leaks. Looked like there was indeed an opportunity for rope improvement so DH headed out for rope and glue. What a difference it has made! It isn't the only issue with the fireplace, but it significantly improved the smoke situation. If the power goes out, we'll loose the benefit of the heat blower, but it would still be better than nothing.

Visit Libby's blog to see the wonderful Christmas cakes and other activities she has been doing! Inside & Out Thanks, Libby, for spreading the warmth!

Monday, December 15, 2008

December Garden Update & Visitors

Saturday and Sunday brought snow and very cold temperatures. It also brought me a throat infection, so I didn't even look outside much until today, and then only briefly.

We have still been seeing a hummingbird on a regular basis. Anna's Hummingbirds are known to winter over in our area, though we've never noticed one. They eat bugs and sap, supplemented by feeders if they are around. DH stepped out late last night to bring the feeder inside so it wouldn't freeze. Then he noticed he had a rider! A very fluffed up bird was sitting on the feeder. It hardly moved at all. He set the feeder in the garage and and we left on a light. This morning, the bird was sitting on a suit case on a shelf by the light.

Before long, we saw another hummingbird outside. The day isn't very warm, but the sun is out so we opened the garage door. After flying around some, he finally flew out the door. We had an early visitor in March one year, but haven't noticed any this time of year before.

Chilled chard.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

December Garden

Garden photo is from Sunday, cool and rainy, and very different from the pleasant Saturday we spent trimming up a lot of the flower and herb flower stalks. Compare to the November photo. We've put the last of the mown leaves in the garden beds and have let the work to the worms for the winter.
Broccoli and lettuce in the window frame cloche.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

December Surprise

Guess lavender in December goes with the snow we had in late April this year!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Blossom II - The New & Improved Travel Bug

Blossom I was a sweet Geocaching Travel Bug I sent out to see the world two years ago. Unfortunately, the geocaching world proved too much for a butterfly, and she has been lost.

Meet Blossom II - a slug eating pterodactyl! May she have a long life on the garden tour.

Here is her link to watch her travels: Blossom II
Here is the original Blossom and information about Geocaching: Blossom I

While we had only a little rain during our outing yesterday, we did run in to some mud, by the Green River. DH tried jumping across the spot, but lost a shoe! But, then he pulled off a great yoga move and didn't get his sock muddy! Mud was a clue, though, so we knew we must be close.Came across this massive stump, now a nurse log to a replacement tree.
And finally, at the end of a rope, down a natural hole, we found the cache.

While I like to cache this time of year when the undergrowth is tamed down some, the massive maple leaves have buried everything. Hence the handy poking stick I mentioned in the last post.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

...Pumpkin Jelly?

It is that time of year when we move from blossoms, although some are still going, to fungi and lichen. Found this beauty during our Geocaching outing, yesterday. Its color (a little more orange than the camera captured) really stood out amongst the greens and grays.

I believe it's a form of jelly fungi, perhaps dacrymyces palmatus. Might be aka Fairy Butter, but I'm having trouble finding a consistent common name.

My reference book says it is actually more firm than it looks. I'm sorry I didn't touch it, now! Or at least a little poke with my handy geocaching poking stick I was using to search among the leaves for the cache.

Would you have touched it?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Ahhh... I'd like to bottle the aroma in the house today!

Pumpkin pie and turkey breast are both in the oven. An apple pie will follow (as DH won't eat pumpkin).

For a special pumpkin pie, go visit Matron, Down on the Allotment!
I look forward to trying this soon. Other than the fruit, jam and lattice top, this is about the same recipe I have in the oven now. Ok, I always put in more pumpkin which then gives me a little side custard along with the pie.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

P.S. From the garden today, for dinner:
Lettuce, Butterhead-Speckles, Lettuce, Romaine-Crisp Mint, Swiss chard, Beet-Kestrel - I've learned I like them raw & grated on a salad
...and a small slug. Ok - I threw him back outside ...and DH made me wash all the lettuce, again.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Important Harvest

While just about everyone is impacted by the economic situation, last week, I witnessed first hand the willingness of the Renton community to help out others. For National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week, Way Back Inn volunteers arranged to have a food and housing supply drive at the Fred Meyer in Renton Center. WBI has a number of houses in Renton (also some in Kent and Tukwila) for homeless families with children.

WBI provided a simple list of items needed for the Renton food bank and for WBI houses. The community generously filled two large grocery carts with 375 items plus some cash donations! (I also noticed the number of reusable shopping bags going in and out, although the donations above show a lot of plastic).

Way Back Inn is a volunteer lead organization that offers 3 months housing, sometimes more, to homeless families with children who are working to reach a more stable housing and employment situation. It only takes about $20 to provide a day & night of housing and utilities for a family staying with Way Back Inn and it can make such a difference in the lives of the children.

You can visit the Way Back Inn website here.

Another upcoming Renton event...
Thanksgiving Dinner at St. Anthony's Church
You are invited to join other Renton residents at St. Anthony's Church (416 S. Fourth, Renton) for a Thanksgiving Day Dinner, November 27 at 2:00pm. It is for those who want to be with other people in a non-threatening, family style, friendly environment. Those new to the area, recently divorced, experiencing loneliness and families with children are all welcome. Donations are accepted but not required. Sponsored by REACH (Renton Ecumenical Association of Churches). Volunteers and entertainment come from member churches but no religious affiliation is required.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Apples & Pumpkins

DH did a nice job cleaning up the kitchen this afternoon. I took it as an open invitation to make a mess! He helped, too. First, an extra large apple crisp. Then cooked apples were run through the contraption, above, to make applesauce (we didn't peel them before cooking). Yes, we have an apple tree (remember?). I was surprised how good the applesauce tasted! Then the first of the pumpkins went in the oven.
Tomorrow, there will be honey-pumpkin butter, and pumpkin bread to make. Here is the link to the honey-pumpkin butter recipe from an earlier post.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Other Cloche

The broccoli looks good under the window frame cloche (all the other seedlings were eaten by slugs). We've been harvesting lettuce and chard leaves from these plants already.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Inside the Cloche

I found this pea plant blooming under the cloche! It was the only one that sprouted from seeds I planted this fall. I transplanted it under the cloche and forgot about it (I'm discouraged about the other seedlings I planted in there as the slugs seem to have eaten the broccoli and lettuce). I was surprised to find this blossom.

The calendula is also blooming in the cloche (but with a little mildew which came along with fall). The bright spot inside is noticeable from outside the cloche also.

I haven't really buttoned up the cloche for the winter and wanted to try a new way to access the inside. I have an idea so once we have another dry day, I'll post whether or not it works.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Composting in Place

Many of the leaves have yet to fall, but last weekend, we did mow up some leaves and grass to start in-place composting. Each fall, we add the grass catcher to the mower and catch the chopped up leaves and grass for composting.

Last year, we collected it in wire cages (fashioned from misc. fencing we had). This did indeed compost, but was also hard to get out of the cage and a lot of the benefit went under the cages. This year, I planned to place the cages directly in a garden bed. But, then why use the cages? So, we'll pile it up in the beds. Anything left in the spring can be raked aside or used as mulch.
Even done like this, it does warm up inside the pile.

Decided to throw some coffee bags over parts to see if that helps. I think it will let in some moisture, but keep it from being sopping wet all of the time. I hope it encourages wormies to do their thing. They are always present under any coffee bags I use in the garden.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

November 1 Garden Photo

While we did remove the remains of tomatoes, beans, squash plants, I cannot bring myself to cut back the flower and herb seed heads yet. I'll leave them for now in case the chickadees and goldfinch are looking for a snack.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Almost Pie Time

Making progress here. Compared to yesterday's post & week old photo, you can see they are now orange enough for Halloween! After they ripen up further, some will go out to the garage for cool storage. Some will be cooked to eat or to freeze.

I learned that muffins freeze fairly well (freeze, and then seal airtight in with a Foodsaver). Later, they are just right for a breakfast on the run. Hmmm...time to go pick apples for pumpkin apple muffins.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Extending the Season

The pumpkins have been in the house since the big frost. Washed, in a warm(er) and bright spot, they have been coming into their color. This photo is from last weekend. Will they make it to full glory for their big day?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

October Gold

The maples seem especially golden this year. And it has been in this last week that the trees have really started turning colors. I also think every tree/plant that missed its normal pollination schedule is making up for it now. I hope this is an exceptional year and not a trend for me. Something is giving me an allergy-like reaction. Really hard to stay out of it when the days turn nice and sunny.

Visit this post to see why they are on the compost watch list: 2006 Maples. We've started our collection of mowed grass & leaves for composting. There will be more to come when the maples fall.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Count down to final frost

Yesterday, we found these signs of another cold front that moved through the pumpkin patch. It felt like it would be another cold evening, so we put the full cover on the cloche to protect the patty pan squash. Just in case, we also picked some of the baby squash for dinner and many tomatoes.
Tonight, an actual frost advisory has been given... but back to a nice 60 degree day tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Summer 2008-Parting Shots

We keep having spurts of cold weather and then warm weather. After this summer, the plants aren't sure if it is spring or fall. They just know they must do it quickly, whatever it is. The lavender is on its third (but light) blooming this year.
Here is the garden in the last weekend of Sept. Lots of herb seed heads and the last of the flowers. The first weekend of October has brought the rain.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Petunia's Neighbor

At least Petunia (the snake) doesn't climb up in the flowers and dare you to pick them. But, then, that may be why the spiders do climb up in the flowers.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Fall Seedlings

I started some broccoli, lettuce and chard to see if we might eat into the fall. Unfortunately for the broccoli, the days may become too short to make it to harvest. This one is happily growing under the window frame cloche, along with lettuce and chard (which, of course, we can eat quite young).
So, as an experiment, some seedlings are out in the open, some are under the window cloche and some under the partially covered cloche (only partially covered to prevent scorching on the beautiful fall days like today). In spite of my coffee ground distraction method, the slugs have found several of the broccoli seedlings.