Garden

Spring Meanderings

Whitepurplespringcrocusflow

“She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    "Winter is dead.” 

-A.A. Milne, from "When We Were Very Young"

Just a bit of spring courtesy of beautiful Washington State for those of you who have a while yet to wait.  part of my own personal physical health plan for this year is to get out of the house and take a daily walk.  While living in the suburbs has never ever appealed to me (I grew up deep in the country - it is hard to be comfortable in a neighborhood when you're used to having just trees and birds as your neighbors!), there are several things I appreciate about where we live.  There are walking trails everywhere.  I can walk out my door and have a dozen ways I can go.  It is delightful!  And with spring on our doorstep, each walk brings a new discovery.  

We have been watching these crocus grow in a neighbor's yard.  Crocus is among the first flowers to bloom where I am from, along with snowdrops.  The greens of daffodils and tulips are several inches long, but no blooms for a while yet.  Each walk with my children is a lesson on garden plants - at 3 and almost 8, they are at such a fun age where they love to learn what things are called.

While I haven't walked daily, it has been pretty close.  I'll post some more as we discover new, pretty things.  For those of you almost literally buried in snow, I wish I could box up some of our spring and send it to you!


Introducing "Lil Sprouts Nursery"

One of our favorite local nursery centers was My Garden Nursery. They were right down the street from us, and we got to know the owners over time; it was a fantastic center, filled with great stuff for the kids as well as for the gardener. That's why we were super sad to learn (last year) that the owners were moving My Garden up to Bellingham - a solid couple of hours away from us.

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Fortunately, they already had someone lined up to take over their space, which was exciting in itself. We packed Savannah into the car the other day and went for an adventure, and they are doing a fantastic job getting up to speed - we're super excited to see what they bring in, but already they've got some beautiful plants and flowers.

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Chris, being a veggie garden addict, was extremely excited to see some unique items coming in, with the promise of more to come. This includes the Sun Sugar tomato plant - which we've only ever found up at The Plant Farm (another of our favorite nursery centers, although at 30+ minutes away, definitely more of a planned trip than a quick stop). Already (last week) 'Lil Sprouts was full of peas, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, herbs, and so much more (really, just go check them out!)

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Chris is also very excited to see that they have brought in some columnar apple trees - have you seen these before? They're fantastic in pots, on patios or decks. They grow up in a column - skinny (at least for a fruit tree) - here's a link over to Google Images with a bunch of pictures so that you can get the idea.... ANYWAY, this is something Chris has always wanted to try, so maybe we'll do that this year. He's been putting an obscene amount of time into the new veggie bed - there's a post coming up soon about that whole thing - so we're moving back into the suburban farming realm (in an HOA controlled community, no less)

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Another incredibly cool thing about 'Lil Sprouts is the hydroponics setup; they have a serious passion for hydroponics and aquaponics - if you're in the market, or just looking to talk to somebody about it, you should at the very least pick up the phone - or better yet, head on in there and check it out in person!

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

Lil Sprouts Nursery and Garden Center Washington The Weed Patch

You can find 'Lil Sprouts online, too:

  • Website: http://lilsproutnursery.com/
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lilsproutnursery

Do you have a favorite nursery around? What is it that you love about it?


The Lavender Bed

Last year we put in a large section of lavender plants in the garden - they bloomed and bloomed, all the way through November, incredibly! Here's a few photos from the other day - they're starting to bloom again, and I'm SO excited! :)

Hidecote Lavender

Hidecote Lavender

Hidecote Lavender

Hidecote Lavender

Hidecote Lavender

Hidecote Lavender


Garden Update June 4 2012

The garden is growing nicely, but there's still SO much to plant and to do. But we've got corn shoots coming up, onion, garlic, asparagus, swiss chard, tons of peas, carrots, radishes, lettuce... the blueberries are starting to grow, the raspberries are developing nicely. Kohlrabi, beans, dill, tons of great herbs, cabbage, shallots, nasturtium, a few tomatoes. Last week I planted almost 40 cucumbers, and we've got a few different squash plants to get in (both starts and seeds), but to do that I need to finish up the next bed.... We also are working on landscaping, so I have over a dozen Hydrangaes, tree mallow, hostas, lilac, and more! We've also managed to attract a few hummingbirds - including this one here that I got a few photos of through the window... Anyway, here's some eye candy!

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Hummingbird

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Blueberries

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Carrots

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Columbine

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Corn Start

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Garlic

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Hosta Flowers

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Hummingbird

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Radishes

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Savannah on the Grass

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Snap Peas

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Swiss Chard

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Tree Mallow

Garden Update 6/4/12 - Watermelon Radishes


Planting the Orchard...

“The best time to plant trees was 20 years ago. The next best time is NOW.”
~ (so many people have said this, I'm not sure who to attribute it to.  If you know, drop a comment, please!)

 

In addition to the store, Janene and I are quite passionate about living a simpler, less complicated life. We've been learning and moving towards an urban homesteading lifestyle. I am incredibly passionate about gardening - both vegetable and floral / landscaping. Among the goals that we have is to turn the house into an urban homestead - we had even discussed bees, goats, and chickens for this year, but decided that was far more than we could handle. Which, given the way this year has gone, turned out to be a VERY good decision.

Semi-Dwarf Honeycrisp Apple Tree

One thing we HAVE managed to do this year, however, was to plant some fruit trees. We were blessed to receive some trees from a friend, and also to find a smokin' hot deal at one of our favorite nurseries (The Plant Farm) on bare root trees. This is something we're especially excited about, and wish we had been able to do a few years ago when we first moved in, as we would be that much further along... But now we have a start, and over the next few years we'll be able to harvest more and more of our own apples, pears, and prunes. In the meantime, farmer's markets it will be!

Orchard

Ben was SO excited to help plant them, and he CONSTANTLY is asking when he can pick the fruit off the trees. This is so important to us, because we feel strongly about teaching the kids the importance of environmental responsibility, and that includes growing our own food and understanding where it all comes from.

So, what did we end up planting?

Honeycrisp Apple:
"Honeycrisp Apple has become increasingly popular in American grocery stores over the past few years. Primarily due to its explosive crisp texture and well-balanced sweet/tart flavor, it is said to be the "fun to eat apple". A relatively new patented variety, Honeycrisp Apple has a texture similar to a crisp watermelon or Asian Pear. The fruit size is very large and predominantly red over a yellow background." ~Willis Orchard Co. (http://www.willisorchards.com/product/Honeycrisp+Apple+Tree)

Dwarf Early Italian Prune Tree

Dwarf Early Italian Prune:
"Similar to Italian, but sweeter, slightly larger & more productive. Shorter growing season than Italian. Originated near Yakima, Washington in 1935. Self-fruitful." ~The Plant Farm (http://www.theplantfarm.com/trees/plums.htm)

Grafted Dwarf Apple:
Jonagold, Yellow Delicious, Gravenstein, Melrose, and Liberty. How cool is it that we can get five different apple varieties from one tree, and that the tree will self-pollinate? Given our limited space, these grafted trees are an awesome option.

Grafted Apple Tree

Grafted Dwarf Pear:
Anjou, Flemish Beauty, Conference, Bartlett and Red Bartlett. These trees are wonderful; we'll get a variety of pears from this beauty, and (since we have limited space) we can plant just the one tree and it will self pollinate! (Apparently European and Asian pear trees don't cross polinate well, which doesn't necessarily bode well for the Asian Pear tree...

Shinseiki Pear:
"The Shinseiki Pear Tree is a round, medium sized, golden pear with white, sweet, crisp, and juicy flesh. The fruit of the Shinseiki Pear Tree ripens in late July, to mid August and stores extremely well until March. The Shinseiki Pear Tree bears fruit at a young age and requires 250-450 chill hours to set it's good quality pear fruit. Zones 5-9a." ~Willis Orchard Co. (http://www.willisorchards.com/product/Shinseiki+Pear+Tree)

Unknown Apple:
We're not sure what this is. This is one that we inherited from our good friend, and the tag on it is completely faded off. It will be interesting to see what develops!

Espalier Apple Tree

Depending on how our landscaping comes together, maybe next year we'll look into some espalier apple or other fruit trees... I've got a GREAT spot for them, if things come together the way they might ... and a living wall of scrumptious edibility is extremely appealing! The other thing I'm very excited about looking into is columnar apple trees - I can grow them in pots; they get to be 8'-10' tall, but only 3-4' wide... and I have an AWESOME spot between us and our wonderful neighbors that gets full sun - but I don't want to plant anything right on the property line. These would be PERFECT!

Espalier Fruit Tree

Do you have any fruit trees? What's your favorite?

 



What's Happening On The Homestead, May 2012

Daylily

Since it has been a while since we blogged - and since so many of you comment about how you love seeing what we're up to - here's a brief overview of what's happening on the homestead... I have several posts in here that will be written with more information, so this really is just a quick overview. :)

Four new raised beds

We're working to expand our veggie garden with the goal of eating out of it all summer, and putting up enough to get us through the winter. All told, we'll have almost 600sq feet of veggie garden space once it's all in place. To accomplish this, Ben and I have been building additional raised beds; we have four of the five new beds built, with three of those in and at least somewhat planted. The fourth is huge (almost 4 yards of dirt!) and isn't seated yet, and the fifth we haven't started at all - it will be 24' x 4'! These projects have been wonderful, both for the soul as well as for Ben and I - he has helped with every little project, including planting! He has his "own" bed that he (mostly) gets to plant whatever he wants in, and he is picking the most RANDOM things - it's quite fun to see what catches his eye.

Ben digging post holes for the new beds

Ben planting onions

We've been blessed by a friend with some fruit trees, so we have the starts of an orchard (2 pear, one of which is grafted with 5 varieties; one Italian Prune, 3 apple, one of with is grafted as well, and one existing pie cherry tree). The raspberry patch is starting to explode, and soon we're hoping to expand with some heirloom raspberries from Janene's grandmother's house. The blueberry plants are all still in pots (which may be how they stay one more year), but we have two grape plants to go on a new pergola (not yet built) that are already in the ground.

Peas!

Cabbage!

We WERE hoping to add chickens and bees this year, but that was a "little" ambitious, so we'll see if we might make that happen next year. We did manage to get some strawberries to experiment with; we're trying a Topsy Turvy Strawberry Planter - it holds 15 plants, and thus far seems to be working nicely. We'll see how it goes. :)

Strawberry Topsy Turvy

Ben is finishing up his first year at preschool, and BOY has he made huge progress this year! We're so incredibly excited to see what next year brings, with kindergarten....

Ben painting HIS birdhouse...

Ben planting peas

Savannah is now 8 months old; she's started to crawl, and she's also already working on walking (with our help, of course - she's still not even standing up on her own...). She's the happiest little one ever, and she spends all her time playing and exploring her world and smiling a smile will melt many hearts in the future. Definitely time to invest in a shotgun.... ;)

Savannah working hard with us in the garden...


What's in the Garden (part 2)?

As promised so long ago, here's an overview (part 2) of what's in our veggie garden this year.  As I mentioned in a previous post long ago, we have an awful lot of plants in the garden this year.  Here's a list (part 2) of most of what we planted.  

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

  • Eggplant:
    • Millionaire (1)
  • Corn:
    • Bodacious (4)
    • Luscious (4)
    • Peaches & Cream (2)
    • Obsession (2)
  • Squash:
    • Crookneck Goldstar (5)
    • Black Jack Zuchinni (1)
    • Spaghetti (1)
    • Fall Gourd Mix (1)
    • Golden Zebra (2)
  • Pumpkins:
    • Knucklehead (1)
    • Lumina* (9)
    • Sugar Pie* (9)
    • Jack Be Little* (9)
    • Magic Lantern (1)
  • Radishes
    • Watermelon (all from seed, waiting to see what survives)
    • D'Avignon (all from seed, waiting to see what survives)
  • Carrots:
    • Atomic Red
    • Petite Sweet
    • Nana
  • Herbs:
    • Basil, Genova (1)
    • Basil, Rubin (1)
    • Basil, Sweet (2 plants, 2 seeded)
    • Basil, Italian Large Leaf (1)
  • Onions & Leeks:
    • Mexican Sweet Yellow (6)
    • Mexican Sweet White (6)

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in YOUR garden right now?


What's in the Garden (part 1)?

As promised so long ago, here's an overview (part 1) of what's in our veggie garden this year.  This list was started WAY back in July.  Some of these things, such as the lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, etc have been consumed and moved on - in fact I (Chris) have starts ready to transplant for a fall harvest.  And since it's supposed to be almost 90 here this next week (yeah - in September!) we're probably not too late!  

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

As I mentioned in a previous post long ago, we have an awful lot of plants in the garden this year.  Here's a list (again, part 1!!!) of most of what we planted, if you're curious at all!  

  • Tomatoes:
    • Roma (1)
    • Sungold (3)
    • Sun Sugar (2)
    • Sweet 100 (2)
    • Yellow Pear (1)
    • Better Boy (1)
    • Amana Orange (1)
    • Mortgage Lifter (1)
    • Black Icicle (1)
    • Chocolate Stripes (1)
    • Isis Candy (1)
    • Violet Jasper (1)
    • Pink Icicle (1)
    • Big Beef (1)
    • Amish Paste (1)
  • Beans:
    • Caprice (5)
    • Blue Lake (6)
    • Teggia (1)
    • Tongue of Fire (1)
    • Golden Sunshine (1)
    • French Filet Maxibel (1)
  • Peppers:
    • Red Beauty (7)
    • Better Bell (1)
    • Anaheim (3)
    • Golden California Wonder [Orange] (1)
    • Santa Fe Grand Hot (1)
    • Jalepeno (1)
  • Tomatillos:
    • Toma Verde (4)
    • Purple (1)
  • Lettuce & Greens:
    • Leaf Lettuce
    • Spinach
    • Kale (3)
    • Salad Mix
    • Swiss Chard (6)
  • Cucumbers
    • Marketmore 97 (2)
    • Bush Pickle (4)
    • Fanfare (1)
  • Peas: (sugar snap)
  • Kohlrabi (which is freakin' delicious!)
  • Beets
  • Brussel Sprouts (bolted, as we apparently planted it too early - we'll be adding more of these in the next couple of weeks) 

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

What's in our garden for 2011

 

Coming soon... part 2! :)


The "Lavender Bed"

Lavender plants in our Lavender Bed

If you've seen pictures of our yard before, you may have noticed a hedge lining the driveway.  This hedge looked awful, and it seriously cramped my veggie growing style by blocking the sun.  I'm finding that I'm a "bit addicted" to the garden, but especially with regards to growing food - I find it fascinating and very rewarding to be able to plant my own food, and hopefully have a bountiful harvest that we can eat all summer long - and "put up" for the winter.

Lavender plants in our Lavender Bed

Anyway, one of the first projects I tackled this year was removing that hedge.  And once it was gone, BOY did the yard open up - but there was nothing there at all (funny how that works?).  So we planted some lavender, all the way down.  This spot is about 24 feet long, and a little over 2 feet wide (I think - it's dark out, and I don't feel like going out and measuring it...). And it's packed with lavender, spaced every 18" apart!  I know I'm going to have to move some of it as it grows in, but we're really excited for it to just take over and fill that space - we love lavender, and this will even give us some to pick (who knows, maybe dried lavender will make it in to the store!)

Lavender plants in our Lavender Bed

And the bees just love it, so that can only be good for the rest of the garden....

Do you like Lavender?  Is there a particular kind that's your favorite? Why do you love it?


The Garden is aBuzz!

It's so wonderful to walk out our front door, onto our front porch, on our (mostly) quiet street, and hear a steady buzz... because the bees are at it, doing their job and pollinating away!

Our chives have flowered, and they're beautiful!  The Colombine that we need to get back to the store is in bloom, our new lavender is blooming, our big rhodi that we inherited with the house is in full color, and those wonderful bees are bouncing from one to the next, spreading the golden love from plant to plant!

Soon, our new garden bed(s) will be done, and all the new veggies will be planted.  And then we'll be working to incorporate some beautiful flowers and plants that will help keep the bees happy, and keep them buzzing all over our yard!  

It's just a perfect Spring / Summer sound!

Do you like bees in your garden?  
What are your favorite ways to attract bees and keep their attention?