Guerrilla Urban Farming

It’s taken almost exactly three years (closed escrow on this place on May 18th 2010) but I finally got rid of all the lawn.

Something that most folks don’t know is that lawn is bad for the environment, just like street and sidewalk, a well manicured lawn on compacted soil is an impervious surface, meaning that water won’t filter through the earth and percolate down to recharge aquifers, it just overwhelms the storm drain system carrying fertilizer, pesticides and dog poop (along with gas/oil/antifreeze and whatever else is on the street) with it out to the Puget Sound via Commencement Bay.

Over the years I’ve been in this house, I’ve been slowly converting lawn in to more useful area; a nice pervious gravel bed under my grape arbor, a fairy garden, adjacent to a small orchard of mixed fruit and one hazelnut tree, and a huge garden area. The only place out back where I now allow grass to grow is in the chicken area so that they can eat fresh greens when free ranging.

I converted the (very small) front yard slope into flower garden the first year I was here, but was left with a huge parking strip full of the offending green stuff. This parking strip is 15 feet deep (measured from the sidewalk to the street) and runs the length of the property.

A neighbor, one bock over on the other side of the street has a wonderful little guerrilla urban farm that I have been admiring since I moved here. It’s hilarious at peak squash season, as the vines go insane and sometimes encroach in to the street. Since the legality of taking over what is essentially city property (but we are required to maintain) for urban farming/gardening in the front, where people can actually [gasp] see it is somewhat questionable, I like the slightly “naughty” feeling… [raises dirt covered fist in the air and yells]…”POWER TO THE PEOPLE! SQUASH IN THE STREET!”

THIS is what I am aspiring to… (you can see my house in the background)

this is not my garden... this is a neighbor one block over (you can see my house in the background) who I aspire to be like

But first, I had to get rid of the stupid lawn…

I was pretty happy to have this be my LAST mow.

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I didn’t want to dig out the sod or rent a sod cutter (sod this old doesn’t come out easily anyway) and really didn’t want to have to mass apply herbicide, so I decided to use the same technique I used for my actual front yard and garden beds out back, which has worked fabulously.

I raided my basement, then the Safeway down the street for cardboard boxes which I laid out over the lawn. Once weighted down with topsoil, mulch, or in my case Tagro, it will kill the grass with no cutting, digging or chemicals and then the cardboard and grass will decompose and amend the soil, no tilling required.

That big pile there is 3 cubic yards (that’s 4,800 pounds, over two tons) of Tagro

Gardening - Spring 2013

as it turns out, 3 cubic yards wasn’t quite enough to do it as thick as I wanted…

Gardening - Spring 2013

so I got another 3 cubic yards…

Gardening - Spring 2013

Gardening - Spring 2013

over the course of one afternoon and the following morning, I shoveled 9,600 pounds (oh so close to five tons) of Tagro, thus re-confirming my status as “crazy lady no one wants to mess with” on my block.

It sure felt good when it was all done. (Ibuprofen was my friend that night)

Gardening - Spring 2013

So just like that, I reclaimed 535 square feet of prime, sun filled garden space…

As I was shoveling and shoveling, I fielded a lot of questions from neighbors young and old. “Are you crazy?” and “Can I feel your biceps?” comments aside, they were interested in the process, my reasons for it and what I was going to put there.

I have been thinking about putting up some signs talking about urban farming and what is growing there due to all the interest the project has received thus far.

Anyone who knows me, figures out pretty quickly that I am a very serious and dedicated anti-Monsanto/Big Agra and pro local, healthy, sustainable, non-GMO food activist.

Of course, it was going to be food.

“What!? You’re going to grow food out here where people could steal it?”

If someone is hungry and wants fresh vegetables, they are welcome to them. I have way more than I need from my huge garden out back.

Last summer, my friend Jack, like many in this area had a bumper crop of plums. He harvested all of them, laid them out on a sheet with a sign that said “free”. He even provided plastic bags to carry them home in.

What if everyone who could, grew some of their own food. What if they made the excess available to neighbors who didn’t have the land/skill to do so? What if we taught people how and shared our plant starts and seeds with them, and they in turn did so as well?

Can you imagine how much healthier, happier and more connected our communities would be?

While I’m happy to share food, vandalism and waste would make me very sad , so I am keeping “high temptation” things that could be vandalized out back, such as red tomatoes and corn (the neighbors down the street had some issues with kids picking their corn and throwing it some time back) A neighbor grows his really weird looking, off color tomatoes such as yellow and green zebra out front with no trouble.

I didn’t get my seeds started in time this year, so it was off to my farmers’ market and Gardensphere for as many organic/non gmo starts as I could get…

Gardening - Spring 2013

What I can’t grow from organic starts, will at least be heirloom and open pollinated (those are non-GMO) so that I can save seed.

One of the many scary things about Monsanto’s monopoly and GMO is the loss of genetic diversity. At the rate we are going, the only way to save these wonderful, much tastier and safe heirloom fruits and veggies is to save uncontaminated seed from season to season (you know, like farmers used to be able to do)

Seed saving is vital to the future of our food supply.

I have planted the front garden with broccoli, brussels sprouts, beets, carrots (from seed), radishes (from seed), red onions, walla walla onions, artichokes, zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, butternut squash, kentucky wonder pole beans and snap peas

I roped the area off in order to keep the tender young plants from being tromped on and just to make it pretty, planted double knockout roses in two whiskey barrels I recently acquired. If all goes well, I will be picking up some landscape timbers in the next few days which will help keep the neighbor’s grass out, and keep the dirt in the bed and off the street/sidewalk.

Now I just need everything to grow baby grow…

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Of course, the back yard is getting some new plant action as well…

As a matter of fact, I’m sure that yesterday’s wind and freezing rain storm, and today’s hailstorm are directly related to the fact that I planted tomatoes on Friday. (well, the crappy weather on Saturday is mostly due to the law of nature that says it has to be cold and nasty on Daffodil Parade day)

Gardening - Spring 2013

Gardening - Spring 2013

Gardening - Spring 2013

and don’t forget…

Gardening - Spring 2013

The apples, cherries, plum, peaches, pears and blueberries are blooming.

It’s so amazing out there that I don’t even mind the copious amounts of pollen attacking my sinuses.

More photos of this year’s garden work and things in bloom can be seen by clicking on this link new photos will be added to this set as they are taken.


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The Saga of Lucky the Rescue Chicken

It happened one Monday afternoon early last November.

I was in my home office doing market accounting when I heard a huge screaming match erupt in the street out in front of my house.

I walked out on to my front porch and saw a bunch of older teenage girls fighting about some sort of Facebook drama.

I stayed out there just in case it got out of hand, and/or spilled over in to my flower beds.

As the ruckus broke up, a young woman, Danielle, who was not involved walked over to me and and said, “Excuse me… Ma’am…” Worried that she was afraid of being jumped and thinking I might need to bring her into the house or call someone for her, I beckoned her closer.

Then she said it… “Do you want a baby chicken?”

Positive I had not heard her correctly, I asked her to repeat herself.

As she did, she held out her hands; in them she held a scared little baby chick who was only a few days old, nestled in a pillowcase.


She had been visiting friends/family in Spanaway the previous day, and was being told a story about how all of their chickens (20 of them) had been killed by a pitbull two days prior. At that very moment, they saw the dog playing with something.

It was a baby chick that had somehow survived not only the initial attack, but survived out there alone in the cold November weather, for two days.

Once they got it out of the dog’s jaws, they discovered that it was missing a few feathers and was a bit bloodied up. Not knowing how seriously injured it might have been, they were going to “put it out of it’s misery”. She wasn’t having it, snatched it up and took it home.

She spent the night sleeping with it in a shoebox on her bed. She fed it oatmeal and made sure it had water and was warm (pretty impressive chicken care for a city girl) here in the Hilltop.

She had no idea how she was going to find someone to take care of it, and was carrying it with her everywhere, in hopes that she would find someone in the hood who could take on a baby chick. She was beginning to get discouraged and was not sure what to do.

So as she was just about give up hope, the person she was walking with randomly ended up being accosted over a facebook fight which erupted in the middle of the street.

Unbeknownst to her, she was standing directly in front of the Crazy Hilltop Chicken Lady’s house…

What are the chances? Seriously?

Despite my declaration the previous spring of “No more chickens in the house.” there was no way I was turning this young woman and injured baby chick away.

“Of course, I’ll take the chicken.” I told her.

As I was bringing my brooder cage, heat lamp and chick waterer/feeder up out of the basement, her eyes got really big.

“You have chickens?” she asked in disbelief.

“Yes, sweetie, you ended up at the Crazy Hilltop Chicken Lady’s house.”

Her eyes got even bigger, and for the first of many times, she solemnly declared, “God brought me here.”


I took her out back to meet the rest of the girls, gave her my business card so that she could contact me, and let her know that yes, she could come visit the chick.

I hoped it was a “her” as roosters aren’t allowed in the City of Tacoma. I did make arrangements for one of my farmer friends to take her, in case she turned out to be a he.

We named him or her “Lucky” as it seemed to be the most appropriate name we could come up with.

Whatever injury that little chook had, its lungs were fine; that poor lonely thing cheeped LOUDLY 24/7, probably wondering where all of it’s flock mates were and calling out to them.


It became apparent to me that there was no way I was going to be able to safely introduce her to my flock comprised of much larger, older chickens (you never introduce a single chicken to a flock like that, they’ll get pecked to death)

I promised Danielle that she was indeed saving the chicken by leaving it with me, and I was fond of the cute little cheeper, despite the noise, smell, mess and fact that I didn’t want to have baby chicks in the house again after raising Laverne and Shirley from two day old baby chicks.

About a month later, I was running out of ideas, when I had a chance conversation with my friend Wendy, who lives just down the street from me. About a month before this occurred, they had traumatically lost all of their chickens to a dog attack (neighbor dog that was allowed to roam free, dug into their yard) A friend gave them three young chickens, one of which had died. (it happens)

That’s when we hatched (pun intended) the idea of having Lucky live at their house since she was only a month younger than her chickens and it would be much easier to integrate her into their small flock than my large flock of angry birds. (really, they are vicious little velociraptors)

It took a bit of time and patience on their part, but the other two girls accepted Lucky (once pecking order was established) and now are very protective of her, nestling her between them when they are roosting at night.

I walked over to see her today and am very happy to report that she is happy and healthy in her new home and is indeed one lucky chicken.

Here are a couple of photos from today’s visit.



I also got to meet Rorshach the neighborhood bunny… (who roams freely on that end of the street, but likes Wendy and Todd’s yard best)


Danielle and her mom were getting ready to move from the Hilltop just as this happened, so I’m not certain where she is now.

I just hope she knows what a good thing she did, and learns how well it worked out.


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Garden Season Has Begun!

Today I got a great surprise.

As I was puttering around the yard on a rare dry and above 40 degree winter day, I discovered it on the sunny side of the house, next to the concrete basement wall, the warmest spot in the yard.

My first daffodil of spring!

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Of course, the first blooms were my lawn crocus. The fall before last, I planted several dozen crocus and grape hyacinth bulbs around the Kwanzan Flowering Cherry trees in the parking strip. This fall, I planted about 80 more, so I’m hoping for a great display.

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The front flower bed is a very busy place where more crocus are blooming, and hyacinth, daffodils and tulips are popping up

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I got a little crazy today and decided to add some summer color by planting 3 peony, 8 Dahlias, 13 Asiatic Lillis, 30 Gladiolas and 50 Ranunculus.

The spring blubs (around 700 or so) already there will start with the crocus bloom in February then transition to the lavender, pink flowering dogwood, roses, summer bulbs and end with the Dahlias blooming through the first hard frost in the fall. It’s practically a mine field out there trying to walk more or less dig to plant anything, so I’m calling that flower bed full. I’ll be adding a few tulips and daffodils to the smaller bed on the other side of the front walk to compliment the lavender, roses and day lilies.

About a week and a half ago, I took advantage of another dry and above 40 degree day and ordered a load of Tagro. (it’s good poop) I got all the garden beds and containers out back weeded, cleaned out and topped off. I used the rest of it to top dress the blueberry bushes along the North fence.

This was after my friend Daniel helped me (helped means he did most of the work) put up a chain link fence to protect the garden from the dog and chickens.

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I also pruned all the fruit trees and rose bushes and wrestled with the Loganberry bush to get it trained where I wanted it to go. I also relocated a Marionberry bush next to the other one which I’m training up trellises on the back of the garage.

While picking up fence material I scored a very inexpensive, big, beautiful Crabapple tree that still had berries on it, which is now budding out.

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I also scored some rhododendrons, so now the boring corner of the yard will have fabulous color.

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I’m also planning on adding a bird bath, some shiny things and making it the fairy corner since it’s so close to the Hawthorne.

Oh, meet my new assistant…. (he looks an awful lot like my friend Knut)

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I have a few more photos available on my Flickr page

This is the best gardening start I’ve had this early in the year and I’m pretty darn happy about it.


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Saucy! (from scratch no less)

I had very good luck with tomatoes this year, despite the cold, frozen spring and virtually non-existent summer the extra effort to raise them from seeds under growlights and on heat mats in the basement, then move them to the greenhouse, then transplant into large containers using wall-o-water insulators paid off.

I’m one of the few people up here than managed to get two good harvests. The woman who came to interview me and photograph my urban farm for a book she’s writing said she hadn’t seen any tomatoes like mine between BC and San Francisco.

Here’s the first harvest. They are San Marzano heirlooms I purchased from Territorial Seed Co.

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The first thing I did was lightly score the skin off the bottom of each tomato; it only takes a few seconds.

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Then I dipped the scored tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen the skin. I used a colander/basket here but you can use a slotted spoon or skimmer.

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A quick dip into a bowl of ice water stops them from cooking and keeps you from burning your hands.

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The skin slips right off and then you just cut out the stem. San Marzanos have virtually no core and very few seeds; so this is a super easy process.

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Saucy 008

You can squeeze the seeds and juice out of the tomatoes if you want it to take less time to cook down more quickly.

You can also skip the skinning step and run the sauce through a ricer after it’s cooked to get seeds and skins out.

Now it’s just a matter of cooking the tomatoes down into sauce (it thickens as the water cooks out)

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You can see a few seeds in the sauce; when I make marinara, I run it through a ricer to remove them. (it’s not necessary; it’s an esthetic thing for me)

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The next step for any sauce is the onions and garlic; even better if home grown. I had a good harvest of both this year. I chopped them up and sautéed them in olive oil until they caramelized. It’s not necessary to do so, but it sure makes for a richer more complex flavor if you do.

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After they are caramelized, I deglaze the pan with some red wine and pour into the sauce (not necessary, but it sure does make it taste amazing)

One joy of home made sauce is adding whatever you may have around the house. In this case, I had some ground meat and sausage in the freezer which I browned with more onions, garlic and pepper.

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I also had some pulled pork in the fridge which I added straight to the sauce.

The final step was fresh herbs from my garden; even the “bay leaf” came from the Bay Laurel tree in my back yard. Although not true culinary bay, it imparts the same flavor if used sparingly. I also add a few red pepper flakes to offset the sweetness of the tomatoes and give it a bit of spice.

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I was out of cans, so I just poured sauce into freezer bags for later use.

A few days later, I harvested a second batch including my larger Juliets and some Brandywines and made a lovely marinara; no meat. Although I skinned the tomatoes and squeezed the seeds out, I ran it through a ricer before adding the onion, garlic and herbs, which created a lovely sauce with a beautiful texture.

Honestly, I don’t think this is any more work than opening up a bunch of cans of sauce/paste/tomatoes and it’s so much healthier, tastier and better for the environment.

It’s so nice to have tasty, home made sauce in the freezer to heat up on a cold winter night for a taste of summer harvest.



This Place Is For The Birds!

One of the (many) plans I had for Phoenix Grove when I moved in, was to have my yard certified as wildlife habitat

It’s actually quite simple, just go to the National Wildlife Federation page, learn about what makes good wildlife habitat, add elements or increase elements that you need, and certify. (yes, it’s $20 but it goes to a good cause and you get the magazine.

You can certify your yard by clicking on this link… Click here to go to the NWF’s wildlife habitat certification page where you will also find great ides for sustainable gardening.

I already had all the elements:

Place to raise young

and I am growing organically.

But I wanted to reorganize my bird habitat areas because they also serve as ambiance, entertainment and KittyTV.

I moved my big birdbath with all the shiny bits in it, out front where it could be seen better than it was in the side yard. (of all the strange things I carried around with me after the divorce, this was one because I was planning on doing this one day.)

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The hanging copper bird bath was moved out back on to the arbor as it really wasn’t used out front and was difficult to fill and clean where it was.

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I found a nice little cedar birdbath to replace the large one which was moved out of the side yard. In addition to being able to display the nicer bath out front (and put it in an easier place to maintain and a more comfortable place for the birds) this one can be seen from inside the kitchen while sitting at the table unlike the large one that sat under the window.

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The California Bay Laurel and juniper hedge out front provide evergreen cover and wildlife rearing areas. I may also put up some bird houses and bat houses. We were just talking last night about needing more bats in the neighborhood to eat mosquitos.

I grow plenty of fruit, nuts and berries so food is covered; the seeds are out year round and I believe I am the only house on the hill that keeps thawed hummingbird food out in the dead of winter. During our cold snap last winter (13 degrees Fahrenheit/- 10.5 Celsius) I was switching out thawed from frozen feeders every two hours. I had dozens of cold little Rufus Hummingbirds roosting all over the place, in trees, bushes, the porch railings and feeder brackets. When they were too cold and hungry to fight over the feeder (there were spectacular battles) they would sit around and just yell at each other.

In addition to the birds being taken care of; we now have three different stations for Kitty TV.

The living room is a great location from which to watch birds:

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as is the “original Kitty TV room” the kitchen table.

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We also have a lovely view from the screened porch off the back door.

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I think I’ve done a good job providing water for the birds without making to attractive to opossums and raccoons which are bad news for chickens…



Cold, Wet Gardening

After three weeks of not being able to mow or garden (rain-STP-rain) I finally got out into the yard yesterday.

The grass in the back was a total jungle. It was finally dry enough to mow by about 7:00 PM. (note to self, replace more grass with something else; there is still too much of it out there)

One thing about our crappiest summer ever (seriously, only 78 HOURS of temps over 80 degrees so far the entire summer) is that the cherries like it. (along with our butt cold winter) My Lapin cherry tree is loaded. (I already ate all the Royal Anns)

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My tomatoes, lovingly started in the basement under grow lights and on heat mats, then moved to the greenhouse; then moved outside in protective wall-o-water insulators are growing vigorously.

Now we just need some heat so that these lovely Juliets will turn red. These were my favorite tomoatoes last year, they are a parent to the popular grape tomato.

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If we ever get any warm days, the blueberries will be ready…

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The cold weather crops (broccoli and peas) are doing well.

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It’s taking every bit of self control I have not to snap off these beautiful asparagus spears when they pop up; but I know if I leave the bed alone this year, I’ll be harvesting more than I can possibly eat on my own for years to come.

I’m glad I paid the money for two year old crowns so I only have to exercise this much self control for one season (best to hold off on harvesting until the 4th year)

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My Liberty apples are the only ones (out of three varieties) that are fruiting well.

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My Braeburn apple is badly infested with Apple Scab due to the cold, wet miserable excuse for a summer we’ve had (Liberty is resistant) I may end up pulling that tree out and planting a resistant variety. The Summerred apple never bloomed at all (we got a hard freeze at bloom time)

Yesterday, I had to spray some copper on the apple trees. You can’t really treat scab once it breaks out, but I want to keep it from spreading.

It’s just been a rough year all the way around for fruit trees; many of the trees that did bloom/pollinate dropped their fruit almost immediately.

My plum tree dropped it’s fruit and is now covered in aphids, I had to hit it with some organicide yesterday.

Oddly enough, I am getting some peaches which are considered a warm weather fruit.

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I am very lucky that my roses aren’t succumbing to blackspot or powdery mildew. They are looking very good this year (they’ve certainly had plenty of water)

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The lavender out front is doing well. I’m hoping that it will grow large and bushy and fill in the gaps this year, so folks won’t stomp through my flower beds to steal tulips next year. It stayed pretty small and spindly last year and a lot of it died over the brutally cold winter.

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I have some more photos here (make with the clicky clicky on this link to see them)



What a difference a year makes

I just realized that a year ago Saturday, I made the offer on this old house.

The back yard is no longer a hardpan dumping ground for trash, rotting furniture, junk vehicles or broken television sets overgrown with grass and weeds; its’ a small urban farm. (OK, the grass is a little long right now, but it hasn’t been dry enough to mow.

Although it hasn’t fully “sprung” (pun intended) to life for the season, it is a great improvement.

Out of the nine fruit trees I planted: three apple, three cherry, plum, peach, and a pear to replace the 100 year old one that came crashing down in November’s wind storm, the new Oregon Curl Free peach is the first to bloom.

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The Italian Prune Plum is not far behind.

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The asparagus bed is planted (yes, the plants are upside down in the picture, but they aren’t planted that way)

From Drop Box

and the strawberry beds are weeded and cleaned up (I still have a dozen or so strawberry plants I need people to come get; they are trying to take over)

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the “cold weather” crops, lettuce, peas, brocolli are doing fine in the greenhouse and are almost ready to move outside (if icy death would quit falling out of the sky)

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the peppers and tomatoes are doing well with the heat mat on only at night; hopefully I’ll be able to turn that off soon. (if the weather ever cooperates, yeah right…)

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My lilacs that arrived from Rain Tree Nursery bare root a few weeks ago are budding out and one is already starting to bloom.

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The front yard was weeds and some really ugly “two man” rocks someone had painted white thinking it was “decorative”.

It’s full of flowers now…

These (several hundred) bulbs were a pain to plant (I dug them good and deep so they’d come back every year) but it’s paying off now (and I’ll never have to do it again)

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The special parrot tulips that I planted in honor of mine and Bonnie’s friend Karen who tragically lost her battle with cancer this year are getting ready to bloom as well.

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The crocus and muscari I planted in the parking strip are adding some cherry color around the flowering cherry trees as well. (the Kwanzan trees will bloom next month, along with my pink flowering dogwood)

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I still have a lot of work to do, but it’s such a great improvement over this time last year.


Mood: Happy


Urban Farm Update

Despite the cold and torrential downpours spring has arrived in Tacoma, as evidenced in gardens all over the city showing off fabulous displays of daffodils, cherry blossoms and other lovely blooms.

I am (for the time being) no longer “the house with the lions”; I am “the house with the daffodils”

From Drop Box

The crocus I forgot to plant in the fall and found and unceremoniously plugged into the ground in the spring are happily poking up out of the lawn around the cherry trees.

From Drop Box

The other late planted daffodils and tulips I put in the side yard are coming up as well.

From Drop Box

The raspberries, loving the TAGRO are getting ready to go nuts.

From Drop Box

The Lilacs I ordered from Rain Tree Nursery are healthy and growing like crazy.

From Drop Box

Speaking of growing like crazy, the seedlings down the basement were ready to be repotted and moved out to the greenhouse.

From Drop Box

I put them into 4” peat pots (for those who think that peat pots and pellets impede root growth, you haven’t seen the roots growing out of those peat pots) and moved them out to the greenhouse.

The “cold weather” crops: peas, broccoli, lettuce, spinach are just sitting on the shelf.

From Drop Box

The crops that like a little more warmth are on one of the heat mats that I turn on at night. It’s very warm in the greenhouse during the day, but night time temperatures are still dropping down into the upper 30’s low 40’s at night, and that might be a bit of a shock for little sprouts that have been on a heat mat 24/7

From Drop Box

So far, having the heat mat on at night seems to be doing the trick. The sprouts seem quiet happy without my having to haul them in and out of the house to “harden off”.

I will purchase the “wall o water” insulators once I move the tomatoes outside, and will also use some bell cloches for the peppers until the weather finally warms up.

In other news, the chickens learned how to fly over the garden fence. I needed to stop this behavior because once I get those tender young plants out into the garden beds, I don’t want them confused for a chicken salad bar.

As you have seen by previous videos

*gratuitous chicken round up video

If the video doesn’t embed properly in your browser/reader you can view it by making with the clicky clicky here

rounding up chickens is not a one person task.

My friend and neighbor Amy came over and helped me round up the girls and clip their wings.

Here we are determining which feathers to clip on Ginger’s wing.

*photos by K Coats

From Drop Box

and an easy snip and it’s all done.

From Drop Box

Well I thought it was done. MaryAnn has escaped a couple of times. She can get out, but not back in which is weird. I’m going to try using weed cloth staples to tack the flexible fence down every few inches and am going to pick up some taller fence posts as the fence slumps down in some areas (that’s where MaryAnn flew over the one time I was able to catch her)

I also need to put new batteries in my game camera to catch her in the act.

If securing the bottom and top don’t do it, we’ll have to clip the other wing. I still don’t get how she’d be the one who could fly, she is definitely the heavier and rounder of the two.

Yes, the weather has sucked pond water lately. In March we were several degrees below normal and had three inches more rain than normal.

But as this little cell phone photo, taken from the Graffiti Garages at sunset on Saturday night show, this really is a beautiful place.

From Drop Box


Mood: Happy


It may not feel like spring; but the garden says otherwise

yes, it’s cold, gray rainy and windy (still) but the danger of a hard freeze is (for the most part) over this week and many of us are in full garden mode.

The roses are going nuts leafing out, They had all last summer and fall to build good root systems, I’m expecting good things from them this year.

My garlic (which I planted a couple weeks ago, not in the fall when I should have) has sprouted, and I’m pretty excited about that. It’s just grocery store garlic I bought and soaked the anti sprouting chemicals off of (mine always sprouts anyway)

Garden March 14 2011 001

Since I have all this room in the house, I decided to move my starts down into the basement under the grow lights instead of having them cluttering up the kitchen table.

They didn’t do much down there, even under the lights, so I put a thermometer out and discovered that the basement is a steady 45 degrees. Too cold for little sprouts to be excited about root formation.

So I went to Waterworks Hydroponics down on Washington Street (near S 50th) and got some heat mats.

chimney and seedling photos march 2011 008

chimney and seedling photos march 2011 009

Now, they are happy little sprouts. (check out my lettuce & broccoli)

cell phone photo of seedlings

the plum tree’s buds are just beginning to break open as are the raspberries.

As I was typing out this blog, my organic Yukon Gold seed potatoes showed up, so I’ll be planting those today. I have asparagus crowns on order coming next month.


And of course, the front flower bed is creating a cheery, sunny place even on a dreary day.

Garden March 14 2011 008

This is going to be an awesome spring and an even better summer!


Mood: Excited