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.

gardening - 2013

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…

spring equinox easter 003

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.

~L



stat tracker for tumblr

Earth Day!

~

Earth Day 2012 has been a big deal for me.

The whole rebirth thing is reverberating strongly for me this spring.

Friday, I staffed a booth at the University of Puget Sound for their Earth Day Event. Saturday, I was at work advocating for local, sustainable, healthy food.

Yesterday, I just had to plant a tree in honor of Earth Day (well, and because I like to dig in the dirt 😉

Considering that since I bought this place two years ago, I’ve planted nine fruit trees (cherry, apple, plum, peach, pear) two nut trees (hazelnut), five ornamentals (flowering cherry, dogwood, ash and one edible ornamental pollinator (crabapple) I’m kind of running out of space.

But there was one spot in front that would shade the front porch which has a Southwest exposure and gets hit hard by the summer sun and heat that just begged for a pretty tree.

I chose an Indian Summer crabapple (beautiful, just the right size, small edible fruit, provides food for wildlife, pollinates apples) which unlike the Sugar Tyme I have planted in the back yard which has pink buds opening to white flowers, has stunning red flowers.

Isn’t it pretty?

Earth Day 2012 006

I also had clumps of day lilies given to me by my neighbor Steve when I first bought the place two years ago (he dropped off clumps before I even moved in) that were getting crowded.

So I thinned them down to two reasonable size clumps.

Earth Day 2012 002

This left me with TEN good size clumps to relocate.

I decided to plant them in the parking strip out front in between the flowering cherry trees. I want to eventually reclaim that strip from lawn to garden and this is a good start.

Earth Day 2012 003

You can see that the Kwanzan Flowering Cherry trees are just starting to bloom. Aren’t they lovely?

Earth Day 2012 017

I couldn’t leave the fairy garden out of the fun, so I picked up some pretty and fragrant carnations to put out there.

Earth Day 2012 001

I have more garden photos from this season on my Flickr’ page.

(if the slide show doesn’t embed or you prefer to click on individual pictures, you can view the photos by making with the clicky clicky here)

I also managed to sneak in some time at the dog park with Frodo the Wonder Corgi.

We had beautiful weather, and it was a great day to honor the earth.

~L



web stats

Birth of a Fairy Garden

~
When I first purchased my home in May of 2010, the Southeast corner of the yard behind the garage was a jungle; the Hawthorne and huge old pear tree were being choked to death by an invasive species of Clematis vine known as Old Man’s Beard.

From The Life and Times of A Wild Celtic Rose

In November of that year, my beautiful (and huge) old pear tree blew down in a violent wind storm.

November 15th wind storm 009

Since then, this “forgotten” part of the yard, not sunny enough to support garden beds or fruit trees (and still a battle ground for the dreaded clematis vines trying to regrow) has been left in neglect other than two marionberries being trained to grow up trellises on the back garage wall.

Until lately.

It started out innocently enough with three shade loving rhododendrons in the far corner.

Then I learned that crabapple trees will tolerate less then full sun, so I got a good sized one (tall enough for the branches to get sun) and plopped it in the same corner.

garden first day of March 2012 003

Azaleas… Yeah, and Camellias… That’s what the corner needed as well.

Oooh, Cyclamen, Begonias (tuberus), Periwinkle and some Foxglove for the fairies were also perfect for this little corner.

I found this lovely bench…

Ides of March 2012 009

I also scored a fabulous bird bath…

Then the fairies started moving in, which was just a matter of time, as they love the Hawthorne and foxglove and are said to ride Corgis at night.

Garden update, March 8, 2012 022

Soon Hellebores and Fuchsias appeared (as did more fairies)

Spring in the Fairy Garden - Or I just can't stop planting 001

fairy garden fuchsias 001

So did Tulips, Daffodils and Winter Heather (Heath) in the sunny areas around the Hazelnut tree…

spring in the garden 019

It was apparent who was “running the show” out there, so appropriate signage was posted.

Spring 2012 - well what passes for it - Mid March 002

This tree ent arrived.

Tree Spirit 002

and his friend the Bay Laurel ent showed up on the other side of the yard for good measure.

Spring Equinox in the Fairy Garden 001

The area had been transformed just in time for Spring…

fairy garden fuchsias 002

spring in the garden 026

All of the residents seemed quite happy to be there.

Except this one…

Spring 2012 - well what passes for it - Mid March 004

It became very clear that she was not a garden fairy. She was fierce, a guardian… a….

Gargoyle.

So she now watches over the entrance to my home in her rightful place.

Fairy Gargoyle 006

If she deters solicitors and proselytizers, all the better 😉

No worries, the back has not been let unguarded.

Spring Equinox in the Fairy Garden 006

I am looking forward to hosting BBQs, teas and garden parties and watching this area bloom and grow.

~ L



web stats

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!

garden first day of March 2012 013

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.

garden first day of March 2012 011

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

garden first day of March 2012 012

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.

garden first day of March 2012 001

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.

garden first day of March 2012 002

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

garden first day of March 2012 003

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)

garden first day of March 2012 005

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.

~L



web stats

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.

Saucy 001

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

Saucy 003

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.

Saucy 004

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

Saucy 005

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.

Saucy 006

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)

Saucy 009

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)

Saucy 010

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.

Saucy 011

Saucy 012

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.

Saucy 015

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.

Saucy 014

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.

~L



~

Mabon Blessings

~
On Friday, September 23rd at 2:05 AM (Pacific Time) the wheel turned, as it does each year to the dark season.

(this illustration was linked to this article which gives a great explanation of equinoxes for those who are interested)

The Autumnal Equinox also known as Alban Elfed and Mabon by those who celebrate holidays/sacred time by “the wheel of the year” rather than a modern calendar is considered by many to be the 2nd of three harvest festivals; the first being Lammas/Lughnasadh usually in early august and the third and final being Samhain (Halloween time to early November).

I was scheduled to attend a formal observance with friends on Saturday night, but that was not to be.

Like any good seasonal celebration, this one took several days.

Friday morning started out with me gutting and filleting a 25 pound Chinook Salmon harvested from a local river. I did it with a dull knife (note to self, get a good fillet knife and sharpener)

This thing was huge and slippery and quite unwieldy when compared to the rainbow and golden trout I was used to. When I was done, the kitchen looked like a crime scene, I was covered in scales and slime, but I had two decent fillets and felt a sense of accomplishment.

Shortly after that, a feral cat tried to harvest one of my baby chicks from the cage on my back porch. I had left the screen door open because the sun was up and raccoons and other predators weren’t a threat. I heard a ruckus and ran to the back door where I discovered Sylvester (no longer welcome due to his stalking of the pullets out in the yard and even less welcome now) on top of the cage.

I also discovered little Shirley (she and her sister Laverne are six weeks old today) fluffed up, huddled in the corner and bleeding.

I was heart broken; I had been negligent due to being pissed off at the broken screen and had not properly secured the porch (hey, it was only for a few minutes while I got the big coop ready right?) These chicks are not afraid of cats, because they lived with a cat at Gardensphere for three days before I brought them home where BadKitty did not bother them. When the feral cat jumped on the cage, Shirley was not quick enough to move away and he got her through the bars tearing out some feathers and leaving some scratches.

I tended to her without stressing her out and making the shock worse, waited and hoped for the best. I knew that she was in shock and at risk for infection; I estimated her chances for survival at about 50/50. Better if she was still with us in the morning.

She was with us in the (Saturday) morning and was eating like a pig and drinking like a fish (as well as pecking, scratching and preening… all good signs).

By yesterday afternoon, she was jumping all over the place and her sister went from hovering over her in protective stance to giving her a good peck on the head.

Yes, infection could still set in and I’m watching for that, but it looks like she’s going to make it.

poultry 021

Between the after effects of the antibiotics I was on, the being worried (and making myself) sick over what happened to Shirley and having bad sinus issues due to the rapid change in weather, I opted to stay home from both a bike ride and the Mabon observance on Saturday.

I did something I virtually never do; instead of working in the yard, doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen or any other number of things I should have been doing, I sat in my yard (soaking up the last bit of autumn sunshine) with a glass of my friend Don’s home made berry wine, some snacks, my laptop (to start this blog) and my camera to catch the antics of my funny new friends the Western Scrub Jays… (I’m used to only seeing the Stellars here)

From Drop Box

feeder 021

Western Scrub Jay 012

It was another moment of satisfaction, no… gratitude for all the things I’ve harvested over the year, physically such as in the garden, emotionally and spiritually.

It was a lovely time of just being content and grateful and if that’s not honoring the harvest, I don’t know what is.

I also spent time just sitting with the chickens on the ground outside the small coop that is now Laverne and Shirley’s home (because it was really going to help Shirley recover if I stared at her every waking moment right?). Chickens are a lot of fun to just sit and watch. (Ethel seems to be thinking, “What are YOU looking at?”)

poultry 011

On Sunday morning I was starting to feel human again and went out to harvest the last of my blueberries for scone baking. A friend and new local “chicken baron” came by for coffee, scones and to check out my setup and ask chicken questions. He also brought some home made jam which was wonderful!

I hadn’t realized I was almost completely out of unbleached flour so they ended up being whole wheat scones.

From Drop Box

After that, Francine, Elizabeth, Gayle, Renee and Lia showed up for “stitch and bitch” to finish off the coffee and scones while knitting, crocheting and gabbing.

It was running late so I left the ladies to giggle in the living room and harvested my wonderful, red ripe, meaty heirloom paste tomatoes (San Marzano)

Who says you can’t grow lovely tomatoes in the cold dark PNW during a crappy summer?

Saucy 001

I used these to create an awesome sauce with garlic, onions and herbs out of my garden as well as some sausage and meat I found in my freezer.

I documented the process here (it’s actually as easy as opening a bunch of cans of tomatoes, sauce, paste, etc… and so much healthier and tastier)

If you click through to the individual pictures the process is described.

Gayle and Francine came back over later with pasta, meatballs, a fabulous cucumber salad from Gayle’s garden, wine and garlic bread and we watched Mists of Avalon and had a harvest feast during “intermission”.

From Drop Box

The movie dealing with the blending of Paganism and Christianity during the time of King Arthur was a good reminder that for me, honoring the cycles of life and seasons is more fulfilling and meaningful that the holidays plopped on a modern calendar.

All in all, I’d say it was a satisfying Mabon and that I am truly blessed.

and yowza, is my house and kitchen a mess…

~L

Mood: Tired



~

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:

Food
Water
Cover
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.)

For the Birds 012

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.

For the Birds 008

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.

For the Birds 006

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:

For the Birds 019

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

For the Birds 013

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

For the Birds 015

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…

~L



~

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)

Garden July 2011 016

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.

Garden July 2011 010

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

Garden July 2011 009

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

Garden July 2011 006

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)

Garden July 2011 004

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

Garden July 2011 015

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.

Garden July 2011 011

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)

Garden July 2011 019

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.

Garden July 2011 023

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

~L



~

One Year Ago Today – The Evolution of a Hilltop Home

~
In the interest of providing a bit of background, this is a blog entry from April 17tn 2010

I can’t rant today.

I can only Do the Happy Dance!!!

I am approved for a modest home loan to buy a modest house in a gritty Tacoma neighborhood.

Ideally, it will be a cute little craftsman fixer upper.

I will have a garden and a greenhouse again.

I will have bird feeders so that BadKitty (an indoor cat) will again be able to watch birds (her favorite activity), chatter and run around like a maniac. (maybe she’ll drop some of her “small apartment pudge”)

I will have a guest room so my friends can have a comfortable place to sleep when they come visit.

I will have a real dining room in which to serve my (day after) Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve meals to friends.

I will have a hot tub and a BBQ grill (I have budgeted for these)

I will no longer share walls (or ceilings or floors) with people not of my choosing.

At this time last year, I could not even imagine this.

I am going house shopping today after work.

One year ago today, the plan dream I laid out here came true (and then some).

One year ago today, I closed escrow on my gritty little house on Tacoma’s hilltop.

Not only do I have the old house with the original wood floors, dining room for entertaining, fabulous garden and a kitty who is happy, healthy and fit, I have found a wonderful community up here.

Words can’t do the last year justice, so I put it to music in a slide show…

In a weak attempt at words, I wrote this last June

house

This old house has stood for nearly 100 years
It was occupied by Italian immigrants in 1917
It housed families during the great depression
It has seen troops return from two world wars

This old house was built from the forests of the Pacific Northwest
Its beams are thick and sturdy
Its floors are old growth Douglas Fir
Its roof grows moss if not well maintained

This old house is in a historic neighborhood
It has been the home of the Crips gang
It has fallen into disrepair
It has been lovingly restored

This old house is guarded by lion statues in the front
Its old Bay Laurel tree in the back is home to a nest of crows
It is in a vibrant, revitalized community
It is surrounded by friendly, caring, proactive neighbors

This old house will be warm and welcoming
it will host many holiday gatherings
it will offer hospitality to friends, family and neighbors
it will be filled with love

This old house is flawed
This old house is beautiful
This house is a work in progress
This old house is loved

If only this old house could talk

~L

Mood: Happy



~