Monday, May 29, 2006

A Break from the Garden

Great campsite overlooking the Pacific Ocean. That's my 100 year old grandma, who came to enjoy the view and have dinner.

Can't take too much of a break from the garden...........always something happening, don't want to miss........

Yarrow in bloom
- great plant to have to attrack beneficial insects.

Rose Geranium - this plant went through major shock when I transplanted it last month, but I am happy to see it recovering. Also glad to see at least one volunteer sunflower has survived the chickens kicking about.

Passion Flower
- transplanted this as well last month to a new location, so very happy to see it blooming.

stopped for a visit on the Monarda, Bee Balm, which is not blooming yet but looking very lush.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

View from Rooftop or......... how big is your garden?

My 9 raised beds total about 235 sq ft. Plus I have the borders with fruit trees, the chicken coop (providing eggs) and other edibles. But in order to be completely sustainable, eating a vegan diet, I would need about 4,000 sq ft (using sustainable biointensive practices) to feed one person. In comparison, the average U.S. diet requires 30,000 sq ft of land to feed one person. Those eating high meat diets use up to 60,000 sq ft (using conventional farming practices).

So yes, I still go to the farmers market every week and belong to a CSA. But I know I will never starve, having what I have available at home.

I encourage everyone to try and grow something to eat!

Zephirine Drouhin

I think this rose deserves a post of its own. It's climbing, thornless, with a nice fragrance. Rose's have edible petals, and are great for the skin. I ordered this one from Heirloom Roses

I can't wait till it fills in this steel rod trellis, which is supporting it, in my front yard.


These are all volunteers. They come in so many colors, are edible, and attract beneficial insects. A must in your vegetable garden.

Orange Creamsicle
(I am making up most of the names, so don't go looking for them in the store)

Cherries Jubilee favorite color (and mounding type)

Blood Red (with black near the center)........amazing........don't remember ever seeing this color before in my garden. It's growing out of our french drain.

Pale Yellow
(love the foliage color, a little more grey/silver to it)

Orange (I don't care for this color, and I usually pull it out at first bloom, unless it volunteers in a charming place like this, then I let it grow.

This batch comes up every year, to conveniently cover this ugly wall behind my trellis. Just as my annuals take off up the trellis, the nasturtium are dying off, so I let it go.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Clean Green

With a few common household products, plus some essential herbal oils, you can make your own environmental friendly cleaning products. Herbs such as lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree are antibacterial and antifungal, and smell much more pleasant then toxic cleaners. Your house will smell like a spa on cleaning day!

Germ-Buster Scrub + Shine

3/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup borax
3 Tablespoons liquid castille soap
3 Tablespoons white vinegar
20 drops eucalyptus essential oil
15 drops lemon essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a pint size/wide mouth canning jar and shake till blended. It's like a soft scrub, with a natural clean smell. Great for cleaning kitchen and bathroom surfaces.


1 teaspoon lavender essential oil
1 teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil
6 drops tea tree essential oil
2 cups filtered water

Add ingredients to a spay bottle. Use on sink, tile, counter tops, etc.

Window Wash

Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon spearmint essential oil
1 tsp cornstarch
2 cups filtered water

Add ingredients to a spay bottle.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Summer Squash...........

looking good. All the heat this week has caused a growth spurt!


Ronde de Nice


Golden Bush

PM update: Look what I noticed when hand watering this evening........3 yellow Zucchini on the golden bush.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

PVC Bed Hoops

Easy and inexpensive project. I need them to keep the chickens out with bird netting attached, and also to extend the season with reemay cloth attached during the cool season.

You can either cut the pvc pipe to the height you desire, or just push them deeper in the soil to the desired height. Mine are 1/2" x 10'.

In some beds, a 1/2" bracket was placed inside to secure the pvc pipe in place.

In this bed, a lag bolt is holding the pvc pipe in place. They are 5/16" x 3 1/2" long. It is attached to the top of the sides of the raised beds.

Notice the nails are slanted upside-down, really no need for that large nail head to keep netting secure, and much easier to remove without getting tangled on the head.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Saturday Farmers Market

Our local farmers market, which goes from April to November, is still not going full swing this year. Due to all the rain, our local farmers didn't get much of a spring crop. But I was able to get some organic green beans today, and with my dill doing so well, I decided to try making some dilly beans.

My first crop of dill was started indoors and transplanted out, but you can see the second crop that was direct sown has sprouted now, among the first crop, and should keep me going with dill for a while.

I just made one jar, kind of a test batch, to see if I even like them.

The recipe sounded good, and should make a good snack, since I am trying to eat mainly a plant based diet now, I'm looking for new ideas.

2 cups green beans
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 garlic cloves
5 fresh dill springs
1 teaspoon grey sea salt

Boil the vinegar and water. Stuff the jar with garlic, dill, salt and beans. Pour the hot liquid over the beans and cap. Refridgerate for 6 weeks to infuse flavor.

I do have to wait 6 weeks to see if I like them, but that brings us to the end of Junce, still plenty of time to can lots of green beans for the winter (if I like them).

If I decide to make more and store them, then I will have to can them properly in a hot water bath.


I let them sit for 6 weeks, and finally seved them friday night when I had some friends over, and the little jar went very quick........they were a hit. So on saturday I went to the farmers market and they had some nice organic green beans, so I got one produce bag full of beans and made 5 more jars, large this time.

I used 5 quart size jars, 10 cups of vinegar, 5 cups of water, 2 tsp of grey sea salt per jar, lots of fresh garlic and dill. After I filled the jars, I put them in a water bath for 10 minutes to can them properly, so I can store them on the shelf. I think I will probably make a batch this size every couple of weeks throughout the season, so I have plenty the eat all winter.

Friday, May 12, 2006

More May planting....

I just realized I have not purchased one seedling from the nursery this year! I have started all my plants from seed! This is a remarkable accomplishment for me. Thanks Uncle Tom......speaking of.......those Black Eye Susan seeds that came fom Uncle Toms Garden in Maine that I had started back in March are ready to transplant out to their permanent location. They really did great, what a relief....I'm really happy about that.

Basil ready to transplant out into its permanent location.

Valarian is ready to transplant out. These seeds were left in the refridgerator in a bag of soil over the winter. On 2/9 I noticed a few had sprouted, so I transplanted them into a pot, and this in the one survivor. Valarian is a medicinal herb, great for the relaxation border, can be used in a tea at bed time.

These are two Echinacia ready to be transplanted out, that began life just as the Valarian did, and only two survivors out of six.

More Calendula is ready to go out (so easy to start from seed, very reliable medicinal herb, great for the skin, and a great edible flower to add to your salad).

Super Size Flat

Always trying out new ideas........experimenting in the garden.........this is one of my salad beds, that I am not ready to add salad to for a few more weeks, so I decided to transplant some of my squash and flower seedlings into it. They were getting to big for their little flat, but not ready to be planted out in their permanent location for a few more weeks.

Strawberry almost ready to be picked (does this mean some critter will come along and eat it tonight?)

Finally got to staking and stringing my Yulon Gold Potato Bed today.

Daylillies are blooming

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Simple Seed Saving

You can make a screen like this out of some salvaged screen and wood. I just leave it outdoors on the table, under the pergola, where it is protected from direct sun. These are calendula and some blue cornflowers. The brown seed to the left are calendula already dried and ready to be stored. The green flower heads are fresh picked calendula, and will take a few weeks to dry before I store.

See the paper bag in the back with the dried up stuff in it, thats my cilantro plant from fall, it was stored all winter in the bag. I just planted some of the seeds a few weeks ago, and they germinated and are growing fresh cilantro in my garden.

Or you can pull entire plants out of the ground and hang in a large paper bag to dry, away from direct sun light. These are stock, I just seperated them by color into different bags.

Or you can just put flower heads in a small paper bag and hang them as well. These are Deja Vu Calendula. The seeds were green when I first picked them, now they are turning brown and drying nicely. After they are dry I will store them in envelopes or glass jars.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Growing Tomatoes

Wow! I didn't realize how much they grew, until I compared with last month's photo's.....

Gold Current

April 10th

May 10th

July 2
The foliage is not healthy on this tomato, but the fruit is delicious. This was the first tomato to ripen this summer.

Yellow Pear

April 10th

May 10th

July 2

Black Cherry, Chadwick's Cherry and Yellow Pear and Calendula Flowers in wine barrel

April 10th

May 10

July 2

I had such great success last year, experimenting with growing tomatoes in containers, I can't wait to see how prolific they are this year. I watered them at least once a day, sometimes twice, gave them a foliar feeding at 50% rate once per week, and a side dressing once per month.

May 17 - Japanese Black Truffle and Polish Pastel

I grew these two varieties last summer for the first time and loved them. They did great in my yard. Started producing very early and stopped producing very late; prolific and very delicious. I saved the seed, choosing one of the earliest and best specimens. I tagged it, and let it stay on the vine until way over-ripe. I then squeezed the tomato into a cup...........seeds, flesh, skin and all, to ferment for a few days. Then i rinsed well and dried.

July 2
Polish Pastel and Japanese Black Truffle in bed #6