Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fall is here

Tomatoes are coming in everyday, Jetsetters, Mortgage Lifters, and Sun Sugar Cherry tomatoes.

The Hedychium Ginger plant is in full bloom, bright orange in the new bed with the Jelena Witchhazel who blooms in late winter, creating a nice compliment to one another.

It's hard to not be in the garden as much this fall, but tiss the nature of life. I enjoyed a relaxing lounge in a garden chair watching the garlic planting in fresh Cedar Grove compost in place of the potatoes who ended their season weeks ago. Some of the extra Korean Red Garlic found it's way into fresh guacamole Friday night.

A few of the Autumn Joy Sedums seen blooming purple in these photos were transplanted into the new beds along with the frilly Mexican Feather Grass that make an pleasant contrasting bed boarder. We discovered quite the clump of Oregano hiding in the middle of one of the beds, perfect for some plant trades.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Learn to raise chickens with Tilth

There are still tickets available with Tilth to learn to raise chickens, this class starts you with adult chickens. 
Spaces for Sept 18th and Oct 16th at 10am.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fresh tomato season has arrived

Jetsetter hybrid tomatoes are red and juicy from the tomato vines.  Mortgage Lifters coming next.

Planting multiple varieties makes for an extended harvest season.  Cherry tomatoes started a month ago, making great snacks while working in the garden.

Found serveral pole beans ripe on the vine this morning as the light pushed through the puffy clouds.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fall crops

Are you thinking you'd like a little green in your diet this fall and winter, without breaking the bank at the grocery store? Stop by a nursery and pick out a a few of the following starts for your fall garden:

1. kale (delicious steamed with olive oil, salt, and some sauteed mushrooms). Last year this grew from late fall into Feb, excellent long season on this crop.
2. broccoli
3. lettuce starts (get these little ones in the ground on a cool day and give them lots of water) You'll be thankful to have continued lettuce late in summer and early fall. You can continue to plant lettuce up until mid September here in the northwest. Of course if you have a greenhouse or a hoop house you're lucky enough to keep lettuce even later.
4. Garlic. Around labor day weekend, get out the heads of garlic and plop them in a nice patch of composted ground for your 2011 crop.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Onion patch weeding

Early morning shady vegetable patch weeding. Sun is peaking over the tops of the ceder trees, but for now the cool breeze and I work in the garden while listenijg to birds, planes, and pandora music streaming. 
The weeds have been winning this year with the addition of the flower beds off the patio, it is a lot of work.
Broccoli crop has been ongoing for about a month. All the edibles are going to bloom now.  It will be time soon to pull them and replace with another crop.
Corn is over knee high, of course that is all relative to your height.  Good to see a solid crop looking healthy this year.
We started eating the cherry tomatoes two weeks ago. They are the first of our multiple varieties to be turning color.
Back to weeding before the sun takes over.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Self seeding tomatoes

For the past two years we've let the crop of tomatoes self seed in the flower patch as well as in the veggie patch.  Little mator sprouts are popping up like weeds.  These guys are looking for homes, plant trades are welcome.

There are a couple Mortgage Lifters in there with a bunch of cherry tomatoes.

Raspberry harvest time

July is almost here, which means raspberry harvesting for snacks.  The strainer will begin its summer stint on the counter, rather than in the drawer, with all the tasty morsels maturing.

What's your favorite raspberry dish?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Full bounty

This year, with the lack of rabbit population, the vegetable garden is in full swing.  Giant Marconi peppers, have been intermingled with melons, herbs, bamboo, and flowers off the patio to encourage bees and birds.  What can be better than walking out the kitchen in bare feet, feeling the warmth of the pavers through my toes, and snipping a pepper to slice open for baking with olive oil in the oven. 

Our guests this past weekend exlaimed, "you have peppers already!" In frustration that their WA vegetables are not off to such a running start.

Our beekeeping uncle left behind a bait hive.  We're to monitor it and if we see a swarm hanging around, call him.  Do we get some portion of the honey if we help with the baiting?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Deadheading the Rhododendron

In my annual tradition of a therapeutic exercise, I enjoy an hour or so over several days of deadheading, or removing the expired flowers from our purple Rhododendron. As this site will tell you,, deadheading is certainly not required, but you may find yourself enjoying the practice, it is repetitive and peaceful, allowing me to enter my own thoughts.

Here I come you shriveled up dry purple flowers. Get ready to join the compost.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Propagated Plants for Sale at the Arboretum

An hour long stroll on Memorial Day brought us to the visitors center at the north end of the Arboretum.  Peaceful walk with the puffy rain clouds making way for blue sky and birds chirping from tree to tree.

The main road over top of the hill was closed, so we meandered along, cutting in and out of the woods.  Perhaps one day the road will be permanently closed to metal on wheels.

At the back side of the visitors center we discovered a paradise of hoop tents and tables filled with propagated plants.  Wood chip lined paths made for a more comfortable walk amongst the starts than the paved walkways. The hoops are PVC pipes, most of the 1/2" diameter variety, with black shade cloth draped across.

At the farthest south west corner of the nursery, you'll find a large picnic bench, under cover, next to 2ft tall cold frames.  The shaded glen and rustling of leaves takes me back to the estates and gardens in south east England.   Just like many of those gardens, there are propagated plants for sale.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spring Into Bed

Seattle is in the year of urban agriculture.  Planting strips are often used for veggie gardens, raised beds springing up in unique locations.  Seattle Tilth brought communities together in early May to create edible gardens for low income neighborhoods.

Fruitless in Seattle

Just checked on our two plum trees this morning and I counted a total of two fruit set.  The last few years these trees were extremely productive.  We're talking 100+ lbs every year.  We've certainly kept busy drying, canning and making fruit leather out of this year the trees seem to be on vacation, and I'm ok with that.  It will help ensure I don't get completely sick of the things, and they'll probably go back to their overly-productive selves next year.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Become an Urban Farming Mentor

The Urban Farm Hub is starting classes this Thursday for people interested in learning how to mentor others in gardening to grow their own food. If you're interested check out the link here.

Perhaps you are looking to start your own garden and don't know where to begin? That's what these mentors are there for. Of course, we were at Beans and Bunnies are always happy to provide advice and answer questions.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Garden Project with Kids

If you're looking for a cheap and fun activity to engage kids in the garden, consider this nifty seed planting project. It can be fun for adults too!

- 1 egg carton
- 1 small plastic garden pot to hold soil
- 1 even smaller plastic garden pot for scooping
- 3-4 cups of potting soil
- 2-4 packets of seeds
- scissors

Step 1: Prep by cutting the egg carton in half. Each kid will get 6 little planters. Fill the larger garden pot with soil and set the scoop inside the bin.  Find a good location at a kids height to plant.
Step 2: Have your 3yr old scoop soil into the the egg carton
Step 3: Lay out the selection of seeds and let them pick what they would like to plant
Step 4: Have them hold out one hand so you can pour some seeds in. It's ok to give them extra seeds, u can always thin the plants later.  Odds are good some will end up on the ground anyway.
Step 5: make a small indentation in the center of each egg slot and ask them to pinch a few seeds into the indent.  Have them sprinkle seeds in each of the 6 spaces.
Step 6: Get their help to put any extra seeds back in the seed packet.
Step 7: Next, they scoop a little more soil and pour it over the little holes in each to cover the seeds. I get them to clean up the excess that likely ended up on the table or steps when the first put soil in to cover the seeds. This way they can only grab small amounts and the seeds aren't covered too heavily.
Step 8: Help them water the seeds
Step 9: Enlist their help to clean up.
Step 10: If you can, point to a plant in your garden or a book to show them what their seeds will turn into.

We enjoyed eating our lettuce directly from the garden and then planting the seeds.

Tip: use the top of the egg carton as a tray for the newly planted seeds, it makes it easy to carry the egg crate for the kids.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Husband's New Pets

Our new earthworms moved into their 18 gallon plastic home today. Shredded paper, garden soil, and some vegetable scraps are in there to start them off with food and bedding.

They reside in our carport. Holes are drilled at the top of their bin and in a nice pattern on the lid.

Looking forward to their contribution to the garden.

Should I be concerned that the husband referred to them as pets?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Follow me on Twitter

Follow @Beansprts on Twitter for additional garden tips and ideas.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Raised Garden Bed Instructions

Popular mechanics presents simple instructions for making a raised garden bed. If you're looking to prolong your growing season, the article includes how to make a cover for the bed with pvc piping:

More raised garden bed instructions can be found here:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cold Frames

Cold frames are a fantastic way to lengthen the growing season, allow starts to be planted early, and prolong the growing season in the fall and winter. A few ideas for constructing your own Cold Frame:

Worm Bins

Worm bins are a great way to recycle your kitchen waste into garden nutrients. If you're in a city like Seattle you may already be using the yard waste bin to do dispose of all those goodies. Try mixing a small portion of that green waste with a little shredded paper and some fabulous earth worms in a small box. It will quickly turn into rich soil for your patio plants. For more tips check out @wormexpert or the wormexpert's website.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Horticultural Therapy...not just for hospitals.

Do you ever notice how much more alive you feel after getting your hands dirty? The satisfaction of eating something you grew or the pleasure in watching seeds sprout? Our garden time is theraputic.

Enjoy this article in which my aunt, Ms. Hazen, tells the story of her work in Oregon Hospitals in developing horticultural therapy programs, bringing the down and dirty into the clean and steril.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bush Peas update. They are about 2 inches tall.

Spring starts with lettuce and herbs

It's time for core vegetables to be planted.  This weekend, the new herb and veggie beds off the patio were filled in.  An easy walk out the kitchen doors and you can reach over to cut or break off a few delicious morsels to cook with.

Our kitchen garden received:
- Italian flat leaf and curly parsley
- 3 heads of mixed leaf lettuce
- Arp Rosemary
- Lavender
- Echinacea
- English and Silver Edged Thyme
- 2 chive plants
- a variegated Sage

And to pretty it up we included some tulips, hyacinths, agapanthus storm cloud, verbascum, pansies, caliamagrostis overdam.

The large vegetable patch was weeded and implanted with 3 additional lettuce starts.  The onions and broccoli starts are keeping toasty under the cold frame until the rain lets up a bit more and my backside doesn't end up drenched again in the garden.  Potatoes are in their paper bag calling my name, urging me to dig their trenches.  While the cilantro from last year has nicely seeded itself and is rising from the beds.

Hope your greens have made it in the ground as well.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Raised Garden Beds or to Not Raise Garden Beds

With the recent patio construction project we ended up with over 10 yards of soil in the backyard. One idea we've been considering is whether to raise our vegetable garden bed or to leave it as is and make a new raised bed some place else.

I found a few ideas here at Gardener's Supply Company, but have a hard time justifying the use of new wood and supplies to create a raised bed. Greg and Renee at Raised-Bed-Gardening Blog mention finding free supplies through classified ads, Craigslist has been a success in having some of the excess soil removed and would likely work for supplies for the beds as well. Habitat for Humanity's Outlet Store or Second Use may both be good options, and we need to go there for some new basement doors.

What benefits do you see to creating a raised garden bed? Do you have designs that have worked well for you and are cheap or free?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

10 Step process to create a Vegetable Garden Plan

Winter rolls around and you're stuck inside in the northwest, maybe if you're lucky it's a warm winter like this year. What does a gardener do? She gets out her trusty "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades", grabs a notebook, and heads for a coffee shop to plan out the 2010 vegetable garden over a chai tea.

10 Step Process

  • Step 1: Identify all the vegetables you want to grow
  • Step 2: Figure out when they should be planted and get an idea of when they will mature. If you want more lettuce throughout the summer, then plant it 3-4 weeks apart.
  • Step 3: How many of each of those do you want to grow? That's where notes from the previous years about how many hours you spent canning plums and green tomatoes comes in handy.
  • Step 4: Measure and draw a map of your vegetable gardens. There may be several spaces, like you see in ours. Figure out where you'd put paths for easy picking and where the best sun is. Remember to leave space, don't do what I did and sit on your green peppers while trying to get to the green beans.
  • Step 5: Get a pencil and eraser, you'll write and erase a lot.
  • Step 6: Start plotting the veggies in patches appropriate to their size. A head of lettuce will need less space than a potato plant. Of course the lettuce can be grown in batches.
  • Step 7: Reference your list of veggies to grow.
  • Step 8: Drink some chai and take a deep breath. Know you will not be able to fit all the veggies you want, so let a few go for next year.
  • Step 10: Sit back and wait for late February for your first peas to go in.
You may find our planting calendar handy for reference at the bottom of this page. It helps us remember when to set aside a weekend so the seeds and starts can go in.

Any steps you'd add? What vegetables have you had success with and when do you plant them?

You will find plums and likely melons added to our calendar.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Patio boards removed.

Taking advantage of the yet again warm weekend weather in Seattle, the boards and nails were ripped off the frame with an ordinary hammer and small pry bar. Therapeutic and excellent exercise, remembering to use the knees to pull.
Tonight is the final review of the design.  Good suggestion was offered to ask for a cash discount since the credit card company does not have to be paid that way.  Here's hoping the state business license research and IRS info pays off with a reliable contractor.
I have to say that I was surprised to find so much soil under the patio resting against the main support boards. Interestingly though, it was the top boards rotting away with pots strategically placed to prevent feet from breaking in.
I was nervous about what we might find under the patio, especially given that Peter Rabbit has not been seen since fall.  Thankfully Floppsy has widened her range and no winter teeth marks or beheadings have befallen the garden greens. I will take precautions and grow the corn and broccoli under cover of Harvest Guard cloth.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wood patios rot in the Northwest

While wood may be plentiful, I think the English had it right to create long lasting stone patios in rainy climates.
Demo has begun on the 16x20' rotting wood patio. The idea is to replace it with a cement paver patio and retaining wall, doubling the size. On the land side of the wall will be easy access to vegetables and herbs.  A 12" topper will provide multiple functions such as seating, place for potted plants, and the occasional drink or food while relaxing in the sun.
Estimates for pavers and install have been reviewed, with the preferred contractor selected. Target completion is end of March. 
What should the first items be on the new patio?  What plants do you grow on your patios? 

February Peas

Warm Seattle winter, made for some prime pea planting in February.  The Oregon Sugar Pod II's were our choice from the seed collection we have stashed from 2008. 

Two rows, approx a foot and a half each and about 2' apart for the rows.  Only 2" apart for each seed.

  • Approx 60 days until harvest.
  • Bush edible pod
  • Developed at Oregon State U.
  • Stir fry dishes.
  • 30-36" tall
  • pod 4-4.5" long
Germination expected 1-2 weeks. So check back Feb 26th - March 6th to see their status.

Testing out the cold frame to see if that helps the green's sprout faster.

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