Saturday, April 26, 2014

Redesigning the garden Part 3

Warmer weather keeps drawing me outdoors. Hven't knitted in a month because everytime I have a moment I have a gardening book/catalog in my hands or my hands are in the dirt.

We, husband mostly, have been hauling recycled concrete tiles for walk ways, garbage recycling station, bed edging and 3 loads of rabbit poo which we have spread around the beds.

Rabbit manure is a great fertilizer. It is not “hot” like chicken, cow or horse manure and can go directly into the garden area. Over the years we have noticed more earthworms and much higher production in the beds where we have applied rabbit manure. This is only one of the reasons that we plan to have a couple of fiber bunnies in a year or two. I knit a bit and hope to learn to spin in 2014. (actually have 2 bags of wool fleece in the garage that I hope to learn on)

Last week we planted the hazelnut bushes and a mini sweet cherry bush. They seem to have adapted well and are leafed out and looking well. Three apple trees – 2 out of three are blooming - and one autumn olive to go.

A section of our backyard is partial or very shady. One area next to the patio that we did not realize was there - hidden under years or moss and debris is very shady so it is becoming a woodland garden. Friends have given us hostas, bleeding heart, violets, rose campion, ladies mantle, and asian poppies. We carefully planted them far apart to take speading into account. Soon we will mulch around them. Still working on getting the moss off the patio but hope to borrow a pressure washer in a week and get the area clean. I am looking forward to morning coffee and afternoon games of cribbage with my hard working husband.

Bleeding Heart

In the front yard we are again fortunate to have plant sharing friends. Hollyhocks, peony, snapdragons and parsley have come to their new home.

Yesterday I discovered 3 organic sweet potatoes have sprouted with great enthusiasum. More starts for the garden. It seems likely that they will grow under the blueberries. Hopefully they will make a living mulch and produce a few to eat.

Sweet potato starts

In the greenhouse we have cucumbers, calendula, basil, and chives. A flat of just seeded giant sunflowers, dill, turks turban squash and bunching onions have joined them. The nights are still often in the low to mid 40 degree range though next week is promising to be warmer.

Greenhouse sprouts

Two potato grow bags have plants growing. New potatoes with fresh chives and butter for dinner very soon I hope!

Traditionaly, in this area, we do not plant out until Mother's Day, May 11th this year. Some old timers wait until the snow is gone off Silver Star – a low rounded peak to our North east. We have only two weeks to complete bed preparation and get ready. We may wait another week in case of late frost. It seems our climate, like all others, is changing. First and last frost dates are no longer “the usual” and we must be flexible with our timing.

What and when are you planting this year?

Dairy Kefir

Two weeks ago we responded to an ad on Craigslist (I am sure you see a pattern here) for dairy kefir grains. We have been adding *fermented foods to our diet and found them tasty, affordable, easy to use once we figure them out and seem to help with our general health. The offer for free Kefir grains was too good to resist.

We journied across the Columbia river to the south to the suburbs and after a bit of wandering had our Kefir to begin the experiment.

There is a lot of information on line as to how to grow, consume and keep your dairy kefir.  Kitchen Stewardship at is a very good place to start.

Dairy Kefir
We chose pasteurized, whole milk, put the kefir in a quart canning jar, poured in the milk and waited. The next day we made banana kefir smoothies with a drop of vanilla. Very tasty and no ill digestive results. Other flavors have not been so successful though peach is very nice. The grains multiply rapidly. We have shared with one person and have been adding the excess to our compost.

I am looking forward to making kefir ranch salad dressing for our salad greens which are just about ready to harvest.

I have Kefir grains to share locally!

* Commonly made fermented foods at the Tworivers house: Kombucha, soft cheese, sourdough bread, cookies, cake, etc, dill pickles, yogurt

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Community Seed and Plant Swap

We are happy to announce that we will host a Community Seed and Plant Swap, Saturday July 5th.
Please feel free to comment on send a private message via email or private message on facebook

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Redesigning the garden. Part 2

Following a week of rain and showers today has been warm and partly sunny.

After a several days of hacking away at the giant sticker bush (unidentified rose bush with HUGE thorns), my husband popped it out of the soil and we got the last blueberry bushes in the ground. They are blooming and looking well and we are hoping for berries this year.

Rose Roots
Blue Berries
Tulips are blooming in the area where we will plant our peppers. When the time is right we will move them to a new spot, possibly by the currant plants.

Tulip Surprise

Speaking of currants, they have produced many, tiny flower buds. That is pretty exciting as we do not know what kind of currant they are. They were another free find on Craigslist

Currant buds
We are still debating the placement of our Filbert bushes. From what I have read, they prefer dappled sun and a slightly acidic soil. Dappled sun we have plenty of. I was concerned that they have not bloomed yet but now I know that it will take another year or two before they are ready to do that. After 4 years in pots they should be happy to meet the soil.

Oregon State University has a good publication available at the following link.

Fruit Trees and Nuts in the Home Orchard

We still have to build flower beds in the front which will be a mix of perennials and annuals to attract pollinators and finish building the tomato bed. Then we can start the big project. The back yard and patio that have gone unloved for at least a decade before our arrival.