Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Garden Moments of 2010

Lily and I had so much fun in the garden this year, as crazy as the year was. I know 2011 will be another great year, and we'll have Jasper to play with too. I'm already looking forward to it, but for now, here are a few of my favorite moments in the garden from 2010. Not only did we have a great time, we had tons of help from friends and family to make it successful. I hope you all had a great 2010 and that 2011 is wonderful for everyone. Grow veggies!

Planting Pea Sprouts

Our Newest Sprout, Jasper Kincaid Ohlin

New Garden Gloves from Uncle Kevin

Picking Peas

Lily and Greg Plant in the Grow Boxes

My Beautiful Darlin'

Raised Beds in Front, thanks to Transition Port Gardner Work Party!!

Gifts from Dean and Jennie

Lily plays in the Thanksgiving snow and our 2010 garden ends.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fall Gardening

This is the first year I've planted a fall garden. We have broccoli and Brussels sprouts to look forward to, and we've been eating lots and lots of arugula, kale and lettuce.
Lily and I, haven't done that much to the fall garden. We planted the plants, watered them a bit and pretty much left it at that. Usually by the time fall comes around I'm ready to be done with the garden until the spring. This year wasn't much different except that we had these new, beautiful raised beds and lots of cold-weather tolerant sprouts to plant. So, even though my interests had turned elsewhere, I couldn't not plant them.Lily must take after me because she lost all interest in the garden about mid-September. She's been a little hibernator, wanting to stay inside and play inside games. Pretty much the only way I could persuade her to play outside was if there were swings involved. Until yesterday. Yesterday we got our first snowfall. Yesterday and today big fat flakes fell and covered the grass and sidewalks and raised beds. Turns out Lily thinks snow and gardening go perfectly well together.
If I had taken the time to cover the plants, they might have made it through this snow and f-f-f-freezing temps, but I didn't, so the gardening for this year really does come to an end. But losing the plants was worth it to play with Lily in the snow.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Poop, Poop & More Poop

We've been working on potty training with Lily this summer so, as you can guess, most of our conversations revolve around potties and poop. Then there's the little man, Jasper, who is pretty much a pooping machine. So the last place I thought I'd have to worry about poop is the garden!! Boy was I wrong.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that something or many things were munching on my broccoli and kale plants. As I investigated closer, I noticed these tiny green caterpillars or worms. It took me a few days to realize, that yes indeed these little buggers could devour a plant practically overnight. Yikes! As I discovered, they are called cabbage worms or cabbage lopers and they are the children of some pretty unassuming white moths that I once thought of as cute. Cute is the last word that enters my vocabulary when I see them these days.

I've been trying to avoid spraying anything on these pests to kill them. So, I've been in the garden every day trying to hand pick the cabbage lopers off the plants hoping they will survive. I thought I had it under control when last night I realized they also like my beautiful lettuce plants. The ones on the lettuce were fat and extremely well-fed. AND, what's worse, as fast as they eat, they POOP, leaving thier poop behind on what's left of the plant they just decimated. Gross! Gross! And Gross! (You can see the black poop to the right of the lettuce in the above picture.) I'm on the verge of spraying something organic...The good news is, that Lily is potty trained except for overnights, YEAH!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Different Kind of Gardening

This year has been a hard one for me and gardening. Obviously I'm learning that two kids are a heck of a lot more work than I ever thought possible. But also I feel like we had maybe a month of summer, four pathetic weeks, and not all in a row. It seemed like it was either mid sixties or ninety-eight degrees. The in-betweens were few and far.

Last year, (maybe because we had such gorgeous weather,) Lily was in tears most days when it was time to come in from the garden. This year she didn't even want to go outside half the time. And when she did, gardening "tasks" weren't always on her to-do list. This alone would be no big deal, but also unlike last year, she's way more demanding of my every-minute attention.
Independent play in the garden definitely wasn't her thing this year. If she was digging for wormies, then I had to be sitting in the dirt right next to her digging for wormies too. If she was playing trucks and cars in the dirt, then I had to be bent over playing trucks and cars in the dirt too. And not just playing trucks and cars, but inventing and creating the activities for the trucks and cars. And while playing the same cars and trucks or baby doll games over and over and over again can kill more brain cells than drugs, we've had some silly moments and lots of fun, like chasing Dizzy, watching our sunflowers grow and discovering dragonflies. And hopefully it's not over just yet!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fun in the Raised Beds

I knew I would have a ball with the new beds, but I had no idea Lily would enjoy them so much. The first morning after the work party she went out, sat her cute buns down and started digging with her digger and filling her buckets with dirt saying, “Look, look at my new raised beds.” She planted some old pea seeds, which was super cute to watch because she meticulously digs the hole with her finger, drops the seed in, covers it with dirt and does her pat pat pat on the dirt to cover it up. Who cares if she planted them all within the same two inches of each other, right?
A few weeks ago I gave her some leftover seeds to play with so she planted an egg carton full of bush beans and lettuce mix. She helped me transfer those starts into one of the beds. Okay, she helped me with one plant and then got bored so I planted the rest. We’ll see if they have time to develop into anything before it turns too cold. Our friend, Ingrid helped us plant some broccoli and kale starts in one of the beds and another friend gave us more broccoli starts to plant. For now, we’ll probably just fill the rest of the space with more lettuce, arugula, kale, carrots and spinach. Oh and I’m going to try to plant garlic and onions in October. It’s like having my very own room to do whatever kind of decorating I want. I will have to figure out how to keep the dog out and how to encourage Lily to leave the plants planted.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Raised Beds Work Party

Yeah! We now have raised beds in our front yard. Our front yard faces south and gets tons of good sunlight, unlike the backyard where the old raised beds are. The first Saturday in August we had a Transition Port Gardner, (formerly Transition Everett,) work party, the first ever! So instead of turning the yard into raised beds by ourselves, we had tons of help, which not only made the work go faster, but also made it more fun. Of course it was raining, because we’ve been having the weirdest summer, and to have a nice day might have been asking too much. But really the rain was great because it kept us all cool. I actually got to help do some of the work too, because a few of the people who showed up to help, including my mom, watched the kids so I could dig in the mud.
Greg had already rotor-tilled the yard, (not fun) which was a huge help. So when everyone arrived we worked on building the beds, ripping out old dead lilacs, pruning the wild rose bush, and bringing in loads of compost from Cedar Grove. We still have some work to do like lining the paths with mulch, planting a winter garden and deciding what to plant along the east fence line, but Lily and I have already started playing in the raised beds and boy are we having fun!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Garden Full of Slugs

In my last post when I said, “I’d rather have a garden full of slugs,” that’s pretty much what we’ve had in the backyard this year. In early May I remember thinking we had a peculiar absence of slugs. Well that didn’t last long, especially with all the rain and chilly weather we’ve had since May. I guess it’s partly my fault because I have done absolutely nothing back there this year.
One of the beds is overgrown with oregano, chives and weird cilantro that came back from self-sown seeds from last year. Two beds are empty, and one is full of two-year old strawberry plants. The plants look amazing, but if you look closely the strawberries themselves haven’t been doing well. They’re growing in weird deformed shapes, but that doesn’t really matter because the slugs are devouring any that even try to ripen.A girl could go broke trying to lure this family of slugs into beer, so I sort of let the strawberry patch do its own thing. Lily and I still go out and pick a few every morning, but it’s not nearly as much fun when you stick your hand into the lush green leaves and, instead of strawberry, you grab some fingers full of smushy slugness. And although Lily loves wormies, she DOES NOT love slugs. Truly a girl after my own heart.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Worst Kind of Garden Pest

You know, I garden because I love it. Because I enjoy the scents of rose, lavender and lemon thyme in the hot summer sun. I look forward to digging my fingers through the dirt, finding worms, growing and eating my own food. I do it for exercise, for beauty, for therapy, for enjoyment, for peace. But it sure can make me mad sometimes.
Early this spring, Lily and I planted nasturtium, sunflower, and black swan poppy seeds along part of the front fence line. In the last few weeks that part of the garden overflows with growth and blooms. Some of the poppies, which are a delicious rich midnight—meets—cabernet color are almost as tall as me. The yellow and orange sunflowers are a beautiful contrast and the red, orange and yellow nasturtiums carpet and climb among them.

Daily there are people who walk by our house and comment about how nice these flowers look, especially the unique poppies. Tall, gorgeous, dark purple blooms are definitely showstoppers. One woman even pulled over in her school bus to chat about them. She asked if she could take some of the poppy seeds with her. A week later she left some of her poppy seeds in a bag for me on our front porch. Thank you!Then there are the jackasses who like to rip the flowers out. Not just pick a flower or two here and there, but grab the sunflowers by the stalk and rip them out from the dirt, roots and all. The poppies, well they just rip the beautiful, fragile flowering heads off, sometimes as they are in mid-bloom. Then, as if that wasn’t painful enough, the idiots just toss the flowers aside on the sidewalk. If you want to piss me off, this is a great way to do it.
Greg and I have talked about planting veggies on the side yard, the part of the lawn that is outside the fence touching the street. This land belongs to the city, and if we did turn it into garden, I guess the city could tell us to put it back to sod, whenever they feel like it, but I think it would be worth that risk. However, after the sunflower and poppy thieves, I’m not sure I’m willing to put the time and energy into making something grow that people are just going to destroy. I'd rather have a garden full of slugs.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hazards of Brain Dead Gardening

There can be some issues with planting seeds in your garden while nine months pregnant, and, then trying to maintain that garden with a newborn and ever-busy toddler. For example, I know we planted at least two kinds of onions, spring onions and scallions, but I can’t remember which ones we planted where, and the little signs have gone missing thanks to Lily’s curious hands. ( I know it doesn't look like onions are even growing in the above photo, but trust me, they are!)

And of course, they all look the same to me now. So which ones do I pick and when? I guess, as far as onions are concerned, I shouldn't worry, because for what I’m using them for right now: sliced up in salads, and topping Eggs Benedict, they’ll be fine no matter what kind of onions they are.In one patch of the garden, Lily and Greg planted onion starts with some carrot and lettuce seeds, and it’s been fun to see her desire to pick them and of course to eat them! The carrots, that is, she won’t eat the onions and she’ll taste a tiny piece of lettuce and then spit it back out. I often wonder what is going on in that small, but highly sensitive brain of hers when it comes to taste and smell. When I watch her it’s like I can see the gears clicking along with wonder. She’s just so amazing!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Digging For Potatoes

Every year we have potatoes grow up out of the compost. We have two compost pits, one that is full of usable compost, and the other that is still a work in progress. Last weekend Lily and I dug them up. I always forget what a pain digging for potatoes can be. Basically it’s me covered in dirt. Dirt in my shoes, dirt stuck in the rolled up cuffs of my jeans, and way underneath my fingernails—because no matter what kind of shovel or spade I start with, inevitably I end up using my bare hands to find just one more potato, certain I am that there will be at least one more. There’s always so much dirt to displace just to get to the potatoes.

I saw an idea of growing them up out of old burlap coffee sacks and then when you are ready to harvest, you just turn them out of the bag and all the potatoes are enclosed in that space. Much easier!

Lily was more interested in reburying the potatoes for a while which was pretty cute, because she makes a little hole with her hand, plugs the potato down in, covers it up with more dirt and says, “Pat, pat, pat” while gently patting the dirt over the potato.
Then she wanted to chuck them into the undecomposed compost bin so we found a different task for her to do. Greg got a bowl with some water and she washed the dirt off of the potatoes. It amazes me the tasks that take up her attention for long periods of time. Anything to do with water is captivating for her these days. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such clean potatoes.
That night we sliced the potatoes ½ inch thick, marinated them in olive oil, crushed garlic and rosemary and grilled them for 8-10 minutes per side on medium heat. Delicious!!