Garden Goings On

Summer is finally here. June has been mostly overcast and rainy with a few days of sun to give us hope. The weathermen say summer doesn’t start in Seattle till July 8th. I talked to my brother this week and it was over 100-degrees, and the MR’s brother-iin-law was posting about tornado warnings. I guess we can handle a little rain.

Our new deck furniture seems to be able to withstand stormy nights with no problem. Look at the way the water just beads up. It’s amazing.

All that rain, means cool crops, like lettuce, are doing great. We’ve had salad three times this week. Isn’t that romaine beautiful?

In total transparency, I have a lot of weeds in my garden and the broccoli is bolting without ever crowning; but on the bright side, the carrots that went to seed last year have sprouted all over the garden, the beans are looking good, I have a ton of lettuce (besides the transplanted romaine), two of the kiwi vines are climbing all over the chain link, and the carrots I planted are coming up in neat little rows. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good year.

Remember my swathe of purple dreams?  They are coming to fruition. A few of the lavender didn’t make it through last year, but this year all is well. I’m thinking of visiting a local farm/winery and buying some more. We have a big hillside to cover.

Along with rainy days, we’ve had plenty of mild weather to enjoy the new furniture on the deck. I’ve spent many a morning out in the sun with my buddies—the hummingbirds. When I was filling their feeder, the MR cautioned me to rinse it well, because he’d seen ants crawling on it. In problem-solving mode, I decided to google how to keep ants out of your hummingbird feeder. You can basically find anything on the internet. Sure enough, Amazon had a copper cup with hooks that you slather in oil. It’s done the trick so far. Amazon also had new stoppers for the wine bottle feeders. In the past, filling the feeders resulted in an arm drenched in sugar water, a shower, and a cranky Kim.

I tried to get an action shot, but my friends were being shy. Perhaps they didn’t like a camera and tripod set up next to their feeding station. Usually they’re quite pushy and demand attention. I went golfing and shopping with the MR yesterday; they could be feeling neglected. This little guy watched from afar.

I also saw this visitor. Fat bunnies are everywhere. We’ve also had plenty of deer and a few bears stop by lately.

In other outdoor news, the MR has been pruning in the orchard, and the front yard, and the driveway. I’ve thinned the apples down to just two or three per cluster. We’re going to have a banner crop this year with both apple trees covered in fruit. The rest of the trees have a few of this and that. But the currants are dripping with berries. It’s always fun no matter what we end up with. We’re bringing a currant-strawberry cake to a potluck dinner tonight. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

How is your garden doing? Any visitors?

(You can check out A Swath of Purple and All That Swath of Purple Stuff and relive all the fun of the past.)


Don’t Count Your Chickens…

I was down in the orchard last week, and I know you’re not supposed to count on success before it happens, but we just may have pears.

We’ve been worrying about them; do Comice and Rescue really cross-pollinate? It seems like maybe the do.

Along with pears, we have apples, and plums, and even a few nectarines. I still remember walking into a fruit tent the summer I was pregnant with Sweet Miss and having someone offer me a slice of nectarine. With sweet juice covering my hands and dripping down my face, I left with a bag full of them. That’s the kind of fruit I want to grow.

I wasn’t simply admiring all the fruit we might enjoy if all goes well; I was upgrading the signage. If you’re a long time reader you’ll remember Rocking the Garden. Well my bright, lovely rocks have begun to peel, and letters are disappearing, so I’ve replaced them with copper markers I picked up at Target in late winter.

The little signs have been sitting on the counter for months. I just wasn’t sure how to use them. Was the copper soft enough to etch varietals into them? I decided to go the safe route and use a sharpie. If they start to fade, I can always write over and refresh the words. I have an orchard map in my gardening notebook that doesn’t have to withstand the elements and is tucked away safe and sound as a back up.

I’m thinking some worm castings spread around the trees and some judicious thinning are next in order for the orchard. The MR has already put out fruit tree fertilizer spikes. Then we get to sit back and wait. Harvest is just around the corner.

What’s growing at your house?

It’s Not All Fun & Games

I know on Friday, I was all excited about seeing the kids and playing this past weekend.

Just in case you get the wrong idea, me and MR have had plenty to do around here.

You know how we had more rain in April than we did in January. We had more rain in April than we did in February and March combined. All that rain coupled with mild temperatures equals a whole lot of weeds.

The MR would make short work of it with a shovel, but I’m trying the no till method. Something about underground networks bringing minerals and nutrients to my plants but not if I rip them all out. It sounds a bit like hocus-pocus, but I’m giving it a go.

Slowly but surely it’s coming together.

You can see my tomato plant swathed in a wall of water. I’ve added broccoli and marigolds from the high school plant sale. When I pulled up those weeds, I discovered the asparagus had made it after all. It’s year two in this location, so I’m dressing it with worm castings and letting it grow. Next year, we’ll have a harvest.

Did you notice the vine on the tennis court? That’s last years manly kiwi. While it’s consorts died, the new replacements are budding out. The MR says the pears are setting fruit for the first time. This garden/orchard thing might actually work.

While I was at knit group chatting with the ladies, he painted the stairs to the deck and mowed the lawn.

I think I got the better deal. We have lots of gardening and maintenance stuff going on, but that’ll wait for another day.

How’s your garden coming along?

It’s Arrived

In our little corner of the world, Winter never quite arrives. Sure it’s cold, but not that cold. Unfortunately, the other seasons are just as fickle.

It’s been spring on the calendar for over a month, but the cold, wet weather hasn’t reflected it. This week, I think it’s finally happened. We have spring here in the northwest.

Sure it’s still quite swampy in the valley.

But me and the MR have enjoyed wine and cheese on the deck, walking on the trail, mowing the meadow, and I’ve got almost half the garden weeded. I’ve been making good use of my new kneeling pad that doesn’t leave my jeans covered in random, weird, white blotches.

I picked this new one up at Target last month when I was dreaming of spring.

The copper plant markers are for the orchard. My painted rocks make my smile, but they are beginning to flake. What good is a marker if you can’t read it?

My goal is to have the garden ready for planting by the end of the week.

It’s FFA plant sale at our local high school, and the farmers market opens soon.

Have I told you lately that I love spring? And the MR? And my sweet girlies?

Spring sure puts me in a good mood.

What’s your favorite season? Has spring arrived in your neck of the woods? What do you like to grow in your garden?

In other news, Sweet Miss and The Fella’s wedding invites arrived last week.

Showers and a wedding are sneaking up on us. I’m so excited; it’s a good life.

The Second Time Around

Last year, I had these visions of vines covering the chain link fence around the tennis court. They would soften the harsh lines, add greenery and charm. Reading through a catalog, I came across hardy kiwi vines and knew they’d be perfect. Leafy vines with flowers and fruit, what could go wrong?

Sometimes plant orders go out at different times, and our kiwis arrived as we were leaving for a trip. Too much time on the deck resulted in only one of the three vines making it through the summer. So at Christmastime when I was ordering the MR’s satsuma tree (for indoors), I ordered two female kiwi vines to go with the male that appears to have made it through the winter.

They arrived a few weeks ago when we were headed to California, and we left them inside away from possible winter storms. Reading up on the planting info from the nursery, they said as long as the ground wasn’t frozen when we planted our vines, they should be fine. The ground was pretty soggy but definitely not frozen when Cocoa and I got to work.

I added some worm castings that I’ve been saving up this winter and replaced the dead plants with new healthy versions. Cocoa did her best to tamp down the soil around them. This is why she’s usually banned from the garden.

I had a lot of castings leftover, so I made a circuit through the orchard to scatter some around the fruit trees. The plums and plucot are in bloom and the pears are budded out. Let’s hope for a good harvest this fall.

The MR says the bees are our doing their part. I do love picking fruit from our little orchard. The MR has been talking about adding a more permanent fence around the trees. I’m glad that they are finally getting big enouch to withstand deer damage. We just have to hope our pear trees get a little friendlier with one another. They’re supposed to cross-pollinate, but they haven’t been on speaking terms for the last few years.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the company we’d contracted with for the new propane tank took pity on us and installed it last Friday a few weeks earlier than promised.

New Propane Tank

Now I can fry food, heat the kettle, and dry as many clothes as my heart desires. The new tank is about twice as big as the old one, so we’ll have a little more peace of mind when the power goes out.

Are you getting your garden ready for planting? What’s in bloom at your house?


Giving It Another Go

Once upon a time, we had an orange tree that grew satsumas. Sure it was tiny, sure it didn’t produce very many, but it was ours.

I don’t remember now how and when it happened, but we our little orange tree died.  No big deal, we could always replace it. Unfortunately, the nursery where we’d bought it didn’t have any, so for the last few years we’ve tried other options. First, we wound up with a calamondin (edible but unappetizing), and then we tried a tiny lemon tree (that died last summer).

I know it seems crazy in our climate, but indoors with all these windows, we decided to give it another go. We’ve had a few glitches, but the orange tree I bought the MR for Christmas finally arrived on Monday.

We were out of town the week before Christmas, so it was supposed to be delivered in the new year. When it hadn’t arrived after the first week, I called to find the order had been set aside. And then the two-day shipping wound up taking 11 days, but it’s in good shape with only one broken branch. I’m hoping this one will survive.


While it’s small, it already has a few full-size fruit. They are supposed to ripen in the winter, so I guess we’ll keep an eye on them. I do love the scent of orange blossoms, and I hope this new “tree” does well.

While I’ve been trying to upload a few more photos (without succes), I searched for calamondin recipes.  Maybe I’ll try a sweet bread when the next batch of fruit ripens. These definitely need some sugar.

You may be wondering why bother with an orange tree. It’s never going to pay for itself, but there’s joy in tending a useful houseplant. I remember my grandma always trying to sprout an avocado pit; maybe she rubbed off on me.

Do you grow herbs on your windowsill? Have you tried your hand at growing your own food?

In other news, a good friend of ours has lost his battle with cancer. He was the kind of guy who would buy boxes and boxes of girl scout cookies even though his jaw was wired shut after surgery. Love your people; hold them near; let them know how much you care.




Planning Ahead

If you’re a regular, you’ll know I have a thing for daffodils.

When me and the MR bought our first home, it was fall. The next spring we watched bulbs sprout and waited for blooms with eager anticipation.

Here too, we moved in during the dead of winter. The yard was overgrown and desolate. We had problems with the heat, problems with the well, problems with pests… Let’s just say problems and leave it at that.

Maybe that’s why when a bevy of golden blooms sprung up next to the deck I was was so happy. They gave me hope that this crazy place could really be home.

We’ve added a few bulbs here and there the last few years, but I wanted to step up our game.

So last week when I was picking up a few things at Costco and saw these, I knew they were going home with me.

Looks like I have some planting to do. It’ll be well worth it next spring.

Any fall plantings at your house?