Friday, May 28, 2010


This afternoon, despite the rain, I went to Zenger Farm to volunteer. I needed to get out for a while and see what farms do. When I arrived, I was given the task of weeding one of the beet beds that they have. On my hands and knees in the mud, I was weeding. I stuck to it for about an hour and then was offered a tour. Today, I saw baby turkeys, chickens, bees, worms and a whole lot of baby produce. It was nice to see 2.5 acres put to use. I will go back and volunteer but I'm hoping it will be on a nicer day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Yesterday, while visiting with my friend Sarah, she asked what the term heirloom means. It didn't occur to me that not everyone is familiar with it. According to Wikipedia: An heirloom plant, heirloom variety, or (especially in the UK) heirloom vegetable is a cultivar that was commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but which is not used in modern large-scale agriculture. Many heirloom vegetables have kept their traits through open pollination, while fruit varieties such as apples have been propagated over the centuries through grafts and cuttings. The trend of growing heirloom plants in gardens has been growing in popularity in the United States and Europe over the last decade.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

rain, rain, go away

I'm lost for inspiration after two weeks of rain. I haven't been outside playing much, the chicks are hiding in the garage and my plants don't want to grow. I love the Pacific Northwest but I want it to be warm like it has been the rest of the May's I've seen in my life. I'm posting a picture of a palm tree that my husband and I saw on our recent trip to Maui. I wish I was in Maui. I'll get over the Portland blues when it dries out for a few days and I'll be wishing for the rain to come and take care of some of my gardening for me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

my little helpers

As I write tonight's blog, Echo and Demetri are sitting next to me. They are full of love and I love them more than anything. They love you unconditionally and love to be around their humans no matter what. Echo(the big black furry one)has only been at our house since September of last year but is fitting in very nicely. She loves to be touched and have her belly rubbed. She is a pleaser and does not ask for much other than to go where you go. Demetri(little fella with the cool dude haircut)is quite demanding all the time. He wants the attention...only on his terms. They both go out with me to the driveway every morning to scope out plants and take a sniff of the neighborhood. While Echo sits and watches cars, Demetri is usually tyring to find some mischief. Pooping in the 8 yards of dirt has turned into his favorite new hobby but who can blame him, he doesn't have to get his feet wet going out into his grassy yard. I don't know what my life would be without two dogs, three chicks and a husband.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

tomato garden

Last weekend my husband and I cleaned out our tomato garden. We have a patio in our back yard and on either side by the garage and the house we kept some edible gardening space. One bed has herbs and the other will now have 8 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. It's a great location because the sun reflects from the building onto my tomatoes and they are happy all summer long. Last year we placed them there in pots and we almost had more tomatoes than what we could eat. After clearing all of the weeds, we added worm castings, mushroom compost and coconut coir. It looks great and I can't wait for the weather to clear up so I can plant my tomatoes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

grow your own micro greens

Why spend $2.99 on organic micro greens when you can grow them at home in your own kitchen? It's easy and cheap. I took a pot from the garage, some radish seeds that I purchased for last years veggie garden and some organic seedling mix to make my little micro green system. The best part is that you can have them fresh whenever you need them and they don't go wilty in your fridge. It only took about a week for mine to reach the size of use. It's amazing to watch them grow. I planted mine one afternoon under a quarter inch of soil, started misting and the next day I had sprouts!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Spring brings growth. Even with all of the rain and dark days we receive in PDX, life still grows. My newly planted garden is growing literally in front of my eyes. I look at the seedlings one minute and the next they are an inch taller. This also applies to my chicks. Newly grown feathers are changing my babies into akward teenagers with large feet and clumbsy movements. It's amazing how quickly a baby chick can grow! Ruby, Daisy and Georgia are eating 3 times the amount that they were a little over a week ago and producing 3 times as much waste! I look forward to the day when they are young chickens roaming around the yard trying to sneak snacks of plants that I just put into the ground. This summer will be fun.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

lemon thyme scented sugar

1 cup organic sugar
1 cup fresh herb of your choice (I chose lemon thyme from my garden for iced tea)

I took my great grandmother, Una's mortar and pestle and combined the sugar and the lemon thyme and lightly crushed them to let the scent come out of the thyme and infuse the sugar. I placed the mix onto a baking sheet, set my oven as low as it would go and waited for the sugar to dry. It's very important not to have your oven too hot or it will melt the sugar. I left mine in for about 15 minutes but it may take a little longer depending on your oven. You can also do this with salt and savory herbs for rubs or flavored salts on potatoes or other veggies. I would consider rosemary, sage, thyme, basil, marjoram, oregano and tarragon. For sugars I would also use lavender, lemon verbena, basil and any of the mints. Another great gift!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Make babies! Plant babies that is. I love my herbs and sometimes I want to spread the love around a little. It's super easy and free to cut a small piece off, place it into some water and leave it somewhere sunny. I took 3 cuttings from my herbs this afternoon, rosemary, sage and marjoram. Right now they are not doing a whole lot in my window sill except looking really pretty but in a week or so they will have developed roots and I can plant them. They make great gifts too!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

happy place

Everyone has a happy place. Currently mine is my small backyard in North Portland. Nothing matters in the world when I'm back there. It's been a major undertaking to turn it into a space that both my husband and I enjoy. When we purchased our house the backyard was a pit. The grass was dead, the dog that lived here dug many holes and placed many gross things into them, there were overgrown trees, no plants and a giant slab of broken concrete with a lovely aluminum awning over it from the 70's. After my husband rented a jackhammer, sod cutter, rototiller and hauled many loads off to the recycling center we began to have a start. It's been almost 3 summers and it's still a battle. I planted some things along the fence last year and hardly any of them survived. It's very disheartening when you put hard work into planting and watering and everything just dies! Sounds a little like my chickens. I got a wild hair last night and bought some new plants, took out all of the lame puny ones that had been haunting me. They were awful! I love all plants and flowers but when it looked like Home Depot gone bad, I lost it. I want to love my garden. I want to love my yard. I did compost a few plants last night but it was so the others got more positive attention from me. Why should I pour my heart into a 50 cent primrose if I don't like them? I do. They are just not my style. I'm a modern person and modern people need modern plants. Modern plants go with the modern patio that we built to go with our 1920 craftsman style bungalow. Any how, we are working on many projects and by the end of the summer I hope to like my tiny house even more. Paint is next!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


While waiting for all of my fruits and vegetables to grow I found a new use for some of my established herbs. I made a disinfectant linen spray with some rosemary and water. I cut a few stems of rosemary from my herb garden today, added it to a pot of water and simmered for about 30 minutes. I found some amber glass bottles in the house from another project I had started last year and I borrowed a spray nozzle from a non toxic household cleaner. It smells wonderful and was easy to do. I also picked some thyme from the garden today and let it out to dry so I can add it back into my dried herbs. There are plenty of things to do while you're waiting for your lettuce to grow.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Why would anyone need a driveway that can fit 5 cars? I don't. I recently had my husband build some large boxes on part of our driveway for a vegetable garden. We purchased the lumber from the Rebuilding Center on North Mississippi and filled the boxes with topsoil and added all organic amendments. I just started planting over the last couple of days and I can't wait until I can actually start eating some of the things planted! I have 3 different cauliflowers, golden beets, christmas lima beans, walla walla sweet onions, cosmic purple carrots and about a dozen more things so far.

Wouldn't it be great if everyone took a little time, money and creativity and made their own garden? Wouldn't it be great if we were all more self sufficient and lived more sustainable lives? I'm challenging myself. I've always felt that I do a good job at being "green" but I think I can do better.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Save money and paper by going to your local library for references on gardening and raising animals. I've been going to the new library in my neighborhood weekly to check out the new books on raising chickens and organic farming. There are tons of books on both. Some even combine the subject. I would encourage anyone to go, grab a couple of books, walk over to the coffee shop next door and learn.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

fresh start

Chicks. They are harder to raise than dogs. After getting two baby chicks I got a third.(just in case) The day that I got my third, one of my originals died. The third chick I got ended up a victim to the first who is now believed to be a rooster.
Tilly and Poppy both passed and Simi got returned due to Portland having a no rooster policy. I now have Ruby, Georgia and Daisy. I've now had the 3 of them for over a week and they are growing happily and not killing each other.
My heart was broken for a few days or a week but I owe it to the gals and myself to be a good chick mom. They are loving the warm box inside of our house right now. Soon, they will have enough feathers to move outside to their chicken mansion.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Today I had 8 yards of topsoil delivered to my house for my new driveway garden boxes! 6 yards for me and my mini farm and 2 yards for the neighbors. After driving across town with our small truck to get one yard of dirt, we looked online to see how much it would cost to have it delivered. It turns out to have 8 yards delivered is under $20 in delivery fees! Best deal ever! Let the planting begin!