Category Archives: gardening journal

Preserving, 2019

In past years I–and then after retirement, me and hubby–did a bit of food preservation from the garden and purchased produce. This year, we’ve kind of eased back on that. No more garden in Clatskanie, a small patch at the Portland house, and the apple trees in Portland. However, I started some Lemon Drop peppers from seed in Enterprise and kept them in pots, and we planted dill, mint, thyme, chives, and rosemary in the beds created by the hubby’s retaining wall project.

The Lemon Drops are slow, with three peppers so far. The early chill meant that I moved the pots inside, and have taken on the role of honey bee by using Q-tips to fertilize the flowers (something I did successfully years ago with Thai Bird Peppers). So far…we’ll see what happens. It’s still fairly early in that experiment.

The rosemary died, and was replaced with lavender which seems to be thriving–we’ll see if it lasts the winter. The chives have kinda sorta been chugging along, and we harvested some to dry.

The thyme has been happily warring with the mint for turf. We got two different creeping types, and they both like it in the beds. The mint (chocolate) does what mint always does, and is growing aggressively. Last week we harvested a big batch and brought it in to dry. I now have a pint of dried mint for tea, and picked another pint to infuse the fresh leaves in Everclear for a tincture.

But the happiest thing has been the dill. Hubby would break off from his wall building to harvest dill heads before they seeded, and bring them in to dry. We’ve got lots of dill as a result. So far the deer have left the dill and the plants in the wall beds alone. We’ll see what happens as winter progresses, but…we have mint, dill, thyme, and some chives that we’ve grown here in Enterprise.

Maybe next year we’ll grow more.


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Summer harvest begins

One of the things about our friend’s place in Clatskanie is the amount of food already present in the form of berry bushes, fruit trees, and wild forage. All the berries are coming on strong, so while the guys worked on weeding the garden yesterday, I picked berries. I started with raspberries in two locations and got a gallon. Next came loganberries, about a third of a gallon. Then I moved on to mountain blackberries. Our friend has an amazing rhododendron thicket just filled with these little wild Pacific Northwest native berries. He set up a three-legged ladder and I was able to pick a gallon of these little darlings (mmmm, mountain blackberry jelly this winter….). After that, I got a cup of blackcaps, a pint of red huckleberries, and a small pint of red currants. All but the blackcaps ended up in the freezer for processing later on during wintertime, during cool weather when we can use the processing heat to warm the house.

However, during the huckleberry harvest, I accidentally sat on a pitch stump. Fortunately our friend has the appropriate dissolving gunk, so I didn’t lose those plants. But it did take a couple of treatments…that’s one pitchy stump!

Today, I harvested a big bowl full of lamb’s quarters from the garden. We use these a lot in stir fries. Earlier, we harvested and froze a batch of rhubarb. Meanwhile, everything is growing great guns except the parsnip. It’s taking its own sweet time to germinate, which is driving all of us crazy. But potatoes are growing, corn is growing, we’ve got lots of cabbage and squash…mmm, another year of garden harvest lies ahead.

This year it’s looking for sure like zucchini relish is going to be a thing. Yum. About time, too.

Enough procrastination, time to get to writing….

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The Queen of Jammin’

Jam and jelly, that is. Over the course of the past year and a half we’ve (DH, me, our friend S) been gathering fruit and berries and stashing them in the freezer in preparation for a monster canning session during the cold part of winter. Didn’t get it together for last year, so we had quite a buildup for the Jam and Jelly Marathon.

It started two days ago. We arrived at S’s, and I got started on strawberry plus blueberry lime jams, two batches each.

Yesterday, I whipped out a batch of plum jam, two more batches of blueberry lime (one with huckleberry that is…eh, a bit odd), and two batches of raspberry jam.

Today was another five batch day with two batches of evergreen blackberry and three batches of blackberry (Himalaya). That made fourteen batches of jam and jelly in three days.

Whew. No wonder I’m feeling a bit sore and achy. OTOH, we now have enough jam to last us for a while. Well worth the work.

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Fall garden preparation

We’ve decided to work with a friend who has a place in the Coast Range to grow a somewhat bigger and different garden next year, primarily because we’re going to be in transit and because he wants to do a garden but needs help.

Today, we took the first step in setting that garden up by moving black plastic from one side (where it’s been covering and killing back grasses) to the other. I didn’t have a starting picture of the process, but I have some intermediate pix.


One section of black plastic moved.


In process of prepping and moving the next section.


Second section moved and weighed down with miscellaneous boards, pipes, and bricks so it won’t blow away in winter winds.


Finished version, with just a few small strips short of covering all the remaining grass. Now we just need to bring in manure and sand to sit on the bare strip over the winter, then till in spring for planting. The other section has been previously tilled but has gone to grass for various reasons.


Part of dinner afterwards–last of the chanterelles from two weeks ago, sauteed with green peppers and onions. Nomnomnom.

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The Year of Wacky Gardening–Midsummer report

I’ve decided that this is the year of wacky gardening. Due to upcoming life changes, unlike previous years, I don’t know where we are going with a garden for next year. We may not have much of a garden, if any. Or we may co-garden with a friend in a different, more coastal, microclimate. I don’t think we’ll have Farpoint up and running yet. So this year I am determined to do the things I’ve wanted to do with my current gardening space all along–such as a coherent autumn/early winter/overwintering strategy, for one. It’s all good, but the key is that this year, late August does not mean I have to start cramming writing into the morning, work and horse into the afternoon/evening, and I have little time and energy for maintaining the outdoors. New adventures lie ahead for late summer and fall gardening, and by golly, I’m going to try them.

Additionally, a neighboring urban hen has decided that our yard is Chicken Heaven. I don’t mind her scratching under the bird feeder, but her sampling of the windfall apples and the broccoli is Right Out. She’s a pretty thing–a White Rock, well-conformed, would probably win blue ribbons at a chicken show if not championships. Neighbor says she is a good layer. From what I’ve seen, she’s also an excellent forager with a wide range of preferences.

She’s smart. She started by crawling under the fence, then, when I blocked it, she went the long way around. Flew over the driveway gate, walked up the driveway of the flag lot she lives on, around the front of our long house, and back along the side to the delights of our backyard. That’s a pretty involved route for a chicken brain to figure, but she’s got it down. She would make a wonderful free-range farm hen with her smarts, but an urban hen? Not so much.

Some days I have chased her out of the yard up to three times. This morning, I caught her meandering around the front, just as the neighbor came around to catch her. He saw her fly over the fence.  We pursued her, he captured her, and Things Will Happen. Alas, but if I wanted chickens in my yard, I’d have a more protected garden. We’ll see if I still chase chickens for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, in the name of garden succession, I’ve been plotting on how to replace cabbages. I’m going to see if we can get regrowth from this batch of cauliflower (done so before) but not with the cabbages. We’ve eaten two of the four cabbages and I think Number Three will get harvested tonight. Three of the four cauliflowers are viable and we’ve harvested one. I think Number Two gets harvested tomorrow. I’m going to check out a couple of hipster Portlandia garden shops to see if I can get late season cabbage starts and hope for cabbage for Thanksgiving.

I harvested the last crop of edible pod peas on Monday and pulled the vines. This batch has been quite prolific and I still got over a pint on the final picking. But the vines were mostly dead, with about six inches of green. Still, I was harvesting edible pod peas for a month. Not bad. Now we’re moving on to green beans. The first harvest of Blue Lakes was quite productive–a pint and a half, and I need to pick again.

The garlic was disappointing. I did harvest some heads with big cloves, but I didn’t get all the regrowth I wanted. I think this line has petered out. Too bad. I’ve been cultivating it for twenty years, but the past three years have not been as productive as I like to see. We’ll eat it all this year.

I’ve been harvesting onions all along. Besides planting a full packet of sweet yellow onion starts, I planted some red onion starts. They aren’t big but they are yummy. I’m hoping to be able to harvest a batch that will keep in the basement and have my own onions to eat all winter.

The Gravenstein has been dropping apples for two weeks, and I’m at the point of being buried. While I’ve been taking apples to the horses, it’s time to pick apples and put some away in the basement. I’ve made one apple crisp (will make another today) and an apple cake. I’ll probably make apple pie later on in the week. I canned twelve pints of applesauce and froze a scant quart of applesauce on Sunday. Today I plan to make apple juice (after I go buy quart jars, alas, I keep letting hubby talk me into getting rid of canning jars). I should be able to get six quarts out of that, and I might do a second round. However, I’m also going to start putting apples away in the basement and giving some to friends. It’s a good apple year, and the apples are both plentiful and big. I definitely want to take advantage of the bounty. I might even fire up the dehydrator.

Tomatoes are just starting to come on. This year, if I get buried, I’m making tomato sauce in pints.

Yesterday, I started the fall harvest replanting. More edible pod peas that I hope will be ready to start picking about the time that the Blue Lakes peter out, plus onions, in one bed. In another, more onions, plus beets and rutabagas. I’m contemplating finding a spot for carrots and, of course, thinking about when I need to plant overwintering crops for early spring harvest. I’ve never really tried to do this before. Should be fun.

And now it’s time to wander off and pick up jars. Onward.

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Some years the garden comes together.  This is one of those years:







This isn’t the whole thing (only 1/3 of the deck flowerbeds and not the climber rack).  But for once, we’ve managed to get things started in a timely manner, and the regular beds are such that all we need to do in early spring is turn the soil over, let it rest, then redig when we plant.

The timing of rain this spring and the way my schedule fell together allowed me the time to get out and muck around with the flower beds around the deck.  DH taking out the Norfolk Pine meant the trellis frame became usable again (it was blocking over half the frame):







Hard to see in this shot, but there’s sweet peas, California poppies, and Monarda in and around that framework.  Should be pretty rather soon.

The apples are looking right nice as well.  Here’s a Grimes Golden shot:







And a Gravenstein shot:







I picked about a quart of edible pod peas and took half of them to a sick friend.  The peas came off a patch that’s about 3 feet by 4 feet:







We also have a healthy batch of mullein plants growing by the deck:







In other words: we had a plan for the garden and now it is coming together nicely.  Planning to put together pieces like getting the garlic in the ground sometime during the fall, turning over the soil early in the spring to get rid of early season weeds and start working it loose long before planting, early weeding of flower beds and the like make such a big difference at this house.  Some places those maintenance behaviors aren’t a big deal.  But for this place…a bit of planning, a bit of forethought…and a nice garden comes out of it as a result.

I’m happy.  This looks to be a lovely summer to have a nice garden.

And now, time to go about the day.

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