Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another hobby

A bed set I made for my sister. She helped put it together.

One of my first quilts I made for a friend

For my nephew

For my nephew Kalani ~ a Hawaii theme

Guest room

My nephews set

For a niece

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spring is here in Beaverton

My neighbor gave me a scrap piece of wood for this years Mason Bee apartment complex. I hope they like this house.

Great advice from a Master Mason Bee Keeper. I had said that many of my bees drown last year in my water buckets and the suggestion was made to put a stick my water buckets. I leave water out to remove clorine for watering my seedlings and for my compost teas. So far so good. No bees floating in the water.

The Mason Bees are starting to emerge from the tubes.


March 1st the lettuce and cabbage are sprouted and ready for the ground when I am.

I planted some beets yesterday.

Peppers 1st night outside and the peppers appear to be doing ok. I set them outside whenever it was sunny even on cold days 45 degrees.

Kale, radish and cabbages sprouting

Kale and chard will go in ground when I have time. Whats going on in the green house March 1st.

Spring is here in Beaverton. My trees are starting to bloom and the winter sowed seed is coming up. I moved the table to garden for potting up. I added charcoal, and worm castings to the mix this time and hoping for good results.

My friends came helped to start veggies for the Gleaner Gardens and other gardens. We had a great lunch of chicken soup made with kale and spinach from the garden, salad with home grown sprouts, home made pickles of carrot, beet and ginger, meat balls (ground beef, onion, cilantro) in a mushroom sauce with bay, rosemary and sage and brown rice.

It was a lovely day with great company. The sun cooperated and we have lots of starts. Next I have to move my shelves to my new green house.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seed saving the lazy way

This is how I do germination checks on top of my water heater. Like one time I had very dark tomato seed for a black tomato seed and germination was 100% so I planted em.

This is how I save tomato and melon seed. When I see a nice specimen of tomato and I save the seed in these bags honestly until I feel like it sometime it could be a few days, or a month or so. I write the name on the bag with permanent marker.

After 3 days you the film will easily rinse off. The its best to rinse seed earlier than later, the older the bag the stinkier it gets. I let my seeds dry in here with the plastic bag underneath so I know what variety of seed it is. Then I put it in a little plastic seed pouch, tea bag envelope, or an oragami seed envie.

This is how I organize my seed. I just keep em in the same family so I can find em when I need them.

This is my seedling set up. I still have this set up and one in the garage.

This was last year my overwintering peppers and eggplants.
While some worked out, I ended up sacrificing many babies to all kinds of weird little pests. Looking at the internet they looked like aphids, manure flies, and little little fly mosquitoes though they weren't mosquitoes. Some also got fried due to lights and being right under the heating vent.

My learning experience from last year was overwintered plants must have their own room to separate the pests from the baby plants.

In 2010 I covered the heat vent to keep the room cooler and bring the seedlings outside more often. Now that I have a green house they will go there earlier.

winter sowing

Winter sowing is easy for cool crops.
Togo plastics with covers make great little green houses and the seedlings come up on their own when nature says to.
Poke holes at the top and bottom for air circulation. I planted these in December and they came up at different times so it was nice planting them. Costco chicken boxes are my favorite. I use duct tape under so I can read what is in there.

I was sucessful with cabbage, kale, swiss chard, artichokes, lettuce, broccoli, kholrabi, brussells and the like. Great and green because it reuses
togo boxes and the seedlings do not require electric lights.

Some older photos, as the garden grows.

Extending the season with cheap pvc pipe and plastic. 2 years I extended to December 1st on the tomatoes. And pulled the green tomatoes in.

planted beds

Before beds...

Terra Preta Experiments Urban style with Wood Charcoal

Here is the finer charcoal charging before I add to the beds.

A little larger size.

Now that would take me a lot of work to get the charcoal that small!

Now those are big bags of charcoal bits. My Humphrey charcoal order arrived on Thursday and I immediately put a bunch in a bucket of compost tea I was bubbling up.

The air stone goes into the mix of charcoal and worm castings.

Update ~ After hand crushing 4 - 9 pound bags of lump charcoal with my shovel, I decided to search for a company that specializes in larger bags of charcoal for garden use because I am running out of time and the chunks appear to get larger with every batch. This is a photo of my 3rd batch and as you can see, I am getting lazy and the chunks are getting bigger. The orchid charcoal or fish tank charcoal is too expensive for my use.

There aren't many companies I could find that sell charcoal for home use. I contacted Humphrey Charcoal for help with grain sizes of their charcoal. They were very helpful in my quest and are one of the few company's that have granulated charcoal for garden use, they sell 50 lb bags and no chemicals is a good thing for my terra preta soil amendments for my organic garden in suburbia. Humphrey website is

Just got my pump, hose and bubble stone for charging the charcoal chips.

Since I don't have room or time to make biochar and the county may not like burning I decided to try to break down some wood charcoal for this purpose.

Today I crushed one bag of grocery store charcoal (note must be made of wood(Look like wood) and no chemicals) the brand I got was Cowboy. I added water and let soak a few hours and started to crush the charcoal with my shovel. One bucket held the extra water, because it needs just enough water to crush with sloshing. And there wasn't any dust with this method.I then added worm castings and molasses to the soaking water and the charcoal and I used
a pump to charge the charcoal.If no pump is available the mix can be stired a few times a day.

I am going to keep trying to crush more and see how small I can get the pieces. Because our soil clay is very dense I don't think I need broken pots, I will make the charcoal chunky for air pockets. I will let you know how it goes and any interesting notable discoveries with the grocery store method. I still have a few more days to try to get it smaller. Now all I need is to find some more open bags so I can get a discount or better yet a free source of char. I would like to do a side by side comparison, but I probably wont, I remember back when I was I kid I used to charcoal at the bottom of my plants and the plants were lovely, I had a green thumb and didn't do much. Now it's hard for me to keep a house plant alive. I am going back to that method for house plants and will update the blog later.

Check out these experiments.

2009 home garden pictures.

My tomato babies and pepper babies getting a sun bath. We have 3 days of sun coming up. That will be very nice to get some garden work done and get those starts in bigger pots.

Some recent babies getting a sun bath.

My first tomatoes and cucumbers of the year. Look at that Armenian cucumber I forgot on the vine, it was 3 pounds! The sun golds were the first tomatoes to ripen as usual.

A pumpkin hiding in the shade.

A basket for a friend. I just love patty pan saucer squash.

My nephew helping with the green house he put quiet a bit of it together.

My handsome hubby holding up our bounty for the day, left those on the vine too long too.

Gardening around town

These are the grapes of my childhood. The smell and the way the grape flesh pulls away from the skin. When I pop the grape in my mouth I get a happy feeling remembering my grandparent's garden, orchard, and vineyard.

The Gleaner Garden. We got a donation of un- applied for garden plots and planted them with peppers, lettuce, cabbage, kale, cucumbers. .

While I can't find the photos at this time. We put straw right about this time all around the beds and didn't have to weed. And the weeds and grasses grew quick without the straw as a mulch/ barrier.

More Gleaner Garden Photos below.

Love this tool. My new toy called the Mamma digger.

Artichoke rescue on Artichoke Hill. I am starting a mound in the front in which neighbors getting rid of old sod and dirt have deposited. I hate mowing lawns. I rescued these artichoke plants from the Giving Gardens and my hope is for this hill to be full of Artichokes and artichoke babies I can share plants and artichokes for the Gleaners. I think artichokes are yum yum.

Now that is a weird colored cucumber!

I volunteered and learned double dig method of raised bed, we did it in the fall. Double dig the bed, add lime, granite dust, newspaper, straw, manure, straw, water and in spring it will be weed free, full of worms and ready for planting.

Finally grew a great radish. They were huge and fantastic due to double digging. So were beets, turnips, and rutabagas.

Dinner in the summer is always easy. Just slap whatever is ready on the grill with olive oil, garlic salt some times lemon.

Love peppers on the grill which is a new experience since I started gardening.


Fairly Tale Eggplant ~ a hybrid but so lovely I have to grow them.

Gerdies Gold~ I changed name to a Gerdie with a d for my mom who was Gerdie. My favorite flavor of tomato, considering I don't eat them raw much. Isn't that pattern lovely? The taste has a hint and texture of mango and cantaloupe. I grow them every year.

My 1st harvest.

My neighbors lush tomato plants. They had the best tomatoes of the all the gardens I have seen in 2009. They used straw at the bottom and drip irrigation. The tomatoes were spectacular and the vines were over 10 feet high. In a hot wet summer full of blight in many other garden spaces last year.

The straw mulch is also a method in the world record tomato. I will be trying this 2010 season and I bought alfalfa meal for under the straw as well.

A photo of the food banks hoop house. Now those melons are gonna be happy! Melons are notoriously slow here without a little cover.

My giving gardens planted. You can still see the cardboard oh well.

One garden at a time. Here is a home garden we helped with starts.

Picking up donated black gold ~ worm castings.
We love worm poop!

Staking the baby tomatoes at the Gleaner Garden.

Tomato starts hardening off before planting.