Sunday, November 12, 2017

The garden keeps giving

We have decided to grow next year's garden at home instead of the community Ppatch that has hosted us for the last 5 years.  So today I spent the warm afternoon pulling up soaker hoses and cutting down hollyhocks.  My parents always taught me to leave things better than how I found them and we want the next person(s) growing there not to have to clean up our detritus.

Hiding under dead bean vines was this turnip - the only one to make it past sprouting under my neglect.  I will serve it with tonight's dinner of barley risotto - if it is edible.

Where did he come from? Where did he go?

Indica named him Cotton Eyed Joe, after the old song.  In a move called sad and gross by some, we have purchased our Thanksgiving turkey live from a local aspiring farmer.  We have had him for 2 weeks now, and he is slowly adapting to life in a coop.  At the farm all of the birds free range across a number of acres and the turkeys roost in the trees.

Although this Blue Slate heritage breed towers over all of the hens, he seems a little scared of them, scooting away when one pecks the ground too close during feeding time.

I thought he would be louder, which had stopped us from raising turkeys before, but our neighbors don't seem to notice the noise he makes announcing that I have parked in the back.  He also makes these chirps that sound like he is underwater. 

Mostly he just hangs out with the rooster statue. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Garden Days Dinner

Yellow Tomato  Gazpacho w/ Avocado & Purple Basil 

Thursday, August 31, 2017


The Willamette Hops we planted 2 years ago flowered this year.  Chris picked them and now the floral beery smell is evident while they dry on the back porch.  After telling me for years that a few plants in the backyard would never produce enough to really do anything with he was happily surprised with the 5 gallon bucket that was filled off the single vine.

We plan to brew a Backyard Ale with these and any flowers from the other 3 varieties we also planted.  Said others (Cascade, Gold Nugget and another that I can't remember) are still small - we suspect not enough sun - although a few flowers can be seen.

With the disappointment of  Mother Nature's choice of weather this year, the hop flower harvest is a unexpected windfall.

Friday, May 5, 2017

In the Conservatory

I always saw the grow shops with their sample plants and thought it was really funny.  Like someone would really use a tent for tomatoes when they could put them outside.  Well, with annual hail storms repeatedly breaking the greenhouse windows - I am now that someone.  
This year's 50 or so tomato starts
Purple Cherokee, Hagens Little Yellow, Hungarian Heart, Mortgage Lifter & Yellow King of  Siberia

The Brassicas to be planted next week

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Rabbit Sausage

I learned how to make sausage almost 20 years ago in the kitchen at La Rive Gauche in Seattle.  It is a knowledge that I had not used since the closure of the small French Bistro.

We used it today.

But honestly, if I was a complete neophyte I am sure we could have watched a tutorial on YouTube.
The recipe was made up on the spot mostly - a little bit Taste of Home, a little Hank Shaw.  2:1 ratio homegrown rabbit and pasture raised pork belly.  Lots of smoked paprika.  Some onion and garlic.  We used hog casings, so these earthy sausages are the size of a Bratwurst.

We made 12 lbs in all.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cthulhu Potatoes

 Saved for seed from last year's harvest.  After trimming off the growth I will chit them to plant in a couple weeks.  
Two shoeboxes in all.  Red Pontiac, Kennebec Russet and Red Adirondack. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Philosophy and a new hen house

We seriously thought about getting goats.  Mini Manchas to be specific.  And towards that goal Chris laid a foundation to the right of the shop using landscape brick, urbanite and fill dirt we had on hand. We purchased 10 panels of used wood fencing to achieve the same look as the garden shed he built over the winter.  He spent days dismantling the panels, stacking the boards into various piles for the length and quality.

Our hens, which numbered 8 when the current coop was designed and built is really too small for the 13 layers we have currently.  If we raise Cornish meat chickens again, we reasoned, that number would double for the summer.  The plan was to build a barn "wing" for the yet nonexistent goats and the very existent hens on the shed and turn the entire lower yard into a corral.

Then, maybe, level heads prevailed.

One idea that we have believed over the years is an urban farm has to be pretty.  There will always be people looking over your fence and curious about what you are doing so it is imperative that they like what they are seeing.  There will be city officials checking for misused water and utility companies taking pictures of meters with long range camera lenses.  If what they see is pleasing to their eye, they are less likely to notice what is going on.

And our yard is so not there.

Over the winter our front steps collapsed.  The berm of front landscape we worked so hard on was taken over by bindweed and other undesirable plants.  The lawn died after years of not watering it.

Our back yard is not much better.

Items we have collected of dubious use are piling up.  The raspberries, having never produced, are struggling amongst other less savory greenery.  There is bare dirt everywhere.  The back chain link fence, having been hit by cars and other vehicles is buckled in places - its plastic privacy strips tattered and faded.   Although Chris keeps the green strip mowed - it is an unsavory mix of Virginia Creeper, perennial sweet pea & Canadian thistle.  The lone fruit tree not killed by the hard frost 2 years ago struggles among the weeds and mint that chokes out anything we have planted.

And then there is the greenhouse.

The annual hailstorms have broken half the plastic windows - those that have been replaced are yellowed and the inside is a mess of weeds.  It never got used as much as we thought it would.  In short, it is an eyesore.

In the end we decided to put the barn on hold and focus on making the landscape pleasing to the eye.

But I did request a new hen house.

On the right is the roosting area, accessable for cleaning from the end.
On the the left is the nest boxes, also with a door on the end.
The floor and bottom of the walls are tiled for easy cleaning.

The 18" space under the coop gives the girls outside space protected
from the elements.  Also the lack of ramp is to discourage rodents
The landscape brick foundation for a barn.
I drew up an idea on paper and Chris made it a reality.  The old coop, roosts removed will become feed and hay storage.  He mostly used items we had on hand - including some of the used fence boards.  More screws and roofing to match the shop were purchased.

He said it is the last one he is building. (It is the 3rd one he has built since we moved here)

Nest boxes - of course they just use one.
Right now the hens are free ranging, but we will have to get them contained soon - as they seem to always scratch and dig where we don't want them to.

For right now it is the right decision.