The Grand Spring Garden To-Do List

I spent all winter fantasizing about all of the awesome projects I was going to tackle this year and now that Spring is around the corner I am finding myself feeling lazy and uninspired. That’s so not cool! Perhaps it’s the nasty, cold, rainy, weather I don’t want to work in, but I really need to get my mindset back into gardening. I told myself that I needed to channel the amazing work ethic of Peal Fryar. Have you heard of him? You need to watch the documentary about this amazing man. His genius will blow you away! the spirit of hard work and inspiration, let’s take a look at what’s in store for the year. We’ll start with current state of the vegetable garden:

Oddly enough, now that the vegetable garden is done, per se, I don’t feel like I have to worry about it too much. I am planning to install drip lines in the next month or two which will help immensely with watering later in the summer. But all of the hard work of building the beds pretty much done. I’d like to build some strawberry towers and a potting bench. But other than that (ha!) I just need to do some weeding and start some seeds!

Moving over to the herb garden:

I would like to move this elderberry out from its current location under the cherry tree, into an area where it will get more sun. This was a classic mistake of planting something in the wrong spot. It hasn’t done that badly in it’s current spot, but since the cherry tree is ever expanding, it will just continue to sink deeper into shade. I’ve done a fair bit of Googling about transplanting elderberries, and am confident that if I do it right, it will survive. (Finger’s crossed!)

Next on the list is the creation of the herb garden. This will consist of four raised beds, roughly 4′ x 6′ with surrounded by a path made from this concrete mold. Plants will need to get sown and started in the next few months so I need to at least get the beds built and in location, I am thinking that I can do the path building in spurts. I’d like to make a simple branch pergola that will go in the center of the beds, almost like a little courtyard. Which leads me to this mess here:

The biggest and grandest project of them all: The Outdoor Kitchen with Pergola and Cob Oven. There is also a flower cutting garden attached to this area, but the first thing I need to do is get that pile of branches chipped and out of the way. And since we’re talking about chipping…

I’m going to have my arborist limb the bottom branches of this cedar tree to allow more light and open up this space a bit more.

Boy…that seems like a lot doesn’t it? I’m going to start this weekend with buying the lumber for the herb garden beds, digging the hole in the new location for the elderberry, and if I’m able, finish transplanting it. AND…I really, really, really need to start some seeds already!

happy gardening

It’s a new gardening year!

Happy New Year!! Are you making garden resolutions?

I have GRAND plans, people. GRAND PLANS.

I am going to create and herb garden and a flower cutting garden and build an outdoor kitchen WITH A COB OVEN!!! Woo!

Screw the chicken coop – I want pizza!

I have received my favorite garden seed catalogs in the mail and have gone through and marked what I want to buy in order to start planning all of the gardens.

I also have a ton of projects I want to try this year, like hypertufa and a pergola and coldframes. In fact, I think 2013 might be gearing up to be the Year of Concrete. I bought a concrete pathway mold to make paths all over the yard, I am thinking of making concrete countertops for the kitchen area AND there’s the hypertufa of course. Did I say “Woo?” WOO!!

Oh. And a pond. I want a pond.

So. I realize this is a lot to tackle, but for some reason I have this feeling I can do it. Denial? Most likely. I’ve been blabbing about it to enough people that I’ll look like I lame-o if I don’t get it done. I gotta save face.

And then there’s you. My internet friends. I can’t let you down now, can I?

happy gardening

The Garden’s First Year

March 2012

July 2012


I learned so much this past year and I can’t wait to see what the garden is going to become in 2013. I have major plans…adding an herb garden AND a cutting garden. I got my favorite seed catalogs in the mail this past week, so now it time to start planning.

See you next year!

happy gardening

Something to get you through the winter

I recenlty stumbled across a series on You Tube that is a total gem: The Victorian Kitchen Garden. If you are a fan of Downton Abby and gardening, you will LOVE this series. This is from the wikipedia entry for the amazing gardener featured in the series, Harry Dodson.

In 1984, Jennifer Davies of the BBC was looking for a venue for a projected television programme on traditional methods of vegetable gardening, to be called The Victorian Kitchen Garden.

Finally, she discovered the walled garden at Chilton Foliat, and its head gardener, Harry Dodson. He did not claim to be a Victorian gardener himself, but he had learned his trade from men who had been, and he understood the techniques they had developed.

The series was screened in 1987, when he was 68, and its popularity spawned three other BBC series — The Victorian KitchenThe Victorian Flower Garden and The Wartime Kitchen and Garden. The accompanying books were best-sellers.

It is so, so, good. Absolutely fascinating and I was very surprised to hear that the climate issues they had to deal with were very similar to us here in the Pacific Northwest. Unlike Harry however, I don’t have beautiful glass houses to grow my tomatoes, cucumbers and melons.

I actually found this series initally with the Victoran Kitchen, which is the second season (so-to-speak) of the series. Many of you know that I LOVE to cook, so this series was of a particular interest to me.

You can also find the Victorian Flower Garden and the Wartime Kitchen and Garden.

Oh! And look what I got in the mail the other day! Yay!

happy gardening

Fall Garden Update – Sort of Walk Through

Helloooooooo! Have have you been? Things are winding down in the garden for sure. I cannot believe it’s almost December. It seems like the fall has gone by faster than the summer has, which is weird. It’s been mostly about cleaning things up and ripping out the expired plants. The tomatoes and corn are all gone. You can see the remnants of the bean trellis lying on the ground.  I took this picture before our first official freeze of the year a few days ago so things aren’t quite so lush looking.

I am very happy that I was able to get my garlic in this year. I planted garlic last year in a different part of the yard, but the seed I used was a variety that yielded very small heads – almost useless in my opinion. Plus, I accidentally got some of a soft neck variety so I didn’t end up with very many garlic scapes.

This year I planted German Porcelain Garlic, which is a hard neck variety that produces large heads with 4-7 cloves per head. That’s my kind of garlic.  I kept not buying enough seed to plant the whole bed so I ended up planting at two week intervals until I finally got the whole bed planted. Succession planting by accident!

The photo on the left shows the carrots I planted in late summer. I am not sure if they’ll last through the winter. Finger’s crossed!

The leeks are just waiting to be harvested for holiday meals and I’ve got a couple more cabbages plodding along. And look at the beautiful broccoli!  Jefe was helping me clean up the garden the other day and he prodded me to harvest it. I was like, “No way man, it’s not big enough yet.”  So of course…when I went out to check on it all I saw was broccoli carcass left by deer.  Aaaaarrrrggghhhh!

“I told you, so.” Sigh.

Needless to say I am looking into deer fencing options.

I also got my first seed catalog in the mail the other day! I’m already looking forward to next year.

happy gardening

The Last of the Harvest

We harvested the corn last weekend, and while it was really pretty, it really wasn’t edible. I don’t think that I’ll waste my time with corn next year. I might change my mind, but I’d rather use the space for something I know will be successful.

The brocoll I planted a few weeks ago is looking great, and my remaining cabbage is still hanging in there, looking all gorgeous.

I ripped the Glacier tomatoes out of bed 2 (I am SO not growing those next year) and have started to plant garlic.  I went out yesterday and saw that a few cloves had popped out of the ground.  I need to get another pound or so of seed to finish this bed out.  I can’t remember what variety this is at the moment. It’s a hard neck, which will give me scapes (yay!) and the cloves are nice and huge.

Things are winding down, for sure!

happy gardening

Garden Tour: The Pantry at Delancey

Last month I attended an awesome interior design camp up in Seattle that was held at The Pantry at Delancey, which is a community kitchen connected with the restaurant Delancey and the newly opened bar, Essex. I was immediately enchanted with the garden and after the excitement of being around a group of amazing ladies settled in, I fell into deep, deep love with their little kitchen garden. And in particular, with some apple trees. Deep love, people.

A beautiful selection of kale going on. It underscores how edibles can also be beautiful ornamentals. Dual purpose! Gotta love that.
The rhubarb was gorgeous-o. I wanted to steal some leaves to cast in concrete. My rhubarb is looking like dog poop about now.
I love a good hell strip garden. They were grown some beautiful beans, and clearly, being in Ballard, they do not have to worry about Bean Eaters. Another wonderful example of how edibles can be used in conjunction with, and as ornamentals. Herbs, ferns, and hostas look so lovely together. And this my friends, is what I am completely obsessed with. I didn’t see these at first, and once I realize they were apples I FREAKED OUT. They are columnar apples, which clearly I have never seen before and an excellent solution for a small space garden. We’d be talking about paint colors and stuff, and our awesome Camp DIrector would be telling us about amazing sources for things and I’m like, “BUT HAVE YOU SEEN THE APPLES?? WHERE DO I GET THOSE APPLES??”

So yeah. I will be getting me some of those next year. Also: cosmos (the pink flowers). I will be growing cosmos. Kudos to The Pantry at Delancey and their beautiful space. It was truly magical.

happy gardening

Beans and the Eaters that Eat Them

We’re going to preface this bean post by talking about deer. I essentially had a stick-my-fingers-in-my-ears-”La La La Laaaaa” approach this year and it worked about as well as you would think. I (foolishly) thought, because I managed to get through most of the summer with minimal munching that I was good-to-go. I (foolishly) thought that deer season was in the spring. “I sailed through Deer Season with nary a scratch!” I congratulated myself most heartily. And then reality came crashing down one morning when I realized my beans, ALL of my raspberries and a good chunk of tomatoes were EATEN. So…now that we have the fact that I was a total lame-O, and admit it, and have learned my lesson…let’s survey the damage, ‘kay?

I drive my my garden ever morning on the way to work and I can’t help but think that all of the people walking by must pity the hell out of my bean set up. The dear stripped all of the leaves of course so it’s looking a little funky. Poor little beanies…all naked and leaning and then WHAMO! – bushy on top. Deer don’t reach up, so it seems the problem would be solved if I just raised my garden beds up about oh, say…10 feet.

I also planted bush varieties next to the potatoes. This actually worked fantastically for  a while because the potato vines covered the beans, thus protecting them from Bean Eaters. The issue came when I harvested the potatoes and uncovered the awesomely yummy beans especially for the Bean Eaters to enjoy. These were Yin Yang. Not. One. Left. I did manage to harvest a few of a variety (I think Tiger’s Eye?) that survived the dear onslaught. Very pretty little things:

And finally, we have a bean I really didn’t give a rat’s ass about because all I really wanted it for was to provide blooms for hummingbirds. I planted Scarlet Runner Beans it in my corn and put up a hap hazard trellis thing and basically had a “meh” attitude about them and of course, they are growing like gangbusters and HAVE NOT EVEN NIBBLED ON.  So there you have it. Murphy’s Karma Law of Beans.

I have already decided that next year I will grow beans in the wine barrel halves. I can throw netting over them if I have to. I’m also going to have to put deer fencing up, but Ugh. I so don’t even want to think about tackling that project.

happy gardening


I pulled these beauties out of the ground recently.  They are Touchstone Gold and I think they might be my favorite variety of beet. Sometimes beets can be a little overwhelming in their “beet-iness” and the Touchstone Gold seems to be a little milder (to me at least).  Along with some of the Yukon Gold potatoes I harvested recently, and a little dill growing among the cabbage, I turned the beets into a potato-beet gratin:

It was really, really good, but I need to *perfect* the recipe and then I’ll share it.  But in the mean time….check this out:

It’s hard to get a sense of scale from the photo,  but this beet might be as big as my head. I can only make so many gratins, people so give me some suggestions. What is your favorite way to eat a beet? Don’t say pickled. I am pickled out.

happy gardening

Little Tomato Love

This past week was “Cherry Tomato and Salami” week as I had a pack of salami in the fridge and a bevy of cherry tomatoes starting to ripen. I was able use them both on a pizza, and then in a panzanella—which now my new favorite thing to eat. Have you ever had panzanella? It’s a bread and tomato salad, delicious, super easy, and a great thing to make when you don’t want to turn on the oven.

This “recipe” is very scalable and really hard to screw up. I also didn’t actually pay attention to the quantities I used, I just winged it until it looked good. Woo-hoo! If you need more structure in your recipes, this Ina Garten panzanella recipe is a good place to start. She also uses slightly different ingredients, and it’ll give you an idea of what kinds of things you can put in one of these salads.

Free-Form Panzanella

Good quality “rustic” bread
Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Salami, or other cured meat cut into chunks
Asiago, or other Italian cheese (like a provalone) cut into chunks
Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half
Mushrooms, thinly sliced
Red onion, or shallots, thinly sliced
Basil, chiffonade
Nasturtium flowers

Balsamic vinegar and olive oil
Salt and pepper

I cut my bread into thick slices and then toasted them on the grill, but you could also put them under a broiler or toast them in a frying pan with a little oil. Cut into 1 inch cubes.

Whisk up your vinaigrette and toss with all of the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Let sit for a hour or so to let the flavors “meld”. Stuff your face!

happy gardening