Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 6: a new trick!

This morning when I checked in on our baby chicks, Miss Curiosity decided to show off a new trick...  She's going to be a handful.

Well, she won't be able to do this for long, as she'll get too big.  
But, for now, she likes to get a closer view of me. 

Little Bo Peep (in the background) doesn't know what to think of her chicken friend. 
Miss Curiosity is so proud of herself.  

This means I'll be changing the water more often.
I think I need to find a branch for her to roost on.

Monday, February 20, 2012

New baby chickens!

We have begun our new adventure with backyard chickens!  I won a chicken coop package at the Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair last fall and now our first little babies have begun arriving.  Picked up a Barred Rock (dark colored) and a Buff Orpington (yellow fluff ball) last Friday night from Seattle Farm Supply.  They are now 5 days old and settling into their new home (brooder box). 

We have 2 more baby chickens arriving at the beginning of March ~ a Rhode Island Red and a Speckled Sussex.  

Even though I won a coop, Blaine and I have decided to build our own coop this spring.  We have purchased plans for The Garden Coop and hope to get started by late March. 

These little ones are fun to watch as their personalities are developing daily. Here's to the hope that all our baby chicks are HENS! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2012: Gardens

Photos from various gardens.  As seen from my perspective!  Remember ~ I'm a country girl at heart and love edible gardens... 

I hear the sounds of a lovely afternoon concert...

I bet you can imagine yourself here with that someone special in your life!

Chicken coop in the back of a VW!

 It was also a tool shed and a greenhouse...

Okay.  So, I LOVED Cascade Edible Landscaping's arbor and outdoor space!

Vertical strings and an animal trough for an echo chamber was a creative way to turn the arbor into a "guitar".

If I had $5000 I would so buy this!

 I just couldn't get enough of this setting...

Loved this country garden.  Delightful!

Duck coop ~ for sleeping only.
Burlap bags to grow your potatoes.

Lots of creative fun elements is this charming edible garden!

Not sure if this would work in reality, but it's great in theory...

 My favorite part!

Bob Bowling Rustics was a hit at the show...

 Another view.  You love it, huh?

Beauty.  Serene.


Couldn't resist taking this shot of flowers and French horn.

 Loved this container garden on the bridge...  Clever use of test tubes!

From the same garden display.  Loved all the glass containers and the plantings.

Love the beaker and the test tube holder...

I love this musical trellis.  I had been at the show for 4 days and didn't see this until I was leaving...  Goes to show that you can attend multiple days and make new discoveries daily!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Happy Valentine's Day Bouquet...

Some girls love flowers, chocolates or jewelry, but the way to this girl's heart is through the garden...

Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2012: Seminar reflections

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show does a wonderful job of organizing seminars and bringing in relevant speakers for today's gardeners.  This includes more traditional gardening to edible gardening and backyard chicken keeping (and incorporating them into your garden). There wasn't a seminar I attended this year that I didn't learn something new and enjoy (that has not always been true in the past).  I am so thankful for all the hard work put in by the seminar team and the willingness for so many awesome seminar speakers to come and share with the show attendees.

Click on any of the photos below to check out these fantastic garden books!

Diane Ott Whealy (co-founder) from Seed Savers Exchange shared her story about why they focused on saving heirloom seed.  Because she had a close relationship with her grandparents and their farm, Diane learned about heirloom seed, how it connects the generations; how it has a story to tell.  Our story.

This is my first year focusing on growing with heirloom seed.  I am excited for this new adventure in the garden and, now, to learn more about each seed's story too!

It was greatly encouraging to learn that neither Diane nor her husband has a degree or background in horticulture, genetics, etc ~ they were AMATEURS; not experts.  Just loved to garden!  They have had a major impact in saving seed that would otherwise have been lost to gardeners.  Thank you!  

How I wish I had heard Rosalind Creasy share many years ago, but it was my time to meet her and receive now.   What a talented woman and engaging speaker!  She has a great wealth of information to share with gardeners and encouraged me to pursue true "edible landscaping" and not 'this type of garden here' and 'that type of garden' there...  Her garden photos were most inspiring!  She's the author of several wonderful books to encourage all kinds of gardeners and she shared, "ALWAYS have flowers and vegetables growing together!"

She also shared that the greater the COLOR in an edible plant, the more nutritious.  Just say NO to white veggies...!  It's colored cauliflower for us from now on.   

I "met" Willi Galloway of DigginFood at her trellis workshop that she gave.  (Wish I had felt well enough on Thursday to attend the seminar focused on her new book, but I shall purchase the book and follow her blog more closely now.)  She shared a lot of really great ideas and I can hardly wait to try them in our garden this season.  Our squash will never grow on the ground again... (Check out her blog to see her trellis ideas.)  And that, is just the beginning!  If you're a foodie ~ you'll want to get her book and expand your food knowledge.  

Bill Thorness, a local gardener, also had a great seminar about cool season veggies.  I've owned his book for a year or two now, but haven't actually read it yet.  After being in the seminar, it is on my MUST READ list and I'm looking forward to his new book to be published early next year.  Bill shared an informative planting guide with the focus of planting between February through November; what when and all the details.  I appreciated his talk about season extenders to help gardeners ~ floating row covers, cloches, soil thermometers, as well as general air temperature thermometer.  Great pictures and super encouraged to garden year round beginning in 2012!

The only seminar I attended that didn't have a book associated with it was Seattle Urban Farm Company's Peak of Perfection ~ learning to harvest at the right time.  *That said, they do have a new book being published this year.  It's available for pre-order from Amazon for release this spring.  It would be a great book for beginning gardeners.  Even though I've been gardening for a few years now, I did learn a lot in Colin's seminar.  Colin talked a lot about plant parts and understanding what each plant does and what part is eaten.   A few things I learned:  Must harvest green beans when they are pencil size.  If I keep up with the harvest, our plants will be even more productive.  Pumpkin/squash plants need to die back and allow the stem to dry too before harvesting for better storage.  Basil ~ cut or pinch off the part of the plant you want to harvest down to where the stem meet 2 branches that go out from the stem.  This will encourage the most growth from your basil plants.  Cabbage last a long time and can be left in the garden for an extended period of time or stored in the fridge.  And, if you want to grow cilantro ~ you should plant a few seeds every other week to keep a fresh supply in your garden...  

Jessi Bloom had two seminars entitled "What the Cluck?" Part 1 and 2.  I saw the title of her new book prior to the seminars and thought, "Free Range chicken gardens ~ yeah, right."  I've done a lot of reading about raising backyard chickens and attended a couple of classes.  Everything I had heard was, "You cannot mix your chickens and your garden or the girls will destroy it."  Then, I listened to what Jessi had to say throughout 2 seminars and I became a believer and know it's the best set-up for every aspect of raising our own food and incorporating chickens!  I am currently devouring Jessi's book and loving it!  It will be a process, but my plan is live out the model Jessi shares for it is a healthy model for our whole food system.

A few things I learned:  Chickens don't eat herbs.  They don't like the smell.  Jessi's Top 10 "chicken" plants.  Gardeners with chickens need to have a "tool box" ready to assist them if chickens begin causing problems with plants that you don't want them to.

You can also check out Jessi's blog at Garden Fowl.    

Thank you for being a voice that was different from the majority, Jessi!  I am so inspired!

I remember Graham Kerr as the Galloping Gourmet, but life brought a change in his path and he began looking at food much differently.  Today, he is encouraging people to be Citizen Neighbors ~ caring about others, our world and the food we eat.  His new project is E.G.G.S. Carton Club!  

His motto about food is:  Get your food fast before anyone else gets to it!  
(Especially if you don't want "stuff" put into it; chemicals, additives, etc.)  We have to know what we're eating and protect it too.

His new project is encouraging people to be actively involved with their food, their neighbors and their community (especially those in need).  His hope is that 6-12 people in a neighborhood will grow their own food, gather together once a month to share a meal together and also share food they are growing with those in need.  EGGS =

E:  Eat more plants; ALOT more plants
G:  Grow more plants
G:  Gather more; share a meal with neighbors
S:  Share with others

He is hoping this vision will catch on and a population of people will be living this out by 2020.  Graham indicated that our goal should be 1 pound of produce consumed (per person) daily, while reaching for 2 pounds ultimately.  He said that 1/10 acre can produce enough food for us to be fed each year.  It doesn't sound like too much space is needed, huh?  Are you up for the challenge?  Do you want to make a difference?  Check out his website, get to know some neighbors and get growing!

His book is about his first year growing a kitchen garden and has wonderful information about food you've grown, how to use them and, what look to be, tasty recipes!  I can hardly wait to read it.

Happy Valentine's Day!

I love Him because He first loved me...  And it's the reason I love others!

Such a simple message with a profound impact.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Northwest Flower & Garden Show: Days 2 & 3 "treasures"

Had planned to "add" Thursday seminars to my plans, but awoke feeling a bit off.  After a few extra hours of sleep, Blaine and I went to the show in the evening for some shopping and to look at the display gardens.  I'll be sharing photos from the display gardens on Sunday, but here are the treasures I found!

Bob's Rustics ~ a heart shaped from an old piece of metal!
Purchased an heirloom quality set of garden tools from Fisher Blacksmith
Still lovin' my new basket!

 Garden tools say "LOVE"!

Now, I love to get flowers like anyone else, but my new garden tools are an ongoing reminder of how much I am loved!  

Another photo of my Thursday evening treasures ~ love these garden gloves too!
You know you want a set of these garden tools... 

 Having Blaine go to the show with me ~ a special treasure!
Thankful for the time we had, but wish it could have been just one more hour...

Friday treasures ~ garden gloves for Blaine, another pair for myself, a Wasabi plant, a yacon plant, a free pansy and an egg collecting basket from my favorite basket man at the show!

Oh yes, I almost forgot.  I purchased Free Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom following her "What the Cluck" workshop (for her book signing).  Fantastic workshop! Looking forward to Part 2 today.  Blaine commented that the egg collecting basket resembles a "hen".  I have to agree!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thought-filled Thursdays

Two weeks have flown by, so has the month of January and life is busier than ever for me, but I want to take time today to pause for a moment and consider...

Where are you looking?

This is a question I have been wrestling with for the past few weeks.  It is REALLY front and center after attending my first day of the Northwest Flower and Garden show yesterday and where my life is right now.

I love gardening.  I love learning.  I love getting other people excited about gardening; especially edibles.  I feel like I belong when I'm around other gardeners.  Wait.  I also become really intimidated very quickly when they all know SO MUCH MORE than I do.  

I feel like being an edible gardener; an "urban farmer" (according to current culture) is what God has called me to do for many years now.  I love spending hours and hours outside with my hands in the soil.  I get excited when I see a plant "come alive again" each spring, at the sight of new buds on what look like dead twigs, noticing that a seed I planted has burst through the soil... I love caring for my plants, weeding, watering and harvesting.  Who doesn't love a basket full of fruits and veggies that you've grown?  There is nothing that compares to tasting freshly harvested produce from your own garden!  

I have anticipated the Garden Show's arrival for weeks now.  Full of joy, enthusiasm and anticipation, I headed to the show yesterday.  At the first workshop, Gathering:  Memoir of a Seed Saver by Diane Ott Whealy, I was encouraged and touched by her story.  And, being her last book signing, I asked a question, "What degrees do you and your husband have?  Horticulture?  Botany?  Genetics?  Masters?  PhD?  You've done such amazing work."  Her reply, "We are amateurs."  My heart was greatly encouraged!  What a great way to start the day.

As my time at the show progressed, I continued to be quite excited!  I attended Rosalind Creasy's edible landscaping working, which was tremendous and taught me my "next steps" to take in my gardening adventure.  Next, it was on to Willi Galloway's Trellis workshop for more learning and "growing" in my garden education.  And finally, Bill Thorness' cool season vegetable gardening.  A phenomenal workshop and so perfect for northwest winter gardening! I can hardly wait for his new book to be published next year.  I left feeling energized and ready to move my gardening to a whole new level.  What a great day!

After being home and away from all the show excitement, I began thinking about how well these gardeners have excelled at what they do, how they are able to touch so many lives through gardening and share their passion with others.  They have been blessed with great achievements in their endeavors.  I began to compare myself to them.  And, then compared myself to other speakers I haven't even heard yet.  Each one doing "great things" for edible gardening and sharing their passion with others.  I began to think about other garden and food bloggers who have a talent for writing and sharing ~ and feeling my own skills greatly lacking in that department...  Why can't my journey be as successful as theirs?  Why does it seem that I'm always sharing the resources that others have put together?  Why am I always the "assistant"; the "one who enables others to go after their dreams"?  Why am I always the "encourager"; the one who passes along "blessing" to others?

As I write this, my hope is that you can see an important pattern developing.  God has created each person with a path; a journey He has for that specific person.  A plan and a purpose for each person's life.  So often, we feel that others are more blessed or got a better "job assignment" from God than we did.  Maybe you're quite content with what God is doing, or has done, in your life.  But, this is an issue I continue to wrestle with.  

Do you see how quickly my focus changed from great excitement and embracing all I was learning to feeling insignificant and less worthy because I compared my journey to others.  I had taken my eyes off of God; stopped listening to what He was speaking to me.  Instead of focusing on all He was teaching me through others, I got side-tracked into "theirs vs mine".  It's easy to do.  We've all done it from time-to-time.  So thankful I quickly realized I was heading down the wrong path (ugh - again) and refocused before I return to the show again.

Day-by-day and step-by-step, I will follow You, Lord!  May You grow my garden and my life according to Your plans and purposes and may you bless me to be a blessing to others...  May each one of us listen to Your voice and keep our focus on You!   

Devotional reading:

"So Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them...  When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord - what about him?"  John 21:20-21

The first thing you do after God speaks to you is critical.  Jesus was telling Peter what type of ministry he would have and what type of death, he would suffer (vv18-19).  It was a sacred moment in Peter's life, as his Lord pulled back the curtain to his future.  His was not to be an easy life, but a life ordained and blessed by his Lord and Master.

Rather than responding to what Jesus told him, Peter looked around at his fellow disciples.  His glance fell upon John, the disciple whom Jesus loved.  "But Lord, what about this man?"Peter asked.  Peter had just been given the somber news of his future death.  How natural to compare his assignment with that of the others!  This is the great temptation of God's servants:  to compare our situation with that of others.  Did God give my friend a larger house?  Did God heal my friend's loved one and not mine?  Did God allow my friend to receive appreciation and praise for his work while I remain anonymous?  Did God allow another Christian to remain close to her family while I am far removed from mine?

Jesus assigned Peter and John to walk different paths, but both Peter and John have enriched our lives.  Jesus knew how dangerous it is when a servant takes his eyes off the master to focus on a fellow servant.  Where is your focus?  Have you become more concerned with how God is treating someone else than you are with how He is relating to you?  ~ January 31; Experiencing God Day by Day.

Good food for thought.  Great seed to plant in your life and allow God to grow!

Abundant blessings upon your day and in the week ahead.  Join me again, next Thursday, as I pause to consider that which God brings into my life. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Northwest Flower & Garden Show ~ Day 1 "treasures"

Had an AMAZING first day at the Flower and Garden Show in Seattle!  That said, I am too tired to share about the many wonderful things in my day.  Instead, I shall share with you "my treasures" acquired...

 Each seed has a story.  Every person has a story too.  The seeds and people coming together tells "our history and our story collectively"...  It's a powerful thing.

 Purchased an antique Chinese water bucket (for my "new" garden tool caddy).
Purchased a market basket (made in Ghana) from the sweetest African man!  I even love that the handles are made from goat hide...  

These shall last me for many years!

 Bill Thorness, Edible Heirlooms, is so awesome!  After his workshop, he shared that anyone who wanted heirloom black radish seeds was welcome to come get some from him.  He indicated that the seed pod is tastier than the radish itself.  

I'll grow some and see if we agree.
Delighted to discover a new local metal artist (from Port Orchard)

Blackwaters Metal Art is a husband and wife team.  She designs and he creates it out of metal.  I love this garden wreath, as well as the treble clef plant stake.  Both will rust to a beautiful finish out in the garden. 

I'm also holding the historic pansy seeds I picked up at my first workshop of the day from Seed Savers!  Woohoo!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Garden Seeds Are Here!

My seed order from Uprising Seeds arrived in the mail!  Eeeeeeeeeee!

Almost better than Christmas...

Visions of my 2012 garden are dancing in my head.  sigh.

And, the Northwest Flower and Garden show opens in Seattle tomorrow.

I shall be busy for the next fews days.

I'm hoping to share a little each evening after being at the garden show during the day...

And, Thought-filled Thursdays will resume next week.

Life is good.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

State of the garden: Early February

 It's always exciting when a Raintree Nursery box is delivered to your house...

Raintree does such a great job packing plants to transport.

 Sunshine blueberries, Tulameen raspberries, Invicta gooseberry and a marionberry

 The marionberry wasn't a barefoot plant, so I put a few Christmas tree boughs around the plant to keep it snuggly.

 Can't really see it in the midst of the evergreen boughs...

 Tulameen raspberries (in the background) and Invicta gooseberry (in the foreground); just looks like sticks.

 Today - in Seattle - a gorgeous February day. 
Time to move the Misty blueberries to containers, so the Sunshine blueberries can be planted in the ground.

 Coco enjoying the sunshine.

 Working, working.

While I don't recommend using peat moss, I do have a partial bale still ~ so I mixed potting soil and peat moss for the blueberries.  Not willing to waste something I already had.

 LOVE working in the garden!

 Misty blueberry being removed; Sunshine blueberries in the background.

 Size and color comparison ~ (left) blue/gray + burgundy and 4 years old (right) mostly green leaves and 2 years old

 Young plants in front with older plants in the background

Eeeeeee!  Garlic peeking through the soil! 

 Rhubarb is beginning to burst through!

 My second rhubarb plant ~ leaves to the left took on a little damage from the ice...

 Cover crop aka "green manure"

 Misty blueberries ~ hoping they are more productive in this location

 Tools on the driveway ~ think I'm going to begin investing in "lifetime" quality garden tools.  
Garden show this week!

One of my Misty blueberries has damage to the leaves.  
Need to investigate and figure out what's going on...

My neck is very painful tonight, but I'm hoping a good night's sleep will bring improvement, as I'm hoping to get another day's work done in the garden tomorrow.  How's your garden in February?