Thursday, May 21, 2015

I thought this was a crafter's blog...

Or a painter's blog... or a quilter's blog...?

(And then I look at my sewing table which is covered with gardening items)

Uhhhh... yeah, it is... sort of.... but I seem to have this new love... of gardening. And that has taken over my life lately. I go out into the garden, I go to garden shops, I watch gardening videos on YouTube, I go to bed thinking of what I want to do out in the garden the next day... I think I am smitten.

I am sure I will find time for art and sewing soon enough, but for now, I am basking in the deliciousness of fresh strawberries and veg for a morning egg scramble, or greens for my salad, zucchini and yellow squash for my dinners, herbs for my cooking or tea...

The tomatoes are green yet and peppers are barely a whisper, but they are coming.

As are beans and kale...

But my flowers seem to be lacking attention and I do want to attract bees and butterflies into the garden so aside from some very young attractor plants I have going in a wine barrel, I realized I needed something that is already flowering... so off to the garden center this morning to find more flowers.

Here are my favorite gardening YouTube channels these days:

Alys Fowler's Edible Garden (British)
Kaye Kittrell
One Yard Revolution
Gary Pilarchik
Growing Your Greens

If you have a favorite organic gardening channel you would like to share with me, please leave it in the comments below. Thanks!

Friday, May 8, 2015

It's the journey, not the destination...

Not a new thought, but has come to mind recently as I think about my gardening journey this year. Sure it is cheaper to run down to the market and buy some big agribiz veggies that may or may not be healthy for me, but the fact is -- I love just being out there with my plants and making them into my own health food store as the months go by. If you have not ever tasted a tomato right off the plant in the height of summer ripeness, then in my opinion, you have not lived!

So now that I am back from a week away from my garden (small Oregon trip,family visit and fabric buying), I am excited about how it is progressing and what I still want to do in it.

First though, we put a new hummingbird feeder right outside the new kitchen door and it is such a pleasure to watch those little guys every day. In fact (wish I had my camera but I didn't want to move to get it) the other day Andy had a few of them taking nectar out of a little piece of the feeder in his hand! They were so trusting!

They just love this feeder. Now the ones hanging from the front porch are hardly used.

And then in the front yard I am making a small 4' x 4' square garden to house some extra veggies and flowers. I just ran out of room on the side garden!

Last week I made the raised bed from a kit I wanted to try (verdict: make your own, this is sort of flimsey) and started collecting cardboard to put down on the bottom.

Then it rained for a day and I got busy so just today I got the rest of the cardboard in, put wood chips along the edges at the bottom to try to help keep more weeds out and added 2 large bales of organic raised bed potting soil. Man were those things heavy! Then I added some worm castings and now it is ready to plant. I will plant some things in it tonight when it is cooler and in the next few days. I mainly want it to have food and herb plants and some flowers. I am hoping it will look ok in the front yard. I wish more people in our neighborhood had an edible garden in the front of their homes, then mine wouldn't stand out so much.

The more I work on the garden the more eager I am for things to grow so we can start eating from it! I know, in a few months I will have way too many zucchini and tomatoes but isn't that always the way?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Here is why the rocks didn't work...


Squirmy ugly slugs!

I found one munching on a ripe berry the other day after I had put up bird netting, still thinking it was birds eating the strawberries! This is how much it ate!

So we have edged everything (the bales, individual plants, house vents, etc) with organic Sluggo and diatomaceous earth in hope that it helps. I have gone out a couple of nights and looked for slugs and salted them (sorry vegan readers but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to save a strawberry!)... but of course they are probably hiding out in the straw bales in the day time so it might be a futile chase.

I am now thinking of moving the strawberries to another place in the garden in pots that I can put on tables or hang to keep the nasty slugs at bay.

Meanwhile in the front yard...

My first foxglove of the year is in bloom! These things reseed themselves like crazy every year and are so pretty in full bloom! You can see the wayward sweet peas still trying to make a showing and my future apricots!

Just a little slice of the garden to leave you with before I head off for a mini-vacation week to see my sister in Oregon and maybe possibly some fabric shopping at some of Portland area's amazing quilt shops!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Rock Strawberries... will it work?

My strawberries are starting to show fruit and I decided this year I wanted to harvest more strawberries than the birds! So I looked online and found a lot of references to rocks painted to look like strawberries then placed around the strawberry patch to fool the birds. I decided to give this a try...

So I found a bunch of rocks...

Brought them last weekend when I went to visit my arty friend Leslie and we painted rocks...

then I put them into my garden...

and now I wait. Will the new little berries stay uneaten?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Wow, we had a flash storm pass through yesterday bringing some much needed rain and then towards the afternoon, hail! We get hail maybe a couple times a year at best, mostly in the winter. But this was a cold storm with thunder and lightening in the afternoon, and the hail soon followed.

I probably should have covered my planting area but I was too busy watching the hail. Poor plants!

The front of the house managed fine, but the side garden got pretty pounded...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Getting serious about the side garden...

I had to make a decision:  would I be traveling a lot this spring and summer or would I have a garden? I decided I would travel in the Fall and do a big vegetable and herb garden this Spring and summer. I haven't done a large food garden for a few years and I thought it would be fun and interesting.

Plus, now that we have our new side door from our kitchen, it is so easy to step outside to water or tend the garden. No excuses! And I can admire the new blue and white paint job while I work out there!

north side of the house
new side door
So we left the straw bales from last year although they are starting to fall apart. They will last one more year once they are retied. The one which had totally fallen down was dug up and is being used to add organic material to the bottom of new grow pots I am trying out this year. 

Straw bale that fell apart

There were some strawberries that came back even though we basically ignored them all winter. I am hoping if I am a little more watchful this time around we might have a better harvest. Also I plan to fertilize more to increase the fruit growth. Last summer the birds mostly got the berries.



I have planted 4 tomatoes so far: 1 each of a grape cherry size, a San Marzano (for cooking), an Amish paste (also for cooking) and a beefsteak for slicing. And so far I have planted a jalapeno and a green bell pepper. I need to do a lot more maintenance on the rest of the bales before I plant more. I think the chard that came back is ok for now although I may pull it out since the plants are rather spread out and bolting already. It is also a comeback from last year.

tomato plants

I am planting things like carrots and lettuces in the grow bags at the moment. I still have many more plants to decide where I will put them and whether I will start from seeds I have or get already started seedlings. 
Grow bags with carrots and lettuce seeds planted

Most of the herbs are in the front at the moment, although I am planting more Italian parsley and cilantro in this side garden.

As you can see however, the mint that was planted last year is still there and taking over the bale. I trimmed a lot of it back and may have to go in and cut more out. This time I also want to clip it and dry it for tea!

Further along the garden area is a blueberry from last year and a lime tree we planted last year. No limes yet but it is still young. Along the back of the house is our lemon tree. We planted another satsuma mandarin too but I am not sure it gets enough sun to be successful.

lime tree

blueberry plant

More garden news and photos to come as I get it planted and rearranged over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

More flowers and my new blue house...

The sweet peas are starting to bloom. They are coming up all over the place, both from intentional planting and their own seed scattering. I love the subtle scent although right now it is being overpowered by the orange blossoms across the yard.

And my freesias are also starting to bloom. I mostly plant these yellow ones because to me they have the sweetest most wonderful scent.

I love how the colors of the flowers play against the freshly painted house. It really brightens up the place! And I love the blue scattered around the large white chimney... it was just too much white at once without the little shots of color!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A bit of sewing...

and a present I bought for myself...

First off, I needed to make a name tag for the quilt guild meetings so I took a quilted scrap piece, folded it over wonky style, stamped my name, and left threads dangling since I often have a thread or two on me these days.

Then I wanted to practice machine quilting with my walking foot so I made a little mug rug out of colors from a charm pack (5" squares) I had.  The waviness on top went away after I pressed it more. I decided to serge the outer borders to keep with the more modern feel of it.

And I had totally forgotten my new polka dot cup so when I went to get a cup for tea, realized I had made that mug rug exactly for this cup! It worked!

And then since I had been so good about cleaning the kitchen while the house was being painted last week AND since they were on sale for 60% off or some crazy thing from Craftsy that day, I bought myself 2 Kaffe Fassett shot cotton fat pack (1/4 yard) bundles.  I love the shot cottons -- they are solids but the warp and weft threads are different colors (from nearly the same to wildly different) and that gives them a wonderful sheen and woven quality. Not 100% sure what I will use these for yet but it was such a deal I couldn't pass it up!  62 lovely quarter yard pieces... I am sure I will think of something!

Friday, March 6, 2015

More evidence of Spring...

Not only is my house getting painted, my garden is starting to take shape again... (house photos coming soon, they are still finishing it today)

But in the meantime, from my garden.... a few early signs of spring:

Apricot blossoms:


And my African daisy came back (I thought I had killed it from neglect):

Monday, March 2, 2015

In a sewing mood...

Lately I have been in a sewing mood, so I started rearranging my sewing space in the kitchen, bringing in some bins to live closer to the machine and adding a new Costco table for a cutting area. This is all makeshift until I can do more living room decluttering and rearranging to have my sewing area take over, I mean... be in there.

I had out my Day of the Dead quilt blocks for the Circle of Nine quilt in that photo. HERE is where I described that quilt.  I finished those and now have 5 out of the 9 blocks. The bigger one with the black border is the center one. The other 2 have 2 of the same block and are for around the sides.

And then I made some curtains for the window above the sink...

and yesterday starting gathering fabrics for the next Modern Block of the Month club class on Wednesday over at Country Sewing Center:

These are for the larger block. Each month we make 2 blocks. The smaller one fabrics are cut and bagged for class. I still need to cut the fabrics to size for this block. I had to see them together for a while to be sure they went how I wanted together. I think they will work, so now to just cut them and I will be ready for class!