26 August 2010

Companion Planting

2010 08 26_0745

Recall if you please, the Guinness Girls in the Three Sisters garden, summer last. The Guinness Girls are currently stacking split fir in the woodshed but here stands the 3 Sisters now.

Note the beans (‘Kentucky Wonder’) wrapping around the stalks of corn (‘Sugar Dots’) whilst the pumpkin (‘Howden’, ‘Big Max’) keeps the ground from drying out (from the angle of the above photo, I can assure you, this soil is loamy and moist). This planting strategy requires little water. Beans help to anchor corn and increases soil nitrogen which corn eagerly devours. Though corn is delicious and we eagerly await for September harvesting, it has very little nutrition for the amount of nutrients it robs from the soil. Companion planting in season and mulching, regenerating soil off season, in the corn bed, is crucial. Corn proved also, to be an excellent transplanted vegetable.

2010 08 04_0552

The PNW has been quite cool this summer. Marine air flow off the Pacific coast keeps most mornings misty and overcast. Anytime between 10 and 2 the sun shows himself and warms up considerably. This is lovely enough for personal comfort but keeps the potential heat from accumulating each day along with needed length of direct sunlight necessary for ripening some produce.

Many plants are a fortnight or so behind schedule however, our consistent Indian Summers ( and a floating row cover) should finish off tomatoes tolerably well, and bring pumpkins to rich, smooth orange globes.

2010 08 04_0549

Try, next spring, alternating rows of bush beans with strawberries. Both plants will thrive and throw off better yield.

12 August 2010

Planting for Another Season

The Pacific Northwest certainly has it's failings: Weather here is hard to predict.

It is best to learn the way of the old farmer who smells the rain and snow, who feels the high pressure of clear skies, knows from which direction of the wind, the weather is to come. But on the larger, seasonal scale, La Niña or El Niño are dynamic.

Spring and fall are perhaps the most consistent of PNW seasons- the injurious crime of unpredictability we cast our judgment upon, are the solstices. Our summer and winter bear consequence of global weather patterns. We know not from year to year if the summer will be long and hot or late and cool- winter mild and wet, or deeply chilled.

Though we’re not safe from weather extremes, we are indeed a mild region and can garden around the calendar. When one season fails to bring forth much fruit, no worries, another crop is ready for planting.

From mid-July for several weeks we plant for the early fall through the late winter harvest. No self sustaining here- what comes out of the garden in the winter is sparse but we enjoy a harvest with a few new lessons learned and more winter-hardy varieties discovered.

2010 08 04_0520

Fall Peas are in the ground and happily sprouted. ‘Alaska’ and ‘Oregon Sugar Pod II’ (snow). This crop should harvest mid October and then only four months and we plant again.

Discovery: ducks like pea seeds- staple down well, burlap or Reemay. For most practical purposes, ducks in the beet 'Early Wonder'garden is genius. Trample, perhaps, but their destruction is nothing to a renegade chicken, scratching and digging. Ducks eat the slugs and bugs and leave organic material behind.

Beet ‘Early Wonder’ and turnips ‘Purple Top White Globe’ have sprouted and next week, another crop for staggered harvest along with rutabagas and greenhouse seedlings such as brassics and alliums.

potatoeLast autumns harvest of potatoes left us sprouted ‘Red Pontiac’ and ‘Yukon Gold’ from a burlap sack. We threw them in the ground and they should provide several weeks of new potatoes this fall.

11 August 2010

No Zoologists Here

pool tarantula 003

“There’s a tarantula in our pool” factually ejaculates the Small One.

“Where?” prudently questions First Born, really hoping (despite what reason tells her) for an unlikely find as that.

“-or Something” concedes the former, under contorted brow.

I, however, knowing the truth of such phenomenon, dally not, endeavoring to skim all unwanted beetles, duck feathers, fir needles and-

pool tarantulas from our swimming enjoyment.

09 August 2010

Campsite Bouquet

My family was at camp with friends this last weekend. The day we were leaving back home, my family went on a walk through the forest. I found some flowers and plants that I liked and I picked them for this bouquet.
In the above photo you can see (from L to R) Maiden Hair fern, an Acer variety (of some sort), Indian Pipe, and Western Hemlock. We are unable to figure out the stems in the back, so I guess it's just a weed!
We camped an hour from Mt. St. Helens in the Cascade Mountains. We like to visit a little store called the 'Randal One Stop' on hwy 12.
When we first saw the Indian Pipe we thought it must be in the mushroom family. It isn't but uses a fungus to help it grow.
This is not an edible native plant.

04 August 2010

If These are the Dog Days of Summer...

Who's the Dog?

For the several weeks, we girls have been splitting wood, tending to the garden, swimming with friends, harvesting berries, making jam, entertaining guests, preparing canning jars. Fhew!(deep breath) Cleaning the attic, cleaning the pool, cleaning the closets, cleaning the shed. Trellising tomatoes, saving seeds, propagating fuchsias, forgetting to fix dinner. Oops.

  2010 07 15_0601What a handsome couple

All the while the Boss-man keeps bringing home the bacon, building a bulldozer, acquiring wood for the girls to split, devouring berries, covering fellow employee vacations, expanding pasture and clearing fence lines. Paying bills, hearing from God, telling jokes, loving his family.

    2010 07 04_0528 2010 06 23_0498


This weekend our little band will be enjoying the company of good friends at the foot of Mount St. Helens along the Cispus River.

When we return we continue on the quest for a quiet winter solstice, happy cows, molting poultry, sleepy dogs, a blazing fire and warm apple pie.

Funny to think on this glorious, hot, sunny August day that's the reason we're so busy!