Tag Archives: garden

Tulips come early this year.

23 Mar

The tulips have come early this year (thanks to the warmer than normal weather) and the Velush family took full advantage Sunday morning.

Sisters ham it up for the camera.

Sisters ham it up for the camera.

Love the range of color.

Love the range of color.

Lots of pink tulips.

Lots of pink tulips.

Tansy's hair is in free fall.

Tansy’s hair is in free fall.

Tansy explains things to Lola

Talking shop out of hearing of mom and dad. What are they talking about?

Isn't this lovely?

Isn’t this lovely?

The orange tulips (is that their color) are among my favorites.

Natalie gets a close up with her phone.

Natalie and Lukas as photographed by Lola.

Natalie and Lukas as photographed by Lola.

Lola brings the tulips to life.

Lola brings the tulips to life with her amazing beauty.

Lola jumps for joy on the tractor-tulip pull.

Lola jumps for joy on the tractor-tulip pull.

Family on the wagon to see the tulips.

Family on the wagon to see the tulips.

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Spring in February?

13 Feb

The trees are budding, the crocuses are blooming, and the birds are fluttering – and it’s not even mid-February. I don’t know what’s happening here in Seattle, but it sure isn’t the deep freeze that has descended on the East Coast. My biggest fear is that everything will bud out and then we’ll get a big freeze. Either way, though, it’s time to plant some greens and peas – can’t hurt to get an early start on them. I guess it’s time to put my shorts on and go outside!

Stubbly carrots

10 Nov
Stubbly carrots

Stubbly carrots

My kids really love fresh carrots while mostly just tolerating others so this year I decided to go big on carrots. I gave them the sunniest patch of garden. I even thinned them out. And I left most of them into the ground until now to give them a little extra time to get big. Despite that (and unlike in past years), they all turned out to be super stubbly? Why so stubbly?

Why are there grow lights in my basement?

3 Apr

Ah, gardening in Seattle, that fun time of year when you have to plant in pots in your basement with an array of grow lights. Look in my basement window, and it looks like a mini marijuana growing operation. But alas, it’s just tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), and basil. Those are the things I like to grow that you can’t plant outside in Seattle until May.

So, I ask you, sun gold cherry tomatoes, please pretend that the five, slightly blue bulbs shining down at you 24 hours a day are the sun, and sprout upward with gusto. I need you to leap out of the ground and be strong enough for me to put in a greenhouse while I leave on spring break for vacation in a couple of weeks. Can you do it?

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Covered wagon or greenhouse?

27 Feb

Rather than  buy starts, last year I built a greenhouse so I could sprout my own tomatoes, peppers, and basil. Calling it a greenhouse is being generous. I used some scrap two-by-fours to frame out a low-slung frame that’s eight feet long, four feet wide and three feet tall – or something like that. The only complicated part was to build and mount a door. Then I stretched plastic over it all, and voila, I had greenhouse.

It worked great – I wasn’t sure how it would perform, and I actually ended up with too many cherry tomatoes, lots of peppers, and even some of the finicky basil that I had never been able to start on my own before.

After I was done with it, I parked the greenhouse in the hidden area on the north side of my house and thought vaguely that I needed to do something about the roof. (Every time it rained, the water pooled heavily on the roof, which caused it to sag and sag some more each time it rained). I promptly forgot about the plastic-wrapped wonder until recently, when I started thinking about dragging it out so I can get some new starts going. When I went back to take a look, sure enough it was filled with water and rotting leaves. Yuck.

Seeing some of the PVC-like plastic pipes some people use to tent over their raised beds, I came up with the idea of popping out the top of my greenhouse with some PVC pipes. I just needed to figure out how to secure the pipe ends without tearing the plastic. I went to the hardware store, looked around, and decided 45-degree PVC elbows would likely do the trick. So I bought two 10-foot lengths of 3/4 inch PVC and six elbows, plus some basic brackets to hold the elbows in place.

From there, I estimated how long a piece I thought I would need by wedging a piece of PVC into the roof and seeing how far I could wedge in. I quickly made a mark, cut the pipe down to size, screwed the brackets over the elbows, and wedged the PVC pipe in one elbow, bent the middle of the pipe up until I could slip the other end into the elbow on the other side, and I was done. I did that twice more, and I suddenly had a pop-up roof and a greenhouse that looks just like a covered wagon.

Now it’s time to move it to the sunny side of the yard and see how warm it stays at night.

Really, Do I Have to Eat Greens to Get Better?

25 Feb

Natalie was really sick yesterday so I stayed home and made her garden soup for lunch – the surest way to get anyone better. First I went out and picked big piles of overwintering chard and spinach. I sliced the stems out of the chard and fried those up first with some pressed garlic. Then I added both piles of greens and stewed them down. Thanks to the garlic, the greens started to waft deliciousness right away. On the side, I was heating up some premade tomato soup. Just as it got hot, I dropped the stewed greens into two bowls and then poured the hot soup over the top. On the side, I melted cheese on corn tortillas and sprinkled more garlic on top (you can’t have enough garlic when you get sick). Natalie is feeling much better today. Not sure if the soup did it, but…

Crazy Dog Digs Up Carrots

21 Feb

We have a dog that likes to dig. He digs, sticks his nose in the dirt, digs some more, spraying dirt all around while he does it, on you, on the sidewalk – it doesn’t matter as long as he gets to dig.

On this day, we let Latke into the garden so he could help us dig up most of the last of our carrots. By us, I mean me and my two daughters. Together we pulled in quite a haul of carrots, and it wasn’t the first time. We’ve been eating carrots from the garden all fall and through the winter so far. It’s been awesome because carrots are my daughters most favorite vegetable – having a continuous supply has allowed them to actually pack a vegetable in their lunches that they actually eat.

Latke kind of jumped around when it came to helping us out with his digging, so I think there are still some more carrots out there. I’ll probably try to dig up the rest without him. But in the meantime, we will enjoy the fruit of his labors – at least the fruit that he didn’t eat. He actually ate at least one carrot that I know of, maybe more.

Enjoy this slideshow of Latke at work with help from the girls.

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Over wintering spinach makes for yummy Sunday quiche

19 Feb

The spinach that has been huddling in my garden all winter came in handy this morning as we made quiche for guests. Had to go check the coop because we ran low on eggs. So glad the ladies have started laying again.

 

Cycle of “chicken poop” life

16 Feb

We have seven chickens that we share with our neighbor. As urban farmers know, chickens are the lifeblood of trying to live sustainably in the city. You buy organic food, you drop the scraps into a chicken bucket. The chickens eat the scraps and make poop (the eggs are a nice byproduct). Then you take the poop and mix in with your grass clippings, leaves, and the food scraps the chickens won’t eat. At the end of the compost process, you have rich soil that you put in your garden to grow your own food.

All of this adds up to living sustainably – at least for one slice of your life. It feels great, even if it’s mostly a symbol of true sustainability. But it’s real, and doing it makes you feel really great.

And while I love the cycle, I do have to admit that I don’t have it down perfectly. The piece I want to work on is composting. Right now I drop the chicken poop, grass, and everything else into trashcans and pretty much just let it sit there for long periods of time. Eventually it breaks down and turns into good soil, but it takes forever and it doesn’t mix evenly – and I’m never sure when it’s cured and is ready for the garden. I just spread my  compost into my garden and worked it into the soil in hopes that any “hot” poop will cool off before I plant.

This year I want to up the ante and actually go find compost bins that lay on their side on tracks – they’re what I dream about because all you do is give the barrel a little nudge on the track each time you drop scraps or poop in there. That little bit of rotation stirs up the compost and helps it decompose much faster and mixes everything up nicely. I want two barrels please, and right away. Smile

Hello world!

15 Feb

Thank you to my lovely wife for setting up a much-talked about blog for me on Valentine’s Day. What a romantic (and digital) day it has been. Natalie sets up a blog for me and I make a Valentine’s Day movie for her with the help of our two daughters, Lola and Tansy.

I wanted to start a blog to write about anything I fancy, but in particular about gardening and commuting to work via bike. I love to garden and grudgingly enjoy biking to work, so why not throw my two cents out there, right?

I’ll get around to filling out the about me section, but for now, just know I’m a husband, dad, editor at Microsoft, Seattle leftie, child of hippies, and generally laid back guy.

More from me later. Count on it.

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