Monday, April 25, 2005


After looking all around with no luck, I accidentally located an unusual Mexican herb at a local grocery store. It was on a rolling rack of potted plants just outside the door.

The herb is called Epazote, and you cook it in beans and a bunch of other stuff. Any authentic Mexican cookbook calls for it quite often, though I'd never heard of it before I actually read such a cook book. I've been looking for seeds, but luckily found a healthy (and organic, and cheap) plant. I put it in the pot that I'd put lavender seeds in. Fuck lavender.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Earth (hugger) Day

It was kind of a busy day at Caruthers Street

Marigolds & tin cans
It was Earth Day, and the celebration here is always a big hippy, dirt hugging extravaganza put on by a local lefty organization. It was very close by my house, and I walked through to see the festival. At one table, they were giving out free Marigolds; so I got two to put in my little tin cans hanging from the fence at home. I put them in when I got home, and they're already super cute.

More sunflowers
If all the sunflowers I planted come in, we'll have to use a machete to get out of the house. Despite that, I put in some more in the front flower beds because another table at Earth Day was giving out free seeds, and I got some giant sunflowers (brand "Fordhook Collection" by Burpee, variety "Mammoth"). The seed packet promises heads 6"-12" across and edible seeds; so I put some in for variety. Why not?

The seed packet only contained eight seeds; that's for $1.79. Over 22 cents per seed. Anyway, I only soaked four of them to plant, and I put them in along the front fence, and some along the back fence. I'm hoping they'll climb up and trail along the tops. They bloom only at night, and smell very sweet. It'll be great on a summer night. That's what I'm hoping anyway.

In the one tiny, shady spot in the back yard flower beds that havn't been sewn with seeds, I planted the remnants of some Coriander/Cilantro seeds from last year. I figured it wouldn't hurt, and if they don't come in, I'll just plant something else later.

Snow Peas
Did basically the same thing in the front herb bed with some leftover snow pea seeds. Picked an empty spot along the fence and stuck in eight seeds, figuring if something grows, great. If not, whatever.

Mystery Greens
In the ziplock bag where I kept my seeds for various greens, there was a collection of miscelaneous unidentified seeds. I think most of them were spinach. In any case, there was a very shady spot underneath the snowball viburnum in our sideyard, and it was well dug and enriched with compost; so I figured I'd give the mixed greens a shot under there. Again, if something grows, great.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Triple Rainbow

At Reed
All the plots are dug, and I didn't really have much to do, but the weather was supposed to be amazing--in the 70s-- so I made a point of riding out to the garden. What actually happened was that there was a mini-thunderstorm while I was out there, which was actually cool. It barely rained, and tehre was actual thunder, which I havn't heard out in Portland in years. When it was over, there was a triple rainbow arching over the dorms of Reed College.

All I did out there really was weeded a lot, including the raspberry bed, which is almost all grass. I have everbearing raspberries, which means they send up canes all summer & fall and produce a new crop of fruit. There's not a lot, but it keeps on coming.

I also weeded the snow peas, and moved a couple of them around for better spacing. They're doing pretty well, and are about 2" high.

Last year, my roommate planted a row of carrot seeds, then promptly ignored them for the rest of the year. Despite her neglect, the whole row came in all bushy and healthy, and I was picking carrots all the way through early fall. They gave & gave.

Well, a couple of days ago I found the other half of the same packet of seeds, and decided to put in a row of carrots. On the very corner of my garden plot, I made a little row on the edge of a bed and dropped in the seeds. Hopefully, I'll have carrots all year again, with practically no effort!

In the same bed, I made hills for delicata squashes. The seedlings are almost ready to plant, and the plot is surrounded by metal trellises and string netting to support vines. Last year, I got loofa vines to climb up it. This year, I hope I'll be able to get squashes up there. Maybe I'll put in some acorn squash as well. Not sure if either of them climbs, but whatever.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

A time to sew

Well, it's that time of year, at last. I've been planting seeds around the house like crazy.

First, yesterday, I planted that Swiss Chard from my community garden in a semi-sunny spot.

Then, I planted a bed of basil in our front herb garden. Also put in a flower pot of oregano seeds, one of lavender seeds, and another of chives. Put in two beds of dill, one meant to be decorative, the other for herbs.

The only thing left for our home front herb garden is to put in some veggies, like tomato, eggplant, and zucchini.

I moved the spearmint that I had planted in the clay pot in front to one of the tin cans hanging from my fence. Need to fill the other two cans.

Finally, I also dug the long beds beside the fence in the back yard and made lagre plantings of sunflowers. Also put in one bed of amaranth, "grain of the Aztects and Incas" according to the home printed label on the brown envelope the seeds came in--more anonymous seed supliers courtesy of Heidi. In one section, I put in seeded areas of individual flowers: money plant, columbine, & blue thingies that I got from Elina last year & saved the seed from for this year. I only have one more little spot to fill in the back.

Practically all that's left at the Caruthers house is filling the tin cans on the fence and filling in the holes in the front flower garden.

Today, I started some tomatillo seeds, as well as more zucchini, and hot pepper (from a thai hot pepper my bf was using for cooking.) Lastly, I am soaking some moonflower seeds overnight before planting. Don't have any idea where they'll go though.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Yet more greens at Reed

Because it was a nice day, I rode down to Reed & stayed as long as I could in the sun doing some garden chores. I dug out the grass in my paths and added some compost to unplanted beds. Also...

I figured I'd better plant my collards if I'm going to. It's getting late for early season planting. Probelm was, I didn't have a prepared bed. So I just gave in and planted them in the designated herb & perennial bed. So they're annual. Whatever. I put in two short rows of seeds. They were Ed Hume seeds packaged for 2005, variety of "Vates."

My friend Heidi gave me all these old heirloom & organic seeds before she left for Holland, and I'm still planting them. Since it's actually getting warm here, I went ahead and put in some basil. Not sure what brand they are; they came in a little (sealed) brown envelope with "Lune Basil" hand written on it in cursive.

Wild Beans
Someone left a big sack of mixed beans (white & some speckled purple) in the "free" area at the community garden. On a whim, I decided to cast them out into a turned bed that I wasn't planning to use for a while. Maybe I'll get some sprouts or something.

At this point, the whole garden is turned & more or less all the beds are prepared and space allocated. From her on out, I'm just going to plant: tomatos, tomatillos, eggplants, hot peppers, zucchini, and delicata squash. I've started seeds for all of them and have sprouts for everything except the hot peppers.

Veggie Liberation Front
There's a garden plot near mine that's been abandoned. It was unused all of last year, and noone's been there yet this spring. It's filled with weeds, and the surviving garden plants are scattered around and overpowered by the invaders. I took a little rhubarb from the plot last fall (they still have a lot). And today, I took some sad swiss chard plants for my home garden. If the garden stays unused, I may harvest a little rhubard for pies & such.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

designated herb garden

At Reed
I've dug up and turned the soil in all of the beds in my 20x20 plot. In the area where I grew loofa vines last year, I dug out the sage plants from around the edge and replanted them in the newly redesignated herb & perenniel bed on the NW corner of the plot. I already had my rhubarbs there, and I put in two sages & some spearmint.

Someone had wedged out giant clumps of iris plants from their plot and left them in the "free" area. I took a few large clumps and reclaimed the edge of an overly wide path right next to my perennial & herb bed. In otherwords, I planted a border of irises.

Also in the "free" pile were some mysterious flower bulbs. I put them in the prennial bed. Despite all of that new stuff, there's still room for lots more in the bed. I plan on puting in a lot of basil.

At Caruthers
I took two of the sage plants from Reed and potted one for my boyfriend. The other I stuck in the front bed of my home garden. Also, I stuck some spearmint in the pot out front that was empty & one of the terra cotta tubes I dug into the ground.

Monday, April 11, 2005

new photos

Took some smapshots from my window of the front yard at Caruthers Street. Nothing exciting. Just wanted to get a good "before" picture and provide a visual reference for what I'm describing.

Below is a thumbnail of the big composite picture of my yard, which is a large file. Click on the link with caution.

Also added some other absolutely thrilling pictures of flowers, seedlings, etc.. Scroll down to discover where they're at.

The photo just below is of all the flowering trees and bushes on my street. The camelia in the foreground is just going out of bloom. The pink dogwood across the street is at its peak, and the snowball viburnum in our sideyard is getting ready to go. From early February through June, we have non-stop flowers around the house, all without lifting a finger.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

oh great

I was puttering around the yard yesterday, puting in a bed of sunflower seeds (more on that scintilating news later), and I had the plastic box with my seeds sitting on the front steps of the house.

I rushed out of the house last night running late, then when I came home this afternoon after a downpour, my open box of seeds was still sitting on the front steps. No one bothered to move them for me out of the rain.

So now I have to plant a lot of stuff right away or else the seeds are fucked.

Last year when my friend Heidi moved to Holland, she gave me a bunch of specialty organic & heritage seeds. It was already late in the year for planting, but I cleared a little patch of dirt and threw down some sunflower seeds. To my surprise, they practically flew out of the ground. I ended up with a very nice bed of red sunflowers. (See photo.)

So this year, I figured I'd plant more. I took the seeds from last years flowers & saved them, then put them in a bed behind oour fence that doesn't get much light. I figured they'd grow up over the fence quickly & block out more of the view of the parking lot next door.

Anyway, yesterday I finally put in half the seeds, figuring if it's too early & they don't grow, I can put in the rest later. But now I have to plant all the rest of the ones I have because they are soaking wet.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Potato surprise

Two days ago at Reed:

Someone was giving away some interesting red potatos that were sprouting. So on a whim, I turned the soil in a spot that I wasn't using ands put in a potato patch.

Also, I pulled out the two Italian kale plants that lasted through the winter. They were determined to flower, and I think their quality sufferes if that happens. So I harvested the whole plants and make a mess a' greens, as they say in the South.

Yesterday at Caruthers:

Turned more beds and enriched them with compost. Also dug in the last small flower bed in the median next to the street.

I found these interesting terra cotta tube things a few weeks ago. I think they're, like, sections of chimney flues. Anyway I half burried them in a flower bed and filled them with soil. They'll hopefully be cute little "raised beds" with flowers growing out of them.

Morning Glories
A few days ago, I burried some Morning Glory seeds around the edges of the fence and near anything tall that they might like to climb. After soaking them overnight, some of them were already sprouting, which gives me some hope for good results.

Otherwise, I might not plant any seeds for a while until it warms up.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Flowers at Caruthers

Surprisingly dry (if overcast) weather sent me outside to work in the yard today. Mowed the lawn (with an old-fashioned push mower), and planted some flower seeds.

In the very corner of our front yard, which sits in deep shade all summer under a cherry tree, I decided to attempt some coleus (Coleus hybridus). It's colorful and loves shade. I spread seed, but it may still be too cool for germination. We'll see.

In the second median flower bed, under the birch tree, I put in some Rudbeckia seeds (Rudbeckia hirta), AKA Black-Eyed Susan. Should be a big bushy yellow flowering perennial. I also put in a few seeds in the main flowerbed.

Planted multi-colored Nasturtiums all over the place. First, I put seeds in the hanging flower pots on the back porch, which will be just darling if they actually come in, cascading down the railings and all.

Also, I put in seeds in three different areas of the main flower bed, in places where they'll roll down the hill or jump over a border.

Though they are not my favorite flower, Nasturtiums are edible, and I hear you can use the leaves as greens, as well as pickle the flower buds (maybe?) to use like capers. I always love a culinary experiment.

Some time in late February, I picked a handful of tiny baby dandelion leaves from our back yard and had a salad. It wasn't half bad, though hardly worth the effort unless you're literally starving. I also sampled the tiny flower buds, which have a nutty flavor and were actually pretty good, though once again hardly worth the effort.

However, I've read that you can make all sorts of things from dandelion flowers, such as wine and jelly. I think I'm going to give jelly a shot. You have to gather, like, pounds of the flowers, which is hundreds and hundreds of them, at least. Right now, there are little flowers everywhere around town, and in our back yard. So I'm thinking of at least trying. All this was to explain why I felt bad mowing our grass today. I wanted to gather the little dandelion flowers for jelly but didn't have the time.

Morning Glories
Tonight, I'm soaking morning glory seeds ("Heavenly Blue" Ipomoea tricolor)to plant tomorrow. I'm hoping to get them to climb the fence. Planted some seeds last year but didn't get a single plant. I assume it's because I ignored the directions and put them right in the ground without soaking first.

I also want to plant some Moonflowers (Ipomoea alba), which are a night blooming variety of morning glories. They are large & white, with a very sweet scent. Great plant, but it needs to climb something.

The Oriental poppies that I scattered around in front of the main flower bed have not come in at all, not a single one. Not sure if it's how or when I planted them that's the problem.


Today, the first sprouts poked up from the seeds I started indoors. Some tomatos & the Delicata squashes are the ones growing.

Also, in my front yard, the perennial sunflower given to me by Elina has come back and has lots of little sprouts coming out of the ground. And finally, there are signs of life from several other perennial flowers, like Becca's shasta daisies & some other filler stuff. Unfortunately, the lion's tail plant, which seemed so much healthier last fall, looks to be quite dead, as is the weeping Rosemary that Geraldo gave me.

The cosmos seeds that I planted in the first median flower bed are definitely sprouting, but which ones are the flowers and which are the weeds is difficult to tell.