Monday, May 31, 2010

Values, inspiration, and a side of garden wildlife

What if you decided for one month, to source all of your food from local farms, neighborhood buying clubs, and your own stash of preserved foods? That's what Jacquelyn did this past month, and I chat with her on my most recent show on Lelo Homemade. You can listen to it here. I love how Jacquelyn believes in voting with her dollar and really living her values. It was a great chat and I came away inspired and thinking a little differently about how we source our food. Big thanks to Jacquelyn for her time and sharing her knowledge.

Also in this week's show? I'm having some problems with squirrels, and so is my neighbor. Some of it funny, some of it not so funny. But the wildlife I've really been enjoying in the garden are the birds. We have so many this year, and new ones I've never seen before.

Thank you to everyone (all 8,000 of you every week) for listening and supporting this show. You guys are the best. Now if only we could get this rain to stop....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I wish I was a better garden organizer

love is a rose is love is a rose
I wish I was a better garden organizer, but the truth is, I'm not. I've tried to save plant tags in the past. I've tried the gardening journal. In the past. But the reality is? I'm an emotional gardener. I plant what I'm feeling and what I'm seeing and what I'm loving and what I'm imagining. Not necessarily what I'm organizing. So while I admire from afar the seed sorting approaches, the meticulous binders of plants planted when, I have to come clean. I am not one of you. I plant with my heart.

And that leads us to the topic of this photo. The I-Love-You-Rose. I have no idea what rose this is. Yes, it came from Heirloom Roses in St. Paul. It may very well have been an orphan or an unidentified rose. But for all I know, it ended up in our garden, and last weekend as I passed it during a respite in our rainstorms, I chuckled to myself, I love you. Really. True red, perfect form, single rose. And when I picked it? Thornless. Oh so classic. Am I right?

But because I have not saved its tag, nor written in my journal its lineage, I cannot tell you dear blog reader, what rose it is. And that is because I am not the best garden organizer. Instead? I am a passionizer. And I offer up this mantra to us all...

Unite, all of you unable to keep and organize your plant markers.
Unite, all who fail to dutifully record the date and location of seeds planted.

Unite, all who scratch a bit and throw seeds into the ground,
hoping they'll grow and become something.

All who purchase more than they are able to plant within one week of purchase!

I'm out of breath with that last paragraph, aren't you? Let's just say, it's okay to be with where you are in your love of gardening. Whether it be an organized love or not. A small love or a large love. A just-getting-to-know-you-love or long love.

If you have found yourself mesmerized with the unfurling of a poppy? The sprouting of a seed? You're in.

But in the end? How much do I love this simple red rose? Almost as much as I love the woman holding it. My love, mi amor, the apple of my eye. Love is a many splendored thing. Organization? You're on my list to acquire. Some day, some day. Until then, I have some very beautiful roses to admire.
can you smell them?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Visiting gardens, close and far

This week's Lelo Homemade show is up and online, and you can listen to it here.

Do you travel? Do you travel to gardens? I do, both near and far. This week's show includes some thoughts about recent visits to Austin's Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and The Oregon Garden, but the bulk of the show is a chat with my friend Tom Barreto. Tom recently took a garden tour through areas of Europe, visiting private and public gardens. We talk about some of the amazing gardens he saw, and what a great experience he ended up having traveling with other plant nerdz. It's a fun chat and you can listen to it here.

Here's a collection of photos from my trip to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin last month. (Check out the glass mulch, those crazy bright blue blue bonnets, the garden sculpture, and the thickly blooming cross vine)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stop, look and listen

Looking throught it all
Sometimes it can feel like a wonderful whirlwind. So much to see, do, experience, learn. It’s easy to get over stimulated and miss things. I continue to learn to stop for a moment and really see. Stop and look a little closer, a little deeper, a little beyond. Look for those special vistas built into life for us to find. They’re there, oh, they’re there. But it’s up to us to stop and see them.

Today I’m using my eye to see a little further, a little deeper and a little beyond. Sometimes it’s not just my eyes to see, but my heart, my inner voice and self. It’s a good day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Coffee grounds, drama in the garden, and a wonderful chat with Ms. McClellan

Do you use coffee grounds in your garden? Pick up those bags of grounds left out for customers at your local coffee shop? Marie asked about coffee grounds recently, and I answer her question on my latest Lelo Homemade can listen to it here.

Remember last week we were talking about drama in the garden? I talk about my favorite plants with black foliage, and what inspired me to add more goth into the garden in the first place.

But the best part about the latest show? A nice, long chat with Marisa McClellan, author of Food In Jars, one of my favorite resources for canning inspiration, recipes, and ideas. Marisa is originally from Portland, and now lives in Philadelphia. She shares her memories of gathering produce at Sauvie Island, what inspires her canning explorations today, and we chat about her plans for canning this summer. I'm intrigued with her fruit butters! Also, I ask her about the recent discussions I've been seeing about the concerns of BPA in canning lids, and get her take on it. Thank you, Marisa, for sharing your time and thoughts with all of us: your passion for canning and farms and fresh produce is inspiring.

And thanks go to all of you who are listening. Word is we're up to over 8,000 of you listening in: wow! Thank you. Thank you for your questions, support and interest. If you have questions for me to answer, or topics you'd like to hear me talk more about, let me know.

Listen to the most recent episode of Lelo Homemade here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cool event you should come to

I'm going to be on stage and I think I'm going to have one of those cool lapel microphones. Isn't that enough of a reason to come? Okay okay. I'll give you more reasons...I'm going to be doing a session on how to build your own worm bin, and a session on how to pot up plants. But even more of a reason is because it's on the DIY Stage at the 11th annual Alberta Art Hop.

Saturday, May 15, 11am-6pm, at the intersection of 18th and Alberta Streets
The very cool Julie Sabatier, host and creator of the Destination DIY radio show and podcast is hosting the DIY stage with all kinds of fun things to learn how to do, including terrarium building for kids and goat milking. Gah! I know! Goat milking! You should come.

The 11th annual Art Hop is a free event, and over 15 blocks of NE Alberta Street will be closed to car traffic to accommodate over 150 artists, craftspeople, music, dance and theater performances, interactive art event along with food and other vendors.

Come and I'll show you how to make your own worm composting bin and gross out your guests at your next dinner party!

Quick! Answer this very important question...

When do you bring cake, and when do you bring pie?
Do you have an answer to this question? I know I do. And I know I recently asked that of Jaynie Buckingham in Austin, Texas. And she gave the most wonderful answer.
Head to the Portland Pie-Off site to see what she told me...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to control aphids in the garden: Part Two

I never promised you a rose garden. But I did promise you a Part Two to my very high-tech solution to aphid control in the garden. Without further ado: part two.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How to control aphids in the garden: a very high-tech technique

Watch, listen and learn, people. I'm going to show you a very successful way I control aphids in our garden. I recently noticed some of our rose buds were completely covered with aphids. Gross. Little buggers. They like to suck, and if left uncontrolled, would suck the life out of all of those beautiful rose buds. Rosebud! Rosebud!

So I thought I'd share with you my very high-tech, organic solution to controlling aphids in the garden. Totally NSFW. Part One:

And tomorrow, Part Two!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm not a rose hater, I'm a rose liberator

If you're turning your nose up at the word rose, you're cutting yourself off from a whole fascinating, historical, cultural phenomenon. I love roses. Not the fickle hybrid roses that need spraying and coying and coiffing. Or god forbid, a shade-casting umbrella on a hot day. I love a good old fashioned, passed-along, rose. The equivalent to women with child bearing hips. Right?

And the first rose blooming this year in our garden is this one.

First rose of the season

Enjoy the decadence of what we call Anne's rose. The rose that came from our friend Anne, and her great-aunt in Washington. What rose it was? I do not know. It's a pass-along. And it rarely gets black spot, never has shown signs of rust, it responds well to light pruning, but other than that? Requires very little.

I don't like fussy roses. But the old, heirloom roses like Anne's rose? Special and wonderful.

Do you grow roses? Do you love them? Hate them? Lay down on the couch and tell the rose doctor your feelings, won't you?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

It's lilac time

Sniff the lilac
My latest show is up at and I'm talking about lilac. You can listen to it here.

I also talk about experimenting in the kitchen with sorrel, a tasty green that makes a wonderful sauce and soup. Plus, I answer some great questions from a listener, about planting edibles in part sun, amending the soil, and crop rotation.

If you'd rather read about lilac, you can read my latest column over at Just Out.

Phew! Have I said thank you to all of you who read this blog, listen to the show or read my column? Probably not enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You guys are the best. What have you been up to in your garden lately?

Saturday, May 08, 2010

St Johns is Something Special: St Johns Parade 2010 Rocks It

St Johns is someplace special
It was a great parade, as always. Today's sunshine brought out the best in everyone.

Hot rods and hot hair...
Fly your flag!
Citizen of the year Steve Duin (whose sign had a corrected typo)
Sorry Steve Duin
Ribbons shown with pride
Show off that ribbon with pride!

Our City Commissioner rode in a car with a front license plate that read Redneck Yacht Club
City Commissioner Fish

And you could even say Commissioner Fish had balls. Keepin' it classy.
City Commissioner Fish has balls, evidently

We saw lots of friends, and even our dog Wink did too.
Even Wink saw friends in the parade

And passion on a flat bed truck. This drummer rocked it.
Passion on a flat bed truck

See more photos from the parade today here.

See you next year, St Johns parade!

Friday, May 07, 2010

My new friend Joy

I don't yet have a photo of my new friend. She's coy like that. We met this weekend when I was working in the garden.

We'd been preparing the garden beds, working the soil some, digging out weeds, turning over the top soil a bit. I'd been finding grubs, in red hard shelled cocoons. The master gardener in me said to pop them in a zip lock and stash them in the freezer until I can take them into the office to look up, and maybe pick them apart under a microscope. But the other part of the master gardener in me knows that in this stage, it may be pretty unknown what they are. They're not fully formed yet. As you can tell, I've been pondering their existence a bit. Are they bad? Are they good?

So back to Joy. (You like that, don't you? Back to reality, back to simplicity, back to JOY. It could be a new ad campaign for a pharmaceutical drug.) I was digging with a hand trowel in the front raised beds and came across the grub. I decided to pick it out and toss it into the front sidewalk. What the heck. Out of the garden, onto the sidewalk. Maybe someone would come along and squish it. I've been known to toss things, like slugs, into the street. And you know what happens to things that are in the street.

So I tossed a few grubs into the sidewalk, and kept digging. Soon a blue jay perched alongside me in the crab apple tree. I saw her out of the corner of my eye. She was looking around, and seemed a bit close. And then I saw her again. This time? She popped down onto the sidewalk and grabbed one of the grubs I had tossed. Grab, gulp, gulp, down. She was eating the grubs! Ah ha! So perhaps my technique wasn't in vain. I continued to work, toss, work, toss. And the jay kept close, swooping in for the treats.

I took a break from digging and surveyed the garden from a nearby bench. Sure enough, there was the jay, swooping through the front porch, flitting from limb to shrub. Staying close by.

"Oh joy" is a favorite saying of AdRi's. Usually said with irony. Sometimes accompanied with Happy happy joy joy. But in this case? Joy was surely the name that spoke to me loud and clear for my new friend.

Oh Joy!
She even emerged from a far away bed with a big white worm dangling in her beak. Yes, she was in the right place for some good food. And yes, her name was Joy.

And I realized in this moment, these are the reasons we don't use pesticides or chemicals in our garden anymore. Because they kill everything, including the food the birds need. Here was our own personal bug warfare, Joy, to hang close and dig in.

"Oh Joy" I would say, every time I saw her throughout the afternoon. I eagerly kept an eye open for more grubs to throw her way. And I know that when I'm not there to dig them up, Joy will work some for me, too. She can pull her own weight.

It's a good day in the garden. And perhaps, even a joyous one.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Fellow food preservers are gearing up

the finished product
How can I tell it's getting to be the season for canning and preserving? Because new orders for my custom canning labels are coming in over on Etsy and wow, you guys are getting busy!

It's so inspiring to create these because I get to hear about what you're creating in the kitchen. Check out some of the great products I recently made labels for...
Blueberry Lime Jam
Honey Lemon Jelly
Strawberry Rhubarb Jelly
Roasted Red Peppers
Carrot Cake Jam
Pickled Asparagus
I know, huh? Totally impressive.

What's on your list for preserves this year? I spoke about it a little on last week's show, but I've been thinking no more figs (I'd rather eat them fresh), and yes to more sauces. Which will probably mean having to bust out the pressure canner. I really want to can my own salsa, enchilada sauce and thai simmer sauces this year. And yes to the strawberry freezer jam, tayberry jam, peach preserves, but all with the low to no-sugar Pomona's Universal Pectin. And of course, canning peaches whole. Oh, oh, and maybe pickling some onions, jalapeƱos...we'll see. I'm not the biggest pickler, but I am a fan of anything crunchy crispy tangy: just say NO to the soggy pickle.

Oooh, and I need to do a new batch of strawberry vinegar. The flavored vinegars are so great for salads.

What are you thinking of when it comes to preserving this year? Doing more? Doing less? Experimenting with anything new?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Cultivate some drama with a little goth in the garden

Black tulip
There's been some drama our way thanks to these fantastic tulips.

A sea of goth

A few years back I stood back from the garden, squinted, and all I could see was a big green blur. There was no variation. And in that moment I realized I needed to plant more drama, and that can come through foliage or flower.

I thought I'd share a little of our goth success. You know, all those kids in black, black eyeliner, lined up behind the gym smoking cigarettes. Those are my tulips.

Feather tulips

More later this week with all of the black foliage in the garden: I started a list and the list just kept going and going and going.

Yes, those are black tulips

I'm loving this impact and drama in the garden, but I'd love to hear from you. What do you plant for drama in your garden?