This year in the garden…

I really NEED to get my digital camera working – I’m so bad with things like that but I’d love to be able to show you the pile of produce on my counter today. In any case… Here’s how things went this year:

– Lovely piles of herbs (always seem to be the easiest to grow) – with basil, rosemary, sage, and tarragon doing the best, along with chives. Cilantro and dill went to seed almost immediately, and I am still trying to convince the basil that it doesn’t want to go to seed yet.

– LOTS of peppers, mostly the long green ones. I also planted some smaller bell-shaped varieties, I thought they were supposed to be red and yellow but it seems I am only getting a couple of green ones.

– Broccoli, hmm. Supposed to be easy to grow here. The plants and stems did seem very strong and robust, but the heads were small and spindly. I did have lovely yellow flowers though :D  The broccoli was quite bitter, I found.

– Eggplant, another disappointment. Had pretty purple flowers but then nothing happened. From discussions at the farmer’s market it appears I am not alone – the particular rainy weather we had in the middle of July is likely responsible for this. They need just the right temperatures to set fruit at just the right time of flowering, and it didn’t happen.

– Squash, yum. I am growing what I thought would be small yellow patty-pan squash, but they’re BIG yellow patty-pan squash, probably eight inches in diameter. Perfect for grilling and broiling and with a very nice flavor.

– Lemon cucumbers – I am getting lots of these. I was surprised to find that they had uncomfortable little spiky points all over them, but they easily scrub off. These have a nice flavor but the rind is a little hard.

– Butter lettuce – really nice clumps of perfect, yummy lettuce. Definitely met my expectations. The spinach, on the other hand, flowered (!) almost immediately and I never really got any. I was late starting this year and both of these crops probably should have been started earlier. The chard from last year lived through the winter, and had I trimmed it back better, it might not be so spindly. I’ll see how it’s doing next spring.

All in all, not bad. It’s fun to try new things each year – but I’m glad I didn’t bother with tomatoes. Too much trouble and not enough gain here in the Pacific NW. Next year I’ll try to get started earlier and see what else I can grow – strawberries might be nice!

Inherited gardens

It’s interesting to be in possession of a garden not your own, even a small space like mine, that has been carefully tended by someone else. The first year is fun, as you watch to see what comes up and decide what to keep, what to move, what to add.

So far, the things I really like: Lilacs, hydrangea, foxgloves, white bleeding heart, lily of the valley, small forest floor ground cover plant that I’m not sure of, azaleas, the amazing honeysuckle vine that creeps over the arbor, japanese maples and ferns.

Those that may get replaced: Pansies and geraniums in planter boxes (not my style), a couple of clumps of grasses that seem completely out of place, a very large jasmine vine (some like the scent but I find it overpowering), orange daylilies, yellow chain tree out front.

Things to add: clematis, climbing rose, vine maples, salal, raised beds with veggies!!

Turning over a few new leaves

Well, the last day of April I was sitting around in my little apartment (650 sq ft) and it was rainy. I was feeling really cooped up and exhausted, which I had largely been doing to myself by working too much and just kind of hiding inside. I moved to Olympia to support a healthier, more fun, and less expensive lifestyle, but lately it’s been all work and house-hunting, and a serious sleep deficit from my landlord’s little dog barking loudly at 5am. No fun.

I decided things have to change. I’ve been putting everything on hold until I find a new house, but that may not happen soon. And putting everything on hold like that increases the pressure to find a house, which might push me to buy something that isn’t exactly right. I have to do a better job of starting to make the changes I wanted to make, even in this temporary place.

So, May 1 I went to Curves and got signed up. At least I will be exercising three times a week – that has to help a lot. The program is short enough and close enough that no matter how tired I am I should be able to do it. I also researched yoga studios in Olympia and found one that looks like it will be great – and not too expensive. Once I get on a regular schedule at Curves, I’ll start adding that in on alternate days.

In spite of her dog, my landlord and her partner are also being encouraging. They have a neat new electronic exercise cycle that they’re encouraging me to use, and also to go walking with them. They also decided to make for me a little patch of garden that i can putter around in. I already got the dirt prepared and compost mixed in, now I just have to find a minute to go get some little plants to put in. That feels good.

The weather is changing for the better and both I and my cat can spend a little time outdoors on the property, and enjoying all the beautiful gardens as I go around looking for homes. While houses for sale have been few and far between for some months, it seems For Sale By Owners are really picking up just this weekend, even if there are no new MLS listings. Apparently people are feeling like if they’re going to lose money, they should eliminate the agent commission. This makes it a little challenging for me since I’m very loyal to my agent (especially after the last house fiasco, which she really helped me with). I’m going to make sure she gets her commission one way or another.

And the really good news is, my landlord is finally convinced that the dog barking is really a problem for me. She tried keeping him in the house and taking him out onto another part of the property in the morning, but he wakes up at 5am and now she’s tired!! (after only 3 days) So she has ordered a citronella collar for him, which apparently works by spraying a bit of citronella on them when they bark. Supposedly they hate that so much that they stop barking (I know my cat would), and it’s more humane than a shock collar. This dog has never been socialized (not his fault) and is just now being trained, so we’re all hoping this will help.

Signs of Spring

daffy.jpg

One of the interesting things about a home that’s relatively new to you is seeing what comes up in the garden that you didn’t plant :) And when you have a forest behind your house, there are always new discoveries to make. The daffodils and other little bulbs are pushing their way up through the leaves, and this heather has been blooming for almost a month now (!) ever since we got just a little bit of warm weather.

heather.jpg

Here’s something I did plant – a flowering currant which is just starting to leaf out beautifully (never mind all the dry leaves I STILL haven’t raked up yet!)

currant.jpg

And really my favorite sign of spring, other than the birds singing, is the flowering of this native plant, the Osoberry, or Indian Plum. It flowers before it leafs out, and you can see the little leaves sprouting at the top of each flower. One sex has green flowers and the other white, and I can never remember which is which. It flowers way before any of the other stick-like vegetation out back (dogwoods, salmonberry, etc.) so it’s a very welcome sight in the spring.

oso.jpg