Visiting Seattle

3/22:  Rainy day today but it’s supposed to clear up tomorrow.  I think I’ll try to make some kiwi preserves today, we had about 12 dozen left over from last years harvest.  They’re getting a little dry to eat, but I think they’ll make a nice jam or jelly.

3/23-25:  Off to tourist it up in Seattle.  We stayed at the most lovely Bed and Breakfast called the Chelsea Station Inn. We had a lovely suite with a bedroom, a living room with a pull out sofa, a full bath, a half bath, a dining area and a small kitchenette.  Breakfast was fabulous – blueberry pancakes with ham and cheese tarts, fresh fruit and sausage one day and scrambled eggs, bacon, mushroom turnovers and chocolate croissant the next. Both days also came with fresh juice, coffee, tea and milk.  In addition to breakfast, the Inn also had a stocked refrigerator and a basement pantry filled with fantastic treats like biscotti, goat cheese, yogurt covered raisins and juice.  The Inn is located just across the street from the Woodland Park Zoo and  fantastic park.

We visited the Theo Chocolate Company for a tour (pretty good) but their store was the high point for Noah and Caleb – tasting chocolate after chocolate sample.  We also went to Pike Street Market and found some fantastic things for supper.  Some wonderful brie from Quality Cheese, a great piece of smoked salmon from Jack’s Fish Spot (half the  price of the guys that throw the fish around and just across the street) and a couple of great sausages called walking sausage from Uli’s Famous Sausage.

After the market, we took the monorail to the Seattle Center for a visit to the Music Experience Project.  The kids had a great time, the only bummer was that the music lab was closed for repairs.  We did take some great photo (see below), viewed some very interesting exhibits and you can’t image the giant sculpture made out of guitars and other musical instruments.


Goodbye Copernicus

3/17 – Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  Not much new in the garden this week – life has been very busy and none of included any fun out in the garden.  Mr. Copernicus disappeared last night – he didn’t come home in the evening and is still gone this evening.  He came to us on a sunny summer day several years ago and we all are hoping that if he doesn’t return, that his roving ways returned and he is out having a wonderful adventure.  We love and miss you Copper, stay safe……

3/18 – What a truly lovely day; spring, clear blue sky, close to 60 degrees and I just couldn’t bring myself to go out into the garden and enjoy it. We have speculated that beautiful Mr. Copernius has probably been taken by a coyote because he has still not returned home. He was my garden buddy, he would follow us into the garden and roll and stretch and purrr. His favorite thing was to lay in the garden on a summer day being petted in between weedings. He didn’t care if you had gloves or bare hands, clean or dirty, he just loved outside and petting. The most sure bet was that, after you pulled your hand away, Copernicus would grab it and hold on, hoping the “petting hand” was not leaving. Rest in Peace pitty kitty.

3/20 – I made it outside this morning.  I’ve got the front pasture and the west pasture mowed down, mowed the upper back yard and started the lower one, then I ran out of gas (literally, not figuratively).  I finished spreading the rest of the mulch on the blueberries and planted another row of peas in the main garden.  I put out the lawn furniture cushions and got the chairs out of the little barn (12 x 12 little) for the fire ring.  I want to light the burn pile but I think I’ll wait until Joe and the kids get back from the SOLV beach cleanup.

Spring Snow

03/07:  Joe was working in the orchard today, pulling the grass that has grown up to the tree trunks and staking the apple tree near the road that has been leaning a bit too much.

Pak Choi on 3/7/10

The little Pak Choi sprouts are doing well and the cats have discovered them yet.  The squash are just popping up today.  I hope some of these make it to the garden, my luck with seed transplants has never been great.

I bottled  up a new batch of kombucha today.  It’s tea with sugar that has been fermented into a sparkling drink by a yeast/bacteria culture known as a “scooby”.  Our scooby is probably three or four years old by now and faithfully make batch after batch of this wonder drink.  As the tea ferments, the scooby creates glucuronic acid with aids the liver as it detoxifies the blood.  Just brew a container of green or black tea (this has some hibiscus flowers) add a cup of organic sugar.  Once everything is back to room temperature, pour it into a jar, float the scooby on top and cover with a cloth to keep out the dust and fruit flies.  Do Not Seal – remember this is fermenting and therefore creating carbon dioxide gas – it could explode.

brewing kombucha

03/09 Ahhhhhh – I work up to snow, hail, sleet, some kind of frozen stuff covering the ground. It’s 31 degrees out. Luckily Joe had covered up my lettuce plants with some old storm windows.

03/10 Warmer this morning, it was 36 degrees. I went out this afternoon and checked the garden. Everything looks fine and the carrots from the first planting actually sprouted sometime during the last two, cold days. Amazing.

03/12 I love Saturday! The house is clean (at least the main floor), the gardens are weeded (for the most part), the last loads of laundry are ready for the washing machine. Our Fisher Paykel washer went out last spring and after five or six trips by the repair man (and too much money) we gave up and bought the most beautiful front loading Frigidaire set. The best part is – THEY”RE RED – the most beautiful shade of ruby. They are also quiet, which, if you’ve ever been around a Fisher Paykel, is a God send.

The squash seedlings were getting a bit too big for their tiny peat pellets so I transplanted seven of them into terra-cota pots in a sunny window. They don’t have anything but their seed leaves yet but I don’t think they could wait too long. Six of them are butternut squash and only one is the summer squash – they did not germinate very well, the seed coat seemed very hard and even the three that have germinated needed help. Outside things are warming up a bit, the carrot sprouts are doing well and I think some of the spinach may be coming up as well.

The rhubarb looks fantastic in its chicken-proof enclosure.I think this transplant is going to be a good decision. The combination plum in the main garden is in bloom as is the almond, none of the other fruit trees have burst yet but the buds are swollen and it shouldn’t be too much longer.

I almost forgot, Darwin managed to set himself on fire today – for the second time. He seems to have no knowledge of what his tail is or where it might be. We had set out a scented candle jar in the laundry room to get rid of some of the cat litter dust smell and freshen things up a bit. Darwin jumped up on the desk/counter, which took several tries – he is a terrible jumper, and dragged his tail through the candle flame. Luckily Caleb was there and patted it out. Darwin’s not burned, his tail hair is so thick that it pretty much self extinguished, just like the last time. Yep, that’s right, this is the second time he has torched his tail, the last was about 12 years ago. Strangely his twin brother, Einstein, also managed to set his tail on fire several years before he passed away.

Starting Seeds

02/28:  The last day of February and the forecast is terrific – at least for a couple of days then the rain starts again.  I’ve been a bit under the weather with a fever so I finally got a chance to get out and take a look around this morning.  The rhubarb is starting to peak out of the straw mulch and seems much happier now that it’s protected from the wondering chickens.

The garden of mini greenhouses
The garden of mini greenhouses

No sprouting from the seeds yet, but the chard and spinach seem to have survived the freezing mornings just fine.  The chard under the 2-litre bottle “greenhouses” does seem bigger than those that were not.  I didn’t see as much of a difference in the spinach.  I was able to get some more bottles from the recycling program at school (reuse – then recycle) so I made more for the rest of the chard and one more spinach this morning.  I had enough for everybody, but about half of the labels didn’t come off and had to go off for recycling.

left - no greenhouse    right- greenhouse
left – no greenhouse right- greenhouse

Okay, I’m trying peat pellets again.  I’ve never had good luck with them, but I found a site were the man cut the top of the netting off when he inserted the seeds and then remove the netting completely when they were ready to transplant.  Maybe that’s what I’ve been doing wrong all these years.  Anyway, I started 21 Clarinette Lebanese Hybrid Summer Squash (Ed Hume seeds) and 15 Waltham Butternut Squash (Ed Hume seeds).  The summer squash are marked with green toothpick and the butternut squash with plain toothpicks.  For the last 14 pellets, I put in some Pak Choi (Chinese mustard) seeds) (Hume Organic Seeds).  This could be a mistake – the seed package only gives instructions for direct sowing, and the packet is dated 2008 – but what have I got to loose. These pellets have no toothpicks.  I also planted 2 squares of Early Wonder Beet (Ed Hume) seeds in the raised bed behind the kitchen after soaking them all day in a wet towel.

Peat Pots: Maybe they

03/05:  The Pak Choi is sprouting along with one squash seed.  Time to put them under the fluorescent  fixtures in the kitchen.

I started to trim the kiwi vine today.  It’s probably too late as the sap is running, but it’s huge and messy and I have to do something to clean it up.  It’s huge so I’m guessing I won’t actually manage to kill it.  The weather is supposed to be nice again tomorrow and I think we may head out to get our chicks from the feed store.

03/06:  A PEA HAS SPROUTED IN THE MAIN GARDEN!!  I was up there transplanting some spearmint and peppermint into the upper-side bed when I noticed a tiny shoot just breaking the soil.

Joe and I went over to Portland Nursery and got the seed potatoes today:  red thumb (late), Austrian fingerling (early), La ratte (late), Yukon gold (mid), and Calwhite (mid-late).  I’n not ready to plant yet, but last year I waited too long and everyone had sold out.  I also picked up a couple of Martha Washington asparagus crowns to fill out the bed, an Italian parsley and a few lettuce starts to tide us over until it is warm enough here to start it from seed.

The potatoes are waiting to be set out

I’ve heard a rumor that they’re calling for snow in the valley soon.  I hope not, I’m enjoying this early spring.  TIme to check the Weather Channel.  Snow levels down to as low as 1000′ early in the week.  We should be fine but I’ll put my little greenhouses back on the chard.