Surfing the Interwebs

My main method to surfing through the great and overwhelming interwebs has been previously discussed as google reader. I can’t get enough of that blog aggregator. It is my organized method of tackling information chaos during my breaks throughout the day. This morning I took the time to organize my reader and discovered some interesting things about myself. My main areas of interest are as follows: Design, DIY, Food, News, Gardening, Sewing, Humor, Art/Insight. I have spent the last couple months reflecting on my future and the career path I’m interesting in pursuing beyond my current position. Based on my blog interests, I can picture some highly entertaining positions in my future: DIY Humorist Editor (regretsy anyone?), Designer of garden quilts, Artist specializing in food. We’ll see where I end up. For now, I have a lovely new layout to read my blogs.

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Community Garden

A Community Garden is

Watering Weeding Work Dirt Weeds Jealousy Tartness Raspberries Strawberries A Release Heartbreak Excitement Sore Knees Harvest Seeds Gentleness Ruthlessness A Burden An Oasis Digging Potatoes Slug Trails Quiet Dreamy Friends Responsibility Carrot Tops Victory

It was my first year of gardening and I was often disappointed in myself despite my best efforts. Gardening is hard work. Our garden was an inconvenient drive away, especially for someone who has grown accustomed to walking to work, walking to the grocery store and walking everywhere else. Watering was a challenge. Keeping the weeds at bay was a battle. Understanding when to put seeds in the ground was a guess at best. The weather was rarely cooperative. But once I was at the garden, I loved being surrounded by old growth trees in my 20×20 plot. It was a lovely escape from the city. It was always new. I wish I had gone more often but I look back on the experience and I’m happy with the results. We harvested squash, leeks, potatoes, carrots, raspberries, strawberries, arugula, lettuce and kale. A few things we planted never made an appearance. A few other things went crazy. Our final harvest looked a little something like this and was turned into vegetable broth and potato leek soup:

I might be starting a lifelong love affair with gardening despite how much of a b*tch it can be.

A Summer in the Yard

This summer has included a few major yard projects at my parent’s house in Salem and since I love working outside, I volunteered to help out. I’m horrible at remembering to take before and after photos so the best thing I can do to show you the work we did in the yard is to show the other side of the yard:

Overgrown trees, encroaching blackberries and general chaos was pretty much the theme on the opposite side of the yard. By purchasing a ton of groupons and the like, my mom was able to buy a truckload of new plants to completely redo the yard. Here’s the after:

My mom locally sourced *free* bark to cover her landscape fabric from a program that recycles yard debris with troubled youth. Mom also used an old sewing machine treadle base with a rescued wood plank on top to create a little table (see bottom left). Grandma donated the wire ice cream chairs and the GIANT arbor that you can barely see behind the fire pit was a Portland craigslist score. Originally the seller wanted $50 but when they found out the $25 cost to my parent’s of renting a trailer because the darn thing was so big, they dropped the price to $25! In order to set-up the plants, we carefully researched the mature size of each and labeled them with huge signs so we could arrange the tall in back and shorter in front. Dad chainsawed the trimmings from all the limbs we cut in order to make wooden stepping stones that you can see in the top photo.

Years ago, my mom tried to plant this part of the yard with shade loving plants and everything died. It was only later that she realized the noon sun cuts right under the trees and the whole area is much friendlier to part-sun/full sun plants. Voila. The plants are doing great and I can’t wait for the yard to grow in!

Building a Vertical Garden

This summer, I helped my mom rip out a holly tree and a cherry tree that were overtaking her deck and replaced it with a vertical shade garden. The original idea came from A Kate Offering. We changed it by using 2x12x12 cedar planks and 4×6 center posts on edge. The project cost was estimated at $350-400 which included all of our own labor. We transported the wood, dug the post holes, poured the concrete and put the darn thing together. The garden needed 8 large bags of potting soil and possibly more after it settles. But, the hard work made a tremendous difference in the backyard area. The privacy was maintained between my parent’s house and the neighbors and the structure should last a good long time. Here are the results:

 

On the Bookshelf

  Currently Reading: A Feast for Crows is where I’m at with reading the epic Game of Thrones books. These books are a serious time investment with each one pushing 1,000 pages. They are written in the same vein as the Pillars of the Earth with a higher death rate for the main characters and a splash of fantasy (evil forest creatures, dragons, a touch of magic . . .). I’m enjoying the brutal world created in these books but the story is really meandering in this fourth book; too many freshly introduced characters that are difficult to keep straight or care about. All the books are structured by cycling through every character’s chapter, but with so many characters, it gets difficult to pick up story lines wherever they were left last. I’ve only seen one episode of the HBO show based on the books and it was pretty decent but not really my style. I’m more looking forward to the renewal of Downton Abbey.

 

 

Currently Reading: In between reading Feast for Crows and/or when I get too frustrated with George RR Martin, I’ve started Gaia’s Garden, a very practical and informative perspective on home gardening. So far, I’m in love. Anytime science is used to explain plant behavior, I figure the gardening book has got something going for it. This book is a system approach to gardening and since I’m hoping to get into the Master Gardener program through OSU Extension Services this November, I’m excited to read something that will give me some more background in permaculture.

Truck Farm

Truck Farm. Showing everyone that gardening is possible in the most spontaneous of places! Spotted at Re-Nest. A traveling garden, a documentary and a roving CSA delivery service. So clever!!