Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Winter on the Farm

Snow may not be a big deal for folks in lots of places, but here in Portland, It's a Happening!

This is what Backyard Farm looks like under its snowy mantle.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Chicken butt.

We may get into the teens this weekend, so I have tried to winterize the coop a little, more for my peace of mind than anything else. Everything I read says chickens are hearty and will not freeze as long as they have food, water, and draft-free shelter. I have added a heat lamp, in case it gets really cold, but I don't want them to get used to it.

This morning I gave them some leftover spaghetti, a hen house favorite. Just like starchy worms.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hugelkultur Club

This is fantastic, I can't wait to try it. It feels a little like a secret society, but makes so much sense.


It's a permaculture technique similar to the lasagne bed method that I used to build up my raised beds quickly.

And with my horrible hedge in the backyard I'll have a never ending supply of sticks for the base.

Summer's Last Gasp

Even though some of the trees around here fell for the head fake cold spell, we are enjoying a bonus week of extended summer. It was 90 degrees on Monday! So I planted some more salad greens, spinach and rapini.

I need to harvest the last of the sunflowers and maybe the almost ripe tomatoes. The late warm weather has been a treat, but I'm not at all sad to see summer leaving. Autumn certainly has it's charms.

Sweaters, stews, cool weather bike rides, fresh hop beer, the smell of wood smoke and the beautiful leaves.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Egg Production Update

Fonzie, the Black Australorp keeps laying, almost everyday, and now Queenie, my Barred Rock, pictured here, has joined in. They have both gotten considerably louder now that they have something to brag about. Just waiting for Scarlet to do her fair share.

Keeping Up With the Bounty

Of course it's overwhelming to have this much miraclulous food appearing in the garden everyday, but isn't this what we all dream about during the long winter months, what we crave.

Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
These will be dried and packed in olive oil to enjoy on bruschetta.

Here's another way to capture some of the summer to enjoy when it's cold. I made this recipe the other day, it's fresh and delicious, and a great way to put some healthy food in the bank for winter.
L.A. Times Fresh Tomato Soup Recipe
The tomatoes in the picture are Yellow Brandywine, Black Krim, and Prudens Purple.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Egg Has Landed!

WooHoo, they did it! Well one of them did. I'm not sure which one, but I don't really care. It was tiny, and perfect and I made it into delicious mayonnaise.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Still No Eggs...

Keeping hope alive, but the girls have not begun to pay me back. I even let them out in the backyard, which they are methodically destroying. I shoo them from one bedraggled plant to the next as they do their dastardly work. I can't help it though, it's so much fun to have them out and they are so much happier out of the coop pen. I especially love it when my Little Red Hen chases the cat. Wouldn't you run if this was charging you? I try not to laugh out loud.

I Never Learn

The tomatoes aren't even ripe yet and I'm already inundated with zucchini. I made 4 loaves of zucchini bread and serve it at every meal, well not at breakfast. Why don't I just plant 1 plant instead of 3. They start off so small and then take over the garden.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gorgeous Greens

Since I have Rapini in my garden this year I couldn't resist this gorgeous picture of rapini with garlic and chili flakes. Gives me an idea for dinner.

Really I can't say enough good things about this plant.

SO easy to grow
So nutritious
So delicious

This photo is generously shared by onejen on flickr
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Farm or Garden? Or Both

Here's a great article from the Energy Bulletin about how important gardening may become.
A farm is a large garden (or a garden is a small farm)

I should disclose that much of my interest in growing my own food is motivated by what I have read about the problems associated with Peak Oil. Yeah, it's scary, but ignoring it doesn't make it go away.

The Energy Bulletin is a terrific source of information on all things Peak.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Big Garden Project for 2008

This is the before photo of our beautiful double wide driveway.

We decided we really didn't need this much non-permeable surface in the yard. And we do need more dirt for more plants, so...

All busted up, ready to be used for stepping stones.

This what it looked like after I turned the dirt a little, dirt that has been under cement for about 30 years. I added some straw and coffee grounds and compost. I'll seed it with fava beans, and buckwheat, as a cover crop, which I'll turn under as green manure.

And just like that, about 130 additional square feet of dirt becomes available for plants.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Change in the Weather

Ah, finally a string of days in the 70s. And the plants have been loving it. Tiny tomatoes have appeared on the Oregon Star and the Sungolds. Scarlet Runner Beans are reaching towards the tip top of the teepee. And the Spinach is fading, which is a reliable sign that spring is done and summer is here.

The girls turn 18 weeks old this week, so the eggs should start rolling in any day now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Could It Really Be The Last Day of Winter?

It's only June 10th, after all.  50 degrees and showery, perfect, right?

Even native Oregonians tell me this is crazy, unusual.   Although it feels wet, we're actually below average rainfall, but the temps have been the killer, cold, cold, cold.

Disasterous for starting tomatoes, basil, cukes.  My basil starts all suffered damping off.

It's gotta warm up soon, right, right?

Tomorrow high 60s and 80 by Friday, so they say.

Somethins' gotta give.

PS  More soon on the big project for this summer.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

You Call This Spring?

Still waiting for it to warm up a little. We've had a couple of teaser days above 70 degrees, but most of the time it's high 50s.

I've been soldiering on, planting plenty of cool weather crops, the broccoli rabe and raddicchio are doing great. Ad the arugula and other lettuces are in full production. So we've been enjoying fresh salads every night.

But really, come on, it's time for a shift to warmer weather . I bought tomato plants and put them in the ground last weekend, even though I'm sure they are not enjoying the weather. I may have to shroud the cages in plastic bags to give them a tiny bit of insulation.

The girls are outside for good now, and they seem to be enjoying it, especially The Fonz, who is almost twice the size of the other 2. And we are definitely enjoying having them outside the house.

I keep a light on in the coop at night to give them a little warmth. Temps are in the high 40s. They have not figured out how to get inside the coop at night, so I put them in and close the door. In the morning they all rush the door to get out.

The little black kitty in the above photos is Mel. Mel was a stray and is our newest addition to the menagerie. She is VERY interested in the chickens and spend a great deal of time studying them everyday.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Oregano is coming on strong, in several places. I have a feeling this is one of those herbs once planted that I'll never be without. I am still using dried from last summer too. Also Tarragon has come back, looking great.

I must start the San Marzano Roma Tomato seeds soon, as well as the basil and shiso. Shiso or Perilla is in the mint family and is prevalent in Japanese cooking. I just think it's a beautifule plant.

This photo of beautiful red shiso is generously shared by orgazmik on flickr.

In Between the Showers

Peas are coming up, shelling peas, snap pea pods and sweet peas for flowers. The rapini and spinach are doing well under the cold frames.

I got 2 cubic yards of mushroom compost and spread it around the garden beds just before we got another round of rains. I'm ready for March to Leave Like a Lamb, as they say.

In the mini greenhouse the raddicchio has just sprouted, 3 kinds. I'm very excited about this. I know most people don't grow raddicchio, let alone 3 varieties, it's just so beautiful and good in salads and on the grill. But being cheap I couldn't stand paying $6.99 for a wild cousin of lettuce. It's a chicory actually. Here's an article from Gourmet Magazine about the man who grows more raddicchio than anyone in the world.
How To Tame A Wildflower

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bad Me, No Writing, Just Staring at Chicks

They are really growing and starting to look like little chickens.

Scarlet, Fonzie, and Queenie are all growing big girl feathers. Scarlett likes to fly up and perch on the edge of the box, when the lid is off. Fonzie has taken to giving herself dustbaths and Queenie likes to splash water around the joint.

I give them a few treats, but try to make sure they are still eating plenty of their chick kibble. They like, no love worms, they are real protein whores. One will grab the worm and the other 2 will chase. When I make sure they all 3 have their own worm they still run around, not realizing that they are not being chased.

They like strips of carrot peel, because it looks like a worm, and they like rolled oats too.

Here are a few pictures of the big girls.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

les poulets sont arrivés!

I got my chicks! Here they are inspecting the wall of their new home for the next 6 weeks.

Left to right they are:
Rhode Island Red
Black Australorp
Barred Rock

They spend most of their time, eating, sleeping and chirping contentedly.

More chix pics soon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I know it's too soon, but...

...I just can't help myself.

I started seeds. Yes some even outdoors. I know we have much rain and cold weather ahead, but the forecast for the next few days is dry, maybe even some sun.

I planted spinach, which should do fine, and some rapini, which I am very excited about adding to the mix this year. I planted some seeds in one of the unsheltered beds in the front yard and some of them in small pots under the cold frames. Let the best seed win.

I also started some cilantro inside on a sunny windowsill.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Here's a Problem...

Distressing news about the depletion of topsoil from the Seattle Post Intelligencer

Topsoil Disappearing

This is what caused the dust bowl disaster of the 1930s.

The first sentence says it all...The Planet is Getting Skinned.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Now it's the Winter Rains

Actually today it's dry, but the ground is still pretty saturated and this morning there was frost and a little ice.

But I'm still harvesting salads every few days. A fantastic mix of Winter lettuces and radicchio, as well as all my arugula volunteers has gotten us through the winter so far. I've also got a couple of Lacinato Kale plants that are still producing tender leaves into their 2nd year. And we still get beets and carrots out of the backyard beds.

So I think I will reach my goal of having something to eat from the garden all year round.

And I finally built my 2 little cold frames on the south facing beds, which should allow me to get an early start with some spinach and other cool weather crops and should help me grow more things into the fall and winter.

Porno for Gardeners

Just in time,
just as the dark, cold, wet days of January are grinding me down, making me forget what it was like to walk outside on a summer morning and smell the soil waking up. Just in time, the seed catalogs have started to arrive in my mailbox.

Flowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs all jockeying for position on the covers. Beckoning me to indulge myself in flavor and fragrance. Shamelessly tempting me to fill the entire order form.

Hunkered down in my blanket, in front of a cozy fire, with a warm mug of tea, I carefully review over and over again the lurid offerings, trying to figure how much I can cram into my raised beds.

One of each please.