Tag Archives: gardening

Let’s Do This Again Next Year!

Now that we’re in mid-September, the little veggie garden I started is finally kicking out lots o veggies! Check it out. This is what I picked this past weekend. Still plenty on the way.



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Big Bamboo, part 2

A few years back I got the great idea of putting in some bamboo in the north bed of our backyard. You will understand why by the following picture. As lovely as our backyard is, we can never escape the feeling that we live in a fishbowl. Not that we imagine that our neighbors spend their days spying on us from their bedroom window, but just the same, we would prefer to have some more privacy. Previous owners put in a maple with the hopes that it would eventually provide some cover, but the tree got diseased and had to be cut back. (And who plants a maple tree in a raised bed anyway?)

Given my usual glacial pace for home projects, I finally got around to transplanting some forest bamboo a year and a half ago. Some friends of ours were having their backyard overtaken by the stuff, so my nephew and I arrived, pickaxes and shovels in hand. Since these were going in a raised bed above our lawn, held in my old railroad ties, I didn’t see the need for putting in a metal barrier to contain the rhizomes from spreading. Hopefully I wasn’t an idiot.

What I did do that was rather idiotic, was I didn’t make sure to keep some foliage on most of my transplants. These plants grow to 30+ feet, so I chopped them down to about four feet so that I could move them. On four of the plants I left no green on them (or maybe I could blame this on my nephew). It didn’t occur to me that the plant will need to perform some photosynthesis to stay alive. Here is a photo of a plant that didn’t survive.

Despite such brutality, one of the fully stripped transplants sent up a small chute the next year, and the other plants that still had foliage sent up a number of small chutes around the base of the main “stalk” (or whatever it’s called). I blogged about this first about a year ago https://thiskellycarpenter.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/big-bamboo/

But it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that some brand new chutes came up. I had all but given up hope that this would happen. But look at them! This first one has grown two feet in about three days. The second one is a little scrawnier and slower growing. And don’t you just love those clematis!

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Summer is Here! Garden Update

Despite a pretty good April and first half of May, the last month of spring here in the Pacific Northwest has been business as usual. I think we’ve had two sunny days since mid-May. At least yesterday, the first day of summer, the sun came out for a little while, although filtered by high clouds. In amongst the crazy schedule of caring for my parents, I managed to work a little in the veggie garden yesterday and realized I haven’t shared any pictures of it lately on my blog. In fact, I rarely find time to blog, especially since there is no internet at my parent’s house. I’m looking into Clear 4G (formally known as Clearwire).

Here’s what the garden looks like now. In early May, back when there was sunshine, I had transplanted some small starts of peas, beans, two varieties of lettuce and three varieties of tomatoes. I’m not surprised the tomatoes haven’t taken off. This is a common thing here in the northwest when we don’t get sun. Nonetheless, the tomato plants are about three times as high as when I transplanted them. I decided to get some of that red reflective plastic mulch to help them out. I also just sowed some beets and some carrots; that’s what the newspaper is down for. I am curious, though newspaper is commonly used to keep seeds moist when first planted, is there any danger of toxins in the ink leaching into the soil? I read that using an old beach towel is effective too, so maybe I can scrounge one up somewhere around here.

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Working the Yard

Here are a few photos of our yard after spending some time working it. One of our projects this year was getting rid of a flower bed to the left of our driveway. It was a wonderful English garden when we moved in seven years ago, and we kept up with it for a few years. But due to lack of time, it eventually regressed into a weed pile. Over the past year, we cut everything down, covered it with black plastic, leveled it to match the driveway, layed weed cloth and had some 5/8 minus gravel brought in. We now had a big pile of stony subsoil like much of what is all over our property.

My grand scheme was to take this soil and use it to fill our new garden beds. However, the soil is mostly clay, so amendment was in order. I used an organic blend recommended for this area. I now have my first bed ready for planting.

I have been slow getting the veggie garden going because of a week-plus of rain resulting in weeds getting out of control in our flower beds. So, the veggie project had to be put on hold so I could weed the beds and apply some long overdue bark mulch. I need a lot in backyard too, so I had 5 cubic yards delivered. Here are some pics of our front yard, along with my gardening buddy.

I think we might be able to get to the back yard next week after I get the veggie garden planted. LOTS ‘o’ weeds. (Not that you can tell from this picture.)


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The Garden Project – April 15 Update

If you recall from my last status report, I had made no progress on my garden the first month. Why? Well, I have a strong dislike for rain and March was one of the rainiest on record. One could insert here a question, “then why do you live in the Northwest?”, which would require a long answer about our families and community of friends and addiction to mossy and moldy substances, not to mention those magic mushrooms (oh, I just did!)(just kidding about the mushrooms), but enough of my jibber jabber and long run-on sentences! April has sported something quite unusual–some sunshine–so progress is made. Here are some pics:

At the start:

Last week, being the first full week of April, I moved all of the wood out and cleaned the area as best as I could. It wound up displacing this not-so-little fellow:

Then I went to Home Depot and found some 5′ cedar pickets and it turned out that four of them end-to-end fit exactly in the space. So the framing design became obvious:

So then I decided to put up 2×4 risers at the point across from where each board will meet. I used Liquid Nails to glue them to the foundation wall so I wouldn’t have to screw into the wall:

Then I placed 4×4 posts next to the sidewalk and connected them to the wall risers with 2x4s, along with the top boards of the cedar siding:

The sidewalk curves in at the east end, so I’m not sure if I’m going to leave this last piece angled (less work since it’s already in place) or keep it straight and staggered (appealing to my perfectionism/anal-retentiveness).

During the project I have been provided moral support from my mascot, Jake:


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My Garden Project vs. The Hunger Games

I just wanted to update everybody on my garden project. As you may recall, I proudly posted a few weeks ago my grand intentions to start my first ever vegetable garden. I have this little strip of wall on the south side of our house that (if we’re lucky, read below) may get about eight hours of sunshine during the height of the season. So here is what my garden area now looks like:

You will notice that I have made great progress from what it looked like three weeks ago:

Now if you have had at least a nominal amount of morning caffeine to be alert and observant today, you will have come to the conclusion that I have in fact made absolutely no progress on my garden.

Oh that’s funny, coincidentally a few seconds ago a commercial for the news came on in which the anchor said “When will winter finally let up? Get Jeff’s forecast tonight at 11.” That is too crazy since I was just ready to insert this next picture:

I kid you not! I was about to post this picture (which I just did, in case you were paying attention) and say something like the following, which is almost like a confessional, so imagine I am at one of those 12-step meetings where I say:

“Hi, I’m Kelly, and I’m a Californian” at which point everyone says “Hi, Kelly” to be supportive. And then I say “I haven’t had the sun for 10 days” at which point I hope they have something like a 10-day coin to hand me for my sufferance, along with a tube of tanning paint. For you see, my friends, when it comes to weather, I am a total wuss.

Never you mind that I have lived up here in this substance we call “Seattle Sunshine” for most of the last 30+ years. (By the way, that is slang for any of the following: “rain”, “spotty rain”, “increasing rain”, “showers”, “mixed showers”, “partial showers”, “partial sun”, “cats and dogs living together” and combinations thereof.) You would think that I would be “acclimated” to this miserable weather, but if anything, I have become less tolerant.

Meanwhile, there have still been plenty of indoor projects to occupy me. Primarily, a DVR full of shows to watch like “The Voice”, “Alcatraz”, “CSI”, “Person of Interest”, “New Girl”, etc. Also, watching really cool movies that just hit the theatre is, by their very nature, an indoor activity. (Not many drive-in theatres up in these parts.) By “really cool movies” of course I am referring to “The Hunger Games”. And since I’m not outside gardening, I felt the little ecard above was priceless. (Really, it didn’t cost me anything.)

I will say that I have made some slight progress on the garden project: The Methodist church at the bottom of our little hill had a vegetable gardening workshop this evening which I attended. It was conducted by the owner of Gardens Alive Design, Kirsten Lints. She provided a lot of useful information, especially with regard to local resources, such as the local master gardener’s association website and a place to get soil tested. Thanks Kirsten!

I learned that at the very least I can start some seeds inside, so that is going to be my next step. I will keep you all posted. Meanwhile, happy Hunger Games!!


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My New Project: A Garden!

We have this little alley on the south side of our house that currently serves as 1) a way to get the backyard from the front yard 2) a place to put the lawnmower, and 3) a place to put spare lumber. Other than those spectacular features, it doesn’t have much going for it. Except this: It gets a lot of sun in the summer. I was tempted to put the word sun in quotes. This is, after all, the Pacific Northwest, which is notorious for its rainfall, exacerbated by the current La Nina pattern. Because we live midway between the Puget Sound and the Cascade foothills, we get even less sun than Seattle. So today, for example, it started out sunny, but high clouds have already moved in to mitigate the free flow of rays, while Seattle is still sunny. Okay, I’ll stop complaining.

This year I am going to take advantage of some of that “sun” and build some raised beds in the strip between the alley sidewalk and the house and plant all sorts of vegetables and maybe some razzles. Makes me think of that song by the Beach Boys, “Vega-tables”.  I went down to Molbaks and picked up a nifty book called “Backyard Bounty, The Complete Guide to Year-Round Organic Gardening in the Pacific Northwest”. It tells me everything I need to know to start a garden and keep it going. I have never done this before, so I hope the book is good.

Here is what our alley way currently looks like. So we can call this our official “before” picture. I will be blogging about this project, of course, with lots of pictures. So, away we go!!

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