My whole body aches…

…and it feels so good! Gardening is sometimes tricky for me because my sciatica usually gets irritated after about a half hour. One of my goals is to eliminate that pain through healthier living and gardening is a big part of that. It has become one of my favorite forms of exercise. I spent the day gardening yesterday and ripped out some truly horrendous weeds. Their bulbs were down a foot or two, causing me to have to dig down and basically turn over and sift through my whole garden bed. I am thankful that my back lasted the whole time.

weedsMeet Italian arum or Orange Candleflower. It has a reputation for being nearly impossible to eradicate. So much so that the city of Portland recommends throwing the bulbs you dig up in the trash rather than the municipal compost! (I love that Portland has a municipal composting program. It was one of the reasons I wanted to move up here.) This plant, that looks nice at first, has been trying to take over my whole garden.

I don’t know who was in charge of the landscaping before I moved into this house buy for some reason they picked all the WORST plants! (Except the daffodils, I love my daffodils).

After much ado I was able to get my two new blueberry bushes in the ground.

Here they are, Jersey and Earlyblue.

They’re not very photogenic yet but they will be soon. Good luck little guys! I am pretty excited about the bounty of fruits and veggies I am going to have this summer, I’m well on my way toward a more self sufficient life. It’s a good thing too, the drought in California could have a major impact on the availability of some foods.

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Garden progress:

I bought an apple and a pear tree! I am so freeking excited to get them in the ground! I did some reading on the subject and it looks like it’s going to be a little more work than I anticipated. To be fair, I was reading about how to start and orchard. Follow the link to Mother Earth News to take a look at the article I was reading. There are some great tips on planting, pruning and care for your fruit trees.

Pear TreesI also got a few more blueberry bushes at the nursery. I have one from last season that is hard at work establishing its roots but I recently found out that it is wise to have more than one plant for better pollination. Why I didn’t come across this information last year is beyond me. I feel like I did a fair amount of research. Oh well, crisis averted.

My Garden: a Work in Progress

gardeningLike many, I grew up reading the Little House on the Prairie series and it made a real impression on me. I still find it astounding that in our county’s infancy, under the homestead act, you could just go and build a house somewhere and that land became yours. The notion of self sufficiency, living off the land and growing your own food has always enchanted me. After years of living in apartments, I have finally moved into a place with some dirt of my own. One of my goals is to grow a significant portion of the produce my family needs and to do it consistently. I hope to share what I learn along the way so that we can all lead more self sufficient lives, free from chemical pesticides and mad scientist genetic engineering.

Garden BeforeSo without further ado, here it is, my garden this year. Let’s call this the “before” picture. I have kale left over from last year (score!) and some thyme. Oh! and weeds! yay! I’ll deal with them soon, I promise. My major accomplishment so far: I’ve torn out a bunch of mint. Don’t get me wrong, I love mint but it is super invasive. Seriously, this plant does not mess around. My dad warned me about this some time ago and like everything he tells me, I had to experience it for myself before just taking his word for it. This time however, I wasn’t the one who planted it. The mint came with the garden. When we moved in just about exactly two years ago the garden consisted of mint. period. I ripped out a bunch of it to make room for all the vegetables I wanted to plant. Fortunately it hasn’t strangled out anything yet, but I can’t get rid of it. Every time I pull weeds there are new little mint sprouts, super far away from the mother ship. I pull them out along with their roots leading back to from whence they came. Devil plants! (sort of) but boy, do they smell good when you yank them out. Heed my warning: only plant mint in containers!

Beds being prepped for asparagus etc.

Chris and I moved to Portland two years ago to a place with the first thing we could call a “real” garden since moving in together. The first spring we were here I bought some asparagus to plant. Asparagus is another one of those “where has this been all my life?!” vegetables. After reading about growing asparagus on Pinterest I learned that it takes a whole year to establish itself so you can’t harvest it until the second year. Two years ago I didn’t know whether or not we’d be living in the same house in a year so I didn’t plant it. (the “crowns” I bought died by the time I tried to plant them the next year) Two years later, it looks like we’ll be her for a while. We seriously lucked out on this house. The location is incredible.

asparagus startsI bought asparagus starts again this year and have one of my beds all ready for them. Stay tuned (as in a year from now) to see how they turn out. Seriously, can you stand the suspense?

This year I also plan to plant snow peas, which did well for me last year, and brussels sprouts (another of my new-found favorites.)  I love being able to wander out my back door and grab a handful of herbs or veggies to go in whatever dish I am cooking. I’d really like to grow a substantial ammount of all the produce we eat. A double whammy carbon reduction if I eliminate having ship food from who-knows-where and having to drive to the store.

I am also going to plant a dye garden. There are so many beautiful colors you can get from plants and I’m hoping to get as much mileage as possible out of the limited space I have in my yard.

[Just checked the seeds I still have left over from last year, there are more than I thought. I’ll let you know how it goes]