Category Archives: Flowers

Salvage harvest

The first frost took us by surprise a few nights ago, so the next day we pulled in most of the remaining garden veggies before a really thorough freeze turns them to mush.

We’ve hauled in a big load of green tomatoes from the truly dead plants, but the area that I over-planted and didn’t trellis still has green leaves in the matted lower layers, so we’re leaving a bunch of fruit on the off chance it might ripen on the vine. (See, this was not neglect, it was a frost survival tactic!)

Unlike the tomatoes, the squash plants are completely done. This was a huge zucchini plant just a few days ago:

There were still flowers on some of the wilted zukes, and I couldn’t help messing with this one in Photoshop a little…

We hauled in the last of the delicata squash, even though many are far too young to finish ripening inside:

These poor little infant delicata went straight to the compost:

…as did their vines:

Cabbages are still going strong:

And so are the aphids on this half-forgotten kale plant (rather, they were until a few minutes after this photo was taken):

Basil seed is plentiful:

and tobacco is pretty in a red sunset. The leaves turn yellow from the bottom up, and are harvested continuously as they turn…picked green, they’re unlikely to ever cure into a mellow smoke.

Finally, the flowers that I hope will provide seed for next year’s tobacco plants – and a little friend:

Fifteen minutes of flowers

It’s difficult to capture or describe the lushness around here this time of year, so I decided that I’d spend 15 minutes walking around and see how many different flowers I could spot. Here’s the result…

Brandywine tomato:



Cool frost-colored plant (this isn’t Photoshop, this is what it actually looks like in June):

Last year’s kale finally allowed to go to seed:

Ahh, yes, the Meadow Multi-Dangle:


Purple clusters:

Purple cones:

Red clover:

One rosebush:

The other rosebush:


The Dreaded but briefly lovely scotch broom:

Small daisies:


Trailing blackberry:

Something lavender colored:

A magenta one:

A pink one:

More pink:

Purple again:

Fantastic red flower:

Unknown yellow flower:

Another yellow one:

White clover:

Yarrow, or Queen Anne’s Lace, or similar:

And finally, today’s garden haul – the Chinese Pink garlic, which mostly crapped out but gave a few small clusters, more turnips, and the first good pint of domesticated strawberries:

Signs of spring everywhere

(images below are scaled-down; click each one to see full size
or click here to expand them all)

The Asian Pear tree has leaves as lovely as any other’s flowers.

Cover crops of clover and cereal ryegrain are so pretty it’s almost a shame to till them in when planting the next crop. In some places, I’m experimenting with just opening a hole in the clover cover and planting into that, cropping the clover surrounding the transplant to let in light. Might mean less weeding, which is always a good thing.

Radishes…fast and reliable, they really lift your spirits when you’re looking at everything else you planted and wondering where the heck it is. These were planted from last year’s seeds. Several radishes were allowed to complete their whole cycle undisturbed, and when they died in the fall it was an easy matter to strip the seedpods off into paper bags. I crushed the pods in the bag with a beer bottle and sprinkled some of the resulting mixture here about a week ago. The greens, being early and abundant, are almost worth more to us than the spicy little radishes themselves.

Turnips and Kale are having a riot in the cold frame. We’ve been taking several large helpings of kale every week, along with some turnip thinnings – the greens are a little sandpapery when raw, but wonderful steamed.

Purple flowers by the house…this is our third spring, and I’m not sure I ever saw these in that place before. There are always surprises waiting here!

This is a close-up of pollen settled onto the Letsgo…for a few days, everything had a yellow haze around here.

Random decoration from a previous tenant.

Garlic plants are looking great!
We have about 26 hops vines going, thanks to a friend who let me dig some rootstock from his patch. An essential beer ingredient, we are currently paying about $4/ounce for the dried flowers, so this may be one of our more practical plantings.
There was recently a 2,200% tax increase on the tobacco I like…these TN86 tobacco seedlings are my response to that. It’s a shame; of all taxes I pay, a sin tax that is largely spent on medical care is one of the most palatable, but with close to half my salary going to taxes, tolls, and other government fees, I don’t feel the urge to pay more.
Ahh, spring!

Signs of spring

The daffodils are up!

And so are the dandelions…

…and these tiny little purple flowers that are everywhere…

…and the snowdrops have already come and gone (this photo is a few weeks old).

The trees are budding…

…and the Indian Plums already have flowers.

And in the garden, we’ve planted pea starts…

…the garlic we planted last fall is thriving…

…last year’s kale in the cold-frame is going crazy…

…and there’s more starts in the greenhouse waiting to be planted (from left: blueberry, onion, and more peas; not pictured: another type of onion starts we planted last weekend, our new rhubarb plant, dormant asparagus roots, and seed potatoes, also all waiting to go into the ground – not to mention our large box full of saved seeds from the last two years and our enormous seed order on the way from Victory Seeds).

Snail sex, I think…

A dog enjoying the sunshine (complete with fresh gooey turkey poo stuck in his fur – he loves to roll in the stuff – it’s the black stuff on his neck on the right side of the photo)…

…and the cat with the biggest eyes ever, enjoying her own patch of sunshine.

Goat friendship and eggs: both pretty miraculous

Me and Drama Queen (with Koko's head on her back and Aberdeen behind)Here I am with Drama Queen…that’s Koko’s ear and nose behind Drama’s head, and Aberdeen behind me.

It might sound silly to someone who always got eggs from a supermarket, or who always had chickens, but today we ate “homegrown” (home laid?) eggs for the first time, and it was a thrill. It’s amazing that these pigeon-sized bantam hens lay such big eggs.

The shells were very firm and thick, so they cracked neatly with no shrapnel. Yolks were the deep orange, high-domed ones we’ve gotten used to from real free-range eggs, and unsurprisingly the omelet was delicious.


Omelet from bantam chicken eggs


Yep, our first two chickens came to live with us about a week ago. We got them from a neighbor who was wanting to thin her flock a little. One very cocky rooster (no pun intended) and a sweet shy little hen. They’re bantams, so smaller than standard-size chickens – her eggs will be about 2/3 the size of a “normal” supermarket egg.

The rooster’s name is Atom, and his job is to protect his flock. He’s very good at his job – crows all morning but barks threateningly and raises a racket if the dog wanders too close to the coop, or one of us makes too fast of a movement while we’re in there. Atom came to us with his name, but our little hen didn’t have one yet, so we got to name her. We’ve decided to call her Molly, short for Molecule (Atom and Molecule, get it?)

For now, the chickens are spending the day fenced in next to their coop. Once they’ve acclimated and know this is their home, we’ll let them out to “free range” during the day. At night, they’ll naturally return to their safe and familiar roost (the coop), where we’ll close them in until morning to protect them from predators.

We may be getting a couple more banty hens from the same neighbor within the next couple of days, bringing our fledgling flock up to four. Once spring arrives, we should hopefully be getting about a dozen eggs a week from the three girls. Eventually, we’ll probably add a few more hens in order to have enough eggs to share with friends or possibly sell.

And on another note, here’s part of why we love Oregon so much: it’s mid-February, and the crocuses are blooming. How crazy is that? In fact, it’s not just the crocuses – today we found some pretty little white flowers (as yet unidentified), and the Iris leaves have sprouted as well.

Even the Indian Plum has buds already.

Today’s flowers

Unidentified pink one:

I don’t know what this is called either…I’ll call it a “Red Dangler”:

This, of course, is known as a “Red Puffy Thing”:

Yet another I can’t identify yet, but it looks like something from Star Trek:

Scotch Broom is an invasive that crowds out everything else on disturbed ground and leaves a thicket of ugly, dead stalks, but for a few weeks, it’s beautiful:

Feel like I should be able to identify this one:

Hey! I know what this is – it’s an Iris! I called them Sweet Tart plants for a while before learning that, because it smells like the candy of that name:

We have Foxglove everywhere…it’s beautiful, but highly toxic to pretty much any animal, so we’ll have to be careful about where we let the goats browse:

A spring morning walk around the yard

Here’s a slew of pretty pictures, taken during a one-hour morning walk around the yard –

The “lawn” is largely composed of flowers. Some are just pretty:

…but many are wild strawberries (the real thing is far cheerier than Copy of wildstrawberries

A baby fir-tree cone:

Apple trees are budding:

Not sure what this tree is, but it’s got pretty flowers:

Never got around to moving this extra horse poo to the compost bin, and now it’s lush with greenery and fungi:

The woods by the river have a number of Trillium, a somewhat uncommon and delicate plant; it’s illegal to pick any part of it – even taking a leaf may kill the plant, and they can take fifteen years to flower for the first time:

Also down by the river is the beautiful and malodorous skunk cabbage. The roots are actually edible (after cooking to destroy harmful compounds), and while this still doesn’t sound very appetizing, with all the food craziness going on in the world, the discovery of yet another edible plant on our property is a comforting thing.

Oregon grape – fruit is edible, but very sour…used more in jam than fresh:

There are a couple of these, which I believe are Salmonberry. They’re isolated, with just a few flowers each, which is too bad because I’ve been wanting to try it. If there are only a few berries, maybe I’ll save them for the seed.

I really want to grow some raspberries here…especially black raspberries, the sweetest, most amazing ones I know of. There’s one small patch at the edge of a clearcut near here from which I picked very lightly last year…I think I’ll try to find out how to propagate it before the $#% timber companies spray defoliant or bulldoze it.

I don’t know what this is, but Teri quite likes it, which has rendered a whole patch of our garden area off-limits to tilling and planting:

Catnip is pretty common in un-tilled bits of our garden, and here and there all over the property, but for some reason it LOVES the spot where I grew tobacco last year…maybe I’m creating the ultimate feline drug – Tobacnip!

Speaking of the garden, here’s the beginnings of this season’s planting, which will be much more extensive than last years, and which should benefit from the soil tests and classes we’ve been taking.

Walla Walla onions:

Shelling peas:

Salad mix:

If you’ve got Swede in the family tree (or shop at Ikea), you probably know what Lingonberries are. Delicious and tart, they are made into jams and sauces, and are full of anti-oxidants. Best of all, they grow well in acid soil (ie, all of Western Oregon) and propagate by rhizome as well as seed (they’ll slowly spread out without help from us, and won’t become out-of-control invasives like the Himilayan Blackberries that plague/feed us):

Chives and heirloom tomatoes (Purple Calabash and Brandywine) are under lights in the kitchen waiting for this extended frost season to finally end:

…and finally, no post these days would be complete without cute goat photos

Drama queen nosing through the nasty old chicken wire someone applied over the field fencing:

And Cocoa, with the evidence of a messy bottle feeding still on her face:

That’s it for today, but I’m sure tomorrow will bring a whole bunch of new flowers and cute animal shots