Assortment of heirloom tomatoes - mostly slicers

My Favorite Tomato Varieties

What is it about our love and obsession with tomato varieties? Seed catalogs respond by offering dozens and dozens of varieties to choose from. And plant developers are cultivating new and unusual strains every year to feed our desire to find the next great tomato. My method for choosing tomato varieties focuses on reliability, production, flavor… Read more »

covered-tomatoes-inside

Planting Tomatoes Outside

Everyone seems to have a different rule of thumb on when it’s time to plant their tomatoes outside. Some wait for Mother’s Day. Others swear by the first week of June. One my local growers was even recommending folks in the Portland area move them outside in late-April, due to our unseasonably warm spring. The… Read more »

protected-raised-beds

Cat-Proof Raised Beds

Vegetable seeds have been getting gently tucked into the garden beds for several weeks now, but neighborhood cats have been a major problem. They see this seemingly “empty” area of fine textured soil and think it would make a great litterbox. Adding composted steer or chicken manure to your beds is one thing, but cat poop… Read more »

finished-teepee

Bean Play Teepee

Long before I had a kid, I always had bean teepees in our garden. I didn’t have a lot of existing vertical space in full sun for growing beans, so I would collect long branches and pop one of these up every spring. They add a really fun, vertical element to the summer garden when… Read more »

blue-crop-flowers

Mid-Spring Garden

The early spring blossoms have faded, but the garden is still growing by leaps and bounds. Here is a little snapshot of what’s catching my eye on the homestead in mid-Spring. Several new perennial herbs have been planted – either in ground or in pots. Springtime is a great time of year to plant them,… Read more »

spring-old-growth

Spring Adventures

It has been a busy, busy spring on our homestead! Here is a little snapshot of what our life has looked like over the last few weeks. Juniper turned three! How did that happen? Thanks to some sweet well-wishers, she now has a new wheelbarrow, watering can and bean seeds – all awesome ways to encourage little… Read more »

spring-planting-helper

Early Spring Outside Planting

I love early spring planting! You can’t plant just anything – the warm season crops still need to wait for the last frost to be well past. But in many climates you are safe to plant cool-weather crops like onion sets, potatoes, shallots, peas and others. “Plant your peas on President’s Day” and “Plant your potatoes… Read more »

seed-packets

Early Spring Indoor Seeds

Early spring has officially arrived and it’s time to start planting the garden. Seeds should be started indoor pronto, so it’s high time to get organized and get to it! I started my seeds a couple weeks ago inside under a grow light. In past years I have made newspaper seed pots, which then get… Read more »

companion-planting

2015 Vegetable Garden Plan

It’s time to plan those vegetable beds! Spring is around the corner and thoughtful planning now allows you to maximize the amount of vegetables you can fit in your space.  Think about what produce your family eats most often and make sure to include those in your plans. Also, consider factors like crop rotation and companion planting… Read more »

raised-beds

Building Raised Beds

It took a village to pull it off, but we finally have some gorgeous, new raised beds! The planning started a few months ago when I finished our garden plan, which included four 4×8 raised beds for intensive vegetable growing. I wanted the beds to match the style of our mid-century home with thick, horizontal… Read more »

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  • christmas-eve

    Holiday Recap

    Here is a little peek into what our Christmas celebration looked like this year. It started with a lively and wonderfully chaotic massive meal with my family. Not often do me and my three siblings get to be together, so it was a riot. And our band of kids loved bouncing off the frenzied energy… Read more »

  • solstice-swag-arrangement

    Winter Solstice Swag

    You might be facing a daunting coming weekend – the last one before Christmas. It’s frenzied, rushed and every minute counts to finish shopping and check everything off your holiday to-do list. But take a moment this Sunday, December 21st, to observe the winter solstice. It’s the shortest, darkest day of the year. For me,… Read more »

  • fireplace-finished

    DIY Fireplace Redo

    Our remodeling to-do list is about a mile long ever since we bought our fixer-upper house this summer. With chilly temperatures outside, I’ve finally had a good excuse to stay inside and knock a few off the list. This past week: rehabbing our cosmetically-challenged fireplace. A fireplace was on my “must have” list for our… Read more »

  • backyard

    Garden Installation: Part IV

    The backyard has taken shape! The concept for the backyard is to create an edible food forest. It’s similar in design to our former homestead – working in layers to add edible ground covers, shrubs, trees and vines – but I added a few new components like a nature-based play area to accommodate our growing family,… Read more »

  • plant-staging

    Garden Installation: Part III

    The front yard is officially 100% installed! First came irrigation installation (although not in the front yard), then sod removal and soil prep. Finally, massive plant order arrived from three different nurseries and the first frost of the season was looming on the horizon. As a landscape designer, I think my favorite day of a… Read more »

  • front-sod-removed

    Garden Installation: Part II

    With irrigation construction complete, the next phase of our garden installation was site preparation. All that sod had to be removed and it was time to address the soil nutrient and structure needs of our new digs. I’m a big fan of taking pictures through all stages of your homestead’s growth. So this is your… Read more »

  • irrigation-experts

    Garden Installation: Part I

    Construction has begun! We are in the muddy process of transforming this little house into a homestead. Everyone’s boots have about five inches of mud under them and our backs are getting a work out. The first phase of most residential landscapes is irrigation installation, which is now complete! Our former homestead did not have in-ground… Read more »

  • spring-crocuses

    Fall is Planting Time

    Fall is the best time of year for planting trees, shrubs and many perennials – including all those fabulous bulbs and tubers. Mother Nature will keep them watered and comfortable for several months, giving them lots of time to get established. Temperatures are cool and the ground is usually soft from autumn rain. Everything needs… Read more »

  • nature-play-hollow-log-adventure

    Exploring Nature Play

    As a landscape designer, I’m endlessly fascinated with outdoor spaces. How do we make them accommodate our need to grow food? To entertain? To support native wildlife? Rainwater? Beneficial insects? The list goes on. But my latest fascination is all child’s play – or rather, nature-based play. Nature-based play is an emerging concept in the… Read more »