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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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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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  • canned-tomato-sauce

    Preserving Tomatoes

    Tomato season is just about to come to a close and I’m just a few pints and quarts away from being okay with that. Here is how I have been busily preserving the tomato harvest this year. First, dry them! You can leave the skins on or off depending on your preference. Sauce tomatoes work… Read more »

  • fresh-asian-pears

    Preserving Asian Pears

    Asian pears are still in season here in the Pacific Northwest and we just can’t get enough of these little gems! I often see two types grown locally – one with a thick, brown skin and one with a thin, yellow-green skin. I prefer the latter as I find the flesh to be softer and… Read more »

  • closet-reading-nook

    Juniper’s New Room

    It has been about three months since we moved into our new digs and I can finally say that at least one room looks the way I want it. Everything else – inside and out – is a work in progress and in some degree of construction. But let’s not focus on that overwhelming fact…… Read more »

  • Orchard-harvest

    Portland Fruit Tree Project

    Since I am gardenless this season after our recent move, I am completely dependent on local farms and generous friends to help fill our harvest basket. I was delighted to discover a local non-profit called the Portland Fruit Tree Project just as harvest season began to roll in, which has kept us up to our… Read more »

  • distressed-vintage-dresser

    DIY Distressing Furniture

    Distressing furniture doesn’t mean your furniture is feeling panicked. It’s a term used to describe the process of making furniture pieces look weathered – also called shabby-chic. I’m in the process of going room by room at our new house to try to blend a homestead feel into our new digs and Juniper’s room is my… Read more »

  • tree-skeletons

    Painting a Mural

    I did a lot of laboring over Labor Day weekend! Our new house is a cosmetic fixer, complete with old carpet and wallpaper in every room. Everywhere I look I see a new project, which has been overwhelming. So my new method to this madness is to finish one room at a time. Juniper’s room… Read more »

  • sedge

    Decorating with Botanical Prints

    The boxes are all unpacked and the garden design is done – soon to be installed this fall. In the meantime, it’s time to start the cosmetic makeover inside our house. I don’t want my love for nature to stop at the door, so I spent some time and a little money on second hand… Read more »

  • Print

    How to Design Your Own Garden

    Plant design is one of my passions and part of what led me down the road to landscape architecture. You would think the opportunity to design my own homestead from scratch would be easy-peasy, right? Wrong. As it turns out, designing my own garden is a challenge. I don’t have that fresh perspective that I… Read more »

  • mom

    My First Quilt

    This has been a very unusual summer on our homestead. We are still getting settled into our fixer-upper house and busily working on garden plans. But perhaps the most important part of this summer was receiving the devastating news that my mom’s breast cancer has spread to her brain. In an instant, my image of… Read more »