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U-Pick Blueberries

Spending early July u-picking blueberries is a family tradition that goes back as far as I can remember. Growing up, our family of six would all pile into the car and head to the same local family farm to stock up on berries for the year. This year, not even the full pregnant belly of mine could… Read more »

backyard-beds

Backyard Update

When we bought our house a year ago, the backyard was a blank slate save a rotting shed and a massive apple tree stump. It looks like a very different space just a year later. Although still a newly planted garden, I am so excited to watch this space grow into an edible jungle over… Read more »

Juniper-harvesting

June Garden Update

June is bringing lots of dry, hot weather to Portland and the garden is responding! I am now watering everyday, which seems just too early in the season. But on my evening garden strolls I was noticing dry, curled leaves. Our entire garden is filled with berry bushes, fruit trees and vegetables so it’s crucial… Read more »

front-yard-allium

Front Yard Update

It has been a year since we bought our new homestead and about six months since the front garden was installed. Time for an update on how it’s growing and some lessons learned! The concept was to design the front garden as a prairie. Our neighbors have two massive Coast Redwoods in their front yard, which… Read more »

german-pancakes-finished

Egg Recipe: German Pancakes

“So many eggs!” I hear that from first-time chicken keepers often at this time of year. All of that waiting for baby chicks to get old enough to lay eggs finally pays off when they are about six months old. With a new flock of 3-4 hens, you can easily go from zero to almost… Read more »

bathroom-remodel-towels

Rustic Modern Bathroom Remodel

We bought our small house a year ago – a cosmetic fixer-upper in the Sellwood neighborhood of SE Portland. It’s high time for an update on how we’re turning this 1950’s ranch into a rustic-modern-homestead space. I posted a while back about Juniper’s bedroom facelift, but let’s move on to the smallest room in our… Read more »

juniper-three-blueberries

First of the Season Berry Picking

I had the pleasure of spending a recent sunny morning at a nearby farm picking berries with my friend Denise and my 3-year old Juniper. It’s been an annual early-June tradition since long before Juniper was born and each year this day marks both the kick-off the u-pick season and also the passage of time…. Read more »

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 »

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  • 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 »

  • 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 »