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2016 Seed Order

I spent the cold dark days of winter pouring over my seed catalogs and dreaming of spring. The flowering quince are just ready to bloom, which tells me it’s time already to start seeds (Portland is in USDA zone 8). Making my list and checking it twice #seeds #homesteadplanning A photo posted by Renee Wilkinson… Read more »

cast-iron-book

Book Review: The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook

Is there anything cozier than a cold winter morning curled up with a mug of tea while you pour over recipes from a good cookbook? That is how I have been spending my weekend mornings this past month. I borrowed several cookbooks from the library, but one in particular has stolen my heart: The New Cast… Read more »

leaf-mulch

Building Soil Quality with Leaves

Most of us are constantly working on increasing the soil quality of our gardens – both the soil nutrients and the soil structure. Either we’re starting a new garden on less-than-ideal soil or we’re trying to build the soil quality back up after previous crops sapped nutrients from the ground or winter rains compacted the soil…. Read more »

Christmas

Year of Gratitude

As 2015 draws to a close, I can’t help but acknowledge what a tremendous year this has been. I feel cheesy talking about being blessed, since it’s becoming such a cliche. But as my friend Brigitte says, “it’s not like your favorite kombucha is on sale and you feel blessed… your mom is alive and… Read more »

solstice-crab

Celebrating the Solstice

Celebrating the Winter Solstice is my escape from the holiday frenzy that reaches it’s peak about this time. I am excited to see my extended family come together for Christmas in a few days, but the Solstice reminds us to slow down, savor and celebrate the simple aspects of our beautiful life. Here are some… Read more »

solstice-tree-pinecone

Holiday Solstice Tree

Our holiday traditions have evolved over time, as they should. The childhood season of presents has given way to a season of simplicity in adulthood – quiet hours, comfort foods, making warm memories with family and friends. It’s less about the “stuff” and more about celebrating the season of the Winter Solstice. Our annual holiday tree is a reflection of… Read more »

thanksgiving-beds

Goodnight Garden

Juniper and River were both sleeping inside as Jay puttered around the house, so I seized the moment by taking solitary refuge in the garden. We have had a handful of cold, hard frosts now as fall makes way for winter. What a wonderful way to spend my Thanksgiving, working outside on the homestead to clean up… Read more »

chanterelles-frozen-cups

Preserving Chanterelle Mushrooms

This fall I spent more time hunting chanterelle mushrooms in the woods than I spent in our own garden. The combination of foraging for wild food, hiking for hours and simply being outside among torrential rains and giant trees made me feel more than alive at an otherwise sleepy time of year. I ended up with baskets full of… Read more »

chanterelles-drying

Hunting Chanterelles

The end of the garden season signals the beginning of the mushroom season, which certainly takes the edge off of the end-of-season gardening blues. Wild chanterelles begin growing all over the Pacific Northwest in September and continue through November. They are a great “beginner mushroom” because they are very distinct looking, so you can’t confuse… Read more »

November-Juniper-Harvest

Last Harvest of the Season

After so many years outside cultivating my urban homesteads, I have developed a good sense for temperature.  I don’t need to scan the weather report obsessively – I can usually just feel when it’s getting cold enough to threaten frost or warm enough in spring to remove row covers. Portland has experienced one of the warmest… Read more »

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  • blueberries-basket

    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 »