late-season-harvest-2

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 »

Latest
  • Divide and Conquer

    It’s been quite rainy here in Portland, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to capitalize on frugality in the garden. This is one of the best times of the year to get something for nothing – or, in other words, dividing perennials. And we all know how I love free! The upper layers of… Read more »

  • Exhale…

    I’ve been pretty quiet about the presidential election on here. Partly because I want to keep it sort of, kind of gardening-related-ish here, but I would say mostly because I have been a huge ball of nerves worrying that Obama wouldn’t win. After being disappointed with the last two elections, I was just too afraid… Read more »

  • Potato Tires Harvest

    Several months ago I began the experiment of growing potatoes in recycled tires. It seemed like a good, logical idea. Growing potatoes requires occasional mounding of the soil as the green stalks grow, resulting in more potatoes. So why not do this in a very linear way while re-using old tires at the same time?… Read more »

  • Wise Words

    I saw this today over on the Unusually Unusual Farmchick’s blog and wanted to repost it here as well: Thought it was an interesting bit of wisdom about the other places we spend time cultivating. Random, I know… Makes me grateful for those rich friendships I do have, since I know they are hard to… Read more »

  • Drying Herbs

    As the holidays approach, this is the perfect time to replenish the spice cabinet with some dried, homegrown herbs. I cut some of the perennials way back towards the end of summer and they have been patiently hanging on our covered porch to dry for a few weeks now. Things like sage, rosemary, thyme, chives,… Read more »

  • Falling Back Home

    This weekend was wonderful. Not because I got a lot done in the garden, but because I sat around at home and in the neighborhood with my two favorite people: Jay and my nephew Evan. We enjoyed the garden, ate lots of arugula and tomatoes from the garden, but this was a weekend of falling… Read more »

  • Fall Preparations

    The last two weeks have been filled with travel – some for fun and some for work. I left town as summer was wrapping up and hints of Fall were settling in, but there is no mistaking the season now that I have returned. Portland is filled with brilliant shades of crimson, gold, blazing orange… Read more »

  • Autumn in New York

    Last night I took the red-eye into New York City. I am here all weekend for work, but I decided to torture myself with a little sleep deprivation so I could have a bit more time to explore the city. This is not my first time to the city, but I think it would take… Read more »

  • october-040

    Strange Chickens

    Florence has been laying eggs since August and I was beginning to wonder what the hold-up was with Maude. I raised them both from chicks, so they are the same age. Maude is a Brahma and Florence is a Rhode Island Red. Not sure if it’s a breed thing, but Maude waited until she was… Read more »