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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  • Our house in 2014

    Front Yard – 2014 Update

    We’ve lived in our little house for about eight years, but the front yard was the last garden I really put much effort into. In the fall of 2012, I finally took the time to draw up a landscape design. It was based on perennials from the backyard that would be easy to cut and… Read more »

  • crocus

    Flowering Perennials for Clay Soil

    Clay soil doesn’t have to mean your garden is destined to be anything less than amazing. In fact, there are so many great plant options that I’m doing a whole series this week on flowering perennials, shrubs and trees for clay soil. I wrote a recent post about ways you can improve your clay soil structure… Read more »

  • Print

    2014 Vegetable Garden Plan

    Every year I draft a garden plan for our four raised beds that will take us from spring into the fall. I try to balance a good crop rotation with companion planting to maximize our space. I am please to report that this year’s plan is ready for sharing! Companion plants are plants that pair… Read more »

  • clay-soil

    How to Improve Clay Soil

    Having good soil structure is crucial for growing a healthy garden, but most of us are not blessed with perfect humus (see pie chart below). Often we’re starting with poor soil structure that we need to keep amending over time to achieve that perfect blend of sand, silt, clay and organic matter. Recently I helped… Read more »

  • finished-detergent

    DIY Laundry Detergent

    How is it that I have never posted my recipe for homemade laundry detergent? I started making my own homemade laundry detergent about a decade ago, tweaked the process over time, let the recipe evolve and even included it in my book Modern Homestead: Grow, Rasie, Create. It just takes a few simple ingredients and… Read more »

  • seedlings

    April To Do List

    April on the homestead means the lilacs are just starting to open up, our fruit trees are flowering and there is enough weeding to keep an small army busy. Here are some things on my homesteading to do list this month: Weed, weed, weed! Propagate woody perennials Transplant groundcovers and small perennials Direct sow vegetables… Read more »

  • tulips

    Yes! Spring!

    To my dearly beloved Spring, I say yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! Welcome to my garden, Spring. I have missed your clean smell after a heavy rain. I have missed the lushness of your flowers. I have longed to see real live tulips once again greeting me after a long day at work. The… Read more »

  • spring-row-covers

    Spring Row Covers

    We are in the middle of a cool, wet spring which is very typical for the Pacific Northwest. Although you can plant several crops outside right now (kale, chard, lettuces, broccoli, etc), most vegetables won’t grow too much until the weather warms up. Thankfully, I have a trick for planting my vegetables outside a little… Read more »

  • spring-brunch

    Fritatta Three Ways

    The chickens have announced the arrival of spring with about fifty-thousand eggs. We’re averaging 4-5 eggs a day, which means the pressure is on to eat all those gems up. My favorite go-to recipe for any meal is a delicious frittata using any other ingredients I have on hand. I love frittatas because they are… Read more »