Thanks for having me here today.
I read Saturday Morning Garden Blogging often -- but I live on the west coast, so I usually read it late compared to when it posts. I am a great fan of this series, though. For the past handful of years, I lived in the Seattle basin and didn't have a lot of space for gardening. I had a container garden on my terrace, and that was a challenge. It was fun and usually full of herbs and flowers, but my bigger gardening projects were planted in a community garden plot.
I moved last year, and took on a long term garden design project. The land has been cared for by previous owners who are talented and immaculate gardeners, and a lot of what I have is due to their love and hard work. Homage to them. That said, it's a little too "done" for me, and we're letting some of it revert to its natural state. I have a lot of great indigenous plants like rhodos, azaleas, and ferns.
The photos are from my rose beds -- I can only take credit for one of them. The previous owners established some beautiful roses here, and the warm snap last week really brought them to life.
I live in a land of micro-climates. I am on a plateau near the northeast part of Puget Sound. It's Zone 8, so there is a long growing season -- but it's cool most of the year, so crops need a lot of help here. I'm in a convergence zone, so I have a couple hard frosts and a lot of snow during the winter months. I live with old growth forest -- mostly cedar and fir -- so I have to make good use of the small, sunny spots in my yard. I also have two grand garden helpers...
I want to grow a lot of edible produce on our property, but I have a number of challenges. The Garden Helpers pose one of them. They just can't tell the difference between a weed and a crop -- and I'm here to tell you that they will pull weeds when I do. Doggy see, doggy do -- or something. That said, they actually do weed with me, so it isn't all bad. They are pretty good about staying out of the raised vegetable beds, but they do love to trample the flowers.
They love the yard, though. Mushrooms are an issue -- I have a bunch of different varieties, and some of them are incredibly toxic to pups. Sprocket (the white one) wound up in the hospital for eating some of them. He also likes to eat the irises and lilies. His kidney function seems to be holding up in spite of the fact that I can't keep one of these blossoms more than a few hours.
I wonder if mulching increases the number of mushrooms in the yard. Also are there mulches I should avoid if I want to minimize the mushrooms? I'm trying to keep a log of where they grow.
Composting is an issue with these pups. I really need to keep them out of the compost. They'll want to eat everything. I'll probably build a plywood box with a front door and a lid -- we'll see. I love to make vegetable juice, and I mostly want to convert vegetable pulp, coffee grounds, and shredded paper. Other food and yard waste goes to Waste Management, which picks up every couple of weeks -- so I can pick and choose what goes into my personal compost pile.
I am trying the wrap my had around the micro-cliimate and how I can have the most productive garden possible. This is my first year on this property, and I have some extremely confused vegetable crops. I have one cucumber plant that's literally a couple of inches tall and covered with blossoms. How crazy is that? That said, most of my vegetables are behind this year. It was a cool spring...
I have a community garden plot in a different micro-climate. It has full sun and is warm, warm. I can cultivate winter crops there -- red Russian kale, leeks, and herbs work well. I'm thinking of growing fava beans -- for the first time. I'd love to hear about your experience with them. How do you cultivate and cook them? I'm thinking that I'll dry some, but I've never prepared fresh fava beans. I really have no idea.
But today, I have questions for you all.
My main garden "problem" is sunlight. I have a few areas that get enough sun to grow flowers and vegetables, and I want to make the most of that space. I also want to keep it beautiful, so I will mix flowers and vegetables with what I hope is an eye to keeping it pretty. Do you have any tips for mixing ornamental plants with edibles?
I'm also considering a greenhouse, but I don't have a sunny place to put it. It is crazy to put solar panels in one part of the yard to run lights and climate for a greenhouse in another part of the yard? It's expensive, so that project is a long way off. My wallet will make sure of that. If you've worked with a greenhouse, I'd love to learn anything you're willing to share.
I'm finally getting my first nasturtium flowers of the year, which I've crammed into pots all over the yard. The one pictured below lives almost entirely in the shade, and I hope will give me a nice pop of red at the corner of my patio. I plan to graze on the flowers and use them in salads. Anyone have a great recipe?
Also, what is going on in your garden?