Sunday, May 30, 2010

3 - 2- 1 - bloom!

It seems like everything has bloomed in the last week or two, although really things have been blooming for months now.

Mystery flower in the back is doing very well and much healthier than last year:

The purple and white phlox are starting to bloom. They'll just slowly keep blooming for the rest of the summer:

This is a bit washed out, but these flowers are kind of bright pinkish-purple. They're on stalks probably 5 feet tall! They remind me of phlox, but they don't look the same quite. I don't remember them being here (in the front yard rain garden) last year. Volunteers I guess.

Another mystery flower. I think I might have gotten this from a neighbor and it was very small last year. This year it is quite large and spilling all over the bank into the rain garden. The flowers are like fuchsia or fluorescent pink. They are stunning.

Lots of Cranesbill (ie wild geranium) and it's flowering a lot this year.

I've been calling this wild geranium, but it looks nothing like the one above! Maybe it's just a different kind? I'm confused. I guess it goes back on the long mystery list.

Speaking of mysteries, these are the plants I swiped from the community garden path. They get tons of these little blue flowers and I just love them!

I have a million big purple irises that came from our neighbor up the block. The only ones blooming are in the back rain garden. They smell just like grape juice!

These are the columbines from our neighbor's mom. Very different from the ones I normally see around here. I can't remember if this is the "wild" variety or what it is that makes them so different.

The poppies started blooming a couple days ago. There are even more now - maybe you can see how many fuzzy buds there are in there. They don't stick around for long though. I don't think a bloom lasts for more than a day.

They are glorious:

More to come! Our peonies are going to bloom any day. Yay! Transplanting didn't kill them or make them stop flowering. Our rosebush just burst into bloom today. The yarrow is going to bloom any day. No sign of impending coreopsis blooming or coneflower or many of the various others. But I guess I wouldn't want it to all bloom (and fade) all at once anyway!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Garden pics

Just a quick shot of our garden. It's even a little bigger than this now, but I'm just happy that everything is finally in! Or at least out - of the house! We've finally turned off the banks of lights in the back hall and I'm hoping we'll be able to walk back there again someday.

North-side garden:

South-side garden:

Some day you'll get a tour of what is what...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Base jumping

Practice session #1:

go, go, go, go!!

Okay...not too bad. Red, we need to work on that jump.

Practice session #2:

go, go, go, go!!

Not bad girls, not bad. Red: come on now, you can do better. What are you? Chicken?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I am amazing

Sorry, but I'm really proud of this creation. It took me a couple days to make and it was all I could think about all day long. I wanted to skip meals, skip going out with friends, skip sleeping! I just wanted to get it done! It's probably the most complicated thing I've ever made and it was a brain exercise to do it. But I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

It's a computer bag. I haven't had a laptop for almost two years and it's been mostly okay. But lately, with a lot of different projects for both of us, it's harder and harder to get on the computer. We both always need it for one thing or another: writing, research, checking email, keeping records, etc. I was trying to figure out how I could get a laptop. Jeremy was talking with his brother and it turns out he had a computer he was getting rid of. Yay! He sent the computer to me and I immediately started thinking about how I could carry it around safely.

It came in a large box with all of this foam egg carton stuff:

I decided to make a little padded carrying case using the foam stuff and whatever bits of scraps I had around.

I used a jean skirt, jean pants, and some chicken fabric. The jean skirt had these fake pockets on the back so I made one into a real pocket to store the computer cords.

Here's the inside:

There are two pockets in the yellow chicken fabric.

This is the backside of the bag, which is made from the front panel of the skirt. See the bottom of the zipper?

And the side

It zips on the sides and there are the two buttons and flaps on the top. I thought about two zippers that met in the middle at the top or one long zipper around the whole thing - but I didn't have long enough zippers for that and I couldn't wait a single moment to get started on this! I'm taking it on a trip with me at the end of the week, so we'll see how it stands up to travel. I'm pretty impressed with myself, even if it doesn't stand up to traveling. =)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rain Gardens

It's finally time for the long-awaited rain garden update. (As a reminder, here are the front yard and boulevard gardens, the last time I posted about them, a year ago!)

This is the back yard rain garden with purple irises, yellow tulips, a whitish columbine, some sort of daisy, some coneflowers, turtlehead (that's the really big one sort of off to the right), one sunflower, some mystery grass-like plants that may or may not by Siberian Irises, and a hollyhock. And a huge weed too, but it's got flowers so I'm keeping it.

This is the front yard rain garden which is so packed full of stuff you can't even see what's in there in this picture!

What's in there is: that mystery white flower, creeping thyme, spearmint, phlox, cranesbill, a bunch of asters, creeping charlie, some fancy grasses, wild geranium, a tulip (no flower), more stuff I can't identify, and some crazy big weeds that are about to flower (so I'm keeping them!).

And, finally, here is the front boulevard garden:

I'm afraid the pictures don't do it justice. In here we have lots of coneflower (different varieties too), two white bleeding hearts, violets, two coreopsis, two columbines, tons of that mystery grass-could-be-siberian-iris, two mystery plants with pale blue flowers (which I swiped from the community garden - they were in the pathway!), lots of phlox, ribbon grass, yarrow, some sort of lobelia, a giant purple hyssop, and some daisies. It's actually fairly well packed out. I think in a year or two you won't be able to see any ground. I'm very pleased with it. I'll try to take some pics from the street side, which is lined with bricks.

Speaking of mystery flowers, I don't think I posted this one last year. It's relatively tall, maybe 2 feet, and has these fuzzy white flowers.

I'm curious if it's a kind of astilbe, but I'm not sure yet. And some mysterious fuschia colored flower is blooming in the front rain garden. I'll have to post that one soon. So that's the update on the rain gardens - thanks for your patience!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ground cover

Most of our back and side yard looks like this:

Just bare dirt. I wanted some ground cover on this, but definitely not grass.
That first photo was April 25. I had just sprinkled white and purple clover seed on the ground.

April 29:

April 30:

Aren't they cute?!

May 18th!

The clover has been doing well and I've seeded it in several other spots. It comes back every year and can be pretty vigorous. I'm excited for our yard to look more green and less brown. I'll post some pics of the other areas when something starts growing.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

One step at a time

Last week I said I'd be updating you with day 2 of the root cellar work. Well, day 2 has yet to happen. Jeremy is only working on that when the intern is here so he can teach him the ropes. Intern has been out sick, so Jeremy has been working on other projects.

Like, for instance, the bathroom electrical. Here's the old spot which had a standard light switch and plugin.

Jeremy wanted to put in all the electrical and drywall and get the bathroom to a finished state before putting the floor down upstairs.

This also meant finally getting our bathroom fan wired! It's the second one over from the left.

I was hoping Jeremy intended to actually wire the lights so I could show you the ugly old light in the bathroom (the one in both pics) and then show you the better light. But he left the light there. And he didn't even install the new one he wired in the ceiling!

But at least now we can use the bathroom and not have fluffs of insulation raining down on us. I think that only took a year...
And of course this is only a temporary fix since we have a whole plan for remodeling the bathroom. But who knows when that will happen.

p.s. The light switch is up higher than the original to make room for our really cool old sink that will go in someday. It has a really high back-splash. So I guess we'll have to patch that hole...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Award! Award!

I've been meaning to post for days but everything has been hectic. I felt a little sheepish when Taylorgirl of A City Chicken Farm gave me an award!

It's the Versatile Blogger Award. I'm not really sure what that means, but it's pretty cool. =) Anyway, I just started following A City Chicken Farm (out of Washington state) a month or two (or three?) ago. I love her chicken stories, chicken pics, and humor. This has to be one of the funniest posts ever. So thanks for the award!

The rules are, after thanking my adoring public, to re-gift this award to other great blogs and to share some things about me that my online community may not know. I'm not sure about that part. I mean, then I wouldn't have any fodder for playing 2 Truths & a Lie with any of you! Oh well...

I'm just going to share five things:

1. my favorite food growing up (or at least for a couple years) was fried squirrel. Does it taste like chicken? I really don't remember.

2. I don't drive. Don't even have a driver's license. I rather like it that way though sometimes transportation can be a pain.

3. My husband is the first person I ever kissed. (aw, so romantic!... )

4. I have traveled in Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, South Korea, China, Guatemala, England, and Scotland. I would go back to South Korea in an instant. (Hmm, and NZ, Aus, and England too!)

5. I stopped watching TV in the middle of grad school (or should I say, in the middle of Lost, season 3!) and haven't had a TV since then. I don't really miss it, though I am desperately trying to catch up with all the Lost I missed. So don't tell me anything about the show! No hints! Or....else. Or else. =)

So, now that you know everything about me, I would love to bestow this award (whatever it means) on some fellow bloggers.

First, to my friend Ashley and her blog A Passionate and Determined Quest for Adequacy. Her posts are usually though-provoking and so honest and sometimes I think she's me because some of our experiences are similar. She just writes about them better than I do. I don't generally write any faith-related posts, but Ashley's blog always makes me wish I did. I appreciate her putting her struggles and joys out there for others to share in.

Second, I want to nominate my mom-in-laws blog, Becoming my Grandmother, because I think it is so cute! I like the premise of the blog and all the family history.

I have to award my friends Scott and Jen who spend several months during winter each year in ANTARCTICA! How cool is that? They probably won't be blogging again till the fall, but when they head back, it's worth it to keep up with Jen and Scott on the Ice.

I also enjoy reading Land of the Lost Surprise. Tam is a baker, gardener, farmer, writer-type and she's kind of in my neck of the woods. It's nice to have regional blogging friends who are also gardeners and understand the weather around here. =)

Lastly, I award On the Road to Find Out. Arika has jumped wholeheartedly into the gardening/homesteading/baking/etc world and it's fun to read about her adventures.

I don't know if there is a limit to how many I can award, but I couldn't pick any fewer! So congratulations to us all!

And many updates coming your way soon...

Friday, May 14, 2010

New & Improved Root Cellar: Day One

Remember last September, the beginnings of the new root cellar? Really just a bin of carrots and a box of potatoes in the corner of the basement. Remember:

Those were the days... before we moved everything into the basement to make room for logs! Since then the basement has looked like this:

Okay, it still looks a lot like that. At least we tried to keep only root-cellar type things in the root cellar area.

We did a little clean-up in the last couple days and this morning Jeremy and the intern got started with the initial work.

Cedar on the wall and floor because they can handle any moisture. Then we're reusing the old 2x4s that we removed from upstairs to fill in the walls. Most of the project today was removing tons of nails from the old 2x4s (lathe was nailed into them - so there were a ton of nails). They got the nailers up on the ceiling and some down on the floor and the corner post installed. It's pretty exciting to see it going up!

Tomorrow should be day two. I for one am looking forward to seeing how much they get done!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The logs are done! The logs are done!

Yes, on Monday Jeremy finished the last of the mushroom logs. It always seems to take longer than he says it will. But I suppose I would be the same. There is only so much repetitive activity one can take!

Now is the time to admit that this feat was accomplished in part because Jeremy now has an intern. Yes, our tiny little urban farm has it's very own intern! Our neighbors think this is hysterical.

Jeremy was talking to some folks and they thought he should try this. He spent a couple days writing up a description of our farm and what people could expect to be doing and then posted the description on some site. We got quite a few calls. In fact, we were getting calls weeks later even! The interest varied from people who want to learn about the mushrooms, to people who were more interested in how to grow vegetables, to people who want to learn how to preserve food, to folks who wanted to know it all! Jeremy narrowed it down to one guy and J. has been coming by a day or two a week since then. He's been very helpful with the garden and the logs of course.

So I guess now no one can say, "where do you get all the energy to do all this stuff!?" =)

Ahem, back to the logs. There are about 110 in our yard, 125 in our friend E's yard and another 100 in our friend J's yard - both about 2 blocks away. That makes 335 logs!

Here are the logs in E's yard:

Here are the logs in J's yard:

Jeremy has finalized plans about where these mushrooms will be going. He'll be selling them 5 pounds or more at a time to the Seward Co-op. When he has less than five pounds they'll go to the Golden Fig. So keep an eye out!

Now that the logs are finally done, we can get on with some house projects...
- getting that leaky basement faucet fixed
- finishing electrical in the bathroom
- putting up drywall in the bathroom
- finishing the walls in the upstairs closet
- putting the floor down upstairs
- doing the trim upstairs
- getting our final inspection and finally moving upstairs!!!

I can hardly wait!!

But of course, interrupting all those tasks are the tasks of getting the garden going, planting seeds, transplanting, and getting going on the new root cellar.

Having an intern has not made us any less busy I guess!

Monday, May 10, 2010

My garden is now complete

Okay, that's probably not true - it will never be done! But it got a major boost last week due to the kindness of neighbors. Well, not even the neighbor, but the neighbor's mother!

Our neighbor's mother is a professional horticulturalist and apparently has an impressive garden of her own up north. She is always bringing plants down and planting and inspecting and advising our neighbors. Whenever I see her around I beg her to come over and identify mystery plants for me. She is an absolute wealth of knowledge, and a very sweet person too.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned wanting more plants and she said I should give her a list. If she had plants to spare she would bring some over. I was pretty happy about that! I wrote up a quick list and passed it over to her.

Last week she was in town again and I saw her walking up to our front door. I hoped she had a couple plants in tow. She said she had brought some plants and she'd put them behind our fence on the alley. She had to do something else and then she'd meet me around back to label the plants.

I ran out back expecting to find a couple little plants and was amazed to see two large crates and a bucket of plants! I was bowled over by her generosity! Here's what we got:

- a bunch of wild ginger (in the round pot on the far right)
- a couple white bleeding heart (I didn't know they came in white!)
- some purple dome aster
- Great Blue Lobelia (lobelia siphilitica)
- a bunch of white phlox
- a columbine
- Red Turtlehead (chelone obliqua)
- several coneflowers
- one Foamflower (tiarella)
- and of course, one mystery plant that hitched a ride!

I found places for all of them, divided amongst our three rain gardens, up on the terrace, and in between some of the new berry bushes. I had also purchased two standard columbine which went into the front rain garden and I swiped some mystery plant from a pathway and planted that. The front rain garden is looking really spectacular. Now that I look back, I realize I haven't posted any followup pictures on the front rain garden! How embarrassing. I will remedy that soon.

In the meantime, I want to show off how lovely our flowers are right now.

Early phlox blooming:

Wild purple violets everywhere! I love them!

One of our bleeding hearts - the biggest and most beautiful:

Lastly, I hate to be right, but after all the lovely warm weather we had Minnesota is dumping some cold, cold weather, frosts, and possible snow on us! I think the snow danger has passed, but I saw a lot of blankets, sheets, plastic, and burlap bags out protecting plants on Saturday and Sunday mornings. There wasn't much we could do for our plants - we don't really have extra sheets and blankets. We'll just have to see what this frost does to everything.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

8 eggs!

We've been playing a counting game with the chickens for some time now. We have 8 girls. We usually get 5 to 7 eggs a day. Why not 8 eggs!?

We both collect eggs and every now and then we compare numbers thinking that maybe, just maybe, today will be the day we get 8 eggs!

But we've always been shy, just that one egg. Until today:

Eight eggs!

Well, we're pretty sure anyway. Jeremy is pretty sure he picked up 5 earlier and then he just got another three. So unless he's remembering wrong, 8 eggs! 8 eggs! C'mon other chicken enthusiasts out there - assure me that we aren't crazy, we're not the only chicken keepers that obsess every day about how many eggs we're collecting! =)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Something fishy about this...

A few days ago our friend Rich called. He'd been bowfishing and had caught a couple large carp. Did we want them? Of course! (said Jeremy). I for one have never forgotten my grandpa's recipe for carp: put the carp on a plank of wood (hickory, oak, something like that). Season the fish with garlic, onion, lemon, etc. You can either bake the fish in an oven on the plank, or smoke it for many many hours. When done, throw out the carp and eat the plank!

Carp is generally thought to be an inedible fish, though some have made it palatable. The other thing about carp, at least around here, is it isn't native. It takes over habitat from native species so fishermen like to catch and kill these pesky fish.

What to do with these fish if you don't want to eat them? Feed them to the plants of course!

Jeremy dug a couple holes in the melon patch, about a foot deep, and we buried the fish there.

Flying fish!

Apparently this works very well for raspberries, but we didn't feel like digging up our raspberries to plant carp under them. So we'll feed our melons instead. I guess the roots go down and get into the fish and eat up all the good stuff. Another experiment! We will certainly keep you all posted.