Saturday, March 30, 2013

Today's Blooms

It's happening now that several times a day I find myself outside, inspecting the progress of the members of my garden.  I snapped these photos this morning.

My beautiful and fragrant Lindera benzoin is budding.  This winter, we moved it from a too-sunny spot in the front garden to a shadier spot in the back.  I love this plant so much.  It's actually a Northeast U.S. native, but I justified the purchase by the fact that the dried berries can be used in the place of black pepper.  The leaves can also be used as a tea (they're so unbelievably fragrant!) and the bark has medicinal qualities.
My favorite plant in the garden.

We bought this Rhododendron from a neighbor who propagates several plants.
Non-native, garden variety rhodie.

The Berberis aquifolium we planted in the past couple of years are blooming for the first time.

The Berberis flowers have a light, buttery fragrance that I really enjoy, and so do the bees!

We now have probably a dozen or so native flowering currants in our garden.  The flowers vary from white, to light pink (seen below), to a more vibrant pink.  I love the fragrance of these guys.
The fragrance is not too sweet or 'floral', but is more clean and earthy.

Emerson's fig tree has 20+ figs already!

And the last of our three plum trees has FINALLY blossomed.
Hopefully there will be enough cross-pollination.

Andy accompanies me on my garden inspections.

I'm excited to announce that our weeping Santa Rosa Plum, which Matt and I planted in the fall of 2010, began weeping this past year AND this spring finally has blossoms!!  It's covered in them!  I hope this means it will be covered in fruit!
We almost gave up on you, you late bloomer!

Ribes sanguineum, red and white varieties.

This one has more vibrant flowers.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dirt Cheap Cold Frame

Our vegetable beds look a little sorry.  Matt and I have been sowing them during the last few weekends, but have been leaving the greens alone until they've bolted.  Right now they're super yummy.

Silly-looking leaning greens.
I have to give a shout-out to my bud, Kittee, for this cold frame idea.  I chose to use this particular raised bed because this area is not being sown right now (actually it's for the tomatoes, which I just started in the cold frame.)  I nestled the starter pots in the soil for extra warmth and room to grow upwards, seeded them, and placed the window on top.  Not a bad cold frame for a $2 old window from the Rebuilding Center.

Grow little bebehs, grow.
I'm kind of over starting seeds indoors.  I don't like having to deal with leggy plants, losing dining room table space, nor doggles that like to knock everything over.  Hopefully this method works. I'll letchya know.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Isa's Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup

Our collards and kale have been excellent lately, so we've been enjoying them in a myriad of ways.  Last night I made Isa's Smoky Tomato Lentil Soup, but subbed ribboned collards for the spinach.

Enough left over for multiple lunches!

The soup is as you would imagine: smokey, full of good flavor, and hearty.  Just the thing for this almost-spring weather.  And for me, this meant throwing together a meal, rather quickly, with ingredients I had on hand.  I recommend making a batch for yourself!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Spring is coming! Spring is coming!

It's true!  The birds have been telling me and so have the flowers.  Take a look at what I have blooming already in the garden.

Indian plum is the first plant to leaf out and bloom in our garden.
Oemleria cerasiformis is native to the Pacific Northwest and will grow to be 5-16 feet tall. Important  as a source of food and medicine to Native Americans in this region, the Indian plum has a small edible fruit that birds, rodents, deer, bear, foxes, and coyotes also relish according to Rainyside Gardeners.   I doubt we'll see those larger mammals in our little urban garden.  We will, however see hummingbirds and bees hovering around the blooms of our two Indian plums.  I plan on taking a flower of each to work tomorrow to have our Taxonomist sex them.  If we don't have a male and female, no fruit!

The flowers will soon emerge on this and the other dozen or so rfcs we have in the garden.
Ribes sanguineum, or Red flowering currant, is a gorgeous native plant, which we have planted in abundance throughout our garden.  Soon, to the delight of hummingbirds and pollinators, these plants will be covered in pink blooms.  Rfcs are especially fast-growing, which makes them all the more exciting.  The fruit is also edible, but not too tasty to humans.

White flowering currant
Ribes sanguineum 'Alba' is a white variety of flowering currant.  Matt and I just purchased two from Echo Valley Natives in Oregon City, which we installed along the foundation in the front of the house.  I look forward to the cascading white blooms covering the shrubs as they mature to their 13 ft height.

How many fruit will you produce this year?
One of our non-native plum trees has begun blooming.  Hopefully it will save some of those blossoms for pollination with the other two plum trees.

While I was busy snapping photos of the blooms around the garden, these two were stealing collard leaves.

Matt and I are getting our vegetable beds in order.  For now we have some delicious kale and collards that are probably the tastiest they've been in a while.  Doggle approved.