From Gardening

Sacrificial Alder

Chitted gold potatoes in an egg cartonThis weekend we dropped a few 15 year old Red alder trees to increase sunlight for our first ever potato patch.

Piles of fresh cut Red alder branches with tree stumps in backgroundFelling a tree is bittersweet. I love these alders: they were our first source of shade in a mostly barren yard, and they attract all kinds of little birds. I also love the light that grows vegetables, and I could see the difference in moonlight the night after these alders came down. Fortunately we have several more alders growing 50 feet away, and new saplings sprout in flower beds every year.

We will be using these alder branches for compost, and the trunks will edge garden beds and paths. May our golden, red, and purple potatoes be plentiful so that the alders do not fall without good purpose.
Angular slices of red alderwood arranged on a porch

Live from the late summer garden: a quick veggie patch tour

What have I been doing all season?

Working backyard veggie patches, picking friendly orchard fruit, digging rocks on mountainsides, crafting small business web copy, perusing new poetry, and doing my best to stay informed on this wide wild world of ours.

Take a quick tour of my 2013 Pacific Northwest veggie garden:

I’m finally learning to use a pressure canner, and there’s been a lotta apple cake in my house this season. Next, I’ll try to make my first batch of apple cider vinegar. Less than 10 days till autumn! Time to sow winter crops and split firewood.

Poetry book review comin’ your way in a few days!

 

A iron-crusted Indiana Jade reaches into a quartz pocket

 

 

Berry berry this and berry berry that

Late summer greetings! Here’s a peek at our harvest: modest, but delicious. The strawberry plants are 10+ years old, while the black raspberries and trailing blackberries are finally voluminous enough to create handfuls of fruit with plenty remaining for the busy birds. (Salmonberries and thimbleberries have a few years to go yet, but they are getting bigger.)

Berries of July

Oh, and remember that lingering compost pile? At long last I completed its relocation mid-April, providing me two clean slates for future veggie production. Here’s how the new beds looked in April; today they are filled with flowers, bees, and birds.

Clean Slate

In place of the compost now sits a big load of firewood logs, appropriated by chipmunks for their summer home. Cold weather work is not far ahead for us forest folk.

Firewood Logs

trees ripe with autumn

Get a healthy dose of tree-time with this month’s Festival of the Trees issue #65, now online at local ecologist courtesy of Dr. Georgia Silvera Seamans.

leafy rainbow

 

Behold, the colors of survival! This Japanese maple is making its best showing of fall colors in 10 years.

a small pirouette

This tree’s early life included the combined challenges of multiple transplantings, puppy root-chewing, a stint of neglect during the Pennsylvania years, and finally a major hack job following a strange infection. Much healthier now, this tree reveals this season’s wonderfully slow autumn in the Pacific Northwest.

there's no such thing as too much color

Festival of the Trees 50 now online, submit to Festival 51

Citrus Tree

The Festival of the Trees 50 celebrates the tree-loving child in each of us. Join Roberta at the Growing with Science Blog for Festival 50 – Through a Child’s Eyes for a hop and a skip through the woods.

Next, take some time to connect your table to your tree tops with Festival 51 which celebrates edible trees at Orchards Forever. Send your favorite edible tree posts and tree-inspired tasty delights to Peg (and stop by her blog to see what she’s planting in her backyard orchards).

Host: Orchards Forever
Deadline: August 29
Email to: amberapple [at] gmail [dot] com – or use the contact form
Themes: Edible Trees
Important! Put “Festival of the Trees” in the subject line of your email

Runaway Pumpkins

After growing pumpkins in Pennsylvania, things don’t feel quite like home without a big, sprawling, crazy pumpkin patch in the front yard.

These sugar pies are giving a much stronger showing this year (as are all the vegetables), and I hope to be making fresh pumpkin pies as early as October.

As of last week, the plants have cleared the fence. They use their tendrils to walk wherever they want. The faster they grow, the faster they grow.

Did you know that you can actually hear pumpkins laughing?

The ring of fence you see in the foreground is the perimeter for a new garden bed I’m working on. Dogs out, compost in. The pumpkins are eager pioneers.

Squash blossoms are stunning. They open with the rising sun. Got any yummy squash blossom recipes to share? Tell us in the comments.

For every pumpkin I find, there are probably three more I cannot see. Got a guess for how many pumpkins I’ll have by October 31st?

They’re heading for the forest now… In fact, I hear that pumpkins like to grow in trees.