It’s never too early to start gardening

Emmett checks out the backyard garden.

Bean harvest and a few tomatoes.

Often, when it’s Matt’s turn to watch Emmett for a while, they walk to the P-patch and make a few loops in the stroller until Emmett dozes off and Matt gets a little gardening done.  A few other times, they have gardened together in the back yard.  Emmett already knows where his food comes from (mommy!), and now he’s starting to learn how real food is grown.  It’s never too early!

-Kelly

39 weeks

One week until my official due date!  The belly is huge but it’s surprisingly not causing me many problems.  I still feel great (so lucky!) and am staying active.  My only issues are swollen ankles (not cute), a bit of heartburn, and occasionally bumping into things because I don’t realize just how far my belly extends.  Baby is moving around but I can tell he’s running out of room in there so he can’t do the big dramatic alien-looking movements anymore.  Now we just have to wait and see when the big day comes.

We had a fun and productive weekend.  On Saturday Matt put in his last big day as volunteer coordinator / jack-of-all-trades at the P-patch paths project.  At home, I enjoyed some phone time with my mom and sister, did laundry, cleaned, organized the pantry and closets… I guess it was the late pregnancy nesting impulse.  I also trained the dogs.  We’re working on loose leash walking (still - but improving nicely!) and creating positive associations with nail clippers (currently I can’t cut Sonny’s nails, so we’re working up to it by first getting treats for being calm and not moving when the clippers come near his feet).  In the evening we stopped by our friends’ house for a visit and to pick up more baby supplies.  The house is getting crowded with all this baby gear, despite our organizational efforts.  It’s just a lot of stuff.  We need to move some things to the garage.

 

On Sunday we had brunch with friends and then Matt spent some time organizing the garage and working on our diaper changing station.  I hope he can finish it before the baby arrives.  We also managed to clear up some space in our bedroom by getting rid of a large filing cabinet and small TV.  We freecycled both and they were picked up on Monday.  Then we took the dogs to the park, where for the first time this spring we let them swim in Lake Washington.  They had a great time.

On the way home we stopped at the P-patch so I could see all the amazing progress, and a fellow gardener snapped the top photo of the whole family in the orchard.  We ended the day with doggie baths.  They are so clean and soft now.  Ready to meet their new brother!

-Kelly

RIP tree

Last week I took this picture of our house from across the street.  I wanted a photo of the yard with all its springy greenness.  Take a look at the tree planted in the parking strip directly in front of our house.  It looks good, right?  Had I known this would be our last picture of the house with the tree intact, I would have waited for Matt to finish cleaning the window so his butt wouldn’t be in the shot.

Monday morning:  We were both working from home.  Worky-work, tap-tap-tap on our keyboards.  It was a sunny day and a bit windy, but not too crazy.

1:00 pm:  CRACK!  Both of us, in different rooms, look out the front window and see half our 30-foot tall tree fall into the street.  Luckily no one was driving by at the moment.

1:00 - 1:30 pm:  Matt calls an arborist and the city.  The part of the tree that fell is blocking two lanes of our four-lane street.  Fortunately traffic is light this time of day.  Some guy pulls over in his pickup truck and tries to drag the fallen half of the tree out of the street and direct traffic.  Matt goes outside and tells him to knock it off as 1) he’s on our property and the rest of the tree could fall on this guy; 2) professionals are on their way to deal with it; 3) people can figure out how to drive around an obstruction in the road.

1:30 pm:  The arborists arrive.  Within 15 minutes they cut up the fallen part of the tree into pieces small enough to move onto the parking strip.

1:45 pm:  Someone arrives from the city (SDOT) and takes some pictures of the tree.  We find out it is lucky the arborist came to move the fallen tree, since for some reason the city doesn’t seem to have anyone available to do anything about there being a large obstruction on a major city street.  She tells Matt that the tree is on the city tree inventory, that pear trees (we didn’t even know it was a pear tree - it doesn’t fruit but it flowers every year) its size tend to randomly fall apart like this, and that the city will pay the arborist to cut down the rest of the tree.  

2:00 pm:  Matt gets a quote from the arborist to chip the branches and stump and to prune the other two big trees in our yard after they’ve removed the damaged tree. 

3:00 pm:  The arborist shows up to cut down the remaining half a tree and put the whole thing through the wood chipper.  It takes less than 30 minutes.

3:30 pm:  The tree has been reduced to a pile of wood chips in the driveway.  The arborist leaves.  They will come back another day to grind the stump and prune our other trees.  Matt starts moving wheelbarrows full of wood chips and quickly spreads it onto various planting beds in the front and back yard.  Silver lining: he’d been talking for months about how he needed some wood chips.

4:30 pm:  There is virtually no sign that there was ever a beautiful 30-foot tree in the parking strip in front of our house.  It has disappeared completely.  Our view is so different now.  The view of our house from the street will never be the same.  Our across-the-street neighbor commented about how it was such a nice tree.  We are sad.  Now we need to get a new tree.

Lesson:  Don’t put off tree maintenance.  We’ve been talking about having the trees looked at and pruned (by an arborist, as opposed to by Matt who only vaguely knows what he’s doing) for the last two years.  It seems unlikely this tree would have been saved, but it could have been removed more safely and at a better time for planting a new one.  We are lucky that no one got hurt and there was no property damage.

-Kelly

Home grown oyster mushrooms

One of Matt’s buddies from the P-patch (our community gardens in Seattle) grows mushrooms.  Together they made some mushroom growing kits: a substrate and oyster mushroom spores in a plastic bag.  Cut a few small holes in the bag, spray with water and keep it moist, and the mushrooms just grow out the openings.  Matt has three of these bags and keeps them in a plastic storage bin.  He played around some with how much sunlight they get - some but not too much.  

Aren’t they cool looking?  These photos are all from different times.  They grow really fast.  

Pretty tasty too.  We cut some off and eat them, and then more grow!  Unless Matt forgets to keep them moist.  Then they kind of shrivel up.  But start taking care of them again, and they come right back.

Weird, huh?

-Kelly

gardenmusings:

(via Garden Musings / herb garden)

This is gorgeous.  I think we should build it in the spring.

gardenmusings:

(via Garden Musings / herb garden)

This is gorgeous.  I think we should build it in the spring.

Tags: gardening DIY

How do you like them apples?

Remember last summer when I put socks on our apples?  No?  Maybe you’ll remember how I modeled them after Bodie’s do rags

  

Anyway, I liked that solution so much that I did it again this year.  We ended up with a few good sized apples from the columnar apple tree in the back yard.  The socks did a great job of protecting them from insects; they didn’t have any blemishes or bugs inside (always appreciated).  They were crisp and delicious too.

The socks also created interesting patterns on the apple skins.  It appears that areas exposed to some sunlight turned red, while shaded areas stayed green.  The star burst pattern is from where the stocking was gathered into a knot.  You can even see the weave of the nylon!

I like them apples a lot.  Maybe next year we’ll have a few more.

-Kelly

unconsumption:

This is just plain awesome. It’s a doghouse, made of reclaimed wood scavenged from Dumpsters with a garden on top.
It’s a doghouse with a rooftop garden.
“Garden House,” by Kirstin M., was the “Creative Prize Winner” at an event in Savannah, GA, benefiting the local Humane Society and Emergent Structures, which a rather Unconsumption-y effort based in Savannah and connected to SCAD. (More on the event here.)
There was a live/silent auction, and you can see the other entrants here. I can’t believe somebody snagged this for a mere $75! Lucky dog…
More: Creative Prize Winner – Dog. « Material Realizations

Matt was just telling me about how he wants to use the wood he has left over / disassembled from other projects create some kind of covered area in the back yard with a garden on the roof.  The covered area would be for the dogs and for us.  I suggested that the roof consist partially of garden space and partially windows to the sky.  

unconsumption:

This is just plain awesome. It’s a doghouse, made of reclaimed wood scavenged from Dumpsters with a garden on top.

It’s a doghouse with a rooftop garden.

“Garden House,” by Kirstin M., was the “Creative Prize Winner” at an event in Savannah, GA, benefiting the local Humane Society and Emergent Structures, which a rather Unconsumption-y effort based in Savannah and connected to SCAD. (More on the event here.)

There was a live/silent auction, and you can see the other entrants here. I can’t believe somebody snagged this for a mere $75! Lucky dog…

More: Creative Prize Winner – Dog. « Material Realizations

Matt was just telling me about how he wants to use the wood he has left over / disassembled from other projects create some kind of covered area in the back yard with a garden on the roof.  The covered area would be for the dogs and for us.  I suggested that the roof consist partially of garden space and partially windows to the sky.  

What a good idea that lets you harvest potatoes from the bottom up.

What a good idea that lets you harvest potatoes from the bottom up.

(via joinakibbutz)

That darn oil tank

In my post about our newly painted house, did you happen to notice the mess in our front yard?  Allow me to point it out in case you missed it.  You were probably focused on how great the house itself is looking these days.

It would be more noticeable if the orange fencing was upright and surrounding the gaping hole in our front yard like it’s supposed to be, but it had to come down so the painters could maneuver around the house, so it’s kind of in a heap right now.  There’s a big sheet of plywood covering the hole right now to keep people from falling in.

And why, you may ask, is there a big hole in our front yard?  Now that we’ve made the switch from oil to natural gas heat, getting rid of our 1950’s oil furnace and gaining a gorgeous and efficient gas fireplace, we had to decommission the oil tank.  Local law requires unused buried oil tanks to be cleaned, filled, and capped, or removed entirely.  We opted to have it removed.  When the contractor dug out the old oil tank, they discovered it had been leaking oil into the soil around it.  Not surprisingly, test results showed the soil contamination was over the legal limit.  We had hoped this wouldn’t be the case, but fortunately we were prepared for it anyway.  The good news is that our state (Washington) sponsors a free insurance program, PLIA, to cover cleanup of leaking heating oil tanks.  We signed up for it as soon as we bought our house, so this shouldn’t cost us any extra money.  Whew.  The bad news is that:

1) we have a big hole in the front yard and we have to wait for the state to approve our claim before cleanup can start;

2) the hole smells like oil, yuck;

3) the contractor will have to dig up even more of the yard to remove the contaminated soil; and

4) this whole thing is going to take several weeks at least.

So for now we have to live with this mess in the yard (hey, we’ve been living with various messes for two years, why stop now?), and just be grateful that it’s not going to cost us a fortune and it’s probably not going to involve excavating the entire yard.  Maybe I shouldn’t say that and jinx it.  After all, I once said the tank probably wasn’t leaking.  In picture format.  See?  D’oh.

LUST = leaking underground storage tank.  We’ll keep our fingers crossed that the contamination isn’t any worse than our contractor estimated.

-Kelly

Fall harvest casserole

I found this recipe in a recent issue of Whole Living magazine.  I tore it out because I knew we had squash that needed to be eaten and the recipe looked pretty simple.  I can’t find it on Whole Living’s website, but it is online here.  We were out of onions, which is unusual for us, but we had a lot of leeks from the garden so I substituted those.  With tomatoes and potatoes from the garden, plus Matt’s yellow squash, this unintentionally became a dish made almost entirely of foods Matt grew.  Just olive oil, spices and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese were from the store.  

We loved it.  We ate half of it on the first night and finished up the rest as leftovers the next day.  Easy, healthy, and delicious.

-Kelly