Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Point no Point in Washington

We thought we got up on time for Sunday School. Both Ray and I were dragging. Too sick to even watch TV last Sunday we wanted to be there this week. By the time we were both dressed and ready Church was three-quarters over. Maybe if we just got out and did something we would start feeling better. Point no Point on the inside thumb of Washington's peninsula is always refreshing. With a full thermos of coffee and a jacket on Rudy and we were off.

Our favorite January bird, the Scoter, was dining on mollusks that clung to the pier at the Edmond's ferry landing. It seemed like a good start to the day. I think we both fell asleep on the boat ride even though we had a "window seat". Beautiful views for such a gray day.

Like all the beautiful places in Washington, Point no Point has become thick with expensive homes. Day trippers like us are lucky that no one has figured out how to get expensive houses on the beach or bluff...yet. There is still a lonely feeling walking the shore, though it isn't like it was even just a few years ago. We could see many couples and their dogs doing the same thing we were. The one exception we noted with disgust is that most dog owners are not inclined to pick up after their dogs. Yuck. It isn't that difficult.

Even on a gray day the water tends to run a deep crystalline aqua green. Like most western states, Washington has been overwhelmed with rain this winter. We suspect that there has been so much run-off that the inland waters are thick with runoff. I cannot remember a time when gray was such a dominant color, even with the gray sandy beach.

You cannot see it here but Seattle is just across the water. The clouds eventually rolled away to reveal small boats scattered everywhere, drifting in the current with families jigging for black mouth. A man and a young boy were walking the beach with a bucket and shovel gathering shrimp and beach worms for bait. Right on the point they had placed comfy folding chairs and were casting from shore for black mouth.

For the most part our birding days are behind us. We cannot convince Rudy that birds are only for looking at. Monika, the photographer extraordinaire and author of "Orca Watcher" (her link is on my side-bar. SJI is San Juan Island), already has one hundred birds on her list for 2011. I read her with envy. She lives the life that Ray and I used to dream about. We are trying to stay content with Scoters spotted on the Ferry. On this trip we also saw Red Breasted Mergansers, Golden Eyes and Cormorants. Birds that everyone easily overlooks. They are everywhere. There might have been a Grebe by the Port Townsend Ferry landing. It was this seagull with his prize starfish that gave us pause. We have seen seagulls toting all kinds of things but this was the first time we have seen one swimming with a starfish. It must not be too rare. There was a second gull down the beach doing the same thing.

I don't know if Ray slept on the Ferry ride home or not. We both crashed once we got home. Our spirits felt a lot better though.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter Sowing

Nope, I did not buy a sewing machine. I followed Catherine's lead and started some seeds. Winter sowing is for seeds that should be started in the fall or need to be exposed to a chill before they will sprout. It seems incredibly easy. Time will tell.

I thought it would be a good time to learn to do flowers, but the flower rack is HUGE. I went the safe route and went right to herb rack. Two of the herbs I chose to try do have flowers. This is for learning. The third package, in case it is difficult to tell from my photography, is parsley.

I peeled the label off of a Costco salad box and pierced the bottom with my pink knife. Than I filled it with soil. There are a number of different types of containers you can use. I'll include links at the bottom of this post. The web page I read said to label your container with duct tape. I used garden tags right inside the container.

I was not vary careful with my choice of seed. I tend to be planning ahead challenged. Parsley seed is more likely to sprout if it has a time of dark. Chamomile is said to sprout best if it is exposed to light. Oh brother! Chamomile seed is so fine that I was afraid if I sneezed it would fly away and be lost to the dust on the window seal.

The Echinacea and parsley were tucked under about one-fourth inch of soil. The chamomile was sprinkled on the surface of the soil. Finally the lid of the salad box was pierced with more holes. I actually had a little fun making chicken foot prints in the lid with a knife. It was a slow day.

The soil was sprinkled with tap water. The web page advises me to put the container on the poach or someplace where I can keep an eye on it. The cold frame Ray made is still empty and waiting. I tucked the package into the cold frame and and am now waiting for sprouts.

About the flowers... I did bring home a package of cosmos but it turns out that they are annuals and I do not need to winter sow them. They can just go right into the ground when the time is right.

Winter Sown dot com, claiming to be the authority on this subject. They are good.

If you read "A Gardener In Progress" (see the side bar of the blog) Catherine had at least three posts about winter sowing with very helpful pictures. Apparently there is still time to winter sow.

Weak high pressure is holding back the rain we have had so much of, but not the clouds. It is still a very gray day. The weather prophets do not give much hope that it will get pretty any time soon. It is, after all, still January. It might get all the way up to 50F today.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Signs of Life

I really do read the blogs on my sidebar. I love experiencing the beauty that Cathryn makes in a climate not unlike my own on A Gardener in Progress. Same with the Nature Nut in Oregon. Flowers mystify me. My mothers garden overflows with pretty. I feel lucky if the weed whacker is working this week. So will you please forgive me for going a little ga-ga over this tiny purple viola? I feel so honored that what comes easily for others is gracing my attempt. Maybe violas just have pluck. Maybe it is because I toss her pretty sisters into my salads (my reasoning being that I can grow food but fail at flowers). Whatever, welcome to my garden! Please (really), make yourself at home!

Coffee and Chives. Not a good combination for the pallet but for an old woman who has been too long inside with the flu. Coffee has sounded nasty for the last five or so days. Thanks to over the counter meds, I have been able to function at school. There were the prayers of dear friends and fellow teachers. Just this morning coffee sounded good again. A good sign I think. I got out for the first time yesterday. I had to collect the gifts that to puppies left. Sort of like an Easter egg hunt without the joy. It is one way to get around and inspect the garden. Passing by the herb garden (which thankfully the puppies also pass by) I saw chives poking up. A refreshing sight! How can something that I see make me feel so much better?

In the Pacific North West we are just entering what is traditionally the four coldest weeks of the year. The last two week of January and the first two weeks of February will tempt my gardening spirit, but experience tells me that I need to wait to get dirty until mid February. On President Lincoln's birthday I'll celebrate by poking peas into the ground. This year I am also going to hide Fava beans in the dirt. The page I was reading assured me that when crocuses began to show it would be time to plant Favas. There are not crocuses in my yard, an oversight I hope to reverse next fall, but there are a few daffodils. They are showing. Is it a trick or can I plant those Favas?

Winter Camping My new cold frame looks like an old fashioned pup tent. Ray made it for me just before I got sick. It has been out for five days without me getting to take a close look. It is not right where I want it yet, but it is portable. The plastic sides will be snugged and tucked. I am so hungry for salad that does not come from a plastic costco box! I'm ready to get dirty (Mike Rowe would be happy, I'm sure). Soon enough I will be busy with new and daily chores. Surly there is value in being patient and waiting for the season. There is a time for everything under heaven, and the season of dark is a time to look for the light. Not just the light that draws the green herbs to come out from the hidden places in the soft soil. It is a time for my heart to look for the light of life.

Mark 6:30 and 31 tells of the apostles having a good ol time telling what they had done for the kingdom in the power given them by Y'shua. They had been so busy that there was not even any time to eat. Exciting times! It must have been tempting to jump right in and do more. But our Y'shua, who know what is best encouraged them to come away and rest. I hear that call while I look for a reason to start the slow food again. I envy bloggers that I read in Texas and California who garden all the year around. But the call, at least in the PNW, is to rest for a little while longer. Now for the power to not jump the gun.

More cold rain after yesterday's sun. Night comes quickly. Wind from the south. is predicting that both the high and low for the next 24 hours will be 43. Humm, it is 34 F right now.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Is it possible to outgive God?

I gain such joy from my gardening that for brief moments I feel guilty about it. How can plucking a perfect radish or gloating about purple pea blossoms bring pleasure to my God? Generally there is no fellowship with other believers. Just the bird song in nearby trees, the sound of neighbor boys shooting hoops in the park and the insults passed between the neighboring beagle and my two terriers as once again they search for a way through the fence, challenging each other to back up their bark with teeth.

It is winter now. Nothing urgent needs to be done in the garden except for putting my dreams to graph paper. That doesn't need to be done outside. Hot tea and a blazing fire inside will do. Thumbing through seed catalogs and personal notes, I remember pouting about needing to go into school to work for a week. Not that I mind, I just like being at home. As I justified my grumping to myself I thought about last summer and how I would not have been able to afford to eat fresh if not for my garden. Teachers do not get paid in the summer. I wondered for a moment how the other teachers make do without a garden. As clearly as if someone were standing beside me, I heard a voice say, "You grow it for them". The thought make so much sense that I did not ponder where the voice came from. I just did not want to tell anyone about what I heard. What if I fail? What if I have to give away the best things? What if my best things are not good enough to give to others?

God is so Good! Last night Constance and I were trading notes on facebook. She shared how she gave food away from her garden to God's people. She testified of the faithfulness of God in increasing her yield so that she could share and still have more than enough. Isn't that just like our God?

But my gardens are just a bunch of squarefoot gardens and while they are enough for Ray and me, they are not very big. That is what I was thinking. Did you know that there is a principle of God, practiced by Y'shua/Jesus? When you entrust your little bit as a gift to God, he makes it into much. It isn't a grantee or a promise, it just is. What He chooses to do with my offering is up to him. By faith I am publicly proclaiming what has been laid upon my heart. Here is my crowded little garden. It is my gift to you and your people Elohim. To God be the Glory!

Overcast and snowy. Gonna be cold tonight.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Swans and Snow

The snow was tardy. We were promised snow and snarled traffic last night but at first light the garden all but glowed green. We decided to go do a little birding. This snow shot was toward the end of our day near Lake Bosworth.
There have been rumors of a Sand Hill Crain grazing with the Swans in Stocker Field near Snohomish. We did not see the crain but as we drove past Harvey Field (which is actually a little airport) we did see my nephew David getting the mail. He works at the airport.
Looking toward Everett, it doesn't look like snow clouds.
Walking the dike along the Snohomish River. Swans. Coots too. There were mallards.... or maybe they were just decoys. Hunting season seems to attract lifeless birds.... and I don't mean the feathered kind
Pretty Abby and her mom. Turns out Abby is frightened of gunshot and mom didn't realize it was hunting season. The sound of guns do not bother Rudy so she walked with us for a while thinking Abby would notice that the sound did not bother Rudy. Isn't that funny? Everything else seems to bother Rudy. It was all for nothing. Abby was still freaked out by the sound of shotguns. Poor thing. At least she didn't drag mom back to the car. Mom got her after a thunder storm. Found her running from the sound. Humm.
It is hard to tell but when we got to Lake Conner (a pond really) It was just starting to snow. You can see it against the trees. Or maybe this is just a really bad picture.
Swans from Ray's camera. This was still along the flats.
Really Rudy, I wanted the shot of the Birds, but if you really want your picture taken, ok.
Hey, the Seahawks won! Everywhere we went today people were saying, "Can you believe the hawks are plaing in a play-off? What a joke." Sounds like the joke was on the Saints. Whoot, whoot!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Five Days Later

Thar be (macro) micro-greens Captain!

The excitement I feel when seeds and water are added to dirt makes no sense. They are doing exactly what they were created to do. Even so I feel nearly as deep a sense of joy for sprouting seeds as I do about the news of a new baby.

Constance of Angel Farm has a much simpler way of growing micro greens. No dirt, no container except for the lid to a Styrofoam egg carton. Next time I grow micro greens I am going to try her way. She recommends tiny tomatoes with micro greens. Maybe they can still grow tomatoes in Texas. Mine are probably nine months out. There are some good things about living in this era; Trader Joe's sells trays of current tomatoes. After wondering who had to pick those tiny little toms and who ate the little ones. Now I know.... me!

These are the mixed greens (all lettuce) that I planted on the 1st (my odd way of celebrating the New Year). So far the paper pots are holding up well. Now, to find enough light to keep the babies happy. Why didn't I think of that earlier? I think last year I got out my sadd's light (multi-spectrum winter light) for my seedlings.

Back to work (school work that is) so the babies can grow in peace.

Ray just came home from graveyard and announced, "It is a cold, COLD rain out there." The wind is coming fast from the South and it should get up to 47 but it doesn't feel very warm.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Scratching the gardening itch

January 1, 2011 At 7 AM in the Pacific Northwest it is still dark. First light has not penetrated the dark of this day of ones. Ray had to get up at 4 AM for work so we did not stay up to welcome the new year. I'm wide awake now and though I am trying to just chill, my head is filled with things I want to do today to celebrate the new year.

The Territorial Seed Catalog is almost committed to memory. My palate is ready to experience fresh greens, peas, spinach and bok-choi. There are at least 6 weeks until I can poke peas and radishes into the cold soil. To scratch my itch for growing things I plan to welcome the new year by making a half dozen paper pots to start lettuce and spinach in. Chris will be building a custom fit cloche for my square-foot-garden. His cloches will allow me to set out my salad starts when the peas go in.

The barbecue wok in the picture will be the home of micro-greens if all goes as planned. I love using the wok for grilled veggies in summer but it just sits in the cupboard taking up space for the rest of the year. I have been resisting using it for greens for a while but the urge to grow food is strong this year. The wok will be lined with a square of landscape fabric and mel's mix (hey, the wok is a square, so surly this counts as square foot gardening) before the seed is sprinkled thickly into soil mix. If the seed is still alive there should be a salad to harvest in two to three weeks.

The rest of Deb's New Year's Day plans

  1. Make paper pots and start lettuce and spinach
  2. Create and start a wok full of macro-greens
  3. Inventory last years seed
  4. Inventory another pantry self
  5. Make pastry for Chris' apple pie (filling in the freezer)
  6. Make clam dip for the guys
  7. Make today's pantry food, "Black Bean Tostadas"
  8. Maybe most important, work on finishing Luke 10 study
  9. If there is any more time to the day, finish the grid for this years garden.

I'm sipping green tea today. One of the three gardening magazines Ray bought me yesterday claims that green tea leaves (or maybe it was the tea? humm) are super food for gardening. Cheer's! The sun is up and day one of 2011 looks to be beautiful.

Happy New Year to you and yours!