Thursday, April 23, 2009

Apple tree blossoms and columbine flowers

So here's a picture of the apple tree in my backyard:

In the past few days it's blossoms are opening up.  They're beautiful!  Below are some pictures of them:

Also, I have found numerous bluebell plants throughout the yard.  Here are some with lemon balm growing around them:

This is my columbine plant that I bought at the expo a couple of weeks ago.  It's flowers are opening up.  I was hoping for a blue and white star pattern, like you see on Colorado license plates, but I like this mauve color, too.

My two blueberry plants seem to be surviving so far (the new one that I just planted is the one on the left).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Apple tree

I was weeding the backyard today and I found an apple tree growing near the Earth Machine.  The tag was left on it and it said that it was some kind of semi-dwarf hybrid.  It has leaves and buds on it.  It's in a shady spot so it must be okay with partial sun.  It was a happy find.  Thanks again, previous people who lived here!  The light wasn't very good to take a picture, but I'll post one later.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hardy Plant Society of Oregon's Spring Plant Sale and Garden Festival

This weekend was the Hardy Society's Garden Festival up at the Expo Center.  There weren't any huge displays at the show - it was mostly venders from the area.  Below is three plants that I bought:

From left to right: lemon verbena, columbine, and jersey blueberry.  I was talking a vender who was selling blueberry plants and she said that it is best to have more than one plant so the two can cross-pollinate and thus produce more berries.  I planted my new blueberry plant next to the jubilee one that I found.  The jubilee is a shorter plant and the jersey is going to be about six to seven feet tall so I hope that they will work well together.
I planted the lemon verbena with my other herbs on the western side of my plot.  I purchased the columbine because it reminded me of Colorado (the columbine is the state flower and it's pretty much all over the state) and I planted it next to last year's herb garden.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Indoor Catnip Plant

So here's the catnip plant that I have growing indoors.  I transplanted it about a week ago into the bigger pot and it seems to be doing well in the afternoon sun.  I can't wait to use some of the leaves to make tea!

Found Blueberry Plant

Last weekend I was clearing branches from the west side of the house and I found a blueberry plant.  It had the label attached to it and everything.  It's called "Jubilee Blueberry."  After a quick Google search, I learned that Jubilee Blueberries are nutrient-rich medium-sided berries.  The variety comes from Mississippi and unlike northern varieties, this type does not need a significant stretch of cold winter weather.  Portland has mild winters so it totally makes sense that someone would plant this variety here.  It likes acidic, well-drained soil.  I couldn't find anything about desirable sunlight.  Does anyone know what amount of sunlight it prefers?  It's on the west side of my house, but my neighbor's house is right there so it probably doesn't get a whole lot of sun.  Will this be a problem down the road?

Friday, April 10, 2009


Okay, first of all, I figured out how to add pictures again.  Apparently the pop-up blocker on Safari conflicted with Blogger's image application.  When I turn off the pop-up blocker then the image application works fine.
So above is a picture of the Earth Machine's compost output.  It looks like some good stuff: nice, rich, and dark.  Once a week I take out as much as I can from the bottom, spread it around the plot, and water it down.  The Earth Machine's website said to mix up and aerate the contents frequently, so I stir the contents with the other end of a rake about every other day.  I've been adding all the weeds that I pull out to the raw mix on top.  But now I'm wondering if this is a bad thing to do because I might just be adding seeds to it.  Hmm... I'll do some research on this later.
I talked to my roommates about the Earth Machine.  They knew that it was there, but they think that it's in a bad the location in the yard.  Earth Machines are made of black plastic so they heat up in the sun.  The added heat speeds up the composting process.  The previous homeowners hid this Earth Machine in a shady spot.  So it still works, but if we move it to a sunnier spot it might work even better.   We'll see if we can agree on a new location.


The compost from the Earth Machine has been great.  I've been spreading it around the garden.  I have a great picture to add for this, but for some reason I can't upload any of my pictures to Blogger lately.  (Yes, they are in the right format and are the right size.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Catnip, I hardly knew you

Above is a picture of the remains of my second catnip plant.  As I was taking the picture, the cat ran up to me and stepped into the frame, just like a murder returning to the scene of the crime.  I can't remember who said it, but there's a quote that out there that goes "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results."  So of course I went out and bought another catnip plant.  This time I'm keeping it inside.  I transplanted it into a bigger pot and I'm keeping it in my office, a room that gets the afternoon sun.  Yes, we do have two indoor cats, but I keep the door to my office closed when I'm not home so I have a bit more control over this setting than I did outdoors.  I let one of the cats in the office with me the other night and she just got really silly around the plant.  She sniffed at it, but didn't try to eat it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Carrots, parsnips, spinach, and beets are in the ground

Last Sunday I put my seeds for carrots, parsnips, spinach, and beets in the ground.  Above is a picture of the holes I poked for the carrots.  I planted the carrots along the south edge, the parsnips along the north edge, the beets along the east edge, and the spinach along the west edge bordering the herbs.  As these seeds (hopefully) start popping up I will plant rows of the same plant behind them working towards the middle of the plot.
In some places I had to push down really hard to make those indents.  This is because there is a lot of clay in the soil.  I spread a thin layer of compost from the Earth Machine all over the rest of the plot.  It hasn't been very rainy in the last week, so I need to make sure I water everything before I head off to work. 

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Orphaned Earth Machine

I was in the backyard weeding a few days ago and I found this Earth Machine that the previous residents left behind.  I mean, I saw it back there before, but I thought that it was another planting pot or air conditioner cover or some other article of rubbish.  So this means that I just scored a free composter.  Sweet!  Portland residents can buy these through Metro for $39 a pop so I'm pretty thrilled about finding one ready to go in my backyard.  Metro's phone number for questions is posted on it, but read up on how to use it on Earth Machine's website (
You put the stuff that you want to compost on the top (the lid is opened in this picture) and you stir it around occasionally to keep it aerated.  The soil settles to the bottom.  The door on the bottom slides up so you can take out a little if you need it.  If you need a lot more, you can also take the entire unit apart and take out the soil that you need and then return the parts that are still composting.
I opened the top - half expecting a raccoon or something to yap at me - and noticed that it was mostly filled with twigs, or "yard browns" as the website calls them.  There is some soil on the bottom.  I think that I will add that soil to my pots that I'm saving for the tomatoes.  I could also throw it on the parts of the garden plot where I have not planted anything yet.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Here's a promising sign:

(okay, I took it with my camera phone so it may be hard to see clearly) I took this picture while I was planting my herbs.  The metal thing on the lower left is my spade.  You can see up top in the center is a worm.  I encountered a lot of worms while I was digging around.  Worm castings are excellent fertilizer so I was quite excited to find so many of them.

It was rainy and cold for most of the day and the plot still smells like fish.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Last weekend in March

Okay, so here's the update on what I did last weekend:
  • Poured potting soil into three large pots
  • Put herbs into the ground
  • Weeded
Ripley destroyed my catnip plant so I purchased a new one while I was out buying another bag of potting soil.  I planted it next to the lavender so maybe that will keep him away from it.

I did not plant the tomatoes yet.  I will grow them inside first.  I have a room upstairs in my house that gets all the afternoon sun and is warmer than the other rooms.

The weather has been nice and rainy lately (typical weather for Portland for this time of the year).  This has kept the ground moist.  I also hope that it has helped leach the nutrients from the fertilizer into the ground.  So far, the garden still smells like fish.  It's not too unpleasant, but I hope that this goes away soon.