Sunday, April 20, 2014

Working on the Orchard

My aunt used to call me a "frustrated farmer" - and maybe she's right!  I can't seem to stop myself from agricultural pursuits - even now when it is just the two of us and we don't even eat that much.  Our latest project is the orchard.  We decided that planting an acre of vegetables every year for the deer, slugs, raccoons, bear, etc. was probably a bit excessive.  And we are getting older - all that bending, heavy weeding, etc. takes its toll on an old body. 

We had a fair start on an orchard, but it had been neglected and heavy weeds grew around the base of every tree.  Over the years the trees had grown, making it harder and harder to till between them.  After one day of getting whacked in the head by overreaching branches as I drove the tractor through the rows to do the spring tilling, I decided it was time to either take out the trees or make it easier to work.
Coincidentally, the PUD had trimmed the trees along the power lines for miles.  We had offered them a place to dump their mulch, and they brought us about 10 dump truck loads last summer.
I enlisted Ron's help, and he hauled bucketload after bucketload of mulch.  I laid out shade cloth and all the accumulated newspapers after I weeded around the base of the trees.  (Hopefully for the last time!)

When we were done, we had hauled and spread about 100 yards of mulch and covered the entire orchard area with about 6" of mulch.  Being a math person, I pondered our project as I worked and figured that 50' x 40' = 2,000 square feet - at 6" deep, should be 1000 square feet of mulch - and if my math formula from memory serves correctly, divide sq ft by 9 to get sq yards - which is 111 yards.  Could that be right?  No wonder my back was hurting!

So now we have 5 apple trees, 2 cherry trees, 1 pear with 4 varieties spliced to it, 2 plum trees, and 1 fig tree.  We also added two varieties of black berries to go with our existing raspberry and strawberry rows.  We have found that it is a lot easier to give away fruit than it is vegetables, and fruit is so much easier to take care of!

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Family Times

Checking out Tina's flower beds and gardens.

 Jesse checking out the loft
Checking out Tony's latest building project
Sara - all grown up - finishing high school soon!

 Back on the west side - Getting reacquainted with Daphne who asked "Which Grandpa are you?"
And on to Safeco Field to a Mariner's game
I'm hungry - AGAIN???

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tracking the Elusive Morel Mushroom

Years ago, when I was a teenager, we used to go on a family outing to celebrate my Dad's birthday looking for morel mushrooms.  Of course, everything changes over the years, and most of our places to find mushrooms have been blocked off, built on, or logged.  When my daughter, Amy, came up to visit on this gorgeous Spring day, she remembered mushroom hunting as a child.  So we decided to see if we could find a place to look.
The woods were nice, but we had to squeeze in between the cars already parked at the end of the road.  It didn't look good - someone had clearly gotten there first.
Aha!  They missed a few! 
Amy also found some perfect Fiddlehead ferns.  While not enough for a full meal, morels are a delicacy that should be savored.  Fortunately, Ron doesn't eat them, so that leaves a nice taste for the rest of us for an appetizer.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Seed Organizing

I saw this idea on Facebook, and thought it sounded like something I could do.  Since planting fever hits me early in February while we are still in Florida or Georgia, when the weather turns nice and the seeds and plants start coming into the marketplace, and my planting is done when I get home to Washington, my seeds are pretty disorganized.  Often I buy new seeds when I already have plenty.  Then I discover I don't have some essential seeds.  So on a cloudy day, time to get organized!  First step - accumulate all the seeds from years past and all the ones I've bought for this year.

In my "abandoned crafts" area, I found everything I needed to get started.
I labeled sheet protectors with holes for a 3" binder - coming down a bit of a learning curve - originally I put each seed packet into a separate envelope.  I think I'll do better with grouping seeds.
I'm thinking that I can insert a blank sheet into the envelope with the seeds saying when I planted them so my garden diary will be all in one place.  But I'll probably not get to that.
I'm starting to feel very organized, and inspired to head outside to do some planting.
I'm trying to stay within my available materials, so it took two one inch binders.  A 3" binder would have been fine for all the seeds, but I didn't have one on hand.

Heading to the garden as although it's cloudy, it's not raining, and I know just what I need to plant!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Looking for Tulips

We knew the first week we were home was exceptionally wet - but it seems the months of February and March set all kinds of records for rain here in the Pacific Northwest.  Just about the time we are ready to pack up and head south, we got one of the famous stellar days that keep us all around.  Yesterday was gorgeous with blue skies and sunshine.
This is what our front walkway looked like - the green grunge was about an inch deep in places.  I spent 5 hours with the 3500 lb per sq inch pressure washer, and got most of the decks and walkways cleaned.
Same walkway after cleaning - things are looking up!
However, after Ron mowed most of the day and I did the pressure washing, we were tuckered out and decided to take a trip up to the Skagit Valley to look at the tulips. 

Usually by the end of March, the fields around Conway and Mt Vernon are tilled and planted.  This year, most are ditched to remove excess water from the muddy ground.
The daffodilss are still in full bloom - much later than normal,
Only the pink tulips are showing color at all.
We did see hundreds of snow geese still hanging out in the fields.
And the mountains looked like they had a fresh dusting of snow.  Definitely a later than normal spring around here.