Way back in 1999 or so I served a brief stint as an overpaid SAT tutor.  It was interesting insofar as it gained me entry into some VERY fancy houses.  One day driving around on Mercer Island I came across an Aucuba put out on the street.  It was the first Aucuba I’d ever noticed.  I brought it home and stuck it along the North property line under our big conifer.  It didn’t produce berries so I assumed it was male and bought a female to keep it company for $3.33 at Thriftway.  Now the original is dead and the small female is huge and was getting sunburned because we had the laurel above her cut back last summer.  So today I pruned her and moved her to a spot along the Northern property line.  I think she’ll be much happier in the shade and the space she’d outgrown is already looking much improved although I haven’t cleaned up the cuttings yet.  Two side branches had set roots of their own so I divided them off and also planted them along the Northern property line.  If they all survive and fill in they’ll provide a nice screen from the neighbors.

Lots has happened.  D.C. was scary.  It’s nice to be home.  I accepted a position with USGS.  Things are good.


Invasive species removal

On sunny days in February there is nothing better than sprucing up the garden.  The fresh air is a novelty.  The soil holds so much promise.  Today I didn’t have to go to campus for lecture so I spent several hours clearing blackberry from the slope in the back.  I also pruned back roses and tidied up by the basement door.  It looks tons better but there is still a long way to go.  I could happily work on it full time for the next month if I had that luxury.


Today I bought three primroses at the grocery store, stuck them in empty pots by the back door and covered the dirt with chunks of moss pulled off the front stairs.  It’s the moss that I love.  Such a ridiculous over the top green.  So defiant of the rest of January’s general dormancy.  The primroses just set it off to advantage.  The pots makes me happy every time I come home.

Rain Day

Hello November.  I’m sad to say goodbye to one of the most beautiful Octobers in memory.  Rainy season is officially here.

I’m already fantasizing about next year’s garden.  I think I roped in a willing collaborator (in addition to Whiz who gets credit for all tilling and irrigating).  I’m super excited and inspired to be organized.  First step: planning what to plant.  Here’s what I’m thinking:

1. Establish an asparagus bed.  I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle last winter and am now ashamed that we didn’t establish asparagus years ago.  But I’m also a little scared because it sounds hard.

2. Pole beans- we’ve been growing bush beans the last two years because I was too lazy to build a trellis.

3. Red and sweet yellow onions.  The Whiz proclaimed our red onions from this year are his favorite thing from the garden.

4. Cucumbers- for eating and pickling (need to pickle them small next year).

5.  Delicata squash.

6.  Raspberries.

7.  Sunflowers.

8.  Zinnia.

9.  Marigolds along the front path.

10.  Basil.

11. Dill.

12.  Cilantro.

13.  Parsley.

14. Chives.

15.  Potato?

16.  Tomatoes: rainbow cherries, san marazino, yellow boy, celebrity

17.  Kohlrabi

18.  Lettuce.

19.  Sugar snap peas.

20.  Sweet corn.

21.  Zucchini- try cooking blossoms next year.

22.  Kale.

23.  Jalepeno.

24.  Eggplant.

25.  Cauliflower.

26.  Ghost pumpkin.

27. Lemon Balm.

28.  Also must make sure to harvest the transparent apples when they are ripe next year rather than letting them fall and rot like I did the last two.

29.  Sugar beets.

30.  Blue morning glory to grow up the laurel hedge.

Anything else I should consider?  What do you love growing in your gardens?  Don’t say chickens, I’ll get depressed.  Whiz enforces a strict anti-chicken policy even though I’ve already picked out names (Flossy, Gertie and Eudora) and send him links to free coops on Craigslist.  To be fair I did scar him a little with some previous poultry farming.  Best not to go there.

Next step: figuring out when is best to plant these guys and drafting a schedule.

Yard Mess

We installed a cool recycled brick patio over the summer.  Very proud.  Big success.  I will post about it sometime when we’re all “after”-ready.  But, as you can see above, it’s not quite there yet.  I know.  We have no shame.

Well, maybe a little shame.  Enough so that having just put Gooby down for a nap and having even more recently polished off a twice baked + once microwaved potato with cream cheese and red onion I am taking my butt out to the yard to do something about that mess you see above.  I should add that it is break-your-heart gorgeous out.  I should also add that today is kind of a huge landmark day for the blog because sometime since last night we had our FIRST visitor!!!  Seriously!  I feel so famous.

Street Appeal

We live on a . . . hmm. . . how do you say?. . . a “transitional” street.  A few doors down there’s an abandoned house where squatters were stripping wires to sell for drug money until their recent eviction.  Next door to that there’s an assisted living home for handicapped adults.  Then there’s the former crack house next door to us where police conducted a bust one day as I was working from home rousting about 18 people on to the porch and chasing one tweaker down the street, guns drawn.  There are also some renters, some elderly, some immigrants, us.  You get the picture.  But the other day a couple in the middle of the block had a little party to celebrate their wedding (after 25 years together! in Hawaii and totally spontaneous!) and invited us with some others from the street.  It gave me a whole different feeling about our neighbors.  It was really sweet.

I don’t know if it’s related but I recently got a bug to tidy up our front strip.  Today it rained all day so I took advantage of Goobie’s naptime to plant some woolly thyme at the base of our rock wall.   I also dug up some periwinkle from the backyard and moved it to the base of the mock orange on the other side of the driveway.  Both these plants have proven their ability to go nuts under a strict regime of neglect, making them perfect candidates for our yard.

Excuse these pictures.  I took them really fast in the rain while Henry waited in the car for me after his nap.

Here are some befores for contrast.

Fun stuff.

Delicata Squash

Why, yes, I AM proud of this photo, thank you.  No, I don’t have any formal training, but I’m flattered that you would ask.  Um, my mom’s old canon powershot A something that she gave me when I lost mine.  No, it’s not expensive.  Not at all.

Anyway, in other news: we still have a pile of delicata squash from our garden.  It was only last winter that I tasted delicata for the first time.  Now I think it may be my favorite fall/ winter produce.  They’re super easy to prepare: just cut lengthwise (which is much easier to do than with other squash), seed, rub with a little olive oil and roast in a covered dish for 30 min.  The flesh turns into an amazing sweet light golden custard all on its own.  Amazing!  Plus it makes perfect baby food.

Another bonus: Delicata are heirlooms so we can save seed for next year.