Tag Archives: gardening

Spring Planting Update

You may recall that I decided to dip my toe back into the gardening water this spring. I thought I would give a quick update on the results.


I started a lot of seeds intending to raise two plants to maturity. It’s always hard to decide which seedlings to pinch off; I look for the weakest stems and try to favor one closest to the middle of the pot. I now have two plants; one in a big clay pot so I can take it with me when we move, and one in the ground. Because the soil of our rental home isn’t very good, even though I did plant it with some fertilizer, the one in the pot is doing better than the one in the ground.

I picked a bunch to dry; I like to shake dried parsley on my eggs in the morning (i.e. I am too lazy to go pick some and chop it up!)

I picked a bunch to dry; I like to shake dried parsley on my eggs in the morning (i.e. I am too lazy to go pick some and chop it up!)


Western Oregon has been unusually warm and dry this year, perfect for growing basil! Alas, I neglected these seedlings a bit too much for their taste, and then put them in this not-great soil, so they are alive but not thriving.

I got four leaves off the other day—made a yummy lunch with tomato and herbed mozzarella balls

I got four leaves off the other day—made a yummy lunch with tomato and herbed mozzarella balls


This is one of the heartiest strains of lettuce I’ve ever seen! The soil didn’t seem to bother it one bit, and since it’s been so dry the slug damage was minimal. With our warm weather I expected this lettuce to bolt months ago. It finally did, but only after providing many fresh salads.

I am leaving this to bolt so I can harvest the seeds

I am leaving this to bolt so I can harvest the seeds

The dill did not stand up to the poor soil quality and pressure from neighboring flowers. Sorry, dill—not your fault!

There you have it. Wallowa County, Oregon, where we’re moving, is 4,000 feet above sea level, so I’m not sure what can be grown up there. I will give a full report next spring!

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Spring Planting

Spring! Depending on where you live, March might be time to plant tomatoes and cantaloupes (Southern states) or to cry into your seed catalogs as yet another snowstorm rolls through (Northern states). It’s by no means balmy in the Pacific Northwest, but nice enough to plant heartier things like brassicas and greens. And so I did.

As many of you know, my husband and I are currently in what I like to call “exile”—in a rental home in the city, trying to regroup for our next strike into the country. There are no vegetable garden beds on this property, so I am making do by sneaking in a few things along the flowered fence line. My motivation when picking things to plant is: What can I grow in not-perfect conditions that is expensive to buy in the store? Lettuce, dill, arugula (rocket), parsley and basil.

Parsley seeds need to soak for 24 hours; dill doesn’t transplant well so it will go straight into the ground. The rest go in pots.

Soaking parsley seeds in wet paper towels

Soaking parsley seeds in wet paper towels

You do not need to buy fancy seed-starter kits to get some plants going. Whatever you use just needs to be sturdy and to drain. I have seen people twist newspaper into little cups but have never tried it for fear that, once they’re wet, they will fall apart. (Plus, where does one get newspaper anymore? Ha.) Instead, I took a few empty yogurt and sour cream containers and punched holes in the bottom with a box-cutter—et voilá!

Cutting drain-holes

Cutting drain-holes

If possible, use starter mix; to save money I just bought regular planting soil. The reason for starter mix is it’s sifted to keep big chunks of vermiculite and organic matter out. A pea-sized hunk of bark wouldn’t bother a grown plant but it could stop completely the development of a tender seedling. So I go through and pick out the biggest chunks.


Clearing growth-hazards

Getting starts moisture is tricky; you can’t just dump a stream of water on them or you’ll uncover the seeds or knock the seedlings over. The best is to use a spray bottle (preferably a bottle that has held drinking water). Lacking a spray bottle, I held my fingers over a glass and forced the water to drip out slowly. Until the seedlings have roots there is no need to water the entire pot of soil; just the top inch is fine.

Some of you experienced gardeners may be saying: Basil? In March? Indeed, basil is a very tender plant that doesn’t take kindly to anything under 65 degrees. Never fear; I’m going to keep those pots inside—probably for three months!

Before ....

Before ….



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Tutu Therapy

In 2008, Mike and I were struggling financially. You probably were, too: there was a recession going on. I was getting for-real depressed.

That July, Mike had a freelance video production gig (thank goodness!) that required travel. While he was out of town, I drove to the Wallowa Mountains with my friend Laura to visit my other friend, Jon. We had a great time—just what I needed—and I dreaded returning to reality. On our way out of town, Laura and I stumbled upon a big rummage sale being held in a parking lot. I found a child’s pink tulle tutu for 25 cents.

For some reason, I bought it. I have never owned a tutu. I never took ballet lessons. Laura looked at me like I had finally cracked.

I’m a petite gal, so it fit just fine. I made a tentative leap in the air, imagining myself graceful. I found that when I put the tutu on, my worries disappeared! The silliness of a grown woman who is not a ballerina wearing a tutu overcame my concerns about the things on the house that needed fixing and my fears about the future. I was wearing a tutu! Leap! Leap! Twirl!

Inspired, I created a photo essay that I posted on my Facebook page. Today, a friend turned my attention to a man who is posting photos of himself in a tutu to raise breast cancer awareness. I felt a bond with this man right away. I highly recommend tutu therapy!

Here is my photo essay, entitled “Tutu.”

Life is hard. Wearing a tutu makes things more fun!

Chopping wood is more fun!

Gardening is more fun!

Mowing is more fun!

Now I just need to wear my tutu during business meetings, balancing the checkbook and washing the dishes!

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