Monday, June 30, 2008

Fig Tree

A couple of weeks ago* we planted a fig tree. I know, it's a little optimistic to think we can grow figs, but we just had to give it a try. It's a newly introduced, super hardy variety called Violetta which is expected to be quite sucessful here in the northwest. So far it is doing very well, it actually has a fig on it already!
As you can see from the picture, we planted it close to the south wall of the house, it's actually under the sunshade/eave as well as near the foundation drain so hopefully it will not get either too wet or too cold. This is a very sunny spot, and with the heat reflected back from the wall of the house I'm hoping we can not only keep it alive an healthy but actually ripen some fruit! The plan is to train it as an espalier on the trellis, keeping it small enough that we can wrap it with straw to insulate it in the winter if necessary.

*I'm a little late posting this, I actually uploaded this picture a couple weeks ago but then forgot to actually finish & publish the post. Whoops.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Heat + Light = Blooms

Summer is here! It's hot and sunny, with just enough of a breeze to keep it from sweltering. After working in the yard during the morning, it just got too hot to go back out after lunch. Our thermometer says it is 86F, it's in a shady nook on the northeast side of the house. I don't doubt that it's 90+ in the sun, as was forcasted. Thankfully the house stays a cool & perfect 75 inside, at least downstairs. Upstairs tends to get a bit warmer, but once we get blinds installed on the south & west windows (more on that project later) it should stay fairly cool as well.

I'm not complaining about the heat though, after this long rainy spring we're really ready for some sunshine! The garden and flowerbeds are making up for lost time. Since it's too hot to do any actual work, I decided to take pictures of the flowers and share them here. :)

This is a dahlia grown from tubers that Grandma Joy gave me last fall, after she'd dug hers. It's only just begun to bloom, but already it's stealing the show in the front flower bed.

The Daylillies that Keeley gave me may give the dahlia a run for their money though. This is the first one to actually bloom, but there are a lot more stems out there.
This is the borage that Kriss gave me, it's gotten huge and is starting to produce it's lovely blue shooting-star flowers. They are edible, but so far I'm mostly just enjoying looking at them.

A surprising number of these snapdragons overwintered from last season. I grew them from seed that my cousin Jess saved from her garden. I just love their pugilistic faces.

The wild Nootka roses are finally starting to bloom as well. We have the latest blooming roses in the area, I think. It seems like the roses along the road into town are all over before ours even get started. The bees are really enjoying these blossoms today, the whole hedge of them is buzzing with activity.

Not all the blooms are strictly ornamental. The zuchini and summer squash are also taking advantage of the warm weather and flowering like crazy. We've even got one zuc that's already nearly large enough to harvest!

Once we get a fair number of set squash, I'll start harvesting some of the blossoms for eating. It's one of my favorite summer breakfast treats, batter-fried squash blossoms. Mmm!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Berries & Berries-to-be

Our strawberries are ripening! I've been picking a good double-handful of ripe berries every day. Maybe not enough to make jam, but they sure do make a delicious breakfast, desert, or blog-side snack. :)
The blackberries, marionberries, tayberries, and loganberries we planted along the cedar fence last summer are absolutely loaded with blossoms and berries.
Some are quite a bit earlier than the others, this one is all done blooming and looks like it is set for a glorious harvest. These berries are going to be huge!
The blueberries have also set respectable crops, and the gooseberries are fully loaded again this year. Since we had so much trouble with the gooseberry sawfly larvae stripping all the leaves off the bushes last year, we covered the gooseberries with a tent made from floating row cover material a few weeks ago, when we saw the first signs of insect activity. The idea is to keep the adult flies from being able to lay their eggs on the gooseberry leaves. So far, it seems to be working - the plants are bushy and leafy and look tremendously healthy. The tent looks a little wierd, like some kind of squat white ghost in our yard. But it sure beats spraying or trying to catch and squish all the larvae by hand!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Starting to Show

This is exciting! I'm almost 16 weeks and really starting to show. Cynthia and I went maternity-clothes shopping this morning, so now I have pants and pajamas that fit again. We also made belly butter, it smells and feels really good. I've read that genetics determine whether you'll get stretch marks or not, but I figure it can't hurt to put on lotion anyhow.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mission: Puppy!

For Father's Day I got my dad a puppy. She's a purebred Yellow Lab, 12 weeks old. The two of them are getting along great, they're going to make a great team:
She doesn't have a real name yet, but she responds well to "Sweetie". And she instictively knows how to fetch, what a smart girl! She's going to be a great dog.

Happy Father's Day, Dad! I love you. :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Flying Dragon

I'm really excited about this unusual shub we picked up at Cloud Mountain Farm this past weekend. It's a super hardy citrus relative from China with really wicked thorns called "Flying Dragon" (poncirus trifoliata). Of course ours didn't come with fruit on it, but I'm hopeful that someday it may actually produce. The fruit is supposed to be super sour, no good for eating fresh, but aparently it can be used for marmalade or the juice can be used like lemon juice in cooking. We haven't planted it yet, still trying to decide the best place for it...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mmmm - Radishes

I am a new convert to radishes. I didn't like them (or so I thought) but I think that was probably an opinion held over from when I was about 7, which may be the last time I actually tried them. I have two kinds in the garden this year, and I think I will find a place for them in my vegetable garden from now on. Not only are they yummy and refreshing to snack on, but they are as close to instant gratification as you can get in a vegetable - ready to eat in just three weeks, from seed! Also, they are so cute, I just can't help but smile at them before I bite into them. :)

These are "Cherry Belle" radishes which were part of the wedding favor seed packets which we put together last summer. We have about 20 or so left over packets so I scattered the seeds from 4 of them in one of the garden beds (see my May 17th post). The radishes came up the best of all, there are a few sunflowers, chard and spinach seedlings but mostly it's radishes. I think I'll scatter another few packets in the same bed in another week or so, so I can keep having young radishes to harvest.

Monday, June 02, 2008

1st Trimester Over!

Well, almost over. And not a moment too soon. I'm trying to stay optimistic that the second trimester will be better, the nausea and vomiting and general lousy feeling will go away and I'll finally get to enjoy that pregnancy euphoria everyone always talks about.

Not to be too much of a whiner, but pregnancy has really been a disappointment so far. I always imagined that pregnancy would be this great time; I'd sit around and serenely glow, basking in my new connection to the life-giving powers of the universe, and maybe crochet some cute little booties. Sure, there might be some nausea, heartburn, or other minor discomforts, but that would balance out: for starters, no menstration for 9 months would be pretty great, right? Well, suffice it to say that I seriously underestimated the impact of nausea on pretty much every aspect of my life. Eating? Sleeping? Watching movies? Hanging out with friends? Browsing for unusual fruits & berries at the garden center? Nothing is fun when you feel like you have the flu. After going out to eat a couple weeks ago, I wondered if I might have gotten food poisoning - but how would I even be able to tell? Oh, and then there's the gassiness. I'm a danger to myself and others.

Besides all that, the lack of energy/enhanced need for sleep has really been a show-stopper. It's amazing how little time there is left for chores and/or socializing after a full day at work and then a 3 hour nap. Dinner (ha! see above), bathing, and basic laundry is about all I have time for on a regular basis, with a little gardening thrown in on the weekends. Luckily I'm married to a great guy who is picking up the slack on grocery shopping, cooking, and all those other little things that I'm just too tired for.

While I'm ranting, I might as well also mention the acne. I'd always heard that when you were pregnant your skin would be radiantly clear, your hair would stop shedding, and your nails would grow super fast. Well, the first two are myths, as far as my experience goes. I must be having some kind of hormone surges, because every couple of weeks I suddenly break out like a 15-year-old fry cook. And it's not just my face, it's my chest, my back, even my thighs. Ugh. As for my hair, I still shed like crazy. In fact, I think I may be shedding more than usual - since I recently got my hair cut short (9 inches off!), losing the same number of strands would make a much smaller hairball, right? But no, my after-shower drain monster looks the same as it did before my haircut. The fingernail thing does seem to be true, my finger and toenails are growing like mad. Which just means I have to cut them more often, so at best that's a mixed blessing.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still really, really thankful to be pregnant. I'm super excited to meet our little baby in 6 more months, and to watch him or her grow into a whole new person. But so far at least, pregnancy is not living up to my expectations. Which probably reflects more on my unrealistic expectations than on pregnancy itself...