Monday, March 31, 2014

frost :/

Seattle, you can cut that out any minute now.  (Reports vary, but we're probably past our average last frost date.) Frost on the grass this morning when I left for work, and that can't be doing any of my seedlings or recent transplants any good. I'm selecting for hardiness though, right?

Despite some torrential rain on Saturday morning and some visits on Sunday that wound up taking a lot more of the day than I expected, I still got a few things done. The broccoli rabe at the far end of the garden had finally bolted beyond repair:

So I tore out most of it to leave room in the bed for other things (like potatoes!). I'm leaving a few of the hardiest plants to see if I can collect seed from them once their flowering is done. They apparently require insect pollination, so we'll see how well they were served—I haven't seen bees at these flowers in particular, but they're definitely already in the garden.

...That photo also provides an excellent view of the reason I want to put in a filbert hedge along my south fence.

Cleared those out, planted shallots in among the oats that may or may not come up, tucked in some bulbs in beds and corners for things that just flower instead of making food. And then I had the afternoon to myself and nobody stopping me, so I went up to City People again. Where I bought seed potatoes of two varieties, and some sulfur to amend the soil for my little blueberries—those were my actual reasons for going—and then because I shouldn't be allowed in garden stores unsupervised I also bought a huckleberry and a salmonberry, both in gallon pots. Someday it will be possible to eat everything on my property. (Fear me, lawn. Your days are numbered.)

Friday, March 28, 2014

a quick book rec

Okay, two books, really.

All the books on modern homesteading, traditional skill preservation, raising food, etc., have their own spin, and like the techniques they outline, they're a very YMMV business. The ones that are really working for me? The Urban Homestead and its follow-up Making It, by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen (find them online at Root Simple). The authors are very clear on the YMMV aspect and stress flexibility in their suggestions, and they offer a lot of practical project advice for growing food in limited space, making the most of your resources, decreasing your dependence on outside resources—and they make it sound like it'll be fun and an adventure, like you don't have to get everything perfect to succeed (which was an attitude that really put me off an otherwise-helpful garden book for my region recently). I keep wanting to recommend them to friends for one project or another—the potato-growing tower made of used tires, or the chapter on urban foraging, or the explanation of how to decipher esoteric beer recipes and not be intimidated by the snobs of the homebrew world.

If you get the same kind of mileage I do, basically, these books could take you places.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ground work

I've seen advice from a few people suggesting that one of the things you should plan to do in the first year of a new homestead is planting whatever fruit trees you want to grow there -- they're a long-term project, so you want to put the trees to work doing their growing business as soon as possible. And by happy coincidence, I moved into my new place about a month before the growing season starts around here. (Mind you, it goes slowly for the first month or two, when the days aren't so long yet and the weather is still cool and rainy. But it's started! Things are blooming! This is important.)

So one of the first things I did was place an order with Raintree Nursery. Okay, no, the FIRST thing was to browse their entire catalog as if it were some esoteric cross between archaeological discovery and porn. ("aaaahh, those blueberries look so goooood," and "I could grow medlars! I don't even know what a medlar is!" and so on.) But eventually I sat down with my new roommate and picked out a variety of trees, some that were actually planned and some that were excitable impulse buys ("Paw paws! I've always wanted to eat a paw paw!").

Monday, March 24, 2014

Kindling the hearth fire

2014: The year I finally stopped dreaming about one day having a home and land and homesteading goodness, and instead took the plunge and did it. It isn't quite what I had in mind; I'd pictured doing this on five acres or so in the middle of nowhere, enough room for grains and livestock and wildness... But I have a job in the city, and I don't have a car of my own, and I have friends in the city that I want to stay close to. So instead what I have is a little mid-century rambler on a big lot within spitting distance of city limits, with a pre-established vegetable garden and beautiful mature fig tree, and enough room (and southern exposure) to tuck in more food plants all over the place. Not enough room for goats, but maybe next year there'll be chickens.

And the name? Well, I'm a huge nerd, is all. I sat down with a Sindarin-English dictionary and combed through it for ways to build a name that I liked. Faellorn, depending on how you read fael, means either "generous haven" or "haven of the just." It's a heavy geas to lay on myself right out of the gate, but the weight is comfortable.

Come in. Warm yourself by the hearth fire. Be welcome.