Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cats in the Coldframe

It was a windy winter and this coldframe cover didn't make it. Since there aren't any plants in it at the moment it filled up with cats.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I just got this bag of 500 gladiolus bulbs. I planted 1/3 of them today and will plant another 1/3 in a couple of weeks and another 1/3 a couple of weeks later to spread out the blooming.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Saving Seed

Every year Joel finds that one or more of his favorite vegetables, ones that work really for us in this site, just aren't available as they have been dropped from commerce by the big seed growers. So a few years ago he started saving seed from some of our no longer available favorites. Doing this does require learning quite a bit about the plants habits, pollination needs, close relatives, etc. Above is a patch of Portuguese kale that Joel is trying to save seed from this year. Trouble is we grow a lot of brassicas and they will all cross with each other. So we have been going a round a couple of times a day picking all the flowers off all the other brassica plants, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.

Finally Joel decided that enough of the flowers had been pollinated to make an adequate amount of seed so he covered the flower heads with little mesh bags to keep the pollinators out of the flowers so that,
he can now concentrate on a seed crop of Kalibos cabbage, an interesting pointy headed purple cabbage. Now we can let these plants flower but still have to keep all the others pruned.

Joel shares seed with other like minded souls though the Seed Savers Exchange. Over the last several years he's grown seed from several lettuces, a variety of beets, and several wheat varieties.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


This beautiful rhododendron was a Mother's Day present from Joel two years ago. This year it is covered with blooms.
Just beyond it is a patch of sweetly scented cowslips Primula veris. I grew the original from seed that I got from Thompson and Morgan over 20 years ago and they have reseeded and spread ever since.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Greens in the Hoohouse for Opening Market Day

Tomorrow is the opening day of the weekly Farmers market in Friday Harbor in the courthouse parking lot, 10:00 to 1:00. We'll be there every week until the middle of October.

Above, Joel is harvesting some of the tender and sweet Asian greens and mustards in the hoophouse. It's full of things like You Cai, Yokatta-Na, Miike Great Wave mustard, and Bau Sin, spinach and arugula. I'm also bringing my rugs and hats.

Monday, April 12, 2010

With a Little Help from my Friends

I have been working on a special order rag rug for a friend. We are trying to match colors in a quilt. We've found the fabrics to match but when I went to order yarn for the warp I found that between the two companies I usually order carpet warp from there are about 5 different shades of maroon. And only one would really work with the maroon in the quilt. So about 2 months ago I ordered that color. And got backordered on it, the only part of my order that didn't come right away. A call to the company last week told me that they have no idea when or if they will get that color. So I went online to a couple of the weaving lists that I belong to. Did anybody have several cones of the Leesburg cotton maroon yarn. I got several responses. One woman sent a sample that was too red. But this morning I received a box of cones of yarn that are exactly the right color. I do love the interent and the friends I have met that way. Thank you all of you who came to my rescue.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

New Wool Rugs

I started on the new wool rugs. These are being woven in the double binding technique that I use for my rag rugs. I think they are going to be pretty nice.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lots of Peppers, and Tomatoes

I've said before that we like to grow lots of varieties of various vegetables and peppers and tomatoes are no exception. Here are some of the little pepper and tomato plants in the greenhouse. Growing lots of varieties has its practical sides as well as well as being more fun. We can make a much nicer display at the market with various colors and shapes, hot ones, sweet ones, ones with just a little heat, thick walled for salads, thin walled for frying and drying, etc. It also means that if the weather is less than perfect, that is, the usual sort of weather, we have a lot of different responses to it in all the different varieties. It does mean that we spend a lot of time picking up the labels out of the garden in the fall. We make our labels out of white plastic yogurt and cottage cheese containers. A good way to give all that plastic a bit more time before it hits the landfill.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Lawn

It always amazes how much mowing the lawn civilizes the place. We have way too much area that we mow. Too much in time and fuel, but here mowing the lawn is our best defense against the jungle. If we don't mow the Himalaya blackberries and wild Nootka rose come right back in. Both of these plants can grow to 10 feet high and have big thorns. When we first moved here over 25 years ago the area around the house was all rose bushes and blackberries. It has taken a lot of work to beat them back and the lawn mower is our best weapon. And besides it looks so beautiful when it is mowed.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Idea

I've been weaving my wool rugs from Joel's handspun wool from our sheep for 20 years. I have used various twill patterns, often Rosepath, but also many others. When I started making rag rugs I wanted to do something different and when I stumbled on double binding in an old issue of Handwoven magazine that was what I wanted to do. Recently Joel asked me if I'd ever considered weaving the wool rugs in double binding. So, I'm putting on a warp in stripes of various neutral colors in double binding and will weave blocks of various shades of light and dark greys and white. I'm excitied to see how they will come out. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Last Winter Market

Tomorrow is the last indoor winter Farmers Market in Friday Harbor. And we have LOTS of purple sprouting broccoli. This is so sweet and tender and delicious. It's a treat you won't find in many places. It's common in Britain but not in this country. So if you are a San Juan Island person come to the market and get some. We also have kale, chard, kale buds, cauliflower, sorrel and the first rhubarb.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


This constitutes our first homegrown (mostly) salad of the year. Joel harvested a whole bunch of little leaves from the greens in the hoophouse, mostly various Asian greens and mustards, bulked them up with a bit of leftover grocery store romaine, some toasted hazelnuts from his Mom's tree and Voila...spring salad. I know the pictures is a bit blurry but we've eaten the salad and I can't take another one.