Monday, June 29, 2009

Hello, Eugene...

While this blog is primarily based at the LoveDog Ranch, this weekend your usual suspects took a weekend jaunt to Eugene, Oregon. I had never really been there before, only driven through, so it was pretty fun to check out an entirely new place. We stayed at the Armitage Park campground, which is a very quiet park along the McKenzie River in Coburg, a couple of minutes from downtown Eugene. The campground hosts were helpful and friendly, the campground was clean and well kept, and there was an off-leash dog park a two minute walk from our campsite, so Jasper liked it too.

We drove around to get our bearings, and went to the Saturday Market in downtown Eugene. We parked at a meter but we found out later that there is free garage parking in the city lots in downtown on the weekends. We also learned that Eugene isn't a particularly dog-friendly town. We walked over to the bustling market but there were signs everywhere that said "No Dogs Allowed" so we split the duties and I grabbed some food at a couple of booths and met up with Justin who found some shade with Jasper. We walked around the downtown a bit trying to find a dog-friendly patio near the University campus, but near the campus we also encountered city signs posting "No dogs" so we returned to the car and drove to a pub that was dog friendly. Once we had some pub food and drinks we drove to Alton Baker Park which is along the Willamette River. Lots of open fields and foot and bike paths, an amphitheater, a community garden, and another nice off-leash dog park.
Next we drove to Skinner Butte park where I heard there was a climbing wall. There was indeed.
Then we returned to the campground and made some s'mores. Jasper is terrified of campfires so she hid in the tent.

On Sunday we drove to the Eugene Glass School to take a peek at their gallery. Not a real full size gallery, but some very nice pieces in the back gallery (not the shop up front). Its a working studio and more of interest to glassblowers (a.k.a. Justin) than your average joe (a.k.a. me). We took the Lorane Highway and drove towards Lorane and into wine country. We stopped at the King Estate Winery (pictured below) for lunch and wine and also tasted at Chateau Lorane. Then it was the long trek home. I definitely want to do more exploring in Oregon!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Porch garden update

The porch garden is growing like crazy, and it has been fun to see the progress every day. We now have 1 almost ready-to-use jalapeno, the early girls are big and green, the carrots are officially out of control (we didn't thin them), and the basil is delicious. Last Sunday we had some funky weather and it dropped down to 51 degrees, and then started hailing like crazy. I was a little worried about damage to the garden, but it didn't seem to show any ill response, although the storm brought out a million snails and slugs. Immediately I ran out there with my Sluggo and tried to protect my crops, but then I went for the easier route and had Justin go out there and pick them all off and throw them to faraway lands... We only ended up with a few holes in some of the leaves of the zucchini, so crisis averted for now.

(Pictured above starting front L-R: 2 cucumber plants, 2 basil. Back row: early girl tomato, orange and yellow marigolds, another tomato - can't remember what kind)

Leeks, onions, carrots.

(L) summer squash, cucumber, summer squash, watermelon. (R) eggplants.

(L) Cilantro. (R) Mesclun.

(L) Silver Thyme, in bloom. (R) Rosemary.

(See the first pictures here)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beautiful succulents

I am very excited to show off the latest addition to the home garden:

My Aunt Lisa helped me with this creation. And by helped, I mean she came up with the idea, literally gave me the plants and basket, and showed me how to plant them. But I love it! I needed to come up with some plants that were tolerant to intense heat because this is a full sun location and there is a lot of bounce off of the house as well (I must admit she was the one that said that too). I used about 9 seedums (3 different varieties) some rich new soil, and some sea glass over the top layer of for a finishing touch. Also in the background you can see an octopus agave plant. Thanks Lisa!

If you're looking for a little inspiration, you can pick up a copy of Lisa's book, which is actually a book of 25 postcards. Each has a photograph of one of her creations, along with the list of plants used to create the masterpiece. Proceeds benefit Bellevue Botanical Garden. And if you would like some gardening advice in person, stop by Wells Medina Nursery, located on the east side of the 520 Bridge. They'll help you pick out some great plants for your pots, baskets, or garden, and they carry a great variety of hard to find plants.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mission Accomplished.

As promised, here are some photos of our lovely new fence:

see the before picture

see the before picture

Now we move to the digging and the planting. Hooray!

Friday, June 19, 2009


The fence is 99.9% finished! The gate is on and functional, the fence line is complete (keeping Jasper IN the yard) and we just have to trim down a couple more posts and add caps. I didn't take any pictures due to the downpour, but will post some on Monday. Thanks Justin, Justin's dad, and Charles for your hard work. Also thank you Internet for providing important instructions/pointers/clarification on how to actually build a fence and functional gate.

However, loyal readers, I need your help. No, you don't have to help me shovel dirt (though if you really want to...). The plan is to create beds along the length of the fence, which is about 75', and plant some climbing veggies (peas, beans, etc) and lots of flowers. And so I would like to know, what is your favorite flower? I'd love to plant some favorite flowers or plants of my readers (varieties that will grow in the PNW), that way you can truly be a part of the farm, aka LoveDog Ranch. So let's see what we come up with...comment and let me know your pick!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Almost done!

It was a busy weekend on the farm. With the posts finally set and the string strung, we were able to start building. Which meant that we had to get the lumber and wire to start the aforementioned building. So while Justin and his dad made a trek to the lumber yard and the farm supply (for the wire), our loyal buddy Charles rode his bike out from the city (about 17 miles...), and we wielded shovels, rakes, and hoes and worked on digging out and leveling the beds. I will note that I forgot to put on sun screen that day, and now have a true farmers tan. How authentic...

I won't go into the long and complex details of building the fence, mostly because there were soooo many steps that I honestly don't remember all of them, so sorry this won't be the tutorial you were dreaming of. I will say that a string level is a handy tool. There was an endless amount of measuring, straightening, and discussion on whether or not our ideas made any sense. It was a good thing we had three people working on the project. There is honestly a lot to consider when building a fence on even a slight slope and being total amateurs made it particularly amusing.

Here are some photos of the process. Justin and I have since cut the posts to add the caps, and I used a power drill for the very first time! Hopefully we'll finish up this week and I can take some final pictures. Once this project is complete I hope to get back to the kitchen and post some new recipes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


The fence is still under construction--as in we plan to set the concrete posts tonight. The whole process is moving a lot slower than I thought it would. The hotter weather does have some to do with that, as it's much easier to sit in the sunshine and drink lemonade than to dig up posts and haul away woodpiles. However, I am hopeful that we'll make great strides by the end of this weekend (or I'm going to need to make more lemonade).

Our garden is looking healthy and we have our first Early Girl tomatoes forming. Justin and I have determined that porch gardens are the way to go...we haven't had to fight any weeds, slugs, or cats yet and the watering is much easier. I made some bruschetta with some store bought tomatoes and our home grown basil--fresh and delicious. I can't wait to eat our own veggies this's hopin!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fence project

On April 8th I posted my one of my summer "goal" projects, which we have finally begun! Actually, a while ago Justin did rip out all the bushes to get started, but its sort of been on pause ever since. I drew up the plans the other day, took the measurements, and got all approved by the foreman (aka Uncle Bruce). And then I realized that I didn't actually know the steps required to build a fence. My brother reminded me, "don't forget the string" (a critical element to making it straight and level), and my uncle pointed out that rather than buying 8' posts we should buy 12' because we'll only need 6' lengths for each but they don't sell 6's. Hmmm...we hadn't thought of that.

To begin we had to knock down the current fence, dig out the cemented posts, dig up the roses, dig up some other flowers, and haul away the debris. I will point out that this is actually hard work and took a heck of a lot longer than I thougth it would. Also, in the process we managed to break a pipe. Oops.

This weekend I will rototill the ground to even out the dirt and we'll probably need to add some soil as well. That will also help for when we make the plant beds along the new fence. Then we need to string, measure out the distance, dig holes for the posts, drop the posts, pour concrete and let that set for a couple days to firm. Then the real building begins. I'll keep you post-ed! (hahaha)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Children," I say plainly, "watch out for the baobabs!"

My all time favorite book is The Little Prince, by Antoine St. Exupery. The first time I read it I was in college and it was like finding a pot of gold. If you haven't read it, whatever you are doing right now, some matter of consequence, stop and go get a copy and a cup of tea, and read it lying in the grass somewhere beautiful. And if you have kids, read it to them.

Yesterday was again gorgeous, and when I got home from work I sat out on the porch in the sun, enjoying my garden and my silly dog. I have been in the mood to paint and the day before I had prepped my canvas, so I took it outside and started to paint. It was exactly how I wanted to spend the day. It started to cool, so I watered the garden, pulled some weeds, then brought my painting inside to work some more. I finally finished it at about 10:30 and hung it on the wall. It was very satisfying.

Indeed, as I learned, there were on the planet where the little prince lived--as on all planets--good plants and bad plants. In consequence, there were good seeds from good plants, and bad seeds from bad plants. But seeds are invisible. They sleep deep in the heart of the earth's darkness, until some one among them is seized with the desire to awaken. Then this little seed will stretch itself and begin--timidly at first--to push a charming little sprig inoffensively upward toward the sun. If it is only a sprout of radish or the sprig of a rose-bush, one would let it grow wherever it might wish. But when it is a bad plant, one must destroy it as soon as possible, the very first instant that one recognizes it.

"I knew a planet that was inhabited by a lazy man. He neglected three little bushes . . ."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Porch Garden #3

Update on the porch garden: it is finally planted. Here are some pictures of the progress.

We actually planted these May 25th so they have grown slightly since then. Although I feel like its somehow cheating, we bought starts at the local hardware store. With such short summers in the Pacific Northwest and limited sunshine, we wanted to have the best chance of actually getting some veggies this year.
Last year we started our garden from seed in the greenhouses in March, but the pepper plants were still not mature enough to produce more than a couple mini peppers by September. The cherry tomatoes were plentiful last year but lots of aphids--we did not get our larger tomatoes to grow, and we wanted those as well. And almost everything else in the garden was massacred by the slugs (eggplant, cucumber, cabbages, etc). Okay, I'm done justifying myself now.
Here's what we have in the first picture: a tomato plant in each corner, 2 marigolds in the middle (because we heard they keep away the aphids), 2 basil plants, and 2 cucumber plants. In the first two black tubs are summer squash, in the second two tubs are 3 eggplant, and 1 zucchini, and in the other box 2 more zucchini. We plan to plant bell peppers and hot peppers in that box as well. In our third box (not pictured) we have planted onions, leeks, and carrots, and all three are starting to pop up like crazy. I still need get a rain barrel in place on the porch so that we aren't wasteful with the watering. I have considered buying more attractive pots, rather than the black tubs I am currently using, but am having a hard time justifying the expense for the aesthetic, and also due to more needless waste. The tubs were reused from some of my aunt and uncle's larger plants. I'm kind of liking the fact that this garden has mostly been made of reused materials and has cost very little. The plants were about $1.50-2.00 each and the squashes came with multiple plants. The tomatoes were a little more because they were slightly larger.
I'll post some updated pictures soon!