Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Passage Of an Old Freind - 1976 to 2013

Cook's Wisteria in full bloom

This morning as I dashed about the garden watering what needed watering I snapped a couple of photos to remind me of what I will probably miss this spring.  Life at Menagerie Manor has been a bit CRAZY!  Last week I took two days from work and intended on spending it in the gardens catching up on all the spring chores, but most of that time off went to running errands and picking up "Little Terrorists" numbers one and three at Daycare as MeMa and our son Ian were in Clatskanie seeing to the headstone for her fathers grave and it took longer than they had thought.  I brought Taeya and Lucy home with me so that put a complete stop to the garden chores as who in their right mind would want to garden when one could be making a complete fool of ones self making goo-goo faces and playing chase around the dining room table.  I don't know who was louder, the girls squealing with laughter as I chased after on hands and knees or the pack of dogs barking in complete doggie joy.

The Koi have been feeding since the middle of March, about a month earlier than normal.

The girls ended up spending the night as MeMa and Ian's return trip took a little longer, mostly due to the "short cut" that Ian took.  But they saw some lovely country on that stretch of gravel road in MeMa's little VW Beetle.  Oh, by the way Ian, it cleaned up just fine at the car wash.
One of the "Vegas Girls" has been living at the Manor as she and her husband sold their home and have gone their separate ways.  She called just as I came in the door with the Little Terrorists and said her divorce was finalized and she was celebrating by bringing home Hawaiian food from the local No Ho's restaurant......delicious!  After dinner and bath the girls went to bed, sorry Mom and Dad it was more like eight thirty or nineish before lights out.  But heck they sure slept sound and actually slept in later the next morning.  You should have seen the delighted faces when MeMa served them  breakfast of a cinnamon roll dripping with frosting.....naughty grandparents!
The Acanthus normally die to the ground, but with the mild winter last years leaves are still strong and healthy.

There has been a greatest of tragedies at Menagerie Manor recently..... our ancient water bed has passed on.  A few nights ago I woke up suddenly in complete terror at the thought that I...er....well had done the unthinkable.  My night clothes were saturated, I almost yelled out at the very thought and then I realized it was the mattress that had failed not.....well.... you can understand I'm sure.  Later that morning after inspecting the damage and some discussion as to its great age (1976) the bed was dismantled and hauled away.  MeMa and I slept the next night in the downstairs guest room, it was so uncomfortable that the neither of us slept.  Bed shopping was quickened and the decision was made on the "TempurPedic Cloud Lux"......I know......sounds like a car, right?  But did you know that beds have memory????  I just push a button and the head and foot moves to a comfortable position for watching the television. Nothing on that I care to watch, then push the next button and it moves to a comfortable position for reading.  My eyes start to close and I push another button and it moves to a comfortable position for sleeping.  Go to bed with aching tired muscles and push another button and a relaxing wave action massage runs from head to foot.  You know, I feel really foolish for tearing up as I pushed the old water bed out of the back of the truck at the recyclers.  I think I need a nap. 
Kerria japonica 'Pleniflora'

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Seedlings, Cuttings, Kiwi and Caged Onions

Despite the cool wet weather I have managed to work the soil in the vegetable garden, planted several rows of kale and a few hills of cucumbers.  I spent Saturday morning re-potting tomato seedlings into four inch pots.  Their next move will be when I give them away to all the neighbors, a tradition that I started years ago.

From two single trays of each variety I now have two full trays of each.
A few days ago an employee from work asked if it was possible for her to take cuttings of an old climbing rose she has admired in her small town.  She said it was going to be removed by the new homeowner who has plans of ripping it out to make room for a new landscape.  I started going over the process with her and could soon tell that I was talking to a wall, so I offered to take the cuttings from her and start them in my greenhouse.  She was understandably delighted and I of course will keep one of the cuttings for my collection.

Mystery rose cuttings
My garlic are doing very nicely and I planted four giant garlic for roasting as well.
The scape's are starting to form and as soon as they start to curl I will be removing them and trying them out in this Garlic Scape Pesto recipe I found.

Garlic Scape Pesto

1/4 lb. garlic scape's (12 scape's)
1 cup Parmesan cheese
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup olive oil (divided)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup fresh basil

     Wash scape's and remove brown tips, cut into two inch pieces. Place scape's and half the olive oil in a food processor. Blend until chopped into small pieces. Place Parmesan, nuts, lemon juice, basil, remaining olive oil and sea salt in processor and blend until desired consistency.

Three years ago I purchased this smooth skin Kiwi, Actinidia arguta 'Issai'.  It is a self fruiting hardy kiwi that is not as invasive as the regular kiwi's.  Being smooth skinned the fruit is eaten whole, no need to skin them first.
The deciduous leaves are a third the size of regular Kiwi
If that is a flower bud then I should see fruit this year
The now vacant chicken yard has been a subject of thought, at first I thought it would make a nice shade house for transitioning seedlings from the greenhouse to the garden.  My sister offered me a very large water storage tank so I thought what a great place to hide it from view.  So many options that it began to muttle my brain so I just planted onion sets instead, give myself a few months to think about a permanent use.
If you click on the photo the scrawny onion sets are more visible.  Last year I planted them in rows in the garden and the crows pulled them all up twice before giving up on the game.  So unless they can unlock the gate my onions should be safe.
With such a mild winter the Koi have been actively feeding since the first of March and my giant Gunera plant has been growing bigger by the day when normally it is still dormant and covered in winter mulch.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fresh Orange Juice

I love the smell of citrus, of course they don't much care for Oregon climate but to walk into a greenhouse where citrus is in bloom.....well it makes the heart sing.
While I was in Arizona I filled bags of oranges and grapefruit to be brought home by my parents when they returned to Portland for the summer. I gave many away to family but kept the majority, but even I had a tough time finishing all before they strarted to spoil, so I juiced the rest and MeMa and I made cocktails......
Out of the remaining eighteen oranges I collected 26 oz. of fresh juice. The old "Juice Mate" (upper left) which my parents recieved as a wedding gift worked great and retained the seeds so all one ended up with was juice. The little hand press on the cutting board is made by "Pampered Cheff", it was quick and easy but you get seeds and juice together. Sadly there are no boxes of oranges in the garage to permeate the air with that lovely citrus smell, it once again smells like a garage.

Thanks for the oranges little brother, I had a wonderful time.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter, Family, Gardening And Breaking A Record

The first of many seed trays sitting on the potting bench
As you can see my greenhouse is covered wall to wall with bubble insulation.  In a normal year the weather would warrant it but the temperatures have been crazy warm here.  Easter Sunday reached a record breaking 77 degrees, in fact we all had a lovely Easter brunch out on the patio.
We have a neighborhood Easter egg hunt for all the smaller children, so promptly at 9:00 am parents and grandparents hid as many eggs as possible.  Then at 9:30 with baskets in hand the children went from one yard to the next hunting for eggs.

Little Terrorists, Brooklyn and Taeya.
They only look innocent, but both made quite the haul
Little Lucy turned out to be the consummate egg hunter
After the hunt everyone returned to the start for some morning goodies for children and adults.  Then everyone returned home for Easter brunch and enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

A sure sign of spring when the Mt. Fuji Cherry is in full bloom

A fun time was had by all, the "Little Terrorists" all pumped up on chocolate. And then they all went home leaving MeMa and I all alone, isn't that so sad???? No that would be called "pay back"
Hope you all had a wonderful Easter.