Posts filed under ‘Gardening’

Checking in with other checklists

Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco

This time of year, it's easy to dream of a garden as beautiful as the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. Photo Rachel Beck.

Apparently I’m not the only one making garden resolutions.

I stumbled upon this post on garden resolutions  from Mississippi State University. Granted, their growing season starts a little earlier than ours, but the ideas are still applicable.

I also discovered this terrific video from a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension employee. Sound familiar?

Penn State published a list of 12 garden tips for the new year (adopted from a University of Vermont professor who runs a wonderful gardening blog). a list of gardening resolutions Also at Penn State, a Master Gardener listed her resolutions, one of which is to simply enjoy the garden — a reminder we shouldn’t need, but sometimes do.


01/09/2012 at 9:55 am 1 comment

Freeing a creek 2: Select Plant Materials (or, how I fell in love with native plant catalogues)

Camas in meadow

Dreams of what could someday be for Cinderella Creek include camas blooms, like this Oregon meadow. Photo by J.Jebousek/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The second installment on freeing a creek, from The Zetetic: 

This riparian restoration project is going pretty well so far. Sticking to the guidelines in the Extension publication, I’m taking the lead on Part Two: Selecting Plant Materials, while my husband has skipped ahead to start Part Three: Prepare the Site, before the winter deluge hits in earnest.

This efficient separation of tasks saves time and plays to our individual strengths. John has spent his weekends on his tractor happily maneuvering a flail mower down the banks of what we now call Cinderella Creek. He removed the Schwinn along with miles of old fencing and carved out islands of willow, snowberry, and hawthorn. With its new close shave, Cinderella Creek is visible for the first time.

I am not sure he would have made so much progress with mowing had the Beavers had a winning football season. (more…)

01/03/2012 at 4:33 pm Leave a comment

Checklist for home, garden and beyond in 2012

Winter sky

A western Oregon winter sky. Photos Rachel Beck.

Sometimes I think the new year comes at the wrong time. From kindergarten through college, fall was my time for a fresh start, with new teachers, classmates, clothes and books. In nature, spring is when things are born and emerge. But according to the calendar on my wall (even the Australian one, with its backwards seasons), the new year begins in a few days — January 1.

But what is there to do other than get a new calendar? I don’t have new subjects to study, nor is it the right time to plant a garden. Frankly, the chill and the short daylight hours don’t make me feel like starting new projects, unless they involve sleeping or eating more.

The next week, then, is the time to plan and dream. (more…)

12/27/2011 at 1:44 pm Leave a comment

Freeing a creek: Adventures in watershed restoration

Note: This is the first of a series of posts and watershed restoration. Writer The Zetetic and her husband are attempting to restore a creek, and sharing their adventures. 

There’s a creek in our back pasture, hidden under a tangle of blackberries and thickly carpeted with reed canarygrass. Our mission: liberate the creek and restore the riparian area habitats.

The Cinderalla creek

Under a tangle of blackberries and reed canary grass, there's a creek that needs restoring. Photo The Zetetic.

This is no Saturday afternoon project. Reed canarygrass is a tough, wetlands-loving grass that can grow up to 8 feet high, then collapses to form an impenetrable mat of stems and leaves. Himalayan blackberries have canes as thick as my thumb and tangle into thickets that can smother more timid plants.

This creek is fortified like Cinderella’s castle.

My husband and I want to restore about a thousand feet of this Cinderella creek, enhance fish and wildlife habitat and restore streamside vegetation. It’s going to take months of work and lots of blogs.

Step One: Plan the project (or how I came to realize we really do need a tractor).

According to a new publication from OSU Extension, it’s important to know your watershed and your site in order to make a workable restoration plan. Our watershed is a swampy side channel of the Willamette River and our site lies along a small creek engulfed by old-growth blackberries.


12/19/2011 at 10:56 am Leave a comment

Quince, no longer a mystery

Freshly picked quince fruit. Photo by Rachel Beck.

A few days ago, a neighbor of mine sent out an email. Her quince tree had more fruit than she could use, and she was offering fruit up to anyone who would pick it. I  didn’t even know how to pronounce “quince,” but I was intrigued by the offer, so I grabbed a bag and headed to her house. Twenty minutes later, I had as many pounds of quince as I could carry. And no idea what to do with it. (more…)

11/16/2011 at 11:25 am 2 comments

Super spring bulb solution

Potted hyacinth bring color and fragrance. Photo Rachel Beck.

In the fall I’ve always wanted to plant more bulbs than the daffodils and tulips I already have in my yard, but never took the time to find what bulbs might work best or where to place them in the garden. This year promises to be different, thanks to OSU Extension horticulturist Linda McMahan.

Use pots! Nearly all bulbs sold in the fall work well in pots that stay outdoors, she says. It’s easy to create a stunning display that begins to grow in the fall or middle of winter, then bursts into bloom in the spring or early summer.

“Don’t be afraid to pack the pot full of bulbs,” she said. “Plant a lot of bulbs at different, overlapping levels. You can easily put 20-30 bulbs, sometimes even more, into a pot that is 14–20 inches across. Use bulbs of many different sizes for an interesting display and longer seasonal appeal.”

For more information on what bulbs to plant and how, check out this news release.

Thanks, Linda. Beautiful blooming pots are another good reason to look forward to spring!

~April Beckwith

11/04/2011 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Green tomato update

We've got Roy G, no Biv.

I’ve been ripening my green cherry tomatoes for about 2 weeks now, with mixed success. The photo above is what they look like now, as they sit on a baking sheet in my kitchen. I’ve found that rearranging them to look as much like a rainbow as possible helps with the “watched pot” factor.


11/01/2011 at 10:28 am Leave a comment

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