Saturday, May 30, 2009

Happy Valley

Turns out I get to do even more gardening this year. I've been on the waiting list for a space in one of the City of Bellingham's four Community Gardens for months. Longer actually than I've even known about the Cordata Community Gardens. Finally, I received word from the City that I get one of their spots. Seems they've had some "no-show" gardeners from past years, have several "final notices" out and can let me know this week which space will be mine at the Happy Valley Community Gardens.
Originally called the Sven Hoyt Community Garden and leased for years now by the City of Bellingham, the Happy Valley Community Gardens have been referred to locally for as long as I can recall as one of those "hippy" gardens, so I decided to pay a visit there today to see just what I might be getting myself in for. Perhaps the locals labeled it a hippy garden because even by the early 1970's, it was well known that it was an organic garden. Possibly one of the first organic community gardens in the city of Bellingham, before organic gardening was cool, it seemed that anyone interested in growing their own vegetables without the addition of poisons and pesticides was labeled a hippy. Isn't it interesting how times have changed!
This year-round community garden, located on the west side of 32nd Street in the Happy Valley neighborhood, is in a wonderful location that gets full sun. Quite a large garden area, I couldn't tell how many spaces there were in all as many have been combined over the years because the City allows families to rent up to four spaces each. The garden spots there were in a variety of stages of gardening - some quite elaborately fenced and colorfully decorated.
Other spaces appeared to be more of a work-in-progress, and others looked to have been completely abandoned. No doubt, some of the previous owners of those abandoned-looking garden spots must be the recipients of those "final notices" my contact from the City mentioned, and one of those abandoned-looking spots will soon be mine. Looks like by mid week I will have lots of hard work to get started on!
Generous in size at 10' X 20', the spaces allow for ample room in which to put several raised beds and still have a walkway. As I wondered around viewing the gardens, I liked the look of this spot the best. With this as a model, I would like to do something similar with my space. I could include a barrel on a stand of some sort for water storage, add a small composting or worm bin, include a container for storage of my hose and garden tools and perhaps even add an old chair for when I want to simply sit and admire my own little "hippy" garden.
Since the Happy Valley Community Gardens is less than a block from what was my father's favorite place to get fresh produce, Joe's Gardens, I couldn't resist stopping there too. What a score I felt I made. Not only did I pick out the most beautiful giant head of pesticide-free red-tipped leaf lettuce that I've practically ever seen in my life (and for only $1.25), I picked up some beautiful bedding plants for my new garden space - again, extremely reasonably priced when compared to the local chain-store garden centers. Acorn squash, spaghetti squash, yellow patty pan squash, an early green cabbage, red cabbage, even artichokes, I can hardly wait to get them in the ground.
The Happy Valley Community Gardens.


Friday, May 29, 2009

First Harvest

The first harvest from my garden this season, tiny French breakfast radishes. Gradual thinning of the square-foot section where I had inadvertently planted both radishes and beets should help give the beets enough room to grow. During my stay on Orcas Island this last week, my friends at the Cordata Community Gardens promised to keep an eye on both my neighbor's and my garden spots. Quite obviously, they did a great job as the radishes seemed to have doubled in size. A quick walk through the garden this evening showed me how well all gardens are doing too.


Obstruction Pass Park

Obstruction Pass Trail is said to be one of Orcas Island’s lesser-known hiking areas. Obstruction Pass Park, an 80-acre Department of Natural Resources recreation area is a short distance off the Olga to Doe Bay Road, a very pretty drive on the way to the park. Here's the view enjoyed from the trail before heading down to the beach.A beautifully sunny day, Torrie and Sucia wade out to be refreshed by the coolness of the water.I like it when I get to learn something new! One of the interperative signs along the trail taught me about graywacke. Created during the scouring action of glacier exposed bedrock, graywacke is a sedimentary rock comprised of silt that settled on the ocean floor millions of years ago and was hardened by pressure and heat, then pushed to the surface as oceanic and continental tectonic plates collided. If I had ever heard the term graywacke before, I could not recall, but as I stood there looking at this giant wall of graywacke, I had to touch it and tried to imagine what sounds the earth might had made so many millions of years ago when those tectonic plates were colliding.On the beach during a low tide, I tried to identify as many of the intertidal species as I could. Here, a sample of rockweed.
The ferry ride back to the mainland provided quite a spectacular view as we made our way around the islands.
More photos from this visit to Orcas Island.


Monday, May 25, 2009


Congratulations Brittany!!!
It seems like only yesterday we welcomed you into our world. Now you've graduated and we're filled with pride and blessed with joy to see the beautiful young woman you've grown to be.
Love and very best wishes go with you in all that lies ahead.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Call Me Chicken

Making our way through the line of doting dog and cat owners waiting in turn for shots for their pets, Torrie, so trusting, passively sat there, accepting the extra attention they gave him – even when jabbed with needles by their other hand! Then, after getting his nails trimmed, I we went by the "cookie" bar and selected some special, heart-shaped treats to take home. To his delight, our next stop was their toy section so he could pick out a replacement for that old thing he's been sucking on since Brian gave it to him, wow, maybe five years ago. I wonder if he will notice if the old one goes away?At the gardens today, someone had added a Y adapter to the faucet and attached a longer hose. Glad I had my own hose and sprayer with me as that new, longer piece of hose didn't have any way to attach a sprayer to its end - baby steps I guess. There's a cabbage in the bed directly under our faucet and it sure seems to be growing faster than anything else. Torrie sure enjoyed his new stakeout, thank you very much!

It must be Dragon Boat Festival time again. How quickly that holiday seems to roll around! Presented with my annual gift of zongzi by neighbors Zhangpeng Lu and Han Jing, I had to decide whether to have that or chicken for dinner. You can call me chicken!
On our walk after dinner, I sure enjoyed the colorful assortment of beautiful rhododendrons in our yard and throughout the neighborhood. Our State flower, their blooms are absolutely prime right now!

Friday, May 22, 2009


While at the gardens to water today, I noticed how many second leaves were starting to grow on those tiny little seedlings. I could actually identify the plants by leaf shape. Obviously I'll be thinning some of those radishes and lettuces soon.
There was a big box of "free" seeds left for us by the master gardeners, so I planted some. Because they were from 2007, I planted a bit heavier than usual in case there was an issue with the older seeds not germinating as well as new ones. Guess not!
I'll try to hold off as long as possible before thinning the spinach, hopefully to get enough tender leaves to add to my dinner plate on that particular thinning day. Maybe next time I'll make my own seed tapes like this - How to Make Seed Tape, so my plants are more evenly spaced.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Easy Watering

Now it is easy to water my garden spot at the Cordata Community Gardens! What a difference a short piece of hose and a hand-held spray nozzle can make! A rainbow followed me around as I watered today.Just look at those peas! I can actually tell that they have grown in the two short days since we added that support frame. Amazing!
This is the square that I suspected I had double planted. Sure enough, I've got radishes growing strong, and plenty of what might be rainbow Swiss chard coming up too. I've heard it's clever to mix radishes and carrots when planting because the carrots are so much slower to germinate and mature than the radishes, but I've never heard that about radishes and Swiss chard. Let's hope that these are a very early radish so they will be out of the garden and on my table before the chard gets too big.
It's all growing so fast! Here are today's garden pics.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Carrots Overstock

How did it happen? I like carrots. Matter of fact, I eat a lot of carrots - by the handfull actually. But I have no explanation as to how I ended up with such an overstock of carrots in my refrigerator. What had I been thinking? So, carrot cake seemed a good solution!
Really Rose Carrot Cake
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Oil
1 Cup Flour
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
2 to 3 Cups Grated Carrots
3/4 C Raisins
Whisk eggs together, add oil and mix well. Mix in sugar, cinnamon and baking soda. Add flour and mix in until blended. Fold in grated carrots and raisins. Brush a small amount of oil onto the bottom of an 8" by 8" baking pan, then spread in the batter. Bake at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 30 to 35 minutes until cake is done.
Checking out those new silicone whisks for some time now but hesitant to pay the high price of adding one to my basket of kitchen gadgets, recently while at our local TJ Max, I found this super fun green silicone whisk on a clearance shelf - for only $0.49! Mine, mine, it's mine! This carrot cake, my first chance to give it a try. Thumbs up - my new whisk works great, and it really is fun to use!
This carrot cake is so very moist, I enjoy it without icing, but if you prefer an iced carrot cake, here's a link to a great-sounding cream cheese frosting recipe - the last cream cheese icing recipe you'll ever need. Then, spread on a thick layer of frosting before serving, and worry about the extra calories later.
Step-by-step, making carrot cake.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Signs and Frames

Another new sign at the Cordata Community Gardens. This one welcomes us at the end of Cordata Parkway and points us on down our lane to the gardens. I like it!
Then for our new garden pea patch, we built a frame thing.