Sunday, June 28, 2009

Recycled Fishing Tote Turned Iris Bed

Smiling, a friend recently asked me if I was their new recycling company. No, definitately not a recycling company, just someone interested in practical ways to re-use some of our no-longer needed, soon to be discarded excess stuff so that it doesn't end up filling a landfill somewhere. That's how I ended up with a new iris garden!
At Bellingham's waterfront recently to get more discarded fishing net in order to finish off the deer-proof fencing around my Happy Valley Community Garden, a couple of old totes were mixed in with the discarded heaps of old netting and rope. One of those totes had a huge crack in it and was pretty much trash, but this one still looked to have plenty of life left, so into the truck with the netting it went.
Turns out, it really is just a little too big for me to carry around and use as a garden tote, especially if filled. I'm just not that big - or strong. Since it came already drilled with holes around the sides and on the bottom, I decided that it would make a great container garden instead. And I had a pot full of hardy iris starts ready to plant.Filled with soil and irises, it once again has purpose and looks quite at home placed next to that recycled olive barrel turned water storage barrel. Now I look forward to early next summer when this discarded fishing tote is filled with beautiful bearded iris blooms. Even from outside the garden looking in, I like its new look.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Ten-Year Plan in Two Weeks

During that first workday pulling weeds at my new Happy Valley Community Garden spot, a neighboring gardener confided to me how depressed she was after reading somewhere that it takes ten years to get a garden looking good. Ten years! Wow, that sounded like a long time to me, yet I knew I could never consider such a statistic depressing. As I looked out at all the weeds I had left to pull, my immediate thought was that if after my first year of working in this garden it still didn't look good, I would at least feel some relief in knowing that I still had nine years left.Now, fast forward a couple of weeks, and my garden is done. It's finished, and it looks great! All that's left is to keep those weeds at bay (that does promise to be a big job!), and to watch those flowers and veggies grow while I enjoy the garden space.
More fence posts have been added and more recycled fish net fencing put in place. Those deer seen grazing on the grasses just outside my garden spot will not get in to munch on my tender little plants. Wood chips were added with a ground barrier below to help keep the weeds out of the walkway. Structures are in place to help support the beans once their sprouts poke through the soil. The compost bin is starting to fill with my compostable household waste and generous amounts of yard waste donations from friends.
More pics from the final garden makeover.

So lovely now, it's kind of hard to believe how it looked just a couple of weeks ago. Remember that picture of how it looked "before"?
Take a look at it again - "after"!
It really might have taken me ten years to get it looking good - had I worked on it by myself. But I had help (thanks John!), and now it is finished. A so called ten-year plan completed in two weeks! I like how it turned out. It has a style and flair of its own, and I think it's lovely. Thank you so very, very much for all that help!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Beach Monitoring at Semiahmoo

Some might wonder why we get up at 5:00 a.m. on a potentially rainy Saturday morning in order to meet up and drive forty-five minutes to a deserted beach at Semiahmoo to collect data at the precise time when the tide reaches the 1', 0' and minus 1' levels. Why? Because we care about the health of our local beaches.
By following the established WSU Beacher Watcher and beach monitoring guidelines and procedures, we take measurements and record data once a year at exact locations on specific beaches in order to document any changes in the beach slope, substrate and biodiversity. Jane looks on as Gene and John take the profile poles and begin to survey the elevation as Margo gets ready to record their measurements and check off on a field data sheet the substrates, seaweeds and seashore creatures found within each of their survey sections.Meanwhile, Corinne, Richard and I ready ourselves with our beach monitoring tools - quadrats and a bucket filled with flags, tape measure and species identification cards - so we can assess the species abundance along the predefined beach profile lines. Carefully we take measurements along this established profile line to determine the exact positioning for each of our quadrat frames.During each quadrat analysis, we identify and determine the percent of coverage of seaweeds and sea grasses and identify and count the number of invertebrates we find in each quadrat. Recording our findings on a field data sheet for later entry into the Beach Watcher monitoring database, we move on and do the same at the next set quadrat.
Along each transect where we placed the quadrats for our survey, we also monitor for burrowing bivalves and related infauna by digging a section the size of one of our transects one shovel depth deep. Working together, our team carefully examines the removed beach material and identified the burrowing critters we found before returning that removed beach material to the hole we made.
With GPS in hand, Richard and I work together to collect the coordinates for each of our quadrat placements for later mapping by Gene. With the species identification cards in hand, we identify this piece of brown seaweed found in a nearby tide pool.

Follow us during our beach monitoring at Semiahmoo.

Another successful beach monitoring at Semiahmoo thanks to Beach Watchers Gene, Jane, John, Margo, Corinne, Richard and Rose. What a team!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cascade Lake Trail

On the drive from the ferry landing on Orcas Island to the community of Olga,
the main road passes through Moran State Park, and for a short while, very close to Cascade Lake.The Cascade Lake Trail, an easy 2.7 mile hike leading around the lake features scenic views and a new footbridge made from large timbers separating the lake from the Rosario Lagoon.
More scenic views from the hike and Orcas Island.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Little Plants

Friends started more little plants than they could use for their garden, so passed some of their extras on to me for my new Happy Valley Community Gardens spot. Cool! With so many rutabaga plants given to me, it looks like I might be eating mashed rutabagas all winter long! Well, maybe I can put a few in soups and stews too. I also planted sunflowers in the back half of this bed. They should provide me a wall of privacy and lots of cut flowers to brighten my home late in the summer.
The kohlrabi plants were transplanted to the back of this bed, and the reainder of the space was filled with pea seeds. Even though they are bush peas, this recycled piece of wire fence might offer a little additional support.
Here are my surprise zucchini. Surprise because he couldn't remember if they were green zucchini or yellow - or maybe even one of each. It will be fun waiting to see which they are. I'm hoping for one of each, but hadn't planted any so either would be nice. With two zucchini added to the spaghetti, acorn and butternut squash bed, I sure hope I've allowed enough room between the plants.
I also scored a free pot filled with regular chives from a friend at my other garden. I planted them on the opposite side of the herb bed as the garlic chives already there, so now have a distinct chive smell at both ends of that garden when I brush the plants.
Thanks Ken and Gwen, and CJ! Happy gardening to all.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Good Week for the Car

It was a good week for the Volvo. First, during a car wash fundraiser for alzheimer research, I made a special point to stop in to have the fuzz from all that cottonwood fluff blowing around recently washed off. Wow, the car actually has a shine again!Next, new rear brake pads replaced these old. Lucky for me, they were caught in time and fixed so that major repairs were not needed! Thanks, David!
Then an oil change, and now even I can notice how much better the engine sounds. Thanks again! After, Torrie got to run through the high meadow grasses and go for a swim in the canal.
I explored the shore creatures and saw lots of barnacles, some purple shore crabs and this very large purple varnish clam shell.The invasive purple varnish clam is native to Asia and believed to have been first introduced in the Georgia Strait in 1990 through ballast waters from ships and has spread from there. Having seen only considerably smaller purple varnish clam shells on other beaches in our area, I was not aware they grew as large as this.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dance the Afternoon Away

What fun it was to dance the afternoon away at the Bellingham Country Dance Society's annual ferry boat dance party aboard the Elwha from Anacortes to Friday Harbor and back again. By the time the ferry pulled away from the dock, the band had started to play and we were dancing.Perhaps because I had danced every single dance once the ferry left Anacortes, I felt that time was going by too fast because all of a sudden we had pulled into the dock at Friday Harbor.
There were more contras, circles, squares and waltzes to be danced once the ferry departed Friday Harbor.During a brief stop at Lopez Island to let more passengers onto the ferry, the music continued.
And we danced on.
Here's the view from the ferry as we traveled through the islands back to Anacortes.
This year, we danced to contra tunes played by Ruthie Dornfield, Ginny Snowe and Clyde Curley from Seattle and Bellingham with Marlin Prowell of Bellingham calling. For a current dance schedule and more information about the Bellingham Country Dance Society, visit their website at -
More pics from the annual ferry boat contra dance party.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Harvest - Eating What I Grow

Almost daily now there seems to be an ample supply of tender veggies to pluck from my space at the Cordata Community Gardens.
Today's harvest, bunches of tender radishes. And a beautiful assortment of tender crisp salad greens.
Wow, so fresh and tasty!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

1,800 Pounds of Dirt

Eighteen hundred pounds of dirt, that was one of the gifts I received for my birthday! Not just any dirt, but a very high quality 5-way mix of topsoil, sawdust, composted cow manure, sand and mushroom compost from Bakerview Nursery. They said it was ready to plant, but once it had been loaded into the truck, my birthday was spent shoveling those 1,800 pounds of dirt from the truck into the wheelbarrow, dumping it into my new Happy Valley Community Gardens spot and raking it out.A bin, large enough for me to compost my own materials so that next year I can add more rich, new soil to my garden beds, was built out of salvaged pallets.More fence posts were set around the perimeter and the rescued commercial fishing net was hung to complete the deer-proof fence.That old garden tool box that came with my garden space and had been originally located just outside the garden was moved and rebuilt. Now I have a place to store my garden tools and supplies inside my garden. It also doubles as part of the frame for yet another raised bed and offers another place to sit.
Finally, I felt the garden really was "ready to plant"!
What a great birthday this was (and I haven't even mentioned that awesome new camera)!
View the progress as we made over this garden.

Thank you very, very much!