Thursday, March 31, 2011


The assortment of seed potatoes received at the Annual Seed Swap earlier this year are finally in the ground. Having placed them where they could receive medium light at home for the last few weeks, small sprouts grew from the eyes indicating that they were ready to plant. Not wanting to damage the delicate sprouts as I carried the potatoes to my garden, this used egg carton came in handy.
Hoping that my potatoes would not rot once I planted them, I dug a hole in the soil in the raised bed where they were to be planted to see just how high the water table was. Having rained very hard for the last two days, you can see that I only had to dig about six inches to reach water.
Fortunately, I like to plant my potatoes shallow, then hill up around the plants once they start growing. I spaced the potatoes out on top of the bed, then planted them just under the surface of the soil. 
While we don't eat a lot of potatoes and I normally don't plant very many in my garden, the varieties that I planted this year seems exceptional. Here's my assortment: Dobson potatoes - originating from Australia, purple potatoes - considered a specalty potato, red skinned French fingerling potatoes, organic cherry red potatoes and Yukon gold potatoes. All organic potato starts, I can hardly wait until it's time to dig them up.
As you can see, I've still a lot of work to do in Garden Nbr. 02

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pruning Raspberries

Fresh from the vine, baked in a pie, made into jam, or tossed into a salad, I have always loved raspberries. My father maintained acres of raspberries on our farm when I was a young child, and as part of our chores, my siblings and I were in those fields helping out. Weeding between the rows, pruning out the old vines, tying up the plants, picking the berries, my father taught us how to maintain raspberries. Fast forward many years, now I have my own stand of raspberries. These are berries picked last year. Established a few years ago from small starts sprouting around the raspberry patch in the garden on Orcas Island, the raspberries in my garden now are a favorite. Sometimes referred to as the ever bearing type of raspberries, they really aren’t ever bearing because they have two harvests each season. The first harvest is from mid summer to late, and the second harvest starts in late summer and ends in the fall. With the summer harvest on vines grown last year, and the fall harvest on new vines from the current season, the two harvests often over lap, giving the impression of "ever bearing".Since it is only the new vines of the current season and vines from the previous season that bear fruit, in order to keep raspberry plants healthy and producing their best, any vines older than that need to be pruned out. It is very easy to recognize which are the older vines as even in the early spring when the vines are still a bit dormant, they look older. They are gray, appear brittle and have peeling bark. To prune, simply cut those old vines off as close to the base of the plant as possible. Also, cutting back any obvious winter damage seen on the vines from last year will help those vines produce even more berries during the summer season. Always wear good gloves when pruning raspberries because their vines are protected by thousands of prickly thorns. Each year I about double the size of my raspberry patch. After pruning, I dig up the new little plants that sprout each spring and transplant them into a more organized section. This year, the bed next to the raspberries that was filled with sweet peas, hollyhocks and snapdragons last year, is now filled with raspberry starts - and those lovely hollyhocks, moved to a different area of my garden.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dirt and Fences

It's really compost, but if it looks like dirt and feels like dirt, can't I call it dirt? It's my dirt. I made it myself. For three years, I've been adding compostable yard and kitchen waste to the top of the pile in my pallet board compost bin. Even my friends helped. Many times, I received calls indicating I could pick up the compostables they had saved especially for me. (Such thoughtful friends I have!) I picked up buckets and bags filled with grass clippings, pine needles, potato peelings, even lemon rinds, and dumped them all onto the top of the heap already piled up in my compost bin.
I'm not a big person, rather petite actually, and as it turned out, that large pallet board compost bin proved too large for me to easily turn its composting contents - even when standing on a stool. Thus, I turned into a lazy composter by simply watching the pile stack up, sink down, stack up again and sink down again - all on its own. Composting is magical that way, but does take longer. Currently in the process of de-constructing that huge compost bin to more efficiently utilize its space for growing more vegetables in Garden Number 01, it was a treasure to uncover this new, rich and loamy dirt as those pallet boards came out.
Then it was time to address the Spring growth of weeds already tangling themselves into the fish net deer-proof fencing surrounding the garden.
Never my favorite task, nor the easiest, it always feels better to have this chore checked off the to-do list - than not.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Even though the Happy Valley Community Gardens are one of the few twelve-month community gardens in Bellingham, we get so much moisture naturally here in the Pacific Northwest that the need for year-round water service is not necessary. There planting peas, the soil in my garden was so moist, the thought of watering was far from my mind. Promising 8 to 10 peas in each of their 4" to 4-1/2" pods, these are Mr. Big Peas. Those little white specks scattered on the soil, Sluggo, slug and snail control for organic gardening. With armies of slugs marching and munching their way through our gardens each and every night, those little plants would be gone by the morning without Sluggo.A crew from the City of Bellingham stopped by to turn on the water for the season. Water service is provided there from around the first of March through the first part of October.
Giant sweet peas are what I planted in this corner bed. Visible from our parking lot and just to the left as I enter my garden, I look forward to their colorful blooms and sweet fragrence.
These are Super Sugar Snap peas. Said to have a more plump pod than regular sugar snap peas, their vines should reach 6 to 10 feet, requiring the support of a trellis. (The ground still too soggy here to crawl around on without getting wet and muddy, yes, I admit it, I am a Blue Tarp gardener!)
I love plucking peas straight from the vine for a crisp treat right there in the garden and am looking forward to fresh garden snacks later this season.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Concert at the Mount Baker

There was plenty of activity going on just inside the doors at the Mount Baker Theatre. Tables were being filled with information about Wilbur Ministries. Musical CDs, books, colorful flags and more were being stacked up to sell later. There were plenty of theatre volunteers milling about too. Some were setting up a table for guests to place food donations for our local food bank, and others were getting ready to welcome the theatre guests once the doors were opened for the show. Having already had a busy weekend and hoping for a good seat, I arrived early so headed upstairs to the mezzanine to relax and enjoy the beautiful details of the historic building before the crowd arrived and the program began.
Looking up, the details and rich colors of the glass in this chandelier certainly caught my eye.I liked the carved wall panels with their colorfully painted theatre girls lining the outer walls.
I found the details in the painted trim on the richly finished wood ceiling amazingly beautiful.
But, really, I wasn't there just to admire the detail of one of my favorite buildings in downtown Bellingham, I was there for a concert.
Here's my friend Janel. With her granddaughter, they danced with others in the isle during one of the songs.
For more information about the Mount Baker Theatre, go here - Mount Baker Theatre, and for more information about Wilbur Ministries, go here - Wilbur Ministries.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Big Band - Swing Connection

So many opportunities for dancing on a Saturday evening, it can be difficult to decide where. Such was the case this evening as we had four different venues with dances to consider. Would we be dancing to Little Hurricane at the Clean and Sober dance at the Lake Goodwin Community Center in Stanwood? Or to the Walrus at the Nooksack River Casino in Deming? Or would we stay in Bellingham and dance to the Swing Connection Big Band and vocals by our friend Annie Reed at the Leopold's beautiful Crystal Ballroom? Or would we join the Bellingham Ballroom Dancers at the Blue Moon Ballroom for a cha cha lesson followed by their monthly dance party? A group of us met at our local Bob's Burger and Brew for dinner to discuss our options.
Here's Carolyn and Mickie at the Crystal Ballroom.
And Annie singing with the Swing Connection Band.
The Crystal Ballroom is my absolute favorite ballroom. The Leopold, one of Belligham's original hotels is rich with local history. Famous figures such as President William H. Taft, Prince William of Sweden, explorer Richard E. Byrd, actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Cicely Tyson are said to have stayed there, and the most famous people of all who they say left their marks at the Leopold were Clark Gable and Shirley Temple. It was reported that Shirley Temple said, "It's so pretty and nice that I might like to live here." Elegantly converted to an independent retirement and assisted living facility some years ago, I can see where it would be a very lovely place for older adults to live.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Into the Light

So many had shown up for the Into the Light CD release party/concert, I'm sure the size of the crowd at the Common Ground Coffee House had seriously reached over capacity. We had gathered there for the CD release party/concert with the Into the Light Band, and what a wonderful performance it was.Then, since we were already out on the town for the evening, we decided to head on down to the Big Lake Bar and Grill to dance to the tunes of the Jimmy Wright Band.
What fun evening!

Gas and WTA

The price of gas seems to be going up daily. Price driven, I tend to fill up at one of the cheapest stations in Bellingham and, trust me, thirty dollars isn't buying me much anymore.Three fifty-nine a gallon where I get my gas, and higher at the two stations on the other side of the street.There is a Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) bus stop practically at my back door. The bus on Route 27 comes by hourly, takes me through downtown Ferndale and on in to Bellingham's Cordata Transfer Station. Route 27 conveniently changes to Route 15 at Cordata and then continues on to downtown Bellingham after a major stop at Bellis Fair Mall. My old Volvo does not get the gas mileage of a new car and I can purchase a three-month pass for about the same amount of money that it takes me to fill my gas tank just one time.Taking the bus often takes me a bit longer than driving myself does and does have a few other inconveniences. Sometimes I need to wait fifteen or twenty minutes for a different bus along my route in order to get to my destination, and the bus does not even serve Ferndale into the evenings or at all on Sundays. For the majority of my running around though, the bus does serve me well, and I know that by utilizing WTA, even if just on the week days, my transportation costs are being reduced.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Back in the Garden

Finally, two days in a row without rain, so off to garden I went. I first stopped at the Whatcom Farmers Co-Op for a bale of fresh straw because I knew the walkway between the raised beds would be terribly muddy. You see, we've definitely had too much rain.
I found wintered over kale - a tasty treat in early Spring.
Last year these daisies were practically hidden behind other periennials as my flower area turned out to be much too crowded. Since I have two 10' by 40' garden spots, Garden Number 01 and Garden Number 02, at the Happy Valley Community Gardens, I have plenty of space so will be spreading things out a bit more this year. I love big clumps of daisies and will put these where I can enjoy them more. Here, I'm digging up daisies.
Our growing season last year turned out to be too short for the leeks to fully mature and I was delighted to see that most of them had not rotted during the wet winter. I divided some of my chives and planted them in front of a row of leeks. I think some Bright Lights Swiss Chard will look especially pretty in front of the chives. Those clumps of daisies that I dug up were then divided and planted in the next bed over, which just happens to be the first one on the right as I enter Garden Number 01. With five clumps of daisies in such a prominent location, I will definitely enjoy them this year.
Only in my garden for a couple of hours today, I at least managed to get the straw raked out in the walkway and several of the beds readied for early Spring planting.
Not the only gardener taking advantage of this second day in a row without rain, there were several others out working their plots today too. A majority of the other gardeners there today were new gardeners this year to our community garden. I get passers by that stop to introduce themselves and chat as I work in Garden Number 01 because it's located on the end near our little parking lot and not very far from a path that leads to a trail that is part of Bellingham's Inter Urban Trail System. Today even ladies out riding their bikes on the trail noticed our Community Gardens and road over, introduced themselves and chatted a bit before taking a walking tour of the entire gardens. I love the enthusiasm and positive energy at the gardens. It feels good to be back in the garden - again.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Last week there were so many storms coming at us from over the Pacific Ocean that the weather channel started numbering them. With each storm promising heavy rains and strongs winds here at sea leavel and more snow in our mountain passes, what a delight for me to glimpse these puffy cloud formations over the Nooksack River during a small window of blue sky between storms Number 4 and 5.
Reminded me of Peter, Paul and Mary and Puff the Magic Dragon.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Centennial Riverwalk Park Totem Poles

Practically across the street from where we live is the Centennial Riverwalk Park. With the Nooksack River as its backdrop and plenty of benches along the way, it seemed the perfect place to stop after our walk on this sunny afternoon. David and Torrie look down river.
On Saturdays during the summer, a small Farmers Market sets up along the walkway, but this time of year, the park feels practially abandoned.
The Lummi Indians were the original inhabitants of the Ferndale area, and although forcibly moved to reservation lands in 1855, honor us by sharing their culture and art. The House of Tears Carvers from the Lummi Nation created three totem poles for the Riverwalk Park telling stories of the Nooksack River. This totem pole tells the story of the Lummis helping settlers carry supplies around a mile long log jam the clogged the river in the late 1800s.
The totem pole in front, on the right, of this next photo includes the figures of Bear's Wife, Bear and the Salmon Children. A plaque near this totem explains the story as follows: "Bear's Wife, Bear and the Salmon Children relate how the steelhead became the only salmon to return to the ocean after spawning while the others die at their spawning grounds. Bear's Wife is on top and underneath her figure is Bear. He was the brother of Raven who had brought Salmon Woman and her children to the Indian People. Bear's wife was pregnant, a time of powerful creation that was to be given great honor. As a consequence, Bear was forbidden to hunt or harvest salmon out of respect for her condition. Bear chose to violate this taboo and decided that he would go fishing regardless. In order not to be seen, he journeyed to the spawning grounds of the Salmon Children, as illustrated at the bottom of the totem pole, where he began to fish. Sadly, because he had acted selfishly and broken his vows, as he reached out and touched each of the Salmon Children, in turn they died. Only one of the Salmon Children, Steelhead, escaped, thanks to Raven's intervention. This is the reason for Steelhead being unique among the children of Salmon Woman."
The other totem shown in this same photo is of Salmon Woman and Her Children and depicts the tale of how the salmon came to the Indian People, explained as follows: "At the top of the pole is Raven, a leader of the Indian People who undertook a journey to find food for his suffering village during a time of great famine. He set out down the Nooksack River on this quest, but met only with disappointment. Despairing of both success and life, he encountered Salmon Woman, who lived in the water. Deeply moved by the story of his suffering people, Salmon Woman transformed herself into a human female and called her children: Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Chum, Pink and Steelhead. She agreed to return with Raven to his village and give her children as a gift to his people in order that they would survive. The salmon designs on the pole are representations of these children. Unfortunately, disrespect was shown to Salmon Woman and her children, which led her to take them away for a time each year so that the people would remember to appreciate them. This story teaches that the salmon are a gift and the First Salmon Ceremony takes place every year as a reminder of the importance of the salmon to the Indian People and the need to respect and nurture this vital food source."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ferndale Friendship Community Gardens

Following our regular walking route east of town takes us past the Ferndale Friendship Community Gardens.Not a year round community gardens, it's a little too early in the season to see gardening activity going on there, so for now, a rusty tin man stands guard over the raised beds, other garden sculptures and buildings.
It's a small community garden with under thirty raised beds and a small orchard off to one side. A welcoming picnic table sits between a sturdy looking tool shed in one corner and a small pergola in the other.
With their cover crops removed, two raised beds looked as if someone has recently given them some attention while the rest wait for warmer temperatures.
As our daylight hours grow longer, we find ourselves walking past these gardens more often now. It will be fun to watch as their gardeners work the soil and the plants start to grow.

Farewell and Welcome

Wishing Mickie a fond farewell was the theme of our party. Originally from sunny California, she sold her condo in our cloudy, rainy northwest Washington and is moving back to the sunshine she so misses.Funny though, as we said goodbye to one, another has joined us. Here Pam cradles three-day old McKinley, Diana's new granddaughter.We wish you well dear Mickie, already you are missed, and extend a big welcome to little McKinley.