Tag Archives: blueberries

Progress 3-23-14 Pea Planting Time.

Season 5 Peas, Maestro and Green Arrow

Season 5 Peas, Maestro and Green Arrow

Spring is like magic. One day the skies clear, the sun warms the soil and the birds call my name. You know the lawn needs cutting but it will happily wait for you. There are peas that need planting.

I think this tool is meant to be used for pulling weeds but I use it to plant onions and for working with soil blocks. It moves gently between blocks and scoots them to an easy-to-pick-up spot.

I think this tool is meant to be used for pulling weeds but I use it to plant onions and for working with soil blocks. It moves gently between blocks and scoots them to an easy-to-pick-up spot.

Season 5 (2014) seems wetter then other seasons in Everett, Washington. I put most of my peas into soil blocks this year. They sprouted in the greenhouse and have patiently waited for me to take them to their garden home. Even though pea greens do not look very large, the roots surprise me with their length. I started out making holes in the patch just large enough for the soil block, my normal soil block planting method, but worried about what was happening to those wild roots. The better method was to dig a shallow trench, lay the roots I the direction they grew in the tray, then back-fill the trench. Much quicker, less stress.

Garlic, planting it on Halloween is as close as I get to celebrating. Boo!

Garlic, planting it on Halloween is as close as I get to celebrating. Boo!

The shallots and garlic are not nearly as thick looking as I anticipated. I expect to harvest shallots for a short season but I want the garlic to get me through to next spring. Normally I plant my garlic under a thick layer of maple leaves for insulation through winter. This year I just put the kitty cover on the bed (a cold frame that fits my 4×4 SFG’s–square foot gardens). This may have been a mistake. For the last week the cover has been off of the garlic-shallot bed, it is time to move it to the broccoli bed.

Broccoli started under the Snow Moon (February)

Broccoli started under the Snow Moon (February)

The SFG the spring broccoli will go into has been worked with home-grown compost, a small layer of that awesome horse manure compost from the neighbors boarding stable, alfalfa meal (worm candy) and a bit of lime. The best broccoli I ever grew was in season 3. The largest head was nine and a half inches across (Thompsons OP)!  That broccoli bed was strictly MM (mel’s mix, the “soil” in SFG) made with Toy Box compost (dominated by our chicken bedding). I tried to duplicate that in season 4 with the horse compost and got lush growth but really small heads. So for Season 5 I just lightly amended my compost with a bit of horse compost. You know that if I have something to brag about I sure will! The kitty cover will have the poly rain-coat repaired (winter winds) and be moved to the broccoli bed in time for the pink moon when I plant it out (about a week from today) However, if the evenings after school are too beautiful to ignore, I’ll be out early to plant.

Season 5 Broccoli, in the green house and about ready to plant out (all are OP open pollinated)

  • Thompsons (longer season, produced the 9.5 inch broccoli)
  • Solstice
  • Nutri-bud (early with summer long production of side shoots)
  • Umpqua (the only heirloom, mixed feelings about the low production I’ve had in the past)
Tarragon makes a come-back

Tarragon makes a come-back

Meanwhile…… Both of the parsleys and spinach have been planted out. In fact my parsley has taken off. After not planting parsley last season, I am very tempted to start harvesting the immature sprigs. Green omelets are sounding good. I am forcing myself to wait. The lettuce under the cold frame in the front garden is growing slowly. No salads yet. I look with envy at “First salad” posts on facebook. None of those posts are from the PNW but it doesn’t change my longing. Still no sign of the new rhubarb. I thought there was, but it turned out to be a leaf that fell off of the root at planting time. No sign of fava bean sprouts either. The first potatoes should have been planted. Saint Patrick’s day came and went and I still do not have my early yellow seed potatoes. Ray has promised me a ride to Mount Vernon for my birthday (last week in case you wonder, it was happy) to find a new source of organic yellow seed potatoes. I guess it is time for two things. 1. Time to start saving yellow seed potatoes. Currently I only save fingerlings and buy the reds, yellows and russets I want every spring. 2. Time for a Sunday drive. Finally, Those tomatoes I was impatient for are up and growing and will soon need to be up-potted. Most are getting their true leaves already.

Pots of old lavender set out, testing the sun from this spot.

Pots of old lavender set out, testing the sun from this spot.

In the Back To Eden – food forest, Ray has planted our blueberries. After five years of not being certain we could afford to stay in Everett, we have finally moved those berries from big pots to the ground. We are still amazed that the bills get paid month after month. YHVH is kind. Next in is our old lavender plants. It might be better to just buy new lavender starts (or try making my own… humm) and I saw that Lavender Wind Farm on Whidbey Island is selling lavender at their Coupeville market. But I think we will take a chance with these old faithful plants. The BTE bed is narrow, I am trying to leave room for my artichokes which are doing well, thank you very much!

Rudy Valentine

Rudy Valentine trying to stay warm by the chicken tractor while I plant pea blocks. It must be getting warmer for Rudy to stay out with me.

Faithful Rudy The Underground predicts sun today. They are telling me that a light NW breeze will bring in afternoon clouds but boldly promise 0% chance of rain! 52/39 Sunup at 7:05 AM and apparently shining until 7:26 PM for 12 hours and 21 minutes of daylight. Now that is a sure sign of spring!

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Season 5 Begins

Season 5 begins.

Season 5 begins.

2014 at the Toy Box Sub-Urban Farm began with a whisper of snow. Creation is encouraging me to rest a while longer. The Snow Moon has faded into darkness, the Worm Moon is a waxing crescent glow somewhere beyond the clouds. No one told the storm that the time for snow was gone. Even so, the clock in my heart is ready to experience the scent of dirt, the kiss of the breeze and fresh green seedlings.

Greens, parsley and onions

Greens, parsley and onions

While the days were still short I started vegetables on a heat mat in the kitchen before moving them to our little greenhouse. Onions and leeks, artichokes and salad greens are all defying the winter chill. Broccolis, cauliflowers (the season 5 challenge) and more salad greens were started in soil blocks. Each of them have their 2nd sets of leaves. I worried that they were in the kitchen too long. Each variety has different sprout times. Since they were all in one flat, some became “leggy” in the kitchen window while waiting for their cousins to wake up. I am happy to report that after a month in the green house I have not lost any to weak stems (so far). I do not use grow lights, a luxury I have in the Pacific North West. We are famous for our rain but those clouds keep our winter nights mild.

Have you ever scene a rhubarb root?

Have you ever seen a rhubarb root?

There is more to season 5 then green house plants. One of the SFG (Square Foot Garden) has fragrant garlic and shallots coming up under a poly cover. A brand new rhubarb is sending up the first amber leaves in the front SFG. Peas and fava beans have already been pressed into the ground in other gardens. Because I am a belt and suspender gal, there is a back-up tray of peas planted in soil cubes in the green house, just in case some critter feasts on fresh pea sprouts growing unprotected outside. My fear of critter feasts are not strictly imaginary. All our kale and over winter broccoli have been eaten down to stumps. I suspect raccoons.

Herbs in the green house; Tarragon make a comeback.

Herbs in the green house; Tarragon make a comeback.

The fruit trees and blueberries are being moved to the front garden. Inspired by Back to Eden, Ray has built a boarder and is filling it with chipped wood for a perma-culture food forest (forest may be a stretch, it is more of an alley). My plan is to put the artichokes in this garden while the fruit trees, a multi-cherry, a multi-pear and an Orcus Pear, are still small. I am hopeful that there will be room for the pie cherries I would like to add to my dream of an orchard-forest.

The Pantry and Freezer are still comfortably full but I sure am looking forward to the first salad of baby greens.

Bomber and nuggets, Lil'bit, Stella and Birtha

Bomber and nuggets, Lil’bit, Stella and Bertha

March 6, 2014, Everett, Washington Showers turning to rain (do they say that anywhere else?) We are under a flood watch. The Toy Box Suburban Farm sits high on a bluff far from the river, even so, the ground is a squishy sponge.  A high of 56 F and a comfortable low of 47 F. Steady SSE wind of 10 mph gusting to 20 mph. More of the same for the rest of the week. 11 hours, 18 minutes of daylight (rise 6:41 AM, set 5:59 PM)

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Produce from the Toy Box August 1-10

  • 26 Eggs
  • 1 lb, 1 oz fruit (mostly blue berries)
  • 5 lbs 15 oz mixed vegetables.

Sweet Momma squash…maybe it will be ready before first frost.

The flint corn “BlackTail Mountain” is already showing signs of being ready (that cannot be right can it?) I have Cinderella pumpkins all over the place. All over the place being in a 10 foot circle around the base of the plant. I finally went outside the fence and pulled the vines that grew through the pickets back inside the fence.

Fortex “French” green beans

Maybe most exciting is the amount of green beans I am picking every day. Both the bush beans and the pole beans are about to go into full production. Recently I watched a video on canning beans. I am convinced that unless I can put a pressure canner on the stove part of the BBQ, I will have to be content freezing beans. The frozen french beans I get from Trader Joe’s are good so I have hope that mine will be just as good.

Empress, Dragon, and Royal Burgundy snap beans, Gold Nugget Tomatoes and a few calendula petals.

I don’t think I have mentioned that I am getting little finger carrots and three kinds of beets. I took a peek at my potatoes yesterday, I will be harvesting those very soon!


Shabot Shalom! It is a beautiful day to Rest in YHVH. Blue sky 77/57 and 0% chance of rain. WooT! Sunrise at 5:59. Fourteen hours and 25 minutes later it will set at 8:27. The Thunder Moon (Av) is in its last quarter.

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Cold, cold July (until today)

The Toy Box

Suburban Farm Episode #25 (Season 3)

I have no idea why or how you-tube chooses a cover picture. This looks liked my pumpkin vine growing outside of the fence. By the way, I did finally get my lawn mown. Sorry about the mess.

Is that a dragon fly sitting on my corn?

Today was warmer outside than it was inside, we have not had many days like that. Blue sky, 75/57 sunrise at 5:37, 15 hours and 15 minutes later the sun set at 8:52. I am missing my late walks with the dogs.

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Spring 2012 countdown (20 days to go)


The transition is beginning. Life is showing optimism in the garden. Every shade of green has begun to assert themselves. To be sure, any green that I see in the garden today has to be tough enough to survive the last hurrah of winter. Hard frost glistens on the green leaves during the transition time. But make no mistake, spring is coming. The frogs in the pond are singing a song of praise to the creator. Birds spend their afternoon gossiping about it. I listen to their music and it ignites a gentle flame of energy in my soul.

New strawberry growth

In the Northern Hemisphere spring starts on March 20th this year. Why March 20th? On that date the daylight hours will be equal to the number of night-time hours. It is known as the equinox. In the beginning, at the creation of the sun and the moon (and the stars) YHVH/The LORD gave one of the very first commandments to creation. On the fourth day, before the creation of men, YHVH, Elohim set the moon and sun in their place. The moon to rule and light the night and the sun for the day. He decreed that these lights be for “signs and seasons,” the “genesis” of our reason for measuring seasons by the hours of the sun and moon. When the hours from sunrise to sunset are equal to the hours of night, we welcome spring.

Blueberries in bud

First I noticed the daffodils. Every year, along a path that I stop seeing, one day there will be a stand of daffodils insisting I pause to see them. They are not in bloom yet, but the promise of swollen buds bursting out of cold ground has returned. There are other earth signs. Days before I come with my tools and bucket to tidy up the herb garden the chives offer their goodness to my kitchen. Even this early, snipping them down brings more. From under the piles of straw and leaves come green spears of garlic, shallots and strawberries. I am sure the grass is growing and will soon need a trim.

Mixed greens started in January

My garden plans have been loosely made. Peas, my personal start to spring, have been pressed into the ground. There are two trays of sprouts that commute daily from my window to the porch and back. One tray of mixed greens for my late spring salads and one tray of broccoli and cauliflower to plant out come April. The compost has been turned and the trees trimmed.

Red Kale from the 2011 garden

Saint Patrick’s Day is my next big day outside. If the weather co-operates, potatoes will be started (they should be planted but often I just get around to cutting them up) on St Patty’s Day. Mel’s Mix (Square Foot Gardening planting mix) will need to be made; enough to fill the two new 4×8 boxes and maybe enough extra for my large pots of summer vegetables. The chicken run will need to be mucked out which means I might (as Ray suggested) need to start another cylinder for compost. With two smaller plastic bins of compost and one large cylinder I thought I might have enough already but those are full before I muck the chicken yard. Soon I will need to find a place for grass clippings and weeds from the herb and flower gardens. The boarders of the new gardens need to have a weed barrier laid that I can cover with beauty bark (it looks tidy that way).

Frosted cleric from 2011

Speaking of chickens, it is time to decide if I want any chicks. I can only have a total of 6 chickens in the city (four is plenty) and my girls are only a year old but I need to start thinking about eggs next year. I think I can wait another year for chicks. My girls should still lay enough eggs every week for the four of us.

Jason and I have been talking about bunnies this easter. We raised California Rabbits when we lived in Robe Valley. They are the best meat rabbits. Better than New Zealand in temperament. They are cute like a siamese kitten. If we get bunnies it would be nice to have hutches ready BEFORE we bring them home. They can live in the house for a short season like the chickens did. In fact, it is probably good to handle them like pets while they are young. Their poo is garden gold. Rabbit meat is loved by all three of my guys. I am a little worried about my terriers, Bomber and Rudy, who kill rats for a living. Actually Rudy only tries to kill them. Mostly he nips at them on the run. Bomber was created with the powerful jaw required to humanely kill a rat with one chomp. He is very good at what he does. I do not want them to mistake bunnies for rats. When I let the chickens out for a scratch in the compost they watch the girls with interest. Unfortunately they still get too excited if the girls have a fuss with each other and start flapping their wings.

Bomber reminds me of Bruce the Shark on Finding Nemo. The one who has to convince himself that “fish are our friends” and goes out of his way to prove it. But let one drop of blood enter his nostril and who he was created to be asserts itself. Bomber is that way with the nuggets. I watch him follow them about, fussing if one disappears to lay her egg, worried until once again all four are together. “Chickens are our friends.” But let them start squawking and flapping at each other and the heart of a good terrier takes over. So far he has responded quickly to my firm, “NO Bomber!” Good boy that he is.

Cole sprouts already getting "leggy"

Aquaponics has been moved back from spring to late summer but it would still be kewl if we could start a test pond of one or two barrels. Unless a killer deal for a greenhouse pops into our lap we need to wait until late summer, when hope is telling us Ray may be working again, to buy a the greenhouse. My spring fava beans, garlic and shallots have all been planted where we plan to put the greenhouse. We could sacrifice those but we are in no hurry.

Ray’s other project is bees. Not honey bees but mason bees. He has his “milky way boxes of bees” in the crisper drawer with my seed stash. We attended the free class on Mason Bees at Sunnyside Nursery last week. He has his book, an awesome web-site and starter straws. Now all we need is spring to sprong and the fruit trees to blossom to start the mason bees outside. Twenty more days.

Have rats will hunt. Bomber and his little pest Rudy

Winter Advisory in effect. Mostly that means that it is going to be really wet with a good chance of chunky rain (snow and rain mixed). That will keep the high temperature down to 46 degrees (the low is projected to be 36, cold but above freezing). As of today we get 11 hours and 5 minutes of daylight, wet and cloudy but day light none the less. Sunrise at 6:48, Sunset at 5:54. I’ll take it!

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Early July 2011 in the Toybox, Wet and Cold

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Lemony-Lavender Loganberry Bars

Pastry Crust Base

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and combine the mixture into a loose dough. Pat the mixture into a 9 inch square pan. Bake the pastry until just browned around the edges, about 10 minutes.


  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed lavender buds
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon peel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup Loganberries (or black, rasp, blue, marian, or lingian berries can be used)
  • powdered sugar for garnish

In mixing bowl (for mixer) add eggs, lemon peel, lemon juice, lavender and sugar. Beat at medium low-speed until mixture is thick and smooth (about 5 minutes) In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the flour to the running mixer, and continue running the mixer until well blended.

Fold the berries into the lemon/egg mixture. Pour the filling into the pre-baked pastry crust base. Bake the filling for about 20 minutes or until set.

Remove from oven, cool on a rack. . Sift powdered sugar over the cooled pastry. Cut into bars and serve either chilled whipped cream or ice-cream. Yield 12 to 16 bars.

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