raised vegetable beds

What’s Blooming This Week

The recent (and fleeting, apparently) heat wave in Portland really sparked some growth in my garden. The roses and Lucifer plants are all blooming:

The roses are always different colors each year. I don’t remember there being an orange rose last year. The yellowish-pink ones are the norm. They look so pretty! On the vegetable front, the lettuce is flourishing! I had to take some into work to share with coworkers because there was just too much all at once.

The acorn squash has flowers and a teeny tiny little squash.

And the zucchini plant has an ACTUAL zucchini! I was thrilled to see this:

If the weather holds up, I think that zucchini will be ready to eat next week. The tomato plants are growing tall and I have tiny green tomatoes but nothing near close to being ripe.

The progress on the yard work has been going swimmingly. It really is satisfying to see progress after hard work. The sweat, blood, blisters and sore muscles were worth it.

I wasn’t prepared for how much WORK a garden would be. I have to admit, I was a bit naive. I thought “we’ll just let it all grow and harvest yummy veggies!” But it takes time, dedication and work. There’s weeding, pest-control, watering, but not over-watering. There’s maintenance and upkeep I hadn’t imagined. So far it’s been worth it.

I also learned that I did everything wrong when I planted it. I planted too much in our raised beds. I had been skeptical that anything would survive the soggy spring so I went overboard. The lettuce plants that looked close to death came back with a vengeance and now the raised beds are too cramped for things to really grow properly. The lettuce is all growing INTO each other. Oops! Lesson learned for next year.

On another front, Michael and I have discussed the Portland Century and now that the route and elevation has been published we have decided to make a change. Instead of doing the full 100 we are going to do the 75 route. The full 100 had too much of an elevation climb for either of our abilities at this point. Part of me is disappointed that I’m not doing the full 100 but honestly I had doubts in my abilities to even do 100! So that’s kind of a relief.

The way I see things happening now: we do the 75 miles in the Portland Century in August and maybe in September or October we try to do a different Century Ride.

QUESTION: How do you keep up with your garden if you have one? Any tips for a newbie? And how do I harvest the zucchini??

Urban Farmers

I don’t remember planting bulbs in the pots on our back deck, but something is blooming either way!

Saturday was SO nice in Portland! It was about 76 degrees out. I was in my shorts, sandals and tank top doing yard work all day. Michael and his friend Jeremy made a trip to Home Depot for supplies to build our raised beds AND to buy our new composter! Michael and I have been discussing for over a year about how much we want to compost. We have lots of plans for our garden. Michael’s yard is humongous; it was one of the selling points when he bought the house. We’ve spent so much time clearing the weeds/blackberry bushes and other odd plants from a corner of the lot for a composter.

The above photo is just half of the yard. We also have plans to build a chicken coop and have our own chickens! We eat a lot of eggs and I think it will be financially sound to have chickens. Plus, we both want to eat more home-grown foods. Jeremy worked on clearing the spots for the two raised beds where we will plant veggies:

I pulled weeds all afternoon. It was quite therapeutic and I enjoyed it. This time I did it smart: I brought out a pillow and towel and kneeled and sat while I pulled weeds. I hope this saves my hamstrings! Michael spent the afternoon building the composter.

He bought the kind that we can turn with a handle–which will be much easier for mixing the compost. Everyone we’ve talked to hates the manual kind where they have to use a shovel to turn the compost. We didn’t want to have yet another house chore that we hated so this model was the best for us.

Two years ago Michael built a raised bed on his own and grew hundreds of tomatoes and jalapenos and peppers.

The raised bed was in a great place for direct sunlight and there were so many tomatoes we had to throw a lot of them away. Our goals for this summer: tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, zucchini and cucumbers. Maybe we can do sweet potatoes too. I’d like to grow strawberries but I’m not sure if I could do those.

I am really looking forward to doing this with Michael. I have a Black Thumb when it comes to gardening. I wish I had a Green Thumb because I REALLY want to have a garden! But I just don’t have that gift to grow things, or um…keep them alive….except for cats. 🙂 After spending the day in the dirt, we cleaned up and went to Michael’s Mom’s surprise birthday party!

The party was a lot of fun. Michael and I were running around trying to pick up last minute things (cake, ice, etc) and we were both starving and tired by the time the party started. It was great that Michael’s sister Julie did so much to plan the party! It was so nice out yesterday I got to wear my new sun dress and sandals!


Michael’s stepdad was the mastermind behind the surprise party and it was a fun time. I’ve only had one surprise party planned for me and it was when I was a kid. I’ve thrown one surprise party myself (for Michael). I like surprises. 🙂

There was tons of food there too. I tried to eat smart: I had a little bit of everything I wanted and then went back for a bit more of certain things.

There was Jasmine Rice, Egg Rolls, Pulled Pork and Chicken, rolls, salad and baked beans.

The food was yummy and I hadn’t realized just how famished I was until we got there. I made a pulled pork sandwich with the small dinner roll.

Michael and I shared a small piece of chocolate cake (it was so good) and then later we shared an even smaller piece of the vanilla cake (a sliver really).

I went over my calories a little bit for the day but I didn’t go crazy with the buffet so I feel pretty good about the evening. I’m glad we were able to help with the party and his mom was surprised–so I call it a success! After everyone left I helped Julie clean everything up (dishes, packing up food) and we finally left around 10:30pm. I don’t even remember falling asleep last night I was that exhausted!

(And now I’m craving more cake!)

QUESTION: How did you spend your Saturday?