Saturday, August 20, 2016

Front Flower Bed

Anise Hyssop
Anise Hyssop
One of the first garden projects was to develop the front yard. We have a circular rock driveway, stretching over 70 feet along our front yard. I decided to build a flower and herb bed along this to add some color to the front of the house, provide fresh herbs along a convenient path we always travel, and add bee forage close to an existing natural hive.

I laid about 200 Tulips and Crocuses down. These are early blooming flowers that will come up ahead of the others. Using a lot of the cardboard from the move, I sheet mulched the area along the drive way about 4 feet wide over the top of the bulbs.  The sheet mulching kills the grass without tilling.  On top of the sheet mulch I put two inches of compost and then two inches of mulch.

I took some river rocks from the quarry next door to us to make a bed liner.

In March as the tulips were popping up, I put in about 300 bulbs with Lillies and Gladiolus.  I found that I had to dig out some of the Tulips because they were trapped under the cardboard.  If I had better timing with moving in, I would have done this in the Fall of the previous year instead of the Winter.  Those cheap Internet nurseries ( are a great resource for bulbs. Don't get plants (except maybe strawberries) from them unless you are going to pot them for a year first.

Early Summer as Gladiolus are flowering
Around the driveway side edge of the bed, I planted herb starts (Lemon Balm, Oregano, Lemon Thyme, Orange Thyme, Cilantro, Anise Hyssop, Tarragon, Sage, Parsely, Marjoram, and some green onions that were going bad in the kitchen. Every day we walk this Zone 1 path at least a dozen times to the cars or barn.  

On the back side of the bed towards the lawn I planted Lupine (nitrogen fixer), Salal, Bay Leaf, and Pineapple Guava.  This is a less traveled path because it is against the lawn, but is looked at every day.  The bulbs mentioned above are in the middle of the bed.

The idea is that the herbs will spread out providing ground cover for shade, and the bulb plants will poke up through them to provide beauty and bee forage all year round.  After the Lillies and Gladiolus came up, I saw there was too much spacing.  I decided to get some wild flower bee forage mix to fill in the gap. I put that down at the end of June.  I also left the wild clover (nitrogen fixer) growing as a ground cover.

Currently the Gladiolus are dying off and the wild flowers are in bloom.  For the last, 5-6 weeks the 100s of honey and bumble bees at a time can be seen foraging the herbs and flowers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Building a Fire Pit

If you live on the coast, it is a requirement to have a fire pit.  Well maybe not, but our family enjoys roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over an open fire.

Our property has lots of trees, so there is something always falling that needs to be burned or chipped.

I was originally going to try and do something with river rock but felt like that was a bad idea due to exploding rocks.  There were mixed reviews online about using them, therefore, I decided to stay away.

For about $40 at Home Depot I was able to get some cement bricks.

To build the pit, I took a string 18" long and tied it to a stick.  I moved the string, taught in a circle and marked the edges.

With a shovel I dug out about a foot of soil to remove the grass and roots.  I also used a shovel to remove grass around the fire pit.

I poured an inch or so of sand into the pit.  This allowed me to level 3 rows cement of bricks in a circle around the pit.  At the top I used cement 8" pavers that are made to go in a circle.  This created a nice rim for the pit.

I then poured gravel around the pit that I got from the next door rock quarry.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The New Oregon Homestead

It has been a long time since the last post.  What a year 2015 was.

Brandi loves horses and we were stalling them in a horse facility up the road because of the split land and easements on the old property.  This meant a 15 minute drive back and forth every day, plus it was hard for her to spend time with the horses with all the other things going on in our life.  We originally offered to buy the neighbors' land to build a barn on, but that deal fell through.  Therefore, we started to weigh our options.

Due to the property boom around Portland, Oregon, the price of property has exploded.  We could not afford to get what we wanted in the area, even though we were 20 miles north of Portland in another state.  On the flip side, the price of our house and the work from home nature of my job enabled us to look in other counties that were cheaper.  High speed Internet also played a big part in where we ended up.  I still need to head to Portland a few times a month so it also had to be a reasonable drive.

It took about 5 months to sell the homestead in Washington and move to the Oregon coast. The new homestead fits our life better.  It is a 7.75 acre property that is perfect for horses (flat land) with 2 barns and an arena.  About 2 acres are forested.  The property includes a mother in law apartment, perfect for supporting extended family or having friends over for a weekend.

Of course a new home means lots of work.  The property had electro-wire for horses, but we needed field fencing for alpacas, dogs and chickens.  We ended up putting most of the fence in during a huge storm that dropped inches of rain. We needed to get a new roof on the home which was hard to do with all the rain we get in the winter.  Lastly, there is just the odd little things that need to be fixed up.

The property is also a blank slate for me to fit a Permaculture design to. In 2015 I received my PDC Certificate after taking a Permacutlure Design Course.  I will walk through all the things I have done in other posts.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Amazon had a good deal on Black Friday for an AeroGarden. I've wanted to build an indoor hydroponics solution, but have had too many other projects going on. Therefore, I thought I'd try this out first. I am hoping this kick starts me into a bigger solution someday.

The AeroGarden is very easy to setup. It takes about 5 minutes to put it together and another 5 to get everything planted. Seeds are planted into a cork like medium, then pushed into the base. Water is poured into the base. Then the nutrients are added. An electronic control at the bottom handles the lights and pump. The system after a few weeks reminds you to add water and nutrients.

The AeroGarden isn't a cheap solution for gardening. Then again we just went to the store and organic peppers are going for $5.99 a pound. Plus, they are shipped in and not fresh off the plant. The cost of the system was $99 on a Black Friday deal. Then add another $20 for supplies, nutrients and planting material. It looks like the materials will last a few months. They are also sold by MiracleGrow, not my favorite company. I will be looking to source some other nutrients for the system when I get a chance. 

I planted lettuce, peppers, cilantro and basil. So far, the lettuce is doing great. The Basil and Cilantro have just started to come up. Note, this is an indoor system so with the peppers or tomatoes, they have to be hand pollinated.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Juicing Zucchini, Cucumber and Other Homestead Plants

If you grow Zucchini or cucumbers, you understand how a few plants can give you way more than can be used. There is only so much of Zucchini that can be made into bread, frozen, and cooked.  Therefore, I came up with another way to use Zucchini.

About a year ago we watched a movie called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead on Netflix.  It was about an Australian who improved his health and dropped a bunch of weight by with a juicing diet.  I also have a friend who undertook this diet and dropped 30 lbs.

For those that know me, Paleo has been working for me and keeping me healthy.  Part of Paleo is vegetables and fruit.

The idea dawned on me to get a juicer and process plants on the homestead that we weren't consuming into a juice.  This adds a healthy drink to the diet.  A few months ago we bought an Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer.  This was recommended to us. The part that I most liked from the recommendation was the ease of cleaning.

What I really like is the addition of garden herbs like mint or borage can also be juiced with some cucumbers, pears, apples, etc... to improve the nutrient diversity and flavor