Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A gardener's New Year's resolutions

(Thanks to Flickr user way2go for this great image)

Usually, my only New Year's resolution is to resolve not to make New Year's resolutions. Since I've been stuck inside during the snowy weather much of the last couple of weeks, though, I've been thinking about what I can do now that will make my garden more successful in the 2009 season. I'm trying to avoid those unrealistic lists of "shoulds" that we all make, mentally or otherwise, but then ignore. Instead, I'm making a short but realistic list of things I actually intend to do. Here goes:

  1. First, and most importantly, I'm going to have my soil tested. My vegetable yields have been subpar for the last two seasons, and I suspect that's because my soil is getting depleted. I found a list of soil testing facilities on the Oregon State University Extension site, and I just contacted one for more information. I hope to submit a sample as soon as the snow melts enough that I can find my soil. I'm pretty sure it's somewhere under all the white stuff.

  2. I'm not going to grow stuff that I really don't like to eat. Yes, kohlrabi is cool-looking, but no one in my family really likes it. I still have some sitting in the garden from last spring. No more.

  3. If I start nothing else from seed, I'm going to start basil. Last year was my first year without homegrown basil in I-don't-remember-how-long, and I missed it terribly.

  4. I'm going to clean up the junk I have lying around in my yard. No matter how pretty the plants look, the first thing I notice when I look outside are the stacks of pots, the old wheelbarrow, and the other stuff I've left out.

There. That's my list. Now that the snow has melted, I can start on items 1 and 4 and item 3 in another couple months. Item 2 requires no work at all - my kind of resolution.

How about y'all, dear readers? What are your gardening resolutions?

Friday, December 26, 2008

What to do with a load of tomatoes, Part 2: Fresh tomato soup

I wrote this post a couple months ago but just realized I never posted it. If you took my advice and froze some tomatoes, you can use those to make this soup, which should warm you up nicely on these cold winter days. Here's the original post:

Ok, so you've made spaghetti sauce by the vat, and you're still overrun with tomatoes? Well, go get your stockpot, because today we're making soup! I found a great recipe for tomato soup: It's super-easy, very tasty, and gluten-free. If you substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, it would even be vegan. I'm not going to post the actual recipe here, because it's on the Boston Globe site, and I try not to violate copyright because I prefer not to be sued. So, cruise over to and check it out. The best part? You don't even have to peel the tomatoes! Just throw everything in a big pot, then process it through a food mill when you're done. It's a great way to use up late-season tomatoes that often have soft spots or blemishes. Just cut away the icky part and throw the rest in the pot.

Snowmageddon 2008

OK, that's a dumb name, but not quite as dumb as Snowpocalypse, which I've also heard. It may not be the end of the world, but Portland is *snowy*. We've had some kind of cold white stuff on the ground for nearly 2 weeks, and most of us are sick of it. At its deepest, we had about 9" at my house, enough that I couldn't see where my raised beds stopped and the paths started. I still don't know what most of my plants look like, because they're still buried. I never thought I'd miss our winter rain, but I do.

The snow is pretty, though, and it makes the garden look like a winter wonderland. Here are some pictures I took on the snowiest days:

Rosemary buried in the snow:
Rosemary in the snow

Woodland garden in my backyard:
Snowy backyard

Frozen camellia buds:
Frozen camelia blossoms

Frozen horsetail and berries hanging over my frozen creek. Who knew weeds could be so pretty?
Frozen horsetail and berries by frozen creek

Frozen leeks:
Frozen leeks

Frozen rosebud:
Another frozen rosebud

I'm waiting for the snow to melt with some apprehension, wondering how many of my beloved plants will be done in by the cold and wind. Maybe I should move back to California.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Literary Gardening

I'm reading an article in Computers in Libraries (trade pub for librarian computer geeks) about Hennepin County Library's BookSpace, a site designed to match readers and books (readers advisory in library jargon). Being something of a book nerd, I decided to try out the site. While browsing through their nonfiction recommendations, I found a section with the wonderful title of Literary Gardening. Is that the perfect thing for a garden-obsessed former English major or what?

Now that the weather is turning cold, and my garden is a soggy mess (I don't call this blog Rainy Day Gardening for nothin', ya know), it's the perfect time to catch up on some garden-related reading. If you feel the same way, check out their Literary Gardening list (Heh heh... "check out"... I made a library pun... get it? Yeah, OK, now you know why I have to keep my day job.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Profitable gardening?

No, I haven't discovered a money tree that produces real money. If I had, I'd be lounging on a beach somewhere in the tropics instead of tapping out a blog post on my lunch break. But J.D. over at Get Rich Slowly has demonstrated that vegetable gardening can have some financial benefits. He just put up a post summarizing the costs and estimated value of his family's vegetable garden. Very informative and encouraging.

You can reap savings as well as produce from your garden, or it can be a hole in the ground into which you pour money. The difference lies in your gardening style (e.g. using found objects vs. buying new, uniform materials), your willingness to work more rather than spend more (e.g. doing work by hand vs. buying expensive power tools), and your shopping habits (if you are the type of person who can't walk through Best Buy without dropping a grand on a new TV/home theater/computer/whatever or walk through the mall without getting at least three new designer outfits at Nordstrom, you probably won't be able to walk through the local garden center without dropping large amounts of cash on a new tractor/tiller/designer garden art/pile o' imported stone pavers either).

Since the economy is the news story these days (apart from the election, which I'm not about to address here - don't we all get enough politics elsewhere?), I think I'll write a post or two on frugal gardening. If you have some favorite frugal gardening tips or resources, drop me a comment and let me know.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What to do with a Load of Tomatoes, Part 1: Spaghetti Sauce

The tomato harvest was late here in the Northwest, but when it came, it really came! As I mentioned in my last couple of posts, I'm inundated with tomatoes. So, let's take a look at things you can do with too many tomatoes, besides throw them at people you don't like.

Last weekend's project here at Camp Crum was spaghetti sauce--a big vat of it. I use my mother's recipe, or the closest approximation I can find. My mother, like so many old-time cooks, didn't really follow recipes for things she made frequently, and the dishes evolved as she experimented. A few years ago, after she gave up cooking from scratch, I asked her to write the recipe down so I could carry on the family tradition. Here's what she gave me:

1 cup chopped onion
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
32 oz. tomatoes, fresh or canned. If using fresh, peel them according to the instructions in my previous post. No need to chop them - just drop 'em in whole.
16 oz. tomato sauce
8 oz. tomato paste
2 tbsp fresh basil (snipped) or 2 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp fresh oregano (snipped) or 1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
12 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 lb. ground beef

Brown the ground beef, then add all ingredients to a big stock pot and simmer for at least a couple of hours.

I usually triple the recipe (which makes about 8 quarts), then can or freeze the extra. Even though it's more work, I prefer to can, because then I can make dinner super-quickly. It takes quite awhile to thaw a quart of frozen spaghetti sauce, even in a microwave.

How to Peel Fresh Tomatoes for Cooking

Keeping with the tomato theme, since I still have tons of the silly things, let's talk about how to prepare fresh tomatoes for use in recipes. First, put a large pot of water on to boil. While the water is heating, rinse your tomatoes and remove the stems. If you're going to use your tomatoes in something that will be cooked for awhile, that's all you need to do till the water is ready. If you're going to use them in a fresh sauce (i.e. you don't want them to taste cooked), cut an "X" on the bottom of each one. Cutting the "X" will make the skins separate with about 15 seconds of blanching rather than 30 or more.

Once the water is boiling, drop the tomatoes in, a few at a time. Blanch them till the skins start to separate, then fish them out with a slotted spoon and set them aside to cool. Once all tomatoes are blanched and cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and use them according to your recipe's instructions.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

How to Store and Use Fresh Tomatoes

These days most people who cook with tomatoes used canned ones from the grocery store, but since this is a gardening blog, let's talk about using fresh ones instead. First, what do you do with a zillion fresh tomatoes? Soon I'll post some recipes for spaghetti sauce and tomato soup, but for now let's consider storing tomatoes till you have time to do something with them. If you'll be able to use your tomatoes within a few days, just store them on your kitchen counter, covered with a cloth or in a paper bag to avoid attracting fruit flies and hasten ripening. Do NOT store them in the refrigerator! Refrigeration destroys much of the home-grown taste, leaving you with something little better than those abominations they sell in the supermarket.

The biggest annoyance with fresh tomatoes is peeling them. Blanch them in boiling water for about 30 seconds, and the skins should slip off easily. Or, you can score a shallow "X" in the bottom of each tomato, then blanch them in boiling water for about 15 seconds.

If you have more tomatoes than you can use before they'll rot, you have two options:

  1. Freeze them. Freezing is the quickest, easiest way to deal with a tomato invasion, though you'll need quite a bit of freezer space. Just rinse the tomatoes, pat them dry, put them in freezer bags, and freeze them. When you're ready to use them, thaw them partially and squeeze them out of their skins. That's the most fun part--kind of like popping a giant red zit (er, sorry... I have a gross sense of humor). Then use them as you would canned tomatoes. If you're like me and forget to thaw them till you're ready to use them, just drop them in boiling water till their skins start to peel (about 5-10 seconds), then squeeze them out of their skins.

  2. Can them. Canned homegrown tomatoes are better than the canned tomatoes in the grocery store, and they'll keep indefinitely. Also, tomatoes can be canned in a boiling water bath, so you don't need a pressure canner (though processing times are much shorter with a pressure canner, so if you have one, you'll probably want to use it). There are lots of web sites with instructions for canning tomatoes, but to be safe, choose one from an extension service, so you get current, USDA-approved methods. You want to avoid botulism unless you have a large life insurance policy with me as the beneficiary. Here are a few reliable sites:

With these techniques, you can enjoy your tomato harvest well into winter. Have fun!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

No, I'm not dead. I've just been a lazy slob all summer and dealing with some family issues that drew my attention away from both gardening and this blog. But I'm getting back into the swing of things, just in time for the end of the tomato harvest.

Even if I lived in a tiny apartment with nothing but a balcony for gardening, I'd grow tomatoes. Those perfectly round, red impostors in the supermarket are unworthy to be called tomatoes--picked green, gassed with ethylene, and shipped in cold storage. Yuck. Why bother? I tend to go overboard with the tomatoes (I have about 25 plants this year), so by this time of year my kitchen resembles a scene from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. I swear they multiply and are plotting the overthrow of the neighborhood. In future posts I'll talk about what to do with mass quantities of tomatoes, but tonight I'll give you a quick rundown on how some varieties performed in my garden.

It was a weird year here on the rainy side of the Pacific Northwest. We didn't really get warm weather till late summer, and it didn't last long. I usually have ripe tomatoes by early August, but I didn't get my first ones this year till almost September. I don't know how these varieties would have performed in a more normal summer, so don't read too much into this report. I grew about 10 or 12 different varieties of tomatoes, but some of the labels faded, so I can't identify all of them. Here's the scoop on the ones I can identify. Note: All links go to either Territorial Seed or Totally Tomatoes unless otherwise noted. With the exception of the Brandywine, I don't say much about taste, because to me all home-grown tomatoes taste great.

Willamette: Determinate variety bred for early ripening in the Northwest. For me, it produced a modest amount of medium-sized tomatoes, some of which split in the rain. They didn't last long on the vine, rotting quickly if not picked, and some had odd blemishes. Even though Willamette is a determinate variety, the vines were too heavy for standard tomato cages.

Roma: Determinate, great tomato for sauces. My Romas did really well this year! They were my heaviest producers, the fruits last well on the vine, and I had almost no trouble with blossom end rot.

Oregon Spring: Another determinate variety bred for early ripening in the Northwest. Mine produced moderately, kept well on the vine, and produced nice medium-sized fruits with good shape and color and few blemishes.

Early Girl: Well-known indeterminate hybrid. Mine produced modestly, kept well on the vine, with good shape and color and few blemishes.

Black Plum: Indeterminate. Mine produced fairly well and kept fairly well on the vine, though some had blemishes.

Brandywine: An heirloom variety famous for its taste, Brandywines are a staple of my tomato garden every year. They're huge, heavy, take forever to ripen, rot quickly, bruise easily... and are still well worth the effort for their flavor. Mine did fairly well this year considering our cool summer, but they've done much better in past years.

Taxi: Yellow determinate salad tomato. Mine produced poorly this year, but I'm not sure if the problem was the weather or the soil. Mine was planted in an area where other things didn't do well either, so I think I need to amend the soil and try again.

Juliet: Hybrid grape tomato (well... really it's bigger than a grape tomato, shaped like a Roma but smaller) on indeterminate vine. Mine produced prolifically despite minimal care, with no blossom end rot, no cracking, and no blemishes. They also kept well on the vine.

So... How did your tomatoes do?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lettuce Rest, I'm Feeling Beet.

Remember how my "Growing Challenge" plant for the year was mesclun lettuce (or, as I prefer to call it because I'm a substance abuse librarian, "mescaline lettuce," bah ha ha!)? Remember how I was all excited because everybody said lettuce was really easy to grow and did extremely well here in the Pacific Northwest? Remember how I said I'd tried some kind of head lettuce last year and it was bitter and didn't grow very well, but that I was sure I'd figured out what I'd done wrong and that this time, THIS TIME, it was going to be great?

Remember how Albert Einstein once said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

Either I'm crazy, or lettuce actually HATES me. Frankly, I'm pretty sure it's the latter.

Because, LOOK AT MY LETTUCE! It bolted about three weeks ago (which is when I took the above photo), something every gardening web site I've looked at said it would only do if the weather got hot. Well, guess what else happened right about the time my lettuce bolted? The Seattle Times ran a headline that said, "Colder Than Siberia!" And not because it was HOT here, that's for sure!

Since it bolted, the leaves have pretty much stopped growing at all -- in fact, I think they are actually shrinking -- and the only part of the plant that's getting any bigger are the yellow flowers.

You know what? We're done. Me and lettuce. We are OVER. From now on, I'm sticking with the lettuce that comes prewashed in the plastic bags in the grocery store, e.coli and all. This garden ain't big enough for the both of us. Especially when one of us is totally MEAN. And SUCKS. And is a big STUPIDHEAD too. (Note: I'm referring to the lettuce.)

In happier news, my peas are utterly enormous and I'm going to have dozens and dozens of blueberries this year.

In even happier news, today's forecast predicts a high of about 88 or 90 in Seattle on Sunday. Omsk, Siberia, on the other hand, will be a chilly, wet 71. Take THAT, Former Soviet Union!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Spontaneity in the garden

I've always loved the casual, untamed look of an old-fashioned cottage garden, so I tend to let my plants kind of do what they want (OK, I let them do what they want because I'm too lazy to prune and deadhead, but I prefer to think of myself as having a "style" instead of just being a slacker). Every year, my garden brings surprises, this year moreso than usual. Let's take a look at some of the unintentional beauty bursting out of my beds:

Red poppy:
Red poppy in the front yard
I planted some mixed poppy seeds last year, which germinated well. In my usual lazy fashion, I let them go to seed, so this spring I had poppies popping up all over the place. I meant to move them around a little so they'd be positioned more artfully, but of course that happened. But when the blooms are this beautiful, who needs artful arrangement?

More benefits of not deadheading: I had tons of calendulas sprout up this spring. I did move those around, because they sprouted in my veggie beds. Last year I had calendulas in the corners of three beds. Now I have them in the corners and along the borders of almost all my beds. They're so bright and cheery, and they even last through the winter here. I guess I'll have to figure out what to do with all the seedlings next year, as I'm running out of room for them.

Peony in the front yard
A couple years ago, I forked over way too much money for a tree peony. We had one when I lived in California, and it was gorgeous. So of course I had to have one. Well... the graft lasted the one season and never came back. *Sigh* But the peony that made up the rootstock grew just fine. At first I was annoyed that my gorgeous, blood-red, double tree peony was gone, leaving this simple, single bloom in its place. But this year, I admired the elegant cups formed by the buds, and when they opened, I fell in love with the blush of pink in the petals and the purply things in the center, so the former-tree-peony is staying.

Foxgloves behind the vegetable garden
Sometime last winter, I acquired a pot of some unidentified plant. For some reason, I thought it was comfrey. Lo and behold, I trudged out to the vegetable garden, where I'd parked the mystery pot, and found these gorgeous foxgloves growing out of it! I plan to let them seed all over the place, so I'll never be without foxgloves again.

Potato blossoms:
Potato blossoms
These made the list for two reasons: 1) They are not the fancy Russian fingerling potatoes I ordered and lovingly planted. Those are doing great too, but these sprouted from where I'd dumped some homemade compost last fall. I guess the potatoes I tossed out didn't fully decompose, and here's the proof. Usually when I grow potatoes from something other than treated seed potatoes, they die of blight, so we'll see if these are still around in August. But for now, they're gorgeous--and thriving in part sun behind the compost bin. Go figure. 2) These have the prettiest flowers of any potato I've seen. I don't think anyone thinks of potatoes as ornamental, but these almost qualify.

So what's the point of all this rambling, besides my ego-driven need to show off some pretty pictures? Well, just this: For years I've beaten myself up for not keeping up with garden maintenance, not taking the time to design my beds properly, not planning, etc. I'm not going to do that anymore. These pictures prove that unintentional beauty is every bit as wonderful as the kind that requires a landscape architect. So if you can't afford a pro, and you're too lazy or busy to go to the trouble yourself, don't sweat it! Get yourself some inexpensive seeds, start a few things, and let Mother Nature take it from there. Your yard may not be featured on the next garden club tour, but it will be bursting with beautiful surprises all the same.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Garden update

I can't believe I haven't posted since April! I've been so busy gardening, I've had little time to write about it. Since it's been so long, an update is in order.

It finally feels like spring here in Portland, now that it's almost summer. Once the cold weather finally ended, my garden exploded--mostly with weeds, but there are a few nice plants in the overgrown mess too. Highlights now include:

Roses, including the red climbing rose on an arbor leading into the veggie garden:
Climbing rose up close

Climbing rose
That bare spot behind the arbor is my tomato patch. The tomatoes are just starting to take off.

I planted a few calendulas last year at the corners of my raised veggie beds, so I'd have a little color amid the veggies. Most of them wintered over, and they also seeded a bit. So now I have huge calendulas from last year, all in full bloom, plus some little ones that should be blooming soon. They're so bright and cheery! I highly recommend including flowers in the vegetable garden. They add beauty and attract bees. What's not to love?


More lettuce
I don't know what I was thinking, planting so much lettuce. We eat salad almost every night, but we aren't even making a dent in it. It's great to be able to wander outside and pick a salad, and I love all the different colors. We may be overrun with it now, but I'll really miss the lettuce when the summer heat makes it bolt.

Front of the house with blooming rhodies
I've never been a big fan of rhododendrons, but they are gorgeous when they bloom.

I should also mention the newest additions to our family, our chickens. We have five pullets, about 7 weeks old. Hubby is frantically trying to finish their coop before they outgrow the plastic tub they currently call home. Here's the coop as of about a week ago:
Chicken coop in progress

We let them out to wander around the yard for the first time last weekend. I hope to post some pictures of them foraging in the garden, probably in the next few days. We're really looking forward to a steady supply of fresh eggs and fertilizer--not to mention cheap entertainment. Chickens are hilarious.

I hope it won't take me a month to post again. There's lots happening in the garden these days, but it keeps me too busy and tired to have much left for writing. What's new in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Bishop's Garden at the National Cathedral

National Cathedral Today your intrepid Washington correspondent was on assignment at the National Cathedral. This incredibly gorgeous gothic cathedral is surrounded by the incredibly gorgeous Bishop's Garden.

According to an interpretive sign, "The overall inspiration for the Bishop's Garden is a 14th century monastic garden." It features many common plants, but the layout and design make it special. The garden is divided into rooms, each of which provides a sense of seclusion that encourages reflection and prayer. According to the aforementioned sign, one of the rooms, called the Hortulus ("little garden")
"is anchored firmly in the 9th century by the medieval baptismal font at its center. The raised geometric beds encircling the font are planted with the same herbs and flowers that would have been found in monastic kitchen and infirmary gardens during the 9th century."
Here are some pictures of the Hortulus:

Baptismal font and surrounding beds
Baptismal font and surrounding beds

Fennel in Hortulus

Apothecary's Rose
Apothecary's Rose in Hortulus

Southernwood in Hortulus

And some pics of the rest of the Bishop's Garden:

Entrance to Bishop's Garden at the National Cathedral

Bishop's Garden, National Cathedral

Bishop's Garden to right of entrance

Statuary and spring blooms
Statuary and spring blooms in Bishop's Garden

Sundial in Bishop's Garden

One of the garden rooms
Bishop's Garden

A couple of lessons I learned from my visit:

  1. Common (and inexpensive) plants can create impressive landscapes.
  2. Like architecture, gardens can evoke moods and provide spiritual experiences.

I suppose I knew both of those things at some level, but I came away from my visit newly convinced and inspired.

Pretty pictures from Washington, DC

I haven't had much time to post lately, because I've been in Washington, DC, since Wednesday. I'm here for a library conference, because the ad revenue from this blog isn't enough to allow me to quit my day job (so start clicking on those ads! I want more time to garden). When I left Portland, it was cold and miserable, with January weather persisting into April. Here it actually looks and feels like spring. I haven't had a lot of time to explore garden-related sites, but I did take a lovely walk Sunday evening through a beautiful neighborhood that is either a) occupied by gardeners, or (more likely) b) occupied by people wealthy enough to hire gardeners. Here are a few pictures:

Lovely front garden
Lovely front garden

Does anyone know what these are? They’re really pretty, and I think I’ve seen them before, but I can’t identify them.
Flower I cannot identify

And here’s a closeup of the mystery flower:
Closeup of flower I cannnot identify

That's about it for garden-related activities on this trip. When I was here last June, I visited the National Botanical Garden, so I'll share a few pics from there to round out my Dateline Washington post (or as we call it in the Northwest, The Other Washington).

Bananas at US Botanic Garden

Pineapple at US Botanic Garden

Papaya at US Botanic Garden

(hmm... I must've been hungry)

And something that would be difficult to grow in rainy Portland:

Blooming cactus at US Botanic Garden

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Strawberry rhubarb cobbler - yum

We had snow and hail here in Portland today! Ugh. Last night I moved 8 flats of tomato and pepper seedlings from my unheated greenhouse to my dining room to protect them from the hard freeze forecast for this weekend. On my way back from the greenhouse, I noticed the rhubarb, along with a few spears of asparagus. Desperate for something to harvest, I quickly returned with my kitchen shears. The asparagus I gave to my mother, because I can't stand the stuff. The rhubarb, on the other hand, went into the strawberry rhubarb cobbler I made using the excellent recipe posted at Simply Recipes. Try it with some vanilla ice cream -- it's enough to brighten even the coldest winter spring day.

Friday, April 18, 2008


This weekend's photo essay is subtitled, "Why I Prefer the Phrase 'Climate Change' Over 'Global Warming.'"

And then it's sub-subtitled, "AW, COME ON!!!!"

Last week's lovely rhodie:

The plant formerly known as primrose:

Annnnnnd, the dogwood and front yard (by the way, the snow is STILL FALLING -- you can still see a bit of grass peeking out in the photo below, but that's been buried under at least half an inch by now):

How do you spell ridiculous?

P-A-C-I-F-I-C N-O-R-T-H-W-E-S-T.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Creative way to get your garden tilled

I just ran across this little goody while cleaning out some old e-mail messages. Enjoy!

The inmate was aware that all prison mail passes through censors. When he got a letter from his wife asking about the family garden --- "Honey, when do I plant potatoes?" --- he wrote back, "Do not, under any circumstances, dig up our old garden spot. That's where I buried all my guns." Within days his wife wrote back, "Six investigators came to the house. They dug up every square inch of the back yard." By return mail she got his answer: "Now is the time to plant potatoes."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Things I Love About Spring -- A Photo Essay

This weekend, we finally had a sunny, warm day up here in Seattle, and all of a sudden, THINGS ARE HAPPENING! Buds are budding! Blooms are blooming! Rhododendrons are rhododendroning! I filled four buckets up with dandelions and only used the f-word three times while I was pulling them all out! You see, folks? Miracles CAN happen!

Also, in my first official "Growing Challenge" update, I finally got my mesclun salad mix into the ground this weekend as well. I'm not sure if the spot I chose for it will be too sunny or not sunny enough, but I guess I'll find out!

The main reason for this post, however, is that I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite things about spring in the Pacific Northwest. After you check out my list -- with photos taken using our fancy new camera, yay! -- be sure to share your OWN list of favorite spring things in the comments! (As you can probably tell from these photos, by the way, the clouds have rolled back in here in Seattle today. Darn!)

Daffodils in the front yard

Flowering quince beginning to flower!

Blueberry buds -- so exciting! (We just planted blueberries last year, so I was really excited to see them looking really good already!)

The red rhododendron just bloomed yesterday -- so pretty!

Ooh, and one of my all-time favorite things to see in my yard: the ferns before they've unfurled! So alien looking and so totally cool!

Pink dogwood buds -- hoping we get lots of blooms this year, as we've had a couple of years now where it hasn't really bloomed normally (dogwood post coming soon!).

And, of course, the most entertaining thing in the yard every spring: Spouses With Power Tools!