Broccoli florets

The end of May (at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend) means some new vegetables are starting to bloom.  In this case: broccoli.  They’re basically flowers.  So I cannot wait until I get to stir up a flower salad.


First Cauliflower of the Year

I’m going to have to wait to eat it, but it’s so reassuring that it’s there.  As a side note: I ate the first celery in my garden today.

Finally blossoms

Finally, after what seems to be like an eternity of waiting, our trees bloom.  All the other cherry trees in the Seattle area have already blossomed and gone.  Ours are just starting.  The Japanese cherry blossom, named “Pearl” since we planted it on Pearl Harbor Day, is getting some pink flowers.  And so is our other tree.  Magnolia?  I don’t know, it came with the house.

Resistance is fertile: compost or die


Did you know that if you live in Seattle, you are required by city ordinance to compost? It’s true.  Whether you’re a commercial or  residential entity, you have to separate compost from the waste and recyclables.

You can compost for your garden, too.  Back when I was a kid, my dad had a big pile of dead leaves, grass clippings, and dead plants behind our garage, and we’d use that as plant food for the next spring.  If you’re planning on doing garden compost, though, here are a couple of tips.EditEdit

  • Mind the smell.  If you’re not using a composting barrel, keep the pile away from neighbors.  Our pile actually faced a protected wetland.
  • Don’t put too much grass clippings, as it will suffocate the process.
  • Also be careful of invasive weed species, which can sometimes survive and grow in the pile.
  • You want moisture, so the best place to put the pile is in the shade.  I have heard that under a deciduous tree is the best.  You’re there to rake the leaves up without much effort, and the branches shade it in the summer months.

I’m not sure if I’ll be doing a compost pile, as there’s no area where it won’t bother the neighbors.  The compost drum system maybe?  In any case, we do have a 2.6 gallon composting can in our kitchen now, where I’m throwing in my orange rinds, banana peels, and other compostable foodstuffs.

Respect knucks for the dandelion

Dandelions are weeds, but from their point of view it is the lawns that are interlopers.  After all, which one is more natural to its environment?  Which one is built to last?  Dandelions are the natives of the landscape, and they will not be so easily uprooted. 

 The rolled out carpet lawn at our house is already mushy and patchy due to the heavy rainstorms.  Footprints from months ago are still visible as muddy vestiges.  

The dandelion, though?  No probs.  Anywhere that seed lands it grows easily.  And so hardy!  Grass roots are so fragile.  Dandelion roots though?  They are an amazing marvel of engineering.  One long root drilling deep into the ground with smaller roots providing anchors.  The roots are five times longer than the above ground portion.  On one I noticed that the end curled up a bit, forming a sort of hook.  It’s also not so thick as to attract hungry animals.  It’s said that even a little bit of root will let the dandelion grow anew, which is an admirable survival trait.

Then you have the prickly leaves, which can be painful if you try to pull these out without gloves.  Everything about this plant is designed to withstand hungry critters and terrible weather.  The only unprotected part is the flowers, and they need to be that way for ease of reproduction.  Dandelions multiply like crazy for a reason.

I don’t think they look particularly terrible either… but I also know lawn protocol, and little patches of yellow cannot be tolerated. So off these fellows go into my bucket.

However… I will say I did keep a small patch of dandelions growing in a round patch of pebbles.  I think they look great there.  (You can see a portion of it in the first picture.)

Red, yellow and pink 

This particular bed was supposed to have purple, too.  Unfortunately the crocuses located between the daffodils and the hyacinths bloomed early and would not be joining the rest of the palette.  The red tulips finally bloomed, though.  Some of the daffodil blossoms are already going away.  I’m not entirely sure if I should redo this flower bed when summer comes.

Chinese steamed buns

It’s spring, which means tulips.  I had a bunch of early bloomers already.  However, I am loving this second set.  The soil underneath seems especially rich, and the color combo is lovely.  I call these “Chinese steamed buns” … since they look like something you might order at a dim sum.

Blackberries and raspberries: monsters of the Northwest

Turn to your left. Turn to your right.  Now look behind you.  Chances are you will run into a blackberry bush… if you live in the Pacific Northwest at least.  Blackberries are not native to the region.  We can blame their growth on Victory Gardens everyone was encouraged to grow during the world wars.

Blackberries were a popular crop.  However, they managed to escape to the Northwest. The problem: blackberries grow really well in the Northwest, and there’s nothing to stop them.  Hence, you will see these everywhere: choking the life out of native plants and multiplying like no one is watching.  

Good thing the berries are so tasty.

It’s not just blackberries, either.  Raspberries aren’t quite as invasive, but they still grow crazily if unchecked.  Honestly, they should tell you this upfront since they have no problem selling you the “dead sticks” to grow your own raspberry bush at the Home Depot.

If you plan on growing either, your best bet is to grow them in their own separate container.  Once the root system takes hold, it will be difficult to take the plant out of the ground.  The roots grow deep, and any small piece means that you’ve probably got a new raspberry or blackberry bush in the near future… waiting, biding their sweet little time to strike back at a world that cannot fight back.