Monthly Archives: June 2009

Hip to Hypertufa

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend taking a Saturday morning class at The Garden Spot.  Many classes are free, offering information and inspiration.  My inspiration always seems to be attached to a receipt; I have trouble exhibiting restraint in that place!  In early March, I went to learn what hypertufa was all about.  First – what it’s not:  natural tufa is a slow naturally occurring process, causing limestone rock to become a porous and happy environment for plants.  Natural tufa was used for stone sinks and animal troughs in Great Britain, so I’ve read.  Hypertufa is intended as a substitute for natural tufa (now rare and expensive).  Hypertufa pots are lightweight in comparison to terra cotta and concrete and can withstand temperatures of -20 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s us, Whatcom County).  For $35 all supplies were included in the class fee.   I’m pleased to report that all of the ingredients are inexpensive and readily available.  I’ve seen many hypertufa recipes, but here’s how it shakes out: 

3 ingredient mix

3 ingredient mix

Hypertufa = 2 parts peat moss, 1 part Portland cement, 1 part sand

This ratio is the most important part of the process.  Use any size container to measure out the dry ingredients.  After that, it’s akin to childhood mud pie making. Armed with basic knowledge and newly acquired hands-on technique, I decided to make more.  I gathered my recipe ingredients on a late night trip to a big box store (to remain unnamed).  I managed to slide an entire 90 pound bag of Portland cement into the shopping cart all by my lonesome!  All pride was immediately squelched when I tried to dead lift my weighty purchase in the hatchback.  After many futile attempts I had to call Joel for a rescue.  Driving up to my aid, he said he saw smoke coming out of my ears.  Oh well, now I have a lifetime supply of Portland cement. 

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“Don’t agonize, organize.” ~ Florynce R. Kennedy

Nothing makes me crazier than when I can’t find something I KNOW I have.  This is the case of my ‘pantry’. OK, it’s really a closet we had the builder of our new home convert into what we can use as a pantry.  We ended up with one small wire shelf that was to really act as clothes hanger.  My hubs promised that he would build me custom shelves, but in the mean time we could use a dinky shelf unit we had in the garage.  My cans, pasta, grains, boxes piled up as I waited for those custom shelves. 

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Happy Father’s Day

Apart from ‘right plant, right place’ a gardener in the Whatcom Falls neighborhood offered me the sage advice ‘don’t baby it.’ Now I find myself repeating the phrase.  I gave the heirloom tomatoes I started from Territorial seed a 10% survival rating.  A bail of soil conditioner and an application of bone meal later  (channeling Grandpa) – look at my damn tomatoes! 
Tomato trellis a la Steve Solomon

Tomato trellis a la Steve Solomon

This training method comes from Steve Solomon’s Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades.  I bought this at Village Books with my used book credit.  (Village takes used books?!  Where have I been the last 9 years, this is the best deal ever!).  I bought this along with another biblical garden text, Eliot Coleman’s The New Organic Grower.  Steve Solomon started Territorial Seed Co and resides in Oregon – a great reason to buy Territorial.  Solomon can recommend seed varieties for our region – Sunset Region 4: Cold-Winter Areas of the North Coast and Mild-Winter Areas of Alaska and British Columbia. 

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Peas If You Please

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Joe’s Gardens English shelling peas.  Last week I stopped by and asked the farmer when his tender and sweet shelling peas would be ready for the picking.  He grumbled “It may be next Saturday… it MAY not…” 

Translation: patience.

This morning (yes, they were ready on Saturday), Joe’s handmade “Shelling Peas” sign beckoned me to get them while I can.  I filled a bag with the green pods as I tried to remember a recipe for a delicious pea soup with ginger and orange.

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Impromptu Mom + Son Hike

Sunday began with a bit of a promise of rain.  We definitely could use some and would like to turn off the garden hose.  I’m thinking about hunting for a couple great looking vessels that could be used as rain barrels for the garden patch.

The hubster was studying securities blah, blah, blah for work while son and I were looking for something to do.  Looking out the window we determined it would only be overcast – no rain, no excuses for staying indoors today. 

In the mood for shellfish and a trip to Taylor Shellfish Farm, I suggested that my son and I head to Larrabee and hike to Fragrance Lake. 

Winding our way down Chuckanut Drive through dense trees and ferns, we stopped to take photos of the islands jutting out of the water and touching the flat, grey sky. 

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