* probably premature planting

Posted on February 5th, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.


It’s been just gorgeous out this weekend, so I took advantage to pretend it’s spring and do some gardening.  The big additions to the garden this year are going to be fruit and flowers.  On the fruit side, I’m planning strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and a container tree of some variety (fig? meyer lemon?)

This weekend’s progress was planting 15 bare root everbearing Quinault strawberry plants in one of the raised beds, plus four blueberry bushes along the south side of the house.  This area previously had some other kind of unhappy bushes that we ripped out, then became my pumpkin patch last year.  The soil here is a terrible clay.  I planted a cover crop mix there in the fall, so we turned that under to add a little organic matter.  Then Mark dug a giant hole for each plant, which we filled in with peat to make it more acidic for the blueberries, plus mixed in compost to add organic material and drainage.

We must have looked pretty confused at the nursery because one of the employees stopped and offered advice.  We had just grabbed one of each dwarf-ish variety, since they will be going along a row of low windows.  With his help, we ended up putting back a couple of not-so-great varieties and coming home with two Sunshine Blue, one each Patriot and Legacy, plus some expert growing advice.  The set will make for a nice range of ripening times, and nice year-round foliage.  The Legacy and Patriot bushes are supposed to get up in the 5 foot range, so we tried to space them away from the windows.  Planting different varieties together also makes for better fruit, apparently.  It’s advice like this which makes going all the way out to Sky worth the trip.

I also planted another horseradish root in a big flowerpot on my deck.  Last year it never did anything, but I have a feeling that’s because it dried out before I planted it.  This one I planted right away so hopefully it will make it.

The seeds are all newly stocked in the stores now too.  I find that Fred Meyer always has the best deals on Ed Hume packets.  I took advantage of a 40% off sale and got dwarf jewel mix nasturtiums, Little Sweetheart dwarf sweet peas, snapdragons deluxe mix, a gourmet blend radish mix, rainbow blend carrots, and Parisian market carrots.  Sky has better selection, though, so I picked up a few things I can’t get at the Fred Meyer: a beet mix from Renee’s Garden, Swiss Chard Rainbow from Baker Creek, and a lovely Frosted Salmon Poppy, also from Baker Creek.  Then I had to run to the local Ace to get some compost while we were planting the blueberries, and they have an Irish Eyes seedrack.  From that I got a Gourmet Bush Bean Blend.  Can you see a trend here?  I looked back over my planting records as I was entering them into Folia, and realized that I frequently end up mixing varieties in the same patch anyway.  Might as well save myself a few bucks and buy the mixed seeds.

And can I just say that the Baker Creek seed envelopes are every bit as gorgeous as their catalog.



* lazy person meyer lemon and cara cara orange marmalade

Posted on January 31st, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.


For some reason I got the urge to make marmalade the other night, what with all the gorgeous citrus in the grocery store lately.  I got some fancy cara cara oranges and meyer lemons to use, and then opened up my canning books to find a recipe.  It was disappointing to see that marmalade looks hard!  And time-consuming (like, several days time-consuming)!  And annoying (supreming, ugh)!  All the instructions say your marmalade will be awful unless you do all these things, including extracting your own pectin from the seeds and membranes.

In despair, I looked at the box of commercial pectin, with the quickie recipe.  Surely, it wouldn’t be too bad, right?  I rationalized that my fancy ingredients would make up for it and decided to be lazy.

Licking the spoon, I think this will be totally passable.  It set up a little hard, but it’s nice and tart, not overly sweet like many of the bad reviews out there.  I still have a cup more of the prepared fruit+rind, so I’m going to add a grapefruit and some kumquats to it and make a second batch.  As soon as I go to the grocery store for more pectin, that is.

This is the first time I’ve gotten to use the pretty Weck jars my mom got me for my birthday.  They are so cute, and I found them just as easy to use as the normal canning jars.  Even better, Hardwick’s, my local hardware store, now carries Weck jars and accessories!  So now I have an easy source for extra rubber gaskets.  I also got some of the refrigerator storage caps.

Minor canning lesson of the day: I also filled a tall skinny Weck jar and the marmalade separated into a rind-y layer and a clearer layer during processing. Next time I think I will stick to the tulip jars or the squat molds.

Now to figure out a good way to label them…



* Northwest Garden Show

Posted on January 29th, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Links, Home and Garden.


I just got early bird discounted tickets to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.  I’ve never been to a garden show before, but it looks fun.

Here’s a funny Beginner’s Guide to the show.

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* January garden dreaming

Posted on January 18th, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.


Nothing like a snowy January day to make me want to page through my gardening catalogs and websites.

I’m trying myfolia this year.  It’s a sort of funny hybrid between social networking and garden tracking.  I even splurged and upgraded to a paid account because I kept encountering necessary features that are only available to “supporters.”  They have made it just usable enough with the free account that you use it enough to want to get the paid account, though.  I’m still adding my gardening history, but if you’re on there, I have a bunch seeds for trade if you’re interested (username maitreya).

Also trying Sproutrobot, which has a nice (free!) feature to email you when things need to be done.  However, it has a limited range of plants, and you can’t keep track of particular varieties and plantings like in myfolia.  The hand-drawn directions are really cute, though!

Gardenaut lets you put in a zip code and what plants you want to grow and outputs all the planting dates.  The main site seems out of commission, though.

The WSU Extension for King County has a ton of useful fact sheets.

Vegetable garden resolutions for the year:

  • successfully start and transfer some plants
  • build a cold frame (a not unrelated goal)
  • finish some compost
  • plant only things I want to eat
  • plant primarily things that are better to grow than to buy



* (back) cover girl

Posted on January 17th, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Crafty Review.


I ran across the book 100 Pretty Little Projects at the bookstore the other day and was pleased to see that my old potholder pattern made the cover!  The back cover, but, hey, I’ll take what I can get.



* watercolor scarf

Posted on January 16th, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Art.


Poppytalk posted this amazing letterpress handkerchief calendar by Mink Letterpress, and I was super sad to see they’re sold out (though the artist says she might do another run!  Fingers crossed.)  So I decided to rummage through my own collection of handkerchiefs and scarves to get inspired.

This Vera one looked pretty east to copy, so I got out my watercolors.  I’ve been wanting to paint something since I came across this post on easy watercolor techniques at Gardening Gone Wild.  She suggests tracing something to get a quick start.  The white bits on the scarf from the slight registration differences between layers follows another of her suggestions to use the white paper to advantage.

Anyway, it turned out pretty sloppy, but a fun way to spend an afternoon.

 

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* fabric-covered button hairpins

Posted on January 15th, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Sewing/Fabric Crafts.


When I was visiting home last month, my mom noticed some cute earrings and hairpins in a shop.  They were obviously made from fabric-covered buttons, so I thought I would try to make her some.  I had everything already: kits and hairpins, plus some small-print fabric scraps (these are from charm squares) and E6000 glue.

I’m always kind of astonished at how quick and easy these things are, with such nice results!



* 2012 calendar post

Posted on January 8th, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Art, Wants.


The annual calendar post.  Not as many as last year, possibly due to delaying until January to bother to get them.  I still haven’t found a new desktop calendar (I’m anxiously awaiting Geninne’s, though), so I’d appreciate any suggestions.

Lab: Rifle Paper Co. 2012 Botanical Calendar.  A splurge, but so pretty.

Craft room: Letterpress cross stitch calendar by Pistachio Press and Aesthetic Artwork.  Two great tastes that taste great together.

[Photos from the relative designers’ websites.]

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* crochet motif

Posted on January 7th, 2012 by maitreya. Filed under Crochet.


On vacation over the new year’s weekend, I tried this crochet circle-in-a-hexagon pattern from the book Crochet Adorned as a possible coaster design.  The idea being to make a few different color hexagons that you could arrange into a pattern on a table.  In this yarn, it’s a little too big, though, and maybe more appropriate as a trivet or plant pot pad.  It’s an interesting pattern where you crochet into the spaces between the stitches instead of like normal.  Gives it a little more heft and makes the rounds blend in a little more.

 

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* roast winter vegetables

Posted on December 25th, 2011 by maitreya. Filed under Home and Garden.


My garden gave me vegetables for Christmas. I harvested all of these today except for the delicata squash.

L to R: turnip, delicata squash, golden beet, carrots, beets, radishes, about to be tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted.

We’re eating the beet greens tonight, and I’m blanching and freezing the turnip greens to cook with black eyed peas and ham for New Year’s.



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craftlog is under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial license. That means that you are all welcome to take and repost my photos, replicate my projects, remix my ideas, whatever you want as long as you give attribution (a link is fine) and it's noncommercial. Thanks!