Saturated driveway and rainwater runoff

Rainwater Harvesting – Part 1

Rainwater is such a precious resource! How much do we get, where does it go, and how can we harvest it for later? In Part 1, I review the water cycle, calculate how many gallons we can get off our roofs, and look at different barrel, tank, and cistern options. 

Backyard-handstand

Garden Overwhelm, Equinox, & Finding Balance

If you are like me and some 19 million other people out there (or more), you might be experiencing Garden Overwhelm. This time of year when night equals day (more or less) is a good time to think about our own equilibrium. This post explores how to get back on track, and when all else fails, your dog just might have the answers. Happy Autumn Equinox!

Daffodils

Spring Blossoms Return! Yay!

Such a busy time of year! Sometimes, though, we need to set aside our To-Do lists and take a moment to breathe in the air of spring. Miracles all around us! I just wanted to share a few photos of some of the spectacular flowers blooming right now. SO gorgeous! So very much appreciated after the deep snows of this last winter! Take a quick look, and then go out in your own backyard and take a moment to wander and linger.

Willow Room needs haircut

The Winter Garden Site Assessment: Gaining Perspectives

Spring is almost here! Yay! But before spring clutters the garden with a bunch of leaves, take a winter garden site assessment to evaluate whether your garden is growing toward your goals. Winter allows us to see the bare bones of the garden – the skeletal infrastructure – and a site assessment at this time can give us new insights into what works and what doesn’t. Identify sectors, look at how growth over the past year may have changed conditions, think about priorities for the coming season. Hooray for spring!

Reflections and raindrops

2018 Highlights; 2019 Goals, Strategies, and New Beginnings

It is that time again to reflect over the year’s ups and downs, an exercise that has become cliché but that can still be quite helpful. It was a busy year! Here is a quick summary of what went down (or up, as the case may be) at Barbolian Fields, along with a few goals and strategies for the coming year. What will 2019 bring? What will we be able to do to make the world a better place? How will we help one another? How will we heal our planet? We can start by getting back to the garden.

Malabar Squash - King Size

Malabar Squash Hunt (Cucurbita ficifolia)

Malabar Gourd, Malabar Squash, Fig-Leaf Gourd, Pie Melon: There are many names for the Cucurbita ficifolia. No matter what you call it, this is one of the most amazing squashes EVER. Tremendously versatile – it can be used in soups, stews, goulashes, pies, puddings, beverages, and more! Every part of the plant is edible. The biomass is incredible! Join me on this Malabar Squash hunt and be prepared to be amazed!

Green frog on a grape leaf

Garden Chaos – The Rest of the Story

The rest of the story… the late summer garden has turned out nothing like what I envisioned in the spring, but in some respects, is so much more. It’s hard not to get discouraged when once again, I’ve truly lost the battle against grass, thistle, and bindweed. Garden chaos rules, but neatness and control are so overrated, are they not? Here were my “Ah ha!” moments.

Bee on hollyhock

The Return of the Bees and the Dreaded Dearth

The bees have returned! Yay! Here’s the whole story. And with them, responsibility. Do they have enough food? Nectar is suddenly scarce when the fruits are fruiting and the flowers are done blooming. The dreaded dearth can hit a hive harder than winter. What can you plant to ensure they make it through late summer? In this post, I list the main bee plants that we have growing right now, including the bees’ favorites.

Red Flowering Currant, Ribes sanguineum

April Garden Survey: To Do or NOT To Do…

It’s another drippy day in the Pacific Northwest. What to do … or not …  that is the question.

April is National Gardening Month. The blogs are full of To-Do Lists on what you should be doing if you had your act together (which is making this overachiever feel like a real slacker). What is truly feasible? How to find balance? Taking an April Garden Survey is a good procrastination technique. In this post, I explain my strategy for this year’s garden (and for minimizing my workload) and take a look around at what is up and blooming.

Indian Plum

On the Wings of March

Walk along a soaked garden path in early March and what do you see? Raindrops, birds, insects, and the world waking up. So amazing, it drove me to write poetry. Herein a poem for March, the wondrous transformations in a garden, and the miracles of spring. They’re everywhere. If we build it, they will come.

Solexx Harvester Greenhouse Kit attaches to building

Solexx Greenhouse Kit Sale!

Solexx Conservatory kit

The Solexx Conservatory kit is made for serious gardeners! Solexx Greenhouse kits are on sale through 4/15/18!

Adapt8, maker of Solexx greenhouses, is having a “tax refund” sale through April 15, 2018. As a Solexx Distributor, I’d like to pass the savings on to you. If you’ve been thinking about getting a greenhouse, now might be the time. In this post, I talk about how much I love ours and the pros & cons of the kit vs. the DIY route.

Willow Ball in Winterland

Goodbye, Winter

A gallery of winter scenes from the garden. Farewell, Winter. Tomorrow is Spring!

Autumn berries in September

Winter Berries: the Autumn Olive, aka Autumn Berry

Fresh fruit in late December! What a treat! Autumn Olive, aka autumn berry, Elaeagnus umbellata, is an amazing shrub. It is a nitrogen fixer, great for pollinators, and provides fruit when little else is available. The berries are high in lycopene and antioxidants and can be made into jams, syrups, elixirs, wines, fruit leather, tossed into baked goods, sprinkled on salads, or eaten fresh by the handful. I love this shrub. And the red berries beneath fresh snow are strikingly beautiful. But BEWARE – this plant can be invasive in some areas!

Turning the Corner into November

We turn the corner into November. It is amazing how much is still blooming and how many fruits are still available! Here is a quick autumn garden inventory. Lots of pictures of flowers, fruits, fall colors, and cute grandkids – plus an amazing bald-faced hornet’s nest that was revealed after the leaves had fallen!

Spring Equinox – a Discovery of Miracles!

It is, at long last, the Spring Equinox. I love this time of year when each new bud is a discovery.

Cornelian and Nanking cherries, forsythia, daffodils, nettles and purple deadnettles, the first dandelions…

The first buds of the new season are such an inspiration! Everywhere you turn is another miracle…another bit of magic.

This is a somewhat wandering philosophical post, but full of pictures and a quick read.

Spring Garlic Woes

Are your garlic plants looking a little yellow? Will a cold, damp spring bring molds? What can you do if there are problems? What are the signs to look for? Let’s weigh our options and figure out the best ways to prevent diseases.

Mysterious Plant

Case in point: for those of you who read my last blogpost all the way to the end (ahm…it’s ok if you didn’t get that far; unlike so many things in life, you can always go back), I was waxing philosophically about how wonderful it is to stumble across a new Read more…

Cracking the Seed Germination Code

To get your seeds to germinate, you might have to “think like a seed.” Many folks in the Pacific Northwest are starting seeds indoors this month for transplanting later, but some seeds germinate better with a period of cold or fluctuating cold/thaw cycles. They might be better planted directly in cold ground.

Crocus, Frogs, and Bees! Oh My!

LOVE the “firsts” that happen in January! First crocus, alder catkins, croaking frogs! This warm weather has brought out the bees, and they are returning with pollen! And look! The garlic shoots are up! Farewell January. Bring on Spring!

willow winter

Fruits of December

Why isn’t the Winter Solstice the beginning of the New Year? Where are the birds & the bees? How many different fruits can we find in the garden in mid-December? Pondering these questions and more…and wishing everyone a season of light and hope!

Caterpillar Slaughter

I have squished them with my bare hands, blasted the nests open with a power hose, sprayed them with vinegar, burned them alive with a blow torch, and for those that survived all that, drowned them in soapy water. Yes, we are talking about tent caterpillars. Fair warning: this post is not for the faint of heart!

Early Spring Blooms to Welcome the Bees

Do you keep a record of what is bloom throughout the year? Since we started keeping bees, I have become much more aware of what is blooming when – particularly during those months on either end of the warm season, when the weather is unsettled and food for them can be scarce. Here is my current list.

Seed Order 2014

“By now you should have a pretty good idea what you will be growing and where…” That’s a quote from Erica over at NW Edible Life. If you are not quite this together, take heart. Here’s a post about narrowing the seed decision. Or not.

Favorite Garden Photos of 2013

The problem with getting a new camera for Christmas in 2012 was trying to sort through over 1000 garden photos! I see I am attracted to symmetry, contrast, and bees! Here are a few of my favorite shots, that STILL can’t begin to capture the beauty and perfection of Mother Nature!

November Blooms

It is past the middle of November, temperatures are dipping into the 20s, and yet – oh my! – so many blooms in the garden! The bees, when they venture out, are particularly grateful. An I, too, appreciate them all that much more now!