Friday, March 12, 2010


                                          Mrs. Rose Burns photo by Stew Sowers

Chickens have been on my mind for some years now. It is not quite an obsession, but if it were, it's origins could be traced back to Christmas time some years ago. I found this wonderful calendar at Orca books in Olympia that featured beautifully taken photographs of chickens, it was aptly called, Extraordinary Chickens. I bought it with the intention of giving it away, but never did. After 12 months of viewing chickens I had grown a large appreciation.

                                           Tin Can   photo by Stew Sowers

Stew, Katy and I have been talking about chickens since we moved into the house, seeing that the yard had ample room for them and knowing that our little house would be well complimented with a chicken sized miniature in it's back. Jen, a good friend and old coworker of Stew's is managing a farm this season out on Vasion and had said she  would have some extra chicks.  So this last Monday Stew and I took a day trip out there to pick them up.

                                            Penelope   photo by Stew Sowers

The drive out  was really nice in spite of the strange weather, it snowed, rained and then cleared up. The pacific Crest farm is on Maury island, at the West hip of Vasion. It is owed by the Pacific Crest Montessori school in Ballard and is lovely as can be. We got to spend a little time visiting with Jen and her fiance Bob, who are living on the farm, then we picked out some chicks. We decided on five, packed them up and headed back to the ferry.

                                            Chips   photo by Stew Sowers

The chicks did very well on the ride home, they are like any other babies really. They are awake for a short time while they eat and poop, then they cuddle up and fall asleep. While we waited for the ferry, stew and I took turns talking and playing with the chicks and started to see some of their individual personalities come out. When they arrived at home, they were given a cozy little box in the basement with a light, food and water. They seem to be pretty happy so far.

                                           Bobbi Chicken    photo by Stew Sowers

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March Starting

It's March and it is beautiful! We have been not so patiently waiting for the forecasted last frost (March 23) and doing everything we could think of besides putting seeds in the ground.  Seeding flats in the basement under lights and finishing the amendment of the garden soil.

The garden has received a bit of beautification in the past couple weeks. The compost turned in and the paths are being lined with brick that was found under the deck. The fire pit has a cozy log round to sit on brought home by Katy, who has also acquired a couple rhubarb plants, some flower seed, a few potted herbs and some raspberry plants (yah!).

                                          photo by Stew Sowers

We have a very large basement with a stage in the back that Stew has equipped with a table, made from a door. This set up was concocted for use as an art studio this winter while he was working on his Alaska farm photo encostic pieces. If you have yet to see these wonderful pieces of art you are missing out, they are beautiful. Currently the table is outfitted with four foot grow lights suspended above it for starting flats of vegetables. The flats are about 12 inches by 20 inches with perforated holes in the bottom. You can either fill the flat itself with seeding soil or insert cell packs of four or six which neatly divide the plants for you. The seeds are planted into the soil and kept moist till they germinate which looks like a tiny plant emerging from the soil. We have been keeping the flats on top of our refrigerator for this part and then taking them to the basement once they've sprouted.

                                  Flats under lights  photo by Stew Sowers

                                                      Baby Broccoli  photo by Stew Sowers

 Our first round of seeding produced us a flats worth of chamomile and borage among other things. The chamomile I will harvest for tea and the borage is useful for repelling bugs we don't want on our other plants. Borage is also used medicinally, it is very nutritious, but I prefer to just look at it and eat it's tiny purple flowers that taste like melon. Both these plants will be adorning our front yard beds along with some hollyhock, strawflowers, lupin and nastursium. The colors are going to be wonderful for our plain little house.

                                                        Borage and Chamomile photo by Stew Sowers

 As I was saying before, we are people of little patience and this warm weather has made us bold (hopefully not regrettably so). A few days ago we gave into our urges and put our first plants into the garden. They include kale, broccoli, lettuce, and shallots. We also direct seeded radishes, broccoli raab (or brocolini) and some onion sets. A few days in the ground and they are looking great, hardy and perky.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Let's Set the Scene

Although I would like this blog to be predominately about our garden, I feel that it is only right to put the thing into context. It's context being that it is a part of our lives, in this house which is at 530 N 68th st. The house has a history independent of the one we are currently imposing on it, having to do with it's being build in 1903 by a man who sold beer for a living. It is an old house with all of the quirks and comforts that age brings upon both living and non-living things. It is drafty and creaky. Arguably too small in some places and too big in others. The east side of the house is slowly recommitting itself to the earth which gives it a gentle curve mostly noticeable upon first entering the living room.
Stew, Katy and I share the space with two strange little cats named Monster and B cat.
Myself, Stew, Katy, B cat and Monster are all very interesting, but the real jewel of this house resides not inside, but behind it's narrow frame. The not so humble, recently dug 400sq ft garden. As we found it, the garden was approximately 15 by 8ft residing on the dryer side of the lawn. With hours of man power from Stew, Katy and our big brother Colin, it has since been lengthened by 20ft and widened, mostly on the back end, by another 8ft. A little compost on the top and she is ripe and ready to go with another 4weeks left till last frost. The excitement is building,  the starts in the basement are straining and stretching under their grow lights and my freshly reorganized seed box appears to be scattered about already. But all of this for latter.