Monday, July 30, 2012

Garden Report 7/30/12

Here are the results of my double digging this far.  You can see the difference double digging makes.  The bed on the left has been double dug twice now and has fewer clumps and also holds water much better, as indicated by its darker color.  The one on the right has been double dug for the first time and is clumpy heaven.
You clods of dirt will be gone the next time I dig you.
A closeup of the twice-dug bed.
This bed has been double dug several times and is easy, comparatively.  I've spread compost over the bed before digging.
In total, I spent 1 hour and 20 minutes double digging today.  I've only completed 1/3/ of this long bed, but I shall persist.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Garden Report Week Ending 7/28/12

11 minutes hoeing of potatoes, which look quite nice.  Then I needed to take a break to feed the cats.

16 minutes double digging the bed I didn't finish before.  It is still not finished.
~20 minutes of watering and putting away tools.  My notes indicate that I was grumpy probably because that first time double digging is the opposite of fun, or it may be that I was annoyed I didn't even get in an hour of work toward my four hours this week.  And herein lies the problem of the garden, or rather the gardener.

Total time put in the garden this week:  47/60 (or 47 minutes.)

Foam Run.

Matt tried out the Foam Run and I went along as the athletic supporter.  Pictures from the day:

Some fun socks.
Amidst all the foam fun, a reminder that the average age of entry into prostitution is 12-14 years old.  I wasn't a fan of the money grubbing tactics of the Spartan Race, but I would prefer their blatant grab for cash to incredibly lame "charity" tie-ins.
Checking out the starting gate.
Checking out the foam finish.
Checking out Matt's level of clean.
Doing some pull-ups before the race began.
Thanks to hard work and the presence of a pull-up bar in the house, Matt can really crank them out.
Waving from the start, surrounded by costumed ladies.
Matt checks out the competition.
And they are off.
So the thing about the Foam Run?  There are lines.  This is the line to slide down the foam slide at the end.
Matt climbs over the rope ladder.
Finished with all but the slide.
Ear check.
I enjoyed the sentiment of this shirt.
How many practice photos does it take to capture Matt mid-flight?

Apparently, more than 16.
Matt stops for a photo with the pimp.
Chatting with another "foam-er"
 Matt reports that the slides were fun, even though he crashed into someone at the bottom.  On the second slide he did exactly what they told him and wrenched his shoulder in the process.  Therefore, he will not be participating next year as he believes it to be unsafe.

Friday, July 27, 2012


There's nothing like certificates arriving in the mail to affirm that you are a CADC II (Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II) and a NCC (National Certified Counselor).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

OPS Fest's Romeo & Juliet

We revisit the Original Practice Shakespeare Festival, last seen at Cathedral Park.  This time, we saw The Tragedie of Romeo & Juliet performed at Post5 Theater, which is found in the courtyard of Milepost 5, which is a creative community in SE Portland.

The courtyard provided a great stage, and the players used the surrounding building.  Here, Michael Streeter as Capulet peers out the window before the show begins.
We had some preshow singing and playing.
Romeo was played by Joel Patrick Durham and Shawna Nordman played Benvolio.
Gary Strong stole the show as the Nurse, playing her with a steely southern charm.
Romeo during the balcony scene.
Noah Goldberg was the prompter, thrilled that he got to climb onto his post.
Kaia Hillier played Juliet, here leaning out of a Milepost 5 window for the famous balcony scene.
As before, the improv nature of the performance made for a great evening of theater. 

Southwest Sunday Parkways.

Portland's Sunday Parkways (where a loop of roads are partially or totally closed to car traffic and the bikes and the walkers come out to enjoy the roads) is in Southwest Portland for the first time.  Matt and I rode from our house in North Portland, stopped at church/Sand in the City and then joined up for a ride.

Headed up Terwilliger, traffic free!
Stopping for a banana and a self portrait.
In Gabriel Park, Matt did some Zumba.
By Maplewood School we stopped for a magic show.  Brian Proctor, the magician putting on the show, was quite good.  He balanced the know-it-all of the kids ("You know, I can hear everything you are saying," he said in response to the running commentary by an eight-year-old: "I know what he's going to do next, he's going to join all the  ropes into one."  The kid shut up and was amazed at what happened next) with jokes for the adults, ("Here's a magic marker," he sniffs it, "I think I know why they call it magic.")

At one point, he asked if anyone had a dollar and, the audience being primarily children, no one did.  I grabbed one and handed it over.  Brian had me write my name on the dollar in sharpie, "Your first felony?" he asked as I was doing it, and then took the dollar from me.  The dollar swiftly changed into a Zambian bill which he gave back to me.  Holding the Zambian bill, we watched as red sponge balls and limes disappeared and appeared in a variety of cups.  For his finale, he carefully cut open an lime and there was my dollar inside the lime.  We were all--adults and children--amazed.
So I can recommend Brian Proctor for any of your magic needs.  And if you have no magic needs, then perhaps you can invent some.

At this point, the camera battery died, so there are not more pictures of Sunday Parkways.  Overall, I thought it was a good course.  There were some tight spaces (I wasn't a fan of the two-way bike traffic in a single lane along SW Vermont,) but I was a fan of all the hills.  They kept me busy through the ride.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Four Hours. Pooped out.

My plans today were to double dig all three beds in Emilia's Yard.  They did not come to pass.  Here's why.

45 minutes harvest 1 bin compost.  Got 2 wheelbarrows full.  Before I could double dig, I needed to spread compost on the beds.  But that meant getting my hands on compost which meant emptying another bin.  I did it.

28 minutes double dig 1/2 bed.  I think double digging is very important to having  a successful garden, especially if you have poor soil.  That said, double digging is HARD the first time or two.  Somewhere on the Internet is a video of two people at Ecology Action explaining how to double dig a bed.  They go on and on about how if you have the proper technique it's not very tiring.  Then they demonstrate how easy it is by double digging an already established bed!  I'm guessing that people who are needing to learn how to double dig do not already have established beds.  Instead, their shovels are cutting into dirt like mine:  heavy clay soil that you have to heave about in huge clumps.  It is incredibly dispiriting and exhausting.  I do it because I've seen the improvement in the soil, but that doesn't make it easy.  

Today, I didn't get to the garden until the afternoon sun was beating down on the part I needed to double dig.  I was hot and sweaty and tired from yesterday's marathon session.  Plus the kitty-corner neighbors were hanging out in their yard conversing and using the n-word every minute or so.  This caused much wincing on my part.  I told myself I could get through, if not all three beds, at least the smaller two here.  Then that got revised to, "Perhaps just one,"  and then "Screw it, half is good enough for today."

A picture of my results with the digging board covering what I had actually accomplished:

25 minutes water. The Grow Biointensive method prescribes hand watering.  On the one had yes, you can better control your water distribution than with sprinklers.  On the other hand, it means watering every day.  When I had the one garden bed on the left side of the yard it wasn't a big deal: drag out the hose, water, sometimes leave the hose there, sometimes put away.  But now I have three different yards to water and they all are from the same hose which involves a lot of walking back and forth and switching things on and off.  I'm working on that, but sometimes I just use the soaker hoses or sprinklers.  Today, being so hot and grumpy, hand watering was rather pleasant, though you can see how long it takes.

5 minutes put things away, clean tools.  I did a good job cleaning my tools this week.  Even the rake got scrubbed down.

Total: 1 hour 43 minutes.
Total for week: 4 hours, 53 minutes. I met my work goal this week.  It seems like I didn't really accomplish anything, but I'm trying to think of it as this work is laying the groundwork for successful gardening eventually.

Friday, July 20, 2012

First Four Hours. Much Accomplished.

Here's my first report of my four hours in the garden.

13 minutes hoe potatoes. "The potatoes don't look like they have very many weeds," I said to myself, "Maybe I can skip that this week."  But my better conscious said, "NO." Because my better conscious knows those are the thoughts that have lead me to overwhelm in the garden.  If I skip this week, it will be that much harder next week.  So off I went to hoe.

1 hour 15 minutes move compost bin.  This was a project of major blockage because it involves multiple steps and they all have seemed too overwhelming.  I need to move this black compost bin (with weeds on top) over to the side of the house.
But first I must move this pile of brush somewhere.
Then, the solar dryer can move to where the compost bin was, moving it out of my main view of the garden, and I can sink the second compost digester (when I get the holes drilled in it) into the ground.
First I moved the brush to Emilia's yard under the lilac bush.  Then I pulled out the bin from the old location and harvested the compost.  It was quite good compost.
That compost was spread in the front bed to support the hardy kiwi, currants and chives.
Now the solar dryer fits snugly in this corner.
The digester will be planted in front, leaving me room to maneuver the solar dryer around it.  One overwhelming task completed!
45 minutes empty and sift one compost bin, shuffling the extra off to new bin.  Harvested two wheelbarrows full of compost. Once I set in the new bin, I emptied the bin nearest it into my compost sifter and then poured the not yet fully composted bits into the new bin.  The compost was spread on the long bed in Emilia's yard, preparing for me to double dig it.
45 minutes weed two beds.  These two beds could be growing some carbon crops for compost.  But first I must weed before I can double dig.
I used the fork to loosen the soil and then pulled out all the weeds by hand.

Et voila!  Two weeded beds.  It's hard to tell from this picture where the beds begin and end, but I can tell in real life.
Here's a picture of the nasturtium, peas and asparagus bed.
I make compost using a "cold compost" method--the pile never really heats up.  This means that any seeds in the mix are most likely still viable.  Let me tell you, tomato seeds love to grow.  This is my strawberry bed, but that plant taking up the left hand side of the photo is a sneaky little tomato that has popped up.  If I could get them to do this in May, I could transplant them and harvest free tomatoes.  But they spring up in July, too late to produce anything.  So I pull them and return them to the compost bin.

4 minutes harvest peas.  My pea harvest has mostly been a bust.  I didn't water them at a critical stage and many of them stopped producing.  Still, here is a smattering.

8 minutes put things away, clean tools.  When I'm good, I brush off all my tools with a wire brush and then dip the tools in the sand/oil box I have in the shed to keep them in good working condition. I did this today.

Total time today:  three hours, ten minutes.  Good work.