Edible Gardens


b.story 12.04.26 Patience Tulip Magnolia

They tell me that with patience comes rewards.  Be they to your spirit, your treasure or your community.  Or to your garden.  However, I don’t tend to be the patient sort.  When I work I want to see progress made.  If it’s not immediate then I would like it to be at least incremental.  At the end of the day I like to have something to point to so I can say “I did that.”  It’s one of the reasons I went into the design profession.  It’s one of the reasons I love to cook.  And it’s one of the reasons that I tend to purchase plant starts rather than seeds for my vegetable garden (that and the extremely small size of said vegetable garden!) 

 As March draws near I begin to itch to start my Spring planting.  I have been thinking of the things I’d like to change and the new things I’d like to try since putting away the Christmas decorations.  Last year was my first year to plant seeds for my spring vegetables.  Carrotsradishesscallions and sugar snap peas were all planted as seeds, the old fashioned way. Their reasonable success (I wasn’t a big fan of the carrot variety I planted and so rather than Bolero Nantes Carrots, this year I will try planting King Midas Carrots) gave me the inspiration and confidence to try again.  According to our frost date I should be able plant the most tolerant of these in early March and the rest mid-March.  But, this year, Mother Nature had other plans.  March rained and rained and rained and rained.  My self-pity was rewarded with the declaration that the month was the wettest March Portland has EVER seen.  The sky was grey, the ground was sopping and the air was a bone chilling cold.  I looked out my window impatiently longing to get muddy in my garden.   

Finally, March ended and April dawned.  The new month brought with it, not only blue sky but a warm sun.  It was such a fabulous change!  The first thing I did was rush out, clean out my sunniest bed and plant the first round of spring seeds.  I feared how long it would be before I could pull my tender seedlings for fresh Spring salads.  Last year, after eagerly planting my seeds as early as I possibly could, their growth was slow.  It seemed to take twice as long for the prescribed growth to occur.  Last year I watched my vegetable beds impatiently from my kitchen window, wondering why it was taking so very, very long for anything to happen.  But this year, growth was immediate and fruitful.  It seemed as though the first shoots nearly burst from the ground.  Perhaps there is something to this patience thing.  Perhaps, waiting for optimal growing conditions means not only that the ground is warmer, the spring rains are gentler and the sunny days are longer but that patience is amply rewarded. 

Enticingly tender you see my baby radish sprouts in the foreground and a few carrot sprouts behind.  In the background you see my overwintered arugula… I received many winter salad cuttings and have now let them flower, which I find to be equally pretty (and tasty)!






And remember those buds I wrote about a couple weeks ago?  Feeding the promise and eager anticipation of spring and sunnier days.  Well, during my walks I’ve noticed that patience has again triumphed and we are rewarded with a patchwork of magnificent blooms.

Magnolia stellata – Star Magnolia
I incorrectly labeled this little tree a Tulip Tree.  However,  now I believe it to be a Star Magnolia.  With delicate white petals and a smaller size this tree makes an excellent Spring focal point for a small yard.  It will grow to a height and spread of about 12 ft and its multiple trunks will create a lovely screen for the urban yard.  The pussy-willow-like buds will open to a delicate flower in March or April for about six weeks.  They will do well in anything from full sun to heavy shade and do best in climate zones 4-8.

Magnolia soulangeana – Saucer Magnolia or Tulip Tree
Here are the blooms of the Tulip Tree… truly extraordinary.



Camellia japonica – Japanese Camellia
The blooms of a Camellia are truly magnificent and boisterous for any Spring Garden.



Helleborus orientalis – Lenten Rose
The nodding bloom of the Lenten Rose requires closer attention and draws the passerby in. 


I Love Blueberries!

b.vegfruit 11.08.12 blueberries
As I have said before, each summer I look forward to loading up our baskets and heading to a nearby farm to do a bit of berry picking.  My son will eat them as fast as he can pick them off the bush.  My daughter, on the other hand, has never liked any sort of berry and so…

Picking and Preserving the Harvest

b.vegfruit 11.07.22 raspberries
My kids and I have very different styles when it comes to berry picking.  My daughter is efficient and thorough, from her sitting position.  I try to pick as fast as possible, knowing that time out in the berry field with my children is limited.  And my son puts each and every berry he pulls from the vine…

It was a Feast

b.vegfruit 11.07.08 strawberry shortcake
Last week our farmer’s market was overflowing with strawberries.  Quite literally overflowing.  And yes, like the rest of the produce in the Pacific NW, the abundance was a couple weeks late.  But that’s ok… it only delayed, it did not dampen my enjoyment.     The strawberries in my yard are only mildly productive and…

The Summer my Father was Ten

b.story 11.07.01 Summer Father Ten
Things are moving along at a gentle hum.  The summer herbs and vegetables have been planted.  The spring vegetables are providing us with lots of tasty treats for the dinner table.  My job right now is to weed and water and make sure my little plants are happy.  I feel like I can take a…

The Season for Sauce

b.story 11.06.17 chimichurri sauce
Grilling season is finally upon us!  The days of light and easy meals, where the only heat applied might be the outdoor grill.  I love eating outdoors and serving up simple grilled meats with side dishes that express the bounty of the summer season.  Right now my plate is full of greens and radishes, spring…

Summer Vegetables

b.story 11.06.03 plant store
Are you tired of hearing me complain about the cold and the rain?  Me too!  Memorial Day weekend marks the time when Oregonians can get summer vegetable seedlings into the ground and I start dreaming about Caprese Salad, Zucchini Gratin, and Nicoise Salad.  I begin to look forward to long, leisurely suppers served outdoors, surrounded…

Things are coming up Green at the Farmer’s market

b.vegfruit 11.03.04 11.05.18 arugula
It is mid-May and my little vegetable garden has been trying to grow for two months now.  Talk about a slow start… our cold, wet winter has turned into a cold, wet spring.  But the temperature is starting to rise, the sun is starting to make its appearance (as brief as it might seem), and…

Green Shoots

b.vegfruit 11.04.08 Scallions
Upon arriving home from a week away, one of the first questions out of my son’s mouth was, ‘how are our seeds, Mommy? I wonder if our seeds are grown!’ You can imagine the delight when we marched outside to witness the smallest of green shoots stretching out of the dark earth. These first tender…

The Planting Season has Begun – Sugar Snap Peas

b.vegfruit 11.03.18 snap peas planting
It is with great satisfaction that I can report that the spring planting season has officially begun!!  Our spring in the Pacific NW has been filled with snow and rain.  In between work deadlines and the kids’ social schedules it has been difficult to find the time to get outside.  My son and I have…