Category: plants

I’ve almost finished my rain garden! Tuesday and Wednesday were days I had off, so I spent all of Tuesday hauling compost. I brought in 3 pickup trucks full that day (I borrowed my uncles truck), which means a total of 4 have been brought into my garden. Everyone assures me that there’s no way the pickup truck is a full yard, but I had the office woman at the compost facility come out and look at it and she assured me it was. Anyway! Here are some pictures of the rain garden so far!

I really really like it! And it’s actually been really cheap so far. Here’s a little list to give an idea of what this project involved.

Plants: $5. I only bought one plant for this garden specifically, almost everything else was relocated from around my garden. Some plants (a couple of red flowering currants, a sedge and a bunching grass, some sea holly, and a plant called serasiformis) were collected from/donated by the garden where I intern. 

Compost: 3 yards. Cost: $90.

Rocks: Large rocks were donated by my grandpa and transported by my cousins. All small rocks were collected from the excavation site.

Decorative branches: donated by my aunt

Use of uncles truck: $73 in gas (I didn’t use that much gas to haul compost, but that’s what it cost to fill his tank since it was almost empty when I got it). $5 carwash.

Time: honestly I haven’t been keeping track of the hours very much simply because I was working on this every spare minute that I had. I would guess that I spent probably 100 hours on this so far. Digging up the lawn took several days, and getting the dirt out took a couple of weeks. I spent all of tuesday working on it, and several hours on wednesday.

Total cost? $173. 100 hours of work.

All that I have left to do is cover the raised edges with wood chips and fill in the shallow area with the pebbles I collected from the excavation. I was reading through my rain garden book and it said that rain garden soil has sand in it, so I might mix in a little bit of the old dirt that I have still. It’ll help get rid of it and improve drainage. I think I missed that page on my first read through, haha.

Oh, and here’s a list of the plants I used, incase you’re interested.

Mock orange, lady fern, red osier dogwood, red flowering currant, several varieties of sedges, a bunching variety of grass I don’t know the name of, oregon iris, costal strawberries, common camas, salal, hardy fuscia, sea holly, and a small flowering bulb I believe is called morning star.

The majority of these plants are native and will provide food and shelter for dozens of species of birds and insects. I’m hoping the increased shady “wetland” will also encourage frogs. I don’t really expect to see those until I get a pond set up, but that’s a different project that might have to wait for a year or two. 

I’ll post more pictures once the project is completely finished!

Oh and here’s a picture of Buttercup impatiently waiting for me to finish my breakfast this morning.

That picture also shows our newly refurbished couch! The darker purple on the arm is the real color of the couch, with the lighter stuff just being some sheets we through on it to protect it while we get a real slip cover. My mom really likes the color purple. We currently have a purple house, a purple couch, purple drapes, and purple asparagus, purple brussels sprouts, and several variety of purple flowers growing in the garden. My mom also has purple nails at the moment, haha,


A Rain Garden!

After years of talking about it, I finally have started installing a rain garden! When it rains for any period of time at my house the water from the down spouts runs into my lawn and pools there for an hour or two. The dogs get muddy and the lawn erodes. Its gone down about an inch a year since we’ve moved in, and there’s almost no grass in certain spots because my dogs are constantly running on it. This rain garden is designed to help capture anywhere from 80-95% of the rain water coming off of my patio cover (1/3 of the rain water that’s been going into my lawn) and filter it/ slow it down so that it goes back into the earth instead of running out into the street. Rain gardens take native, water loving plants, and utilize their ability to grow in wet conditions to help reduce water run off and erosion. They tend to be around 100 sq feet, but can be larger or smaller depending on the area you’re working with. Generally the larger they are the better they’ll filter the water out.
Here are some pictures of what I did on the 4th of July yesterday!

I did most of the digging a week or two in advance, but the compost was hauled in yesterday because yesterday was the only day I had off/time to do it. I’ve only hauled in about 3/4 of a yard, but I’ll need another yard and a half before I’m finished. The trench that you see in the middle of the dirt is where water will pool/flow, and the raised edges allow the water level to raise up about 4 inches before it overflows into the lawn. There will be a larger ponding area in the wide side of the garden, and I’ll be hauling a 6 ft mock orange tree over from the other side of the yard. It will provide shade and its larger roots will help filter the water as it soaks deeper into the ground.
Other plants in the garden include several species of fern, iris, strawberries, sedges, bleeding hearts, common camas, lily of the valley, and either an oregon grape or a nine bark.
If you’re interested in learning more about rain gardens I highly advise you look into them! Here’s a link to a local project to increase the number of rain gardens in my watershed!

The summer has been going really well so far. I love interning at the garden. Sid and I have become good friends, and I love getting to talk to all sorts of new people on a daily basis. My social anxiety doesn’t seem to effect me very much when I’m working, which is a blessing. Saturdays I’m in the garden from 8-2, and I talk to well over a hundred people during that time. Falaah, the garden coordinator (and the only person paid to be there), lets me bring my beekeeping stuff on saturdays and have my own table to talk to people. I explain the inner workings of the hive to anyone who’s interested, and try to encourage people to plant more flowers for pollinators. I showed off for some kids once and pet a bumblebee, since their mom told me that their dad has been teaching the kids that all insects are bad, and sprays them with pesticide while they’re on his plants regularly. They liked the bumblebee demonstration a lot, and apparently have asked to come and see me specifically more than once.

Right now we’re doing a summer camp for kids ages 3-5 on Wednesday mornings. I’m in charge of the “Nature Play” area, and have the kids play in a teepee we made using bamboo sticks and tarp. They get to play with pine cones and dig in the dirt to find millepedes, ants and worms. Yesterday we also had a group of 25 kids ages 5-10 after the summer camp. It was fun but exhausting. Sid and I stayed for the normal 5-8 volunteer session as well, so he and I worked 11 hours yesterday. It was draining but fun. During the normal work party time he and I collected branches from the woods behind the barn and all but finished the hugelkultur we’re trying to make. Its basically wood that’s half buried under the ground, and then greens and compost are mounded on top of that to make a raised bed about 5 feet tall. See here for a full explanation of a hugelkultur:

I’m currently exhausted from yesterday’s long hours, so I’m spending today on my back patio enjoying the bees. We have a patch of succulents that has been covered in bumblebees for the last week. There’s more of them this year than there’s ever been I think, which I’m excited about. I’ve taken some borage from Pickering Barn, which is a big pollinator attractor. Hopefully next year we’ll have lots of it, because with this many bees around I feel responsible feeding them. My mom and I have already argued about the clover in the front lawn at least a dozen times this year, haha.

Becoming A Vegetarian

I have fallen completely in love with my Bite Me 2.0 course. Everyday its like I spend 3 hours with my great aunt and uncle, who share very similar believes and talk in much the same way as my teachers. The books, Food Politics, The Ethics of What we eat (my favorites of the course), have been highly educational and have really changed my perspective of the political food system. We watched several movies, including: Dirt, Fresh, Killer at Large, Botany of Desire, and Power of Community. All are very educational. I think Power of Community is my favorite though. It really makes me want to live on a commune, lol.

Last week I made an effort to reduce my meat consumption, and ate only the meat still available in the house. Starting on the 17th, I fully ‘converted’ to being a vegetarian. If the ethics behind eating meat aren’t enough to get you to change your eating habits, the health benefits certainly are. I feel twice as energized as I used to, and even with only 6 hours of sleep I wake up feeling extremely well rested (which used to be a really rare thing) and falling back to sleep after my alarm goes off now takes a big effort. My Bite Me course currently is having us do a nutrition project, in which we have to track our daily meals (using and then print off the results after a week. I decided to start this project on Monday (the day I changed my diet completely) and according to the website I have well over 100% of my essential vitamins and minerals every day. I’ve made a creamy carrot and sweet potato soup, and pizza so far, as well as having cereal and our traditional olive oil and vinegar salad.

Just as importantly as becoming a vegetarian, I have tried to be an organic one. There’s no reason that everyone shouldn’t be eating organically. We went grocery shopping monday, bought a weeks worth of groceries (for 2 people, with enough for my sister to have some as well usually) and spent less than we would on a weeks worth of normal groceries. I spent most of monday making soup and organic apple sauce, waiting until tuesday to make banana bread.

Oh, and for you french fry eaters out there, the first day I switched I went to Red Robin and ate 3 baskets full of fries on my own. I barely reached my recommended daily allowance for calories that day, and had more than enough vitamins and minerals. So, giving up meat means more deep fried goodness for me!

I also feel a lot happier than I have in months. Maybe its just the increase in light because of the time of year, or the fact that my sister was gone for three days; I dunno. All I know is I’m actually able to get out of bed in the mornings, where as two weeks ago the thought of moving was often almost more than I could bear.

Complaining Again

I’ve been pretty uncomfortable the last few days. I skipped my last class of the day yesterday and just came home and spent the rest of the day laying in bed. My whole lower abdomen is extremely uncomfortable, and I think I may have found a lump in there as well. I’ve been extremely tired and unable to get enough sleep to feel rested, excluding today, and have been a little short tempered as well. Today was alright because I managed to get 8 and a half hours of sleep, and woke up feeling almost normal. I only had a moment of discomfort once or twice, but have a headache so I still haven’t been able to get much done. Yesterday I told my Anthropology teacher that I may be unable to make it to school Wednesday, because sitting in her class for two hours is really unpleasant. I actually almost threw up yesterday because I had a random moment of extreme nausea. She told me not to come to class, and was very willing to work something out if I wasn’t feeling up to the final. I told her thanks and that I fully expect to go to class for that.

The trouble is that the quarter ends next Friday. I have two finals on Wednesday and one on Friday (of next week mind). So I really only have a few more days of genuine work to do before I have a few tests to take and I’m done. This makes it incredibly difficult for me to stay motivated, especially because I don’t care for any of these classes anyway. Plus, with the way I’ve been feeling and the potential for a life threatening disease, school isn’t exactly high on my to-do. I’m just kind of stuck in this floating stage at the moment, which really is what my life has been for the most part anyway, but it’s a little more pronounced at the moment I think. Oh! And I never had my wisdom teeth removed, because I hoped that they would never erupt and I wouldn’t have to deal with them. The furthest most back corner of my mouth began hurting severely yesterday, and my gums have definitely started moving around. So I may have to deal with the removal of all kinds of body parts before too long, which would be pleasant. My jaw pain is also contributing to my headache. And I’m just so tired…

Maybe I’ll hurry up and finish my Art project, which isn’t due until next Wednesday… I hope… Oh no, I’ve just checked and it’s due Monday… How unfortunate. And there’s quite a lot more to do than throw images together… whoops.

Sorry, I somehow got distracted by tumblr… ugh, somebody come save me. I’ve been out the last two nights in a row, which never happens. I’m normally a homebody, but… I don’t know, I think the idea of finally confirming I have cancer has put this desire to do things in me. Which is a bother, because if I’m going to be stir crazy (which I’m sure I will) while going through chemo, I may go properly mad. In more exciting news, I went out and bought a new plant and some velvet medicine for my fish. The male’s fins are beginning to split, which shows how extremely unhealthy he is. I was reluctant to try treatment again, because I used something that treated for ick and velvet before and had no results, but this medicine is supposed to treat the fish themselves, not the water. So! Here’s hoping they get healthy, because watching sick fish while slowly being killed by chemo just doesn’t sound like fun!

I didn’t have time to post about this yesterday, but do you guys remember my neighbors who live two houses down from me? The ones where the father stabbed his son who had attacked his mother? Well, that son was recently released from jail and was going into rehab next week. Yesterday he lost it and shot both his mother and father in law, as well as his grandson (not at the house two houses down though). My neighbors F and S, who are friends with the man’s sister (the woman who currently lives two houses down) said that he killed his wife. After attacking his family he fled north where he killed himself in a rental car.

Here’s the link to the official news report if you’d like to read more.

While that all was going on, I was out to a short play with my mom, sister, grandpa and his wife. It was surprisingly fun. The play was a short, 40 minute thing performed at Molbec’s (a nursery a couple towns away), by the employ’s there. The nursery was fantastic, and my mom bought me a hanging pitcher plant. I have wanted one for YEARS. Its one of the proper large ones that would catch a small rodent. It was $40, the most expensive houseplant I’ve ever bought, but i think it was well worth it. It makes my room so much more exotic! I had a pitcher plant, about a year ago I think, that was a ground-dwelling variety. I managed to get it to bloom accidentally, but it never recovered and it died. This one is large and sturdy though, so lets hope it lasts longer than a few months. The tag it came with says it should be kept in 50% shade, but everything I read online says it needs bright, indirect sunlight. It also needs high humidity and lots of water, so I may just keep it in the bathroom and see what happens. If it appears unhappy I’ll move it.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. I’m not looking forward to school tomorrow :/