One of my friends, after seeing some of my pictures, asked if I was intending to start a blog called “the determined urban gardener” :P. Since I do already have a blog and I have traditionally made mention of it in past years but have not yet done so, here’s a overview of what this year’s garden looks like.
Back in early April, I started some corn, acorn squash, swiss chard, and beets from seeds. I also acquired two types of cherry tomatoes, some beans and snow pea plants, as well as a pumpkin plant, and a small flat of swiss chard. To this, I added dwarf gray peas, painted lady pole beans, more beets (which I failed to properly transplant), music box sunflowers, bush yellow scallop squash as seed starts in early May. And then 🙂 … I also added two varieties of carrots (from seed), some lettuce plants, cauliflower (from seeds), as well as radish (from seeds) :D. Oh — and I decided to continue doing potatoes since I had some from last year, but decided to expand and get a secondary variety (different colors — I like colorful edibles).
While this all seems like a lot (which I suppose it sort of is), we’ve only really harvested some strawberry:
strawbeerries
snow peas:
snow peas
chard, lettuce, blueberries:
blueberries
and a couple of radishes:
radishes
so far. A lesson learned (since I moved where I tried planting lettuce this year from previous years): even though online sources say that lettuce will grow in the shade this isn’t completely true. Sure — it’ll grow. But it’s spindly and gangly and not very productive, so poo for that :(. I had such high hopes.
I suppose the thing that’s exciting for me is that the garden in the back currently looks like this:
backyard garden
with blueberries starting to ripen, acorn squash growing, potato plants starting to flower, cherry tomatoes forming, and the painted lady scarlet beans (as well as the normal kind of beans) are starting to bud! The front “garden” is not doing that shoddy either. The corn looks like there might actually be corn developing, I have a few orange blossoms (but given the previous experience of them blooming, I am not exactly expecting fruit … still smells super nice though!), Chops might actually get to have some little pumpkins as she requested :), and I’m hoping that the carrots planted will be bigger than the carrots I planted late last fall as a stab at “fall planting” which I unearthed prepping this year’s garden.
It’s fun having a vegetable/fruit garden! I think it encourages me to have our family eat more meals at home … and healthier ones at that to incorporate the harvest.

This year’s pear yield was nothing to sneeze at. Now that I know how much two trees can produce without any fertilization, I’ll have to make sure to prune, thin, and fertilize in the future for even better yield (from perspective of size and quality). This is the amount of pears we had harvested in our house at one point (with some fruit remaining in the trees):
pears
That was with consuming some, and making a small batch of pear cider:
pear cider
and pear sauce:
pear sauce
I’m really glad that the kids seem to enjoy eating pears, both fresh and as “sauce”. This was the first time I undertook canning. It wasn’t until after I made the cider, and first two batches of pear sauce that I decided to look up what people do with “extra” pears. It’s rather unfortunate that I didn’t find the recipe for pear jelly until this time. I went ahead and made a third batch of pear sauce and followed this recipe for making pear jelly utilizing the peel and cores (the first two batches of pear “sauce” actually had skins attached). I really love the amber color of the end product:
pear jelly
There is still a goodly quantity of fresh pears, in addition to two pints + 12 half-pints of canned pear sauce, plus nine 4-oz containers of canned vanilla pear jelly. Hooray for pears!!

We’ve been getting quite a few beans and squash lately. In fact, we’ve already consumed two previous batches of similar size. I’m intending to transplant the blueberry bushes into the ground instead of keeping them in pots next year. Will also have to put netting around them so that I can enjoy more than about three berries. Here’s what was recently harvested:
harvest
Also, I discovered that we have a plum tree. I need to learn more about getting larger, better fruits from fruiting trees (and also keep it highly productive). We had our trees pruned last year in the fall and I think that helped the fruit trees decide to bear more fruit. Maybe a lesson to be had here? We need “pruning” if we want to bear more fruit …
Plums in plum tree (that are out of reach):
plums

Excuse the pun, but I’m enjoying our strawberries. This is the first time in my life where I feel like we can go without buying strawberries from the store, at least for the time being. It’s great fun to be able to go in the backyard and pick a few strawberries for immediate consumption and so very gratifying to know that we grew it ourselves. All the strawberries below were just “harvested” tonight.
Part of me wants to propagate the plants and get even more next year … 🙂
strawberries
Looking forward to our (still meager) blueberries. And considering more strongly some raspberry canes!

The flowers in our yard are starting to bloom. I love it! This fall, I added some tulips, crocuses, ranunculus, and irises. We’ll have to wait and see how many of the irises and ranunculus will come up, but a quick photo tour of existing flower show at our house right now.
First, the plum blossom trees
plum blossom tree

and cherry blossom trees
cherry blossom trees

flowered a bit ago. It’s always so pretty, even when the petals start dropping:
carpet of pink

I suspect that squirrels or rabbits did something to the majority of the crocuses since I’ve only seen one so far and I know I planted more than just one, and the kind I ordered actually look different. But it is/was pretty nonetheless:
crocus

The tulips are finally starting to bloom. This is probably a Viridiflora Tulip China Town:
first tulip

And finally, some grape hyacinths, though not the ones I planted (these were from previous home-owners. I ordered and planted some white and pink ones, but those ones are still in the process of blooming). I apologize for the lack of proper focus in this photo — was holding/carrying a certain Sir Spiky:
grape hyacinths

And there you have it! Spring!! 🙂 We’re planning on visiting the Tulip Festival and seeing even more tulips. Hopefully it’ll be great and traffic and weather will cooperate :).

For my birthday last year, my brother gave me a blood orange tree. It was rather unexciting last year: no flowers, no fruit. This year though, I had these:
orange buds

that flowered into these wonderfully fragrant … well … flowers (duh):
orange flowers

that are turning into these:
baby oranges
… lots of little starts of oranges. I really hope it’ll bear fruit (no pun intended 😛 ). I called my “neighborhood nursery” and they informed me that it normally takes about 1-2 months from the time the tree flowers to when the fruit matures. Seeing as it’s already early August and the Pacific Northwest isn’t known for long, extended, warm summers, I’m hoping that my plan of eventually bringing the tree into the house will provide it with enough warmth and sunlight to mature the fruit.

Somewhat disjoint but here goes :).
Recently, despite the fact that there is still plenty of putting away and unpacking to do, we’ve been ignoring it to the best of our ability to spend time together as a family. A couple weekends ago, we went to Northwest Trek (flickr set here). Dan really enjoyed seeing hawks (and other birds of prey) up close, particularly one they were training:

Chops, on the other hand, really was enthusiastic about “owlers” and otters.

river otter

This weekend, we went to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. While there are large migatory raptors that can be frequently spotted there, we mostly saw little birds as we did not take along telescopes or binoculars. Chops enjoyed …
jumping over the backs of the benches with Daddy:
bench jumping

following the flock of geese:
geese

flying with Daddy:
flying

and spotting cute little birds like this one:
little bird

We’ve also started a smallish garden this year. There are three types of strawberries, two types of lettuce, two types of tomatoes, and a pea plant. New blueberry bushes were also acquired.
garden2011

Last year, Chops really wanted to help out with the yard/garden and this year is no different for her. We got her some Dora garden things:
gloves etc
and she proudly helped me fill up some of the pots. We also jointly planted some flower seeds in a pot outside. Hopefully, birds or other animals didn’t consume them and Chops will get to see the fruits of her labor.
This is also the last week of us owning our “old” house — somewhat bittersweet.

We have moved into our new house. Now remains the somewhat daunting task of completely unpacking and putting it all away properly. One of the things that we’ve been enjoying at the new house, despite the rain, are the cherry blossom trees we have:
Cherry Blossom Trees
We have set a goal of at least one box a night. And now that our old house is listed (see here if interested), it might actually be easier to meet that goal plus some. Our somewhat arbitrary goal, is to be “completely” settled in (no random boxes of semi-unpacked things, things put away properly, etc.) by Easter. I’m somewhat hopeful, but also honestly somewhat stressed since … it’s still unfinished.
The new yard is larger, though much of it is already landscaped and/or occupied by things like a sports court. But I think I’d like to eventually put in a garden. One that contains the following things (not necessarily in one dedicated spot):

At this point, I’m thinking of maybe eventually doing some of that using something similar to (if not actually getting) earthboxes. The benefit of this is that we’d be able to put them on the sunny patio-like location behind the garage most of the time, but have the ability to move them for when we want to utilize the sports court (especially when basketballs and other similarly weighted balls are utilized).
Also as part of the move, we promoted Babychops. Dan proposed that since we have another baby on the way and that she technically is no longer a baby, that we would drop the “baby” part — so Chops it is: that’s the first part. The second part of the promotion for Chops is that she is now in her toddler bed. So far it’s working great — she knows when it’s bedtime and stays in bed; she hasn’t (yet) fallen out of bed; she hasn’t gotten up in the middle of the night. The only thing is that when she wakes up before us, she will now (given the freedom of no bars) come in search of us (typically trying to catch a few extra ‘zzz’s) but that’s not too bad as she is not a super early bird.

A little behind last year, but the garden is taking off :). Finally.
garden mid-Aug

We have lemon cucumber, japanese cucumber, green bell pepper, cayenne peppers, lemon boy tomatoes, Sun Sugar (cherry) tomatoes, corn, green onions, carrots, straight-neck squash, sweet corn (which probably won’t yield anything), and potatoes.