Monday, November 29, 2010

The Last Supper

So, we had our last meal from the garden: Turnip Soup. And not just any turnip soup - Julia Child's turnip soup. It was incredible and made with love by the husband.

Sadly, I do not have any photos of the heaping pile of turnips or the soup because I left our camera in Chicago. So, you'll have to image it's wondrousness. It was indeed wondrous. And a fine end to a pretty pitiful garden season.

Butter really does make everything better.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Beets are deadly serious.

"The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.

The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip...

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin's favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes."
Tom Robbins

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wildflowers, snap peas, and fava beans!

And yes, all three DO go well with a nice glass of Chianti.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"The thought of two thousand people crunching celery at the same time horrified me."

So said George Bernard Shaw, explaining why he had turned down an invitation to a vegetarian gala.

We won't have enough for a thousand, but I am super proud of our 16 celery plants. And our fava beans, and our strawberries, and even our little zucchini.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Yummy delicious amazingly red radishes.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fun With Cheesecloth

We bought this book recently. It's an amazing book, especially for beginners like us. Everything from how to make cheese to beer to wine to canning, preserving, drying, to how to have a completely edible landscape. Really great.

Last night I began my first try at sprouted grains. Barley this time.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Arugula. It's a veg-e-tab-le"

Behold! Our first salad from the garden. Leaf lettuce, baby spinach, and arugula. First harvest, indeed.

You'll also see we finally got a composter from the City of Tacoma. Very exciting stuff.

And, lastly, my beautiful bromeliads, which technically have nothing to do with sustainable living. Though I did recycle wood scraps to make the holders/planters, AND they don't require anything but the air to live. So, no watering during the dry, oh so dry, summers here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Sprouts are Coming! The Sprouts are Coming!

It's been a mostly rainy two weeks since we planted, though we've had a few partly sunny days. It's done wonders for the garden, which is alive with sprouts.

As are the hops. Take a look.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

At Long Last... For Real This Time

The garden is planted! We had big plans to plant yesterday but were waylaid by good ol' PacNW rain. But today, today was a glorious day. It was a preview of summer here - blue skies, bright sun, perfect temperature, light wind ... glorious.

It turned out that all of our beautiful sprouts, save for three, died before we had a chance to put them in the ground. Oh well. They never quite recovered from the cat attack. So today we planted seeds again, but this time in the garden beds. Hooray!

We're sitting here feeling, yes, very tired and sunburned, but also quite pleased and satisfied.

I give you: Our Garden.

And, a bonus shot of the biggest most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen in my life, as it appeared over beautiful Tacoma last night.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

At Long Last ... Almost

I know that all four of you who read this blog have been holding your breath, waiting, wondering - will they ever post again? Well, you're in luck. For we are indeed posting again. After a brief break for marriage and honeymoon, we're back on track with the garden.

We bought our soil, compost, and peat moss this week, the wood for the raised garden beds, and a few other garden items, all of which will be assembled this weekend. It even seems the weather is going to cooperate. So, next time we post, we should have pics of our beautiful square foot garden to share.

The sprouts have lost some of their original robust luster, but the lemon tree and the herbs are out of control. I think all will be well once we get these babies in the ground. We're also expecting delivery on a 7 ft Eucalyptus tree today. The three we bought last summer did not make it through the unusually cold winter so they've been replaced by a Eucalyptus Neglecta which is guaranteed to survive. Very exciting. (And fragrant!)

So, hold your breath just a few days longer ... the garden is coming. In the meantime I'll distract you with this picture of our dog on Easter morning.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Round One.II and Round Two.I

As you can see, our second set of sprouts are doing very well. And, the first round that had to be replanted due to she-that-shall-not-be-named are coming up as well.

And, we have some new growth as well as a bud on the lemon tree!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sprout Disaster!

So, my love tells me that our four-legged feline friends got their dirty paws all over our beautiful sprouts. Cranberry beans - gone! Soy beans - decimated! Onion sprouts - destroyed! Tomato sprouts - dead! The masticated carcasses of our beautiful sprouts found in lovely piles of kitty puke.

It's a good thing they're so damn cute.

I'm not sure whey I'm referring to the kitties in plural; we all know which one is responsible. Look at that face. She's up to no good.

Oh well. Round One II.

Sprout disaster ... more like Scout disaster.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Round Two Sprouts!

They're popping up already, much faster than the first ones. It's so exciting!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Round Two

Spent President's Day planting the rest of our seeds. This round we started Beets, Carrots, Peas, Snow Peas, Zucchini, Summer Squash, White Squash, Pickling Cucumbers, White Cucumbers, Double Yield Cucumbers, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Swiss Chard, Brussel Sprouts, Scallions, Green Beans, Hot Wax Peppers, Kale, Arugula, Mesclun, Leaf Lettuce, and Head Lettuce.

The first set of seedlings are doing really well, as you can see. And you can also see our lemon tree! A wedding gift which we plan to plant next to our two apple trees.

It was a gorgeous weekend here ... warm and even sunny for a bit. Everything is in bloom! Our Camelia bush is about to explode with bright red flowers. In February!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In Other News ...

... we've just discovered this place. We've been relying on Bob's Red Mill for our grain needs - flour, flax, rice and the like - which has been great. Bob's is in Oregon, which most definitely qualifies as local. I've had trouble figuring out where the grains that good ol' Bob mills are grown, though.

Bluebird Grain Farms is right here in Washington. The grains are grown, milled, and packaged on site. And, you can join their CSA!

Hooray for organic locally grown heirloom grains!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I remember when they were just wee things.

The sprouts are unstoppable. The cranberry, soy, and fava beans sprouts are beautiful and quite large. We also have leeks, onions, tomato and multiple pepper sprouts. There is one tiny little celery sprout trying very hard to show it's face above the dirt. I've read that celery is very difficult to grow, so I'm hoping little celery sprout keeps on keepin' on.

Hooray for growing things!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

We Have More Sprouts!

See? I told you this blog was going to be exciting.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

We Have Sprouts!

My love just burst into the room, hands held triumphantly in the air, exclaiming: " We have sprouts!".

And indeed we do. Check out that Fava bean sprout!

Also check out our totally sweet seed map. That is fine handmade artistry right there.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Getting Started

Welcome to the Harber Horticultural Organic Project! H2O ... get it? (we're so clever) It's our very own adventure in sustainable living here in Tacoma, WA.

A few months ago we made a commitment to try to make 80% of our consumption fresh, local, organic, sustainable, and seasonal. We made this decision immediately after watching What Would Jesus Buy?, a documentary about an interesting guy named Reverend Billy of the Church of Life After Shopping. It is available on Netflix and is equal parts hilarious, absurd, disturbing, and entertaining if you're interested.

Our definition of "local" is Washington and Oregon mostly, and BC and California when necessary. Our main goal is to live in harmony with nature, as much as is possible in this modern world. Other goals are to be healthy, support our local economy, and to do our very small part to reduce dependence on foreign oil. So, there are no hard-fast rules for consumption. It isn't simply a local thing, or simply an organic thing, or simply a sustainable thing. It's a combination of goals and means, and each purchase is a negotiation towards achieving our desired ends. For example, we may find ourselves choosing between organic bread from Oregon and conventional bread from Washington. Obviously organic is good for us and good for the environment, but the Washington bread supports our more local economy, provides jobs in our state, and had a shorter distance to travel. So, we weigh these different things and make a decision. On two different weeks we may make two different decisions. It honestly depends on which one of us is shopping, our mood, the price, etc. Mostly, we're trying to do the opposite of blindly consume. As with all things in life, the simple act of practicing awareness makes all the difference.

One of the great things about living in the Pacific Northwest is that this has been surprisingly easy. Between Washington and Oregon alone we have all of our dairy and most of our grains covered. In the summer, vegetables are no problem, thanks to the plethora of farmer's markets in Tacoma. In the winter though, our choice for fresh veg is very often limited to California.

So, this was a very long way of getting around to the point of this blog, which is the garden we've decided to grow this year! You can't get much fresher, local-er, organic-er, sustainable-er, or seasonal-er than your own backyard. The plan is to eat out of it all summer while preserving the excess veggies for use all winter.

Armed with Mel Bartholomew's All New Square Foot Gardening book, a home canning kit, $80 worth of seeds, and my love's plucky determination, we've begun. Today we started the seeds for all of the veggies that require 8 to 10 weeks of indoor growing before being transplanted outside. We started bell peppers, jalepeno peppers, habanero peppers, cayenne peppers, poblano peppers, serrano peppers, beefsteak tomatoes, roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, early girl tomatoes, eggplant, fava beans, cranberry beans, soy beans, parsnips, red onions, walla walla onions, leeks, tomatillos and celery.

Think we'll have enough peppers?

Stay tuned for accounts of our exciting, and not-so-exciting, foray into growing food.