I have had so-so success with overwintering vegetables. I seem to do better ever year, so that is something, I guess.

Last Fall, I planted beets and cabbage under my cloche, which all got eaten by something.

I also planted a cover crop of Buckwheat. I even covered it with row cover, so the birds wouldn’t eat the seeds. I took it off once the seedlings had emerged. I’m thinking I should have left the row cover on longer, because all the seedlings disappeared shortly after I removed it.

What survived and is thriving, is the arugula, spinach and lettuce that I planted in my cold frames. Just a couple of nights ago, I made a salad from some of the lettuce!

I planted fava beans for the first time last Fall, and those seem to be doing well.

I plant garlic every year, because Matt and I both love garlic and use it in everything we cook. Since we always run out, I planted an even larger plot of it last year.

In one feed trough, are a couple of artichoke starts I got last Spring, from the West Seattle Nursery. Since artichokes are perennials, I figured they would be well suited to a container. Both plants had black aphids all over them last year, so I tried spraying them with soap spray. A lot of the leaves died and fell off, but the plants seem to be looking better this year.

In the other feed trough, I planted some multiplier onions, but there is no sign of them yet. One of the bulbs was a little squishy and diseased looking. I didn’t plant that one, but hopefully the other ones weren’t diseased as well. Maybe they will pop up this Spring?

 

In 2010, I participated in a program called the “Garden Helpers” that was a collaboration between Community Harvest of Southwest Seattle and Seattle Tilth. It was basically the Comprehensive Organic Gardening course that I took back in 2007, but from a teaching perspective. At the end of a five week course, we were partnered up with people in our community to do site visits and consult with them on starting their own edible gardens.

Unless you are part of a pea patch, or garden on someone else’s property, gardening can be such a solitary activity, something you do in the privacy of your own home. I liked the idea of getting out into the community, collaborating with my classmates, hearing about what they are doing, learning new gardening methods, and sharing tips and advice. But mostly, I liked the idea that I could then give something back to the community, by teaching someone else what I learned.

We had a certain number of volunteer hours to complete as part of the program, which I completed by the fall of that year. I know that some of my fellow “garden helpers” continued their involvement with the community, by volunteering at the gardens at the White Center Food Bank and the White Center Cultural Center.

One of my classmates, Meg Brown, just started her own edible gardening consultation and design company called Brown Dirt. She is also the author of the blog Grow and Resist. She is hosting a launch party this weekend and I am so excited to go. I am looking forward to checking out her new company, but also to getting back out there, reconnecting with a former classmate and seeing what someone is up to outside my own yard!

 

When I took my Pattern Reading class at the West Seattle Fabric Company, I picked up a book called One-Yard Wonders: 101 Sewing Fabric Projects. All the projects in it are super cute and come with great instructions and patterns, so they look doable for a beginner like me. I figured this book would be a great way to get some practice at different sewing techniques and make some cool stuff at the same time. Plus, true to it’s name, all of the projects in the book require only one yard of fabric!

I needed a sewing machine cover, so I decided that would be the first project from the book I would do. Plus, I couldn’t resist the sewing machine and button print contrasting fabrics, that I found at West Seattle Fabric Company.

I changed the dimensions a little bit, based on the size of my sewing machine and made the pocket a little shorter. I also stitched up the middle of the pocket, to divide it into two.

It’s the first time I’ve made anything with a gusset, so that was something new I learned from this project.

There is also a new Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders, that I can’t wait to get. I think I need to make a few more projects in the first book though.

Next project, oven mitt and hot pads!

Before I bought my house, when I lived in a loft in Pioneer Square, with no place to even think of growing anything, I started photo assisting for photographer Jim Henkens. Jim is another reason why I started gardening. If there was down time on shoots, he would tell me about his vegetable garden and the delicious things he cooked from the food he grew.

Jim’s garden is amazing. It’s like a little Italian oasis! Here a few shots I took with my iPhone one day:

Jim would also show me the beautiful pictures he took of his own garden, things he cooked, trips he took and other photography jobs.

Now, Jim has done all the photography for Willi Galloway’s new book Grow Cook Eat: A Food Lover’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening.
Willi is also the author of one of my favorite blogs Diggin Food.

I haven’t picked the book up yet, but it’s definitely a must have. I took a quick peak of Jim’s copy, at work one day. It’s chock full of great information and recipes from Willi and gorgeous photos from Jim. I plan on picking up a copy at The Book Larder in Fremont this Saturday, February 25th, where they are hosting an event for the book’s release from 6:30-8pm.

http://www.booklarder.com/events/2012/02/#grow-cook-eat

 

Five years ago, when I first bought my house and was trying to figure out what I was going to do with the intimidating grassy area in my front yard, I took the Comprehensive Organic Gardeners class at Seattle Tilth. The COG class provided me with a great foundation of knowledge to utilize that big grassy area in a productive way, by getting rid of the grass and growing delicious and chemical-free vegetables! It also left me with resources for when I need advice, such as the invaluable Garden Hotline.

I started small and have been learning gradually. The first year, I started with one raised bed. The next year, I bought a couple of feed troughs, so I would have more space to plant in. The year after that, my boyfriend Matt made me two more raised beds. Last year, he built me three cold frames. As the garden got bigger, the lawn got smaller. From Spring through Fall, I have lots of yummy veggies to eat and hardly any lawn to mow!

 I also took the the City Chickens class. I have had these beauties for almost 5 years now!

On to my fifth gardening season! This year, I am starting this blog. This is the perfect time too, as I am just now starting to plan my garden for the year. This way, I can share my entire gardening season with you from start to finish. What I write about will be my experiences, such as garden planning, seed starting, planting and transplanting, pest management, harvesting, cooking, fall and winter gardening, and canning and preserving.

There will be some posts about sewing too. For years, I had an old crappy sewing machine that would eat thread and had a peddle that made sparks. I could get it to work long enough to mend a thing or two, but I steered clear of more complicated projects for fear of frustration… and fire. Then, under the Christmas tree last year was a shiny new machine that runs like a top. I already knew how to operate a sewing machine, but pretty much everything else was foreign to me, so I took a Basic Pattern Reading class and the Sewing Basics 2 class from the West Seattle Fabric Company to get me started on my way to my ultimate goal which is making clothes (dresses in particular). As I make things, and learn and progress in the process, I will post pictures and either how I made it or what book or pattern the project came from.

my new sewing table

I would also like to hear from you about your experiences. You may have experience in areas that I do not, or may be learning something new as well. So please comment!

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Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!