April 16, 2014

Forest Flowers

I was fortunate enough to go for another beautiful run on Monday morning. I ran 14 miles in Forest Park, here in Portland in preparation for my upcoming marathon. Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country. This time of year is marked by many spring wildflowers that bloom under the forest canopy. If you haven't gathered from previous posts, I love looking at and identifying plants. Here are some of the native flowers that I found on my run today. As always, enjoy!

Western Trillium (Trillium ovatum)

Pacific waterleaf (Hydrophilum tenuipes)

Stream Violet (Viola glabella)

Miner's Lettuce/Candy Flower (Claytonia sibirica)

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)

False Soloman's Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)

April 13, 2014

No Time to Be Inside: Garden While the Sun Shines

It has been beautiful and sunny all week, with highs in the high 60s to low 70s this weekend. I spend most of my workweek down in a windowless basement, so I was getting a bit of cabin fever. Which meant that I spent all weekend gardening before the Portland rain returns later this week. It was lovely to spend so much time out in the sun with my hands in the soil.

This year we inherited two new individual garden plots in addition to our plot from last year. That means that we now have 300 sq. ft. of personal gardening space in addition to the Group Gardens space that we garden communally with our neighbors.

We mostly focused on bed prep this weekend, although we did transplant some rhubarb and plant some orach, chard, and a few flowers. We already have some lettuce, radishes and beet greens growing and we will transplant in our scallions, lettuce, and celeriac soon. Then later in May we can start putting in the summer crops like tomatoes and zucchini. It is always amazing to look back on these early spring pictures in a few months and to see how much it has grown.

As hard as it is on nice weekends like this, I am trying to be patient. It is still early and there will likely still be weeks of cold rainy weather, so I need to be sure not to put too much into the garden yet. So I content myself with arranging and garden plans.

I have pretty ambitious plans this year including spring, summer, and fall/winter crops. I really enjoy deciding what I am going to grow and then plotting it out in an excel sheet. I find that having a general plan beforehand helps keep me on track and on schedule.

With all that outdoor work it definitely meant that I basically didn't spend any time blogging... I have a feeling that that will be an ongoing problem as the busy summer season starts. We might need to go down to 2 posts a week during this time of year. I am always in awe of all the homesteading bloggers, that get so much done on the homestead and still find time to get the blogging done.... something for me to strive for.

April 9, 2014

Marathon Preparation-Bell Creek Trail

Hello to all of our loyal readers (and to the unloyal ones too I suppose). One of the activities that Kristy and I are engaging in when we are not working or gardening is preparing for the Timberline Marathon and Half-Marathon being held at the end of May at Timothy Lake in the Mt. Hood National Forest. Kristy is preparing to run her first half-marathon while I am hoping to run my first marathon (I have done a few half-marathons in the past).

Triple Falls in the Columbia River Gorge
We have printed out a running schedule to help us prepare for our respective races. These schedules list every day from now until the race with suggested distances to run on each day. The idea is that you build up to running long distances in a prepared and hopefully injury free way. Once a week there is a long run that really helps build up the distance.

Monday was my long run day (since I work a Tuesday-Saturday schedule).

A view of the Columbia River from the trail.

Since it is a lovely sunny day here in Portland (sorry for rubbing it in eastern 2/3 of U.S.), I decided to run the Bell Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge. It was a gorgeous 15 mile run if not the most straight forward. Many sections of the trail ended up being too steep to run. And the middle section contained these fascinating Cedar wetlands and springs. Unfortunately for several miles through this section the trail became a creek (not the most conducive to running). So ultimately it took a long time to complete, but it was definitely worth it for the scenery. It is particularly satisfying to train in beautiful places such as this. Kristy and I will definitely have more pictures to share from our runs in the coming weeks.

Is it a creek or a trail? It's both!

A mossy bend in the trail.

One of my favorite wildflowers, The fairy slipper (Calypso bulbosa var. occidentalis)

April 7, 2014

A Busy Weekend in the Garden

It has been a busy weekend of gardening! The sun finally came out and the weather is pretty warm these days, so we had two Group Garden work-parties this weekend, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.  For those that haven't been following our story for long, since we rent a small apartment in an Ecovillage, we garden with a mix of individual plots and communal gardens that we share with our neighbors (you can read more about how the communal Group Gardens work here).

We got a lot done. We tilled in the pea cover crop, we prepped the beds, and then we planted beets, chard, spinach, kale, carrots, onions, and potatoes. It is amazing how much work can get done when you have close to 20 people working together! And it is so much more fun that way too!

To end the day today, our neighbor Lisa made her amazing nettle pesto (the inspiration for the nettle pesto we talked about earlier this year: get the recipe here). A few others chipped in some salad, cinnamon rolls and cookies. It was so nice to sit out on the patio, eating great food and chatting with all our neighbors at the end of a day of hard work!

The only downside was that not a lot of blog writing was done this weekend... which might mean some late night writing later this week. But it was worth it! And besides, there wouldn't be much to write about if we didn't take the time to do the actual homesteading.

(This post was also shared on Green Thumb Thursdays)
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