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Vegetable Garden, March 2014, No. 3

Post:   3/30/2014

The last two weeks in March have been mostly raining and chilly.  I had a nice dry spell mid-month, which allowed me to get some mowing done and get ready to till in the new garden area.  But a problem with the Roseburg rental company I used caused me to end up with a tiller which was not up to the job and before I could get a bigger one the rain started and has not really stopped since.

I managed to build the “grow out” tables and get them installed in the garden.  I now have a two deck, 16 foot-long table setup.  This size table will easily hold 1000 plants in 2 ½-inch pots.  This table consists of two sets of “stands” that hold separate table tops and supports two 8-foot bridge table tops.  It all comes apart into pieces that I can carry around when I want to reposition it.

The seeds are for the most part germinating nicely.  I up potted the cucumbers and all but the really poky tomato plants.

All in all, things are coming along on or a bit ahead of schedule.


Tree School

Who knew you have to take trees to school?  The things you learn when you move to the country!  Susan and I went to Tree School this week.  I really enjoyed it although it could have been a lot more technical.  It did make me think about what I want to do with this place other than grow too many vegetable plants. Sort of back to that ecosystem idea.  Wildlife habitat, biodiversity, tree health, riparian  . . . . .


Plan:  by 4/6/2014

Build a temporary greenhouse over the grow out tables.

Continue to up pot plants as they grow up

Start moving plants out to the temporary greenhouse

Pray for no frost


When/if it dries out:

Till the garden

Break ground on the expanded 30’ by 70’ garden

Spread the remaining 5 sq. yd. of compost over the entire garden

Rebuild the rows after tilling



The garden has returned to a cold swamp.  It is so interesting that when it rains, water just stands on the ground for days, like it cannot find its way down hill.  Then when the water is gone the ground is ready to work.  I am certain this is all related and the solution is more compost!  More compost is always the solution to soil structure issues.

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March Madness

Wildflowers are blooming all over and it’s been challenging trying to keep up with them.  My goal is to record them all via the camera for now, and to identify them.  I’m going to have to be more scientific about it and not just wander around with the camera, but years of living in California has instilled in me the mantra–DON’T PICK THE WILDFLOWERS!

Here is what I’ve found so far with a good idea of what they are:


March 2014Wild Radish

Wild radish (Raphanus sativus).  This is one that I went back to and dug it up so I could identify it.  The taproot never forms into a radish.

Erigeron peregrinus, Wandering daisy

Some type of daisy.  They are growing in the grass around the house and I’ve found white and light pink ones.  They close up at night and open in the morning.

March 2014Lamium purpureumRed Deadnettle  Red Deadnettle

Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum).   They have square stems and the flowers grow out from under the leaves.  These plants are growing all over the vegetable garden area.

March 2014Monotropa hypopithysPinesap I think this is called Pinesap (Monotropa hypopithys).  I found it growing on the west side of the house in the shade.  When I first found it it didn’t have much of a top, but the top has since started to leaf out.  I’m going to keep an eye on it to see if the top develops into flowers, which would be 20-30, bell-shaped, nodding, atop the stem.  Monotropa refers to the flowers all facing one way.  Pinesap has no chlorophyll and saps the roots of nearby plants for food.

(It’s one week later and I think it is not Pinesap.  There are many more of them in the garden and they have leafy tops.  If they grow flowers I’ll be able to ID it–maybe.)  (Edit: 2/22/2015; This plant grew into a green plant about 18 inches tall with large oval leaves, but it never bloomed.  They are back again this year. )

Spreading groundsmoke  Spreading groundsmoke (Gayophytum diffusum), maybe

Centaurium erythraea  Monterey centaury (Centaurium muehlenbergii)  I saw this one in October of last year.


March 2014Violet  Violet

March 2014Viola   A type of Viola, possibly Upland yellow violet (Viola nuttallii).  At any rate, a yellow violet seems wrong.



IMarch 2014QuinceNot sure, but I think this is a Quince.  It’s a bush and it’s gorgeous covered in the red flowers.  I’ll have to wait and see what fruit, if any, develops.  (Edit: 3/22/2015; No fruit on this bush; it’s most likely a flowering quince.)

Hyacinths  Cheery hyacinths that greet us as we drive up to the house.


March 2014Grape hyacinth  Grape hyacinth (Muscari)

March 2014Lamprocapnos spectabilis (bleeding heart)poppy family Papaveraceae  Bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa)



Stropharia ambigua  Stropharia ambigua.  So pretty, they look like sugar-dusted candy.

March 2014Tramates hirsuta  Trametes hirsuta.  These are mushrooms growing in the flower bed by the  the dining room.



March 2014Turkey Vulture  Turkey vulture

March 2014Red-shafted Flicker  Northern Flicker


March 2014 Western Fence Lizard  Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis).  Well, I’m hoping it is, because those lizards have blue bellies.

“They are brown to black in color (the brown may be sandy or greenish) and have black stripes on their backs, but their most distinguishing characteristic is their bright blue bellies. The ventral sides of the limbs are yellow.  These lizards also have blue patches on their throats. This bright coloration is faint or absent in both females and juveniles. The scales of S. occidentalis are sharply keeled, and between the interparietal and rear of thighs, there are 35-57 scales.”   Wikipedia


When you are pulling out weeds, other things become much more fascinating–like this ant trucking along with a larger dead ant.  They were feasting that night!

March2014 Elk

We haven’t seen very much of the Elk so far.  This time they were in the neighbor’s pasture (the one with the cattle).  It’s cool any time they show up.

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Early March, 2014

Sara came to visit us in early March to help us move in.  We took a walk around the perimeter of the farm.  She said, according to her Fitbit Flex, that we walked 5000 steps, or 2.3 miles.  That was a fun way to get some exercise.  Here are some of the more interesting things we saw, which I’ve tried my best to identify.

March 2014Dipsacus fullonum, Fuller's teasel, common teasel  Fuller’s Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum).  This is the dried flower head.  I’m going to try and find them when they have flowers. The flower heads are used in the wool industry to raise the nap on cloth.

March 2014-Driveway  This is the entrance into our farm from the main road.

March 2014-Redbreasted sapsucker  A red-breasted sapsucker on a tree right in front of the house.

“Red-breasted sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber) is a medium-sized woodpecker.  They drill holes in trees and eat the sap and the insects attracted to the sap.  Their breeding habitat is usually forests of pine, hemlock, Douglas fir and Spruce.  A sapsucker’s tongue is adapted with stiff hairs for collecting the sap. Red-Breasted Sapsuckers visit the same tree multiple times, drilling holes in neat horizontal rows. A bird will leave and come back later, when the sap has started flowing from the holes. Repeated visits over an extended period of time can actually kill the tree.  The insects attracted to the sap are also consumed, and not only by sapsuckers. Rufous Hummingbirds, for example, have been observed to follow the movements of sapsuckers and take advantage of this food source.”  Wikipedia

We’ve seen a few trees in the orchard with those rows of holes.  We haven’t seen any hummingbirds though.

Cedar3  Rows of Incense cedars on the northwest side of the farm.

Ranunculus occidentalis Western buttercup  Western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis).  I’ve seen these flowers in California and I love their shiny petals.

Spider  We transported our blueberry plants from California in large white planters.  There weren’t any spiders on them at the time, but they’ve appeared since we moved here.  They are numerous and their black bodies stand out against the white.  I haven’t ID’d them yet, but I’m hoping they aren’t poisonous or some sort of jumping spider.  I may have to catch one to figure out what it is.

March 2014-Gymnopilus bellulus  Mushroom (Gymnopilus bellulus)

March 2014- Madrone  Madrone ( Arbutus menziesii) aka madroño, madroña, bearberry or refrigerator tree.

Arbutus menziesii is an evergreen tree with rich orange-red bark that when mature naturally peels away in thin sheets, leaving a greenish, silvery appearance that has a satin sheen and smoothness. The exposed wood sometimes feels cool to the touch. In spring, it bears sprays of small bell-like flowers, and in autumn, red berries. The berries dry up and have hooked barbs that latch onto larger animals for migration.”  Wikipedia

March 2014-Apple blossom Apple buds–the first real sign of life on the fruit trees.

March 2014-Big chickweed Big chickweed (Cerastium fontanum ssp.vulgare), native to Europe.

According to the book, Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West, by Gregory L. Tilford, Chickweed ( stellaria media) has a unique characteristic that makes it easy to distinguish from all look-alikes: a line of minute hairs runs up only one side of the stem, switching sides at each pair of leaves.  Chickweed has 5 petals, each petal with a deep cleft that makes it appear to have 10 petals.  Chickweed blooms continuously, making it difficult to eradicate, or as some would say, impossible.  It is one of the most enjoyable wild salad greens.  The entire plant is juicy, tender and mildly sweet with a flavor similar to iceberg lettuce.  It is also used as an emollient, demulcent ( a soothing substance for the skin), refrigerant and diuretic medicine.  It is used to cool and sooth minor burns and skin irritations.

So, I think I have Big Chickweed, not the more interesting Chickweed, but next time I’m going to look for those hairs on the stems.  (Edit: 3/22/2015; Upon further study of the wildflower book, the flower petals look more like Chickweed, or Common Chickweed, Stellaria media.)

March 2014-Daffodils  There are daffodils blooming all over Roseburg, but they tend to have smaller heads, about half the size of these.  These were growing, here and there, off the side of the road on the farm.

March 2014-Grass  Grass that dried into a curly shape.  They reminded me of the rhythmic gymnasts in the Olympics.

March 2014-Redstem storksbill  Redstem fillaree or Redstem storksbill (Erodium cicutarium).

“It is a hairy, sticky annual. The long seed-pod, shaped like the bill of a stork, bursts open in a spiral when ripe, sending the seeds (which have little feathery parachutes attached) into the air.  Seed launch is accomplished using a spring mechanism powered by shape changes as the fruits dryThe spiral shape of the awn can unwind during daily changes in humidity, leading to self-burial of the seeds once they are on the ground. The two tasks (springy launch and self-burial) are accomplished with the same tissue (the awn), which is hygroscopically active and warps upon wetting and also gives rise to the draggy hairs on the awn.

The entire plant is edible with a flavor similar to sharp parsley if picked young. According to John Lovell’s Honey Plants of North America (1926), “the pink flowers are a valuable source of honey (nectar), and also furnish much pollen”.   Among the Zuni people, a poultice of chewed root applied to sores and rashes and an infusion of the root taken is for stomachache.”  Wikipedia

March 2014-White Flower  Grassland saxifrage (Saxifraga integrifolia)

March 2014-Cow Skull  We found some crunched up bones on our property and some on the property of our neighbor, who has a herd of cattle.

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Vegetable Garden, March 2014, No. 2

Post:   3/16/2014

Well, warm dry weather has spurred me into action this week! It has just been beautiful in the Flournoy Valley this week.  It has been mostly dry with the high temperatures in the mid 60s and mostly sunny.  I have cleaned up the majority of the vegetable garden.  There are still 3 nice leeks ready to eat, I noticed 3 or 4 Asparagus shoots breaking ground, and rhubarb is getting with the program as are the herbs.  The garlic and shallots that Marshall Kirby planted for me are growing great.

I continued with my seeding into 1-inch cells completing the seeding of arugula, basil, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chicory, cucumber (this may have been a mistake), dill, eggplant, fennel, lettuce, mustard, onions, Pak choi, parsley, and spinach.  I now have 960 cells with seeds in them.  Some of the tomatoes and peppers I planted last week are germinating.

I planted 3 more fruit trees–a sweet cherry, a sour cherry, and a hazelnut.

Plan:  by 3/23/2014

Finish cleaning up the garden

Till the garden

Break ground on the expanded 25’ by 70’ garden

Spread the 10 sq. yd. of compost over the entire garden

Rebuild the rows after tilling

Build grow out tables for the seedlings


Last week the garden was a cold swamp or that was my view of it. Now it is perfectly workable and warm.   For such a heavy soil this rapid change is very odd for me.  Maybe it was not that wet and cold last week or maybe being on a crest it just drains well.  Whatever the case, it is perfect now and calling to me!


Chicken Farm

A few days ago Bruce and  I went to a class of sorts at a poultry farm, B & K Natural Farm, in Sutherlin, not far from our house.  It was more of a tour, but we saw how a small farm operates in the raising and processing of chickens.  Here is an excerpt from the internet:

           “Pasture-raised meat chickens offered fresh May thru September, frozen available while they last. We raise our chickens on pasture in open-air pens that are moved daily. Our chickens are raised without the use of antibiotics or other chemicals. (No arsenic, antidepressants or feeding back feathers and waste.) No chemicals are applied to the fields upon which the chickens are raised. The pasture grasses fertilized by our chickens are harvested and sold as animal feed.”  http://www.localharvest.org/b-k-natural-farm-M55379

We are interested in finding pasture-raised organic meat from small farms and thought this would be a good opportunity to see if this would be a good place to buy from.

The owners are Beth & Kerry Olsen and Kerry led the tour.  He first took us to see the chicks.  They are raised in pens for a short time–I believe he called them battery brooders–and they have worked out the best for him in controlling disease.

They are then moved out to the pasture and kept in pens that are moved every three days which keeps the fields fertilized and the chickens stay clean and fed.  This is called Chicken Tractor.

Poultry pen

The next part is fairly gory, so skip down to the dog if you don’t want to know how chickens are processed.

We were taken in to see the processing plant which is a two room facility.  The first room has the cones.

Poultry processing equipment

The chickens are put in them head down and their necks are slit and they bleed out.  They then go into the scalder head first and hanging by their feet.  They are dunked several times for about 15 seconds to facilitate taking off the feathers.  To remove the feathers they are put into a steel drum that whirls them around and removes the feathers.  It’s the white round container with holes on the left side of the photo.  Behind that is the scalder.

The chickens then go on the tables to be eviserated.

 _MG_2980            _MG_2983

After that they are washed and vacuum-sealed and frozen and they are then ready for market.

Equipment-Vacuum Sealer

Vacuum sealer on the right and scale on the left.

Kerry processes 20 chickens an hour, 200 chickens a day, and 5000 chickens a year.

It was an interesting tour, but I sure wouldn’t want to do it for a living.  Thank you Kerry for taking the time to show us around your farm.


This is Buddy, Kerry and Beth’s very sweet, friendly dog.

Icelandic sheep _MG_2954

Some Icelandic sheep in an adjoining pasture.

Chickens, Isaac Browns

Isaac Brown chickens.  They followed along on the tour too.

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Vegetable Garden, March 2014, No. 1

Post:  3/9/2014

I am getting my first vegetable garden in Oregon underway.  Yesterday and today I put down 245 seeds from 37 varieties of tomatoes and 285 seeds from 42 varieties of peppers. They are in 200 cell trays 1-inch square and about 2-inches deep.  I have them in a small greenhouse set to a temperature of about 80 degrees F.  I plan to keep the temperature high until the peppers germinate.  Then I will lower the temperature to 65 degrees F. at night and let the day time temperatures run to the mid-80 degree F., when the sun is out.

Plan by 3/16/2014

By next weekend, I plan to seed arugula, basil, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, mustard, Pak choi, parsley, and spinach.


It feels like I am late getting seeds in the ground, but it is still raining and the ground is saturated and cold.  Night time temperatures are still getting into the high 30s, so it feels like spring is a long way off, but it is March!

Tomato Varieties:

Big Mama
Black Cherry
Brandywine from Croatia
Celebrity (det)
Cherokee Chocolate
Dr Neal
Early Wonder (det)
Ernie’s Plump
Florida Pink
Goldman’s Italian American Paste
Grandma Mary’s Paste
Gregori’s Altai
Hillbilly Potato Leaf
Howard German
Hungarian Italian
Isis Candy
Jeff’s Plum
Jersey Devil
Kellogg’s Breakfast
Kentucky Beefsteak
Mama Leone
Martino’s Roma
Mary Robinson’s German (bicolor)
Rio Grande
San Marzano
Sun gold
Super Italian Paste
Super San Marzano
Sweet 100
True Black Brandywine
Virginia Sweet
Yellow Brandywine

Pepper Varieties:

Ancho 101
Baby Pepper Chili
Bhut Jolokia
Bhut Jolokia Golden Ghost
Bhut Jolokia SCC
Big Bomb
California Wonder Orange
California Wonder Red
Chervena Chushka
Chilhuacle Negro
Corno di Toro Giallo
Corno di Toro Rosso
Early Sunsation
Garden Sunshine
Giallo di Cuneo
Goccia d’Oro
Habanero Saint Jacobs
Hinklehatz Yellow
Manzano Orange
Manzano Red
Marconi Golden
Marconi Red
Orange Bell
Pasilla Bajio
Quadrato d’Asti Rosso
Romanian Gogosari
Santa Fe Grande
Thai Hot Black
Trinidad Scorpion
Wisconsin Lakes

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My daughter told me that it is time to add a new post about arriving in Oregon.  She’s right, but we’ve been busy–or tired–or both.

The movers came on February 27th to pack and on the 28th to load it all in the truck.  California is having a record drought but of course it rained on that day.  We didn’t get going to Oregon as early as we wanted to, but we eventually made it to the hotel in Red Bluff, CA around 10pm.  Our cat, Annabelle, seemed to enjoy the ride, at least on the first day.  On the second day she wouldn’t even look at us.

It rained all the way up through most of California but not at all in Oregon.  What a nice welcome!  When we arrived in Roseburg there was a double rainbow hanging over the town.  Now that’s a fabulous welcome!

The movers came on schedule on Sunday and the rain mostly held off.  We had boxes everywhere, but I carved out a place in the living room so we could at least have a place to sit down.  We also got the bedroom set up because we sure weren’t going to spend another night in the hotel.  Someone had set up a BBQ on their balcony and smoked us out of our room the night before.

So for the past week we’ve been unpacking and unpacking, endlessly unpacking.  After awhile it starts to look like junk that you really don’t need.  Sara, our other daughter, came down for a day to help.  She was a great help with all the boxes in the kitchen.

The countryside around Roseburg is in full bloom.  There are numerous trees with white, pale pink and purple flowers that are some type of fruit trees.  The biggest surprise is the daffodils.  They are everywhere and they tend to grow in groups in the wild, so they are bright and cheery sights, especially on overcast and rainy days.  We don’t have any flowering trees on our property yet, but we do have some daffodils and hyacinths scattered around the house.  Bruce’s daffodils haven’t popped up yet.  If we had known how many wild ones there are, maybe he wouldn’t have been out in the rain planting bulbs.

We’ve been going into town much more than we thought we would–running errands for one thing or another.  We also went to the Umpqua Farmer’s Market.  It was inside at a school, but there wasn’t much in the way of vegetables to buy.  We found a booth run by a farmer who grows organic, pasture-fed lamb and pork  and she has free-range chickens.  We bought some breakfast sausage and eggs from her.  We were going to go on a tour of her farm today, but we couldn’t find the place.  We were in the right place, but there were no signs and no sign of any tours going on.  Oh well, it was a beautiful drive anyway, and we got to see the town of Dixonville.  At least, that’s what the sign said–there wasn’t much of a town.

We also went to a nearby winery, Abacela, and had a nice wine and pizza dinner.  We sat outside overlooking the vineyard.  When it isn’t raining, the temperatures are warm and it seems like Spring.  We met a couple at the next table over who have lived here their whole lives, and we enjoyed talking to them about Oregon.

So we are slowly getting organized and Bruce has been busy potting his tomatoes and peppers.  There are a few signs of life in the vegetable garden so we’ll need to go out there soon and attack the weeds.  All in all, we have had the best experiences we could have ever hoped for buying and selling our homes and we have decided that so far we made the right decision to come here to live in Roseburg.  We love the house, the farm, the forest and the people here.

Here are some photos from our first week in Oregon:

March 2014-Deer

The kitchen at its worst–but a good excuse to eat out!

March 2014-Deer3   March 2014-Deer2

The very bold deer right by our back door.

March 2014-Wood Stove

The very first thing Bruce did after the movers left.  Those logs have been calling to him for a very long time!

March 2014-Daffodils  March 2014-Hyacinths

Daffodils up by the main road and hyacinths near the house.  We have purple, pink and white ones.