the hyphens that define my life

Black Horse & the Cherry Tree April 10, 2015

Truth be told I don’t have a black horse.  I should.  At least a miniature pony.  Or even a goat.  With a cart. I live in the city and no goats or horses or ponies with carts are permitted.   I could manage a few chickens but I’ve drawn the DIY line at chickens.  I can get fresh eggs at the farmers market easily enough.  We did have a black dog [RIP sweet old boy Dale Anthony].  Now we have a black-brown dog. My horse in this story is our 8 week old Airedale Terrorist puppy, HRH Prince Ezie Otis.  Ezie, to us common peasants.

Ezie Cherry Tree

In this photo, Ezie is sitting in the well of our cherry tree, ready to play.  He doesn’t realize [total apprentice fail] that we’re on a gardening mission.  We have work to do.  Sabotage is on his agenda, not work.

Mother’s Day 2014, my four kids [notice they are nowhere to be found when I get in gardening mode] each bought me a fruit tree for our front yard orchard.  One side of our front yard is a vegetable garden, the other side of our front yard is our fruit orchard.  In our orchard we have three dwarf trees – cherry, apple, and pear and 1 dwarf peach.

With the exception of the peach tree, the cherry, apple and pear are grafted trees. The purpose of a grafted tree is for cross-pollination within a small space.  Instead of needing multiple trees to meet the pollination needs required by some fruit trees, 3-5 trees are grafted together to serve this need.  And I get a variety of fruit from planting one tree.  Sweet!

Yesterday, Day 2 of my 100 Days of Gardening, was an overcast then rainy day.  I ordered an expandable willow fence to keep out the aforementioned beast as well as the substitute mailman who somehow thinks it’s ok to walk through my yard. [Dude!]  High hopes that either the pup or the fence will deter the wild turkeys that roam our neighborhood. The willow fence will also serve as my pea trellis.  Fencing to keep out varmints and pests – even cute ones – is essential to gardening.  Doubling as structural support for my peas is a bonus [until said pests and varmints start eating my peas]. Here’s an example of the handmade fence I purchased on Etsy from a local Washington craftsman:

willow fence

My 5-n-1 grafted dwarf cherry tree is starting to bloom.  The five types of cherries on this tree are:  Bing, Lapins, Lambert, Royal Ann and Black Tartarian.  Each branch is a different variety.  The Black Tartarian branch has begun to bloom:

black tartarian cherry bloom

Not a lot of gardening progress on Day 2, but happiness is found with a big [growing] black-brown dog  under a cherry tree.  Thanks to the rain and mud, HRH had to have his second bath this week.

Ezie Tub Time 1

Who needs a horse?






100 Days of Gardening April 9, 2015

The Great Discontent (TGD), a quarterly magazine with candid interviews on those that create, has inspired me.  The interview of my photographer friend, Ike Edeani (check him out, follow him on Facebook and Instagram) was featured in their first issue and connected me with the magazine.  TGD began a #The100DayProject, as defined on the website:

What Is the 100-Day Project? It’s a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. For the 100-Day Project, it’s not about fetishizing finished products—it’s about the process.

The project began on April 6 but, if you’re like me and forgot to start until April 8, you may begin at any time and finish at your own pace.  Whew.  I’m in.

My project focus is gardening, #100daysofgardening, and my creative process will be posted daily.

Pause here for clarification:  yes, I know I’ve written many times that I will blog/exercise/eat right/do something daily and then drop the ball.  Guess what?  I may do fail to meet the daily expectation.  Life happens. However, with heightened awareness, a sense of purpose, and our last threat of frost rapidly approaching, I am going to try my damnedest to garden daily.  Really, I have no choice if I want a garden this year.

Yesterday, I ventured to my front yard garden to assess what prep work will need to be accomplished. Front yard gardening is a big deal, Google it.  It is controversial in some areas, forbidden (the horror!) in others (doubt me, ask your HOA or check with city/county regulations) and subject to extreme criticism from the neighborhood.  My front yard garden is permissible (no HOA strings on me), no city restrictions (I checked), and has been well received by the neighborhood.  I made new friends last year during the construction phase of the garden too.

Last year, I dug up all the sod (yes I could have rented some machine to do the job but I needed the therapy of physical labor) and created 10 unformed raised beds and pathways in a keyhole design.  Unformed raised beds are just like raised beds without the wood frames.  Unformed raised beds may require reshaping each new gardening season.  I reshape while cleaning up winter debris or adding soil amendments, not an issue for me.  One district representative did ask me, “What would [will] happen to the dirt when it falls out of shape?”.  [dart your eyes back and forth a few times and raise your eyebrows like I did in the moment for effect.] “The dirt will fall to the ground”, I replied. Total state of chaos. Save yourselves while you still can.

Back to the project.

Day 1:  Assess the situation.  Dirt on the ground.  [good start]

garden 2015

I need to rake up leaves and debris, add some bark to the pathways; address irrigation and shape the beds.  I began the clean up process, noting that my tarragon and sage are returning.  Some carrots, arugula and lettuces have sprouted from last year’s seed.  Then I found this surprise:


My first asparagus.  I am surprised because I bought three asparagus starts at the Manito Park Plant Sale last summer and just stuck them in the ground, not paying heed to the planting direction of digging a special asparagus trench (what?) and other special asparagus tricks.  Asparagus starts are supposed to take two years to produce. I planted just to see what would happen.  Lo and behold, an asparagus is born.

100 Days of Gardening is not going to be easy, it will be a lot of work.  The process of this work is what I love.  The produce is what I enjoy.


My apprentice.