Peas, lettuce and strawberries
Two weeks has past and a little more action in the garden. The tomato starts are growing. They are still pretty little especially the Stupice but they should start growing faster in the bigger pots.
We have started seeds both in the beds and in pots. The radishes are up and looking good. Carrots, beets and a second crop of peas are just poking their heads up. This was all seeded on April 28th . And in the greenhouse, the beans have been planted. The runner beans were the first up. The Monte Cristo pole have just started to leaf. Waiting for signs of life in the bush and Goldmarie romano beans.
The first batch of peas are just starting to bloom and most of the Outrageous lettuce has been harvested. It got a big thumb up for both taste and growth.
Today we got our delivery of soil 7 yards of Fertile Mulch and 3 yards of raised bed mix. We will be using this to fill our remaining raised beds and tomato pots. George also has a lot of work ahead hauling it from the front to the backyard – one wheelbarrel at a time!
Monte Cristo Pole Beans
10 Yards of soil being dropped off
And now to haul it to the back yard
We took a year off and did not plant a vegetable garden last year. We were gone for three weeks to Madagascar during August and knew it would be a lot of work for our house sitter. But the vegetable garden is back.
First off, G had to build new raised beds. The old ones were rotted and soil was falling out. He decided to build 3 new ones and a bit larger. We had 4 4’x5′ beds previously. The new beds are 4’x 8′. We had a little bit of a challenge getting the wood. We needed 18 boards and we had just a little Honda Civic. But G figured out how to transport 6 at a time using our old ski rack and bungie cords. We still have one to fill with soil.
G started the peas in our tomato pots while he was building the beds. We planted the Sugar Ann snap peas on February 28th. We also bought a ‘6’ pack of Outrageous lettuce which ended up having 12 plants which were planted at the same time. We had no frost days in March. We harvested our first lettuces last week – just about 60 days later. They are young red romaine type and pretty tasty.
G started the tomatoes on March 30th and they are in the big greenhouse. The weather has been so inconsistent. It got to 89 (!) on April 18th. But last night it was down to 39. It has been a mix of sun and rain. The warmth did push many plants to bloom early. The lilacs and rhododendrons are in full bloom – about 2 weeks early.
Next up – starting zucchini, planting radish, carrots, beets. Maybe starting some beans but those often do better started from seed when warmer.
Mid-March 2016 update
Our wonderful rainy spring is continuing. The temperatures have stayed in the mid-50’s with one or two nights getting down to freezing. It has been quite rainy with a good long stretch of daily rain from mid-February to mid-March. It is a bit warmer than normal and the plants are taking advantage of the warmth and water. We did have one or two days of sun but of course – we were in Tucson!
The neighborhood is a rainbow of pastels. The star (pun intended) are the Magnolias. The Stella Magnolias are just thick with flowers but the real stunner are the saucer magnolias. There are several mature trees and the flower covered branches cover the yards. I love their pink and white blossoms.
The pieris is continuing to bloom along with Viburnum tinus. The flowering plums are mostly finished and covered with shiny new purple-red leaves. The white yashino cherries are just finished. The Quad has been in bloom the past two weekends. Forsythia is still in bloom but the green leaves are pushing up through their yellow flowers.
Daffodils are in full bloom with their happy faces. The early tulips are also starting to bloom along with patches of purple grape hyacinth. Pink is dotting the beds with mounds of pink heather, shocking pink azaleas and red currants. Chartreuse green euphorbia is the accent.
It finally feels like winter is coming to a close. I know there is a good chance still for some frost in March but the days are getting longer and more sunny days.
We have had a winter of heavy rain. No snow and no serious frosts although it did get down in the low teens once. But the rain! December and February have been deluges.
Everything seems to be right on time or a little early. The blooms have gone fast due to either a couple of warm days (almost 60!) or heavy rains. I thought I would layout a timeline of what has been in bloom.
The month started out frosty and cold. We visited the Washington Park Arboretum on 9th of January and it was too early. The witchhazel was just starting to bloom but much was still in bud. A few hellebores. The star was Daphne bholua.
We made our second visit about three weeks later on 31st of January and the arboretum was in its prime. The witchhazel bushes were lovely scented clouds of yellow, the cyclamen coum was bright pink under the Stewartia and fields of hellebore.
The month started with our small bulbs buds starting to color. The crocus and snowdrops reacted to a few warm days and by second week and Valentine’s day they were in full bloom in the backyard and in our front window box. The iris reticulata really did well over the winter and we had a great bloom. But the heavy rains mid month flattened them and bloom was over by the 3rd weekend (22nd). We also visited the arboretum a 3rd time on 20th and witchhazel was completely done as were the bulbs. Surprising their “Christmas Snow” hellebores did terrible. They may have had too much rain. They are stunted and not a lot of blooms.
This week we have had a whole new set of spring blooms in the neighborhood. Daffodils are starting to open and brighten the days. The flowering blooms are just starting to open and create fluffy pink clouds of color. The pieris is starting to open and so is the forsythia. A few azaleas are opening in the warmer microclimates.
There is also a lot of signs of growth. The crocosmias are coming up. The delphiniums are up at about 6 inches with several leaves. We had to prune our roses yesterday and the growth buds had already started to grow. The maples are starting to color with their leaf and flower buds. Indian Plum is starting to bloom.
I also love how the sun is up by 7:00am and it is still light at 6pm. Just two more weeks to daylight saving time and then the equinox.
We have been planning for over a year for this trip. It all started with a brochure that G received from the publisher of nature books – specifically nepenthes. They were leading a trip to Madagascar. It has long been on our bucket list but it is so far away. We are not getting any younger so it was time to go. We sent off our deposit.
It will be an active trip so I started walking in January. I have been doing 2-3 miles 3 days a week. Later I started jogging and the past couple of months we have also been doing hikes. I am ready.
The past couple of weeks we have been finalizing all our gear and clothes. We have verified our plane seats, notified everyone who needs to know and are now just counting the days.
We will fly direct to Paris which is a 10 hour flight. We have a 3 hour layover in Paris. Then it is 10 and half hours to Antananarivo. We will be traveling for just about 24 hours by this time. We get in late at night around 11pm and we will be picked up by our hotel. We have a day to recover before we meet up with the group.
This will be an amazing trip. You can see the places we will visit on the map – click the 3 bar icon on the upper left to see each place we will be visiting or traveling through. I don’t know if I will be updating on the road but do check back in a couple of weeks and we will have many tales to tell.
The countdown has begun. We are under three weeks for our departure to Madagascar. We continue to do the stairs at Richmond Beach. Our goal right now is doing the flights 5 times which are about 1,000 stairs.
We needed to try out our new sleeping bags. We bought them several months ago because we needed bags that were filled with synthetics instead of down feathers. The added bonus is they are really lightweight which will help to keep the weight down in our packs.
We were thinking about where to go and I checked the Washington State Park website. We wanted something close by so we wouldn’t have to drive far. The site has the ability to search by region. Surprise! There was one site available at Penrose Point State Park for Saturday night. Sunset Magazine had rated as one of the best camping sites. We drove through it after our stay in Hood Canal two years ago. Sold!
We couldn’t check in until 2:30 on Saturday so we lingered around the house. The traffic was a bear as usual plus it was complicated because the Express Lanes were closed until 11:30pm. The traffic was stop and go for a while but we timed it just right and the lanes opened just as we got to the entrance.
We stopped for lunch at Engine House Number 9 in Tacoma. They have been brewing their own beers and specializing in unusual beers. Their menu looked vegetarian friendly. Service was quick – beer was good. G had a Belgium Pale Ale and I had a Wit. G had fish and chips and I had a burger and tater-tots. Very northwest. I saw they had a few specialty beers bottled so I got a bottle of the Ferme Agrume #1 a saison (farmhouse) style beer with tangelo citrus.
It was just under an hour from Tacoma to the campground. We set up the tent. Weather had changed and we hoped it would not rain. This weekend was one of the most reliable weekends for sun and there was a chance of showers! Strange.
G relaxed and I went for a walk. Neither of us were hungry after our lunch so we snacked and played backgammon. It was an early to bed night for us. The sleeping bags were very warm.
We were both up early. We had coffee and cereal before taking a hike in the park. There is a nice 2 mile loop hike through the forest to Penrose Point. It was a quiet peaceful hike that took about hour and half. We broke camp and headed back home. We thought we would head straight home but we were both hungry so we stopped at Park Way Tavern for a couple of burgers and beers and were home by 3pm.
Lunch at Engine House No 9
Setting up the tent
Moorage at Lakebay
Morning hike to the point
Mt Rainier from Van Trump Park
Another great hike that we have not done in over 20 years. It is a great hike and a beautiful waterfall. I think we haven’t done it mainly because there are so few vistas of Mt. Rainier. But it was a good training hike. We decided to hike on to Van Trump Park. Lots of great wildflowers and vistas to the south. I was a little disappointed in the actual park. The hikes around Paradise definitely deliver.
To Comet Falls – ~2 miles 1200ft gain
Additional to Van Trump – 1 more mile – ~1000 ft more
Total to Van Trump – 6 miles RT, 2200 Ft
Van Trump Creek rapids from a bridge at the start of the trail – right before Christine Falls
Crib Ladder to go around a 2012 slide
Okay – it was a little steep
Views to the south – you could barely make out Mt. St Helens in the high clouds
Avalanche Lilies – some of the beautiful wildflowers in the park
We have trying to do a hike every weekend to keep up our conditioning. Last weekend we hiked to Perry Creek. It was not steep compared to Mt. Pilchuck, but the rocky terrain made it tiring. We only went to the falls where you cross Perry Creek to start up the steep switch backs to Mt. Forgotten. It was about 4 miles to the falls and it took us about 3 hours. We had a lunch before heading back. What is also nice about Perry Creek is how close it is to our house. We left about 7:30am and we were on the trail by 9am. We were down by 2:30 and home by 4pm.
This weekend we decided to take a trip over to the peninsula and hike Mt. Townsend. It has been many years since we hiked Mt. Townsend – in fact 11 years! I had taken Monday off so G suggested spending the night in Pt Townsend and making it more of a mini-vacation.
We caught the 7:55am ferry. We got behind a slow car so we didn’t get to the trailhead until 9:30. The parking lot was already full! Very popular but everyone spread out so it wasn’t too busy on the trail.
The first mile or so switch backs up through Rhododendron filled forest. We hit it just right for the blooms.
After about a mile or so, the trail breaks out into the open and switch backs up tall wildflower slopes to Windy Camp and then up to the shorter rock gardens and vistas as you climb the last 1000 ft. Glorious views of Hood Canal and the Cascades.
Once you reach a saddle and you then have views off to Vancouver Island, Olympic Mountains and the actual summit is still a short climb. We choose to stay at the saddle which was almost 6,000 feet. We reached here about 12:30 and stayed about an hour before starting back down. It was a long hike down – it took about 2 hours but my legs were pretty tired. Roundtrip 8 miles and 2800ft gain.
We drove on out to Port Townsend where we stayed the night – more on that in the next post
Olympics from the top of Mt. Townsend
The actual top – we enjoyed it at the bottom.
Mt Rainier from Mt. Townsend
Some flowers seen along the trail
Lookout on top of Mt. Pilchuck
I have been training for our trip to Madagascar. I started in January with 20-40 minute walks and have slowly increased to jogging. We are also doing the stairs at Richmond Beach Saltwater park once or twice a week.
We are now trying to get out on the trail to strengthen and use different muscles. Tiger Mountain 3 is one of the main training hikes and we did it on May 3rd (5 miles, 2000ft, ~1:20 up). We did Easton Ridge on May 18th (4.5 miles, ~1700ft). Last weekend we did Mt. Pilchuck. Now that was a lot harder, not so much the length or elevation gain but more the condition of the trail. Over half of the trail is on rock talus which makes it harder to hike plus the typical roots in the forested part. But I made it up. It was 5.4 miles, 2400ft, 2:25 up. It definitely was a workout and I’ve been sore this week.
Lots of Skunk Cabbage at start of trail
Lots roots and rocks in the forest
Views of the Cascade crest
Trail signs in the rocky area approaching the top
Remnants of the old rope tow when there was a ski area on Mt. Pilchuck.
Strange Rocks along the trail
Cairn and vista out west and the Puget Sound
We did our annual visit to Lakewold Garden today. I was expecting the rhododendrons to be in full bloom but was surprised to see that they are just starting. They were wonderful but will reach their peak in another week just in time for Mother’s Day.
Everything was beautiful as usual. We were able to skip out without any plant purchases although G was so tempted at trying a Chilean Fire Bush again (Embothrium coccineum). He has lost 3 of them already. Fortunately he took a pass.
Lakewold visit 2013
Lakewold visit 2010
Lakewold visit 2007
Their new perennial beds
Lovely Exbury Azaleas
One of the older statues in the garden
The unique and lovely swimming pool