Monday, February 11, 2013

A Visit to Portlandia

    I thought I'd write a little more about my recent visit to the Portland area.  I spent most of this past visit hanging out with my daughter Rachel and her sweet family. Portlandia is a really funny TV show that makes fun of the rather liberal inhabitants of Portland. There are a few aspects of Rachel's lifestyle that might make it into a Portlandia episode at some point. The fact that almost all of their backyard is one big vegetable garden and their city chickens are two possibilities. Although, I personally consider obsessive recycling and organic gardening to be pretty conservative behaviors. "Waste Not, Want Not" has been around a long time.  Besides, I'm not making fun of her vegetable yard as I am trying to convert a larger share of our yard into vegetable garden. If anything I'm a little envious.  I doubt that Linda will ever let me turn the entire yard into vegetable garden. Besides, we do need some yard for all of the grand children to roam.

   I was able to help set up some hoop houses for Chet and Rachel.  This involved using some metal electrical conduit as a framework and covering it with plastic. It makes a nice temporary greenhouse to extend the growing season in our cool wet maritime climate. Chet had helped me bend the ten foot lengths of conduit with a pipe bender some months earlier at my house. I managed to fit the bent conduit into our Saturn to transport it to Portland.  Rachel and Chet have two planting beds built into their patio that were there when they bought the house.  It just so happened that the concrete curbing that surrounds each planting bed had three holes on each side that were just the right size to accommodate the ends of the bent conduit.  All we had to do was to add a little twine to stabilize the structure and cover it with plastic. Chet improvised clamps to hold the plastic cover in place by cutting pieces of plastic water pipe and reshaping them a bit with the help of a propane torch. I thought that was pretty ingenious on his part.

One of the two hoop structures not yet covered.

Finished hoop house
   I also spent some time helping Rachel in her garden. We pruned grapes, black currants, and raspberries.  Then I assisted Rachel in digging up extra raspberry plants so I could take them home. I've let our raspberry patch fall by the wayside the past few years so it needs considerable renewal.  That is one of those full circle things as Rachel originally got her raspberry plants from me. This past week I was able to install the raspberries into their new home. I don't have them trellised yet, but I did get them surrounded by a cardboard mulch. I then covered the cardboard with wood chips left over from our cedar tree removal project. That should result in a relatively weed free and tidy raspberry patch.
Our new raspberry patch. It looked much nicer after I finished adding the mulch

   Rachel's garden has also inspired me to try something new this year. I noticed that her broccoli had not only survived the winter but had gone to seed like crazy. While broccoli has never been my favorite vegetable, I don't mind eating it once in a while.  One issue I've had with home-grown broccoli is the fact that it never seemed to produce enough to make it worthwhile.  After the initial harvest of one decent sized head, the broccoli produces lots of smaller shoots.  I have never managed to keep these secondary shoots harvested in a timely manner. The result is that the broccoli goes to seed. In the past I've viewed that as wasted garden space.  However, Linda recently purchased broccoli seeds for sprouting and that has changed my perspective on the broccoli going to seed. Maybe the side shoots going to seed could actually be a benefit.  A significant harvest of seeds could be used to produce fresh vegetables throughout the winter in the form of broccoli sprouts.

   There was one near tragedy associated with the trip to Portland.  Shortly after we had left Rachel's house en route to the hike, I received a call on my cell phone. It turned out to be some nice man driving a pickup truck who had seen my violin and ukulele fall off the top of our car. He happened to be just two cars behind me at that point so I pulled over and he returned to two errant instruments to my custody.  Sadly, the violin suffered a broken chin rest, but that is minor damage compared to what I expected to find. The ukulele escaped with no damage at all. If ukuleles have nine lives mine is now down to eight. I expressed my gratitude by mailing off some honey to the good Samaritan who saved my instruments.

    Another item I transported to Rachel was another sour dough starter.  Chet has taken official responsibility for the care and feeding of the starter.  He made my day when he left me a voice mail on Sunday to tell me how much he loved the sour dough pancake recipe.  


  1. Your garden can come to life, just give it some effort!

    -Samudaworth Tree Service
    Tree Service Brooklyn

  2. Dang! You're so lucky to ever see those instruments again!