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On September 29, I started reading A Way to Garden by Margaret Roach, having recently read and loved her memoir, And I Shall Find Some Peace There.

My first reading session was enjoyable but too short. My favorite bits from that day:

Oh, yes, my garden is full of regrets, but not as many regrets as the garden I left behind. In moving on, I escaped gooseneck loosestrife, lily of the valley, sweet woodruff (or so I thought) and many more. In a later chapter, she turns again to thoughts about pushy plants:

Again, I felt unbecomingly envious that she is friends with Withey and Price.

My life feels inferior.

I want to figure out how to make tomato junk and have more of a self sufficient kitchen.

And I just like and identify with this:

Then I set the book aside till a rainy day when I had no project to do. It was a wait of a couple of weeks. I wanted to immerse myself in the rest of the book without interruption.

Finally such a day came along on a October 11th. I like this about botanical Latin. Maybe I will stop worrying about how to pronounce Agastache.

Then suddenly the book became far more useful than I had imagined it would be with a wealth of charts and advice and information about vegetable growing, my new Pandemic-inspired thing. I saved pages and pages of it in my “Notes” app to reference next year. If kitchen gardens are your thing, I advise acquiring this book.

But then the sun came out and I had to go outside, and then I had to prepare many tomatoes for the dehydrator. I had to laugh when I asked Siri a question about my jalapeño pepper plant.

Finally, on October 13th, I had enough reading weather to finish this rather large book. Margaret’s description of her compost pile lets you know how huge her property is.

more envy…

I saved many more pages of information about how to grow and preserve veg and herbs. Even if I owned the book, I’d find it useful to photograph those pages and put them in Notes.

I’m obsessed with autumn leaves and learned more about their value.

The leaves that I chop, burning mower gas all the while, are not raked off garden beds but are the leaves that fall on lawns or parking lots or gutters.

On a similar topic, she writes in favor of snags, with surprising advise about how many tree snags are invaluable for a landscape.

She goes on to talk about various thankful critters.

My final thoughtful takeaway is about why to buy organic seed. I should have thought of this!

That has me convinced to spend the bit of extra money from now on for organic seed, when given a choice.

If you seek this book out, be sure to get the updated edition. I am now eagerly awaiting the arrival of her second memoir. And for more rainy days, because I will require time to read it from beginning to end with the only interruptions beings from tea-making, snacking, and cats.

Allan had an adventure.

Southwest Washington Paddle Trips

12 October 2020: Willapa National Wildlife Refuge (points north)

Willapa Bay’s Long Island is often mentioned when kayakers ask about where to find remote camping away from it all. I realized I had never actually seen Sawlog or Lewis Campgrounds on the east side though I had paddled near them. We once visited the Pinnacles Rock and Smokey Hollow Campgrounds on the lower west side and that post is here. Sawlog Campground on the Baldwin Slough is just two and a half miles measured straight from the Willapa National Wildlife’s launch ramp. Today I’d find it.

With Covid-19 still on the rise, this trip would be close to home.

A couple stopping to admire the view. Free parking across the street but facilities are closed.

Here is an overview of the island from the 2017 Long Island Unit Map. On this date six years ago I took this…

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Monday, 12 October 2020

at home

Allan had gone boating, his first trip for a long time, fairly close to home because of avoiding nonessential travel. If we are lucky, that will be tomorrow’s post.

I spend two hours slicing cherry tomatoes and apples for the dehydrator. Because of perfect soft autumnal weather, this made me feel frustrated at not being outdoors. I reflected on all the many hours my grandma spent each autumn canning pears and stewed tomatoes and green beans and sauerkraut and making jellies and pickles. I bet she felt the same way.

The plan was to pick some yellow apples to fill the last dehydrator shelf, but to my surprise the apples off this old tree did not twist off so are apparently not ready yet.

Finally I was able to go outside and do a spontaneous project, which just happened to be in Allan’s garden. The toadflax has taken over an area, which is also full of sprouts from the wild plum tree that comes from next door.

The after photo, washed out by bright light, doesn’t show the charming stone lantern his mother made. I’ll try to add a better one later.

He has room for some new tall plants of some sort.

Later, he did not especially seem to mind that I had weeded in his territory, although he did comment that I had done it while he was gone.

I went on to the rest of the East front garden, cutting more of that damnable running wild tree. It’s coming from just beyond the east fence. It got cut down once but grew right back. I even found it all the way across the garden growing by the sidewalk just inside the front gate.

It is horrible thing.

East front garden after some gardening:



Patti had given me a potted plant with the caveat that she wanted the pot back. She called it a fatsiahedera but to me it looks like Fatsia ‘Spider’s Web’…

…especially when I held a leaf up next to the one in Allan’s garden.

I found a spot for it in the front garden (after the difficult task of getting it out of the pot) by moving a nice heuchera to under a variegated pittosporum.

Nickel and Fairy had spent the day in the south Catio.

I would sit with them while writing blog posts for a couple of hours in the evening.

First, I had a garden walk.

Birds have been enjoying white echinops seeds.
Cosmos still blooming
Physocarpus and golden Phygelius
Salvia ‘Amistad’ has bloomed for months .

I pondered whether or not to cut some willow to make a total view corridor at the south end of the property.

The path that ends here was designed around that rectangle of light at the end. I’m not sure if I want it back or not. I must decide soon before the winter pond fills with water.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Rain and wind kept us home from work.

I felt like quite the homesteader as I put dehydrated tomatoes in the freezer.

Over the weekend, Allan had helped me set up a reading nook in my room for communion with the kittens, using the lightweight pink swivel chair that I have tried to get rid of. I am glad I kept it, and so are the kittens.

The cords are run through piping to keep Fairy from bothering them.

I finished A Way to Garden…more on this soon, an excellent book…while Allan started to process his boating photos. We snacked on some Universal Yums and wondered about other country’s having meat flavored potato crisps.

As you can see the bacon flavored ones from Colombia look like bacon.

Tomorrow should be day one of our great big two day work week.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

The day began early and stressfully with an emergency appointment at the vet (which is open Saturdays and kindly fit us in) to check a lump on Skooter’s forehead which I feared was an abscess. It was nothing to worry about after all. He got an allergy shot and a new eight month flea collar and won’t have to go in with the kittens later this month.

at home

Nickel and Fairy enjoyed the Catio. Allan’s new crossing board makes the traffic patterns work better.




We’d had some rain, which was just ending when we all went outside.

I was inspired suddenly to sift through compost bin three to get more material for a tote in which I wanted to plant seed. (Last night on Gardeners’ World, Monty Don had said to plant broad beans now….called fava beans here…and I had some seeds.)

I got all the way to the bottom of bin three ….And was very pleased to get two red barrows of good compost.

Allan helped me top two totes off with bagged potting soil so I could plant some winter lettuce (maybe too late) and the broad beans, and I found some collards and kale and mustard greens plants languishing in smaller containers and added those in hope of some happier winter greens.

Squalls of heavy rain sent me into the greenhouse several times.

looking out of the greenhouse

Allan helped me make a blue wall behind the cat memorial garden. Actually, it is a blue blanket that is uncomfortably scratchy and will serve to block a bright white 24 hour security light that blasts my migraine-sensitive eyes when I look out of the greenhouse on a dark day. Eventually, a small thin board or something woven in and out of the top of the iron fence will do the trick, but for now the cloth blue wall is a good fix.

He made the bamboo grid to keep it from flapping.

We have lived here for almost ten years. You’d think by now I could have managed to enclose the garden thoroughly to keep lights out, but I am still working on it due to not planting for bright lights that weren’t there when we moved in. Someone without chronic migraines couldn’t even understand my obsession with this. It’s nobody’s problem but mine to fix; I can only control my own space and even that I can’t control completely. It is Allan’s problem because he has to hear about it. “The light! The light, it hurts me!” (Robert used to say, “Living with you is like living with a vampire.”)


Between squalls, I got some potting on done. I am pleased with all my successful cuttings, including scented geraniums.

We have tomato and cucumber salads every night since the final harvest of cukes. Tonight will be the second to last such salad.

This is only about one third of the ripening tomatoes.

We started to watch an interesting speculative fiction British drama called Years and Years. It was getting very good in episode one when the library dvd froze up. We ordered another copy and turned instead to the ever soothing Great British Baking Show and for the first time, after having watched about five seasons so far, I wondered what it would be like to try to bake something. I even googled how to prove without a proving drawer. Allan did not just think about baking; he had made a scrumptious apple crisp from some Cox’s Orange Pippins.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Rain and wind kept us indoors. I turned back to reading more of A Way to Garden, at last. (I read more during winter staycation, when I stop blogging every day.)

Allan repainted his boat.

If you wondering where Skooter has been….he spends his days on the back porch next door. This is not new behavior because of kittens. He hopes his friend Coco will come to visit.

Allan fetches him at dark-thirty…..

…and he enjoys watching telly with us or else sitting out on the north Catio surveying his domain and remembering nights of freedom. The Catio door got accidentally left open a few nights ago and he must have thought it wonderful to roam in the dark and didn’t come back all night.

Friday, 10 October 2020

at home

We worked on the kitchen garden tote project. First, I scavenged rotten wood from the potato patch stump in Alicia’s garden next door, feeling like a bug as I chipped away at the rotten stump. This resulted in a pot of yummy potatoes, and then another pot of potatoes that accidentally rolled out while I pulled weeds. I smoothed out the edges, removing chunky rocks, making it easier to mow.

The scavenged wood, along with some other wood we’d collected here and there, went into a tote, followed by some chippings that Allan created with the Pencil Sharpener (from branches pruned at work) and then some rough compost.

I then loaded up all the rest of the hanging basket mix (from Long Beach) and waited for Allan to finish a picket fence totes project. But no pressure!

He had repaired and improved the piece of fence first. It is sentimental, having come from an old job of ours, Andersen’s RV Park.

I’ll be able to grow short beans or peas on that, or taller ones if I tie in some bamboo.

It looks interesting as you approach it from from the front garden.


Here is a before and after from the potting bench side.

This succeeds in making the totes area more mysterious and in I nfluencing a visitor to keep walking toward the ornamental borders, I hope.

I added the hanging basket mix to the tote I was filling today.

It will sink down over winter, of course. I topped it with some rabbit poo and mixed it in. The tote that got done first and got planted with seeds is doing very well.

lots of good beets in there to harvest soon

I have some picket fence for that tote, also, and one more, after beet harvest.

I relocated the wood from the former in ground bed and redid my faux flint capped mini-wall so that it shows better……

…and then potted on some plant sale plants to larger pots.
This hebe is from some weird top growth on a Hebe ‘Boughton Dome’.

Allan, not happy with the paint job on his home built boat, decided to start over. It was not smooth enough.

Finally, some flower appreciation.

Fuchsia and cyclamen
I was inspired by Seaside gardener Pam Fleming to get this orange flower but have forgotten its name.
“Black” scabiosa
Tree dahlia (Dahlia imperialis)

Friday, 9 October 2020

at home

To soothe your nerves in these fraught times, here are the new cats in the south Catio, amusingly crossing each other on the 2×4 that they have adopted as a path. Allan later added a cross piece to give them an “out” when they meet up.

Now…just cats, no more words.

Thursday, 8 October 2020

At home

I dug out the ground bed that had courgettes and cucumber plants, getting a surprisingly large last harvest.

before

Allan has a long to-do list….

but he turned his attention to fixing the remaining totes.

By the time he had them ready, I had the bed dug out and the ground sort of level. It’s a tight squeeze getting the totes through the passionflower arbor.

We put down some plywood from the free lumber pile in an attempt to discourage the hops (which I regret planting years ago).

I’ll use the first bin on the left as a leaf bin for now.

I have an idea for the picket fence…tomorrow, maybe.

The totes being smaller than the compost bins that used to be there means I have more room for the planting table and potting soil bins.

Meanwhile, Fairy and Nickel enjoyed the new Catio. They are determined to walk on the narrow two by four halfway up, even though it is hard to turn around.

Nickel has slightly weepy eyes at times. They have an introductory vet appointment in about week, a free check up courtesy of the South Pacific County Humane Society, and I will ask about it. He doesn’t seem bothered about it.

We made the error of deciding to try to introduce Skooter. Allan carried him over from the cat bench, so he was already mad because he hates being carried. I wish the cattens were still little kittens; I forget that they are closer to full grown cats. (I must not brood over how I missed their kitten months!)

It was not a catastrophe, but the words said and the body language were not “let’s be friends!”


“Why can’t you be nice?”

We got Skooter out. He immediately stalked to the canoe garden and gave notice that this is his territory.

Nickel and Fairy got back to playing and relaxing. I just want them all to be friends so that the house doesn’t have to be divided into two zones. We must be patient. Introducing other new cats has taken longer.

Thursday, 7 October 2020

Mike’s garden

The cosmos are far beyond any thought of deadheading.

Mike’s garden has three colors of hesperantha.

Pink and salmon
…and bright red.

I was inspired to do some pruning on the ornamental cherry, mostly just clipping out small dead bits.



Ilwaco Fire Department

We did a bit of weeding on our volunteer gardens. I am counting on rain to water them.

southwest corner…I’m thinking of red penstemon for the big gap.


Across the street, a friend’s house is a joy to see.

Someone stole their first Biden flag in daylight. They are undaunted.

During a brief stop at home to offload some compostable debris, we gave the kittens their first taste of dried catnip. It was a hit.



Port of Ilwaco

We wanted to start with the Jensen curbside garden, but there were too many people around where we needed to park, so we moved on to the boatyard instead.

Still too busy to work at the middle of the garden…

We worked at the south end. Allan did a great job of removing some Pennisetum macrourum, a beautiful but too vigorous grass. It gets bagged to go in the wheelie bin.

before

I had tackled a clump of the big running golden rod, also too vigorous.

Roots to beware of …it will be back. It also got bagged.

I love the foliage of the baptisia…

….and the fact that the deer left my test sanguisorba alone, so I will plant more.

Fog had rolled in by the time we dumped debris.


Leaves and lawn

We went to Marlene’s at the east end of town to collect leaves. The two big maple trees are bare now.

Marlene had already gathered some in assorted bins and we had baskets for the rest.

On the way home, we stopped briefly to admire some more signs of simpatico neighbors.

Allan mowed leaves while I found places to stash them. I was wishing I had one of the empty fish totes set up to be a leaf bin. Later.

I mowed the rest of the lawn…

…and collected the last big tomatoes.

We got fewer than ten large tomatoes, and that is better than most years.
The cherry tomatoes were prolific.

Now we have five days off. I hope for rain and indoor time for reading and kittens.

The Depot Restaurant

I tidied the front garden….

Cornus ‘Hedgerows Gold’
Coreopsis ‘Flower Tower’
Solidago ‘Fireworks’

….while Allan cut some bamboo in a narrow passageway to the south And west of the dining deck.

The dining deck has been invaluable in this social distancing summer.

Sometimes I experience a wave of such longing to dine at The Depot, my favourite restaurant ever, and then I feel terribly sad. I just can’t, though, as my Covid avoidance protocols are fierce due to being self employed with no sick leave. I do miss the cozy ambience, delicious food, and that good feeling of a work reward.

Patti’s garden

This sign was stolen within a couple of days after this photo.
Our Patti
and so did Kirk’s dog, Roscoe.

Boreas Inn

We did our usual tidying of the garden.

looking east…..
….and west.

Long Beach

While I did some weeding and clipping back in Veterans Field, Allan worked in the little garden behind Lewis and Clark Square, pulling Crocosmia, both ‘Lucifer’ and the shorter orange one that is known to most as montbretia. We do wish this park had better variety of plants. Even the politer Lucifer has taken over the center of the bed. It doesn’t look very good after the Crocosmia is pulled.



He also found bindweed, as did I when I went to help; it’s a curse in this little park.


I don’t know why I was not inspired to put a nice edge on the inside lawn. Just…tired, I guess, and kind of depressed about the job.

I looked across Lewis and Clark Square to the big planter that needs attention but saw so many unmasked people walking by that I couldn’t make myself go there

We next untwined bindweed from the rugosa roses at the police station, to the north across the street.

South wall
west wall

Across the street to the west, I saw that a planter needed a catananche (Cupid’s dart) to be cut back. It looked shabby. But the traffic was heavy and backed up from the stoplight, and the humans were legion. Just as I decided to make a dash for it, a man sat down to smoke a cigarette.

I took my next chance…

And got it done. One planter out of 37 downtown. I have hit the wall on working around unmasked tourists and am grateful for the roughly half or sometime one third who do wear masks.

The planters all need attention which I just don’t have it in me to give until downtown is less busy. At least I can tell myself they look appropriately autumnal.

We clipped some blackberries on a parking lot berm…

Allan noticed this unusually late Rosa rubrifolia.


While dumping debris at City Works, we found one more hanging basket clump, some rotting wood for my hugulkultur totes, and, sadly, a concrete vault that was too darn heavy.

Pretty good score, though.

We had almost forgotten to tidy Fifth Street Park but remembered on the way home.

Darmera peltata…
….and gunnera in southeast quadrant.

So halfway through this post, before Long Beach, I thought it was too short to stop there, and now that I’ve added Long Beach, I think it might be too long!

Monday, 5 October 2020

Today should have been a relaxing day at home, but our internet had died, and, with the culprit being the modem, Allan had to drive to our provider’s store in Astoria to exchange it. I was anxious the whole time, especially when he called and said I had to authorize the exchange as the years-old account was in my name only. A telephone run around while he waited across the river in the parking lot was quite stressful but eventually worked out. For awhile, it seemed that Allan would have to make an hour long trip to take me over there in person.

I had an anxiety meltdown about it. According to this article, that’s ok, because we are all holding in so much stress as we soldier on during the pandemic.

It worked out finally. Allan said that the store was very good with their pandemic protocols. He took a photo of some fish totes in the parking lot. Fish totes are ubiquitous around here. If you have seen the last episode of Dexter, you’ll know where I mean when I say that the store was near the lumberyard where Dexter ends up.

While waiting, I sliced bananas with such a nervous hand that the dehydrator filled with uneven slices that did not dry in the same length of time.

After Allan’s safe return and as soon as the new modem was happy (and so were we), we introduced the kittens to the front Catio. They were scared and wide-eyed at first, I think because there were construction noises from a few houses away.

Nickel meowed pitifully when he went to the walkway along the front of the house, till he realized he could turn around and come back and not be stuck there alone forever.


When they made it to ground level, they had a grand time romping in the plants and up and down the ramps.

Skooter, who was hanging out next door, had gotten attention, too.

The last half of the day was much better than the first.