Rebecca Wooldridge

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since Sep 12, 2016
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chicken forest garden homestead
Western Oregon (Willamette Valley), 8a/8b
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Recent posts by Rebecca Wooldridge

I've never tried broad beans, but it sounds like I should! I have good luck with most leafy greens. Also chives.

One thing I've wondered is how well this method works for different climates. Does it work in places with winters even milder than this one, even where it may never drop below freezing? What about places where it gets really, really cold - is this still a viable method with a frost blanket over the containers? Its good to hear about other people experiences.

3 months ago
Here's a few videos with more details on the method, you can find a lot more good info out there if you look:

Some things that have done really well for me sown in the cold months include: lettuce, spinach, half-long or short carrots, bachelor's buttons, anything that typically likes to be planted in fall, self-reseeds or needs cold stratification... those things that like some cold but not a hard freeze and don't have a long taproot.

Some things I like to start indoors and then put the sprouted seeds in cloches to grow in the spring (I call this half winter sowing): tomatoes, tomatillos, zinnias

Things that haven't worked for me using this method: peppers seem to just like more heat, cucurbits, radishes I don't see much point...

I've predominantly used this to start vegetables for spring and summer in the last couple of years but this year I'm going to be trying more flowers as well.

3 months ago
Days are getting longer again now here in the northern hemisphere, meaning it's the perfect time of year to think about winter sowing some things!

If you're not familiar, I'm talking about the technique that involves using cloches, plastic jugs and bottles, etc. to start seeds outdoors in the winter/early spring months and then opening up the bottles to harden off the seedlings and transplanting them out into the garden once the weather is warm enough in the spring. It's generally recommended for hardy annuals and biennials in the winter and more heat-loving crops later on in the spring. I have read that traditionally you should start your first crops right after the winter solstice, but I find that whenever your cold weather really settles in, and not before, is good - for me that's more like early-mid January.

I highly recommend winter sowing in cooler climates if you haven't tried it before. I've been doing it for two years and find it works pretty well for me as a way to get a head start without needing a greenhouse, poly-tunnel, grow lights, etc. Has anyone else tried this method and found pros and cons with it? Is there anyone else interested in cataloging their efforts and results at winter sowing with me this year?

Right now I'm getting my seeds together and prepping my containers. I plan to start planting in January and will share my endeavors here this year in hopes that someone else will find this is a good low-cost method that can work for them too.

3 months ago
That sounds great, I'd love some grapes or something. Thanks for the interest!
Some garden friends ~

bumblebee on sunflower

swallowtail butterfly

writing spider argiope aurantia

oregon grape is popular with everyone

regal jumping spider

crab spider on zinnia flower

cat nap in the blackberry patch

3 months ago
Would anyone like to trade seeds?

I have a list of what I have, mostly saved from my garden here in this doc that I try to keep updated.  There's chocolate cherry tomatoes, rat's tail pod radish, mustard, winter squash, herbs, and a few other things, just for an idea.  Several of the strains are locally adapted to western Oregon, others are sourced from people here on permies - I've been growing Joseph Lofthouse's sprawling ground cherries for a couple of years now and saving seed from them, they are really quite fun to grow and eat!

I'm particularly looking for edible/non-toxic flowers and beneficial plants, especially early summer flowers for cutting.  I'm of course interested in fruits, vegetables, herbs etc as well but I'm really trying hard to get more flowers in the garden this year.  There's a more detailed list in the linked doc, but in general just throw what you've got at me, especially if it's weird/cool or locally adapted to a similar climate or anything like that.

Thanks, and happy winter garden planning! ~
I'll second alpaca fleece for knit winter hats! My favorite is a lightweight but warm beanie, my ears are never cold and it doesn't make me itch like sheep's wool does. It's also remarkably rain proof for a knit beanie. I bought it around 8 years ago and have used it every winter since, it still holds its shape and keeps me warm and dry. And I can fit my hair up in it if I want, which is always a plus.

In the summer depending on what I'm doing, I have a vented cloth hat with a cord... Boonie? Tenpenny? I'm not exactly sure what it's called but I can crush it, get it wet, and carry stuff in it. I also have a roll up sun hat that looks like it's made of straw but is actually synthetic, uv resistant and breathable. I use it more when I'm out and about and can roll it up quite small and keep it in my bag so it's always handy if I need it. And lastly, baseball caps. I dislike that they don't cover my ears well but they do have a hole for a ponytail unlike a lot of other hats.

I didn't make any of these, they were all either purchased or given to me. I don't think I've ever bought a baseball cap but somehow I have acquired several!
1 year ago
Like others in this thread, I really like bulbs around trees - a tightly spaced perimeter ring of garlic, walking onions, daffodil, or even better, Siberian iris, are fairly effective at keeping grass back, and especially effective against those rhizominous spreading grasses like the evil bermuda. Comfrey is always good. A community garden I was at had yarrow growing thickly under all of the more mature cherry trees, it seemed able to out compete the grass and come back year after year. If you want some running vines, perhaps nasturtium, grape, or mashua. In a drier, sunnier spot I might opt for some drought tolerant wildflowers like lupines and Mediterranean herbs. I always find catnip does nicely under trees and is a bit less likely to take over the garden than mint.

I like to put a ring of bulbs around where the drip line of the tree is, or where I think it will be, then mulch/cardboard thickly within that ring to eliminate grass, leaving about six inches or a foot around the trunk of new trees to allow moisture to get in to the earth around it's roots. Then in that mulched area within the ring, as the grass is removed and snuffed out I replace it with things like comfrey, yerrow, wildflowers, herbs, whatever I've got. I generally go for things that are edible, good forage for the chickens, resilient to being mowed down, are perennial or a self-sowing annual, or provide some benefit like attracting pollinators or fixing nutrients. I figure a diversity of things is always better than just one thing, but if you've got to manage a larger orchard I could see the benefits to keeping it simple.
1 year ago
Our household has has a lot of changes lately and a stricter budget is something I have been wanting to implement. One for myself, but I would like to the rest of the household on board as well. My partner is fairly frugal and money-wise, but he likes to keep track of it all mostly in his head... I admit this is the way I'm used to doing it too. We don't make a lot but we are fairly frugal with what we do make, so it all generally works out, but I would really like to get some numbers in a spreadsheet or something and actually track our expenses carefully, and save more efficiently. We're still young but we're not getting any younger, and we've got big goals for our little farm. At least I do.

In the months going forward I will track my spending and figure out our average budget. Does anyone have a method they recommend?
From there I can adjust what needs adjusting and put my money to better use.

I think my initial categories would break down into:

Groceries - we spend a good amount here. After all, we are filthy millennials who like out avocado toast. At least we can stay busy by killing applebees and probably cutting back on the pre-made foods we by and using more raw ingredients. I already do this a lot but we do get lazy at times. I wonder if this category should contain our "going out" money or if that should fall under extras?
Gas - fairly inflexible expense, we already use it as sparingly as we can most of the time. This number is going to be larger because my partner commutes.
Bills - Internet, phone, taxes, netflix....doesn't change a lot, could go down a little.
Farm & house fund - Big one that varies a lot month to month. Should probably be broken down into more categories....
Savings & emergency fund - a minimum of $50 a month but often more.
Extras - this one is going to be a place to cut back, I can sense it.

Even without the exact numbers, I can already see places where I could cut back or shift priorities in order to save up more quickly.
1 year ago
What better time than the middle of winter to post some pictures of the more verdant, lush seasons?

An older picture of one of my favorite places, the Alsea river:

Pacific Rhododendron

Oregon grape blossoms with a bunch of insect friends

1 year ago