This baby goes in the window above our bed - facing south. Not only is it always covered in dust and cat hair, but it's also crispy at the base and thriving at the ends. How do I make it healthy again, without cutting all of it away? A long time ago I added a baby plant in the base, but now there's too many roots to do that again. Ideas?


Today we picked two heads of butter lettuce, a head of red lettuce, a couple giant bushels of frou-frou greens, and four radishes. There's more to come.... our corn has started, the broccoli plants are getting big, as are the onions, and some mystery plant that was promptly forgotten (via drunkeness) after planting.
And we really really need to mow the pool.
As I type, Sean is cleaning everything up. I guess that means we're having lettuce and radish salad for dinner, since he hasn't asked me to go to the store yet.

Yeah. The garden is still here.
And remember we put all that mulch in the U around freshly planted flowers?
Yeah, that mulch from those trees that Marc sawed - man, it's like the best growing medium. But we didn't *want* a growing medium - so now we have to shovel it all back up and lay down landscaping plastic and cover it with cedar.
The honeysuckle is a bit packed from me planting it in mud - I saw a lot of worms that day so I really hope they do their thing.
I burned my indoor rosemary and spearmint with plant cleaner - they've been "moved outside", which is Death Row for my plants.
Oh, and the row of indoor seedling in the kitchen window?
Yeah. Um. They were here. Now they're not. That is all.

This one's for IA. It isn't a picture of me actually laboring, because I was by myself. This little plot of dirt is in the corner of our back yard, and it has harbored many messes over the years, usually weeds, and the addition of Shane's paint supplies when we were in our painting phase (short-lived). I once dumped an entire pack of wildflower seeds here, and some things grew, but mostly the greenery that comes with said wildflowers.
The soil was dug out about 4 inches and replaced with potting soil, vermiculite, and Starbucks coffee grounds. And many, many happy worms. My soil bin had filled with rainwater for almost a year, so it was pure black mud.
This is a honeysuckle plant. I've heard horrible things since planting this baby. To the right of this wall is the pool shed - no longer needed, but too difficult to destroy and haul away. Gregor has informed me that this guy can take over my yard *and* the neighbor's yard, so I'll really have to pay attention to its growing habits.
I have to consolidate this page with houseplants - I have a few questions, and I thought this would be the best "forum" for my questions:
Pepper plant: Totally dried out but I keep watering it. Am I supposed to pick the peppers? Cut it down? Are they edible? Poisonous?
I've had this thing for *years* and it hardly grows. Will it ever?
What is it?
This is my favorite plant. We've had it since it was a baby. Is it a pepperomia? How can I keep it happy? I'm trying to transplant some babies (see bottom left) but they are struggling.
To the left is a built-in desk in our room - they get just a bit of indirect light, so I put in a grow light (see it?), but now the plants are "reaching" until they fall over (see spearmint in the center!). Should I just use a normal light bulb and hope they get "something" out of it? [Yes, those are my slippers.]
To the right is a set of plants I got a couple years ago - they look like snake plants, but they are much wider. I think I am drowning them (they don't have much of a root system). I don't know what they are so I don't know how to take care of them, or what kind of soil they like, etc. The little pot on the right is grass that I got at the grocery store (you know - those squares of wheat grass) that I wanted to plant for the cats. Well, I planted it, but it won't "take" to the soil in the pot. Anyone growing yard grass in a pot in their house? How? I cut it down really short but it's still dry.
This is a spider plant that I got many years ago and kept outside. Then I abused it and it died, so I set it along the side of the house. Then, two years later, I see there's some green in the middle of it, so I cut it all back, and here's what I have. The pot was completely filled solid with thick white roots and roly-polies and millipedes. I put it in this old furnace cap thing with that coffee-enhanced mud mentioned above. I can't bring it inside because there's probably many critters still living in it's roots. Can spider plants survive year-round outside (in Seattle in a covered/screened porch)? How would I keep it happy? And when it grows tons of babies, do I have to cut them off? Where do I cut? How do I plant the babies?
If anyone out there can answer any of these questions I'd be happy. I have a bad habit of throwing away plants that I don't understand (i.e.kill) and I'd like to learn how to keep what I have.
Thanks, everyone!

First step complete. And the garden was not devoured by the possums on the first night (yay!)
Kolja and Marc helped us all day, and were rewarded with dinner and a three-hour game of Settlers. The weather was fantastic, even though the forecast called for rain.
Note these big tree shrubs along the top of the pool. They were hurting for attention.
Turns out that the dirt in the pool is mostly rock, so the digging task was quite beastly. Thankfully I had three men with shovels digging away while I took our cat Jalen to the vet.
We did two squares of 4' by 4' which were measured by Kolja and therefore ended up something like 40" by 57" or something. They surrounded theses squares by boards and then dumped in tons of good soil. We planted some seedlings: red onion, walla walla (sweet) onion, spinach, a couple kinds of lettuce, marigolds (to control the bugs), and then some seeds of leeks, radishes, carrots, broccoli, and cucumbers. Along the top is a row for tall, trellised plants which will have tomatoes and corn.
Growing in the house in little pots are jalepeno peppers, peppers, and tomatillos. I still need to find cilantro, artichoke, and asparagus (which my Mom says is really difficult to start). After this, it was still early so we looked around the rest of the house and decided to conquer the dreaded U-shaped flower bed and the bed along the driveway.

Marc found a saw and went to town. The shrub had a really weird growth sticking out of it, and he found the source and hacked it off. Then he kept hacking. Then Kolja and Sean tore up all the weeds so we can transfer our pepper and tomatillo starts there in a few weeks.
The shrub still has some dead spots, but it may come back. We'll see.

The U. Before.
We'll get to this later.
What a difference a saw makes. Marc hacked away at these things until the sun set.
There were tons and tons of these dried bits from the shrubs, so we scooped it up to use as mulch. And now, of course, we need to make a dump run.
These shrubs need about four feet cut from the top, but there's cables up there. I'll leave that one for the next tenants.
Some of the trees are damaged, but they still live. Sean doesn't want to cut anything down that was here before we lived here.
Doesn't that look so much better?!?
So Sean started digging up the dreaded U. We've been through so much with this thing. Last weekend Amy & I went to Swanson's Nursery and I got a whole box of free flowers, so they went here. Along the wall, between the shrubs, I'd like to plant an artichoke plant. These weeds are like a carpet of grass, but Sean spent a lot of time digging it up. After we planted the flowers, we used all of those dried bits from the tall shrubs as mulch - five wheelbarrows full, and there's still a lot of grass poking through.
I also hate these shrubs but taking them out would probably include taking out the driveway, so they're staying. It would be okay if they were all red, but they're all mixed - including pink and purple. Blecch.
This is also the graveyard for numerous Halloween pumpkins. They will come back to haunt me someday.
Next week's projects: planting potatoes (? anyone know how?), creating a compost bin made out of stolen rescued pallets, laying newspaper and hay over the rest of the pool so the soil will be awesome next year (for.... whoever....), planting a new honeysuckle plant where the honeysuckle and jasmine plants from two years ago died (I SHALL CONQUER), researching and possibly planting asparagus, ditto for artichoke, finding bulbs to put in the well-mulched back yard by the bedroom window for surprise flowers year-round for the new tenants (aren't I so cool?).

Marc and Kolja were the best help ever.

Total costs for the weekend:

Lowe's: $50
Swanson's Nursery: $50
Central Market (lunch and dinner): $30
Starbucks: $10 (three trips)
K-Mart: $40 (more mulch the next day)

Dinner was Sean's Halibut Pasta comprised of halibut, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, pasta, alfredo-ish cream sauce, and garlic bread.

Who won Settlers: Kolja

Our Saturday with Marc and Kolja: noon to one a.m.

This is the history of our pool becoming.... not a pool.

It was nice to have a pool, albeit silly, as it wasn't useable.
We paid to keep a pump running, dealt with teeny white bugs hovering around our heads all summer, the stench of chlorine on the days Dan came over to clean it. Dan's poor boys would come over with him just to scoop all the leaves and other floaties.
It was a big, old, non-heated pain in the butt.
Just as problematic was the whole lot - the fencing doesn't match - our neighbors tried as they could, but alas, it's *our* yard with the nasty fencing that they try to hide. There are the shrubs (see below left) that tower into the power lines and block views, and they are folding.
That nasty blue brick ledge along the side is crumbling down, but not enough for us to remove *all* of it unless we use a sledgehammer.
The top corner by the street is used for stuff that needs to go to the dump.
In the fifteen years that Sean and I have been together we never used the term "dump run" until this house. We "need to make a dump run" about three times a year now. I don't know where it's all coming from. It's like it multiplies on this property.
Some of it came from the house - the water heater - the clothes dryer - the roofing - and other stuff is just mysterious yard gunk.
And don't get me started on the HazMat stuff.
March 2002 the pool was jackhammered along the sides and pushed into the center, then filled with dirt. We're not quite sure where the dirt comes from or what it's comprised of, but it's dirt. At first we planned on a solid concrete lot, so we could play yard hockey or basketball, but it just never happened. We were waiting for the ground to settle, and then months went by. As I type this, it's been over a year.
I don't mind, really. We aren't paying for the pump. The neighbors don't have to deal with the bugs. I do miss Dan's regular visits in the summer.
The point is, though, that this is a big yard to just waste like this.
So here we are in April 2003, trying to figure out where to start. (Yes, we took that garbage on the left to the dump last weekend when Shane was here - we don't have a truck!) There's just no way we're going to till that whole thing and plant rows and actually maintain them, only to pack up and move this winter.
But we *can't* leave it like this.
Hence begins the Square Foot Gardening and Massive Cover-Up Project.
As we move along I will add pictures to this page instead of always pasting "the before picture" next to what we did that week.
Keep in mind our budget is about zero dollars.
And neither of us know what we're doing.