Life in Bay Center on Willapa Bay

Living in a maritime fishing village in Southwest Washington state on Willapa Bay

Archive for July, 2007

Front yard vegetable patches make food, but some gardens rile the neighbors

Posted by pallix on July 26, 2007

One tomato plant at a time equates to one step at a time in a growing new ‘movement’ of front yard vegetable patches. Yes, people are getting on board with the idea that one can actually grow food in their own yard and growing it in their front yard sends a message. Instead of all the work and chemicals to maintain a home and garden magazine type yard, one can grow their own food and still have a beautiful ‘growing’ front yard. What constitutes what is beautiful is in the eye of the beholder anyway, so who says that a perfect, green front lawn equates to the only kind of beauty a homeowner can share?

In this time of heightening awareness of sustainability, environmental concerns, global warming, ‘green’ living, I am pleased to see the return of something resembling the ‘Victory Garden’ of WW II era. Another time when this country was at ‘war’, although, I don’t subscribe to the invasion/occupation of Iraq as a ‘just war’, our troops are deployed in combat in wartime.

We chose to move away from urbania and don’t live in a cul de sac of well tended front lawns and landscaping, so I can appreciate that it is a courageous step for people who do live in those kind of ‘traditional’ neighborhoods to shift to planting vegetables in the front yard instead of trying to grow the perfect grass lawn edged by the perfect compliment of landscaped specimens.

The article mentions how neighbor concerns are met with compromise in growing vegetables in attractive ways that don’t detract. Fitting vegetables in among traditional landscaping can be done in such a way as to enhance both. I’m not sure it has to be one way or the other but a compliment of both ways. I saw a home where the front yard had been converted into raised bed gardening and it was quite attractive in a geometric kind of way.

I recently claimed a bit of our front yard to make a combination new flower and vegetable bed. I then claimed a piece along the side for more vegetables. This in addition to my actual kitchen vegetable garden which, btw, I plan to double or triple in size over the coming years. Now I will even plant a tomato plant or maybe a squash in the flower bed that faces the street as my own proud statement to the neighbors, although my neighbors where I live don’t require such a statement, they aren’t too likely to complain if I turn my entire yard into a vegetable garden and orchard.

Do it – make a statement, plant one vegetable in your front yard and then two and maybe you too will want to rip out your front lawn and grown vegetables instead.


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End Time for Our Monkey Puzzle Tree – dying, no dead and time to take it down

Posted by pallix on July 17, 2007

Ahhh, I found someone else who’s mature Monkey Puzzle Tree died – like our 90 + yr old tree has died. Big hat tip to blog That and This for providing an account of demise of the tree, decision to take it down (fell it), along with great accompanying photos and links.

Last spring/summer season I knew our Monkey Puzzle Tree was dead beyond dead. Sweetie was unwilling to let go and acknowledge the tree was a goner – no more – the one almost green instead of brown branch just wasn’t enough life to save the tree. This spring/summer he acknowledges it is dead and we need to bring it down.

I honestly do not know the habit of this tree in it’s natural setting when it finally does die and have been trying to find out. Does it fall, does it remain standing and if so how long before it falls of it’s own accord. The neighbors seem to think because it is so old, so rooted that it is unlikely to ever fall. I think if it did fall it would take out the entire street corner, and then which way would it fall – on our house – which neighbor’s house??

We are talking now about having it felled and leaving enough stump to have a totem carved out of what is left. We are being told that we should think about selling the wood as it is highly valued in some places. We are told the wood is too difficult to carve and the totem pole idea does not have merit. One way or the other though, I think the tree needs to come down.

Which is why the blog account at That and this was such a good find for me… thanks!


photo 2000 of the real estate listing for the house, shows the Monkey Puzzle Tree as it was. We bought the house in Nov 2002, and the lower limbs were already straggly and looking sickly. Our neighbor was willing to cut the lower limbs in early spring 2003 (a decision I made that I didn’t consult with Sweetie about first and he was very, very unhappy about it). Because the tree was planted on what over the next 90 years would become a paved intersection in our small fishing village, the largess of the tree caused a blind spot for traffic making turns at that corner. Losing the lower limbs opened up visibility at the intersection. But, and it may or may not be related, the tree seemed to quickly lose what vitality it had and began the process of dying.


2005 spring/summer season photo of our dying (dead) 90 + year old Monkey Puzzle Tree (The Araucaria Family: Araucariaceae)


Winter 2006 photo of what is now clearly a dead monkey puzzle tree – all that is left is trunk and limbs and that green at the very tippy top – the last breath of hope of life for the tree – by spring it was brown.

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Willow Twig Rooting Solution for new cuttings recipe

Posted by pallix on July 5, 2007

I tried what is known to garderners in hand me down folklore of using willow twigs to make a rooting solution to use with new cuttings. I cut several off my mother’s old willow tree, and put them in a large jar, let them gestate for several days and then added the solution to the ‘new cuttings’ to take root. I wasn’t successful.

I found this at another blog and wanted to share the ‘recipe’ here, so for my own use in my own garden on my own blog here is another recipe for Willow Water rooting hormone.

Here’s what you do:

1. Get a handful of willow twigs (any Salix species will do)

2. Cut them into pieces a few inches long

3. Soak the twigs in a few inches of water for a day or two; then remove the twigs.

4. Use the willow water to soak cuttings in overnight, or to water flats of newly started cuttings, or to help transplants.

Now remember since this method isn’t very exact, the strength of the willow water can vary depending on the time of year, the number of twigs, the concentration of hormones in the twigs, and the amount of time that the twigs were soaked. You will, however, still get a solution that will help your plants root.

hat tip to Weekend Gardener

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