Category: projects

Projects

farmhouse project update

The old farmhouse is getting fixed up! The project is about 2/3rd done. Take a look at the progress!

The featured image above shows the new polycarbonate on the porch and roof on the house.

The inside is still quite under construction, but still exciting to see all the new light coming in bigger windows, new skylights, and french doors!

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And we can now see the trees through the carport roof!

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no more cedar shakes!

Out at Blossomwood Farmstead we are having a big renovation project done. First step — goodbye to the cedar shake roof. We would have been happy to keep it… but check out the photos of its condition. It was practically a living roof, and not the intentional kind!

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Another issue with the house was how dark the front porch and carport were. Shade is lovely in the summer for the rare days when it is really hot, but near the coast over 90% of the time sunlight is much more welcome. In addition, our inspection report had mentioned that the roof on the carport should be replaced because the angle was too shallow for cedar shake. We will have it replaced with polycarbonate. Here’s the before.

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These support beams under the porch roof (painted white here) were originally forest green, so it was even darker than the photo below shows.

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Here’s the progress… roof removed and tar paper up in preparation for a new metal roof. I can’t even tell you how lovely it is to have so much light on the porch!

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And here is the car port with most of the roof removed. So nice to see the trees from under there!

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Keep an eye out for more updates as the project progresses! Next phases: polycarbonate, skylights, new windows, and metal roof!

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Refinishing hardwood

There’s an old 1916 farm house on Blossomwood Farmstead. When we purchased it there was unfortunate 70’s wood click-together flooring upstairs in two rooms. There was also, a plywood platform for a king bed in a room that was much too small for it. The third room had grey painted fir sub-floor. (There are additional issues to address — the walls need paint, lack of light/view, no egress windows, etc… but this post is just about the floors.)

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We started the project by pulling up the 70’s squares and plywood platform… we were not positive what we would find below, but we hoped it would all be fir sub-floor like the third room.

IMG_2314Looking good! So we decided to carry on and remove all the wood tiles, then refinish the floor.

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IMG_2328There was a layer of paper, which was nice, because look at all that dirt it had collected. What would be under the paper?

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Painted wood floor. And… sadly, plywood filler. Here’s the whole floor once we had everything up.

IMG_2337We realized that we would have to find some old fir flooring to match. We sourced it at Aurora Mills, which is a great architectural salvage operation. Here are the boards we picked out.

IMG_2520 IMG_2522Back at the farm our caretaker went to work sanding the floor. She also tore out the plywood and replaced it with the fir we got her. Cedar (my partner) helped too. What a job! Check out the difference between the sanded portion and the dark old floor.

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We did some research and decided to go with OSMO to finish it. AND… drum roll please … the finished floors? Gorgeous!

IMG_3107 IMG_3111Before/after of the same room. (Different times of day, but you get the idea!)

before_afterIt’s hard to believe they are the same floors we started with! There are quite a few more projects to come, but we are really happy to have started from the ground up.

what do you plant for a bee sanctuary?

I have been so pleasantly surprised every time I dig a hole for a tree on this land. I’ve heard the term “fertile river valley,” before — but never experienced it to this degree! The soil is gorgeous.

Since part of this adventure is a hope to share what we learn, I wanted to post about what we have planting on the farm in our past three months of stewardship. The season is right for planting trees now, so we are trying to get the year’s plantings in now. I’ve also included our wish list for the future.

Pictured above is our peach tree of the Frost variety. In speaking with neighbors we learned that was the best variety for the region. (Some said the only one that would give us peaches.) Fruit trees are generally a great bet for bees. Others we have planted include: crabapple, two plums, and quince. There were already four old apple trees, so I gave those a good pruning.

 

IMG_2613-1Above is a photo of heather. Two days after we planted it there were 5-7 bumble bees on each of three plants! In the bushy category we have also added three ceanothus plants, lavender, red osier dogwood, Indian plum, daphne, and flowering currant.

Here’s the flowering currant, right by the bridge to welcome visitors.

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I also chose that general location for the magnolia, so that at the first of the season we’ll have a burst of colorful blooms right at the entrance.

As far as flowering trees goes, I did a previous post about the Arbor Day Foundation, where you can buy very affordable seedlings. Of course, this is an exercise in patience since it will take years (decades) for them to grow into large trees. We have ordered, Northern Catalpa (2), Sourwood, Red maple (free with order,) Washington Hawthorn, Tulip Poplar, Forsynthia (2 free with order), Little Leaf Linden, Witchhazel, Black Tupelo, Sugar Maple, and Eastern Redbud. These are all spectacular bee forage trees. I encourage you to research them all. Gorgeous trees.

I’ve also ordered some willow. Most willows are great food for bees. I have a pink pussy willow known as Mt. Aso coming, as well as a curly willow and a basketmaking purpuera. The purpuera is also good for creating living willow structures, which I am excited to try out!

Last, but not least, we have some things started in the veggie garden. For the bees we have borage, poppies, and echinacea. For us we’ve put in an asparagus patch, ginger, and tumeric. Much more to come!

One challenging aspect that we are not very familiar with is how wildlife (including quite a large herd of elk!) will impact what we plant. We have caged the trees for their protection. We have a fence around the veggie garden, which we will fortify in time. We might build quite a bit more fencing than we have now… we will have to see how it goes. So far it seems that the elk avoid the areas near the house, but I have heard that can change pretty quickly.

Here’s some of our wish list for the future: (some for bee forage, some for perennial edibles)

More bee trees and bushes (with groves of like-species, but we’re starting with one of each to see how they do.) Japanese snowbell, winter jasmine, serviceberry, lilac, beautyberry, aralia, vitex.

Persimmon, pomegranate, paw paw, pear, hardy kiwi (I am rooting starts right now!) figs, grapes, rhubarb, artichoke, ramps, sea kale, sweet potato, ground nut, good king henry, lovage, french sorrel, plus every herb and medicinal plant we can find (with plans to build a formal herb garden.)

I’m sure more will get added… if you know of a great bee plant or perennial / self seeding non-invasive edible that would do well in Coastal Oregon, please let me know!

We love this land. Thank you for reading about our adventure!

Arbor Day Foundation

Are you looking to do some landscaping? Check out this amazing resource!

The Arbor Day Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that is dedicated to helping people conserve trees. Their mission statement: Founded in 1972, the centennial of the first Arbor Day observance in the 19th century, the Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with over one million members, supporters, and valued partners.

I have a running list of trees that are great for pollinators, all of which I would like to eventually add to Blossomwood Farmstead. The Arbor Day Foundation had quite a few of them available for purchase — for such reasonable prices! Plus, with a $5 membership I was able to get their membership prices (a few dollars off each tree.) They also added a free Red Maple and two free forsynthias.

This is the list of trees I ordered: Northern Catalpa (2), Sourwood, Washington Hawthorne, Tulip Poplar, Little Leaf Linden, Witchhazel, Black Tupelo, Sugar Maple, and Western Redbud. My total? $76.61. I’m a fan!

I also wanted to point out this program they have to get 10 free trees! (With membership purchase of $10.)

Home Orchard Society Fruit Propagation Fair

The Home Orchard Society has an annual Propagation Fair at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds. For just $5 (members) or $7 (general) attendees are treated to an amazing collection of cuttings and scions!

I got there right after 10am and there was a line down the block. Entry went pretty quickly once the doors opened. The event was packed! Everywhere you looked people were crowding in to grab the cuttings they wanted. I saw some people with huge bundle-loads that had to have been a foot wide!

Next time I have to remember to bring labels and a permanent marker. Luckily someone nearby was kind enough to share his.

I gathered a small collection, then set them up to start this afternoon. Here’s to hoping they root!

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Some of the things I chose:

three varieties hardy kiwi, including red princess

three male hardy kiwis

grapes: concord, venus, reliance seedless, canadice seedless, Himrod seedless, bronx

cherries: lapin, ostheimer weischel, montmorency, sweetheart

persimmon: jiro, fuyu

plum: italian, mirabelle

fig: desert king, negrone

I’m so very excited to see what happens with these!

Blossomwood Farmstead

I’ve been quite busy with property management lately, the reason being…? My family bought a farm!

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It’s a beautiful 42 acre property in Yachats, Or. (That is between Florence and Newport on the coast.) It includes a small 1916 farmhouse, which was one of the original homesteads in the area. In addition, it has a 2004 guest house, barn, cabin, and wood shed. There are 1,400 feet of river frontage, a pond, a bog, 12 acres of pasture, and 30 acres of forest. The land backs onto the Siuslaw National Forest.

It’s about 7 miles in from the ocean and south-facing, so is perfect for gardening. It’s been keeping me busy with quite a number of projects! (More details to come.)

  1. Refinishing the upstairs floors.
  2. Fixing quite a bit of deferred maintenance.
  3. Figuring out all the systems.
  4. Getting to know the land.
  5. Furnishing both houses.
  6. Planting things!

My short-term goal is to set up both houses as Airbnb rentals. (Keep an eye out for when it is ready if you would like to visit!) Long term goals include creating a bee sanctuary and a permaculture garden.

I’ve learned so much already just in the first three months of being a steward to this land. I absolutely love it and feel very grateful! I can’t wait to get to know it better as the seasons progress.

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Irwin Hodson

I recently had the good fortune to discover a printer called the Irwin Hodson Company. They were originally founded in 1894 (!) as the Ben C. Irwin Company. They’ve moved buildings during that time, but have been at their present location at SE 9th near Powell for over 70 years!

If you ever wondered where to get vintage metal signs produced — look no farther!

Touring the facility made my mind race with all the possibilities. Keep an eye out for an upcoming line of greeting cards and some large format macro photography.

Irwin Hodson also printed all of our posters, postcards, yard signs, and booklets for Tour de Hives.

The most fascinating thing about this place is the old machines they still have in working order, blended with gorgeous modern digital printers on a massive scale. They were kind and allowed me to snap photos! (Click on the below images to see them larger.)

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grow your own shiitake mushrooms!

Hey guys. I want to share how easy it is to grow your own delicious shiitake mushrooms at home. I bought a loaf-like mound from a local shop called the Urban Farm Store, which is in SE Portland on Powell.

The kind I got there is grown on a mound of sawdust. It comes with instructions, but basically you soak it (in non-chlorinated water) and then mist it twice a day. You put a plastic bag over it (held up by chopsticks) to keep the air around it humid. Then, one day (a few weeks for me)… voila!

The following images show how big they are when they are full-grown. They are so fresh, delicious, and have many health benefits. Plus, organic shiitake’s sell for around $11.99 a pound! (I think the mound was around $25, so it hasn’t paid for itself yet… but I think it will and then some.)

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A more aesthetically pleasing way to go about it is to buy a mushroom infused log. I bought this as well, but just started it so we haven’t seen any mushrooms yet. Here’s a local source. It’s pricier at $50 per log, but they say it will continue to produce for five years.

 

what to plant in January?

I don’t know about you, but come mid-January I really start to miss my vegetable garden. I belong to a Facebook group called Portland Organic Gardening. On it people share tips and tricks, plus local resources. I just recently asked when and what people start planting veggies and was happy with the feedback. One member pointed me to this chart, offered by Portland Nursery.

Looks like for January we can be seeding radishes outdoors! Indoors we can start: artichoke, arugula, endive, fava beans, kale, leeks, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, scallions, and spinach!

Suddenly I have a very long to-do list!