Do you ever catch yourself referring to a tree with needles generally as a “pine tree?” If so, substitute that with, “evergreen.” Unlike “pine,” which refers to a specific family of trees, “evergreen” is safe to use since it covers all trees that do not lose their foliage over winter.
For more great tips and info on identifying evergreens in the Northwest, check out this website!
I went by the Oregon Mushroom Show today. This is a yearly event organized by the Oregon Mycological Society. It was a great source of information for mushroom classification, propagation, and much more.
Did you know that you can dye fabric using mushrooms? Or use mycology inoculations as a way to remediate a brownscape? (Brownscapes are abandoned or underutilized sites, often associated with industry, that contain some degree of real or perceived contamination.)
I got to smell and touch some local mushroom varieties that had been found just today. It was great to see them first hand and get to ask questions of the volunteers, all of whom seemed quite well informed. Comparing edible mushrooms with lookalikes that are poisonous was quite instructive. They were also demonstrating how to do a spore print, which is an excellent technique for identification.
If you want to find out more information about mushrooms in the area, try joining the Facebook groups: Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Northwest Mushroom Identification and Information Forum.
Here are some images from the show today!
I attended an event this morning at Know Thy Food (KTF) co-op in SE Portland. I’d never been to the space before; it was small, cute, and welcoming.
You don’t have to be a member of KTF to enjoy shopping in the physical store space, but joining gives you access to their extensive online catalog. You can make orders ahead of time and pick them up once a week at the store. It takes a little more planning, perhaps, but in return you can shop from your own home and just stop by to pick things up that already gathered for you.
I was there today to learn more about Azure Standard, a food distribution company that has monthly drops at the co-op. They heavily focus on organic and health food. I’ve been curious about this sort of shopping for quite a while. Buying food in bulk from suppliers has cost benefits and more directly supports local economy and farmers.
I signed up to join both the KTF co-op and Azure Standard. I’m excited to start on this new adventure!
Example of product listings inside Azure Standard’s huge catalog:
Hey everyone! I took a break from blogging this summer, but now I’m back!
Let’s kick off with this great event called the “All About Fruit Show.” It happened today at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds.
If you ever wondered what a particular variety of apple tastes like, this show is your place to find out. They had over 600 different types to sample! It was overwhelming, but I did come away with a list of 10 that I loved.
Beyond apples, I also got to try my first pawpaw. Did you know they are native to North America? There was also seaberry juice, a whole table of hardy kiwi varieties, quince, pears, and more!
I highly recommend attending! Keep an eye out around this time of year in 2016 for your chance.
Here’s the hardy kiwi table.
And the grapes! I loved a dark purple variety called “Jupiter.” It tasted like a Concord, but it was seedless!
Yesterday there were many news stories about a semi-truck of honeybees that overturned in Washington State.
There are so many things to say about this catastrophe, but the underlying cause is monoculture. It used to be that farms kept bees on hand, or that there were enough native and feral honeybees to pollinate our food. No longer. Now huge semis of bees are trucked around the country. They are not properly taken care of, filled with anti-biotics and miticide, and kept just barely above the level of dying.
For more background information on this, I’d recommend watching the film Queen of the Sun.
As a beekeeper and environmental advocate, I created a project for myself — giving out free bee flower seeds! One of the most important things you can do to help bees is to plant safe flowers they can visit for pollen and nectar.
Please let me know what varieties you would like and how to get them to you. Keep in mind that they are all very different. For example, borage is a super easy self-seeding annual that will spread. (Which is a good thing for my garden, but might not be for yours?) Whereas with Purple cone flowers (echinacea) the same plant will come back every year in the same place. Here’s some information about each of them.
Borage – wikipedia, growing and using, ideas on Pinterest
Lady bird poppy – wikipedia, care, Pinterest
Purple cone flower (echinacea) – wikipedia, care, uses, Pinterest
Milkweed – wikipedia, seed campaign with lots of info, care, Pinterest
If you plant some of these seeds, I would love to see photos of your flowers! Please keep in touch so I can share them.
This past weekend I attended Portland’s 2015 Community Summit. This was a free event, and the first time it was held for 10 years. If you missed it — make sure to write to our city council to tell them to bring it back every year!
I attended panels called Effective Advocacy, Living Cully: an Eco-District, a conversation with Mayor Hales, and Volunteer-Based Grant Writing.
It was quite inspirational, in terms of learning how to become more civically involved. I also really enjoyed witnessing the Mayor speak about his vision for the future of Portland. I also met some really great fellow citizens. It’s awesome to talk with people who are so tuned in and engaged.
I’d like to share the resources for volunteer-based grants:
East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
Environmental Protection Agency
Gray Family Foundation Enviornmental Education Program
Myer Memorial Trust
Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Studies
Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement
Oregon Community Foundation
Regional Arts and Culture Council
Social Justice Fund
West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
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.)
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.
I am very excited to be embarking on this program! If you aren’t already aware, Master Gardener is half training and half volunteer hours, organized and supported by Oregon State University extension. On every Saturday for the next three months I will be in training. Volunteer hours start during this time and extend after for months.
Today we mostly had orientation, but we also had three hours of instruction about soil and fertilizer. I learned so much!
I’d love to share the resources we were given, most of which are Portland or Northwest specific.
XRAY.fm has a weekly radio show called Grow PDX. The website explains that it focuses on “horticulture, urban gardening, community food systems and agriculture.”
OSU has compiled a list of recommended varieties that do the best in our climate.
The Natural Resources Conservation Survey has web soil survey information available online. You can find out the composition of soil in different places throughout the nation.
A gardening blog with an emphasis on scientific research, Garden Professors.
And possibly the coolest information? Portland residents can get exotic “Zoo doo” from the Portland Zoo for free! (i.e. manure — which begs the question: why haven’t I seen this on Portlandia?)
Elements of the Nature and Properties of Soil — large, pricey, but worth the read.
Maritime Northwest Gardening Guide — comes highly recommended since it specifically relates to our area.
For information about using gravel mixed in with your soil, check out the book Gravel Garden.
Soil Biology Primer from Soil and Water Conservation Society.