Sustainable Gardening

Urban Homesteading in Portland and Beyond

Urban homesteading is not usually the term I use to refer to what I’ve been doing for the best twelve years or so. I tend towards kitchen gardening or urban farming. And these days, I’m transitioning towards rural food production at Amaranta Farm. But I see those who do call themselves urban homesteaders as allies in the same movement, and I’d like to see that movement grow….

When Life Gives You Weeds...Eat 'Em

With all the rain out over the last few weeks and the challenges of getting the summer garden in, I’ve been grateful for food that sprouts with no effort on…

Gundruk Saves the Day

Rain.  Day before last, it was relentless.  We had a reprieve yesterday, and I got some planting done, but most of my garden is flooded and impossible to work.  I’m…

Domestic Challenges, Wild Beauty

I’m ecstatic to be back on our property in Northeastern Oregon.  There’s lots to do: organizing inside the yurt to make cooking and storage more convenient, building a spring box…

Our Live Christmas Tree

I used to be the Christmas tree enthusiast in the family. I’d drive around Seattle for hours looking for the perfect tree, set it up, decorate it….

The pardoned potato
The pardoned potato

On Thanksgiving, we couldn’t bear to slice and roast this huge homegrown potato face. Nor could we boil and mash it….

Fuyu Persimmon
Fuyu Persimmon

I love how persimmons hang on the tree after the leaves have fallen.

Ama: My Greatest Teacher

Growing food this summer in northeast Oregon, I relied on all that I’ve learned over the years from books, conversations, observations, and personal experience. But I probably heard Ama’s voice more than any other….

Ancient Lessons in Food Storage

One of the things I loved best about teaching high school social studies was shaking up students’ perceptions of history. And one of my favorite lessons was in Ancient History. I’d bring in a a jar of beans and a potato with so many sprouts it looked like an octopus (the fact that I always found one in my cupboard could have doubled as a cautionary lesson in the domestic arts)….

Five Lessons From My Inland Northwest Garden

The cool, clear nights that make autumn so beautiful here in the Blue Mountains also bring frosts that kill tender vegetables. With the harvest spilling over boxes and racks around our tiny yurt, it’s a good time to reflect on what I learned this summer….

Fermented Pickles

My mom made sauerkraut when I was a kid, and it was good. But during the years I lived in Nepal, I discovered a fermented world that went beyond cabbage….


With our short-growing season, I wasn’t sure I could get this to sprout, let alone grow, blossom, and fruit. So this makes me very happy.

The Princess Blooms

Some girls dream of being princesses.  I’ll admit I dabbled in that too.  I used to dress up in rummage store gowns and high heels and parade around with my…

Harvesting Garlic

I planted fifteen pounds of organic garlic last October and finished harvesting it this morning.  Given that my soil needs more improvement (mostly a few more years of working in…

Baby Bitter Melon

It’s kind of ugly and horribly bitter, but the years I spent in Nepal have made it into comfort food — and one I sorely miss.  How shall I prepare…

Cauliflower and Broccoli

Now that I’ve set up a shady place to work, I hope I can cultivate more patience for my dial-up connection.  After all, what’s the hurry?  While I wait five…

I left our yurt and garden in northeastern Oregon a week and a half ago for a brief vacation in central Oregon and a few days in Portland to catch…

I’ve been in Portland the last week, attending a graduation, visiting my son, and catching up on computer-related work.  I’m heading back to the yurt and garden in Wallowa County…

Pacific Tree Frog

In a post several months ago, I pondered where Pacific tree frogs go after breeding in watery places.  I don’t have a general answer for that question, but I found…

A Food Grower's Search For Identity

It’s simple: I like to grow food, eat it, and share it with others.  In the future, I might sell surplus to a local farmers’ market.  Problem is, there are…