the big picture
the big picture

So we’re going a little beyond our bluegrass focus for the first garden profile, but not too far. Seems like every Kentuckian gets the itch to ramble about for a while, feeling that the culture, music, people, hell, all of life, must be better once you cross the state line. I have done it many times, as has my good friend Schuyler.

Schuyler is one of those people I envy, but in a loving way. He throws some seed in the ground, it sprouts beautiful plants. He ignores it throughout the summer, it does back flips putting out tasty veggies in order to draw his attention. The man was born with verdant green thumbs.

As I have hinted in other spots on this blog, Eugene, Oregon, can be a wonderful place to garden.  You can’t grow tomatoes (at least not like they grow in the south), but you can pretty much garden year round. Plants that won’t make a winter without intervention in Kentucky thrive in the Willamette Valley’s particular micro-climate (think: rosemary, in the ground, growing 3-4 feet tall and just as big around) . It’s a special place, and the climate allows you to do some pretty special things.

With limited space in the backyard of a rented house, Schuyler chose  a raised bed, which he has divided using the square foot method. With Eugene’s cool, moist weather, most of what he can grow right now are greens, peas, and fava beans.

 chardHere’s a nice picture of the chard, what Schuyler says are holdovers from last summer. If you keep your chard from going to seed in Eugene, it thrives as a perennial. I would say that Schuyler has enough chard here to feed his army of 4 (3 of whom are eating solid foods) for the entire spring and into the summer…


shelling peasWhat a great picture — here we have a small patch of Alderman peas, a shelling pea that thrives in the Pacific Northwest. Schuyler reports that his peas are going absolutely batty, and from my own fond memories of growing peas in the PNW, I would have to say I believe him 100%.

What I also love about this picture are the two — count ’em — composters in the background. I haven’t written much about composting here, but when I first began to take advantage of the process, I had an earth machine, much like the one you see in the background. They’re a little slow, but with two, you can get one ready while the other is making the next batch.

chixFinally, an image that sets my heart to flutter — three young Buff Orpington pullets doing what chickens do best — eating the pests of the backyard and creating next year’s fertilizer.

The Buff Orpington is a great bird for the backyard poultry enthusiast. This breed is good for meat and egg production, so after 2-3 years of eating their delicious brown eggs, they can be slaughtered and enjoyed on the kitchen table. A large breed, the Buff Orpington is also rather docile and a great variety to introduce to young children. I’m not sure what the laws are in Eugene, but in Lexington you’re allowed to have as many pullets as you want (or as your neighbors will tolerate), just no roosters.

Many thanks to Schuyler for sending us the great photos of his garden and poultry operation.