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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cascade Edibles

Greetings from Cascade Bluff, where the growing season is wildly out of control! Like the rest of the country, we have had higher than normal temps (though cooler than elsewhere) and intermittent large boluses of rain... like this day in June when we got 3.5 inches in 24 hrs...

Our vegetable garden expanded this year compared to last. We now have two raised beds built of downed, peeled white cedar logs (thank you to the Wheeler Sisters for help with bed #2!) and filled with the only real dirt in Cook County, MN, from a nearby dairy farm...

Every garden needs a gate... This one replaces a make-shift "gate" from last year that basically bit you in the butt if you weren't careful...

The growing season got off to a good start with the warmer than average spring...

Our onions shot up quickly...
 

 We tried a few new veggies this year... peas... kale... broccoli... cabbage... cauliflower...
 Radishes are usually easy... but something (cutworms?) was eating the leaves...
 Didn't seem to matter much, 'cause we still got bunches of radishes, much to Val's disappointment (not her favorite vegetable...)


 We had The Great Pea Experiment of 2012... Adventures in Trellis Building...
This trellis is made of some downed branches and some left over building material... 

...and twist-ties..
 Certainly looks functional, doesn't it? 
 This one was more conventional, though still built of scrap...

 ...The peas seemed to find it useful...
 ...at least at first...
 ...but I learned something very important about pea trellises this year... Peas lean south, toward the sun... duh... I put the trellis on the north side of the peas, and we had many a long conversation with our pea plants, pleading with them (and tying them with twine) to convince them to grab on to the trellis behind them... Eventually it all worked out...
 Not satisfied with two raised beds, we added some patio pots this year...

...tomatoes and herbs...
 
...and the year's first tomato...

Mid July... everything's coming up veggies...
.Even confused peas are tasty!
Three kinds of kale...
First big harvest: kale and peas...
Mmmm.... these were gone in about a nanosecond...
...and all this kale cooked up into one big dish...
Still have some things to look forward to... Green beans...
...onions...
Close up of the bean blossoms...
Hoping that the winter squash does a little better this year... 
Already got a little itty bitty head of cauliflower...
...and lots more lettuce, kale, cabbage, garlic... whatever the hares don't eat!

All is not just healthy veggies up here at Cascade. We're also trying out some fruit this year...
Our very first blueberries... they didn't last long...
 ...and our northern Cherry tree, with real live actual cherries that popped up in June...
...and ripened in July! 
 ...just enough for a handful this year.... My, they are sweet and tart! 


Here's a berry no one in the north has to cultivate... rather, you have to get out the machete and try to beat them back... WILD RASPBERRIES!! We've got tons... and trying to pick them makes it painfully clear why fresh raspberries are so expensive! 

And then there's the edible critters...


...that our little hunter loves to catch and munch!  Eeeww, Rosie, that's disgusting! 
Rosie can't wait to get back outside on her leash... will post some more pix later, when our little Princess lets me come back inside!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New, Improved and Loftier

We just keep finding things to do up here in the woods... Summer is in full swing and we usually have a steady stream of folks crazy enough to make it all the way up to  North 47.5 latitude and West 90.5 degrees longitude. In fact, we've just had our first official visitors of "Summer" if you think of summer as being that time between the Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox. And our most recent guests got a chance to enjoy the most recent fruits of our labor... a new platform for our guest bed!

Previous guests have had the pleasure of a comfy but sort of low sleeping experience, ie, a mattress on the floor of our loft. No one actually complained, but since we and most of our friends are getting to that certain age when getting off a mattress on the floor isn't such an easy task any more, we had an idea. We'd make a platform bed! And we wanted to make it tall enough -- but not too tall -- that it would allows us to tuck away mattress #2, a full sized futon, that was taking up space in the "guest suite" aka "Kathy's office."

Dr. Google helped find us the right ideas, and discovered several "DIY" web sites including one called "Instructables" where we found some plans for a platform bed. We, of course, had to improve on the original plans and think ours is much better. 

We used yet more of the scrap lumber... a nice piece of 4" by 4" post, for the legs... But actually had to go and BUY some lumber from our local lumber yard/hardware store in Grand Marais... Oh well, good to keep the local economy humming...


We created a frame of 2x6's and used sturdy bolts to fasten the frame to the legs...
Here is the frame... FYI we built it in our workshop, disassembled it and brought it to the loft and reassembled...
Deck studs to support the platform...
Learned what a stud bracket looks like... 
The top of the frame is an inch and a half higher than the posts...
Found a handy length of 1-1/2 " Doug fir trim to use as a "gap monitor" for the end bracing...
Voila... 
1/2 inch OSB for the platform, leaving a nice 1 inch "lip" on 3 of 4 sides to hold the mattress in place. We left it flush at the head of the bed in case we want to add a headboard some time...
And goll darn it, the thing actually works! 
Sanding off those nasty rough edges...
And here we are in the loft, getting the sections of the frame in place for reassembly...
Looks very professional!  You can just see the edge of that full sized futon mattress that is now hidden away underneath. And there's still plenty of clearance above so no one is in any more danger of whapping their noggins on the ceiling... not any more danger than they were before, that is...

And here are some pix of recent visitors who seem to have enjoyed the new guest quarters! 
Our friends and neighbors in the city, Mike and Martha, in front of the roaring High Falls of the Pigeon RIver...



 ...and friend and colleague, Gayle, by our lookout...


Next post will be all about what's growin' up on the Bluff in 2012!