My Happy Place: Pics From My 2016 Garden Adventure!

August 15th, 2016 - filed under: The Farm » Flora


Every morning I wake up, make my way to the kitchen, and pour myself coffee while gazing out the window at my garden. And every morning I have to make a concerted effort, sometimes physically prevent myself, from wandering out there to putter amongst my plants. It is my absolute happiest place and if I could, I would spend every day there. Most days I do allow myself a little walk-through on my way off to work. I like to do a daily inventory, note the little things that have changed — and so much does change every day! — and allow my mind to plan out the next few days and weeks of garden work.

I was born in the wrong century, man. I’m a farm girl at heart!

Anyway, here’s what’s been going on this summer. It’s all a work in progress this first year, still learning the layout and strengthening the soil, dealing with pests and diseases left by the previous tenants (powdery mildew is the bane of my existence!), and settling into this beautiful new space.


I have two main garden areas this year, and the first is this, along the side of the house. This is where I planted my first seeds of the season — corn and sunflowers along the fence. Then filled in the bottom with beets, calendula, chamomile, mustard greens, and a few volunteers showed up: tomatoes and squash.


Taken from the other direction. So much green! Happy happy tomatoes.


Around the back I’m still growing in wine boxes — I just can’t help myself. Mostly peppers (tabasco) and herbs. Oh, and a potato tower, of course.


And one volunteer cherry tomato plant that I just couldn’t bear to let go. Instead, I let it grow, and strung up some twine for it to trellis on.


Back to the side yard . . .


Volunteer squash.

And corn, with the most incredible scarlet-colored silk.



Around the front of the house is the main garden . . .


Ginormous Chinese Cabbage! I’ve been cooking up homemade ramen that features this stuff at least once a week. It’s completely amazing!

Not a weed. Just . . . wild.

Teeny tiny loofah.

And itsy bitsy cucumbers.

And I grow my Zinnias every. single. year.


This little strip along the front of the house is maybe my very favorite. Strawberries, basil, bee balm, shallots, zinnias, mint, and bachelor’s buttons. It’s just bursting over with life!


But these guys. These guys always have my heart!


I have been gardening, in one way or another, for pretty much all of my adult life. But for some reason this space, this land I’m on right now, is the land I feel the most connected to, of any place I’ve ever lived. This little rental duplex in the middle of the city, on the “wrong side of town”, where I have no real roots or ties or anything to bind me — this is where I’m doing the most intimate gardening of my life. More than the home I owned in Portland. More than the house up in the foothills where I lived and learned to garden for 5 years during college.

Why here? Why now? I don’t know, but I’m loving it. In this difficult year, working this land has been my very best medicine.


  • Rebecca Carnes

    OK, so I think I need you to come teach me how to garden! LOL It all looks amazing and beautiful! The baby cucumbers are the cutest:) none of our gardening projects survived this year…mostly due to pests:( But I’m not giving up! I am determined to grow something!

  • Bianca Phillips

    Lovely! If I had a garden like that, maybe I’d love it more. I have figured why I’m not so into it though. It’s the weeds! I love my veggie plants and herbs and the couple of flowers I planted. But there are weeds EVERYWHERE, and I refuse to use poison. And I’m too lazy to pick them out regularly, so my garden (which is in my front yard) just looks a mess. A total mess. Any tips on getting rid of weeds naturally?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Do you use a ground cover? You can see in some of these pics that I use straw, which is great for feeding the soil and keeping the temperature regulated, but it’s also great at acting as a weed barrier. They do still slip through but they’re much more manageable now.

    Obviously straw might not be attractive enough for a front yard, but there are other prettier options like wood chips and stuff. If you don’t do a mulch/ground cover I’d definitely start there!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aren’t the baby veggies just too cute?? I adore them. The cukes are huge now and finally ripe for picking which is so fun. But they’re so sweet when they’re little!

  • veronika

    Beautiful post, Sayward. I used to look through these garden posts in a somewhat cursory manner, BUT in the past 5 months two things changed: I got a faculty position (pure teaching, community college) that suddenly opened up all sorts of free time, and I won a sort of a lottery – got a p-patch spot on cap hizzle of Seattle. The latter is crazy b/c there’s a super long waitlist (like 6+ years).
    Anyways, suddenly, I have a patch of dirt and I got it all planted up. It’s late in the season, but I’m so excited to experiment! Would love it if you shared your insights from gardening in PDX, since the climates are so similar. I am up for anything. Right now I have radishes, mesclun mix, braising mix (kales, bok choi, chard, etc), chives (cause I don’t care how big they get before things get colder), broccoli and bush beans. I would love to do edible flowers next year. My patch gets lots of sun, but I also need to be mindful of my neighbors not to shade them, so I need to limit my tall plants.

    Anyways, just want to send an extra high-five for dirt-digging. I have an extra-super-duper appreciation for these posts! Many thanks!

  • WookieWifey

    Wait. Wait…waitwaitwait.

    You’re MAKING that ramen?

    RECIPE, WOMAN!!!! Pleeaaasssseee?

  • Elizabeth O’Connell-Thompson

    What a beautiful garden! It’s my dream to one day have one even a fraction that gorgeous and bountiful.


    What a great content, I also enjoy planting vegetables, and seeing them grow. Thanks for sharing.
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