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The at-home gardening vacation

Today, I am recovering from my week-long vacation.
Urbanmamas_vacation_mosaic
[photo credits: 1-4 cafemama; 5 fionnsnana; 6 trillium~mama]

It's not a typical recovery though. Usually after a vacation, I'm feeling shell-shocked from the impact on my bank account and exhausted from late nights and lots of bag schlepping. Not this time: I took an at-home gardening vacation. It was an idea born of necessity (husband in Kansas for reserve duty, tight budget, etc.) and last-minute plans -- my boss is going on maternity leave starting Wednesday so this was my chance! But I'd recommend it highly to anyone else who works a vibrantly engaging job (i.e., I think about it every minute) and rarely takes vacation.

More important than the whole r&r thing, I have a sense of accomplishment and a foundation that will allow me to do little things throughout the spring and summer to maintain -- and fully develop -- my yard. I feel a little less awful when I hear those gloomy tales of climate change on the BBC late at night (gardening is good for the planet!). It gave me a chance to just spend time in the dirt with the boys, a rare opportunity as I'm soon to be devoted to a new human being. This definitely ranks up high in recharging potential alongside "leave the kids with grandma for a week while you go somewhere alone" (something my mom suggested and she did, herself, when we were young) and "long weekend with your favorite urbanMamas and their families." What vacations have you found the most satisfying? Any local destinations or activities to recommend?

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No real destinations to recommend, but way to go on the gardening! I put together a couple of raised beds ala Square Foot Gardening last year, and they have been incredibly easy to maintain and grow things in. The one bit I'd pass along is that some plants need more room than spacing recommendations would suggest - broccoli and cauliflower are two that get much larger and of course tomatoes. Having a garden spot where you see it constantly is helpful as well, since you'll happen upon it often and see what needs watering, pull off anything brown, etc. Lots of fun for little ones, too, and they *might* be more likely to try something they actually grew, especially if it's something like sweet peas plucked off the vine :-).

Oh I too have a bad case of the spring fever. I have been obsessively buying up flowers in every shape and color. I love to look out my window in the morning with a good cup of coffee and watch my garden grow.

One very relaxing low-plan local thing we've enjoyed is a day-long "getaway" at Skamania Lodge. On a sunny day, they have a lovely lawn where we've perched on a picnic blanket for hours on end looking out onto the Columbia gorge. On cooler days, they have these great cozy rocking chairs facing the 2-story windows (plus free wifi in the lodge and complementary starbucks coffee and teas in the lobby). For the kids, there is a chest full of frisbees and balls, and the kids love to run in the big lawn, just running or playing games. There's also an open library on the second floor with games, puzzles, books, couches, and tables.

I think we'll just have to pack a picnic on an upcoming Saturday and head the 45 miles east:
http://www.skamania.com

That's great about the gardening! I have soooo much to do in my garden... my reward when I do more prep will be a trip to Portland Nursery.

I'm starting a vacation this Friday - my sister and her baby are coming to visit, and we're just going to hang out and be mamas! Unfortunately, our nanny just gave notice last week so I'll also be hunting for a new nanny.

I love the fact that you took a week off to garden! Don't be discourage by the enormity of the task ahead. I just wanted to let you know that you can turn that spacious yard of yours into a beautiful garden to be envied far and wide. When we moved in, our yard was in a horrific state...every type of noxious weed you can think of. Almost five years later, it's better, but not nearly the oasis we envisioned. The best part is that our boys love playing in the yard. We have mounds of dirt that they love to dig and get dirty in. I can't wait to see more pictures of the transformation!

This is not in response to your question about favorite local get aways, but more in regards to working in your garden...

One of the reasons I'm loving Portland is the ease of gardening here...the soil is easy to dig up because of the moisture, and provided you put things in the right spot, everything grows! I remember last spring, actually noticing growth on certain plants after a really sunny afternoon. The other 2 climates I've lived in have been tough for gardening--New England has such a short growing season and you lose a lot to freeze in the winter, and in the Southwest you have to do so much research on draught tolerant plants, and then you have to dig the hole--which can be back breaking work!

Speaking of New England gardening, there are really strict guidelines for planting your vegetables. One year my mom had the audacity to put in her tomatoes on the Saturday PRIOR to Memorial Day, and lo and behold the sky fell. Mjor hail storm the next day destroyed all of her plants. I love all of the fruit possibilities in Oregon. There are 2 apple and 2 Italian Plum trees in my yard that produce wonderful fruit each year (if you eat around the worms...) and I have put in raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Other local greats include mock orange. I was digging in the dirt yesterday and to hell with the dirty fingernails today...the peas are going in tonight!

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