Welcome to Blunders with Shoots, Blossoms 'n Roots!

Hello, I'm Tessa. Feel free to look around and comment on anything you like. And for those of you needing some instant input- here are the facts.

My Climate- for the curious.

Location: Redmond, OR- High plains desert
USDA Zone: 5 (not sure about that yet!)
Sunset Zone: 1 or 2 (not sure about that either!
Climate: Sun, sun, snow (with sun!) Cold winters, nice summers (or so I'm told!)
Last frost: It can dip below freezing any time of year (or so I'm told :)
Garden Size: Just over 1/3 acre and an adjacent lot that is 1/4 acre that we can use.I'm keeping it small for now.
Gardener: In the making
Started blogging: May 2008

Note: I just moved from a temperate climate, zone 8 to a much ccccolder climate, zone 5- things should be interesting around here for a while! Join me while I try to figure out this new climate; starting my own seeds, and working in a small 6x10 greenhouse (which will hopefully be going up this spring!)

Happy gardening,

Tessa (aka dirtdigger)

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Blunders with Shoots, Blossoms 'n Roots
Where things either live or die!

May 11, 2013

All good things must come to and end

And that includes my time on this blog. I started this blog back in 2008 so family and friends that couldn't come see what I was experimenting on in the garden could still see what was going on. I've learned so much in my almost 20 years (yikes!) of gardening and now the name doesn't fit anymore...not that I still don't kill things, mind you!

I've made many garden blogging friends along the way- and still read their blogs regularly- so some things won't change, but it was time to move on.

In late 2009 we moved to a cold, dry climate- zone 5. So different than what I've been growing in (zone 8, moist). I grow year round, in an unheated high tunnel and greenhouse- they're small, but I produce a lot with them. I'm working towards getting a 20x40 high tunnel on the just under a 1/4 acre area next door- some of it is ours, but some is not- the owner (who we are purchasing our home from) has given me permission to do what I please.  I'm working to grow enough for my community- including the food banks, homeless, etc. In time.

Also, I've been working as a garden coach this year- seed starting classes for the public and smaller groups, etc. So things have changed- and it was time to change my blog.

So here you go- out with the old and in with the new.

Dirt Candy will serve a different purpose than this blog did. Not just for family and friends far away, this blog will go along with any coaching I'm doing- any classes I teach will be covered. Basically, it's an extension or another way to help the community do what I do every year- which is grow our own food, in as simple and as low tech way as possible. I get so many questions every year that I thought that I'd cover those too- so anyone can have access to the information. It's time to take back our food- and it starts in our own backs yards, I want to help others do that too.

My current yard is a challenge- all the work will be included, so others can be inspired to not give up in this climate. It can be done here.

So head on over and drop me a note! And thanks so much for reading my blog.

Happy growing!


Jan 14, 2012

It's almost time!

I've moved the seed starting setup inside the house now. It was just too cold in the garage. It took a while for me to do it as it seemed so final to change my daughter's room. And with one change after another it's time to move on.

So before we are even close to seed starting time-indoors at least, more on that later, it's onward and upward time!

Happy gardening,


Jan 10, 2012

Accidental potato

Found this while moving a compost bed around-couldn't have grown better if I'd planned it!

Happy gardening,


Jan 8, 2012

Winter harvesting

Just a quick update on what's going on in between family emergencies!

More yummy salad- this is just this week.

Happy New Year and happy harvesting!


Jun 15, 2011

An Interesting Visitor



This little guy crawled on my daughter’s back while sitting on the couch- freaked her out, but not too much that she forgot to get a shot of him!

His tail is truly an electric blue. He is a type of lizard called a Skink- isn’t he cute?


Happy gardening,


May 23, 2011

Busy, busy, busy!



So much to do, so little time. We all try to get as much done in a day as possible- often times it’s less than we’d like. It all takes time to establish a new yard and getting a foothold is a challenge. But little by little it’s all coming together.

The weather has finally started warming up- late this year (thanks a lot La Nina) and it just happened to be my first year growing anything. It is time to start moving the cool weather crops out and moving the warm ones in. Since I had an unexpected absence recently, I was a bit behind with sowing warm weather lettuce. I did get some sown as soon as I returned only to find that something had found them quite tasty in the nursery- which is, at present, in the garage.


These were sown in a 200 cell plug flat. Instead of tossing them I set the survivors in a bed far away from my crop area and hoped for the best- just in case the offenders were hiding in the soil, I didn’t want them finding everything else. So far there are some that are doing okay. So, back to the drawing board for the lettuce.

On the warm weather crop front I’ve sown some melon (2 kinds), squash (2 kinds), more chard and some other things like sunflowers, etc. I’ve purchased some lemon cukes to try this year and I’ll be sowing my green beans in long paper pots (or what I like to call my version of root trainers). I’ve decided to grow bush varieties of beans with all the wind we’ve had this year and I don’t expect that to change (thanks again La Nina). I didn’t really feel the need to have to run out there and save my trellis from being blown away- there has been quite enough of that with tunnel plastic and shade cloth!

A few of my tomatoes have buds on them- very surprising considering they were horribly neglected in my absence. They have really bounced back nicely. I gave them some extra TLC as they had purple leaf undersides- a phosphorus deficiency, no doubt. Now they look great. I’ve planted one out in the greenhouse bed. The labels were messed up too- but luckily I have 3 positive ids and 2 of them were the bigger tomatoes, so I could choose which ones should go in the greenhouse ground beds.


This tomato was given to me by my neighbor.              This is one I started from seed.


Peas are doing nicely-


Compost bin #1 is built, but not finished. I have to do the front and add some hardware cloth on the sides.

I worked on adding some more small in ground greenhouse beds-


The new grass area is looking very nice- Here is a before shot.

And after…

I really love what we’ve done so far…


Spring crops are continuing and starting to finish up- I’ll have a gap as I lost some replacements, but It’ll all work out.

I hope your days have been sunny and your harvests yummy!


Happy gardening,


May 14, 2011

Chicken Coop Tour!


So a friend of mine invited me to go enjoy the local Chicken Coop Tour here in Bend/Redmond and I almost didn’t go! Boy am I glad I did!

We managed to see 8 different setups, all of different sizes, with a 3-year-old in tow. I have now got so many ideas of how our chicken set-up should be that my head is swimming! We had a lot of fun and learned a lot about chicken breeds and their care- very nice! Here are a few highlights-

This coop was built with old hot rod parts- very creative. The little girl there was the creator’s daughter who was running around with turkey poults in her coat pocket- their little necks looking like they’d break any minute! She said they were ‘pocket perfect’…and indeed they were.


We loved these…


There were a lot of recycling examples. I have plenty limbs around my home to make this cool roost.


Interesting chicken tractor- I could make this. It would get the job done, moving the chickens onto my beds, but I’m not sure I like how they look. I’m sure they could be prettied up!

Tractor inside- nesting box and roost
Below- food tube

Recycled 2 liter bottle for water- nice.













Chickens weren’t the only thing we saw- this animal was so funny! The guy, I mean! He was a big guy and that pig was taking him for a walk :)



And all kidding aside…

Cute little tail!

And finally…the deal of the day! I found a watering can. It’s not a haws, but an old French design from the 1800s and I like it! It has a wonderful fine rose.



We saw so much more- and some small, nice backyard setups, but this post would end up being way too long to list them! I’m inspired now to get our chickens, but it will have to wait a while- say a year or two. I have all my ideas on paper now and we’ll have done all the research by then. In the meantime I can enjoy my friend’s chickens as she’ll be getting them soon! Maybe someday she and I will be in the annual Chicken Coop Tour…


Happy gardening,


May 10, 2011



It’s been almost a month since my last post- sorry about that! So much has happened in the last few weeks it’s hard to know where to start. I’m just now getting a chance to get some things done- including a post.

I’ll start off with how grateful I am to the Lord for His grace! To explain, my dad had a stroke recently, and he also has an aneurism in his brain that has been there for probably 30 years. The amazing thing is that his brain did a work around and created tributaries to get blood to the rest of his brain…all this time! The veins on one side of his neck have no flow and haven’t for years, apparently! How the docs missed this, all this time, is beyond me as my dad is faithful to get his checkups regularly and do what the docs tell him- he wants to be around a long time and healthy- so he does what he needs to do- He’s very responsible and practical that way. When I stayed with my parents for the first week dad was home he was walking around with a cane and talking with a scratchy throat- almost as if it had not happened! And he’s almost 80! We purchased him some superman underwear to go home in! So you can see why I am so grateful! I’m grateful that, for whatever reason He has, God wanted my dad around a bit longer…after all, one of the best things to be in the whole world is a daddy’s girl!

On the garden front, I’m amazed again. The day my mom called me, I was right in the middle of potting up some tomato babies- everything stopped at that point. I came home expecting total death in the greenhouse and tunnels as I’d told my daughter not to worry about it. The tunnels were left up so the plants in it had quite a range of weather while I was gone. Cold, hot, very windy, no water, even some snow- thankfully, they were at least mulched. It’s very interesting what plants do to survive.

When I returned, the first days I just wandered around and watered. I noticed the peas were up; I’d just planted some pre-sprouted seeds before I had to leave and they hadn’t been watered at all.


The wonderful ‘Marvel of Four Seasons’ lettuce had turned a beautiful burgundy in response to the weather extremes- interesting. I just removed the outer leaves and gave them a really good soaking.

I did lose a few, but this is how well they bounced back- They were really dark burgundy, but as they bounced back, I started seeing some green in there. Below is how they looked after I transplanted them originally-

I’ve harvested some and they taste great!

The other things planted looked haggard, but survived too, with the exception of the chard. This shot below was taken a few days after I’d arrived home- weeded and watered and thinned- not too bad! Everything in the first tunnel, which was the first planting, survived really well (spinach, beets and a few lettuce.)


The story is a bit different in the nursery- the lupine, beets, broccoli, and all the chard that I hadn’t transplanted are compost. The tomatoes I had potted up survived thanks to Patrick getting home before me to water them. They looked sad yesterday as I again potted them on to the next and final size pot before they’ll go in the garden- I think they are suffering from a phosphorus deficiency, as the undersides of the leaves are purple-ish.

Not all of what I started is there; I never finished transplanting the micro-blocks the day mom called- so I’ll be sowing some more soon.

Some of the flowers I’d sown a while back have survived too- Yarrow and Foxglove. I’ve also started quite a bit- Lettuce, Columbine, Bellflower, Jacob’s Ladder and more…

More to start as we’re finally getting some warmer weather- hopefully soon we’ll have some nice tomatoes to go in our salads! This was picked fresh this week- it has Lettuce, Mizuna, Tatsoi, Radish, Mache, Spinach and Beet greens.


Happy Gardening to you, and I hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day!


Apr 14, 2011

Have I mentioned how much I love my widger?


It’s the simple things that make life wonderful- I could make this post just about that- but instead, I’ll just tell you about my widger.

It’s a simple tool, really. It kind-a resembles a tiny shoe horn. All I know is that the other day I needed it. I was trying to transplant some of the lettuce I started a while back- some of them had to go into a 50 cell plug flat. If any of you have tried to get delicate seedlings out of one of these- you know my frustration! Trying not to hurt the seedlings, and the flat at the same time was tough…and then I remembered the widger!

I’d asked for it for Christmas year before last- I didn’t do much in the garden last year so I’d forgotten all about it until I needed it.

Lettuce variety ‘Focea’

What a simple but so very useful tool- it definitely belongs in my list of favorite gardening tools. You simple slide in around the edges of the plant, loosening it from the plug, and then scoop it out- nice.

So obviously some lettuce got transplanted- If I was sowing from seed there would be 12 rows of lettuce- across the bed, and eating baby lettuce to thin out. But I just planted 5 in the short rows.

The wind is still terrible right now so I had to protect them from both the sun and wind- I used a piece of weed mat for shade, and mulched too. In this group, starting front to back- organic ‘Speckles’, ‘Salad Bowl Blend’, ‘Focea’ and organic ‘Marvel of 4 Seasons’. I have to say that I really love the Marvel of 4 Seasons- it’s a new variety this year and it is really a beautiful lettuce…almost too pretty to eat.

The temperatures dropped again after planting out this lettuce and some prior to these- I was worried I’d lose them with just a single layer of protection- they were frozen in the morning, but bounced back…truly amazing.

Yep, Frozen lettuce. The temperatures under a double cover dropped to 26.4 degrees- so these were exposed to a bit lower than that. I did cover 1/2 of them with pots- not wanting to lose all of them, just in case.

This is the same lettuce later that morning.

Is this a pretty lettuce or what!- my photos really don’t capture it well.

We also managed to get the blueberry planted- now we have 4. The ones from last year weren’t as old as the ones we purchased this year- and I’m not sure how well they survived the winter (not to mention the colder and windier than usual spring!). So, hopefully we’ll have 4!

The smaller one on the right only gets to 30” I think- it has blossoms on it, I hope it will do alright. This is a berry bed- 4 blueberry, 4 raspberry (and we’ll plant more), and along the edges I’ll plant more strawberry.

Speaking of strawberry- The area that the cold frames will eventually go was planted with strawberry ‘Quinault’- all tucked in. It starting hailing lightly while I was planting and the day before I got sunburned…you gotta love spring!


Everything planted out has really gotten a beating by the wind. I’ve protected them the best I could. The next sowing will hopefully have better luck!

Lastly- I sowed 7 different varieties of tomato. This year I’m trying a few heirloom varieties that are unusual. These were sown in micro blocks.

Varieties include: ‘Stupice’, ‘Red Zebra’, ‘Ananas Noire’, ‘Green Grape’, ‘Tess’s Land Race Currant’, ‘New Girl’, ‘Woodle Orange’. I can’t wait to see how they do here and how they taste. Except for ‘New Girl’ and ‘Stupice’ were purchased from Baker Creek Seeds- so if you’re interested you can check them out.

And I found a nice video of Eliot Coleman sowing tomato in these micro blocks- this is from the days when he and his wife did the show Gardening Naturally (anyone remember that show- my favorite, I wish they’d do it again!). Enjoy.


Part two is on there too- all good stuff!

Happy Gardening,


Apr 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- 4/7/2011



Happy spring! :)