Swale and Berm

1 2909 frontThis August we will have been in this house 2 years.  The time has flown by.  One thing we are discovering is the rhythm of this property.  This neighborhood is fabulously multi-dimensional. There are hills, and valleys, and flat, and rollercoaster topographical aspects.


Our particular lot is on a really nice slope.  Nothing I dislike more than a flat postage stamp of a green yard with nothing of interest.  We do have some nearly flat spaces, but we have lots of variety and dimension to our topography.

One of the things we’ve noticed is the amount of rainwater runoff there is.  We have way more land than footprint of impermeable surface.

The previous owners buried all the extensions for the downspouts so that they empty to the driveway.   After observing the natural flow of the slope when it rains we have identified several areas where the water also flows directly to the driveway.  We need to change this.

I have been researching, and got Tom on board with Berm and Swale. I am using several online resources, but this one provides me with the following explanations:

What’s a Swale?

Swales are simply shallow, low depressions in the ground designed to encourage the accumulation of rain during storms and hold it for a few hours or days to let it infiltrate into the soil. Swales ideally are tree-lined and store water for the immediate landscape as well as help cleanse the water as it percolates down. 

What’s a Berm?

Berms are raised beds that can be used to direct water to swales. They are the equivalent of the slope in road used to push water off the middle of the road toward the curbs.

For our front yard we are installing a Berm,  there is a natural swale already in place.

The downspouts will be uprooted and redirected to the yard, and we will install at least one rain barrel in the front.

I have tried to encourage Tom to seek assistance, because First: he shouldn’t be doing all this hard work himself, and Second, he needs help doing all this hard work.. Will/Does he listen to me, NO!

So in the front yard we have created a Berm of landscape brick, they are backed by a layer of weed fabric.  The area will be planted and the rainwater from the front yard will move down the slope and rather than directly in to the swale it will be held by the dirt, landscape stones, fabric, and plantings.  It will hold water for use by the plants, and diminish the immediate runoff.



The backyard will be a much bigger project, and I am sort of insisting on a Consultation with a landscape/irrigation person to advise on the placement.  This will have to be a separate post.  There are 3 distinct runoff trails.


Posted in Archdale House, Everyday Stuff, gardening in Richmond, permaculture swale, Richmond Life | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

this old house – bathroom work

This is the guest bath, from the sellers online info a year ago.

It’s a great bathroom, quite spacious, and built really solidly.

I like the “retro” look of it too.12-hallbath

Unfortunately the 60 year old tub’s ceramic coating is pitted and chipped, it is nearly impossible to keep clean.  And the tub faucet leaks.

I suggested, for about 300$ we could get the tub resurfaced; and Tom could repair the leaky faucet.   But Tom said No; not to the faucet repair, but to the resurfacing.

So he decided to tear out the old tile surround, and the tub, and we will replace it with shiny new fiberglass.  He may now be regretting that decision.  The walls that the tile were on were 2 1/2 inch thick cement, and the tub was cast iron.

Just getting all that  stuff out has been a horror.


this is the cast iron tub, cut in to 4 pieces, even then he could barely move them.

oh, and he hauled them to the recycler, and got about 15$ for the pieces!


these are the pieces of wall, he had to cut them into 2ft by 2ft pieces to be able to move them.


Ready to start the installation!

Notice how closely he has cut the tiles?


Keeping the same medicine cabinet, Tom added that outlet, and we’re replaced the light fixture with one quite similar but in polished chrome to match the rest of the fixtures.


Here is the bath recess down to the studs.  It has taken him a few days to get the tile cut just right to allow the fiberglass tub and panels to be inset with out having to replace too much.IMG_2251IMG_2253

For whatever reason I didn’t take photos of Tom in the room actually doing the work.

But here are finished pictures

look at that tile work!


As you can see he did an amazing job on the tile work.  He spent A LOT OF TIME cutting, filing, sanding and creating to get the tiles in just right so as to maintain the esthetic of the room.


et voilà , the finished project!



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cooking with Sparassis Crispa, aka cauliflower mushroom

This dish is using Sparassis Crispa, aka cauliflower mushroom.   The specimen I found was not overly large.

Sparassis Crispa

Sparassis Crispa, aka cauliflower mushroom. 

As you all probably know I am no good with recipes and measurements.  So keep this in mind as you read through.

I gave the head a good rinse, and upended it and set it to drain.   

I then cut, with scissors, the ruffled parts down to where it got sort of solid.  It was a little squishy in some spots near the center areas so I didn’t want to use that part.


Then I gave a more thorough washing to dislodge leaf and dirt.  Again I set it aside to drain.  Then in to the fridge overnight.

Next day I pulled out the large pieces and set them in the dehydrator, and decided to use all the smaller bits for a Hot n Sour soup.


I set out, garlic chili paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, miso, garlic, ginger, onion, celery, tofu, zucchini, spring onion, baby arugula, and celery.


So first thing was to thin slice 1/4 of a medium onion, 1 stay of celery, 1/2 of 1/2 a zucchini, and 2 stalks of spring onion.  Then I minced about 4 cloves of garlic, and shredded about a 1 inch nub of ginger. I took about 1/3 of a block of firm tofu and cubed it.


Now I put a bit of olive oil in a pan and started sautéing the onion, then I added a big spoon of chili paste, about 1/2 c soy sauce, and about 1/3 c rice vinegar.  Then I added about 1 1/2 ltrs of water.

To all this I added about 3 T miso and let that break down.  Then I added the tofu, zucchini, ginger, and celery.

Give that time to heat through and toss in a handful of baby arugula, and about 1/2 the sliced green onion.

Again, bring up to heat and you are done.  Taste and adjust.


Once you have bowled the soup add a bit of green onion slices.


It was super yummy, a bit spicy to begin with for Tom, but once he adjusted he declared it a winner.

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cooking with Armillaria Tabescens

On a recent walk I found several highly sought after and edible wild mushrooms.  read about it here

So now to show you what I’ve done with one of the mushrooms, the Armillaria tabescens, aka honey mushroom.  I cut the caps from the stems, and cleaned them.


I then tore the caps of some of the larger ones and sautéed them in olive oil with onion, garlic, and salt n pepper.


Then I tossed in a big handful of baby arugula and let that sweat down.


That was dinner last night;  a teriyaki glazed salmon, a baked sweet potato, and our beautiful foraged mushrooms.


bad lighting, it really was a lovely plate.

Then Tom got up this morning and used the leftover cooked shrooms for an omelet.  It declared it de-lish! Unfortunately he wasn’t thinking about you, my lovely guests, and he neglected to take a photo.

I asked around on Next Door if someone had a food dehydrator they wanted to get rid of, and a lovely lady gave me 2 that had been in her storage area for 5 years.

What a score for me – here are the rest of those shrooms all dried out and ready for more meals.


later today I plan to do something or other with the other big find which are Sparassis Crispa, aka cauliflower mushroom –

Sparassis Crispa

Posted in Cooking, Everyday Stuff, mushrooms | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

mushrooming – and a morning walk

So today I asked Tom if he wanted to come along for a walk; that way all 3 dogs could come.  He said yes! 

He doesn’t really like my wild spaces where Rubi and I walk so we headed to a local well used park with very nice groomed trails. And of course some intrepids have carved out their own little trails which is of course against park rules.

Any way, we had a lovely walk, saw some cool birds, the most unusual was the Pileated Woodpecker.


not my photo







We also rescued a box turtle


not my photo

 The turtle had gotten on to the stone path that has 8-12 inch side walls. There are cutouts for rainfall, but they are spaced apart.

Beautiful stream


And we saw mushrooms! 

Sparassis Crispa

Sparassis Crispa, aka cauliflower mushroom. I took this one!

Armillaria Tabescens

Armillaria Tabescens, aka Honey Mushroom. I took these.


This one is still unknown to me, the cap is about the size of a nickel.

Lots of these, Trametes, or Polypores.   I am still trying to identify these.


Phaeolus Schweinitzii

A very old Phaeolus Schweinitzii, aka Dyers Polypore

Anyway, it was a nice walk, the dogs are content, and we gonna eat some mushrooms!


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mushrooming – bondarzewia berkleyi

In the previous post you saw a sampling of some of the shrooms I have seen or collected lately.

Most of the boletes that I collected and started to preserve ended up in the trash.  I couldn’t get a good enough confirmation from the seasoned bolete shroomers on the fb bolete shroom groups I now belong to.  So, darn it all, but better safe than sorry, Don’t Ya Think?

Anyway, the other day I made this score, Bondarzewia berkleyi.  These guys are quite mature, but not completely past the edible stage.

According to wiki – Bondarzewia berkeleyi, commonly known as Berkeley’s polypore, or stump blossoms, is a species of polypore fungus in the family Russulaceae. It is a parasitic species that causes butt rot in oaks and other hardwood trees.

Here’s a link to more info,


So my task, now that I am confident in the identification, is to figure out what to do with them.

Tasting them raw was a mistake.  Because these are older they are quite tough and the smell is horrific, like rotting fish.  The taste raw is also quite unpleasant, but also really peppery.

So first thing was to clean them up.  I ended up taking some of the thinner end sections, slicing them and sautéing them.  I then de-glazed with a bit of balsamic.  Really tasty.

I think using plain sautéed strips  to make fajitas, ragout, bourguignon, etc will work really well.

Oh, I think chunks made into pickle will be interesting too.

Here are some of the inner, really thick pieces,   I am poaching them in salted water to see what the texture will become.


I am enjoying this new hobby, I am learning new stuff, good for the brain, I am getting out into the wild woods more, rather than manicured woods trails, and Rubi is getting out more often.   Plus we get to eat what I harvest.



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mushrooming – Did you hear the joke about the fungus? I could tell it to you, but it might need time to grow on you.

So you, my friends, know I like to eat.

I also like to eat inexpensively.   Which predicates that I like to forage.

You’ve probably eaten things at my house that include things I’ve “found”.

My newest interest is mushrooming.  I must have 12 different kinds in my yard.  Most of which unfortunately have proven to be poisonous.

Here are a few

I do have one patch of these gymnopus luxurians in the front yard, enough to make with one meal per harvest.

The other day I was on my way to CostCo,  I drove past a big group of mushrooms along the side of a small backroad.  I went a short way, turned around and explored them.  I took a few photos and got on my phones data and started to research.   It was taking too long so I just grabbed a bunch and punch them in the car.

Then driving past a bank I spotted another big group of different ones.  I turned around, took some photos, and this time had a stronger data link, these were definitely inedible. I left them.

Then, leaving CostCo, but still in their lot, I saw another big group of another different type.


boletesThese have turned out to be Boletes, the family from which we get Porcinis.  These are not porcinis, but are in fact Pulchroboletus Rubricitrinus.  I have cleaned them and they are ready for drying.

I was not quite 100% with my id, mostly because what you see in pictures never 100% agree with what you have.  So last night I ate a chunk.  And did the same this morning, no ill effects so I think I have at least correctly identified them as edible.


In a neighbors yard are these –  I’ve not yet caught them home to ask if I can take them, but I did take this picture.


Meripilus Sumstinei, Black Staining Polypore, quite desirable, and edible.  Apparently quite good pickled!  I am going to have to go undercover in the dead of night if I don’t catch these guys at home soon.

Posted in boletes, Cooking, Everyday Stuff, Foraging, gymnopus luxurians, Meripilus Sumstinei, mushrooms, Pulchroboletus Rubricitrinus | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment