Sunday, September 8, 2013

Time for Fall Gardening!

Fall is such a fabulous time for gardening in the Pacific Northwest, yet many of us don't take full advantage of this great opportunity to add plants, mulch, and other garden features.  The start of our "rainy season" means that the soil softens up nicely for digging, and that Mother Nature will provide the majority of water needed for your new plants.  The cooler temperatures mean less overheating for us diggers too!  More importantly, the cooler temperatures mean less transplant shock and quicker development of new roots for all new plantings.  Adding mulch during fall helps keep the soil warmer longer, which also adds to new root development, and prevents compaction by the heavy winter rains.  If you are thinking of adding a rain garden or other storm-water-absorbing feature, having moist soils makes for better accuracy of your percolation tests as well as easier digging and planting.

Fall Gardening Tips: 
  1. If you want to add trees and shrubs with fall color to your garden, pick them out at the nursery while their leaves are turning.  The fall color of some plants, such as Vine Maple, can vary greatly and once in a while there is even a "dud" plant without much pizzaz.
  2. Fall is also a great time to add late-blooming perennials and grasses to your garden.  Sedum 'Autumn Joy', Fountain Grasses (Pennisetum), and Japanese Anemone are all low-water use, and Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) and Coneflower (Echinacea) provide much-needed food for our native butterflies. Some have terrific fall color too, such as Plumbago (Ceratostigma)!
  3. If the soil isn't yet softened by rain where you want to dig, give it a gentle but thorough sprinkle and let the water soak in for 10-20 minutes before digging.  You'll be surprised how much easier it will be. Once the soil is moist, take care not to compact it too much during planting, so that there are plenty of air pockets left to hold rainwater close to the roots and insulate them from winter cold.
Take a class to learn more!
I am pleased that many local municipalities and other entities have become more aware of the advantages of fall gardening, and have asked me to teach on a variety of gardening topics this fall!  I hope you are starting to dream about your own fall gardening projects, and that I will see you at one of the following classes:

Seattle Classes:

Wildlife-friendly Garden Design Sponsored by the UW Botanic Gardens
Wednesday September 18th; 6:30-8:00pm
Center for Urban Horticulture- Douglas Classroom
3501 NE 41st St, Seattle WA 98195
$20 fee if registered by Sept 11th, $25 after
If you’ve been dreaming of a garden that attracts and nurtures songbirds, beneficial insects, and other wildlife, this class will help you make that dream a reality. You will learn a step-by-step method of choosing plants and other features that fit your site and fulfill the daily needs of wildlife, how to turn problem areas into habitat assets, create and manage pest-free feeding stations, and maintenance practices that help keep wildlife in your garden year-round. Whether your goal is to design a new garden or to incorporate new habitat features into an existing garden, you will enjoy this practical approach to sustainable success. Wildlife habitat gardens have kind of a beauty that plants alone cannot provide!Attendees should bring some photos of their existing yard for customized advice.
*****

Beautiful Solutions for Gardening on Slopes Sponsored by the Savvy Gardener Program
FREE
Saturday, September 21st; 10am-11:30am 
Magnuson Community Center - Windermere Room
7110 62nd Ave NE, Seattle WA 98115
Register through Parks online Use barcode 105399 to find this class in the catalog. OR call MCC to register: (206) 684-7026
Learn how you can replace hard-to-mow slopes with beautiful, easy care plantings. We’ll focus on critical soil building steps, plant selection, planting techniques and proper watering. See for yourself how a heavily compacted slope in Magnuson Park has been completely transformed, and how the plants in a second garden rebounded as a result of building healthy soil. This class is not concerned with very steep slopes that require structural engineering.
*****


Saturday, September 28th; 10am-11:30am   
$15 fee includes 1 adult and 1 child, additional adult or sibling are half price!
Magnuson Brig Building/Magnuson Children's Garden
6344 NE 74th St, Seattle WA 98115
Register through Parks online Use barcode #105400 to find this class in the catalog. OR call MCC to register: (206) 684-7026
Join us with your child or grandchild for a fun-filled morning in the Magnuson Children’s Garden! Learn about child-friendly features that are easy-to-add to your own backyard, food crops that are easy-to-grow, and fun projects for the whole family.  Every family receives a free children’s gardening and nature guide too!
*****
Fabulous Fall Plants, with Tips on Planting Success Sponsored by City Peoples Garden Store
FREE
Saturday October 12th from 1:00-2:00pm

2939 E. Madison St, Seattle WA 98112
Fall is the best time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials that will establish a strong root system during the rainy season! This workshop will focus on choosing plants that have great fall color and year-round interest, and will include a demonstration on proper planting techniques to ensure their long-term health.
*****
Child-friendly Garden Design Sponsored by the UW Botanic Gardens  
Wednesday October 16th; 6:30-8:00pm 
Center for Urban Horticulture- Douglas Classroom
3501 NE 41st St, Seattle WA 98195
$20 fee if registered by Oct 9th, $25 after
In his book, Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv writes that “stress reduction, greater physical health, a deeper sense of spirit, more creativity, a sense of play…are the rewards that await a family when it invites more nature into their childrens’ lives.”  If you are intrigued by the idea of making inviting and nurturing places for children within your own garden, this class will inspire and inform you! You‘ll learn ways to create unique places for nature exploration and play that fire your child’s imagination and “grow up” along with them, and fun ways to incorporate easy food gardening as part of your regular family activities. All attendees receive “top ten” lists of child-friendly plants to include, a list of plants to avoid, and other helpful resources. Attendees should bring some photos of their existing yard for customized advice.

Eastside and North County Classes:
Tuesday September 17th; 6:30-8:00pm
City Hall Community Center
1812 Main St, Lake Stevens, WA 98258

*****

Sustainable Design and Natural Pest, Weed and Disease Control
A FREE class sponsored by the Snohomish County Department of Public Works
Wednesday Sept 25th; 7:00-9:00pm
Willis Tucker Park- Gary Weikel Room
6705 Puget Park Drive, Snohomish 98296

and again on
Thursday Sept 26th; 7:00-9:00pm
Warm Beach Fire Station #97- Meeting Room
19727 Marine Drive, Stanwood 98292


*****


Edibles, Weeds and Pest Control A FREE class sponsored by the City of Bellevue’s "Take Root" Natural Yard Care Program 
Tuesday October 1st; 7:00-9:00pm
Bellevue City Hall
450 110th Avenue NE, Room 1E-108, Bellevue WA 98009
(must be Bellevue resident to attend)
*****
Tuesday Oct 9th from 5:30-7:30pm
Brightwater Center
22509 State Route 9 SE, Woodinville WA 98072

Saturday, April 6, 2013

April Showers bring more than Flowers!


Planting Your Dinner
Are you hungry to get your vegetable garden growing?  Me too!  Now is a fabulous time to sow seeds or plant starts of your favorite spring greens like Chard, Kale, Spinach, and Lettuce.  It's not too late to plant seeds or starts of Snap Peas either, but you should definitely buy starts of Broccoli, Cauliflower, or Cabbage if you want to be able to harvest some of them this spring.  

Resist the temptation to plant any summer crops yet though, as beans, corn, squash, and tomatoes need the soil to warm up significantly and nighttime air temperatures to stay above 50 degrees before they will thrive.

If you are intrigued by the idea of making your own back yard an inviting and nurturing place for children, and incorporating child-friendly food gardening as part of your regular family activities, the 3-class series I will be teaching this month for the UW Botanic Gardens will inspire and inform you. I'll also be teaching about how to create unique places for nature exploration and play that fire your child’s imagination and “grow up” along with them, and mesh well with other back yard needs. Here are the details:  Thursday April 18th, Saturday April 20th, and Thursday April 25th: "Creating a Child-friendly Garden". Fee: $85  Location:  Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98105For more information or to register, visit this UWBG webpage
 

The War on Weeds
 The first two weeks of spring have brought sun and warmth as well as torrential rain to our gardens.... and we're not the only ones with spring fever.... plants are starting to grow like mad, including the weeds!  
 
If you don't have time to dig all your weeds out before they flower (I'm in that club myself), make sure you at least stop in your garden for a few minutes to pluck the weed flowers off before they set seed.  This is especially true the prolific and aggravating shotweed, which the saying "one year's seeds, seven years of weeds" must have been written about!  If you don't believe me, just look at this wheelbarrow's worth of shotweed from my little p-patch one spring morning a few years ago... I've learned my lesson well and have never let it go to seed since!

 
Feed Your Hea
d with an Edible Gardening Class

I'm happy to be teaching about growing your own organic food again this spring.  These classes will teach you how to make your yard produce great tasting, nutritious home-grown vegetables, berries, and fruit trees:
  • Tuesday April 16th from 6pm-7:30pm: "Sustainable Veggie Gardening" for the Savvy Gardener Program. Location: Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE, Bellevue 98009. FREE for all King Co. residents, but pre-registration required, visit the Savvy Gardener webpage for more information.
  • Tuesday April 30th from 6pm-7:30pm: "Sustainable Veggie Gardening" for the Savvy Gardener Program. Location: Skyway Water and Sewer District Office, 6723 S. 124th St., Seattle 98178. FREE for all King Co. residents, but pre-registration required, visit the Savvy Gardener webpage for more information.
  • Thursday May 2nd from 7pm-8pm: “Edible Gardening” for the City of Auburn's Natural Yard Care Program.  Location: Northwest Family Church, 3535 Auburn Way S., Auburn 98092.  FREE for all City of Auburn residents, pre-registration required.
  • Wednesday May 15th from 7pm-8pm: “Edible Gardening” for the City of Bothell's Natural Yard Care Program.  Location: Northshore Senior Center at 10201 E Riverside Dr Bothell, WA 98011. FREE for all City of Bothell residents, pre-registration required. 

Gardening Classes for the Whole Family: 
  • Sunday April 14th from 1pm-2pm: "Creating a Snacking Garden" a FREE class for the whole family on growing tasty treats that kids will love, at Molbak's Garden + Home, during their Edible Gardening Weekend celebration! 13625 NE 175th St., Woodinville 98072.  No registration needed.

  • Sunday April 21st from 1pm-2pm: "A Bird's Eye View" a FREE class for the whole family on attracting songbirds and hummingbirds to make beautiful music and hover like flying jewels in your garden, at City People's Garden Store, 2939 E. Madison St, Seattle 98112. No registration needed.







Going Native
Learn about Pacific Northwest native plants that are beautiful, easy to care for, and thrive in our unique climate and soil conditions.  Natives can be the foundation for a new landscape or incorporated into an existing landscape! 
  • Tuesday April 23rd from 7pm-8:30pm: "Native Splendor in the Garden" for the Savvy Gardener Program. Location: Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE, Bellevue 98009. FREE, but pre-registration required, visit the Savvy Gardener webpage for more information.
  • Saturday April 27th from 10am-11:30am: "Native Splendor in the Garden" for the Savvy Gardener Program. Location: Magnuson Community Center, 7110 62nd Ave NE, Seattle 98115. FREE, but pre-registration required, visit the Savvy Gardener webpage for more information.
  • Saturday, May 18 from 10am-11:30am: "Native Splendor in the Garden" for the Savvy Gardener Program. Location: Tukwila Community Center, 12424 42nd Ave. S, Tukwila.  FREE, but pre-registration required, visit the Savvy Gardener webpage for more information.





Are You a Delridge or Rainer Beach Resident? The Natural Yard Care Neighborhood Series of FREE classes are sponsored by Seattle Public Utilities, for residents of the neighborhoods within the Delridge and Rainier Beach "RainWise Program" rebate areas.  Visit their website for more info.
  • Wednesday April 10th from 7pm-9pm: "Choosing the Right Plants" and "Natural Pest, Weed, and Disease Control. Location: Chief Sealth High School, 2600 SW Thistle St  Seattle, WA 98126.  
  • Monday April 29th from 7pm-9pm: "Choosing the Right Plants" and "Natural Pest, Weed, and Disease Control.  Location: South Shore School, 4800 S. Henderson, Seattle, WA 98118

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring is Here!

Viburnum tinus about to open

Dear clients and friends,

Spring has finally arrived, and plants have begun growing with new vigor after a very wet, yet mild winter. When the sun and warmth breaks through the clouds and lures you outside, here are some tips on accomplishing some springtime gardening:

1. Give your legs and back a good stretch before you tackle any garden tasks, to prevent a strained muscle from spoiling your spring.

2. Plan to get weeds out of the ground before they flower and set seed.  The soil is soft right now but less saturated than in winter, which makes even deep-rooted weeds easier to dig out.

3.  As you complete weeding sections of your garden, make sure to add a layer of coarse mulch on top of the soil, to prevent new weed seeds from germinating.  I like to have a wheelbarrow full of wood chips next to me as I weed, so I can switch back and forth between weeding and mulching, which gives my 55-yr-old knees and back more "staying power" and less morning aches.

4. Are there open areas in your garden where you'd like to add plants? Make sure to dig in a 3-inch layer of compost approx. 9-inches deep throughout the area before planting, to give your new plants the best chance to thrive.  However, if digging in compost in a wide area would disturb nearby tree or shrub roots, spread a 1-2 inch layer on top of the soil and scratch it into the top few inches of soil with a cultivator or rake before planting.

5.  Is this your year to start composting your yard waste and/or kitchen scraps at home?  In my opinion, nothing beats being able to go to your own bin to get "black gold" for my garden.  Composting is easy, as long as you get started off right.  I was recently quoted extensively in a Patch.com article about composting at home, and everything I said applies to how to get started here in Seattle, even though the article was published on the east coast.

6. Spring is a great time to take a gardening class, whether you are starting a new garden project or phase, or looking for ideas and tips to improve your existing garden areas.   I will be teaching a lot of gardening classes and workshops all over the county again in 2013, many of which are free.  Below is a list to choose from, and links to their registration info- I hope to see you at one of them!


Wildlife-friendly Gardening:
Welcome songbirds, butterflies, and beneficial insects into your yard while conserving natural resources at the same time. Discover how urban wildlife can provide you with year-round natural pest and weed control and better pollination. Then, learn about design techniques and maintenance practices that can attract and nurture beneficial wildlife in your garden for years to come.
  • Thursday March 28th from 6pm-7:30pm:  "Wildlife-friendly Gardening for Beauty and Sustainability" for the Savvy Gardener Program. Location: Redmond Senior Center, 8703 160th Avenue NE, Redmond 98052. FREE, but pre-registration required, visit the Savvy Gardener webpage for more information.
  • Thursday April 4th, Saturday April 6th, and Thursday April 11th: "Designing and Creating a Wildlife-friendly Habitat Garden" 3-class series for the UW Botanic Gardens. $85 For more information or to register, visit this UWBG webpage
    Location: Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98105
Native Plants:
Learn about Pacific Northwest native plants that are beautiful, easy to care for, and thrive in our unique climate and soil conditions. We’ll focus on plant selections for a variety of growing conditions including challenges such as dry sun and shade, how to use natives as the foundation for a new landscape or incorporate them into an existing landscape, and maintenance practices that keep them healthy and growing strong. 
  • Tuesday April 23rd from 7pm-8:30pm: "Native Splendor in the Garden" for the Savvy Gardener Program. Location: Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE, Bellevue 98009. FREE, but pre-registration required, visit the Savvy Gardener webpage for more information.
  • Saturday April 27th from 10am-11:30am: "Native Splendor in the Garden" for the Savvy Gardener Program. Location: Magnuson Community Center, 7110 62nd Ave NE, Seattle 98115. FREE, but pre-registration required, visit the Savvy Gardener webpage for more information.
  • Saturday, May 18 from 10am-11:30am: "Native Splendor in the Garden" for the Savvy Gardener Program. Location: Tukwila Community Center, 12424 42nd Ave. S, Tukwila.  FREE, but pre-registration required, visit the Savvy Gardener webpage for more information.

Children's Gardening:
  • Sunday April 14th from 1pm-2pm: "Creating a Snacking Garden" a FREE class for the whole family at Molbak's Garden + Home, during their Edible Gardening Weekend celebration! 13625 NE 175th St., Woodinville 98072.  No registration needed.
  • Thursday April 18th, Saturday April 20th, and Thursday April 25th: "Creating a Child-friendly Garden" 3-class series for the UW Botanic Gardens. $85.00  Location:  Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98105. 

    For more information or to register, visit this UWBG webpage 




Edible Gardening: 
Growing your own organic food is a fun and delicious way to garden in the Pacific Northwest. Vegetables, berries, and fruit trees need special care to thrive, but your time and energy will pay off with great tasting, nutritious home-grown food.  Best of all, food crops can be incorporated into your existing landscape, large or small! This class will teach you how to make your yard produce great food for you and your family.

  • Wednesday, April 3rd from 6pm – 7:30pm:  “Sustainable Veggie Gardening” for the Savvy Gardener Program. Location: Kirkland City Hall/Peter Kirk Room, 123 5th Avenue, Kirkland 98033. FREE, but pre-registration required, visit the Savvy Gardener webpage for more information.
  • Sunday April 7th from 1-2:30pm: “Sustainable Veggie Gardening” for the Savvy Gardener Program. Location: McLendon's Hardware in Renton, 440 Rainier Ave. S, Renton. FREE, and
    no pre-registration required.  Seating is first-come, first-served.  
  • Tuesday April 16th from 6pm-7:30pm: "Sustainable Veggie Gardening" for the Savvy Gardener Program. Location: Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE, Bellevue 98009. FREE, but pre-registration required, visit the Savvy Gardener webpage for more information.
  • Tuesday April 30th from 6pm-7:30pm: "Sustainable Veggie Gardening" for the Savvy Gardener Program. Location: Skyway Water & Sewer District Office, 6723 S 124th St., Seattle 98178. FREE, but pre-registration required, visit the Savvy Gardener webpage for more information.
  • Thursday May 2nd from 7pm-8pm: “Edible Gardening” for the City of Auburn's Natural Yard Care Program.  Location: TBA
  • Wednesday May 15th from 7pm-8pm: “Edible Gardening” for the City of Bothell's Natural Yard Care Program.  Location: Northshore Senior Center at 10201 E Riverside Dr Bothell, WA 98011.  

Seattle Public Utilities Natural Yard Care Neighborhood Series: These class are for residents of the specific neighborhoods within the Delridge and Rainier Beach "RainWise Program" rebate areas.  Visit their website for more info.
  • Wednesday April 10th from 7pm-9pm: "Choosing the Right Plants" and "Natural Pest, Weed, and Disease Control. Location: Chief Sealth High School, 2600 SW Thistle St  Seattle, WA 98126.  
  • Monday April 29th from 7pm-9pm: "Choosing the Right Plants" and "Natural Pest, Weed, and Disease Control.  Location: South Shore School, 4800 S. Henderson, Seattle, WA 98118


For the list of all the 2013 classes and topics offered by the Savvy Gardener Program, visit http://savingwater.org/savvygardener/default.htm

For the list of all the classes and topics offered by the UWBG, visit http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/education/classes.php

Friday, January 25, 2013

Getting Your Garden Underway in the New Year

Happy New Year!  It's been a long time since I've posted anything here, so I guess it's no surprise I am late with a new year's greeting! I hope this day finds you well, and that you are enjoying a bit of rain.  What? Yes, I did say enjoy... because 2013 began with only 2.5 inches of rainfall in the first 3 weeks, and though we have picked up close to 1 inch in the past week, we're not likely to get to our average of 5.5 inches in January.  The fog that hung around did not lift our spirits or provide much moisture for plants either... so what does a "dry" January like this mean for our gardens?

  • Plants that are under your home's eaves could be getting dry, especially if they are on the north or northeast side, since most of our November and December winter storms came from the south and west.
  • All plants that are drought-stressed are much more susceptible to freeze-damage than plants that are well-hydrated.  We could have some deep-freezes coming this winter, and lasting well into Feb and March, so if you think your eaves have kept plants dry.
  • If your soil is sandy and well-drained, it may be dry enough to dig in, so if you need to incorporate compost or other organic matter into it, now may be a good time.  How can you tell if your soil is dry enough to dig in?  1. Take a small handful of soil and squeeze it until it sticks together.  2. Poke it with your finger, and if it falls apart, it's ok to dig.  If it sticks together, it's too wet to dig.  This is a good way to test your soil in the springtime too!
  • Check your birdbath in case it's dry and/or getting slimy.  Normally in mid-winter, our birdbaths are filled and overflowing by rain, which helps keep the growth of algae, bacteria, and fungi in check.  Less of "nature's cleaning" mean things can get pretty slimy, which isn't good for birds to drink or bathe in.  No need to use harsh cleaners though- a 50/50 vinegar and water solution works great even in slimy birdbaths. 
If you are thinking of adding plants to your garden this spring, it's time to start some preparation- here are two ways to get great deals on Native Plants:

1. The annual King Conservation District Native Plant Sale of bare-root plants is underway!
King Conservation District offers a variety of bare-root native trees and shrubs at fabulous prices every winter. Bare-root stock which means they do not come in pots or burlap bags, but are harvested from the field in winter when the plants are dormant and ready to be replanted. Bareroot plants are affordable, hardy, have well-developed roots, are easy to handle, transport and plant.
I highly recommend pre-ordering online, as this is the best way to ensure you get what you want. To begin shopping, click here. Plant pickup is on March 1 & 2, 2013.
Order Deadline: February 8, 2013. Quantities are limited and some species may sell out, so best to order asap.

2. The next King Co Native Plant Salvage event is on Saturday Feb 2nd! There are two ways to choose from to help, and get free plants in return:
  • Spend the morning in Black Diamond with other volunteers, digging up trees and shrubs from this site (scheduled for development). These native plants will eventually be replanted to help reduce erosion, shade streams and provide habitat. If you help from 9-12noon, you can then spend the afternoon salvaging FREE plants for yourself!
  • Spend the afternoon in Issaquah with other volunteers, potting up the salvaged plants in the King Co. Native Plant Nursery so they can recuperate before going to habitat restoration sites. You'll receive 2 free plants of your choice for every hour you help with this important task!
  • Click here to download the directions to the salvage site and nursery.
Notes: A parent or guardian must accompany volunteers under 16 years old. Dress for the weather and be prepared to get dirty. Sturdy shoes or boots are recommended. King Co. provides gloves, tools and light refreshments at all their salvage events, and the last event of the year is likely to be on March 2nd.

Thanks to the King County Noxious Weed Control Program for the article below, from the King County Weed News - December 2012
Use patience and soil management to control horsetail.  This creative tip for tackling horsetail, one of the plants I get the most questions about, comes courtesy of a recent newsletter by Wendy Lomme of Akina Designs.  To quote Wendy:

Many of us in western Washington have the pleasure of dealing with Horsetail, otherwise known as Equisetum, in our yards. This plant, which dates back to the dinosaurs, is brilliant at making landscaper's lives miserable and is very difficult to remove. Pulling out, cutting the plant, or digging the roots really only creates more plants. We also know that these plants love dark, murky soil so covering the area with black plastic or mulch really just encourages growth!

The surprising solution to this problem is to fix the soil conditions and wait. Improving drainage, adding lime to help with the pH, waiting, adding fertilizer, waiting some more and being patient is really the only successful solution. It may take a year or more, but with the improved soil conditions, the Horsetail will begin to go away, just like our other Prehistoric friends. (Lomme, 11/14/12)

My next post will contain bare-root and container planting instructions, and other relevant winter gardening tips!
Cheers,
Emily