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Fox Island Garden Club 
2001 Gardening Tips Archive

Garden Home Page | 2001 Archive | 2002 Archive | 2003 -05 Archive | 2006 - 07 Archive

2001 Annual Plant Sale a Success!

The annual plant sale held on Saturday, April 29th was a heavily attended event this year. 
At 12:00 Noon, Island residents were lined up in the hall, eager to pick up some bargains. 
Jeff Feagin reports that the Island's two Garden Clubs made a substantial number of sales. 
Proceeds were shared with FICRA.

Jeff Feagin watches over the sale

There was quite a lineup in the hall prior to noon.

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December 2001 Tip of The Month

Due to an extended vacation to rainy California, the Tip of the month is not only late but will also be quite short this time.

I just hope everyone has mulched any tender plants well for the coming winter. Very tender shrubs can be enclosed with wire cages and filled with crumpled newspaper, leaves or clippings. All my vegetable beds have cover crops planted in them and layers of leaves on top of that. The soil will be able to be worked earlier in the spring and should have few if any weeds.

You can still put a good winter fertilizer on your lawn if you hurry. This is the MOST important time of the year for fertilizing lawns.

When you bring your Christmas tree home, cut off an inch or so from the bottom and immediately set the tree in a pail of water. In fact this can be done days before you bring the tree into the house as it will just keep taking up the water and extending the freshness of the tree.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday and I'll share some of the 'tips' I learned on my vacation with you next month.

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November Tip of the Month

This months tip is compliments of Master Gardener Shema Hanebutte who will also be the guest speaker at the January combined meeting of the two Island garden clubs. She will be presenting a program of growing and caring for orchids. Be sure to mark your calendars!!!!

Even though our time in the garden in rapidly winding down as Winter sets in, there are still many things that need to be done in our gardens.

- Buy bare root plants
- Investigate seeds for summer blooming vegetables and flowers

- Plant shrubs and perennials, don't forget the natives!
- Divide perennials if the ground is not too wet
- Prepare containers for forcing indoor blooming bulbs i.e. Narcissus, Crocus, Freesia, Hyacinths and Amaryllis
- Plant spring blooming bulbs
- Plant winter and spring annuals
- Plant Peonies with lots of compost and phosphorus, 2 inches down with red buds pointing up
- Freshen outdoor pots and baskets with cool season annuals such as Pansies, Calendula, Nemesias, and Iceland poppies
- Plant cover crops for nitrogen fixing in veggie beds and empty planting beds i.e., Alfalfa, Clover, Fava beans -- These beds can be tilled in the spring 4-6 weeks pre planting

- Repot, fertilize, and wipe down the leaves of indoor plants
- Prepare/protect plants from frost
- Clean up the garden by removing faded annuals, rake leaves ( cut them up and throw them on the compost pile or use them as mulch), cut back perennials to a few inches off the ground and mulch, manage weeds
- Ensure tender plants are brought in. All orchids that were outside for the summer should be brought in. Fertilize your Cymbidiums, they should be setting growth that will be blooming during the winter months. Dahlias should be dug up, dirt removed and stored in a cool dark place, Fuschias pots should be brought in, as well as Pelargoniums
- Build compost pile with leaves, do not use diseased plant material or rose prunings.
- Control garden pests and weeds
- Thin out cool season vegetables seedlings
- Amend soil with compost
- Clean up tools before retiring them for winter. Sharpen shovels, hoes, pruners and knives. Wipe and oil metal blades and other metal pieces with machine oil to prevent rust and rub wood handles with linseed oil.
- Mulch
- Wait to prune!!
- Water as necessary

Having good soil for your plants to grow is one of the key components to gardening success. Use the month of November to begin next seasons soil improvement. Add compost as well as aged manure to your planting beds. Good luck and remember, have fun in your garden.

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October Tip of the Month

Start sharpening your tools-this is a great gardening month. You can divide and add new perennials, ground covers, shrubs and trees. All garlic and flower bulbs can be put into the garden now and through November. Cover crops of winter wheat, clovers, vetch and peas will help protect soils from eroding and help keep out weed germination. I also cover beds with falling leaves and then dig them back into the soil in the spring.

Pick up all rotting fruit and keep beds cleaned up and your spring chores will be less numerous. Potted fuchsias and geraniums can be over wintered in the garage, greenhouse Or other protected area.

You can extend the tomato season by protecting the plants with plastic or floating row covers. I prefer plastic this time of year as it also keeps the plants dry which lessons the chance of blight.

For those of you who are interested in getting some FREE mulch to add to your autumn leaves, you can call Jeannie Helzer at 265-3464. She has an abundance of compost to give away as the tree toppers have given her a huge amount of the chippings from their roadside summer cleanup.

I have received many interesting questions from the Ask A Master Garden section of the garden column. One especially interesting inquiry came from an avid gardener in St. Petersburg, Russia. She is interested in growing exotic plants in here Russian greenhouse. I have emailed her some information but would appreciate any interest from anyone in pursuing a correspondence with her to help work on her project.


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September Tip of the Month

September can be a busy time in the garden. Especially if you like to can, freeze and pickle the produce you spent all spring and summer tending. I had great success with beets, snow peas, cukes, tomatillos, all kinds of peppers and squash. The tomatoes have been terribly slow in ripening due to lack of heat and the chomping deer. The lettuces, beans and Swiss chard looked liked stumps most of the time also compliments of the deer.

This is a good time to renovate old lawns by thatching, aerating and reseeding. Also a good fertilizer after the rain starts will help spark up the tired shoots.

Nurseries are stocking up on fall planting bulbs so buy early to get the best-looking bulbs. They don't need to go in the ground yet but if you wait too long before buying them, the healthiest ones will be all gone.

You can divide perennials now and share them with a friend or transplant them into another part of your garden. If anyone has perennials to share this would be a good time to contact me so I can publish your name, number and what plant you have to share. What may be an overgrown eyesore to you may be just what a neighbor with a new garden needs to help fill out the empty spaces.

Even though annuals may be looking a little tired by now, you still should be deadheading and fertilizing them regularly for continued blooms. We still have plenty of time before fall sets in to enjoy them to their fullest.

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August Tip of the Month

I hope the rest of you Fox Island residents aren't going through what I am in the garden this year. My vegetable beds have become the personal gourmet restaurant for the local deer. One doe and her still spotted triplets look so cute frolicking through the meadow and then they amble up to the garden. I certainly have done all I can to protect those little plants to no avail.  All beds have PVC hoops with netting over them and bags of blood meal and moth balls tied to the frames.  Two purchased water cannons are supposed to guard the 36 tomato plants and tender peas and beans.  I have stubs for beans and stunted tomatoes.  The deer just put their heads under the netting and chow down.  I can't even count the times that I have stung the doe in the rear with my BB gun. Usually they just ignore me until I run down there waving my arms, only to get blasted in the face with the water cannon myself.  The final blow was this weekend when I went out to check the almost ripe figs and not only did they eat the leaves but also the figs. We are now looking into an electric fence!

Now that I have that off my shoulders I can pass along a couple of important tips involving hazardous materials.  If you are planning on taking cuttings and getting starts going in vermiculite be aware that there is asbestos in that product.  Wear a mask while doing so as to not breath in any of the asbestos.  I think we have been unknowingly bombarded with hazardous products all these years and need to take any precautions for any more build up in our systems.  Another even more innocuous but carcinogens hazard are Bracken ferns.  The dried spores on the fronds that we all pull up in the fall and winter and even sometimes burn are the problem.  Destroy them while they are still green and be sure to wear a mask and gloves if they are dry.  And NEVER burn them.

Our Fox Island web page must be more popular then I thought. I not only answer garden questions from Fox Island, all over the US. and Canada but have just received a garden question from Russia! We must be on the Map.

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July Tip of the Month

Aha, July. One can just smell summer in the air. It's the fragrance of purple petunias, tomatoes ripening on the vine and the next-door neighbor's barbecue. Everyone seems to want to put on sunscreen and get out and enjoy an outdoor picnic. But maybe the yellow jackets are swarming around your picnic table and ruining your meal. Just hang up some used Bounce fabric sheets on your umbrellas and away go the unwanted stingers.

Working in the yard is another July favorite. People try to do all the years' tasks at one time. And some things shouldn't be done now. If you haven't fertilized your rhodys yet this year, forget about doing it until next spring. It's too late to be encouraging new growth that could be damaged by winter freezes. In fact, this is a good year to forget about fertilizing most plants except for flowering annuals. Rapid growth means plants will need more water to survive and this is probably going to be a dry year. The less stress possible is best for all your shrubs and trees. Lawns also can get by without any more fertilizer. In fact we need to be good stewards of the land and have second thoughts about the nitrogen fertilizer runoffs into our water systems. Take off the bagger on your lawn mowers, set the height of the mower up an inch and let the clippings fall back and naturally fertilize the grass. Just be sure to mow often and not let the lawn ever get too tall.

I finally broke down and purchased a motion-activated sprinkler to protect my vegetables from the marauding deer. It does a good job but can't distinguish me from the deer so I periodically get soaked. Ace hardware carries them for $65 so combine that cost with the blood meal and mothball bags I put up and I figure my tomatoes cost me about $1.50 each fruit!

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June's Tip of the Month

I was fortunate to be able to attend the lecture last month by Ed Hume at the Point Fosdick Ace Hardware store. Here are a few of the tips he shared with the group.

Some of the plants you may want to have in your home are great for cleaning the air of pollutants. They are natures' own air cleaner. These plants include: the snake or mother-in-laws tongue, chrysanthemum, Gerber daisy, azalea poinsettia, palm, dracaena and English ivy. If you replanted your Easter Lilly after it finished blooming, you will probably have it bloom again in Sept. and then bloom every year after. The blossoms of your begonia plant will grow the same direction that the leaves point. The one sure fire way to kill horsetail and bamboo is to pain Finale on the leaves.

I'm fighting the crows and deer again this year. I already have covered all my veggie beds with netting fastened over PVC pipe hoops and have tied nylon bags of moth balls and blood meal on the fruit trees. I probably have made my yard just too habitable for the wildlife with fresh water and plenty of tender goodies to munch on.

Happy June gardening,

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May's Tip of the Month is courtesy of Fox Island Garden Club member June Babson.

Planning an Herb Garden

As herbs are colorful and fragrant, they lend themselves to designing a garden. Herb gardens can have a historical look with a sense of tradition, a classic formal herb or of a casual, informal cottage origin. Use of walks, walls and other built structures can makes this garden more than a place to grow plants. It becomes a comfortable place to sit, read, play and entertain.

As you start to consider arrangement of plants, you will want to organize a color scheme. For example, bronze and gold leaved herbs such as bronze fennel, Golden oregano, and golden variegated sage look good with warm colored yellow, orange and red flowers such as Lemon Gem and Orange Gem marigolds, nasturtiums and pineapple sage. For contrast, one can mix dark and light colored foliage. Planting silvery sage behind dark purple basil and nasturtium would bring contrast. Color can also be enhanced with the flowering sequence of your garden. While providing color and cut flowers, most herb blossoms attract beneficial insects that help to keep your entire landscape pest free. Chives, lambs ears, mustard, sweet woodruff flower in the spring. Anise Hyssop, basil, bee balm, borage, chamomile, dill, fennel, lavender, lemon balm, lovage, marigold, mint, oregano, sage, and thyme, flower in the summer. Garlic chives, pineapple sage, and saffron, flower in the fall.

Another arrangement consideration is the texture created by the size, shape and finish of plant leaves. The dainty look of winter savory or thyme softens the garden, with their small, finely cut smooth leaves. Mint and sweet basil are medium textured and have moderate sized leaves. Course textured plants such as lettuce leaf basil , angelica and lovage make attractive eye catchers.

The last arrangement consideration I will mention is getting the best visual effect with height of the different plants. A garden should be built from low to high so that nothing will be hidden. Some plants, because of their tidy growth habits, are great for lining the edge of a garden, these are roman chamomile, thyme, lady's mantle, winter savory, alpine strawberries and woolly yarrow. Sticking with one or two kinds of herbs in the edging will give the garden a distinctive form and a sense of unity. The medium height herbs are calendula, caraway, German chamomile, chives, coriander hyssop, lavender, lemon balm, summer savory and sage. In the tall herb category we have wormwood, southernwood, bronze fennel, scented geraniums, Russian sage, and upright rosemary.

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April Tip of the Month

The major thing to remember about gardening in April is attending the Fox Island Plant Sale! Come to support your community by purchasing a great array of plants from local gardeners at really great prices. Also on hand will be a Master Gardener clinic to help answer your garden questions and a chance to pick up free Tagro soil amendment. Bags will be provided for your convenience for the Tagro but you may want to bring along some boxes for your purchases. We will again have a Plants Wanted and a Plants to Share signup sheet. Doors will open at 12 noon so be prompt for getting the best buys.

Here's another tip for you. Every time you pass an annual weed in your garden… pull it up before it blooms and reseeds. Remember the old adage of 1 year's seeds produces 7 year's weeds. You will also be eliminating the need for spraying further herbicides in your garden in years to come. Anyway we can cut down on pesticide use - and weeds are a pest so herbicides are also pesticides - we are doing all our island neighbors a favor.

Here are some ideas for using chemical free cleaning agents in your home. As a tub and sink cleaner use baking soda wetted with a rag and add a little castile soap for a great cleaning agent. A combination of ¼ cup vinegar in a spray bottle filled with water is great on windows. Sprinkle baking soda inside the toilet bowl as you would any scouring powder. Then squeeze a couple drops of soap in also and brush well. Equal parts of vinegar and salt sprinkled on a damp copper pan eliminate the need for special cleaner. To free minor sink clogs just pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain first and then ½ cup of vinegar. Let it fizz for a few minutes then pour in a teakettle of boiling water. Repeat if necessary. We don't call this the Green State for nothing!!!!!

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March Tip of the Month

My sincere sympathies to all of you who were not able to attend the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle in Feb. The minute you entered the building, you were overpowered with the fragrance of lilies, hyacinths and gardenias. Fragrant lilies especially seemed to be highlighted in the marketplace booths and were the big selling items this year.

I was fortunate enough to attend a seminar headed by radio garden commentator Scott Conner. Scott's topic covered Fragrant Plants in the Winter Garden and gave out some information I would like to share with you. Here is his list of plants 'you must have': Corylopsis pauciflora (Buttercup Winter Hazel) blooms Jan. through March. It has interest all year with pink tinged leaves in the spring, green in summer, turning to orange in the fall and then followed with yellow blossoms. Another "must have' is Daphne odora (Winter Daphne) blooming red/pink Feb. through March.  It is quite drought resistant. Third choice is Sarcococca sp. (Vanilla Plants). It flourishes in dry shade and has white blooms Nov. through Feb. Number four is the longest blooming on his list. Hamammelis mollis (Chinese Witch Hazel), which blooms, yellow Nov. through March.

A list of his 'can't lose' winter plants include Chimonanthus praecox (Wintersweet), Osmanthus delavayi, the fast growing Stachyrus praecox and Viburnum x burkwoodii. If you plant all these, you will have something else to smell all winter besides the smoke from the fireplace.

I love watching all the birds that frequent the feeders on my deck. However, I don't enjoy all the weeds that sprout from the uneaten scattered seeds. Solve the problem by roasting the seeds in a 350-degree oven for about an hour. This will sterilize the seed but still have all the taste and nutrition for the feathered visitors.

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February Tip of the Month

Think Spring!!

This month's tip comes courtesy of Fox Island Garden Club member Thelma Laird.

In some parts of the country, February is a month of rest for gardeners- a time to dream over seed company catalogues. However, here in the Northwest we are gearing up for a very busy season, and there are many things we can do. If the thought of such early gardening activity does not excite you, be sure to pay a visit to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show held in Seattle in the Washington State Convention Center, February 7-11. The beautiful exhibition gardens will inspire you.

Do spend time looking over seed catalog and nursery catalogs and making plans for the coming season. But on any day that the temperature is above freezing you can be getting a head start on garden chores. Since this is the beginning after a winter lay off, your muscles will welcome short sessions until you are back in the swing again. Here are some things you can do.

Planting: Now is the time to plant bare rootstock. Your nursery will begin to pot up trees, roses, berries, grapes etc. in March and April and then you will have to pay a lot more for the same plant. You can divide and plant rhubarb. Perennials should be divided and replanted while dormant.

February is sweet pea planting time in the Northwest. You can also plant outside some flower seeds such as sweet alyssum, bachelor buttons, calendula, clarkia and godetia.

Inside you can start seed for broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and tomatoes.

Pruning: Fruit trees can be pruned. You should start on you roses toward the latter part of February. Now is the time to prune back your hydrangeas and thin canes. Any summer or fall blooming shrub can be pruned now. Wait until after spring blooming plants have bloomed to cut them back. If you are not sure about your pruning techniques there are lots of books on the subject. And the best part is that you can attend the pruning seminar to be held at the Nichols Community center on Feb. 10 and learn the techniques in person. Watch for the bridge sign to give you times. You can also call the Cooperative Extension of WSU and ask a Master Gardener. The phone number is (253) 798-7170.

Fertilizing: You can start fertilizing rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, primroses, lilacs, strawberries and raspberries. If you wintered over geraniums, it is time to bring them out to a sunny sheltered place such as a porch or sun room or if you are lucky, a greenhouse, and give tem half strength fertilizer. In General: Dahlia tubers and glad corms may have shriveled over the winter and can be plumped if you start spraying them lightly with water.

If all of this is not enough to keep you busy for 28 days, need I remind you that those darn weeds have been growing out there all during this mild winter!!

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January 2001 Tip of The Month

Happy 2001 to all the gardeners!!!!!!

Now that the holidays are over and a new year has begun- It's time to get back in the garden and work off the plum pudding.

This is a good month to take inventory of your yard and plan any changes in your yard. Seed and garden catalogues are arriving in your mail box and will give you lots of garden ideas.

You can plant bare-root fruit trees, berries, roses, vines and shrubs this month. Start watching the local nurseries for their new stock.

This is the time to spray horticulture oil to kill over wintering insect eggs and larva. Try to find a dry and breezeless day when applying the oil.

It's also time to start pruning fruit trees and roses. First prune out all the damaged and rotted wood. Then move on to the crossed and rubbing branches. Finish up by pruning for shape and good air circulation. Many of summer problems can be solved by good pruning now.

Don't forget to feed your asparagus beds now and you'll reap an abundance of the spears in spring.

Save these dates: Feb.7 - 11. That's when the Northwest Flower and Garden Show will be held at the Seattle Convention Center. The New Paths show should really get you enthusiastic about your 2001 garden. Next months' tip will highlight some of the programs and speakers at the show.

If any of you have any garden questions or ideas to share, feel free to email me anytime, at:  This is your garden column too!

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