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Fox Island Garden Club 
2006 - 2007 Gardening Tips Archive

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

December 2007 Tip of the Month

Hoorah!...December is one of my favorite months and not just for celebrating, but also for gardening. However most of my gardening now is limited to a few sunny days of pulling weeds and house plant care.

When people come to my home, they invariably comment on the size on my asparagus fern and also my Boston fern. The asparagus fern lived in my California patio garden for several years until a freeze knocked it out in about 1970. We were in the process of moving to a new home when I noticed a little shoot of it popping through the ground so I temporarily re-potted it and gave it a home in my kitchen. The Boston fern was a gift from cousin Jeanette in 1977 and also made the move from California to WA. At one time the poor plant only had a couple of fronds left, but after relocating to sunny Fox Island to an eastern window it has grown to unbelievable proportions.

At one time the Puyallup fair refused to show it in the hall of flowers as it was too large. So using a hatchet and a hori hori, I was able to separate it into 5 plants. And the asparagus plant, which hangs 5 ft or more to the floor also has been re-potted and split many times through the years. I guess I should share with you my SECRET WEAPON for most of this success. It's called Garden Grog and since you have a neighbor who is the dealer for this product, you can count yourselves as extremely lucky! Andy Dahl lives on Shorewood Court and sells the product to the garden centers. However, it most handy and somewhat more convenient to purchase directly from Andy. You will be amazed at how your plants will prosper and will soon be joining me in your houseplant growing compliments.

Poinsettias are houseplants that most of us have in our homes this time of year.
First of all...know that they are poisonous so keep them away from children and pets. They need to be kept moist, but not waterlogged. It's easy to just add water to the pot with the decorative paper still in place, however that's a good way to loose them. Instead, remove them from the foil and place them in the sink and water them until they are well moistened. Let them drain first and then put them back into the foil until they start to dry out again.

Keep fresh cut Christmas trees well watered as once the cut end dries out, the tree cannot take up any more water and will become tinder dry really fast.

The strong winds we have experienced recently have really made messes of our yards. So when we have a little break in the weather, go outside and clean up fallen branches and check shrubs for broken branches. Prune broken branches back cleanly to a joint so as to reduce the chance of disease setting in. Any clean up done now reduces the amount of work next spring when you will really be busy planting.

Merry Christmas,
Linda

November Tip of the Month

The weather for the end of October and the first part of November has been gorgeous. Since we haven't experienced a lot of rain and wind, the trees have kept their crimson leaves longer. And lawn grasses are still growing. Before the rains really set it, it's a good idea to give lawns one last mowing. And while you are mowing, remove the grass catcher and let the cuttings and cut up leaves fall back into the grass. Think of it as applying free fertilizer on your lawn. And after Thanksgiving but before December 1, fertilize lawns with a good organic winter fertilizer for strong growth next spring.

All leaves except the leathery madrona's can be added as mulch to garden beds.
It's amazing how great they are at keeping weeds from sprouting and how wonderful they are as organic compost in the spring when you till them into the soil. They also can be raked around and over perennials to help protect them from the cold. I rarely dig my dahlias in the fall. Instead I opt to cover them with leaves and keep them protected all winter under a nice cover of rotting, soil amending and free mulch.

Plant perennials, bulbs (including garlic and shallots) and bare root trees until the ground freezes. Then light a fire and curl up with a good garden book.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

October Tip of the Month

Even though the wind may be blowing and the rain pouring down, the garden still needs your assistance. This is not the time to curl up in front of a fire with a good garden book! Instead, visit your favorite nursery and pick out spring blooming bulbs while the best ones are still available. Not that you can't purchase them later in the fall, but to get the largest and firmest ones, choose early. And for the next couple of months you can plant them at your leisure.

Vegetable beds need to be tidied up and the dead plants added to the compost pile unless of course, they are diseased. Then they should be burned so not to spread pathogens into next years soil. October is the perfect month to plant cover crops and reseed sparse lawns. If you are into saving heirloom seeds here is what I have found to be the easiest way. I remove the seeds and place them in a jar of water and give them a good shake for a day or so. When fiber starts to dissolve and rise to the top, pour it off and add more fresh water.
Keep this up until the seeds are completely cleansed of fiber. Any seeds that float to the top of the jar are dead and should be thrown away. Drain the remaining seeds and place in a small shallow bowl to dry. Occasionally stir the seeds to keep them from sticking together until they are completely dry.
Store in a dry, cool place in a marked container so you can identify them next spring.

Add fallen leaves to compost piles or spread as a mulch around tender plants.
Put all tender potted plants such as geraniums and fuchsias under cover.
Perennials can be pruned back, separated and shared with neighbors. Mow lawns for the last time for the year.....and then light a fire and curl up with a great garden planning book for ideas for Spring 2008.

September Tip of the Month

After taking off all summer to work in my own garden instead of helping my fellow islanders with their problems, I am finally getting around to my monthly column. And this is the 4th of Sept already!

The best part about my summer garden is the fact that it produced. Not that it usually doesn't, but this year I got the produce instead of the deer. I am so excited about Liquid Fence..I just wish I could have known about it earlier.

Earlier means before I invested so many hours and so much money into laying down chicken wire all around the garden to act like a cattle guard. Earlier in the fact that it took 4 years to get my grape cuttings sizable enough to train and start producing. Earlier in that I almost detested the sight of of local fauna in our area. Now all I do is mix up some of the spray every 3 weeks and spray around the areas I want to keep deer free. I leave the meadow for them to graze in but everything else is surrounded by a line of spray. I find that it doesn't take much to protect about 3/4 of our land and only about 15 minutes of my time each spraying.

Sept is another busy time for harvesting and processing all your garden produce.
Tomato's should be full of ripe fruit, cucumbers should have been pickled by now but the beans are still producing like crazy. Potatoes should be dug up when the tops are turning brown or you may not remember when they were planted.

Herbs should have been cut and hung up upside down the dry by now and peaches canned. Apples are ripening and so are Asian pears but it may be a little later in the month before pears and plums are ripe. Keep checking them frequently or they may ripen and fall before you know it. You can still plant winter vegetables such as lettuce, beets, onions and radishes. Wait until the end of the month before planting garlic and shallots. As you pull out used vegetable plants from the garden, plant a cover crop of fava beans, peas or alfalfa to till in next spring. Cover crops not only add nitrogen and green compost to your beds but also will keep spring weeds at bay.

As perennials start dying back, cut them to the group and you will have a good start on next spring's clean up. Wait until dahlias are fully dead before either digging them up or cutting off the dead stem and leaving them in the garden through the winter as I lazily do.

Fertilize lawns now as the rains have returned to help water them and do a winter fertilizing after Thanksgiving.

So now I go back to vegetable processing. I'm experimenting drying peeled and sliced tomatoes and grinding them into a fine powder. It sure would save storage room and I think it will be quite handy in cooking sauces and soups.   I'll let you know the results.

Happy digging, weeding, cleaning up and processing.

Linda

June Tip of the Month

Here it is June 5 and I have just remembered this month's column! I guess I have been too busy in my own garden to even think about writing something.

I thank all of you who attended the Fox Island Plant Sale last month and made it such a success. I also would like to thank all of those who attended my garden lecture at the Garden Tour a couple of weeks ago. I had a lot of fun meeting all of you and enjoyed some of your interesting questions. One topic that everyone seemed to find interesting is the problem with hungry deer in our gardens. I can only say that for 6 months I have had no major deer problems since spraying monthly with Liquid Fence. I did notice a minor amount of munching on my peas, but no real damage has been done. I'll let you know if I make it all summer without having my vegetable garden decimated and my roses devoured.

Otherwise, I plan on taking some time off for the summer and just focus on pulling weeds, picking flowers and eating fresh produce. I'll be back with you in Sept with ideas for fall and winter gardening and preparing for...dare I say...WINTER!

May Tip of the Month

Fox Island's biggest event of the year happens Saturday May 5 at the Nichols Community Center from 12 noon to 2 pm. At least for the garden enthusiasts who want to purchase local plants fairly inexpensively, the Fox Island Plant Sale is the most awaited Island event of the year. And this year is the 30th year the Plant Sale has been held so longevity shows that it is a most successful Island event! Your neighbors have a habit of lining up early in the Community hallways just in anticipation of getting the best deals so don't be late! Please do not enter the 'plant sale room' early or you will be chased out as everyone will have the same opportunity to chose their favorites. Color coded price price lists will be posted to help you with plant prices. As always, not only will you have the opportunity to get some great deals on plants, but also to ask questions of your resident Master Gardeners and have to opportunity to purchase some great desserts to benefit the Cancer Drive.

And it that isn't enough great news, the Fox Island Garden Tour will be held the next weekend, which is a great opportunity to pick up some landscaping ideas from your neighbors!

For those who have been following my 'trials and tribulations' of the plant devouring local deer, I am now on my 4th month of deer free gardening. The product that I have been spraying the perimeter of my garden with is Liquid Fence but there are several products out there that are supposed to work. All my tulips had a chance to bloom until the rain beat them down and so far my peas, lettuce, swiss chard, fruit trees and grapes have remained munch free. It almost seems to good to be true but the once a month application, which takes about 15 minutes for our acre, seems to be successful SO FAR.

April Tip of the Month

Get ready for the biggest Island event of the year - The Fox Island annual Plant Sale! The date of this year's Plant Sale is Saturday May 4, 12 noon to 2 pm.
This is the perfect time to shop for annuals, trees, shrubs, perennials, herbs, bulbs and vegetable starts. Bring your gardening questions to me at the Master Gardener Clinic held at the sale. Donations are gladly accepted so start scouring your own yards for plants to donate. Be sure to mark what they are as a lot of plants look very similar to a totally different species and can be easily confused. Please be sure to use good weed free potting soil when potting up plants. They can be taken to Margaret Wickline's yard to be stored until the day of the Plant Sale. Just give her a call and she will tell you where to put them. Call Jeff Feagin 549-2358 for more info.

April brings a multitude of gardening chores to help you work off those extra pounds put on throughout the winter. If you have not already done so, plant potatoes, spinach, peas, onions and lettuce. You may already be enjoying some of those veggies if you started planting them in February! When you thin your rows, don't discard the tiny plants. Do you realize that you would have to pay a small fortune in the grocery stores for them. Clean them well and enjoy those baby vegetables It is still too early to plant, peppers, tomatoes, beans and corn in the beds. Wait until later in May to plant those heat loving tender plants. You can however, start seeds inside or in a greenhouse for a jump on the season.

Slugs are especially active this month so use a brand of slug killer that is safe for humans, pets and birds. Keep pulling those annual weeds before they flower and set seeds. Just turning them over or pulling the tops off keeps them from sending seeds all over your yard.

So far...the Deer Away is working at keeping the deer out of my garden. I have been diligent about spraying the perimeter of my garden monthly and leaving the field for them to nibble. The real test will be a little later in the year when there are many more new tender morsels for them to feast upon.

March Tip of the Month

March may come in like a lion, but we can look forward to Spring actually arriving this month. At the end of February, I can see through the snow flakes, blooms just waiting to pop open on the next warm day!

March is a busy month, as the planting season really gets in high gear this month. If you haven't already planted your peas, lettuce, beets, Swiss chard and onions, it's time to do so. They can be planted directed into the soil, but seeds of basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and melons should been started indoors. My 16 varieties of tomato seeds are already residing in their warm, dark space in the furnace room. Once they sprout, they are moved to the greenhouse where they stay nestled together until they develop their true leaves. True leaves and actually the second set of leaves to form. Once that happens, the sprouts are tenderly moved to 4 inch pots to finish their growth until being transferred to the garden in late May. Even when the seeds first sprout, I daily brush my hands over them to help the stems to become strong.
A fan can also be used to keep the air moving which exercises the stems.

March is the perfect time to divide perennials. Use a sharp shovel when digging them up and gently loosen the roots before dividing and replanting. This is a good way to increase your plant supply and have plants to share with others.
And with the Fox Island Plant Sale happening on May 5, you can have a great place to donate the extra plants.

Feed garlic and onions this month for grand bulbs later this summer. Keep up on the weeding and you will appreciate the extra time you will have this summer for relaxing in your yard this summer.

The warmer weather also brings out the pests so bait for slugs or hand pick them and destroy them. If you use bait, be sure to choose kinds that are safe for people, pets and birds. When in doubt, ask your nurseryman which kind to purchase. And it may be a wise idea to set out a couple of mouse traps in the greenhouse before moving seedlings there. Last year, I lost all of my Brandywine tomato plants to the mice before I got wise.

I was completely prepared to move my whole vegetable garden this year to an area where it could be easily enclosed with an 8 ft deer proof fence. I was so disgusted last year after the deer ate my fingerling potatoes, tomato plants and even squash plants I decided my veggie garden would become a deer proof perennial garden. However, after talking to several people who swear that the liquid fence keeps the deer away, I'm giving it one more try. Part of my reluctance in moving my garden is the fact that I have been composting the soil where it now is for over 20 years. Just to walk away from all that great soil seems sacrilegious somehow. I'll keep you informed on how the liquid fence works.

February Tip of the Month

The most important yearly February event that every gardener should attend is the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. It will be held this year from Feb 14-18 at the Seattle Convention Center. The show brings in people from Los Angeles to England so you can all feel lucky to live so close by. It certainly makes you get in the mood for gardening and is a great place to buy plants, containers and garden supplies. There are also some great speakers so sign up for the sessions as soon as you arrive. That way, you will be guaranteed a seat at the lectures of your choice.

February is the pruning month. Right now is a great time to prune hydrangeas as the blossoms from last year are still hanging on. Those are the canes that should be cut down to a joint as they blossom only on second year wood and the (empty of blossom canes) will be providing the blooms for this year. On President's weekend, you can prune roses. Cut out all crossed, diseased and damaged canes first and then continue to prune for shape.

February is also a good month to start your vegetable garden. As soon as your soil is dry enough to till, work in compost and then plant, peas, lettuce, radishes and swiss chard. I always start my tomato seeds about the middle of the month. I seed them in trays and water the soil well. Then I cover the plants with a plastic lid and place them in the furnace room until I see them starting to sprout. The seeds don't need sunlight to sprout, only heat. Once they have sprout, I move them to the greenhouse and once they have grown a set of true leaves, which is the second set of leaves, I transplant them into 4 inch pots. By May, they will be ready for the Fox island Plant Sale and ready to set out into the garden near the end of the month.

I have changed my mind about moving my whole veggie garden to an area where it can be completely enclosed with a 7 ft fence to deter deer. I have heard such good reports on the liquid Deer Away and others, that I am willing to try spraying my garden monthly and leave my vegetable garden where it is. If you remember, my past attempts to keep the marauding deer away with chicken wire fencing laid down around the perimeter, hanging bags of blood meal and covering each bed with netting was only partially successful at the most. I hope this is the answer and I'll certainly keep you all informed of my results.

The biggest February project is just plain weeding. I read somewhere, where for every 2 hours you put in weeding this month, you will save 3 days of weeding this summer. Now isn't that an easy way of having more time on your hand for smelling the roses this summer!

January 2007 Tip of the Month

Happy 2007 Gardening Year! Every year at this time, I started getting excited about the new gardening year. It's a great time to curl up with gardening books and take stock of your past years successes and failures. Good questions to help you get started are: Are your plantings in the right space, or have they grown too large for their location? Once the freezing weather is over, you may want to relocate or remove them from your yards. As long as they aren't too large, they probably can be safely moved as long as you plan on giving them extra water during the first summer. Are your trees and shrubs getting the right amount of sun/shade and water so that they are thriving well?
Every lot has warmer/colder areas and places where more tender plants needing shelter do best so think about how happy they are in their location. Does your yard need more color throughout the seasons? If so, what annuals or perennials would do best in your yard to give it interest? With a little planning, you can achieve color all throughout the year. Do you have a place in your yard to relax and enjoy the fragrance of blooms? What could you do that would improve the overall look of your yard and make it a more pleasant place to spend time?

I usually sketch out an area in my garden for a new project as I just keep expanding my garden to include a new piece of art, a new room or pond to enjoy.
Then I go through garden catalogues, magazines and books to see what I like and can physically do and then tweak it to fit the space. And if I'm not happy with what I have done...there is always next year to do it over.

Another good January project is to take inventory of all garden tools. Some may need sharpening or replacing or just organization. It's a good time to start purchasing garden gloves, potting soil and getting ready for planting as next month is just around the corner and February is really the start of the gardening season.

December 2006 Tip of the Month

December is one of the months that many garden chores are overlooked. With all the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating and baking, there just doesn't seem time to put on the garden boots and investigate the garden. But it really is important so bundle up warm, take a radio playing Christmas carols and a hot mug of nog and take a relaxing walk around your garden. The November cold and snow may have done a lot of damage to your tender plants. Look for broken branches on shrubs and trees and cut them back to a growth point. Other wise disease could take hold and end up disfiguring the whole plant. Clean up any branches in the garden and if they are small enough, put them in the compost pile. Don't leave leaves on the lawn as they tend to smother the grass so add those to the compost pile also or use as a mulch around tender perennials.

During the freeze in November, I noticed several hummingbirds around my frozen hummingbird feeders. I took the feeders in and defrosted them and refilled them with fresh nectar. I believe that the warming trend around here has enticed the birds to overwinter here. I always have Anna's but this year we have ruby throated birds staying too. Be aware if you feed them in the summer, that you need to be checking to see if them have become permanent residents.
And there just isn't much else blooming around so they probably really depend on full feeders.

Check plants that are stored in a greenhouse or garage periodically to be sure they are not drying out. Geraniums can go all winter without hardly a drop of water but remember, that a dry fuscia is a dead fuscia!

If you decide to decorate a live Christmas tree, I would suggest keeping it in the house for 3 weeks only. The warmth of the house isn't a normal condition for the tree so treat it gently. Check for water every day or so, don't hang hot lights on it and be careful not to overload the branches with heavy ornaments. As soon as the season is over, take it back outside and leave it in the container for a while before placing it in a permanent home. If you choose a cut tree, knock the trunk of the tree on the ground to see how many needles fall out. There will always be some, but if the ground is full of them after the thumping, choose another tree. When you do get the tree home, cut off the bottom three inches of the tree and put it in a bucket of water for 24 hours before bringing it in for decorating.

When cutting evergreen branches and holly for decorating, be aware that just sheering off branches doesn't do the plant any good. Use good pruning techniques by always cutting at a joint. Your trees will look much nicer next summer and will have less chance of harboring disease.

Have a wonderful Christmas and I'll be back with you in 2007!

November Tip of the Month

Just looking at your Northwest yard should give you a clue on what to do this month....RAKE LEAVES! But don't put them out for recycling pickup or burn them, compost them instead. Or cover tender perennials with piles of leaves to protect them against freezing temperatures. I usually cover all exposed soil in my veggie garden with a layer of leaves and find that I have much fewer weeds sprouting in the spring. And then all we have to do is till them into the soil for a great soil amendment before spring planting.

Eat a hearty Thanksgiving and spend the next day working it all off by applying a good winter fertilizer to your lawns. Winter fertilizer is one of the most important times of the year to fertilize lawns.

There are always garden tools to sharpen and repair if you just have to be involved in garden chores. But for myself, winter is a time to rejuvenate my soul, curl up in front of a warm fire and dream up new plans and additions to next years garden.

October Tip of The Month

Oct is one of the busiest months of the year. First there is the last bit of harvesting from the veggie garden. Then the storing or preserving of the produce and of course the garden cleanup. Major leaf raking is just starting but next month is when the real on slot of leaves begin.

This is the perfect time to dig up and divide perennials as well as purchasing new ones from your favorite nursery. The best news is that you can get them on sale this month as the nursery's just want to unload them before the year is over. As old perennials die back, cut them to the ground and clean up the cuttings and add them to the compost pile.

All bulbs are available now, so pick from the plumpest and largest of the box to plant in your garden. If your back gets tired of bending over, just keep thinking of how much joy you will have from looking at them in the spring.

Lawns can still be thatched and reseeded before the cold really hits. And this is probably the last month that you will have to mow your lawns until next spring. A good fall and winter fertilizer can be put on lawns from now until just after Thanksgiving.

And the last fall project is keeping up on the weeding. The fall rains help new weed seedlings to get started so go out and pull those little buggers before they set seed. Staying vigilant on the weed patrol will make your spring chores a lot easier in 2007.

September Tip of The Month

A lot of people think that Sept is the time to start putting their beds to rest for the winter, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is an excellent time to plant carrots, onions, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Lettuce, Swiss chard and spinach can also be sowed this month for a winter garden. The warm days and gentle fall rains can aid in the germination of seeds. And the new seedlings don't have as many weeds to compete with.

Perennials can be cut back and divided once they finish blooming. Many nurseries are having great sales on perennials and shrubs this month, so visit your favorite nursery and get in on some great values. Sept is a perfect time to give lawns a shot of fertilizer or reseed bare spots caused from the drought.

Peas, fava beans and alfalfa can be planted for cover crops this month. You may even get a good crop if the weather holds. Tomatoes can be stressed a little so they will keep producing until the first frost or until the blight turns the plants to mush. Just cut back on watering, but not enough to dry them out too much. You will be surprised how prolific they can become.

Keep up on your weeding as many perennial and annual weeds will be trying to flower and set seeds for next years challenge. Pick off the seed heads of annual weeds and dig out roots and all of perennials, especially dandelions before they flower or you'll be inundated next year with the pesky buggers.

Harvest pears before they fall and turn soft and let them ripen in a box. Check them daily or you will suddenly find a lot of rotted fruit.

If the rains and wind come early, then take some time to review your successes and failures in this years garden and try to come up with a solution for a better garden next year. I have already decided that my approach to not having a deer demolished garden for next year will be to move the whole vegetable garden to a different location. That location will be one that can be completely contained within an 8 ft fence that I won't have to stare at every day. My existing vegetable garden will only grow asparagus, leeks, shallots, garlic, horseradish, rhubarb and other non-delectable vegetables and flowers.
Now all I have to do is convince my husband to start building me another 10-12 raised beds......and then fence them in!

May Tip of the Month

May is the month to start planting your 2006 summer garden. Here are a few suggestions for both flower and vegetable gardens.

For hanging planters in sunny locations, try mixing petunias with bocapa and alyssum. Marigolds, dianthus and saliva's enjoy the sunny locations also. For shady and semi shady sites, plant impatiens, lobelia, fuscias and begonias.

Vegetable starts of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and tender herbs such as basil can be planted in the vegetable garden late in the month. If you plant too early, the tender starts will just sit there and shiver. They actually prefer to wait until the soil and air temperature have both warmed up. Seeds of beans, corn, squash and cucumbers can be planted directly into the soil.

You can prune spring blooming shrubs after they are finished blossoming but do not prune the late blooming ones or you will lose the flowers for the year.

This is also a good month to check out sprinkler systems to be sure they are functioning correctly. There is nothing worse then waiting until a dry spell and finding out that the only way to keep plants alive is by hand watering.

Weeds are still prolific so keep pulling them to stay ahead of the game. They will keep you busy all summer so you never need to worry about being bored or having nothing to do.

This gardener will be busy planting, harvesting, watering and weeding all summer so I'm taking a few months off from writing my tip of the month. If you have any gardening questions, email me at ldodds@windermere.com and I'll be happy to answer your questions. Otherwise, I'll be back to you in late August or early Sept.

Happy gardening!

April 2006 Tip of the Month
Mark your calendars now for the annual Fox Island Plant Sale to be held April 29 at the Nichols Community Center from 12 noon to 2 pm. The sale is exactly one week from Earth Day and one day after Arbor Day so plants and planting should still be on your mind. You will find: perennials, shrubs, house plants, annuals, trees and vegetables at the sale. There will also be a Master Gardener clinic there so bring your questions and suggestions with you as well as your CHECK BOOK. We will have 'Plants to Share' and Plants Requested" sign up sheets available too. Donations and help are always appreciated so feel free to contact Jeff Feagin, Ellen Janapol or myself for more info.

I started all my tomato plants for the sale last February, however a rouge mouse nipped off most of the Brandywine seedlings, so the majority of plants I have left are Italian Costoluto slicers, Roma canners and Grape cherry tomatoes.

If you are into growing potatoes, check with Strohs in Gig Harbor as they have a great selection of seed potatoes including my favorites, fingerling potatoes.
And they have a great selection of asparagus roots in case you enjoy really fresh cut asparagus!

In case you didn't notice....weeds are really prolific this month as are slugs.
Keep these pests under control now and save yourself hours of work and frustration later in the summer. First, pull out and destroy the flowering weeds as once the flowers have bloomed, they will set seeds and just keep invading your yard. Then concentrate on your favorite 'safe for humans, pets and wild life' slug killer and other weeds. And when you are exhausted from all that yard work, just think about how lucky you are to not have to get your exercise in a building or on a machine. You are also keeping in good shape while actually accomplishing something. See you at the sale!

Jeff Feagin, 549-2358
Ellen Janapol 549-2125
Linda Dodds 549-2534

March 2006 Tip of the Month
I feel a little foolish after last month's tip when I was certain that Spring had arrived. I guess knowing that the Northwest Flower and Garden show was near, I just wanted Spring to be here too. I wasn't aware that we would be hit by some heavy winds, first from the South and then later in the month, from the North. Many of you lost portions of your bulkheads, others like myself, parts of their roofs. Or as in even worse cases, the roof over their heads! And with the freezing weather to boot, I can only say how happy I am that February is finally over.

When it is dry enough to work your ground, you should be able to plant many seeds this month. First, take a fistful of soil and give it a good squeeze.
If water oozes out, wait longer. If the soil crumbles, it is ready to be tilled. I usually like to start my spring garden in February, but the freezing weather postponed my hopes of planting early. A sunny day would be an excellent time to sow seeds of spinach, Swiss chard, peas, sweet peas, onions and radishes. Potatoes can go in the ground as soon as they start showing up in nurseries. This would also be a good time to watch for asparagus roots and get them into the ground. Roses should be pruned along with hydrangeas and fruit trees if you have already done so.

I again started my tomatoes around Valentines Day and once they sprouted, moved them to the greenhouse to develop true leaves (two sets of leaves). I didn't expect to find many of their heads chewed off, but after setting a mouse trap with peanut butter, I caught the culprit before he destroyed my whole crop. I still hope to have plenty to bring to the Plant Sale on April 29. Please mark your calendars now so you can support your local community organizations and also get some of the best buys around on local plants. Anyone who would like to help or donate plants for the sale, please contact me at 549-2534.

February 2006 Tip of the Month
Spring is here! Well, I just know it must be because the Northwest Flower and Garden Show is here. The show runs Feb. 7-12 at the Seattle Convention Center and promises to be bigger and better every year. The show judges, and also to be some of the speakers this year include; Laurie Olin who is one of America's distinguished Landscape Architects, Rone Rule, one of Canada's best garden historians and Timothy Walker who is the director of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden. Their lectures show be interesting and informative along with some of our Northwest noted garden gurus. Look for sessions from Dr. Ray Maleike, Mary Robson, Marianne Binetti, Ciscoe Morris, Dan Hinkley and Ed Hume.
Plan on spending a least one whole day and bring your checkbooks.

The other reason I am just certain that Spring has arrived is the emergence of all those spring plants. While my husband watched the Sea hawks take the win over the Carolina Panthers, I was out working in the yard to see what I could discover. Hellebore's were blooming and all different spring perennials could be found poking their heads up from the soil. Many plants already have swollen buds forming so I am predicting an early spring, although it may be a little soggy. And of course, the final proof was all shot weed and chick weed trying to get a head start on the season.

One of my office co-workers came to ask my advice on her young fruit trees.
Seems all the rain has made a virtual bog of their planting area so my suggestion was to either move them while they are young or dig them up, add amended soil and replant them raised above the water line. Otherwise the tree roots will rot and they will actually die from lack of water. Without all those feeder roots, there is no way for the trees to pull water and nutrients from the soil.

Take a walk through your yard now to look for signs of slugs because they are there and multiplying. The more you destroy now, the fewer to deal with later on. While your out there in the garden, look for spots that need a new specialty plant and then take off to the Flower and Garden show to find it!

January 2006 Tip of the Month

So this is now January 2006! Where did the last 20 years go? So many things in our lives have changed over the years, but it is still comforting to know that some things never change...weeds, for instance. They are one of the few things in our lives that remain constant no matter how much time we spend pulling them.
They are like a bad penny, always somewhere hiding in the bottom depths our our purses. We pull them out, sometimes spray them with weed killer, try all kinds of evasive actions to destroy them and yet, they persist! If only everything in our gardens prospered the way the weeds do. This monumental question leads me to wondering if perhaps we are growing the wrong plants in our garden. Perhaps there are plants that look great, survive the harshest elements that nature and man can dole out to them, and still thrive in the garden year after year.
Plants that don't need additional summer watering, monthly fertilizing or grooming. The answer is YES! Native plants should abound in our yards as they will survive the worst that nature can dole out to them. Drought conditions, freezing temperatures and hot dry summers mean nothing to these hardy species.
They continue to thrive despite the harshest of elements. So while you are spending your January contemplating any garden expansions or changes, give some thoughts to replacing high maintenance plants with native species such as Nootka rose, dogwood and Oregon grape. The weeds will still faithfully continue to sprout but the growing native plants may overpower them and not let enough sunlight through to allow them to flourish.

January also reminds me that the Northwest Flower and Garden show is just around the corner in February. It is the ideal time to see new and interesting plantings and suggestions for your summer gardens. Every year the garden show brings new ideas to mind for the northwest gardeners and reminds them that spring is just around the corner. Buy your tickets early and save a little money on the entrance fee. Sign up for speakers as soon as you arrive at the show as the most popular speakers have their sessions fill up fast. Be prepared to bring home some interesting plants, seeds and garden ideas.

Have a Happy New Gardening Year 2006!

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