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Archive for the ‘Pacific Northwest Gardening’ Category

Autumn is surely here! IMG_7026 The trees have turned color, started dropping their leaves and begun looking a bit “bare”.  It is the way of the garden…even our little gardens here at Horizon House.  Here’s a link that has photos and a few comments about our gardens.

But, to get back to autumn, and how it affects us, AND our gardens.  I decided to write this post because I’ve just begun to read a book about soil, called “Growing a Revolution-Bringing Our Soil Back to Life”, by David Montgomery.  Jean D. had asked if the IMG_7018Garden Committee would co-sponsor a program, with the Conservation Committee featuring David Montgomery, to speak about this new book.   I thought that would be a great idea.  He will be coming to HH sometime in the not too distant future.  Anyway, I’m LOVING this book and how he explains about the soil and how we can replenish it with far less chemical intervention.  Anyway, it got me thinking about how we can get into this “mode” here, even in our little gardens!

It is a totally natural approach.  It’s wonderful, not only for the soil, but for insects, and the wildlife, of which many of us are not really aware.  It is also easier on the gardeners, as the chores we usually accomplish in autumn are diminished.IMG_7028

Our garden beds are looking a bit scruffy right now.  It’s a time when we fussy gardeners think it’s time to clean up all the debris.  STOP!!!  DON’T DO IT!!!!

When we remove all that debris, we stop the soil from replenishing itself.  The leaves, if left alone, will become places for microbes and little critters to hide for the winter.  All those little guys will use the leaves for food, passing it into the soil in a form that can be utilized as the roots gobble it up to feed the plants!  So, don’t be too quick to remove those leaves!IMG_7019

 

IMG_7020Also, the plants themselves, if left standing are happily feeding birds and little creatures.  There are green buds, berries and seeds, all of which keep our wildlife fed and passing it back to the soil as they hop from place to place.IMG_7024

Sure, it doesn’t look wonderful to OUR eyes, but the soil and wildlife will be so appreciative!IMG_7025  Pledge to become a MESSY GARDENER along with the Nature Conservancy.  This link will tell you more about how these techniques will really be good all around!

I think I will write a note in the ALERT telling people that our gardens may be looking a bit “scruffy” during the winter months…and WHY!  So, go ahead and experiment.  Leave those leaves alone, and let’s see what happens.  In the spring, you can clean up your garden if you want.  Letting the leaves break down further will be good for the soil, but if it looks too nasty for you, go ahead and clean it up in the spring, but leave the leaves for now!

Here’s to the Horizon House Garden Committee’s contribution to replenishment of the earth’s soil!  Have fun being MESSY!

 

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From the time we are just wee, little ones learning a catchy rhyme, “Rain, rain, go away.  Come again another day!” Until the present time when we stand aghast to read the news about yet another terrible rain event in the form of one or more hurricanes.

Rain is one of those things that we hate one minute but know the next, that we can’t exist without.IMG_0371

The most important element that we need to support life (any kind of life) is WATER!  It comes to us in the form of rain.  Rain fills the oceans and pushes the brooks into the streams, which form the rivers, etc.  So, we cannot do without rain!

 

Some climates have to live with little, or no rain, as in deserts.  Other places like rainforests, have to figure out how to handle the deluges.  As I recall the cliché is “feast or famine”!  Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are usually in the “feast” category…but not always.  This is where our skill, as gardeners and farmers, comes into play!

Our gardens have to handle both an excess of water, or in the dryest season of summer hold onto the little we get.  In other words, sometimes we need to deal with drought, just as we need to deal with the occasional flood.  Generally in the PNW,img_5618 the rain is frequent, but light. It keeps us constantly damp it seems, but doesn’t rain enough to get down to the deep roots where it’s necessary in order to be of any use to the plant above.  So, what are we to do?

As gardeners (I’ll include farmers in that all encompassing word) we all know that along with water, the most important ingredient is the SOIL!  Just like water, soil comes in different forms as well.  In a desert, it’s sand.  In a rainforest, it is almost pure compost. If it rains in the desert, the water is gone almost as soon as it hits the ground, because sand does NOT hold water and the dampness is burned off by the sun.  In the rainforest, the water is enclosed in the rich, deep compost, held in the shade, and available for whatever time is necessary!

What do we learn from this?  In a desert, there are no plants dropping leaves, or falling onto the ground to rot…so there is no compost forming naturally.  In the rainforest, there are trees and plants galore, which shed leaves, break off branches, and support animals that leave their detritus.  All of this falls to the ground, rots and becomes compost.  Now, if we could just get the two together!!!!

THAT is where the gardener begins to display his or her skills, and brains! compost-hand

Essentially, there are three things you need in order to create good soil for your garden. The growing material itself (which we call the soil); water; and air.  We aspire to “perfect” this combination in order to grow our crop, be it vegetables or flowering plants.

BUT, the bottom line is that we need to take the RAIN and hold onto it long enough, and deep enough, for the plants to utilize it.  If a plant is watered and just the top of the soil is dampened, the roots have no way of getting to it.  That is an unhealthy situation.  The roots will aim upward to get to the water, leaving them vulnerable to the next burst of heat, which will dry those roots out, and eventually kill the plant.  Water deeply!  THAT is the weak spot in our rainy climate.  We think because it’s always raining, we shouldn’t need to water, but that is NOT necessarily the case.

We need to figure out how to adjust the soil in order to hold and convey the water down to the roots of the plants.  This is done by combining our soil with compost.  That compost also loosens the soil, allowing space for air to be incorporporated.  A good equation!

In Israel, they have turned the desert into farms.  Go to this site and read how they created this miracle.  But, certainly this is not what we have to do in our PNW gardens, is it?

The Spruce has a wonderful article about building soil to hold water.  It would be worth a visit.

Here’s a link from the University of Maine, Extension Service telling everything you’d possibly need to know about soil,

Here’s to Happy Gardening…and perfect rainfall!

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Last time, I talked about Bulb Lasagna, which was the technique of planting your bulbs in a container.  Today, I’ll talk about putting them right in your garden.  Let’s also realize that you probably have some bulbs already in place. Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 8.44.17 AM On my New Hampshire blog, I had an article about dealing with (already) planted bulbs this time of year.  Even though it talks about bulbs about to experience a rather cold winter, it will help you with fertilizers and treatment for wintering bulbs…no matter what the climate.  100_0120

A year ago, I had an entire blog entry about bulbs.  Here is the link for that.  No sense “re-writing” all the same stuff.  This link tells you the “how’s, why’s and where’s about bulb planting!

If you haven’t bought your bulbs yet, there’s still time.  You can get bulbs at any garden center.  You can also utilize a mail order nursery.  I belong to a Pacific North West Gardening Facebook site where I asked about local Nurseries.  I got two suggestions;  You can check them out here.  Easy To Grow Bulbs or  Roozengaarde in Mt. Vernon.

The nurseries I used ship worldwide, so they are also worth checking.  Their bulbs are “prime”!  White Flower Farm and John Scheepers.

 

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I just read an article about Bulb Lasagna.  It had a link to Molbak’s Garden and Home page, explaining how to do it!  Here’s another article concerning this idea.  It looks like a GRAND idea!  Could I pull it off?  I’d need to add another pot into my garden of pots (pictured above).  Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 8.44.17 AMThis also might be a possibility for those of you who have “Juliet” balconies with flowers.  But, it may also give others of you some ideas on planting bulbs in general.  We’re getting close to that time.

I guess the idea is to have it in a sheltered area, avoiding the greatest threat of freezing.  Then the pot needs to be deep enough.  Ten (10) inches for two (2) layers and fourteen (14) inches for three (3) layers, etc.  It should be overplanted (on top) with a type of ground cover to keep it looking pretty when it’s not in bloom.

There are also suggestions that you plan on early, mid-season and late blooming bulbs in order to keep the show going longer!  This sounds like fun.

It also brings up the fact that we need to start thinking about planting bulbs in the garden.  Perhaps that will be my next blog entry.

 

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Last week the Garden Committee here at Horizon House had a “field trip” to IMG_6235Swanson’s Nursery to fulfill our GEM Grant.  The gardeners were awarded a bit of “flower candy” as I call it, for the inconvenience they suffered during the renovations to our West Wing.  IMG_6230Not everyone was able to go, but those who did had a good time browsing, buying, eating and

learning.

The Horizon House bus was packed to the gills with plant material.

Not all of it was able to be in the back, so was to be found all over the bus, along with some happy gardeners!

Once we got home, the staff helped us by putting plant materials on the proper decks IMG_6246for the gardeners to plant.

What followed was the planting itself.  Talk about busy bees…  The gardens are now getting full and attractive.  IMG_6249Here’s one I planted.  Now I’ll stand back and watch the magic!

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Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted to this blog.  As you may know, I’m chairman of the Garden Committee here at Horizon House.  The Committee has decided to dedicate the month of June to the Gardens.  That means that I’ve spent the last few weeks tied to the phone and the computer lining up things to happen EVERY day in the gardens here.

We will have parties, talks (Audubon, Organics in the garden and Herbs-growing, harvesting and cooking).  There will be meditations, tours/walks, exercise, and to get us “off campus” two trips to Botanical Gardens here in Seattle area!  I think it will be a lot of fun.

The purpose of this concentration on the Gardens is that we have all (including the gardeners) been kind of locked out of our gardens for almost two years, while there has been construction going on.  IMG_3637Gardens have been dug up and replanted.  Things have died, but been replaced.  Some gardeners have transferred their gardens to others, and a few gardens have been reclaimed by Horizon House, while those gardeners were assigned other beds.  It has been a real brouhaha!

IMG_6128Anyway, we’re sure many people have forgotten that the gardens are even there, and new residents are perhaps unaware of their existence.  IMG_6136SO it’s TIME to re-introduce everyone to the three lovely Garden Levels here at our home!

This past week, I traveled down and took some pictures of life that is emerging after that long sojourn.  I’ve interspersed them here on this page.IMG_6142

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This year I went to the show for TWO days!  My son in-law gave me two tickets.  At first I didn’t know what to do with TWO tickets, and he suggested I either invite a friend or go on  two days!  DUH!!!

I chose the two days because I tend to be a “loner” at things like this.  I hate to wait around for someone else to finish looking when I’m ready to move on.  Not only  that, I’m a “Seminar” kind of gal.  I’d prefer to just look around at the displays quickly; img_6075check img_6071out all the things for sale; and then head for the Seminar rooms to learn something new and see some pretty spectacular gardening photography!  So, that sounded like a great idea.  I did it, and I’m so very glad!  I had two days of seminars, as well as checking out the displays.  I attended 7 in all, and learned a LOT!img_6070

Walking into the venue has the usual effect.  Scents of Spring and color enough to blow your socks off.  The exhibits were lovely, as usual.  Even little children find them attractive!

I went to a number of seminars about Succulents.  I have chosen to make my little garden here at Horizon House an “easy care” garden, and I chose to do that with various pots filled with  SUCCULENTS! *img_5597.jpg In these classes however, I learned that I wasn’t exactly doing it correctly.  Right now everything is growing properly, but according to the “gurus” it probably won’t last that way.  So, it’s back to the drawing board for me.img_6076

I need more sand and some gravel.  That might be a bit tricky, but I’m up to the challenge.  I have to remember that someday, someone else may garden my little plot, and they may prefer not to have gravel!  (Gravel is a nightmare to remove.)  img_6077Of course, the reason I’ve chosen pots is that the soil is root-bound from a neighboring tree.  There will be no cutting back of those roots, because the tree is going to STAY!  SO, the pots will have to have some sand and gravel added.  I’m  not in any huge rush.  It will wait until the weather is cooperative, to say nothing of my body!

Which brings up another seminar I attended about “Adaptive Gardening”.  This is a topic I am pretty conversant with.  I edited a book on this topic awhile back.  It ended up never going to print because the publisher ran into rough waters…but I learned a lot.  Perhaps this is a topic I should give a little talk about here at Horizon House.  Maybe in June, which the Garden Committee has dubbed “Garden Month at Horizon House”.

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