Friday, May 29, 2009

Garden Maintenance Tips

Gardeners are perhaps the most enthusiastic (or pleasantly nervous!) in the spring. Seed packets and plant tags litter nearly every surface, and it is nearly impossible to pass any display of seedlings without stopping "just to look." As the season carries on though, the gardener may find themselves wilting in the heat and humidity, and interest waning. 

It may be in the best interests of those seeds and seedlings to think about some simple tactics for reducing maintenance in the garden. Suggestions range from switching to shrubs from perennials (although caution should be used when choosing non-native species) to using mulch. 

Mulch is maybe the easiest way to take care of two garden maintenance issues - watering and weeds - while simultaneously building soil  health for years to come. A nice layer of mulch (three inches or so) in the garden can see even young plants through an unexpected drought. And if water is a particular challenge for the garden, this book (suggested by one of the gardeners over at the Hunt Park site) offers insightful ideas for gardening where water is in short supply.

So clear a little space among the seed packets or just have a seat out on the edge of the garden (you know you want to!), and start plotting a little more how to do a little less.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Ideas for Bringing in the Beneficials

National Gardening Association ran this nice article on attracting beneficials in a recent e-newsletter, and it is well worth sharing. The only thing to keep in mind while perusing the list is that some ornamental grasses, flowers, and herbs can be quite invasive. (Think of the mint or Bishop's Mantle marching undaunted through garden beds and yards and stopping only short of the living room door, and you'll get the idea.) 

One thought for those that could be invasive - either because of seeds literally being thrown to the wind or burrowing rhizomes or both - is to perhaps look for a native species that is similar or put that mint in a pot. Things like garlic mustard wreak havoc everywhere, and there are some good local efforts to eradicate it. If perennial plants are not an option, a good annual can do quite a bit to help out. (Alyssum is mentioned in the article, and it is well worth it as an attractor, a dense ground cover or living mulch, and a darn pretty plant, too.)

(And you're right if you seem to recall that we've mentioned this before. Like a good pile of compost, attracting and supporting beneficials - like bees - is pivotal to the success of any garden and especially to an organic one.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Affordable Organic Eats

The organic food movement is sweeping the nation, but sometimes it feels like it might be sweeping out wallets, too. Some good advice on how to eat organic and inexpensively came from Seattle chef Maria Hines, this year's winner of the James Beard Award

"I would definitely say cook food from scratch, using whole, organic foods; that will be cheaper than going out and purchasing it. And grow an organic garden," said Hines in an interview with Grist

Couldn't have said it better ourselves! We've got some great ideas about starting an organic garden, and you can find some of our seeds over at People's Food Coop, too. (It's not too late to start seeds of some of your favorites. Check out these seed starting tips and start the adventure.) We still have a few garden spaces available this year, so we'd be glad to hear from you and help as we can!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thanks for the Good Words

Thanks to everyone who came out to put in a good word for Project Grow with the City Council. We can't thank you enough for the efforts you made. We've got seeds for a few ideas (pun completely intended), and we will keep you posted on their progress.

Meanwhile, we look forward to seeing you around the gardens around town! Thanks for helping Project Grow!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Weeds are on the Way

Not the most uplifting title for a post, but with the dawning of spring in the garden come both the plants we love and those we feel, well, less positive about - weeds. Of course, one gardener's weed is another's favorite flower, but that's another story. Despite this relative status, weeds need to be dealt with sooner rather than later. 

This little video from Fine Gardening offers some good commonsense tips that will help control weeds in the garden. Two of the five main points - mulching and spacing plants close together - also help with water conservation!

Need plants to fill in those gaps that a weed could grow in? Don't forget our second plant sale date!

Saturday, May 16th
8am - 2pm
Spend time perusing the seedlings, talking with some of our experienced gardeners and growers, and start making your way to a garden full of things you love!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Think Outside the Box

Gardening isn't just for squares...or rectanagles or any other specific shape, for that matter. The shape the garden takes is really limited only by the space available and the gardener's imagination. As you plan for where to put all those lovely seeds and seedlings this spring, try thinking beyond the usual rows and rectangles. Incorporate perennials as well as annuals - edible and flowering both - to attract pollinators and encourage visitors to stay for a moment. A beautiful nasturtium blossom in the cool of the evening while snacking on a just-picked cherry raspberry sounds like a perfect dessert!

Looking for some plants to put in that new bed? Don't forget about the upcoming Project Grow plant sales!

Friday, May 8th through Sunday, May 10th
Join us for three days of fun, learning, and great plants!

Saturday, May 16th
Grab a cup of coffee, talk to us about your garden, and see what great heirlooms we have to tempt you!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thanks for the Good Word

We'd like to thank everyone who attended the City Council meeting on Monday evening or put in a good word to their representative before the meeting. While we still await a final decision, we encourage anyone who would still like to offer their two-cents to contact their Council person. This funding is pivotal and allows us to continue the work we do with you to keep the community in the garden!

Looking for other ways to show support, too?

Don't forget our upcoming plant sales! 

Join us Friday, May 8th through Sunday, May 19th at Mattheai Botanical Gardens for a three day extravaganza of events, plants, and fun!

We'll also be out on Saturday, May 16th in front of the People's Food Coop with some of your favorite heirloom varieties. Stop by to say hello and talk about your garden plans!

Check out the list of plant varieties here, and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Spruce Ale a Hit! Thanks to You...

We checked in with Arbor Brewing to see how their Spruce Ale went over, and it was a hit! Thanks to all of you they sold nearly 200 pints of the tasty brew on Earth Day, and word around the garden has it that it was good to the last drop. (Unconfirmed rumour has it that some folks plan to head back to sample again, too!)

If you were able to make it out for a taste, we'd love to hear your impressions of the ale, the evening, and see any photos you took, too! You can email us directly or send along comments to this post.

Thanks to all of you for coming out and especially to Arbor Brewing for concocting such a tasty way to support Project Grow and celebrate Earth Day!