Gardening

My small Ballard garden has been very kind this year, delivering fresh greens, kale and collards to my table, providing snacks and meals of green beans, squash, some radishes, herbs and one beet.

I haven’t raided the potato bin yet.

Any failure to produce has been entirely my fault for being too busy to properly care for my garden. Oh, we had big ideas last winter, very big. Seeds were purchased, a place in the basement with lights prepared - but you know how life is.

Today, we shelled some gorgeous purple beans that by all rights should have been eaten long ago. I love that purple beans turn green when they cook, just so you know they really are green beans.

The fresh beans were blanched, dried and put into the freezer for soup-making. I picked out the largest beans to set aside for next years crop.

Of course, as soon as we finished shelling the beans I read up about how to save them for seed and soup. Wouldn’t you know it, we should have left them to dry in the pods and had to prepare them for the freezer instead. That’s what happens when you don’t read the directions first.

09/14/2009
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Photo credit: 
Rhonda Brown

Shelling purple green beans for future soups.

I’m in the middle of a perfect storm right now. How did I get here and can I rewind? Please?

Can I share?

We’re in the middle of house hunting, it’s the fall planting season, and I just had surgery on my knee.

Yup. When I do something, I try to do it right. But lately the only thing I’ve done right is get myself into a pickle!

Calgon?

The good news is that my “wish-list” from Iseli Nursery has been granted. The trees haven’t arrived yet, but it looks like I’m getting all that I asked for this season! Yay! There is a Santa Claus and her name is Carol!

But, really. I really can’t wait. I put off the delivery because of the knee surgery, (it was minor, no worries) but I can’t stand it anymore (pardon the pun) I need to see them.

Here’s a sneak peak at a some that are coming next week:

09/09/2009
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Photo credit: 
Janit Calvo

Isn't she lovely? The Pixie Dust Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca 'Pixie Dust') are arriving next week.

A free seminar for people who want to learn more about fall planting will be offered at Swansons Nursery on Saturday, Sept. 19 titled “Shrink Your Lawn, Grow Your Garden.”

Greg Rabourn of KUOW’s Greendays Gardening Panel and KCTV’s Yard Talk, will discuss how to convert some or all of your lawn into a beautiful landscape featuring native plants and attractive perennials.
 
When fall rolls around, many people start putting the garden tools away – the planting season as they know it is over. But what they often don’t realize is that fall is also a great time to plant, according to gardeners as Swansons.

The fall is the time of year when plants and trees turn their energy from growing leaves and flowers into growing roots.   Cooler autumn air and increased rainfall are the perfect conditions for developing strong roots ahead of dry summers.

Healthy roots make for more drought-tolerant and disease-resistant plants. Plus, gardeners can take advantage of “free” autumn rains to water young roots instead of using a hose. 
 

09/04/2009
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Photo credit: 
Photo courtesy Swansons Nursery

Learn about fall planting at a free seminar offered by Crown Hill's Swansons Nursery.

Don’t you just love it when the garden collides with life’s metaphors?

I knew I liked this plant – I just couldn’t remember why.

I had a perennial in a container grouping for the past six years that never bloomed and never got taller than one foot. I completely forgot what it was supposed to be but, for some reason, I didn’t relegate it to the compost bin either.

Then, last spring, I had to break up the pot and release the perennials into the garden bed. The plant in question adjusted quickly, and eventually came out of hiding and - surprise - it bloomed.

I now remember why I kept it. It’s a Helianthus x. multiflorus. In other words, it’s a variety of Sunflower, and sunflowers are just one of my favorites. (Actually, this is why I’m a plantaholic - I like pretty much like anything that blooms. Dangerous.)

And the metaphor?

If life is a garden, give yourself enough room for your roots to grow, or you won’t bloom.

Some plants love being in containers and can stay there for years and years before needing more room. I have a little Mugo Pine that has been in a tiny pot for about five years and never, ever complains.

09/03/2009
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Photo credit: 
Janit Calvo

Helianthus x. muliflorus, or a perennial Sunflower. It never bloomed until it was planted in the ground this past spring.

I knelt down on one knee, while simultaneously crunching a miniature birdbath, trying to get a shot of my wee, in-ground garden.

I lay down beside it and still couldn’t get the angle that I wanted. Besides, my faded perennials were in the background. Yuck.

I squatted down on the miniature pathway, twisted ever so slightly and dislodged a bunch of the stonework. Dang!

I knelt down again, this time I was sure I got myself in the right spot. Uh. No. And, um, I couldn’t get out of the position either – I need to do more yoga.

There has to be a better way.

I love problems. I’m one of those people that never say die. At a young age, I don’t know exactly when, or how, I discovered there are ways around everything - everything - you just have to find it.

So, when I came across the problem of documenting my in-ground miniature garden, I kept trying different ways to photograph it and I really had to figure out something.

We are in the midst of house hunting and my beloved garden that is finally all together, and looking just lovely – has to be moved soon. Which is why I want to document the heck out of it.

08/29/2009
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Photo credit: 
Photos by Janit Calvo

Try, try and try again. CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS.

For 30 years, Ballard resident Ron Moe-Lobeda has had a love for gardening. But it wasn't until he and wife Cynthia sent their youngest of two boys to college that Moe-Lobeda was able to turn his entire yard into a vegetable garden.

“When we moved out here I wanted to do a garden on the street but I became concerned about the carbon,” he said. “So I quit that and tried it in the backyard, I let it be for a number of years because we had two sons running around the yard.”

Moe-Lobeda said once his boys hit high school he started a garden on the side of the house and since sending his youngest to college this year he looked at the front yard and said, “I’m ready.”

Moe-Lobeda has been growing peas, radishes, spinach, onions, turnips, broccoli and lettuce, and now has a second planting of carrots, zucchinis, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers and brussels sprouts in his home garden at 623 N.W. 80th St.

“My gold crop doesn’t really grow in the Northwest but I found the sunniest spot to grow it and I loved it back in D.C.,” he said.

The golden crop he referred to are his prized okra.

08/25/2009
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Photo credit: 
Allison Espiritu

Ron Moe-Lobeda has been gardening for 30 years. But it wasn't until his two sons left home for college that he was able to expand his garden in both the front and side yards of his house.

I met Marie through the Northwest Flower and Garden Show here in Seattle about eight years ago. But, it was a couple of years later when she came up with the idea of creating a miniature garden with a Wizard of Oz theme in the parking strip in front of her house.

Looking for a place to start, I began by watching the movie.

I had to watch it from start to finish, just enjoy it first and then I was able to watch it again for the props, scenery and landmarks that could be worked into the garden. By going through the movie twice, it really let me focus the second time, as I wouldn’t get distracted by the wonderful story line and forget to scrutinize the props and the settings.

I went back to Marie and her garden plot and we decided to block off sections of the movie to create the garden as the story unfolded. It did help that the garden was one long plot – 6 feet wide by 20 feet long, perfect for any storyboard idea.

Here are the sections we came up with and the major components that made up each section:

The Munchkin Village – Dorothy’s landing.

08/22/2009
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Photo credit: 
Photos by Janit Calvo

A Wizard of Oz miniature garden. It's still growing in and getting better and better each year. CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW A BEFORE PHOTO.

I have to confess, I laughed when I opened the note. I love it when people don’t mince words and get directly to the point.

“It is ugly and poorly made.” And it was, too, now that I saw it though Sandra’s eyes.

That’s my kind of customer though. No drama, just “I don’t like this.”

It was perfect. I love that kind of feedback.

After I finished laughing, I realized that Sandra went to a lot of trouble of sending this wee birdbath back to me. No phone call or email, she actually packaged it up and sent it back. That took time.

I removed the listing from the store, and promptly refunded her money and the cost of shipping it back to me. It was the least I could do.

Our company policy states: “If it’s not fun and cute, we don’t want anything to do with it.”

And I need to stand by that.

It’s been a bit of a challenge growing this lil’ company of mine. There wasn’t a “How to Start a Miniature Garden Business” book in the library 12 years ago when I was doing the research to see if I could start one. There still isn’t, but I’m working on that, too.

08/17/2009
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Photo credit: 
Janit Calvo

Feedback works. A note from a customer led to pulling something not-so-cute from my online store.

She was all decked out in dress made of sea kelp and a hat made of fungus. Tiny embellishments of seedpods with little bits of clamshells and glitter worked into the bow.

A mischievous face carved out of an avocado pit that peeked out from under it. All on a wee handmade doll not four inches tall. Her niece’s red hair was used for that one.

A dead hummingbird in a tiny leaf basket on the windowsill – kept for the bones.

I love it.

This is perfectly normal in the Pearson household. And I love the eye candy, the inspiration and the stories that go along with it.

I don’t like things I can figure out right away. I think that’s why I love gardening so much, because you can never know enough about enough. Gardening is a constant learning curve full of twists and bumps and dips – and if anyone tells you otherwise, they are full of organic compost.

So, to take nature and make art from it ~ my two loves blended it into one ~ is heaven to me and Bobbe Pearson had been doing it all her life (I have been doing for half that time – but still all my life!).

08/11/2009
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Photo credit: 
Janit Calvo

A sample of Bobbe Pearson's miniature natural dolls that she has made over the years. Much of her work was given away freely and was not documented.

Go on, you probably have one by now.

It’s so hot; the farmers are feeding their chickens’ crushed ice so they won’t lay hardboiled eggs.

Man, was it hot.

I guess I’m a “heat wimp.” But if I’m going to tolerate that kind of heat, I want to be on vacation next to swim-able water. (Quite frankly, my only pet peeve with this area of the world – the water is too dang cold!)

It’s so hot, the trees were whistling for the dogs.

And I’ll never say I want to live in Arizona again. I’ll never curse those in between days again when it is cloudy and overcast. Remember when it wasn’t too hot, nor to cold? Do you remember those days?

It’s so hot; birds have to use potholders to pull the worms out of the ground.

This umbrella trick (shown above) worked out well for our recent heat wave here in Seattle. Our big, in-ground miniature garden can normally tolerate the full sun but, with the extreme heat this week, we knew our prized trees just weren't used to it.

Besides the risk of getting scorched by the sun, we were afraid the ground might dry out too often, and too fast, and put undue stress on the plants.

08/01/2009
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Photo credit: 
Janit Calvo

Shade your precious plants in extreme weather. This market umbrella worked like a charm to protect our mini garden conifer collection during the latest heat wave.