Starting Your Edible Year: Free Classes Begin Sunday

Do you want to get started in the vegetable garden, but are unsure what to do right now? Come to my first free class this Sunday, March 15 at City People’s Garden Store in Seattle’s Madison Park.

seedling closeup

I’ll share a bunch of timely reminders in “Start Edibles Early for Longer Harvests.”

Now is a great time to get an early batch of edibles into the ground, and plan for multiple harvests.

The class is the first of “The Edible Year, a four-part series that runs through early June. Each class is at 11 a.m.

Here’s the whole series:

  • March 15 — “Start Edibles Early for Longer Harvests”
  • March 21 — “Soil-building and Amending for Edibles”
  • April 18 — “Growing Great Tomatoes”
  • June 7 — “Think Next Spring: Starting Long-season Vegetables”

If you’re in West Seattle or across Puget Sound on the Kitsap Peninsula, you might be interested in these other talks on my calendar this spring:

  • April 12, 1-2 p.m. I’ll do an interactive “Season Extension Demo & Talk” at West Seattle Nursery & Garden Center. Please note: this is an outdoor location, under a tent, so dress for weather.
  • May 20, 9:30 a.m. I’ll travel to Kingston for a talk on “Planning For Year-round Edibles.” It’s sponsored by the Kingston Garden Club, but open to the public.

Idea Tour: Photos from Portland

Comfy benches warm up a cold stone wall. A beehive gets circus-colorful. A wiry orange table makes friends perk up, and rusty steel grounds a garden scene.

These were many of the ideas I found when wandering through Portland’s Yard, Garden & Patio Show with my camera last weekend. I always like this show for its I-can-do-that vibe, and this year did not disappoint.

Here are some shots from my tour.

Purple mustard greens

A stand of giant purple mustard among lettuce wowed visitors to the edible garden display. The greenhouse is from NW Green Panels.

Colorful beehive

Why not paint your beehive with a colorful scene and top it with stunning copper!

Edible Garden juniper beds

The edible garden creators used juniper for some raised beds. They promote it as being longer-lasting than other woods.

Coreten steel raised beds

Coreten steel raised beds make a bold statement in the garden. The pricy steel rusts to a wonderful bronze color, then stops and is very long-lasting.

Marty and Mary Kate

Friends and fellow speakers Marty Wingate and Mary Kate Mackey were clearly in a cheery mood while chatting at a colorful outdoor table set.

Pots in water

The Dennis’ 7 Dees display garden featured a series of planted pots sitting in a water feature.

Galvanized planters

The 7 Dees display also showed galvanized steel planters tightly packed with edibles and flowers.

seeds in jars

Seeds saved in canning jars were part of the greenhouse exhibit in the edible garden display.

Seed heads

Why save seeds in jars, when you can just prop up the seed heads?

Nice benches

These benches, set into a standard wall of stacking concrete blocks, break up the monotony and must be much more comfortable.

Thanks to everyone who helped make the Portland show another rousing success, including Lucy Hardiman and Nancy Goldman, who do great work presenting a wide variety of seminars.

Try a Class at Craftsy; Free Giveaway!

If you haven’t yet taken a classinstructorbadge at Craftsy.com, now is your chance. It’s the perfect time to learn some new gardening techniques. And, I am collaborating with them on a free class giveaway!

Here’s the video trailer for my class, “The Extended Harvest: Vegetables for Every Season.” We’ll be giving a free class to one lucky entrant who checks out Craftsy between now and Friday, March 13.

To enter the contest, follow the link to my Craftsy class and create a free account. That’s all you need to do to be entered. While you’re on the site, browse around. You’ll find a number of short, free classes that will give you a great idea of how to use Craftsy.

I appreciated the professional, thorough approach the Craftsy folks took in helping me create this class.

Shoot1

Shooting a scene for my Craftsy class, “The Extended Harvest.”

We went through an extensive process to plan and organize the class material. Then, a producer, videographer and other staff came to film in my garden — three intense days of work that produced more than 30 hours of video!

They edited it down to 7 lesson, each about 20 minutes, for a total class that’s just over two hours.

Chopping compost

Chopping compost for the Craftsy class lesson on soil fertility.

You can watch one lesson at a time, or just parts of each, picking up where you left off. Re-watch any or all of it, as many times as you want. You can take notes, ask questions, and share with the class your own gardening projects. It’s easy and interactive.

There’s a gardening blog, and you can find lots of other resources too, like this free guide to container gardening.

I’ve become a fan of other classes, too, learning new gardening tips from other instructors, delving into a photography class, and trying an art class on drawing. There are many other topics, too, from knitting to cake decorating — a wide array of crafts and skills.

These online classes at Craftsy help you keep learning for life and mastering new skills. That certainly sounds like a formula for a healthy mind and a great garden!

Grow & Build Ideas, Steampunk: Garden Show Images

Crowds will pack the convention center in downtown Seattle this weekend for the final two days of the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.

I spent the day there yesterday, and was inspired by reuse of old stuff, some interesting new ways to grow plants, a “steampunk” inspired show garden, and seeing old friends.

Here are some images from my visit.

Very nice design for a key season extension device from the local builders at Cedar Cold Frames.

Very nice design for a key season extension device from the local builders at Cedar Cold Frames.

Edible Seattle

The Edible Seattle folks are handing out scads of free magazines. And it happens to be the Nov/Dec issue, which has my article on seed saving!

GPP Wild Ginger

One of the Great Plant Picks, um, picks this year is Splendid Wild Ginger. Get it.

Reuse Bench

Got a shipping pallet sitting around? Ballard Reuse could show you how to turn it into a cool bench.

Blue bike

An old bike painted a bright color with plants added in strategic places would make a whimsical piece of garden art.

White Bike

And another bike/planter.

Foody

This is the Foody Garden Tower, which is how we will all grow veggies in the garden of the future.

David Hutchison in his element, at the Flora & Fauna Books booth. Lots of unusual finds there.

David Hutchison in his element, at the Flora & Fauna Books booth. Lots of unusual finds there.

Steampunk garden

The “Romance of Steampunk” show garden evoked another era.

Windows

Old windows repurposed into a shed — probably the easiest way to build a cold frame.

Reuse Ladder

This herb ladder from Ballard Reuse demonstrates an easy project with some old wood.

 

Inside the Garden Show: Helping With a Show Garden

It was loud when we arrived with our ladders and buckets. Back-up beeping echoed through the cavernous concrete hall. They let us drop off our painting supplies inside, so I drove our old Subaru right up onto the show floor, among the giant trucks and front-end loaders.

My wife and I were at the Washington State Convention Center to help build the Arboretum Foundation’s display garden for the big Northwest Flower & Garden Show, which opened Wednesday and runs through Sunday. I’d never really helped before, but this year they asked Susie to design and paint the backdrop for the plantings, so I signed on to assist.

The build started on Saturday, and as soon as the raw plywood wall was up, we popped the lids on the paint. Through Saturday and Sunday, we rolled and brushed, standing back and eyeing the results, fending off the garden creators who wanted to get those ladders out of the way so they could shovel in the sawdust and move in the plants. I didn’t blame them. But our part needed its time.

A Seattle Times videographer, Lauren Frohne, “embedded” herself with the team who was designing and building the garden. See her results in the linked video.

Led by Bob Lilly and Phil Wood, the team was building platforms and bringing in plants large and small, from cedar and cherry trees to trays of tiny succulents. They placed the potted treasures carefully, fussing over the angles, teasing the blooms out of the leaves, poking tiny flowers up through rolled-out sod.

I love the design for its realness. Titled “Picture Yourself on Azalea Way,” it evokes the Washington Park Arboretum’s most famous strolling path. Although it’s clearly a fantasy, put together and bloom-forced for a five-day show, it is a showcase of many of the plants that you would see if you actually took that stroll.

As they always do, the Arboretum Foundation designers have inserted a subtle teaching message into their beautiful creation: here’s a garden you could have at home. Kudos, Bob and Phil.

You won’t see us in that video, because the garden is all about the plants, as it should be. But look beyond the plants to the backdrop, a green-and-black canvas upon which the flowering palette is spread. I’m proud of the effect, which is especially effective if you see it in person, under the dramatic, subdued lighting.

The garden has been awarded a bronze medal, but I’m still seeing green. And scraping a little of it from under my fingertips.

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