Primer for Planning a Garden for Pollinators
Pink Viola

Primer for Planning a Garden for Pollinators

Although still officially winter, pollinators are already emerging from their winter havens. What will they eat? Here's what's blooming in my garden & pointers on planning a garden for pollinators.

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The Winter Garden Site Assessment: Gaining Perspectives

Spring is almost here! Yay! But before spring clutters the garden with a bunch of leaves, take a winter garden site assessment to evaluate whether your garden is growing toward your goals. Winter allows us to see the bare bones of the garden - the skeletal infrastructure - and a site assessment at this time can give us new insights into what works and what doesn't. Identify sectors, look at how growth over the past year may have changed conditions, think about priorities for the coming season. Hooray for spring!

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Creating a Winter Snow Sanctuary for the Birds

Wow. We got hammered with the snow! Mild compared with the Midwest, but enough to make me think about how the birds survive in this crazy winter weather! Here are some ideas on how to help them survive.

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The Plant & Seed Purchasing Strategy
So many seeds and catalogs; so little time. We need a strategy!

The Plant & Seed Purchasing Strategy

Yay for Seed Catalog Season! In this post, I share the secrets of my Seed Purchasing Strategy, which enabled me to cut my seed wish list down to an almost manageable number! I also share with you my actual seed and plant order. Did I succeed? Or am I absolutely crazy? You be the judge!

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2018 Highlights; 2019 Goals, Strategies, and New Beginnings
2019 Goals and Strategies: Reflect, Observe, Interact, and Send out Ripples!

2018 Highlights; 2019 Goals, Strategies, and New Beginnings

It is that time again to reflect over the year’s ups and downs, an exercise that has become cliché but that can still be quite helpful. It was a busy year! Here is a quick summary of what went down (or up, as the case may be) at Barbolian Fields, along with a few goals and strategies for the coming year. What will 2019 bring? What will we be able to do to make the world a better place? How will we help one another? How will we heal our planet? We can start by getting back to the garden.

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April Garden Survey: To Do or NOT To Do…
Red Flowering Currant, Ribes sanguineum

April Garden Survey: To Do or NOT To Do…

It's another drippy day in the Pacific Northwest. What to do ... or not ...  that is the question. April is National Gardening Month. The blogs are full of To-Do Lists on what you should be doing if you had your act together (which is making this overachiever feel like a real slacker). What is truly feasible? How to find balance? Taking an April Garden Survey is a good procrastination technique. In this post, I explain my strategy for this year's garden (and for minimizing my workload) and take a look around at what is up and blooming.

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Victory Gardens for Change

The fact is, the greatest changes come from people, not from government. Now is the time to bring back the Victory Gardens of yesteryear. We can change the world, one garden at a time -- together.

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Garden Journal – Do You Have One? How to Make One – and Why?

One of my main goals for the garden this year is to do a better job of tracking things. This post is about ideas for a garden journal, and I would be very interested in hearing from my readers as to what works for them. It seems that garden journals fall into two categories: those that are more like Planners and serve as guidelines, schedules, and a means of recording results for production gardens and small farms – and those that are more like Art Journals that document not only observations but also a spiritual journey, sometimes with a bit of flair and whimsy thrown in for good measure. In the past, I have been on the practical, production side of things – make that, borderline fanatic about recording stats on the garlic crops, but I have always fallen short on keeping track of other things. This year, I'd like to try something different and make something that will be fun to look back on.

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Seed Order 2014

“By now you should have a pretty good idea what you will be growing and where...” That’s a quote from Erica over at NW Edible Life. If you are not quite this together, take heart. Here's a post about narrowing the seed decision. Or not.

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What Worked – or NOT – in the 2013 Garden

Bees, bee plants, rainwater catchment, spiral gardens, scything, mulching, garlic, unusual fruits, perennial vegetables: here is what worked (or NOT) in our garden last year. Incorporating ideas for 2014….

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Garlic Planting Conundrums – Part 3

How much garlic you should grow? How much space do you need? Mulch? Till? Tools? How do you build beds? A few practical things about answering these important garlic-planting questions and preparing ground, particularly under less-than-ideal conditions.

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Garlic Planting Conundrums, Part 2

Garlic Planting Conundrums, Part 2, in which we ask, where can you fit garlic in a permaculture landscape, what about companion planting with garlic, and what is the most efficient way to grow really great garlic?

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What’s to Eat?

Late summer can be a time of dearth, which can spell death for the bees. Most plants are producing fruit or seed. What is blooming now that provides nectar and pollen? And do your bees have access to water?

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Plant and Seed Quest 2013

Still looking for heirloom, open-pollinated, non-GMO plants and seeds? Check out this list! So many to choose from! And what an opportunity for each of us to be a steward of our food heritage!

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Garden Resolutions, Goals, and To-Dos for 2013

Personally, I think New Year's resolutions are over-rated and goal-setting can be counterproductive. A To-Do list, though, Yes! Break it down into action items! Here's what's in store for the garden!

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Plant ON, Plant People!

Is it too late to plant spinach? When should you plant tender veggies? What to plant? Did you miss your planting window? Or is it just opening? These questions and more, not necessarily answered.

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Tracking the Sun

Hooray! It's officially spring! Days are getting longer than the night - finally! Here are some cool tools to help you track the way the sun changes with the seasons and some ideas on how to apply that info to your garden design.

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Is Your Garden Boring? (The Food-Forest Solution)

Has winter exposed your garden as a bunch of boring rectangles and squares? Do you wish it more replicated real life, running in circles? There is help for people like us. Work WITH nature to transform your labor-intensive squares into a self-supporting food forest.

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Death by Garlic, Revived by Kale

February is a weird month - we get a little bit of everything in the weather department. We do a lot of fantasizing through seed catalogs and are anxious to get our hands back in the dirt. When the winter blues & blahs get you down, our latest kale recipe, "Death by Garlic, Revived by Kale," is sure to bring you around.

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A Somewhat Unconventional Garlic Garden

I tried a little unconventional approach to this year's garlic garden. I built the beds in a series of circles around nitrogen-fixing shrubs and a meandering form that looks a lot like my life - er, I mean, a whirligig. Whatever. I was lost.

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Garlic Planting Planner

Having trouble figuring out how much garlic you can plant in your garden? Or maybe how much garden you need to plant all your garlic? I've created a little tool in Excel that will do all the math for you - leaving you more time to get down and get dirty in the garden! Check out the Barbolian Fields Garlic Planting Planner.

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A Memorial Garden Sanctuary

We planted my mother with the dogs in the pet cemetery. It’s true. She would have wanted it that way, right next to her best friend, little Lambchop. It’s not…

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Self-Imposed Limitations, Sustainability, and Creatively Breaking Rules

I’ve hit a turning point. Actually, several of them. In the process, I've been examining my self-imposed limitations, my concept of sustainability, and why now is the best time to break a few rules. Another lengthy psycho-analysis post of how our gardens teach us much about life and visa versa - and what to do about it.

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Square Foot Gardening and Getting a Grip on What You Really Need

Want to grow more food in less space with less effort? The "All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew has the approach you might be looking for. With gas headed skyward, putting away the tiller and growing what you need makes a lot of sense. 100% of the harvest at 50% of the costs, 20% of the space, 10% of the water, 5% of the seeds, and 2% of the work - that makes it a no-brainer.

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Lasagna Gardening and the Great Mulch Cover-up

"Lasagna Gardening" - heard of it? read it? Here's my review of the book and a take on a method that heaps organic matter on top of weeds and lets you kick back while nature does the work. Also a tip on slug control that doesn't involve squishing them with your bare hands or watching them shrivel under salt.

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Garden Planning Season

Blame it on Seasonal Affective Disorder if you wish, but this is the time of year when many of us otherwise-very-reasonable people succumb to buying seeds for things we know we don’t have room for or can’t possibly grow in our zones. We need to get real. A strategy. A garden PLAN. I've been reading a lot of books this winter and am passing on some cool ideas - obviously, not my own. This post is an introduction.

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Garden Planning 2011: Some Successes from 2010

Time to plan this year's garden! In this post, I share a bunch of pictures of plants I grew from Renee's Garden Seeds - things like poppies, morning glory, larkspur, yellow pole beans, beets, kohlrabi, and more. These will definitely be on my "grow again" list.

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Buying Seeds: Garden Planning Reality Check

Ha! Wasn't that incredibly irresponsible of me in my last post??? I mean, I'm talking to people quite possibly stuck in a snowbank, and I blithely (as I can do so very well) flaunt our blooming crocuses and say, "Here are some fantastic catalogs - a little retail therapy will do you good!" Whoaa - whoaa - whoaa.... We need to review the Reality Check Blues Rules! Here are some things to keep in mind when you go shopping for seeds!

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