willow winter

Fruits of December

Why isn’t the Winter Solstice the beginning of the New Year? Where are the birds & the bees? How many different fruits can we find in the garden in mid-December? Pondering these questions and more…and wishing everyone a season of light and hope!

Favorite Garden Photos of 2013

The problem with getting a new camera for Christmas in 2012 was trying to sort through over 1000 garden photos! I see I am attracted to symmetry, contrast, and bees! Here are a few of my favorite shots, that STILL can’t begin to capture the beauty and perfection of Mother Nature!

November Blooms

It is past the middle of November, temperatures are dipping into the 20s, and yet – oh my! – so many blooms in the garden! The bees, when they venture out, are particularly grateful. An I, too, appreciate them all that much more now!

Let’s Do a Bee Walk

For Farm Tour Day, my friend, Sid, who runs Annie’s Flower Farm, asked me to do a “Bee Walk.” What is that? Something you make up as you go! We took a stroll through the gardens and kept a close eye out for honeybees, native pollinators, and even frogs. And why do some bees like some flowers and other pollinators prefer something different? And what can they tell us about how much we need one another?

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?

Willow room in spring

A Quiet Place for Peace

The Willow Room in spring takes on a life of its own. Individually, the reeds are supple. They bend with the forces that shape them. Together, however, they are strong – forever interlocked. Recent events in Boston remind us how together we are stronger, and, too, how each of us needs an inner garden sanctuary in which to find peace and make sense of this world.

When All Else Fails, Buy Plants

A little retail therapy helped offset the dreary weather and having to face a very poor garlic crop. Sad day. Looking for some bright spots amidst a lot of bulbs that rotted in the ground. Looking for reasons why. Even after over 30 years of growing this stuff, gardening is always such a learning process, huh.

Scapes, Scallions, and the Scarcity of Spring

In this post, I confess to having a serious case of scape envy, based on reports I am getting from others whose garlic plants are already producing those delectable scapes. Want to know the difference between scapes, scallions, and “green garlic” and how elephant garlic fits in to this picture? I’ll try to unravel some of that for you. And if you’re wondering what to do with your scapes, stay tuned for my upcoming cookbook!

Addicted to Oil? Sharpen your hand tools!

The oil still gushing out of the bottom of the ocean in the Gulf should make us all aware that we are all part of the problem. Choosing to use hand tools instead of machinery is one small way we can cut back on our consumption. In this post, I describe how I sharpened an old sickle and cut down my green manure crop of a rye-clover-vetch mix (mostly rye) by hand. Let me tell you, it made me feel pretty darn powerful! Try it. You’ll like it. And so will our environment.

Pull Back the Mulch and Feed the Garlic!

If you’ve tucked your garlic in under mulch for the winter, now is the time to pull back the blanket and let the sun shine in. Early spring is a time of intense change for the garlic plants, and when they first come up, they are hungry! Have pity and don’t make them search for food! This post is about the special needs of garlic in early spring and how to care for them.

Quinoa Crustless Quiche with Spring Greens

NOW is the time to use those spring greens, because later on they get strong and bitter. Personally, I had easy access to lovage, sorrel, parsley, pea shoots, kale, and collards, so those are things I wanted to use. Lovage & sorrel, especially, need to be used in small quantities, but can really add that little “zing” that makes everyone wonder, “Jeez! What IS that!” Here is a recipe that is a take-off from something I found in Vegetarian Times. I’m calling it Quinoa Crustless Quiche with Spring Greens. You won’t believe how quick & easy it is to make. Low calorie. Nutritious fast food, Inca style!

Garlic Is Coming On Strong!

The garlic is growing strong at Barbolian Fields! We applied a heavy layer of mulch at planting time, and it appears to have done a good job of protecting the bulbs from the series of winter freezes and thaws and also preventing erosion of the beds when we got a lot of rain. Looks like a good crop this year if all goes well!

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!

January Signs of Spring

I know it’s cruel and unusual punishment to post these pictures of a rhubarb bud and the first pea shoots, but here you go. For those of you encased in ice or buried in a snowbank, hang in there! Spring isn’t too far behind!

Blue Moon Garden Review

A cold winter’s night beneath a blue moon: December 31 and it’s that time of year again: time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t in the garden. Once you complete this year-end ritual, you can dive into all those seed catalogs. But don’t skip this pre-garden planning step: a realistic evaluation now might prevent you from making crazy impulsive purchases based on glossy photos, mouth-watering descriptions, and a human tendency to forget the bad and remember the good. Or not.

Buy Garlic, Not Gold!

Garlic has been named the Best Performing Asset in China this year, outperforming gold, silver, oil, and real estate, a consequence of supply and demand and the H1N1 flu epidemic scare. If you’re looking for good garlic, though, the very best can be found at home. Buy local.

Local Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Check out the phenomenal variety of goods I purchased this week from the Sequim Locally Grown outlet: cinnamon rolls and a peach pie (wow!) from Sequim Valley Products, turnips, kohlrabi, and leeks from the Lazy J Farm, shallots from the Johnston Farms, flax seed from Teri Crockett, Read more…

Tomato Saga and Green Tomato Mincemeat

A story of growing tomatoes, from training them up a trellis to having them take over the garden. If you are wondering what to do with all those green tomatoes left at the end of the season, here is the best mock mincemeat recipe I have found. Ingredients include tomatoes, apples, raisins, citrus, and spices. No meat, lard, or suet. Makes a great mock mincemeat pie just in time for Thanksgiving and upcoming holidays. This post also recommends a couple of good garden cookbooks and a great place to purchase seeds and get gardening information.

Yes! You Can Still Plant Garlic!

It is not too late to plant garlic! This post discusses pros and cons of planting early or late. A detailed description is given on how to plant garlic, including planning, building beds, pre-plant techniques, spacing, and mulching. It is based on my over 30 years of growing garlic in the Northwest.

Rainwater Collection System

Conflicting demands of population growth, agriculture, and environmental needs (endangered salmon and other fish) are putting a huge strain on our water supply. Setting up a system to collect rainwater is easy and inexpensive and can not only get you through the dry spells, but leave precious water for other uses.

Spring Cleaning in the Garlic Beds!

Spring is a busy time to get the garden in shape before planting. Garlic is up and so are the weeds! Efforts now to get rid of the weeds will pay off with big garlic bulbs later! Also time to fertilize the garlic with a little side-dressing of blood meal for a nitrogen boost. Seaweed and fish fertilizer foliar sprays also strengthen the plants. Raised beds are a real advantage to early growth.