Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair, Continued September 9, 2008

There was so much going on at the Harvest Fair, I couldn’t fit it all into one post!

The turnout was big this year, due to the nice weather and, I think, the increasing interest here in all things “green.”

Happy folks listening to music:

Harvest Fair Crowd

Young fiddle player in the bandstand:

Fiddler at Rest

As I mentioned in the previous post, I didn’t get to attend any workshops this year. This one on “hot composting” looked cool, pitchforks were flying! I just peeked at it through the apple trellis:

Composting Demo

Lots of friendly animals to visit, we city folks get so excited by the most common barnyard animals. These goats were super happy to be fed tufts of grass by anyone who passed by:

Friendly Goat

This mobile chicken coop was a real conversation-starter. Hope a certain farm machinery company doesn’t ever sue this guy for logo infringement! The city of Seattle allows chicken keeping, with some restrictions. Click here to find out more.

Mobile Chicken Coop

The end of summer in Seattle always brings a frenzy of activity at Farmers’ Markets as we all realize we’ll be stuck with a limited selection until spring, if we plan to eat (at least mostly) local. Everyone was snapping up the late-summer goodies at the Fair’s big market.

Pepper tower (I saw someone carefully asking about and writing down every variety after purchasing a smaller one):

Super Fancy Pepper Chain

Pile o’ sweet corn:

Corn Pile


Box O' Tomatillos

And a nice reminder that not everyone can afford Farmers’ Market prices, so we need to donate produce when we can to help everyone eat the good stuff:

Beet Hunger

I came home with a nice little flat of winter veggie starts (several lettuces, spinach, a mild mustard, Chinese broccoli and rainbow chard) to put in the parking strip. I’m going to get to it this week before the snails discover them!

Flat O' Winter Veggie Starts


Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair September 8, 2008

After much anticipation, our time at the Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair was on the short side this year. My kiddo was super wiped out from the first week of kindergarten, so we didn’t spend as long as I would have liked there. We saw lots of friends though, made some fun kid crafts, marched in the mini parade and did a quick turn around the fairgrounds (the wonderful Good Shepherd Center in Seattle’s Wallingford Neighborhood). Next time, maybe I’ll leave the non-gardening members of the family at home and I can dawdle a bit and maybe even go to a few of the many workshops they offer on sheet mulching, wild edible plants, making preserves, etc.

I got to the winter veggie starts stand a little later than I’d have liked, and some stuff was already gone or somewhat picked over. I didn’t come with a list, though, so I tried not to be too disappointed and ended up coming away with a nice variety.

Winter Greens Starts

The herb-wreath-making station was really popular. A nice gal helped us make this one with our daughter. Easy to do! Just take three bunches of herbs, twist-tie each at its bottom end, put them end to end and wrap them with ribbon. You can weave in flowers later, and leave ribbons to trail down behind. Here’s ours, in progress:

Herb Wreath in Progress

Also popular, unsurprisingly, a chocolate tasting table from Theo Chocolate. Their stuff is fair trade, organic and insanely yummy. I think my daughter didn’t even taste hers, it went down the hatch so quickly. I savored it a bit more, and highly recommend the 3400 Phinney line, especially the fig/fennel/almond variety.

Theo Chocolate Tasting

Lisa Taylor, the Children’s Garden Program Manager, gleefully rounded up a ton of folks for the parade at noon.

Parade Power

She led the way with chants of “What do we love? The sun!!!” and other gardening-related silliness. She also passed out hilarious costumes including giant carrots for the adults and mini worm capes for the kids:

Worm Girl

We hooted, hollered, shook noisemakers and paraded our way through the festival grounds a few times, then eventually ground to a halt and disbanded, shedding costumes like molting butterflies.

This is getting kind of long… I think I’ll have to do a Part II!


Apple Tree Anti-Pest Method September 7, 2008

In a previous post, I mentioned the technique of putting “footies” (nylon half-sock hosiery thingies) on apples as they are forming on the trees, to protect them from pests like the apple maggot fly and coddling moths which can ravage the fruit. At the Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair yesterday (big post on that coming soon), I saw that they had used this method in their demonstration garden.

Apples With Footies

It’s pretty labor intensive, but if you only have a few dwarf trees (or a lot of time or many helpful garden elves), it’s doable. You just have to make sure to do it at the right time, before the pests emerge from dormancy in the spring and start doing their evil (but natural) business. Check with your local fruit tree growers’ society for more information, or click here for the Home Orchard Society’s how to’s and purchasing info.


‘Pink panda’ Strawberry September 4, 2008

An ornamental strawberry sounds like a complete oxymoron, but I saw these once at a garden show and had to have them. They are a hybrid between a a wild strawberry and a potentilla, I think, and you can start with just a few plants and end up with a mat of groundcover if you want. It spreads via stolons and if you keep track of it, it’s easy to pull out the ones you don’t want. I just let mine ramble, since I need space-fillers anyway. The pink blooms are super cute and cheerful, and since my daughter loves pandas, I planted some in “her” garden (also in the parking strip). The berries are edible but not all that tasty, so we usually leave them for the birds.

'Pink panda' strawberry

(Sorry, kind of out of focus. I think I need a new camera. Any recommendations of good ones for garden photography without spending a huge bundle?)

Here is a link to what they look like when massed. And for more information on its history and growth habits, click here.


Big hips September 1, 2008

Saw this giganto rose hip in a parking strip garden the other day. Guessing it’s a rugosa rose of some sort, man that was a big ol’ hip! I should have put my thumb in for scale, it was practically as big as a plum. (No, I’m not going to make any plump posterior comments, beyond the post’s title…)

Rose hip

Kind of looks like a mini pomegranate or a purple tomato. I’ve never grown rugosas, but they make a good tough plant for the street garden as long as you are willing to prune out their suckers. The flowers aren’t as showy or fragrant as hybrid roses, but they are virtually disease-free and don’t seem to require nearly so much care. The hips are even edible, and they contain a ton of Vitamin C.


Seed Snarfer August 31, 2008

My family looked out the window this morning and saw something pretty funny. A big, fat squirrel, perched precariously on top of one of my parking strip sunflowers, was scarfing down all the seeds s/he could reach. I had noticed yesterday that some of the flowers were leaning over and thought it was due to a windy day we had earlier in the week. Guess it was the squirrel’s climbing expeditions instead.

Sunflower Squirrel

One of the stems had snapped off halfway down, so I hacked it off and brought it up to our house level so that we could watch the fun from a closer vantage point. The squirrel soon reappeared and ate the entire huge head of seeds. “It’s like it’s a big feast!” was my daughter’s comment. Guess fall must really be here.

Squirrel Things Sunflower Seeds Are Yummy


Tomato House

A lot of gardeners in the Seattle area are doing a sun dance right now, hoping for a few more warm days before the rains set in for good. It’s been a cool, damp summer, and many tomatoes are just not ripening quickly enough.

I saw this contraption in a parking strip a few weeks ago when I was out for a walk in my neighborhood. It seems to be a kind of tomato house or cold frame, so the plants could be set out a little earlier than would be possible if they were just out in the open.

Tomato house

I keep meaning to go back and see if it worked!