November 13, 2013
It may seem odd that we’re writing about a fish run here, but the reality is these wild fish are returning to a small creek that isn’t far from many gardens. The Carkeek forested ravine drops off just below a number of surrounding developed neighborhoods where homeowners garden. This means the stream is fed by several tiny tributaries that run downhill from residential gardens right into the pools where the salmon lay their eggs each fall.
Any lawn killers, fertilizers or other gunk has the potential to pollute this carefully restored area where salmon have spawned since before any homes cluttered the ridge above them. It’s true that any toxins are filtered through the forest above, traveling through thickets of native trees, ferns, shrubs, and perennials. But, the potential for trouble is still there.
Too any invasive species plants can readily invade this wildlife refuge. As I watched these amazing, powerful, exhausted creatures struggle upstream to what may have been their beginning point in life and is quite likely the place they will die, I was reminded of a seminar I attended on noxious weeds. In that class, the speakers taught us about two invasive weeds that are problems for streams and steam life.
The beautiful, fragrant, pollinator feeding Butterfly Bush was one. A big problem with this plant, according to the noxious weed specialist, is its tendency to self-seed into native streams, diverting them in off-beat directions.
Obnoxious Knotweed, which honeybees also hit hard in late summer, also got a mention for its tendency to not only take over streams and divert them, but also for its ability to take up needed nutrients without giving them back into the stream. Native plants, on the other hand, may take up nutrients, but as they drop leaves and interact with the earth around them, they give back nutrients that play into the cycle of life upon which the salmon rely.
While I watched the salmon flipping about, circling in deeper pools, and rotting on decomposing logs and boulders along the shore, I observed the surrounding flora. In this carefully restored area not a Buddleia or Polygonum were in view. Rather, the stream was littered with the recently fallen leaves of Big Leaf Maple, speckled with detritus from Salmonberry and Twig Dogwood, and decorated with the evergreen fronds of our native Sword Fern. It was an idyllic visual that I hope will continue for longer than my own brief lifespan.
November 11, 2013
Birds in Seattle are so easy and fun to watch this time of year. After leaves have fallen and once the bounty of summer has declined, they are forced into the open where they glean our gardens for food. Day lengths are short, so their window for belly-filling is brief these days. If you keep an eye out, you might just spy a beauty in your own garden.
From the enormous:
…to the diminutive, their daily flights for forage are laid bare for all to see…
The chickadees, towhees, juncos, titmice, wrens, robins, starlings, crows, eagles, and others are regular visitors as well. Check back…you never know when we might capture their flights, songs, splashing & foraging to share.
October 28, 2013
Is Yellow Archangel weed (aka Lamium or Lamiastrum galeobdolon) taking over your garden beds?
It used to be that this stuff was for sale in just about every nursery in the PacNW. Fortunately, we’re seeing less and less of this Class B Noxious weed for sale. But, the stuff is still eating garden beds everywhere — including ours — mostly because we can’t control what’s happening on the other side of the fence.
Like the bindweed and blackberries and holly that the renters next door do nothing about, this Lamium continues to thrive under neglect. Some might say: “But, it’s pretty when it blooms yellow, and those silvery leaves brighten up dark corners.” Our response: “It’s a non-native that spreads fast even in deep shade. It can easily smother out native plants. Oh, and it stinks!”
If you’ve got it, get it out from the roots sooner rather than later. Once it creates a dense patch, it can be difficult to remove all of the roots. But, if you’re going for it, find a clump and dig out the entire root. If it has sent out runners — above ground or under ground — follow those runners to then next clump, and remove everything. Using a garden fork to loosen the moistened and drained soil around a big patch and then following with a hand tool to get all the roots out can make for easier work.
Note the moistened and drained part. If the soil is rock hard, those roots just won’t come up very well.
October 21, 2013
Is your garden carpeted in unwanted Oxalis, aka Wood Sorrel weed?
Oxalis comes in many forms. Think Shamrock, and you’re in the right camp. Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregana), which carpets the forest floor beneath Pacific redwoods, is one desirable form. Silver Shamrock (Oxalis adenophylla) hails from outside North America but performs beautifully, even in full sun, in many US and other temperate locales.
It’s the nasty, creeping Wood Sorrel (Oxalis corniculata) that you may be desperate to remove.
September 27, 2013
Our new A-Z How to Weed Guide is your quick reference guide to finding our garden maintenance articles on specific types of garden weeds, ways to turn chores into games for kids, methods to make garden work easier, and materials and tools that work — or don’t — for weeding.
Be sure to bookmark this page and visit often. As we write more guides, we’ll post the links here to make it easy for you to find what you’re looking for!
If you need help with a weed you don’t see here, let us know in the comments below, and we’ll do our best to help.
Bindweed: This garden strangler, also known as Morning Glory weed, may be one you’ll fight for a lifetime. Try our tips to make it go as easy as possible.
Buttercup:In sun or shade, this traveler loves soggy soil. Try our tips to beat it back.
Looking for our best food growing guides to help you grow as a gardener?
To make it easier for you to find what you need, check out our new A-Z list of some of our top fruit, berries, vegetable, herb, and other guides to growing your own goodies.
Bookmark this page as we will continue to add to it as our library of articles continues to expand!
Don’t see what you’re looking for? Make a suggestion in the comments & we’ll do our best to help!
Amaranthus (part of our Cooking from the Garden series for Fiskars)
Artichoke: (edible flower on the way!)
Asparagus: (Be patient; this crop takes years!)