• Halloween Garden Gore + Mummy’s Dinner

    October 31, 2014

    By the time tiny princesses and superheros are passing through our Halloween garden to demand their holiday handouts, much of the garden is looking gory. And, it isn’t just rotten flora that’ll make your hair stand on end. What really freaks us out at the end of October is some truly frightful fauna — living and dead.

    Spider in moonlight

    Giant spiders weaving by the light of the moon. In our book, this big gal is a-okay.
    She’s eating up annoying gnats & she lives outside in the garden where she belongs!

    Warning! What you’re about to see might make your stomach turn, but be brave until the very end where your treat awaits –our Halloween recipe for Mummy’s Dinner. Mummy loves it because it’s so simple to make and kids will gladly munch down this fun meal without complaint — no matter how anxious they are to start ringing doorbells for sweet treats. (more…)

  • Plant Profile: Mahonia

    October 24, 2014

    Setting out to profile something as big as the Mahonia genus in a single blog post is pretty much impossible. But, by focusing on its virtues rather than bemoaning its various prickly traits, we can probably convince you to fall in love with this often despised plant.

    Oh, and yes, there is at least one Mahonia that won’t poke you, but we’ll get to that a little later…

    Mahonia Charity & Arthur Menzies

    Mahonia ‘Charity’ and ‘Arthur Menzies’ grow quite tall, which is great for hummingbirds seeking their tasty yellow blooms in December & January. This beauty pops even more against the red trunk of a conifer in the Washington Park Arboretum Winter Garden.

    To begin, a bit about the genus’ greatness: (more…)

  • Basil Rosemary Pesto Recipe

    October 17, 2014
    Before the last of your basil goes kaput under autumn’s chill and waning light, harvest the last of your crop to make a preservable batch of our favorite dairy-free basil rosemary pesto.

    Basil Rosemary Pesto Ingredients

    All you need to whip up a tasty batch of dairy-free basil-rosemary pesto

    This rich, herbal paste is simple to whip up — and a little goes a long way to add flavor to roasted chicken or vegetables like cauliflower and tomatoes. If you love traditional basil-only pesto, try this one for the added depth of flavor — almost a smoky richness — that the rosemary imparts. It’s rich and creamy – no cheese required!

    Dairy-free Basil Rosemary PestoPrint Print

    Makes about 2, 1 cup servings

    Basil-Rosemary Pesto

    Finished Basil Rosemary Pesto – Let’s eat!


    3 cups packed, washed fresh basil leaves, stems removed

    2 T. washed rosemary leaves, stems removed

    3 large garlic cloves, peeled & ends trimmed

    1 cup toasted pine nuts, cooled to room temperature (warm nuts may turn basil — and your pesto — black, so let’m cool!)

    1/2-3/4 cup olive oil

    1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    few grinds fresh pepper

    Add garlic, rosemary, basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cooled pine nuts to food processor. Pulse until everything is finely chopped. More chopping = a finer, creamier pesto

    Basil Rosemary Pesto Ingredients in Food Processor

    Freshly harvested basil rosemary pesto ingredients in food processor bowl ready to pulverize.

    With processor running, add oil in a steady stream, stopping processor & scraping down sides as needed. Add only enough oil to create your preferred consistency — less oil for a thicker paste, more oil for a runnier sauce. Taste occasionally before adding more oil, which can dilute the herbal-garlicky flavor.

    Add a few grinds of fresh, black pepper. Stir. Adjust salt to taste.

    Your tasty pesto is ready to use immediately in recipes like the rich, delicious vegan pasta dish shown here. Believe it or not, that’s a completely grain-free pasta noodle. You know you want it….

    Vegan Grain-free Pesto Pasta

    Want the recipe for making this rich, vegan, grain-free pasta dinner?
    Let us know in the comments below!

    Want the recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll work on sharing it with you soon.  Or, try our tips for storing your pesto to use later. (more…)

  • Easily Preserve Cherry Tomatoes

    October 10, 2014

    It’s beyond easy to preserve cherry tomatoes. In fact, these may be the easiest edibles we put by to enjoy in wintery meals. No excuses for not doing this one!

    Preserve Sungold Cherry Tomatoes like these

    Preserve cherry tomatoes like these Sungolds right after you pick them off the vine.

    These little bites of summer are the first tomatoes to begin ripening in early summer and the last to stop bearing fruit in fall the Pacific Northwest. And, when a generous variety  — like these sugary-sweet Sungold — starts bearing, it’s easy to find yourself harvesting a pint or more from one plant each day from July until frost. So, even if you’re cutting tomatoes into every dish you make in late summer and early autumn, odds are you’re still finding your counters overrun with a glut of tomatoes.

    When slicers are juicy and ripe, the cherries just don’t seem as exciting anymore, so we preserve them right off the vine every day from about August through, well, October (this year). That might sound like a lot of work, but it requires just a few moments to complete these simple steps: (more…)

  • Asian Longhorn Beetle, or Not

    October 03, 2014

    During a recent camping trip, I saw my first Asian longhorn beetle. Or at least I thought I did.

    We had driven through Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest on Highway 12, and along the way we passed stand after stand of dying conifers, swaths of past forest fires, and miles of smolder floating over the river and through otherwise green forest.

    Dying trees & Smolder in Clearwater Forest

    Smolder rising from a swath of dying, damaged Clearwater National Forest

    The cycle of beetle-then-burn is well known among forest lovers. The beetles infest and damage the trees, leaving stands of tinder-ready snags ripe for ignition in the heat of summer when lightening strikes or irresponsible humans introduce burning materials. Or, it goes the other way ’round: fire happens, followed by insects. It’s a vicious cycle, and one beetle that gets much of media spotlight for decimating trees: the Non-native Asian longhorn beetle. (more…)

  • Plant Profile: 3 Pinks for Fall Garden Color

    September 26, 2014

    The year has just passed into autumn, which means fall garden color is bound to be on your mind. As I watch the rain hammer down for the first time in months, I can’t miss the yellow, red and orange overtaking erstwhile green foliage. These dominate the autumn palette. But, even pastels have a place in the fall garden. And, they don’t need to make your garden look like you’re ready to host an Easter egg hunt instead of a harvest party. These tones blend beautifully with the burnt and fiery hues taking main-stage as trees and shrubs get ready for their long, bare-branched winter’s nap.

    Consider these reliable pinks for your fall garden color:

    Fall Crocus or Colchicum

    Fall crocus, or Colchicum, looks much like a green Hosta in spring. But, as days heat up, this bulb’s foliage collapses to the earth, so it’s ideal to plant them among summer annuals like this Proven Winners Lobularia ‘Dark Knight’*  & other summer perennials. Later, just before the first day of fall, their pink flowers pop up among other, season-weary plants in the garden bed. This crocus will take some sun, but does best where it is somewhat protected. It’s tiny, so be sure to plant it near a path or border edge for viewing.


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