• Dog and Garden Can Grow Harmoniously

    March 20, 2015

    Think your dog and garden can’t grow harmoniously? Think again!

    It’s true that dogs can be incredibly destructive to our gardens. Some dig holes in all the wrong places. Others prefer to poop exactly where we walk. Some will tumble and roll over our tender blooms. Many will chew exactly what they shouldn’t – like irrigation heads. Marking males love to lift their legs to squirt burning pee all over our favorite shrubs, leaving them browned and dead on at least one side. Both boys and girls will dig, pee and poop lawns into patchwork quilts. And, those are just a few of the worst dog offenses we tolerate, with dismay, from our canine companions.

    Flat coat retriever dog & labradoodle in garden

    Given a good environment, attention & training, dogs won’t destroy every garden. Here, an antique cauldron does double-duty as garden art & as a target for a big leg-lifting retriever.

    I’m not here to wave a magic wand that makes your dog’s area of the garden look as fantastic as the areas Fido can’t forage. But, I’ve lived with a lot of dogs in a lot of different garden spaces in my life, which has helped me develop quite a few tricks and tools to buy that might help your garden survive some of the worst poochy offenses.

    Puppy chewing on sticks in the garden

    Young pups are easy to train, but don’t believe the lie “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

    Get a few dog treats and garden tools to help your garden and dog (and you) harmonize beautifully! 


  • Easy Soap Recipes with Garden Flowers

    March 13, 2015

    Working with caustic lye has never appealed to me, so I set out to develop easy soap recipes that don’t require a respirator, special equipment or very much time. Now that I’ve got it figured out, every month or so, I spend a few minutes in the kitchen whipping up a supply of fragrant, homemade soap that lasts for weeks.

    Easy soap recipe homemade bar

    These easy soap recipes take about 5 minutes of work & are inexpensive.

    Not only are my DIY soap recipes easy to prepare, but they cost much less per bar* than the $4+/bar I had been paying for organically based bars of soap at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Plus, I can decorate my easy soap recipes with a number of homegrown flowers and herbs from my garden. We use these soaps daily in our shower, and I’ve always got a few bars on hand for gifts.

    Peppermint Seahawk fan easy soap recipe bar

    My easy soap recipe for peppermint pucks is a great green & blue gift
    for your favorite Seattle Seahawks fans!

    Following are a just a few of my botanically rich and easy soap recipes — peppermint, rose and citrus. Plus, I’ve put together a shopping widget to make it easy for you to buy all the ingredients you’ll need to grow your own flowers and make your own soaps at home. And, for you knitters, we’ve got a link for instructions to DIY exfoliating soap sleeves. (more…)

  • Dock Weed Control & Many Uses for Rumex

    March 06, 2015

    Dock weed control usually isn’t done properly, which results in the plants rebounding rapidly. While you might want to get rid of your dock (aka Rumex), there are also a number of reasons you may want to cultivate it in your garden. That being said, if you’ve ever faced off with an unwanted patch of dock, odds are you’ve done something wrong in trying to destroy it. I know I have. I’ve pulled at it (without the right tools or during the dry season) only to have the top growth detach from the tap roots, which live to split and sprout another day. And, more than once a wily plant has managed to set seed while I was looking the other way.

    Uprooted dock weed control

    Dock weed control means getting all of the roots from the ground.

    Had my goal been to create a perpetual crop of dock (or Rumex, as it is known botanically or sorrel, as its known in culinary circles), my efforts would have been okay. But, when the intent is to eradicate a patch of dock weed, control steps need to be timed right and done with care. In the following paragraphs and images, I’ll look at several species of Rumex — both in terms of weeding it out of your garden and in terms of using it as a cultivated harvest and design element.

    The Rumex genus includes a number of species including R. acetosa (garden sorrel), R. scutatus (French sorrel), R. crispus (yellow or curly dock), R. obtusifolius (broadleaf dock), R. sanguineus (bloody dock), and more. I’ll focus on these, with which I have lived in a number of gardens.

    Let’s begin with how to eradicate an unwanted dock patch, followed by what to do with your harvest!


  • Poison-free Bee Removals

    February 27, 2015

    Did you know that you can hire bee removal beekeepers that won’t use poisons?

    There’s no need to reach for a can of toxic nastiness and attempt to spray away nuisance stinging insects (and probably get stung in the process). And, you don’t have to hire a pesticide applicator to do the nasty job for you either. Besides, they’ll leave behind toxic residues (and possibly a still-active nest as well). In fact, there are a number of experienced beekeepers for hire who will do bee removals of all kinds without pesticides.

    Honey Bee Removal Assessment

    Corky of BuzzBeeGone.com & Ballard Bee Company assessing an aerial honeybee swarm before he begins gently removing them to relocate into a productive apiary.

    Now, let’s be clear: Just because you have a bee or hornet nest in your garden, doesn’t mean you need to have them removed. Let’s consider a few kinds of bees that might move in and options for dealing with them (more…)

  • Hollywood Groot or Forest Groot?

    February 22, 2015

    Erase the image of Groot you have from the movies. You know, he’s the alien plant-man horties like us would love to see win an Academy Award. Instead, take a hike. Look up in a tree, and perhaps you’ll see the real Groot watching over you. I’m fairly certain that’s exactly who I spotted while hiking through Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, BC a few days ago. (He’s self-anthropomorphized, so don’t even start in on that, please.)

    Oscar Groot or Forest Groot?

    “We are Groot!” Could this face in a tree be the face of Groot watching a trail & grove?

    Thanks to the stranger on the trail who saw me photographing the bare Garry Oaks in Beacon Hill Park in Victoria. He asked if I’d seen “the face in the tree downhill.” I hadn’t seen it, and I never would have had he not said there was a (paraphrasing) “Shakespearean face peering down from the knot of a tree.” Intrigued, I looked carefully as I retraced my steps down the trail, and sure enough, this face was hard to miss, watching over a grove of endangered Quercus garryana.

    When I saw the face, my immediate and recurring thought: “We are Groot!”

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