• Organic Slug Control

    February 19, 2016

    Finding a truly organic slug control product or homemade slug bait that really works can be tough — especially in Seattle where it rains so much. Until now, many “safe” slug control products and “natural” home remedies simply didn’t hold up well in the rain. And, slugs thrive in our damp, relatively warm weather. So, what’s a gardener to do?

    Slug-free lily flower

    These lilies were protected from slugs by Slug Gone & looked great from stem to bloom!

    Most pelleted “pet safe” products melt quick in the wet, so if you aren’t re-applying the stuff after every soggy day, the slugs will make a meal of your lilies, veggies and hostas before you know it. Beer-filled cups will lure in these gastropods to their death for a while, but it doesn’t take much rain to dilute the beer to the point where it’s no longer a viable death trap for those slimers. Plus, putting down these products actually lures these unwanted pests toward your garden – not ideal!

    Wouldn’t you rather use something that lasts through the rain and repels rather than attracts slugs?

    Slug Gone in Garden

    Encircle your plants that slugs love to munch with organic slug control Slug Gone, water it in so the pellets form a felted wool mat & let it repel those slimy pests while further benefiting your garden!

    In 2015 Garden Mentors was offered free samples of a Slug Gone to trial in our soggy, slug-filled Seattle gardens. We were not paid or otherwise compensated to try these free samples. However, we have been so impressed with this natural byproduct of the wool industry that we’re featuring it in our 2016 Northwest Flower & Garden Show seminar Best Tools for Your Garden Shed and offering it through our store now! (Psst! If you’re one of the first to arrive at our NW Flower & Garden Show seminar on 2/19/16 on the DIY stage, you might win a free sample of this slug repellent or other gardening products we love for your garden shed!)

    (You can support this blog by buying through our links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)

    This product is new to the United States, but here’s what the supplier told us about it when he shipped out trial samples and what we found in relation to these claims during our trial period.

    Supplier statement: Slug Gone is completely natural product made from 100% waste wool, a by-product of the wool-scouring industry in England. Slug Gone has achieved Soil Association approval in the UK, permitting it’s use in organic food production in the European Union.
    What we found: This stuff definitely smells like a sheep, but that’s not surprising since this is a waste byproduct of the wool industry. If you don’t mind a slight barnyard smell, this won’t be off-putting. Our border collie really liked the smell and took a couple of nibbles, but soon she wasn’t interested in either the taste or the scent. And, she didn’t get sick from what she munched.

    Supplier statement: Slug Gone is not a pesticide or poison. Slug Gone is a barrier to slugs and snails. When applied in a continuous mat around a plant, the wool pellets will self-felt to form a barrier that is very irritating to the foot of a slug or snail. (it’s the hooks and barbs in wool fibers that make it itchy and irritating to the foot of a slug or snail) These pests will simply choose to eat elsewhere, preserving the biodiversity in the garden while protecting your plants.
    What we found: 

    Slug controlled by Slug Gone

    Frustrated slugs may try to cross Slug Gone barriers, but they quickly give up & head the other direction.

    Supplier statement: Slug Gone is a weed barrier: Weeds are prevented from coming up through the wool mat, and seeds that land on top of the mat are less likely to germinate since the surface of the mat will dry quickly.
    What we found: Since it rains in Seattle a lot and since we water our garden, the mat doesn’t stay dry and weeds will germinate in the wool barrier, but they’re easy to pull. Just be sure that you don’t create a break in the mat circle or slugs can get through.

    Supplier statement: Slug Gone is a moisture mulch: Slug Gone forms a barrier that allows water to penetrate the surface, but reduces evaporation from the soil.
    What we found: Wool is a bit waxy, but once it gets wet it does stay soggy, releasing moisture slowly into the root zone below. Plants didn’t seem to dry out any more or less than others if they were surrounded by Slug Gone.

    Supplier statement: Slug Gone is a thermal barrier: Wool is a natural insulator. Slug gone will keep roots cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Slug Gone will add organic matter: Slug gone will last for 8-14 months as it biodegrades. During this process, Slug Gone will be adding organic material to condition the soil. Slug Gone will not wash out or blow away.

    Slug Gone in vegetable garden

    Surrounding freshly seeded beds with Slug Gone resulted in lots of burned seedlings near the Slug Gone perimeter. Waiting to surround emerged plants worked much better for us.

    What we found: It’s important to keep Slug Gone away from tender young stems and early seedlings. The organic matter it adds seems to release some “hot” nutrients right away, which established perennials, such as Hosta, seem to do fine with. But freshly seeded veggies may not be able to handle it. Also, how long an application will last does vary significantly. In our sandy loam and rainy climate, a single application easily lasted from spring until autumn. Then, it simply decomposed into the garden. A new application will be necessary each growing season.

    Supplier statement: If the plant grows larger during the season, and leaves bend down to touch the soil beyond the wool mat, be sure to place more pellets there to keep slugs from crawling up the leaves.
    What we found: Yep! Given the chance to slime their way up a leaf outside the Slug Gone slug control barrier, slugs will do it. But, as the growing season progressed and summer got hot and dry, there weren’t many slugs out there trying to munch down fully emerged plants like our hostas.

    Slug Gone applied to Hostas

    Before our hostas emerged, we encircled the sprouts with a barrier of Slug Gone, watered it in & didn’t need to reapply all season long.


    Where to find Slug Gone: We’re betting you’ll start finding Slug Gone at your local nursery soon. But, for now, you can buy it through our Amazon Affiliate store via these links!
    (You can support this blog by buying through our links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)

  • Best Valentines Gifts for Gardeners

    February 12, 2016

    If your beloved is a gardener, ignore tradition and go for some of our best Valentine’s gift ideas instead. Skip those over-priced, fragrance-free red roses that probably traveled half-way around the world from a hothouse. In fact, opting for something other than any cut flowers may win you big Valentine points with a gardener.

    Flower Carpet® red rose

    Giving a live rose plant for Valentine’s Day gives your gardening love blooms for years to come. This Flower Carpet® red groundcover rose does well in the PacNW, blooming abundantly for months & showing great disease resistant.

    Years ago my then-boyfriend-now-husband hit a local nursery’s February bare-root sale to score a half-dozen assorted roses for me. Not cut rose flowers. Rather, he picked up six different rose bushes for us to plant together into our garden. That won him some really big points! We enjoyed the flowering plants in the garden and in numerous arrangements until we moved away. Hopefully today someone else is still enjoying the love we planted together that year.

    basalt dish stone under Japanese maple in autumn

    Gardeners love big rocks & trees.
    These living legacies make great Valentine gifts for gardeners!

    Every girl loves a big rock, but when it comes to what that means for a flora and fauna lover, that rock might weigh closer to a ton and sparkle much less than a diamond. Just a few years back my creative husband took this idea to heart by giving me a basalt dish stone to place under a small tree I had purchased for his Valentine gift the year prior. Today, the tree and dish are focal in our garden. Together they provide habitat to attract songbirds that are an endless source of peaceful entertainment for us both.

    Lilium speciosum album bouquet

    Heirloom lily bulbs may not come in a sexy bouquet for Valentine’s Day, but they’ll bloom for years, offering outdoor enjoyment & fragrant as well as home-grown indoor bouquets too.

    Last year we took each other shopping at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show for our Valentines. Roses weren’t on our list, but fragrant lilies were. And, there’s no better place to shop for fantastic lily bulbs than this show. By spring last year our garden began putting on quite the fragrant, colorful lily display. Even as summer faded toward autumn, one of our heirloom selections — a Lilium speciosum ‘Album’ — was perfuming the air in a deeply shaded corner where we often wrap up our days together, resting on a bench and enjoying our growing Valentine gifts and love.

    Of course, if a bouquet is your lover’s ideal Valentine gift, consider locally grown, more sustainable floral options first like FarmGirlFlowers!


  • Garden Tool Giveaway & Seminar

    February 05, 2016

    Did we really say tool giveaway? Yup! Not only that, but at the 2016 NW Flower & Garden Show, I (Robin) will be presenting a seminar entitled Top Tools for Your Garden Shed.

    New, retired gardeners gardening

    Young or old. Experienced or newbie gardener. There’s something for everyone in this gardening seminar!

    The tool giveaway that happens along with this seminar is courtesy of a number of fantastic vendors like Corona Tools, Timber Press, Fiskars Tools*, Stumpdust, Haven Brand, Sunset Books and many others that have donated some of my favorites to share with you. In fact, I’ll be giving away at least 50 fantastic gardening products to folks who make it to this seminar.  And even if you don’t win something to take home, you’ll win in knowledge!

    Top Tools for Your Garden Shed  on February 19, 2016 beginning at 6:45 on the DIY stage at the NW Flower & Garden Show will offer something to gardeners at every skill level.

    Newbie gardeners: Learn which tools I suggest my beginning gardener clients add to their collection first, and get an understanding of which tools to use for which jobs. Quality tools aren’t cheap and gardening with the wrong tool for the wrong job can be dangerous, damaging and frustrating. In this seminar, you’ll learn to make smart choices as you start your gardening tool collection.

    Corona garden tools

    Can you guess which of these tools we’ll giving away as one of our top picks? Join us at NWFGS on 2/19/16 at 6:45pm on the DIY stage to find out & you might get to take’m home! (image courtesy Corona Tools)

    Tool collectors: Experienced gardeners know that collecting tools can be addictive. But, even the the most advanced gardeners may not be aware of some of the really groovy and new products I’ll be demonstrating. If you’re a tool addict, this is a not-to-miss talk!

    Aging gardeners: I’ll be offering a number of tool suggestions for gardeners whose aches and pains may be limiting their gardening abilities. Today’s tool manufacturers are producing more and more items just for us, so we can keep on digging well into our golden years (whatever those are).

    Knowledge is everything: Sometimes a tool isn’t something that digs, cuts or protects our body. Many of our best tools are found on a bookshelf. Thanks to a couple of top garden publishers, I’ll be sharing and giving away a few of these fantastic garden tools too.

    Haven Brand Soil Conditioner in Garden

    We’ll be giving away tips & tools like this – no $h!t!

    Power-up plants: There are numerous tools to help build your soil and beat back some of our worst garden pests. Choosing among them can be overwhelming, confusing and even toxic. In this seminar, I’ll be sharing a few fantastic garden-builders and pest deterrents that are easy to understand and unlikely to cause unwanted side-affects to you or your little piece of the planet.

    *Garden Mentors has been a paid contributing writer to Fiskars Tools in the past & has received a number of these tools & products from various vendors for trial purposes. However, we have received no compensation for this post or tool giveaway by Fiskars or other vendors. We are paid a small stipend for speaking at the NW Flower & Garden Show, but payment is not provided for any endorsements or giveaway items.
  • NWFGS Hummingbird Garden Seminar Peek

    January 29, 2016

    Learn to create your own year-round hummingbird garden with our three simple steps!

    I’ve spent years building a garden in Seattle that hummingbirds and people love. In fact, one little lady-bird loves our space so much she built her nest at eye-level for me last spring.

    Anna's hummingbird in garden

    How many crucial elements to a year-round hummingbird habitat garden can you count in this photo? If you only see a red flower for forage, you’re missing quite a lot.
    Attend my seminar to learn more!

    And, she’s continued to live here ever since. (Or at least I like to think that there’s only one female who owns our garden as her personal territory 365 days of the year. In all honesty, it could be another bird, but I doubt it — anyway, more on that at my seminar.)

    This winter has been particularly mild in Seattle, which means fall and winter bloomers have offered abundance for months now. Plus, if this keeps up, spring flowers may be opening by the time the garden show opens on February 17th! All of this fresh-off-the-vine food has kept our sprite-like forager fat and happy all winter long. Too, the warm weather also means that her suitors, that have steered clear of our garden most of the winter, have begun making their way into her garden again this January. Sure, they’re finding tasty forage, but I bet they’re showing off for her too. Soon, the boys will be battling here for her attentions. In fact, as I was hiking in Seattle’s Discovery Park earlier this week I saw an Anna perched on an apple branch not far from a completed nest. Apparently, breeding season is already underway this year!

    If you’re interested in learning how easy it is to create a garden hummingbirds can’t resist and have a garden filled with year-round interest, fragrance, native plants, people food, beauty and more, mark your calendars today to join me (Robin) for my encore presentations of 2016 Northwest Flower & Garden Show seminar entitled Growing a Year-round Hummingbird Habitat Garden at the Spring Green Art Festival in Lynnwood, WA on Saturday, May 7, 2016.  Or join me for a modified version of this seminar the Tukwila Backyard Wildlife Festival on May 14, 2016.

    Hummingbird at feeder/Kimberly Ayars Photography

    Join us & learn to grow beyond sugar-water feeders like this one.
    Photo courtesy: Kim Ayars

    Not only will you get to enjoy nearly 100 fantastic photos of greater Seattle area resident hummingbirds and the plants and resources they love, but I’ll also share a number of gorgeous hummingbirds from other regions. Sure, we may not get to enjoy these exotics in our PacNW gardens, but who doesn’t love the eye-candy of all of these glittering sprites?

    Join me and together we will grow better options than sugar-water feeders!

    Where: NW Flower & Garden Show, Rainier Room

    When: Wednesday, February 17, 2016, 7pm

    Cost: Free with admission to the show

    Learn more about all of my seminars & buy your tickets today.

  • NW Flower & Garden Show 2016 Musts

    January 22, 2016

    Ahead of opening day we always map out our daily NW Flower & Garden Show musts. If you’re still not sure how you’ll spend your days at the show, here are our Top-10 musts for 2016.

      1. Fancy Fronds’ show garden entitled New York, New York. Cat Pads! on Broadway. If you haven’t seen a Fancy Fronds display at past shows, you’ve really missed out on some crazy-good fun.
        Fronderosa Frolic in the greenhouse

        A bit of whimsy at Fancy Fronds’ Fronderosa Frolic 2015. There’s bound to be more fun in their 2016 NW Flower & Garden Show display garden!

        We got a little hint at their show garden ideas last summer at their ever-popular Fronderosa Frolic fern-y goodness fair, and we’ve been excited to see it ever since. If you share your garden with cats or would like to figure out how to bring your indoor cats outside, odds are this garden will give you some great ideas. Even pros like us get stumped by kitty-cat gardening challenges. So see you there to learn & laugh!

      2. 100 Plants that Almost Changed the World seminar with 2016 show judge, award-winning horty & BBC celebrity Chris Beardshaw. It’s probably no surprise we’ve got this on the list. Get there early on Wednesday morning; his is probably going to be a standing-room-only event!
      3. Did someone say cocktails and garden in the same sentence? Yep! Once again the show is offering a gorgeous garden setting where you can take a seat, sip some wine and enjoy the spectacular show gardens all at the same time. Plus, new for 2016: they’re offering a signature cocktail that you 21+ show-goers can sip as you stroll through the gardens. Same deal with wine and beer. Plus, they promise to be stepping up the food offerings, so if you run into us and we’re a little extra giggly, don’t be terribly surprised. We’ve probably been drinking and eating with our co-horts.
      4. And, of course it would be all kinds of wrong if we didn’t attend our own events at the NW Flower & Garden Show. So, on Wednesday evening, we’ll be there when Robin shares her proven techniques for building a year-round hummingbird garden — with almost 100 gorgeous photos of plants & hummingbirds. (Yes, there will be baby hummingbird pix involved in this talk, and Robin may even bring a real hummingbird nest to share with enthusiasts after her talk.)
        Hummingbird & water feature

        Join us for Robin’s photo-packed Wednesday evening seminar on Year-round hummingbird gardens & on Friday evening where you might win some great garden tools!

        And, on Friday she’ll be sharing her top tools for beginning to advanced gardeners with tips for tired, aging bodies and loads of giveaways — including a fantastic, biodegradable, truly natural product that really stops slugs. Seriously! You want to be there.

      5. We’ve never laughed as hard or as long as we did last year during the Garden Wars at the NW Flower & Garden Show. While we prefer peace to war, this event is actually all about competitive good fun. The only bloodshed comes from the prick of a thorny rose, so gloves are recommended – at least for the players. The audience can kickback, laugh and even lunch while the hilarious battles are fought just a few feet away. Don’t expect any lulls; moderator Joe Lamp’l of Growing a Greener World TV will keep the ball rolling with his infectious humor.
      6. Whatever you do, don’t race across the Skybridge every time you cross it. Sure, we’re okay if you do the hustle your buns over it to make it our seminars – hee! hee! – but be sure to take a leisurely stroll through both aisles at some point so you can really take in all of the lovely City Living display gardens.
        Message from 2011 Skybridge garden

        The displays on the skybridge may be small, but they can be absolutely show-stopping like this one from 2011.

        On occasion, these little vignettes outdo the spectacle of the giant show gardens on the main floor. Good things really do come in small packages!

      7. On Thursday afternoon at 2:15pm you’ll probably find us seated in the Rainier room for Gardening 101: Gardening for Serenity with our very talented co-horts Jessi Bloom, Jenny Peterson & Christina Salwitz. If your life is anywhere as hectic as ours, you gotta go learn from these ladies who know how to find inner bliss outdoors — even under the most difficult circumstances.
      8. Each day of the show, we’ll be online too where we’ll tweet updates via @gardenmentor to bring the show to you anywhere you are. We’ll quote speakers and share loads of photos from the show too. Plus, we’ll be online to download speaker handouts each evening as they become available. No need to fill a bag with printed trees when we know we can download them from the NW Flower & Garden show website each evening!
      9. Can’t not shop the Funky Junk! Get there early & you will score the best of the best. Two years ago Robin landed a gorgeous vintage patio lounger by hitting the Vintage Garden Market early on day-1.
        Funky junk for garden

        Pick up lots of fun funky junk for your garden at the Vintage Garden Market at the NW Flower & Garden Show!

        She didn’t take it home until the last day of the show, and the vendor said she could have sold it 100+ times from her booth. If you happen to see another one, let us know. What we’d give to have a pair of vintage loungers on the patio next summer!

      10. We always make a stop at the Great Plant Picks booth and display to see what local horties have designated as the latest & greatest for our PacNW gardens. Plus, if history repeats itself, you may be able to grab a colorful poster or info sheet featuring lots of plant porn particular to the PacNW!
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