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Category: Off the Beaten Path

  • Gardening Thoughts for April First

    April 01, 2011

    Today it’s dumping rain in soggy Seattle gardens. On the other coast, there’s snow on the ground. It’s April; that’s what happens even if we really just want the sun to come out and warm us up. Despite the weather, those darn plants still keep growing & sprouting. And, the gardening chore season really begins to ramp up.Ā  To help you out, here’s a quick list of what to start doing in your garden today:

    1. Platanus nofolia

      Platanus nofolia

      Get out there and top your trees. That’s right. Shear those shrubs down to a nub and randomly cut the tops off of all your trees right now. Or cut them into circles, squares and rectangles ’cause this is how plants really grow in nature. If you do this now, you’ll get lots and lots of new, weak growth everywhere. And, you’ll get the added chore of cutting them again and again and again to try to maintain the work you do today. Yay – more gardening chores, right? Plus, your trees will look really bad, especially next winter when they’re bare. Just think: when you cut those lavender down really hard to the ground, hopefully they just won’t come back anymore to bother you with their aroma and blooms this summer. Be sure you don’t cut any woody plants to a point of origin; that would simply make your garden look too good and be too healthy. Leave all the dead wood intact for rats to nest in and wind to catch in. And whatever you do, be sure to cut off every flower bud on your fruit trees. This will ensure you don’t get one piece of fruit this summer!

    2. Stomp all over your beds.
      Pinus diskus (or Pinus disgustus)

      Pinus diskus (or Pinus disgustus)

      Heck do a rain dance all over them! When they’re saturated and frozen, that’s the best time you can get out in the garden and do the most damage to your soil structure. Be sure to get out there today and really jump up and down hard at the base of your plants to compact the soil. Oh, and if you’re lucky, you’ll crush an emerging lily or hosta while you’re doing your April showers two-step.

    3. Rake out all of your composted mulch topping the beds. You know how you spent hours last fall carefully covering your beds with composted mulch to help protect roots, retain water and deter weeds? Well, today’s the day to just rake it all up. Go ahead and put it in the trash can to send to the dump where it will never decompose. Raking your beds bare will help expose lots of weed seeds and encourage them to keep on growing.
    4. Don’t pull your weeds. Instead let them flourish in the spring light and warming temperatures. This will guarantee you have a great crop of weed seeds, lots of strong tap roots, and more weeds than you know what to do with for years to come.

    Oh, did I mention? Happy April Fool’s Day!

    You figured that out, right?

    Do exactly the opposite of what’s suggested above, and your garden should thrive once the sun really does come out for spring!

  • What Garden Help Do You Want in 2011?

    December 30, 2010
    Edibles, Greenhouses, Trees, Flowers - What Garden Help Do You Need?

    Edibles, Greenhouses, Trees, Flowers - What Garden Help Do You Need?

    In just a couple of days, we’ll all be recycling out our old calenders. As I look ahead to 2011, I find myself wondering what gardenhelp.org readers want more of in 2011. Bees? Edibles? Maintenance? Dogs? Greenhouses? Tomatoes? Historical Gardens? Soil?

    Or maybe something else entirely?

    Or maybe you just like finding surprises each time you log in or get an update, whether through RSS or Facebook or Twitter.

    If you want to help inspire our writing direction now, please comment below. If you find yourself wanting something later in the year, you’re always welcome to submit questions via out contact form here.

    From everyone at Garden MentorsĀ®, cheers to a very productive, dirty and green new year!

  • Coach Positive

    November 19, 2010

    "Happiness" = A Child Who Just Learned to Plant Her Own Sunflowers

    It didn’t take a scientific brain study for me to figure out that focusing on the positive and helping people envision a positive future is the way to coach. I’ve know this for years. Teachers who cheer me on have always had the most success inspiring me and helping me move forward in my learning. It’s those teachers who have taught me how to be great at helping others be their best — in the garden or anywhere else. Those who have chosen to demean have only succeeded in making me feel awful, which doesn’t inspiring learning. It only incurs my wrath.

    Years ago when working a crap snack shop job, did I spit on that evil college professor’s hot dog after he failed to find help me understand a concept and instead decided to announce to everyone in office hours that I was the stupidest person he’d ever met? I’ll never tell. Oh, and yes, I still don’t understand sun angles, and twenty years later I’m still not inspired to figure them out. Thanks dude.

    Today’s announcement, which I read on Livescience.com, that a new brain study has found that Compassionate Coaching Evokes Better Results simply reinforces what I already knew – provide encouragement, empowerment and joy, and your students will dig in with enthusiasm as they visualize their own fantastic potential.

    What kind of coaching works best for you?

  • Muck This!

    September 16, 2010
    Muck! - Fresh Clay Imported Home from West Seattle

    Muck! – Fresh Clay Imported Home from West Seattle

    I think Muck! is my new four letter word. It’s what I face when the Seattle rains return. Muck’s what I wear for a about 10+ months of the year. I think I own the term. So Muck-it! I’m using it.

    (Qualifying purchases made through affiliate &/or sponsored links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors.)



    Today was the first day of autumn (I mean late summer) that found me sporting rain gear and a stocking cap. It’s my look for most of the year, and I don’t prefer it, especially when its covered in, yep, you guessed it: muck. My hair sticks up in all sorts of frizzy ugliness. My fingernails are no longer green; they’re all mucked in shades of black and brown. Frankly, I look like a mother-muckin’ mess most of the time I’m working in the field — except in summer when I can get away with capris and no hat. But, summer’s one muckin’ short season.

    When you’re consulting in gardens in the rain, that’s the deal. You take a shower to get all clean in the morning. Then you dress up in stained jeans that maybe you wore the day before — assuming you didn’t slip and land in the mucking mud. Then, you put on another layer of outerwear, also likely shedding the dusty remnants of yesterday’s mucky job. And, of course you pull on shoes, encrusted with layers of drying muck — hopefully, remembering not to walk thru the house with those work boots on. But if you do, you find yourself yelling “muck-me” as you turn around to find your trail of crust lingering under foot.

    So, why do it? Well, honestly, when I’m coated in muck, I’m as happy as a pig in $h!t. I may grumble about it, but really, it’s fun to be outside, slipping around, getting filthy. I think I’d really be mucked if I had to sit in an office all day long.

    So muck it!

    Bring on the rain. Bring on the mud. Without both of them, our gardens might not become muck, but they and we would definitely be mucked. It takes the rain, meeting the soil to renew life. I guess in some ways, rain really is the great mother mucker — just in a better way than my outdoor curses may make it sound.

  • Turf: Don’t Tread on Me

    August 11, 2010

    Recently, I enjoyed a few days in Victoria, BC with my husband. On a foggy morning we hopped on the Victoria Clipper and cruised northward to quaint Victoria for a few days of R&R. Sorry, no reports of Grey or Killer Whales or even snowy mountain views from the ship — it was just to socked in. Still, the boat trip wasn’t the big draw for us. The beautiful gardens of Victoria were.

    Fake Turf - no mow, no water, but still no way!

    Fake Turf - no mow, no water, but still no way!

    We had planned a trip out to Butchart Gardens. I mean what horty gal goes to Victoria without visiting the famed gardens? Otherwise, our trip had very little structure. So, after dropping our bags at the hotel and grabbing lunch in the harbor area, we started a walking tour toward Government House gardens. On the way, I spotted my first in a series of lawns that left me wondering, “what’s the point”?

    This first “lawn” forms the central put-put golf course for some homeowner near Craigdarroch Castle. As a weedless space, shining in the sun and perfectly quaffed, it caught my eye. But, upon closer inspection, I realized it was fake! Fieldturf, Astroturf, faker-grass? Call it what you will, I’m not impressed. Sure, it doesn’t need water, requires no mowing and looks nearly perfect at all times (if you like that kind of look). But does that mean it looks good or is healthy for the planet? It’s made out of manufactured materials, and I’m guessing it isn’t something you recycle. So what happens to this stuff when the sun and time finally wear it down? Off to the landfill? (more…)

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(Qualifying purchases made through affiliate &/or sponsored links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors.)