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Celebrating Hand-in-Hand Garden Help + Giveaways

February 16, 2014

Today we are joining with a dozen other gardening bloggers to celebrate the launch of our friend Dee Nash’s new book The 20-30 Something Garden Guide, which offers the kind of garden help and empowerment that Garden Mentors® is all about. Plus, each of us has been provided with cool items to giveaway to readers as a part of this celebration, so be sure to enter here and visit each of the links listed below to learn more and get a chance at all of the cool garden goodies donated for this giveaway.

(Updated 2/24/2014: The giveaway has now closed. Via random.org, Linda Belcher is our winner & will be contacted directly by author Dee to coordinate next steps!)

Dee Nash at the 2014 NWFGS

Dee Nash talking 20-30 Something Garden Guide at the 2014 NW Flower & Garden Show

But for now, back to Dee of Red Dirt Ramblings blogging fame and her new book…

We had the opportunity to sit in on Dee’s 2014 Northwest Flower & Garden Show talk in which she offered up gardening advice such as you will find in her book. Here’s the thing: Dee’s much like us. She believes everyone can garden and as she says in both her books and seminars: “…no one is born with a brown thumb, or a green one for that matter.”

“All gardeners have setbacks. Good gardeners kill plants. Don’t be discouraged. Failure means we are stretching our gardening muscles.” Dee Nash

In her new book, Dee sets out to provide step-by-step tips and guidelines to help “anyone who wants to grow stuff” find success. Beginning with simple, small container gardens, Dee guides gardeners through step-by-step plans for planting and progressing as a gardener. Dee gets what we do — not getting overwhelmed, accepting failure, and growing with the help of someone at your side is likely to bring new gardeners (heck, and old ones) their greatest sense of accomplishment and success.

“Gardening is a skill learned by trial and error…If you want to learn to garden, grab a coach and go for it!” Dee Nash

I wouldn’t say that Dee’s book is going to provide everything every gardener needs to achieve perfection. In fact, no gardening book, garden, or gardener is ever perfect. In discussing gardening television, Dee herself says about these shows, “what doesn’t come across (on gardening tv) is the reality that gardening is more about the process than the results.” Every gardener is always starting somewhere, killing things that transform into killer compost, and reaching out for more help and more knowledge as we grow and seasons pass. Check out her book, and you’ll get the picture!

Now…about all those giveaways…
Dee has put together a package of goodies from Sanctuary Soil (for which Garden Mentors® is a paid gardening expert writer, btw. However, for this post and giveaway, we have received no compensation by Sanctuary Soil or anyone else for that matter.) Here’s the list of goodies they’ve donated:

Sanctuary Soil - Buckaroo Worm Castings1, 2 Cubic Unit Bag of Empire Builder Grower’s Mix ($24.95 value)

1, 20 Quart bag of Buckaroo Worm Castings ($18.95 value)

1, 3 pack of Hula Brand Perfect Planters ($17.96 value)

If you would like a chance at getting these donated items from Sanctuary Soil, tell us in the comments on this blog post about how you have grown as a gardener by failing. Yep! What have you killed or had to rebuild several times to get it right or whatever it is that you see as a big flop that lead you to become stronger in the garden.

(Please note that Dee’s giveaway is only open to residents in the continental United States. Enter your comments for a chance to win no later than 11:59 pm PST on Sunday, February 23, 2014. Be sure to include your email address or other way we can contact you should you win. Winners of the items listed for giveaway on this blog will be chosen randomly using random.org. Winners will be announced on our blog on the week following February 23, 2014 & the winner will be contacted via email as well.)

Now that you’ve commented below to throw your hat in our ring, read on for a list of the other great blogs to visit to learn more and enter more (and different) giveaways!

In alphabetical order, here are all of the other blogs celebrating Dee’s book launch with posts and giveaways. (And, yes, Garden Mentors® is a paid gardening pro writer for Fiskars®, which has donated a number of the giveaway items listed below. We have received no compensation from Fiskars® or anyone else for this blog post.)

Children, Water Feature & Glass Art for the Honeybees

Brother & Sister explore potted water feature filled with Glass Gardens Northwest Bee Preserver floats. No Sipping from the spigot brother!

Be sure to visit and enter each for your chance at some pretty groovy gardening goodies!

Shawna Coronado website — gift certificate to High Country Gardens for a Summer Dreams Garden.

Whitney Curtis at the Curtis Casa — David Austin Rose, ‘Princess Alexandra of Kent’ and Authentic Haven Brand Moo Poo Tea.

Colleen Dieter at Red Wheelbarrow Plants — Garden Girl shorts and Fiskars PowerGear 18” loppers.

Rachel Hough at The Domestic Artiste — Fiskars Tools, two sets of loppers, one is the PowerGear Lopper 32” and the other Power-Lever 28”.

Niki Jabbour at Niki Jabbour, The Year Round Veggie Gardener. (no giveaway)

Carmen Johnston at Carmen Johnston Gardens — Garden Girl pants with knee pads and a David Austin rose, ‘The Alnwick Rose’ catalog link for ordering bare root roses.

Carol Michel at May Dreams Gardens — DeWit Tool kit and Botanical Interests Organic Heirloom Seed Bank Collection. 

Pam Penick at Digging — Three small Bee Preservers, www.glassgardensnw.com.

Jenny Peterson and J. Peterson Garden Design — SeedKeepers Deluxe seedkeeper and Burlap Girdle.

Genevieve Schmidt at North Coast Gardening — Annie’s Annuals gift certificate and Keira Watering Cans.

Marie Wreath at the (Not Always) Lazy W Ranch — Longfield Gardens tulips & daffs 


  1. […] Haglund at Garden Mentors: Buckaroo Brand Worm Castings, a Hula Planter, and Empire Soil Builder from Sanctuary […]

  2. Azucena Gee says:

    Enviromental conditions play a major role in what and where you grow. Gophers have assisted in eating the roots of several fruit trees. Loved peonies but harder to find those that can grow in SCa.

  3. Azucena Gee says:

    Strawberries! I’ve killed strawberry plants by transplanting the runners in too deep soil or forgetting to water often the seedlings.

  4. Gwen says:

    My biggest failure is forgetting to place a plant marker beside any perennials I plant! Now I make sure before I plant any new plants that I have markers ready instead of relying on my ‘memory’.

  5. Corrine says:

    Winter wet, summer drought, shade, slugs & voles plus planting too deeply & wrong locations are the causes of my plant MIAs. I’m most sad that I can’t seem to keep heather alive.

  6. Kelly says:

    Ah, failures. As a vegetable gardener, failures are disappointing in the short run but helpful in the long run in terms of deciding what not to include the next season. The pickling cucumber failure lead to the discovery of thin skinned persian cukes which are perfectly suited to my garden.

  7. Gaynell says:

    Great blog and nice give always. Looking forward to ordering the book.

  8. […] Haglund at Garden Mentors — Buckaroo Brand Worm Castings, a hula planter and Empire Soil Builder, from Sanctuary […]

  9. […] Haglund at Garden Mentors — Buckaroo Brand Worm Castings, a hula planter and Empire Soil Builder, from Sanctuary […]

  10. […] Haglund at Garden Mentors — Buckaroo Brand Worm Castings, a hula planter and Empire Soil Builder, from Sanctuary […]

  11. AmyO says:

    What a fantastic idea! A ‘blog party’ is a great way to get gardeners together and discover all the wonderful bloggers out there in the world of horticultural geekiness!
    Doing a little research before bringing home that expensive plant, not knowing where it’s going to go or weather I actually have the right place for it to keep it healthy. then allowing it to languish in its pot for too long before it finally succumbs to my inability to figure out that it really wasn’t meant for me after all.
    And after all the guilt and anguish over killing a plant out of neglect and laziness…I do it all over again when the next beautiful treasure catches my eye! I’m hopeless!

  12. Carol Yemola says:

    I am no novice at gardening, but I had a difficult time developing a shade garden. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the right mix of plants to grow. I researched and researched until I combined ideas from several sites. Finally, I have a beautiful shade garden full of color and interesting plants!

  13. Katharine Davis says:

    My biggest failures in gardening have come from not spacing properly when I was first starting out, the overcrowding in the garden killed off many plants and caused others to underperform. Lesson learned, I now know less is more in spacing and to thin things out or transplant when things grown too abundantly in one spot

  14. […] Haglund at Garden Mentors — Buckaroo Brand Worm Castings, a hula planter and Empire Soil Builder, from Sanctuary […]

  15. Let’s see what haven’t I killed or had to do over. I loved a Daphne that was given to me by a friend, it died a slow death due to neglect, I will always regret not reading up on what this plant really needed. Health of my husband kept me from my gardening.
    I have had to redo all my beds to make them smaller, giving away many iris and lily plant the last two years. If we never fail, we will never taste success. i will be adding your blog to my own blog – Southern Gardens.

  16. Pumpkins eluded me until this past summer. I just couldn’t get them to survive long enough to make pumpkins. This past summer, I began the bug watch earlier and watered with an aqua cone. Success. Harvested my first pumpkins. They were beautiful!

  17. Tim Burress says:

    I do use a lot of worm castings each year. We have a local worm rancher here and I buy the castings by the trailer load. Love them foor fertilizer and as a deterent to help with black spot

  18. Margie says:

    Can’t seem to get helebros to grow in my garden.

  19. Cathi says:

    My failure was not paying enough attention to native plants and expecting non-natives to behave themselves! I am learning!

  20. Patty says:

    Learning where to plant what where in my new garden.

  21. Jennifer says:

    Oh so many failures to choose from, but I’ll say over mulching. It has been the hard to have a light hand with mulching, and not follow the neighbor’s examples.

  22. Edie Marie Delzer says:

    Onions! For some reason they never grow very big in my garden…gonna try again this year! 🙂

  23. Merrilyn Rutledge says:

    I was having trouble with hostas and impatients not thriving in our Oklahoma heat when planted under trees and fighting with them for constant need for water. Planting in containers really helps. Impatients planted in shallow containers partly dug in slightly raised beds. Found that hostas overwinter just fine in containers and don’t need to be in ground.

  24. I’ve learned that less is more most times in the garden, and to always stake plants BEFORE they topple over.

  25. Suellen Jennings says:

    Our biggest failure was in not shooting the deer that keep eating our favorite plants!

  26. kristi says:

    I have tried tomatoes for years and always struggle! I have tried them in the ground, in the pots, in raised beds, even in indoor grow lights.. They never work for me, each time it is something else, but guess what I have started under my grow lights right now…tomatoes seedlings! I will let you know how they do. Thanks 🙂

  27. Renee G says:

    My biggest failure is hydrangeas. Although I can get them to grow healthy and green, I just can’t get them to bloom.

  28. OhLouise says:

    I haven’t been gardening that long, and let’s just say I made the most classic mistake the first season: I poured in the entire contents of every single seed packet I had bought (even the lettuce with like a million seeds) into tiny plastic containers. What was I thinking? I learned a lot about the cycle of seed life as I spent an entire month crouched over a civilization of overcrowded, near impossible-to-remove seedlings.
    This book looks great! And I’m not just saying that because there are Buckaroo worm castings at stake. 🙂

  29. Jackie Isler says:

    I have had to replant an area several time because it was too close to black walnuts…..

  30. Amy Renea says:

    I once put a bunch of hosts in the sun…talk about failure!!

  31. I kill my first round of seedlings every spring. No matter what soil mix I use or seeds I use, I still manage to kill the first veggie garden seedlings. It’s getting to be hysterical.

  32. Donna G says:

    Placement of plants is probably my worst failing. Live, plant, and learn!

  33. Trying to keep turf to please my husband and neighbors long after we should have with water shortages. Finally replaced it with drought tolerant flower beds and it looks so much better.

  34. Amy, did you mean hostas?

  35. What did you find that did work under the walnuts Jackie?

  36. oopsie, but sounds like you’ve grown from that early seeding mistake!

  37. Renee, it’s probably a pruning problem. Timing is everything with hydrangeas!

  38. Kristi, be sure to check out our A-Z Food Growing Guides for help anytime. We’ve found lots of success with tomatoes, even in our short, cool, wet Seattle summers. Hopefully, our tips will help you too!

  39. Hmmm…deer can be frustrating!

  40. Kelliann, are you staking everything or just staking those things that might need a little help in the beginning? Over-staking can lead to even more problems down the road.

  41. Jennifer – were you burying woody plants too deeply? How were you over-mulching?

  42. Right plant: Right place and layering can be challenging!

  43. Margie – what happens with your hellebores?

  44. Tim- glad to hear you have a local resource, and it’s great to hear you find they help deter black spot. That’s a new one on us. Thanks for helping us grow too!

  45. Fantastic Gardener on Sherlock Street. What kind of pumpkins did you grow?

  46. Thanks Linda – I’m sorry that your garden and your husband have been challenged by health problems. It’s good to know that you chose to scale back in the garden to help you find your success. As Dee says in her book, keeping things small can help us find success!

  47. Katharine – getting greedy about space is something I (Robin) find challenging every year. Our home garden space isn’t terribly big — too many plants; too little room…except for weeds. They always seem to find purchase.

  48. Carol – good going. Shade gardens can be some of the most lovely. We are undergoing a transformation from a full sun garden to one that now has maturing trees (intentional), which means our plant palate is changing too — into more of those lovely shade lovers.

  49. AmyO – sounds like you have plant collector’s disease. We buy and then freeze up when our beauties get home. Keep on keepin’ on!

  50. Gaynell – thanks for the compliments & glad to hear you’re going to buy Dee’s book. Enjoy!

  51. Kelly – I (Robin) adore the Persian “finger” cukes. Such a lovely thin skin, fresh flavor and crisp texture. Sorry they didn’t fulfill your pickling dreams, but fresh these truly are the best! Thanks for dropping by & don’t miss our A-Z Edible Gardening Guide to help you with your cukes and other food gardening endeavors!

  52. Corrine – Sounds like you’re tackling lots of challenges. Heather can be particular. It likes well drained soil, so if things get soggy in winter, it may not like that. And, if it’s too shady or planted too deep, well, Heather may just give up the ghost. Keep trying!

  53. Gwen – It can be hard to remember what’s where, especially after perennials go to earth for the winter! Using markers is great. We have another technique you might want to try. Check it out!

  54. Azucena – oops! Keep trying!

  55. Azucena – sounds like you’re learning a lot about your environment. If gophers are such an issue, have you considered growing fruit trees in containers? There are many smaller varieties that will thrive in small spaces. Keep trying!

  56. Edie – are you starting from bulb, seed or starts? That can make a difference — as well as many other things. Check out our A-Z Edible Gardening Guides for help!

  57. Cat says:

    So many “opportunities” so little room to share them : ) But I have to say as a plant enthusiast that my growth/failures as a gardener have come from not asking for enough advice. I see myself as a DIY kinda gal and I have purchased many lovely plants that I just didn’t take the time to read up on or ask my favorite G.C. about and generally speaking the results have proven that getting some extra knowledge would have been a great idea 🙂 “Right plant, right place” should be tattooed on my wrist, so that I can see it while I am digging, both for my wallet and my with my shovel. My advice having failed at this is, ask a Garden Coach to help you plan your space, get another opinion, some fresh ideas, use your resources. Garden Mentors helped us through a design upgrade and redo and I am forever grateful to Robin for her expert eye on where things could go and how to use the space wisely.

  58. Ah Cat – thank you for your honesty, tattoo ideas, and kudos. I’m very much looking forward sitting on your new patio deck with cocktails and puppies some day soon. Thanks!!

  59. Jennie Brooks says:

    Sugar snap peas. They always get powdery mildew. I’ve tried 3 consecutive years now but I will try again. Maybe they’re too crowded. Crowding is another of my issues. So many things I want to grow and I never have adequate space.

  60. Honestly, Jennie, ours eventually succumb to mildew too. We enjoy them until then. When it happens, we know it’s time to take them out and get runner beans growing in place of the past-their-prime peas. Keep trying!

  61. Jennie Brooks says:

    Runner beans? How about yard long beans? I had success with them.

  62. Go for it Jennie! We’re fans of Scarlet Runner beans — mostly because the flowers are so beautiful and attract hummingbirds.

  63. Karen Wood says:

    My failures have come from not putting enough goodies in the soil and not watering enough. I have to garden in pots where I am at now but plan to move soon and have a yard so I can go back to growing a full garden and also keep chickens and plant plenty of things to attract bees and beneficial insects. I did some soil amending last year and am doing some more this year as I have found more beneficial things to add to the soil. There is so much to learn.

  64. Karen, sounds like you truly understand that to grow well, you must give your soil lotsa love. Keep it up!

  65. Rebekah says:

    I have scorched my lettuce by planting it in places it received harsh sun with no protection and I crowded out last years corn when I planted more vegetables than could fit in my two raised beds 🙁 oops

  66. linda says:

    Biggest failure in gardening for me: impulsive plant purchases, instead of having a plan & preparing the planting area first! I hate to recall the plants I purchased with good intentions & then didn’t follow through on getting them planted soon enough. Now that I am older & wiser, that doesn’t happen anymore. Also being retired & having plenty of free time for gardening really helps!

  67. Emily says:

    Wow, it’s hard to pick just one failure 😉 I will say that I have murdered a lot of Daphne before I finally found out you have to plant them on a hill to get enough drainage to keep them alive. My current hill-side one has tripled in size and has tons of buds right now!

  68. I’ve finally learned, after years of impulse shopping, to make a plan for the garden. Organizing beds with plant height and width, bloom time, water needs, light needs… it all takes a lot of practice.

  69. Leslie says:

    Every year the sparrows eat my pea sprouts. I have had to rethink covers for them many times and every year I am a little more successful. I just love fresh garden peas!

  70. Keith says:

    Trying to come up with the right combination for our front beds. We’re on our third round of plants and shrubs and think we may have it now! It’s been a costly excursion, but worth it to learn what grows best.

  71. Keith, a garden is never done…here’s hoping “third time’s a charm!”

  72. Leslie, have you tried using row cover as they sprout & then bird netting once they’re up? Those fledglings can be big destroyers right around the time peas get going. It’s so frustrating, but we’ve had luck with the row cover -> netting combo. Good luck!

  73. Cheris, gardening is a process. It’s good to know that you’ve been practicing and improving over time. Keep it up!

  74. Emily – another daphne tip: it doesn’t like to be pruned. Keep that to a minimum as well, and good going figuring out what it wants and needs in your space.

  75. Linda – your impulse buying is a recurring theme for comments here. Glad to know you’re learning and growing!

  76. Ah yes, Rebekah…overcrowding is a challenge, especially if we have limited planting space. Thinning is your friend! And, take advantage of growing crops like lettuce in shade; save the sun for squashes, tomatoes and other big sun lovers. Bon chance!

  77. wow /plenty flops –lets start with broccoli-and potato’s- cauliflower — i try to follow the instructions and these fail me every time –but will again try none the less –broccoli did well one year and bad the next and potato’s never had success at all i did the vertical wire round stand wth straw/ reg. dirt — and cauliflower dont matter what kind mixture dirt it never grows well — thanks you

  78. Cheryl, thanks for your honesty. Sounds frustrating, but it’s good to know you keep forging ahead. Have you considered getting your soil tested? Maybe it’ll help you get to the root of the issue.

  79. Melody Lee says:

    I always wait till late in the spring to start weeding – then I have even more weeding to do because they make so many seeds. MUST start weeding earlier!

  80. Melody – agreed. Weed early; weed often.

  81. Julie says:

    I’m only a young 20-something gardener myself, but I’ve already learned quite a bit by failing spectacularly (and I presume I’ll probably continue to do so – that’s not a bad thing). When I first started gardening as a serious hobby about 4 years ago, I was set on having a sort of perfect little “cottage garden”….here in hardiness zone 5a. After several hard summers of intense drought, which all inevitably ended in watering restrictions causing my beautiful flowers to whither and die, I realized that I was going about this whole gardening business entirely wrong.

    I couldn’t grow an English cottage garden in the middle of Denver. Why would I even want to? For me, gardening was a way in which I connected with nature and the natural world – trying to do that by planting a garden that was so ill-suited for the environment in which I lived was resulting only in frustration and zero personal growth. I realized that I had to connect with nature not as a broad abstract idea, but as a very real, very localized presence. Nature typically knows what She’s doing – many varieties of flowers and fruits evolved in this region specifically to deal with the water shortage, pesky wildlife (deer, I’m looking at you), and what could be considered “poor” soil. THESE were the plants I should be planting.

    That’s what I started moving towards planting a native-based wildflower garden, rather than attempting to achieve and ill-thought-through, romanticized ideal. And gardening and I (not to mention the native pollinators) have been getting along better than ever since then!

  82. Julie – that’s great. Keep rockin’ the natives and learning from each season!

  83. Brenda Hyde says:

    I can grow just about any herb, and many veggies but there are a couple of plants I fail at constantly– hollyhocks are one and I’ve tried seeds and plants! One year I planted squash and pumpkins in this adorable pumpkin patch we dug, and we had a huge infestation of squash bugs that was out of control by time I realized it. I should have taken pictures but I was too horrified. LOL

  84. Katina says:

    Well, as Pam at Digging says, you gotta kill a plant 3 times to know what it really needs. I’ve managed to kill rosemary a couple of times. One of the easiest plants ever.

  85. Rosemary is easy to grow, but it’s easy to kill too. Keep on keepin’ on Katina!

  86. Denise says:

    So excited for my friend Dee! Can’t wait to get my signed copy of your book… Worst failures…hmm so many to choose from. I have tried gardenias over and over, even though Dee says they won’t grow in Oklahoma. She’s right, by the way. And figs. Didn’t plant the with enough protection. The list goes on…

  87. We can’t grow spinach! True confession! We can grow tomatoes, we can grow onions, we can grow squash, but spinach has eluded us. We plant early, we get slow bolting varieties and the tiny plants bolt every time. How hard can it be to grow spinach? So how have we grown as gardeners? Well, it’s made us humble, and we know that no gardener, even the most experienced one, can ever be perfect.

  88. Denise, thanks for sharing. We’ve killed a few Gardenias too…even the supposedly hardy ones just don’t like it here very much. Still, that fragrance lures us in!

  89. Alana – Sorry to hear Spinach has been such a challenge. If you’re sowing it and transplanting it, that might be the issue. It’s better to direct sow or grow in a crowded pot. Transplanting it rarely leads to anything more than a bolted plant. If heat’s the issue, maybe try an edible Amaranthus instead. This spinach-like green loves heat — and some varieties like the one shown in our post here is gorgeous. (And if it bolts, eat the seeds. They’re super high in protein!) Just be sure to grow an edible variety. Some are more ornamental. http://gardenmentors.com/garden-help/edible-gardens/edible-amaranthus-tasty-beautiful-nutritious/

  90. Amber says:

    My biggest mistake was planting spearmint in my garden many years ago. It was fine when I didn’t want to do much with the garden, but now it has taken over. But I’m learning from it, because I think the only way to kill it is to dig it all up – soil and all. Which gives me the opportunity to learn a lot about soil.

  91. Amber – ah yes, mint gone wild. It is definitely a way to learn. Keep on digging!

  92. Mia Graves says:

    My biggest issue last year was that I didn’t pay enough attention to the many different heights of what I planted. some were overshadowed and therefore did not stand out the way I wanted them too.

  93. Mia – Guess you’ve got some transplanting to do. Have fun!

  94. KaTinka Bolding says:

    I spent many years buying plants on impulse instead of planning my ornamental garden. I can still be tempted on occasion but now I do a much better job of picking the right plants for the proper location.

  95. Danita says:

    After repeatedly losing many seedlings to damp-off years ago, I learned to remove those humidity domes pronto after the seeds germinated. Haven’t really had damp-off problems since!

  96. KaTinka – sounds like a familiar “problem”.

  97. Danita – that’s a good reminder to vent our seedlings right away!

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