A Win for Pollinators in WA

BUMBLEBEE ON ECHINOPS (GLOBE THISTLE)

Great news for pollinators in WA state!  The Governor signed SB 5253 into law this spring, establishing an impactful pollinator health policy. 

Did you know that pollinator species are critical to our wild spaces and agriculture?  In addition to over 400 different species of native bees and the non-native honey bee, butterflies, moths, wasps, flies and hummingbirds play a key role in food security, human welfare and environmental health in WA state.  Pollinator losses are a local, as well as global problem.

The new law adopts the recommendations developed by the Pollinator Health Task Force, which began its work in December 2019 and submitted its final report to the WA legislature last November.   I have the pleasure of serving on the task force with a wide array of stakeholders from scientists to landscapers to beekeepers.

Some of the new law’s accomplishments: prohibit the use of non-native bumblebees in open agriculture (to avoid the introduction of invasive pollinator pests and diseases, as well as other threats to native bees); requiring a survey of native bee species and their distribution; and other actions, plans and targets to protect and bolster pollinator habitat in urban as well as natural areas.

To learn more about how YOU can protect and encourage pollinators, visit: Bees and Pollinators | OSU Extension Service (oregonstate.edu)

For information on WA’s Pollinator Health Policy, which goes into effect July 25, 2021, visit the Pollinator Health Task Force website: https://agr.wa.gov/departments/insects-pests-and-weeds/insects/apiary-pollinators/pollinator-health/task-force

To read the recommendations for protecting pollinators in the new law: https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=5253&Year=2021&Initiative=false

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Planted Garden Video Television Debut

Episode One of Planted will be televised starting May 20, 2021 to local audiences on Comcast channel 12 and WAVE Broadband channel 3.

The schedule for the month of June: Sundays 4pm, Mondays 9pm and Thursdays at 10:30 am Pacific Time

Seeds well-planted eventually germinate.  If you’re like me, when the tiny green life breaks through the soil you want to tell the world! With pleasure, I introduce Planted, the new garden video series rooted in Kitsap County. 

I’ve been working with a talented production team at Bremerton Kitsap Access Television (BKAT) since January to create Planted, which I host with Peg Tillery.  Many know Peg, retired WSU Kitsap Horticulture Educator, from her show “The Kitsap Gardener” which ran for many years on local TV.

The idea for a fresh video series came to me this December and as luck would have it, Peg and BKAT were receptive to a fun, creative project inspired by our rich community of gardeners, farmers, artists and plant growers.

The first episode is shot in my South Kitsap garden and focuses on edible gardening.  Learn how to read a seed packet, why savvy gardeners use row cover and how to decide what vegetables to grow from seed versus plant starts.  Peg’s garden will be featured in Episode Two and will provide answers to every gardener’s question: “How do I protect my plants from those darned pests?”

Upcoming shows will feature local experts on everything from floral arranging from your backyard, to indispensable tools and of course,  jaw-dropping and reliable plants.  With so many taking up gardening during COVID-19 restrictions, we’re hoping the show is helpful to everyone from beginner to professional, regardless of where you garden.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about gardening; it’s important to us that what we recommend is accurate, as well as entertaining.  Peg and I are both former WSU Kitsap Master Gardener Program Coordinators who have trained thousands of people to find and recognize science-based information to garden more successfully.  Each episode will include trustworthy print, online and local resources to dive in and learn more on each topic covered.

Episode One of Planted will be televised regularly to local audiences on Comcast channel 12 and WAVE Broadband channel 3. But you can watch Planted right now on Vimeo and YouTube in its entirety, or just view one segment:

Episode One in full:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/543853588

YouTube: https://youtu.be/RXTx4EDoupw

Segment: Reading a Seed Packet
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/543856048
YouTube: https://youtu.be/CExbYUgyUGc

Segment: Starts vs Seeds
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/543856835
YouTube: https://youtu.be/mRPajubxKHg

Segment: Using Floating Row Cover
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/543857631
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YzDTJc_J5I

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Vegetable Pest Prevention Video

raised beds big picture small

4′ x 8′ raised beds with 4 galvanized pipe hoops, cross bar and floating row cover for crop protection

This update includes links to the new Planted garden video segment on “Using Floating Row Cover”–my favorite tool for vegetable pest prevention. 

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/543857631

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YzDTJc_J5I

In my edible garden, floating row cover (also known by brand names like Reemay or Agribon) is my go-to pest control method. It’s helpful to control a variety of pests from birds, to carrot rust fly, imported cabbage moth, and so on.  The term I should use rather than control, is deter.   Covering my vegetables and herbs with the very thin, spun polyester fabric physically blocks the pests from getting to the plants to eat them–it excludes them so that I don’t have to resort to control methods. It’s a preventative technique to deter the establishment of pests.

Other benefits:
• Protects tender plants from wind, driving rain, the weight of snow, and intense sun;
• Provides heat retention and elevated humidity;
• Allows in light, rain, and air flow.

inside tunnel 2 small

Under the row cover: cross support tied to hoops for stability.  Happy chard, beets, basil!

I use removable galvanized hoops as frames for draping and securing floating row cover. A friend who has a handy metal bending tool arched the 10′ metal pipes to be 4′ wide at the base, which matches the inside diameter of my raised beds. By sinking the cut ends of 4 hoops into the soil along the inside walls at even distances and held stable across the top by a cross bar (an 8′ fiberglass garden stake), the frame is secured. You can make hoops from pvc pipe, if you prefer.

Once the hoops are in, I drape the row cover over, allowing enough extra fabric around all the sides to pool on the soil level. Then anything heavy can be used to secure the fabric to the soil just inside the walls, I have used bricks, rocks, a length of lumber. A note about rocks–round ones easily roll away when the fabric billows in a gust of wind.

flat rock for weights small

Flat, narrow pieces of flagstone work well to weigh down edges of fabric.

The fabric needs to be secured to the hoops, as well. There are curved plastic clips (snap clamps) made especially for this purpose that attach well onto straight sections of the pipe (less on curves). You can make your own out of short sections of pvc, or use very large metal clips used for securing paper. A square of nylon or heavy plastic between the clip and the row cover prevents tearing so the fabric lasts longer. Most of the time, I get about a year, sometimes more out of the row cover before it is torn and degraded by the elements.

snap clamps small

Snap clamp secures fabric to cross bar with nylon underneath to prevent rips.

Some of my crops are covered all year round, from the time I plant seed to the final harvest: carrots to prevent carrot rust fly, radishes to exclude flea beetles and cabbage maggot, any crucifer (kale, cabbage, broccoli, etc) to prevent imported cabbage moth caterpillars. These are much harder to control once they become established (especially soil borne insects). One ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when I’m trying to grow healthy, clean food.

clips and weights small

Big clamps work great to secure fabric to curved sections of hoops.  Fabric weighted down all around.

For other crops, I use it just to protect the seed until it germinates and gets strong enough to endure pests or the elements. With beans, corn, peas, it keeps birds from eating the seed before they even have a chance. Or with eggplant, to provide it a little extra warmth until summer kicks in. Then I remove the cover so they can get as much sun as possible. With lettuces it might be the opposite–cover to protect from intense sun, extending its harvest window.

Row cover comes in different thicknesses that allow for more or less light to get in, and come in different lengths and widths, pre-cut and rolls. There are many options depending on why you’re using it and for what crops.

Besides on frames, I’ve loosely blanketed a raised bed with the cover, lightly weighed down on the edges for short seedlings. It works well loosely tacked directly to the ground over rows of emerging corn seedlings; draped over a tomato cage that’s protecting a newly planted, delicate cucumber while our nights are still quite cool. I keep finding new uses for it and swear by it for successful vegetable gardening.

To learn more: How to use floating row cover WSU Publications

Benefits in this fact sheet from WSU Snohomish County Extension: Benefits of Row Cover WSU Snohomish County Extension

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Planted: New Garden Video Series

Seeds well-planted eventually germinate.  If you’re like me, when the tiny green life breaks through the soil you want to tell the world!

With pleasure, I introduce Planted, the new garden video series rooted in Kitsap County. 

I’ve been working with a talented production team at Bremerton Kitsap Access Television (BKAT) since January to create Planted, which I host with Peg Tillery.  Many know Peg, retired WSU Kitsap Horticulture Educator, from her show “The Kitsap Gardener” which ran for many years on local TV.

The idea for a fresh video series came to me this December and as luck would have it, Peg and BKAT were receptive to a fun, creative project inspired by our rich community of gardeners, farmers, artists and plant growers.

The first episode is shot in my South Kitsap garden and focuses on edible gardening.  Learn how to read a seed packet, why savvy gardeners use row cover and how to decide what vegetables to grow from seed versus plant starts.  Peg’s garden will be featured in Episode Two and will provide answers to every gardener’s question: “How do I protect my plants from those darned pests?”

Upcoming shows will feature local experts on everything from floral arranging from your backyard, to indispensable tools and of course,  jaw-dropping and reliable plants.  With so many taking up gardening during COVID-19 restrictions, we’re hoping the show is helpful to everyone from beginner to professional, regardless of where you garden.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about gardening; it’s important to us that what we recommend is accurate, as well as entertaining.  Peg and I are both former WSU Kitsap Master Gardener Program Coordinators who have trained thousands of people to find and recognize science-based information to garden more successfully.  Each episode will include trustworthy print, online and local resources to dive in and learn more on each topic covered.

Episode One of Planted will soon be televised regularly to local audiences on Comcast channel 12 and WAVE Broadband channel 3. But you can watch Planted right now on Vimeo and YouTube:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/543853588

YouTube: https://youtu.be/RXTx4EDoupw

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Knowing Shade

Blooming foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia ‘Brandywine’) mingled with unfurling Himalayan Maidenhair fern (Adiantum venustum)

Shade.  When we garden in the Maritime Pacific Northwest (or anywhere), we ought to welcome it.  Adore it.  Explore it.

With majestic trees comes the blessing of shade and its numerous quirky personalities. Beyond bland generalities of part shade or full shade; we observe the qualities and moods of morning,  mid-day, and afternoon shade.  Deep shade, bright shade, light shade, filtered shade, dappled shade, exclaim the plant tags and encyclopedias.

If only plants could talk, oh how they would describe light!

Ken Druse in his classic book,  The Natural Shade Garden, dedicates nearly five pages to the “degrees of shade”.  He describes characteristics, and duration, and reminds us that how plants respond to light exposure varies from region to region. I have learned more about plant care from how they perform in different types of light exposure than any other factor.

Many gardeners talk about coping with shade and plants that tolerate shade.  When considering lush ferns, poetic spring ephemerals, and romantic woodland denizens, gardeners should pray for shade.

Spring vetchling (Lathyrus vernus)

Gardens created by working with natural site conditions are more successful functionally. There is an emotional energy imparted by the willingness of the gardener to embrace shade’s myriad faces.  Those gardens honor and take on a sense of place.

Rick Darke in The American Woodland Garden, writes of deciduous forest environments as “one of the most luminous landscapes on earth.”  I can’t think of a better descriptor.  My woodland gardens in April and May are indeed luminous and each hour, each advancing spring day, is unique and captivating.  

The nature of shade is transitory throughout the seasons and over the years, making it a fascinating and enduring focus of study, journaling and gardening.  And if you have none, consider the art of plant layering to create some. 

Newly unfurling, fuzzy fronds of evergreen Korean rock fern (Polystichum tsus-simense)

For inspiration, immerse yourself in shade’s flavors, styles and local spirit at a botanical garden. The spring gifts of fresh leaves and tender blossom are a reminder to celebrate and work with our garden’s shade.  Whether it be deep, dappled or beautifully indescribable.

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Let It All Soak In: Rain Garden Resources

Rain Garden planted with a variety of ornamental sedges, rushes and Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed)

Thank you for joining me for an webinar introduction to Rain Gardens. Here is a list of resources specific to Western WA and Clark County, WA:

Publications

Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington Homeowners.  WA Department of Ecology Publication Website.

https://apps.ecology.wa.gov/publications/SummaryPages/1310027.html

Rain Garden Care Guide: A Guide for Residents and Community Organizations, by King Conservation District and 12,000 Rain Gardens.

http://www.12000raingardens.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/RainGardenCareGuideComplete.pdf

Videos

Why is Stormwater Runoff a Problem? A film by the Nature Conservancy & Washington State University, 05:52 http://www.washingtonnature.org/cities/solvingstormwater

Web Resources

Clark County Public Works, Stormwater  

https://clark.wa.gov/public-works/stormwater

Rain Garden guidelines for new construction and remodels; List and map of clean water projects; Commonly asked questions; What you can do for clean water; Stream health and monitoring.

Clark County Public Health Department

https://clark.wa.gov/public-health

Find property records for septic systems and wells.

Washington 811; Call Before You Dig

Free Utility Locator Service; PHONE 811 for utilities to be located and marked.

Stormwater Partners SW WA

https://www.stormwaterpartners.com

Coalition of jurisdictions, agencies and non-profit organizations working together to protect water quality and watersheds in SW Washington.  Information for residents, businesses, contractors on water pollution prevention, Natural Yard Care, volunteer opportunities and more.

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Tonight: Let It All Soak In, Rain Garden Webinar (free!)

A rain garden designed by Colleen Miko, in its second year after planting

Let it All Soak In: A Rain Garden Webinar – TONIGHT–April 13, 2021 at 6:30 pm

A stunning landscape feature and stormwater device all in one!  Rain gardens are a unique way to protect your local creek, lake or shoreline from water pollution while spiffing up the garden at the same time.  Come away with a solid understanding of rain gardens–their benefits, suitable locations and tools for design and installation.  Have a look at lovely rain garden plants for sun or shade and become familiar with the Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington Homeowners.  After this 90-minute webinar by Colleen Miko, you’ll be ready to tame the rain. 

This webinar is put on by the WSU Clark County Extension Master Gardener Program in collaboration with Clark County Public Health – Solid Waste Outreach. Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 6:30 pm. FREE!

Register in advance for this meeting: 

https://wsu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYlfu-srzkqH9AtbW_8wyM515rxu15EngMa.

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Easy Home-Grown Sprouts

Salad Sprouting Mix from start to finish

Sprouts are nutritious and add crunch, texture and flair to dishes.  If you love sprouts, you’ll know that finding them at even the best stocked grocery store is difficult.  Delicate and perishable, when available, they tend to come in plastic containers.  What to do when you’re craving them on a sandwich, salad, lettuce wrap or spring roll? For the best variety, freshest product and less plastic waste–grow your own!

You don’t need special equipment or skill to grow sprouts.  For years I used canning jars with a piece of nylon screen over the top, soaking the seed in fresh water for a few hours, draining off the water and re-moistening a few times a day.

Santa brought me a set of stacking seed starter trays/germinators especially for the kitchen and I must admit they’ve been quite handy to keep rotating batches of sprouts going in winter when home garden vegetable harvests are slimmer.  Clean, room temp water is poured into the top tray several times a day, after which it drains through the stacks to rest in a bottom storage tray.  Saves a step or two, and better air circulation to boot.

Finding local sources of food grade sprouting seed has turned out to be much easier than finding fresh sprouts. Buy only seed labeled expressly for edible sprouts (it will have been tested for absence of E. coli and salmonella bacteria).  I’ve bought seed sprouting mixes at my local independent nursery in large seed packet paper envelopes; mart-style box store and small town hardware store in zip top bags (with canning supplies); health food store bulk food section; and of course, seed companies through both catalogs and the web. I sourced my sprouting trays through a regional seed company catalog.

Sterilization of your jars and trays is important for food safety.  Clean well and let dry completely between batches and wash your hands well before handling the containers, seeds and sprouts.  

For a short and informative video on how to grow sprouts in jars and in sprouting trays, check out this video “How to grow sprouts” from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply:  https://www.groworganic.com/collections/sprouting-seeds

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Let It All Soak In: A Rain Garden Webinar (free!)

A rain garden in its second year after planting

Let it All Soak In: A Rain Garden Webinar – April 13, 2021 at 6:30 pm

A stunning landscape feature and stormwater device all in one!  Rain gardens are a unique way to protect your local creek, lake or shoreline from water pollution while spiffing up the garden at the same time.  Come away with a solid understanding of rain gardens–their benefits, suitable locations and tools for design and installation.  Have a look at lovely rain garden plants for sun or shade and become familiar with the Rain Garden Handbook for Western Washington Homeowners.  After this 90-minute webinar by Colleen Miko, you’ll be ready to tame the rain. 

This webinar is put on by the WSU Clark County Extension Master Gardener Program in collaboration with Clark County Public Health – Solid Waste Outreach. Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 6:30 pm. FREE!

Register in advance for this meeting: 

https://wsu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYlfu-srzkqH9AtbW_8wyM515rxu15EngMa.

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ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE: Fresh AIR

Sometimes I forget that I am blessed with options and get caught up in self-imposed, rigid ways of doing and being.  To counter this, I have decided to be an “Artist-in-Residence” this month.

You may be familiar with these programs.  Imagine a set period of time staying at an inspiring institution with freedom to explore choreography, painting, or playing music in an environment conducive to your craft. Artist colonies exist apart from the distractions and obligations of every day life and provide a place to start or finish a creative project. 

An Artist’s retreat has long been my daydream, so I’m making and taking my own AIR (Artist-in Residency).   Who says you need to be a professional artist with an “established body of work” to explore your creativity removed from typical responsibilities? 

An AIR need not take place somewhere grand.  I’m not going anywhere since I’m fortunate to have a unique window of quiet solitude at home. Essentially my AIR is a matter of mindset; of my choice to dedicate time to artistic pursuits.  It is a space to challenge self-perceived limitations while being attentive to all my efforts, even things normally done rote. Choosing this for myself feels luxurious.

I’m grateful for the ability to set aside responsibilities for the pleasure of falling headlong into the creative process freed from my regular routine.  Of the creative projects I plan to explore, writing (this blog included) figures heavily, as does creating gardening videos with a friend, and fiddling with simple crafts when on a zoom calls. 

I have a feeling this time and space may become a regular gift I give myself. If you’ve taken your own AIR, I’d love to hear how you made it happen.

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