The Garden Writers Discussion Board

So this weekend at the Garden Writers Association conference, the association’s new website was ‘unveiled’ after 18 months of planning and design by the website committee.  It’s not live yet, but we’ve already heard about one thing it doesn’t have:  a discussion board for members.  This news resulted in groans from members who want some other way to communicate besides the (paper!) newsletters...

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The Straw Bale Affair

As the Summer That Never Quite Was draws to a close, I submit to you my final report on the state of my straw bale garden. Thanks to all of you who keep inquiring about it – actually, I’m surprised that the idea has sparked so much interest. In the last few weeks several people have emailed me to say that they might like to try something like this next year. It is a very simple and ecologically friendly idea, and it solves a lot of the...

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Garden 2.0

For months I’ve been ignoring the Facebook and LinkedIn invitations my friends have been sending me. I spend too much time on the computer anyway; the last thing I need is to get sucked into social networking. A cousin who is also a writer told me that Facebook was a wonderful way to procrastinate. While that should have been a warning sign, I was somehow seduced by the possibility of all the non-work she and I could accomplish together...

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Remedial Flower Arranging

For the last month, I have stood guiltily by and watched my flower garden fade. The daisies, feverfew, butterfly bush, and catmint have bloomed so aggressively that I couldn’t possibly keep up with them. After hacking his way through the flowers to get to the chicken coop recently, my husband meekly suggested that I could cut a few flowers and bring them into our bookstore. I had assumed that my flowers would be banned from the store on...

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Art and Gardens

A couple of months ago, I spent an afternoon at the di Rosa Preserve, a private art collection housed on a lovely piece of land between Napa and Sonoma along the Sonoma Highway. The collector, Rene di Rosa, is almost 90 years old. His collection of modern art, which now totals over 1700 pieces, fills the house he once lived in, a newer gallery space, and the land surrounding it. The gardens around the house and gallery are beautiful, making it a...

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Vegetatitve Matter

In February, a couple dozen of our friends and relatives made the windy, rainy trek to Humboldt County for the grand reopening of our bookstore. It was yet another winter family gathering. They’ve been here before at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and now, after having made the journey in February, they probably think that Eureka has nothing to offer but gray skies and storms. They probably also think that I am a completely incompetent gardener,...

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Mammals of Mass Destruction

I could have put a layer of chicken wire under my straw bales before I set up my clever new straw bale vegetable garden. How easy it would have been. Clear the weeds, lay down the chicken wire, arrange the bales on top. Had I done that, I would have had a no-dig, weed-free, compostable and biodegradable, gopher-proof raised bed. What a wonderful thing that would’ve been. But no. I’ve never had gophers in my garden here in Eureka,...

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Eat Your Trash

For years, people in the gardening industry — seed companies, plant growers, owners of garden centers — have complained that gardening is on the decline. People don’t have time to garden anymore, they said. This younger generation just doesn’t want to spend the weekend in the backyard. Or if they do, they don’t consider the time they spend out there to be "gardening." They see it as "outdoor...

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Wind Damage

I’ve been getting e-mails from  gardeners in my neighborhood all week. Everyone’s freaked out about the blazing heat followed by the rain and the fog followed by the maddening wind. “What’s up with this weather?” people keep asking me. Like I would know. As I write this, it’s the wind that’s making everyone nuts.It’s a forceful, antagonistic wind, the sort that flares up on sunny days just when you thought...

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Straw Bale Gardens, Part Two

Recently, I wrote about my new experiment in vegetable gardening. The idea was to build raised beds out of rice straw bales, creating a no-dig bed that would basically turn into one giant compost pile at the end of the season. I heard from several people who were interested in trying the same thing themselves, so I told them I would report back and let you know how the setup went. I ended up buying four rice straw bales and arranging them in a...

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