Straw Bale Gardens, Part One

In the last few years, I have almost given up on vegetable gardening. When I moved to Eureka, I laid out my backyard with the intention of growing almost exclusively fruits and vegetables. Sure, there would be a border of perennial herbs and flowers, but I wanted the main attraction to be neat rows of vegetable beds planted with salad greens, beets, potatoes, onions, and tomatoes. But through some combination of laziness and battle fatigue, I...

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Garden Coach, Part Two

Several posts ago, I wrote about my meeting with Genevieve Schmidt, an Arcata garden coach. I’m the ultimate low-budget do-it-yourself gardener, and apart from hiring a guy with a truck to haul off uncompostable green waste from time to time, I didn’t really know much about working with horticultural professionals.  Apparently I’m not the only one: garden designers and consultants all over the country have expanded their...

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The Garden Coach, Part One

I blog with a group of opinionated gardeners at gardenrant.com; one of my partners in crime on that site makes her living as a garden coach.  At first I wasn’t sure why the world needed one more kind of horticultural professional.  We already have designers, landscape architects, arborists, engineers, lawn care services, and landscape crews to choose from. But Susan’s stories about her fledgling garden coach career fascinated...

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Some Thoughts on the Weather

At last, the winter solstice will be over and the days will be getting gradually and imperceptibly longer. That’s fine with me: having a few minutes of daylight and a few degrees of warmth snatched away from me day by day has left me feeling irritated and impoverished. I should be in tune with the season, but I’m not. I have not surrendered to the darkness, I have not found stark beauty in bare branches and frost on the windows, and I...

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My Overcrowded Garden

Something has changed about my garden this year. It’s reached a kind of critical mass, finally. It’s matured. Most of the perennials have been in the ground long enough to reach their full size, and some, like the two dozen lavender I planted when I moved in, are now old and woody and ready to be pulled out. I stood in the garden this afternoon, thinking over the fates of those lavender plants, and I suddenly realized that in a few more...

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Meet the Haggards

  Pete Haggard didn’t take a vacation for ten years. Why? There was no one to watch the bugs.     Haggard, a Humboldt County agricultural inspector, began photographing and cataloging northern California insects over a decade ago. The result is a new book from Timber Press, Insects of the Pacific Northwest, which he co-authored with his wife Judy, a wildlife biologist. Often, the only way to get the pictures he wanted was to...

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Blueberry season!

I got into blueberries in a big way recently. One or two shrubs hardly seemed worth the trouble, so I came home with six plants and a commitment to buy more if I could find room for them. I’ve been trying to fill one long border with culinary plants—herbs, fruit, artichokes, kale, anything edible—so blueberries fit with the theme and they were the right height for an empty spot I couldn’t figure out what to do with. Also, blueberries can...

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Rain Gear

If you’re not a gardener, you might think that gardening is mostly about the plants: what to plant, where to plant it, what to feed it, when to prune it. While it’s true that gardeners are deeply involved with the lives of their plants, let’s not overlook another critical—and often exasperating—aspect of a gardener’s life: the gear. I won’t even get started on tools with wooden handles that break after a week, rakes whose tines...

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