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Fox Island Garden Club

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Linda Dodds; Master Gardener 253-549-2534

E-mail: ldodds@windermere.com
Nan Feagin 549-2358 or Linda Dodds 549-2534

Island Garden Tips kicks off it's 11th Year on FoxIslandWA.net!
For ten years straight, Linda Dodds has been providing monthly gardening tips for Fox Island residents.  FICRA would like to give Linda a BIG THANK YOU for her tireless contributions to our website, and to the gardening enthusiasts of Fox Island.  You can read her garden tips from years gone by in our Garden Tips Archive, dating back to January, 2001.  Keep up the great work, Linda!
John Ohlson

Fox Island Gardening Tips
2001 Archive | 2002 Archive | 2003 -05 Archive | 2006 - 07 Archive

Garden Club Members

Check out the photo of some of the Fox Island Garden Club members busy weeding and cleaning up the gazebo garden at Nichols Community Center a few weeks ago. Work party members are: Bottom row, left to right, Juanita Bjork, Marti Thompson, Lois Miller and Gail Jones. Back row, Thelma Laird and Linda Dodds.

More Gardening tips

Island Sign Gets Update

Members of the Fox Island Garden Club recently repainted the Fox Island sign, located near the bridge.

From left to right: Fox Island Garden Club members Thelma Laird, Marty Thompson and Juanita Bjork.

Juanita did the painting and Marty, Thelma and spouses helped to put the sign back up when it was finished.  

Thank you ladies!

Plant Sale Is 'Growing'!
The Plant Sale was well attended, with a large group of Island residents and friends scooping up all of the springtime bargains.
Nan Feagin, Penny Bergman and Tracy Kelly browse for bargains.
Jeff Feagin discusses the finer points of Tomato plants with FoxIslandWA.net's Island Gardener, Linda Dodds.

Fox Island Gardening Tips
2001 Archive | 2002 Archive | 2003 -05 Archive | 2006 - 07 Archive

If you want to learn more about the Pierce County Master Gardener program, please follow this link:
http://www.pierce.wsu.edu/Master_Gardeners/index.htm
http://mastergardener.wsu.edu

Do you have gardening questions? Ask a Master Gardener!
Do you have gardening questions for western Washington?
* Please send a description of your yard, garden and plant problems.
* Include a couple of photos if possible, and a 10 digit phone number where you
can be reached during business hours.
* They will reply as quickly as possible.
piercemastergardeners@wsu.edu
WSU's Research Based Gardening Resources:
http://gardening.wsu.edu
http://mastergardener.wsu.edu

December 2008 Tip of the Month

Oh the hustle and bustle that occurs in the month of December. It's enough to make your head swell... or at least your stomach. Between the shopping, decorating, baking and eating there just doesn't seem to be time left over to spend in the garden. There are some easy and not too time consuming chores that can be done though. The first thing to do, after walking in the door with your holiday poinsettia, is to carefully remove the bottom of the foil wrap on the outside of the pot. If left on, water will not flow out the bottom and the roots of the plant will rot. It's not necessary to remove all the foil, just the bottom circle.

With the furnace blowing dust throughout the house, you're houseplants will appreciate a gentle misting or take a damp rag and wash off any dust and grime.
It's just like treating your plants to a nice relaxing bath.

There are probably still a few errant leaves laying on your lawn so rake all that you can and cover tender plants with them or scatter over vegetable gardens to keep down weeds for next year.

And if your Thanksgiving meal was just so filling that you were not to get up from the table and go outside to fertilize your lawn and you have not done so this fall, do it now before the end of the week. The winter fertilizing job may be easy to forget but it is in actuality the most important fertilizing project you can do for your lawn all year.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a great gardening New Year.

November Tip of the Month

Fall finally arrived in November with winds and rain knocking off the beautiful red and golden leaves. What a gorgeous site we have had with all the fall foliage on the many sunny October days. I have been stopping my car whenever I see some especially bright and interesting leaves and taking them home to preserve them. It's an easy project to accomplish by ironing the leaves between two pieces of wax paper. Once the wax starts to melt, remove the leaves from the wax paper and press them between the pages of a phone book. I put a small television on top of the phone book and will soon remove the leaves to use as decorations on my Thanksgiving table. According to Juanita Bjork, the leaves should stay supple and colorful for several years.

If you didn't fertilize your lawn with an organic fertilizer in Oct. then fertilize with a fall fertilizer the end of November. It is no longer warm enough for an organic fertilizer to work with these chilly November days.
Actually the day after Thanksgiving to about December 7 are the perfect times to do that job, Just be sure you get a winter fertilizer to help develop a strong root system to get your lawn through the summer droughts.

If you notice any weeds popping up through the fallen leaves, stoop to pull a few as you walk by. They are pretty easy to pull out in the rain soaked ground and the extra bending over may just burn a few calories from that Thanksgiving feast.

October Tip of the Month
Fall is here and many people consider that the end of the gardening season has arrived. Oh but it isn't so! The more you accomplish in the yard in the fall, the easier your Spring gardening will be. Summer blooming perennials should be pruned once they are done blossoming and can be divided and moved. Dead and dying annuals should be disposed of, either in the compost pile if there is no sign of disease or added to the county's organic waste trash can. All dried up perennials can be cut back to the ground, leaves raked and general tidying up done this month. You will be thankful for the time you will have saved next spring by doing these chores now.

Not only tulip, hyacinths and daffodils should be planted but also garlic and shallots. However I would wait until later int he month so any warm days don't set them to sprouting.

Keep leaves raked up so as not to become a safe haven for overwintering slugs and bugs but also to add to the compost pile to make organic mulch next spring.
And even though you may feel that you are sick and tired of pulling up weeds, don't quit! Especially the blooming varieties that would only set more weed seeds for next spring if let unchecked.

And for all you doubting Thomas's...Real Gardeners really do a great fall cleanup.

September Tip of the Month

Harvest, clean up beds and pull weeds. Not much different than what you have been doing all August but it is really necessary. If you neglect picking fruit, it will rot before you know it and the veggies will get too large and ripe within a few days. When the heat of September arrives, produce ripens fast. Check fruit every couple of days for signs of ripening and pick before the fruit falls and bruises. Cucumbers grow huge overnight practically so look under leaves for the hidden ones. Tomatoes are at their peak so check them daily also as well as beans and zucchini. Once the veggies are harvested, clean up the beds and either plant starts for a fall and winter garden or cover the beds with compost and leaves to help control weeds that are also popping up.

Either cover tomato plants with plastic to keep the Sept rains off of them or plan on having them destroyed by blight. The fungus is in the ground and when the rains splash the fungus up on the leaves.....the plants are doomed! If the stems or leaves start to turn mottled and black, pick all the green and ripe tomatoes to eat, pull up the plants and burn them. Otherwise the fungus will be in the soil and will continue to destroy plants year after year. And be sure to wash your hands before touching any other tomato or potato plant as you can easily spread the fungus to other plants.

If you want to prolong the blooms on annuals, you need to keep dead heading the dried blossoms. Not only does this help stimulate new blossoms but also keeps the plants tidy and under control. Dead and dying leaves need to be cleaned up and transferred to the compost pile. Your Spring cleanup will be much easier if you keep a tidy fall garden. But let's not think about Spring yet..... it's time to enjoy the fall and harvest months first.

August Tip of the Month

Tomatoes are ripening, cukes are flowering and zucchini is producing faster than you can keep up with. I remember reading an article by Erma Brombeck once on how people in her neighborhood only locked their car doors in the month of August. If they didn't, they would wake up to find a carload of zucchini stashed inside from their overloaded gardening neighbors. Beware neighbors...I an getting that overloaded!

Start deciding now on what you would like to enter in the judged flower show at the FICRA Fair on August 9. The only restriction is that the entry must be grown on Fox Island. Entries MUST be brought to the community center before 10 AM as the doors will be closed and the judging will begin. You can submit as many times as you like in the following categories: Single flower specimens, evergreens, bouquets, potted plants and vegetable or fruit displays. Garden club members will be there to help you from 8:30 AM until the doors are closed at 10 AM. The flower show will open it's doors to the public at 11 AM. So be creative (no cars filled with zucchini accepted however) and show off your garden abundance and creativity to your neighbors.

August can mean long dry spells in the garden, so water deeply and less frequently to encourage plant roots to search deep into the soil for water.
Frequent shallow waterings cause the roots to happily remain near the surface and any hot spells without sufficient water can be fatal to the plants.

Weeds should still be addressed...what else is new!... and spent flowers removed to keep plants looking their best. Oh, and be sure to take time to enjoy your garden too. A warm summer evening stroll through the garden while taking in the fragrant scents of aromatic blossoms can do wonders for a tired body.

July Tip of the Month

Water, weed, waste not and create wonder. Those are the important duties of July. July brings in the beginning of the dry season in Western Washington and Fox Island is no exception. Most gardens need about 1 inch of water a week and the best way to do that is water infrequently but deeply. A shallow watering every day only encourages roots to stay on the surface where a less frequent but deeper watering encourages roots to grow deeper in their search for water and nutrients. This is the ideal situation recommended for gardens in our area.

Fox Island usually has the every other day watering schedule advised for the rest of the summer so bide by that platform and you should still have a lush green and thriving garden with healthy plants resistant to most diseases.

Of course even the driest garden will still harbor weeds as they are the natives to our area. So weeding is still a major part of your gardening chores. They seem to thrive in the driest of climates so be sure to eradicate them before they bloom and send more weed seeds throughout your garden.

Waste not refers to the wonderful garden compost made by recycling your vegetation waste into garden nutrients. Make an area 4x4ft and start adding dry leaves, vegetable clippings, parings and leftovers in layers. Keep fairly moist and mix together occasionally. Lawn clippings can be added to the pile as long as no herbicide or pesticide has been applied. Even shredded documents can be layer into the pile so you are not only making great compost but also protecting your identity from theft.

Create wonder refers to the now annual Fox Island judged flower show at the FICRA Fair on August 9. Think of a spectacular display that you can enter at the 'free to enter flower show'. It could be fruit, flowers, dried arrangements, single specimens or houseplants that you can enter and possibly win a ribbon for your talents and troubles. I'll have more info next month on the specific categories for the plant sale. All I can say at this time as that you would have to have a pretty spectacular plant to beat out my 1976 Boston fern given to me by Jeanette Douglass! Happy 4th of July!

May 2008 Tip of the Month

In case any of you noticed...I forgot to write a tip for April. In fact, halfway through the month, while cruising from Santiago Chile to Seattle, I emailed the webmaster since I couldn't remember if I sent one or not. Getting ready to leave for a 23 day trip tends to addle the brain. After hearing back from John, I decided that it would be rude to hoard the ships computer long enough to check my emails, business transactions and write a tip also. So I'll make up for it by giving you a little update on some of the horticulture information I learned while abroad.

I learned the there is a protected species of palm tree in Chile that produces what the locals call honey. The trees have been illegally tapped into for the honey and to such extremes that it has killed off many of the trees. Now it is a crime to take the honey without a permit. I assume that the tree is drilled and inserted with a spigot for the extraction. I have not looked up the information on this tree yet on the web, but will be doing so as soon as I get caught up on a few things.

I also found it interesting that while we treat morning glories as noxious weeds, in Peru they are used for bank control. To look down the edge of a 300 ft cliff and see nothing but morning glories kind of boggles the mind. It does do the job however so who am I to argue with success!

I was especially enamored with the bright colors of the various plants and shrubs and have attached some photos to share with you.

The lower left one looks a little like fremontia but with a long stamen drooping down.
Photo upper left is the gorgeous bougainvillea.
Upper right is a yellow blossomed shrub that grows all over South America.
Lower right is a striking red blossomed plant.
Bottom center is an Almendra tree from Mexico that has huge glossy leaves and inedible nuts.

And the normal Tip of the Month will return in June when I am thinking more clearly.

March 2008 Tip of the Month

March usually starts out breezy and rainy but ends up heralding in Spring and the welcome sunshine. If you look closely in your yard, you probably can find all kinds of things blooming. The Winter jasmine is in bloom, tulips and hyacinths have poked through the winter soil and the daffodils are starting to bloom.

It's time to start tomato and pepper seeds for planting out the end of May. The seeds don't need sunlight to sprout, just a lot of heat. I spread potting soil in trays, wet it down and gently sprinkle my seeds over the dampened soil.

Then I cover the seeds with another very light dusting of soil and tap it down to be sure the seeds have good soil contact. Another sprinkling of water is added before covering with a plastic cover and placing the trays in the darkened room next to the furnace. Every few days I check to be sure the soil remains moist and give the trays a little squirt of water if they start to dry out. In about a week the seeds should have started sprouting and then are removed to a lighted room or greenhouse. Remove the plastic covers before the sprouts touch them and periodically run your hand over the sprouts to make the stems stronger. Or you can place a fan nearby and have that blow on them also being sure to keep the sprouts moist. When the plants have two sets of leaves, it's time to repot them into 4 inch containers. Carefully remove the individual plants with as much soil and root ball as possible and transfer them to 4 inch pots with some soil already put on the bottom. You want to bury the plants deep, with just the leaves showing above the soil surface. Water well and continue to occasionally tickle the plants and keep them from drying out until planting time. Seeds of cabbage, swiss chard and eggplant can also be started now however the cabbage and chard can be in a lighted area to sprout.

Many seeds can go directly in the garden beds right now. As soon as your soil can be tilled, you can directly sow spinach, lettuce, radishes, potatoes and peas. Just hold off on the beans and cukes until near the end of May.

House plants need a good spring cleaning also. Using a damp cloth, remove the winter dust and grime from houseplants and give them a good fertilizing. New growth will be starting soon so give them the nourishment they need to get off to a good start. Many indoor plants will need to be re-potted before new growth starts. I have an asparagus fern that is over 40 years old and I'll take it to the greenhouse, remove it from the pot, cut off hunks of the plant and re-pot those and then re-pot the whole plant. It will take with new growth in no time plus I'll have some starts to share with others.

If you don't having hummingbirds living at you place all year, it's time to get ready for the yearly visitors. Make sure you feeders are clean, full and waiting for the first arrivals. They will be ravenous after their long flight and will really appreciate a good meal.
 

January & February 2008 Tip of the Month

I know I'm a little late with January's column and in fact a lot late. I do have a good reason for this tardiness though...I fell and broke my ankle in three places and tore the ligaments in my leg by slipping on an icy spot on my way to the compost pile. This all happened the last Sat in Dec so all my good plans on having January's column done before the New Year went down the tubes.
With our computer in the downstairs office I found it impossible to get downstairs to write. Thanks to an office co-worker I now have a laptop to communicate to the world. And since the first two months of the year call for pretty much the same choirs, I decided to combine the two into one.

The New Year always brings a mailbox filled with gardening catalogs that contain new plants that have longer lives and larger blooms that produce higher yields. Be adventuresome this year and plant at least one or two new plants in your yard this summer. You could be pleasantly surprised!

The first two months of the year are the perfect time to get your gardening tools into tip top shape. First, knock off any soil or debris and then spray them with a bathroom cleaner. Wipe them dry and sharpen any rough or dull edges with a stone sharpener before oiling them with a metal lubricant. Your cuts will be cleaner and your shovel will glide through the earth with well maintained tools.

Usually peas, spinach, radishes and onions can be planted in February. To see if the soil is ready to till for planting, take a palm full of soil and squeeze. If water runs out, the soil is not ready to be touched yet but if the soil crumbles when you open your fist, it's tome to plant. If your soils does not dry out until April you need to incorporate a lot more organic matter into the soil.

February is Rose Month and all the nurseries will be advertising their new stock. Go in early in order to buy the best plants and take the time to ask your nurseryman for advice on which roses do best in our climate. Do not buy roses from an unknown source, but rather always buy the best such as Jackson Perkins brand. Follow the directions for planting and location directions and your summer will be 'coming up roses' so to speak.

Mark your calendars for Feb.20-24 to attend the Northwest Flower and Garden Show at the Seattle Convention Center. It's a great place to get gardening ideas, buy plants and crafts and just to see what is new for 2008. I'm looking forward to being able to go as I expect to be given the go ahead on the 20th to put weight on my foot finally. I am hoping to buy some new tomato seeds that I read about in one of my recent seed catalogs.

To start the tomato seeds, I dampened a tray of sterile soil and sprinkle the tomato seeds carefully over the soil. That is followed with just another light sprinkle of more soil which is lightly patted down so all seeds make good contact with the soil. I then moistened the soil again, cover the trays with clear plastic lids and place them in the furnace room without light but kept Nice and toasty I check the trays every few days to be sure they stay moist and perhaps need a light misting. Watching carefully for those first sprouts to break through is easy because of the clear plastic. When the sprouts are about to touch the lids, I remove the trays and lids and move them to the greenhouse to finish growing in size to be re potted into individual pots.

The end of February or first of March, depending on when the new growth starts showing on hydrangeas is the time to prune them. Cut the tallest branches as low to the ground as possible being careful to not cut more than 1/3 of the total shrub. This assures you of the largest summer blooms while keeping your plant under control. Fertilize with alfalfa meal if you desire a pinkish bloom or if you prefer blue blooms, fertilize with a rhody fertilizer.

After every winter storm, it's a good idea to take a walk through your yard looking for damaged limbs. Any cracked or broken limbs should be cut back to the joint with your newly sharpened pruners. Pick up all yard debris as it a great hideout for slugs and also hides the newly sprouting spring plants.
Lastly, keep pulling any weed that you come upon. You will thank yourself a thousand times over as you enjoy more time doing other yard chores or relaxing this summer. Make 2008 "the year of your beautiful garden".

Looking for Last Year's tips?  Check our new Garden Tips Archive!
Garden Home Page | 2001 Archive | 2002 Archive | 2003 -05 Archive | 2006 - 07 Archive

Plants Wanted

Cheryl Laughlin   549-4744 - Hemlock tree starts 
B. Boskovich   549-2612 - Large spider chrysanthemums 
Jennifer Tonzi   549-4192 - Sarcoccia 
Robyn Edkert   549-4882 Leland Cyprus, Western red cedar 
Milly Mineau   549-2042 - anything 
Sara Schroder   942-3760 - Rhody and other shrubs

Plants to Share

Milly Mineau 549-2042 Strawberry ( Rainier) 
Georgia Moore 549-2774 Poor manís orchids

We will be planning a Fall Gardening Seminar and would appreciate any suggestions or ideas for topics and formats. Please call Nan Feagin 549-2358 or Linda Dodds 549-2534

Northwest Gardening Links:
Rebecca's Garden Ed Hume NWGardening.com RainySide.com

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