Garlic: Likes Full Sun

Garden Corner

Garlic: Likes Full Sun

Garlic is a member of the lily family and a close cousin to the onion. Garlic’s Latin name is ‘Allium sativum’.

Garlic has flat leaves, pinkish flower heads and roots that can penetrate two feet into the soil.

Grown as a perennial, garlic ‘sets’ or cloves are planted in August in this area and allowed to establish themselves before winter temperatures slow growth. Some references say to plant as late as October, but remember to follow natures’ clock. You will want to give garlic cloves time to develop some root and top growth before frost.

Cloves are planted about 2”deep, 3 to 6” apart and in rows as close as 12 to 16”. Cover with a mulch to insure adequate moisture and plan to water deeply during the summer.

When tops fall in late summer, irrigation should stop. In very rich soil bulbs will be large and tops will be strong. Bend any tops that don’t fall over on their own. Allow the bulb to cure.

When the tops are dry, pull or dig them from the soil. Lay them in the field or in a covered airy storage shed out of the direct rays of the sun.

At this time some people braid long strands of garlic leaves with bulbs attached, incorporating new garlic strands into the braid before running out of leaves. These garlic braids are hung in the root cellar and can be used by cutting what you need off the braid with scissors. Or, cut thoroughly dry tops and roots with shears leaving one inch of top and ½” of root on the bulb. These bulbs store nicely in airy burlap or onion bags in a cool dry place.

The large French, Giant or Elephant Ear garlic as it is sometimes called is a milder form and requires the same cultural needs.

There are many ways to enjoy garlic such as fresh on salads, baked, or in a stir fry. Organic gardeners make their own insect deterrents from garlic. Mix ½ cup of ground up garlic with 1 cup of water. Strain the chunks out of this mixture and spray on crops with aphid infestation. Be sure the spray the insect. This spray has been known to keep aphids from peas for as long as 30 days.

A more potent brew consists of 10 – 15 minced garlic cloves in a pint of mineral oil and let that stand for at least 24 hours. Strain this mixture. Add 2 teaspoons of this oil to insecticidal soap spray and use.


Stephen King: ‘On Writing’ A Memoir of the Craft

This New York Times best seller will never leave my library. I’ve read it twice. I’ve dog-eared several pages that give me inspiration. I’m not a big scary book, or scary movie fan. I haven’t read a lot of Stephen King books. I have watched a few of movies based on his books, but never alone. And I usually come away with less finger nails than I had going into it.  That said… this book and the way King talks about the process of writing and where to find inspiration appeals to me. His rule: “Write a lot and read a lot.”



The daylily is a long-lived, easy care perennial whose leaves resemble mounds of thick-bladed grass. The blooms come from long stocks, and only last one day, as the name implies. There are many buds on one plant and that plant may give a beautiful show of blooms for as long as a month. Daylilies come in numerous varieties in a wide spectrum of colors from the palest yellows and oranges to deeper shades of red and violet.

Daylilies are very versatile, but perform best in full sun areas in well-drained soil with only moderate fertility the plant should be spaced 20 to 30 inches apart and requires watering only during dry periods. You may remove the spent blossoms to improve their appearance. This plant makes a nice addition to the perennial border. A long flowering habit and inch-wide strap like leaves at a bit of dramatic texture to the landscape. In the Pacific Northwest, the south side of the house is ideal for the Daylily. This plant is tolerant of light shade areas but you get the best display of flowers in a full sun location. Starts of this perennial are available at the local garden centers and nurseries or by root divisions taken from older established plants in the early spring and late summer.

Taking apart a daylily is no small task, but is the only way to get the divisions. You will be rewarded with many fine plants. Daylily from seed is a long arduous task usually left to the professional plant breeder.

In summary the Daylily is a very versatile, decorative perennial plant to have in the home landscape. It is widely tolerant of shade and sun locations and has no special soil requirements. This plant is drought tolerant and can be planted permanently, but some varieties show improvement if divided every 7 to 8 years. Daylilies can be recommended to anyone who wants an easy care, attractive perennial, long flowering plant.

Arbor Day: A Celebration of Trees

Garden Corner

Arbor Day: A Celebration of Trees

Arbor Day is a nationally celebrated day to encourage planting and caring for trees. This year the day falls on Friday, April 28. (Originally published  4/27/2005 The Reflector Newspaper, Battle Ground, WA.)

The celebration began in 1872 in Nebraska Territory when J. Sterling Morton encouraged citizens to plant trees.

A journalist, Morton had moved to the treeless plains from Detroit, MI and missed trees. Morton began Nebraska’s first newspaper and used it to spread agricultural and tree information to his growing audience.

Morton encouraged tree plantings by individuals, groups and organizations. He became a prominent citizen and eventually was Secretary of the Nebraska Territory. On January 4, 1872, Morton proposed a day to plant trees – Arbor Day, to the state agriculture board.

Arbor Day became a legal holiday on Morton’s birthday April 22, in Nebraska. Today it is celebrated nationwide and internationally. The actual day of celebration varies with the best planting time for each region.

Now is a good time to plant.

Spring is a great time to plant a tree. Plant selection and placement are key to tree survival. Most trees will thrive when planted on a well-drained site, but there are trees that can tolerate ‘wet feet’.

A garden center or nursery employee can help with the requirements of selecting trees.

Tree planting begins with site improvement. Dig the planting hole slightly larger than the root ball. Loosen the soil in the hold with a shovel and add a couple of handfuls of bonemeal. Remove the tree from its pot and loosen roots by cutting through them with a knife.

If the tree is wrapped in burlap, set the burlap-wrapped ball into the hole, cut the twine, fold the burlap back and tuck it under the root ball, and cover with soil allowing the burlap to decompose in the hole.

The tree should be planted no deeper than the soil line. Stakes can be placed around to help it stand straight and keep the wind from loosening it in the new site. Leave plenty of room for growth where the tree is tied to the stake so the tie doesn’t girdle the trunk or branches. Water deeply for the first year – a newly planted tree has a limited root system.

Trees have some affects on climate control. Planting a tree in a strategic location can shade the house in late summer and cool the area by absorbing and deflecting radiant energy produced by the sun.

Trees also intercept rain waiter and store some of it, which reduces run-off and flooding. Their roots help hold soil together to inhibit erosion, and shade streams which cool water.

In short, trees increase quality of life and bring nature and wildlife into urban surroundings.

Rhododendrons & Azaleas

Rhododendrons and Azaleas:  Low Maintenance Easy Care Shrubs

Rhododendrons and azaleas are found in many settings in the Pacific Northwest. They are very easy care, low maintenance shrubs that add a dramatic touch of texture and color to the landscape.

Azaleas and rhododendrons in the wild prefer the rich, loamy acid soil found on the forest floor. They thrive on an organic mulch of needles, leaves and twigs that keep their root zones moist and shaded. Some protection is needed from the heat of the sun, yet sunlight stimulates heavy flower production.

To provide the best care possible for rhododendrons and azaleas in the landscape, duplicate the needs they’ve shown from living in their natural range.

Potted rhododendrons and azaleas may be planted any time of year. Remember to loosen the root ball enabling the plant to stretch and spread its roots. Plant in a richly composted garden soil in a well drained area. When packing the soil around the root ball, keep the crown above the level of the ground. This practice will aid in good drainage. Root systems of rhododendrons and azaleas are fairly shallow. After planting your rhodie or azalea, mulch with leaf mold, needles or barkdust. This will hinder weed growth and keep the soil cool and moist. Any weeds that do come up should be pulled by hand because the root system is so near the top of the soil that mechanical tools could damage the plant.

Rhododendrons and azaleas are not heavy feeders. If they are healthy and producing nice flowers, a little acid base fertilizer should be applied once a year.

If a large plant is desired, a higher nitrogen fertilizer should be given after the plan is done blooming. This is when the natural growth takes place and will allow time for the new growth to harden before any severe winter weather conditions arrive.

After fertilizing in the spring; water well until early August. Begin tapering off the water at this time to prepare the plant for winter extremes. The only exception would be a new planting which would need continued water to further establish the root system before winter.

Consider growing rhododendrons and azaleas in containers on the deck or patio. They are attractive, adding a variety of form, color and textures to the landscape. The soil in the planter should be 75 percent organic matter and 25 percent good garden loam.

Rhododendrons and azaleas come in many colors from whites and pinks, to reds, oranges and lavender. Varieties can be purchased in bloom from February through the spring and summer, and into fall.

On The Edge of Survival by Spike Walker

If you didn’t know, Spike Walker’s books inspired the hit T.V. show ‘Deadliest Catch’. This book, ‘On The Edge of Survival’ was great! In 2004 a Malaysian cargo ship, on it’s way from Seattle to China, ran aground off the coast of Alaska in the Aleutian Islands; setting the stage for one of the most incredible Coast Guard rescue missions of all times. With monster waves, gale force winds and a blinding snow storm the odds were stacked against the 738′ -long freighter and it’s crew. This book kept me always on the edge, wanting to find out how they would manage this rescue and who would survive.

Companion Planting

Companion Planting

Inter-planting two different plants, because of the benefits each has for the other is called Companion Planting. Some plants need light and others require some shade. Some have deep roots that break up the soil and other short-rooted varieties benefit by having the soil broken up for them.

There are plants that are heavy nitrogen feeders and those that don’t require as much. Legumes, such as clover, peas, beans and alfalfa capture nitrogen from the air for assimilation. They have bacterial nodules on their roots that fix nitrogen from the air, thus building up the nitrogen content in the soil. As an added bonus, the lush root growth of a legume aerates the soil.

Corn, on the other hand, is a heavy nitrogen feeder. Inter-planted with a legume such as beans, the two are compatible. Let’s take it a step farther. Plant pole beans, corn and squash or pumpkin seeds in the same planting hole at the same time. The pole beans will grow up the corn stalks and squash or pumpkin plants will act as living mulch keeping the soil moist and suppressing weeds.

Beans also grow well with carrots and cauliflower. Lettuce grows well with beets.

The cabbage family of ‘cole’ crops include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale and kohlrabi. Late cabbage and early potatoes do well together.  Dill, sage, rosemary, chamomile, and members of the peppermint family are companion plants to all members of the ‘cole’ crop family.

Chives are commonly taken for granted in the home garden. They are usually never attached by disease or insect. It is said that when chives are planted among roses, they repel aphids.

Cucumbers appreciate some shade and will grow well in alternate rows of early cabbage, early potatoes or corn.

The marigold gives off a substance from its’ roots that kills nematodes in the soil. It has also been reported that tomatoes grow better and produce more fruit with marigolds present. The odor of the foliage and blossoms of the marigold are helpful as a ‘natural’ insect repellent. Planting marigolds randomly throughout the garden is also very pleasing to the eye.

Planted near one another, some types of plants benefit from companion planting.

(c) Cindy Morgan   Permission to reprint – must include credit to author and link to webpage.