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February 23, 2006

Heading: DIRT Garden Gossip, photo of Seattle Space Needle


Okay, we get one week of sunshine and everybody starts making gardening plans. I've been inundated with news of a horticultural nature in the last week, so I'm handing the reins (make that the shovel) over to my inner gossip columnist diva this week.

In true gossip column fashion, we begin with moi. I just got back from the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle, and if you've never been, let me tell you, this is the garden show to go to. The San Francisco show is nice, but it's held in the aged and out-of-the-way Cow Palace, which is a little cramped and subject to inconvenient roof leaks and parking hassles. Seattle's show, on the other hand, is held at the shiny new convention center right in the middle of downtown, so that if you get tired of gardening you can pop across the street to Nordstrom or dash a few blocks away to revive your spirits at celebrity chef Tom Douglas' ultra-chic Dahlia Lounge.

But enough about cocktails and shopping. Seattle's garden show is so vast that many people spend two or three days there just trying to cover it all. In fact, I was there for two days last year and a full day this year before I even noticed an entire wing devoted to selling plants, compost and garden tools. The nursery owners are devilish creatures; Raintree, Far Reaches Farm, Sundquist and others have figured out how to package live plants in plastic bags so that you can fit them in your suitcase. I came home with eight plants and five different samples of worm castings, not to mention a few pounds of locally-made Beecher's cheese from Pike Place Market, making mine the most biologically active luggage on the plane.

Observations on Seattle gardeners: They are mad about red-twig dogwood and have what I consider to be an unhealthy level of interest in ferns. Oh, and I suspect they have more worm composting bins per capita than any other city. These people all keep their worms in their house! Come on, even I don't do that.

In other news, there's a fruit and vegetable gardening workshop coming up on Saturday, March 4. UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Deborah Giraud will tell you everything you need to know to get some food growing in your backyard. Deborah once gave me a great list of apple varieties that do well in Humboldt County; I'm sure she'll have the scoop on all kinds of other crops that are best suited for this area, too. The class runs from 9-noon at the Arcata Community Center, it costs $15 and you need to call 8227091 to register.

Later that afternoon, stick around and check out the lawn care and lawn alternatives workshop. It runs from 12:30-2:30 p.m., same day, same location, same fee, same phone number. Learn about safer pest control and fertilizer options and alternatives to lawns. (Let me just reinterpret that message for you: Rip out your grass or go organic. Darling, you'll feel sooooo much better.)

Enough education -- let's get back to shopping. KC writes to tell me that her favorite garden gloves come from Woman's Work, who you can visit online at www.womansworkgloves.com. She likes the small sizes that truly fit women's hands and particular favors the Micro Suede Stretch gloves. Check it out.

More shopping is on the horizon as the Humboldt Permaculture Guild and the Manila Community Center present the Eighth Annual Seed and Plant Exchange and Garden Work Day on Sunday, March 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Why am I telling you about this now? Because you need to start gathering up your seeds and plants. You know, write little labels on envelopes, pot up some seedlings or cuttings or just patrol the garden and wonder whether any of your little green darlings should be ripped out by the roots and swapped for something better. (Ah, if only we could do that with ... never mind.)

A quick follow-up to the Journal's recent cover story on blogging: If you'd like to launch yourself into the horticultural end of the blogosphere (yes, we need a better name for it, something short and catchy like "web"), get started at the Garden Voices reblog, a sort of round-up of the day's garden-related blog postings. It's happening here: voices.gardenweb.com.

And what would a gossip column be without some celebrity sightings? Digging Dog Nursery in Albion is rumored to be on the cover of the March issue of Martha Stewart Living, and we only hope that the fame doesn't go to their heads. If you've been meaning to order from them, go to www.diggingdog.com and do it now. Seriously, some of those fabulous plants are just tender little cuttings that they probably only have, like, five of. I shudder to think what Martha's minions might do to their stock. And yes, that is local artist Marsha Mello's captivating botanical art on their website and in their catalog -- check her out at Arcata Artisans on the Plaza.

Speaking of cyber-gardening, how fabulous is Mary Barber at Miller Farms for sending out an e-mail warning us about the hard frost on its way, and reminding us which plants to wrap up? I couldn't be bothered, but somewhere out there a tender begonia is alive today because of her vigilance. Just try getting that kind of service from a Home Depot garden center. To sign up for the e-mail newsletter, visit www.millerfarms.biz.

I leave you with the cinematic gardening event of the year, the screening of the documentary "The Real Dirt," about organic farmer John Peterson. It will be shown on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 6 pm at (where else?) the Bayside Grange. Admission is six bucks, there will be refreshments and the whole event is part of a carefully orchestrated campaign by Friends of the Humboldt County Farmers' Markets, the Bayside Grange and Hopedance Films to win the hearts and minds of Humboldt foodies and gardeners. If you're not already sold on the idea of fresh, organic, local, seasonal food, this'll pretty much do it. And even if you are -- well, here's a chance for you to go be among your people. Enjoy.

Send garden news to amystewart@northcoastjournal.com, or write in care of the Journal at 145 G St., Suite A, Arcata, 95521.


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