Just Garden / “Spring into Bed” – Join the Movement

Just Garden Builds gardens for low income families.   We had an encouraging relaunch party in December  and we’re looking for a spark of energy.  If you are willing to support the project through your time/energy, financial contribution,  and/or your network/connections by hosting a Just Garden Fundraising Dinner or Just Dinner”,  please contact Stephanie.   We have lists of people that can really use help setting up gardens for their families and communities and your support is key.

Just -Bucket- Garden Build- March 3rd 
We will bring food grade buckets (yours gladly accepted), soil, and plants and seeds. Donations will be requested. Suggested $10 each bucket. If you can, pay $20 to help us give away one for free. *Location is TBD*:  This will be in SOUTH Seattle. Zip Codes 98118 or 98144,    Hoping for Collaboratory, Rainier Beach Urban Farm or High School. Contact us if you want to help with logistics, have copious amounts of food grade buckets, or want to host/collaborate on one in North Seattle.

Sod Cutting Spree- Die LawnMarch 31st  Support Just Garden by removing your lawn?!

Teams hustle around a neighborhood with pick axes, shovels, and sod cutters to cut and roll up sod.  Homeowners can make a tax deductible donation to Just Garden teams, suggested  $0.30/square foot + a show up fee..  We only cut an roll up the Sod at the time.  It would take us into the following week to pick up and dump sod (additional fees would apply). Let us know if you want to sign up a team. We will provide a coach/lead,  and find the clients with lawns.  You just need to support the cause with your labor.  Contact Michael if you want to participate in any form.

Save the Date!   April 21st-22nd  Earth Day Garden Revival when we (as Just Garden) help build 10+ gardens as part of Earth Day as well

Backyard bee keeping in Seattle/Cascadia

For all these years, we have been focusing on other aspects of home (1910 Major remodel) and edible landscaping for ourselves and others. We have worked with other people to install beds for other people, but have never done it our own home.

In our prior living arrangement, our landlord had Bob Redmond and Urban Bee Co come out and do the tending, but this year are most likely going to do it ourselves, with the help our our neighbor-mentor.  Because we love to share information and help bees we wanted to share some resources with you.

Besides our neighbor helping out, our guiding bookis: Keeping Bees: All You Need to Know to Tend Hives, Harvest Honey, & More by Ashley English.     Here is a list of other books that seem useful.

We also have Mother Earth News website, which is pretty informative.

Then, we found this cool guide for Bee Plants for our Lowland Pacific NW –>PacificLowlandrx8 bee plants.

Please note: we carry many of these in our nursery. Check out our online store.   If not yet added to our store, then please come find us           at the farmers market or at the nursery!




Winter Pruning


We prune for several reasons: for plant health, better shape or size, or better flower or fruit production.

If nothing else, follow the “4 D’s”, and you will have a decently pruned trees.

  1. Dead: Cutting dead material out of the plant first not only gets it out of the way, but reduces opportunities for insects and disease to gain a foothold.
  2. Diseased: If it is weak, spindly, has visual symptoms of disease, or looks abnormal compared to the rest of the plant, get it out of there. Keep a solution of 10% bleach water handy to dip pruners in after each cut. This way, you won’t re-infect the plant at the new cut.
  3. Damaged: Remove branches and plant parts damaged by storms, animals, kids, and any other type of physical damage. In addition to being unattractive, damaged material is often an entry point for disease and insects, and can lead to problems down the road.
  4. Deranged: Remove “nonconformist” branches that rub against the trunk or other branches, that point the wrong way, that cross other branches, and those that arise from the base of the plant when they should not. This type of growth is not adding to the aesthetic value of your plant.


Then there is aesthetics. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, which explains the following quote I once heard:  “If you ask 10 arborists how to prune the same tree, you will get 11 answers”

Pruning Most Fruit and deciduous Trees in the Winter, before budding, inspires them to make new growth, which you can then direct and/or train where you want it it go. There are other reasons to make heading cuts, which helps make branches more sturdy for more fruit (what you want)

Summer is a great time to make larger cuts, control sucker growth, fruit-thinning cuts, and to focus on the stone fruits general pruning.  Stone fruits are more susceptible to fungi and bacterial infections that spread easier in the wet winter/spring.


  • Pruning shears: For use on branches up to about 3/4 inch in diameter, these hand pruners can trim tougher stems and branches with a clean cut.
  • Loppers: Reach for the lopping shears for thicker branches up to about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, or for branches that take too much grip strength to cut with pruning shears.
  • Pruning saw: You can use a pruning saw for branches that are more than about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, or for branches too large and difficult for hand pruners or loppers.
  • For all pruning tools, keeping the blades sharp will make cleaner cuts and make your job easier.
Pruning Shears for cuts smaller than 1/2-3/4″. They also make ratchet pruners, but they are harder to use for detail cuts. Invest in a good pair, and treat them right and they will last you many years.
Needleose For finer work, generally we don’t use on fruit trees.
Side Note: Springs for hand pruners. This are critical to the functioning of your tool. Have an extra set on hand.
Nice little saw that cuts both ways. Be careful!
Pruning Saw- Longer Corona Brand which we use the most. Fairly inexpensive to replace blade every year or 2.
Bow saw for cutting larger branches by hand. Most often though, well use a chain saw or reciprocating saw
Loppers- even lower cost ones are pretty good these days. We always buy, and suggest you buy “professional grade” so they last longer.





Ratchet-style loppers- Good for cutting larger branches. They will be rated up to a certain diameter branch. After that, use a saw






Manual Pole Pruner. Helpful if the canopy is not too dense to maneuver.


Reciprocating saw. Great for medium sized branches. Cordless are WAY easier to use on a ladder.

Pole Pruning Chainsaw. Great for larger branches higher up.



Thinning is used to open the plant to light and air and sometimes to reduce the size by removing individual branches. Thinning cuts direct new growth into adjacent branches and spread new growth more evenly throughout the plant.

Begin with thinning out smaller branches first, then move on to the larger branches. Not only does this make it easier to see what needs to go as you proceed, but it can also lend confidence. By starting small, you’re less likely to take out larger chunks of limbs you may regret when you’re left with “holes” in the overall foliage look!



Heading concentrates vigorous upright new growth on buds below the cut, and is most often used for hedging or to maintain shrub size. Heading also encourages “bushiness” (denser branching).

There are two types of heading cuts:

  • Selective heading entails only cutting back to a side branch or bud.
  • Non-selective heading (hedging) is when cuts are made back anywhere along the length of a stem. The cut may be above or below a bud, and may even leave a stub.


The angle of cuts should be close to a bud or branch. If you leave too long a stub beyond the bud, the stub will die and rot.

pruning cuts.png

When pruning a branch with buds that alternate along the length, cut above the growth bud at a 45 degree angle, with the lowest point of the cut opposite the bud and even with it; the highest point about 1/4 inch above the bud.

When pruning a branch with buds that grow opposite each other in pairs, make a flat cut above the buds.


When pruning larger limbs (2″ diameter or more), there is a technique involving a series of three cuts that will prevent damage to the tree as the limbs fall.

  1. Undercut 12-24″ up from the branch collar. This stops the bark from tearing.
  2. Make a second cut from the top all the way through the branch, 2-3″ above the first cut.
  3. The final cut should be just beyond the branch collar. Support the stub so it does not tear the bark as it falls.

How to winter prune apples and pears

Traditionally spur- and tip- bearing trees were pruned in different ways. However, current pruning techniques are very similar for both as it does not involve the rigorous routine shortening of all young growth.

  • Shorten the previous year’s growth on each main branch (primary) by about one third to a bud facing in the required direction. This will encourage the development of new branches and spurs and maintain a good shape
  • Leave young laterals (side-shoots) unpruned so they can develop fruit buds in the second year
  • Only remove the young laterals if they are crossing or if the growth is too crowded, i.e. growing closer than 10-15cm (4-6in) at the base
  • Remove strong shoots (great than 15cm (6in) long) growing towards the centre of the tree
  • On older trees, remove or thin out any spur systems that have become congested. Where thinning or removal is required, remove spurs on the underside of the branches, where the developing fruit will not receive enough light, and produces inferior fruit

Meaningful and Abundant Holiday Gifts


Happy Holidays!

We love is working with  ALL people and recognize this slow time of year is a time to gather and celebrate, whatever holiday your choose.  We are on break and would love your supporting our mission to help people and communities grow as much food as they can in the spaces they have.




1. Gift Certificate to Edible Plant Nursery. Can be used for plants, seeds, planters, structures, as well as towards anything we sell. $50, 100, and $500 options. Buy 3 of any, and we will provide you an equal one for yourself!
2. Consultation 2 Hour – CLIENT TAKES NOTES
3. Consultation 2 hour with written report  Often with a few hours of guidance and follow up report.  Gardeners can then transition their spaces into bountiful paradises with sweat equity.  Combine with neighbors to make an Edible Neighborhood happen!
4. Express Design- Appropriate for High level “master plan” design (not planting plan or construction details) on properties less than 12,000 square feet.   This is a 6-8 hours of our designer’s time.
5. Fruit Trees with Plantings– They say the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today! (Since our crew is on hiatus, we will be planting in January and February).  We will discuss options with gift certificate holder.
6. Mini Food Forest!  Go beyond just trees and have us plant an entire MINI “Food Forest” in your yard. Options exist for the plants, so we will discuss with the lucky gift Certificate holder)

NW Flower and Garden show Unofficial Judge

2017 NW Flower and Garden Show
Food in the Garden was the theme.  We helped Dakara Designs implement the Silver-Medal winning design, “A Victory Garden”, that interspersed edibles amongst the ornamentals Check out some photos and updates at facebook.com/eatyouryard

Unfortunately, we snoozed on getting our application in to be the primary designer.  It is a good thing for the rest of the designers, because had we done so, we would have stolen the show with a 100% edible city!    Oh well, next time the NW Flower and Garden Show wants to be cool and relevant again, we’ll be there. Anyhow, come check out the show for the various ways to incorporate food into your garden.

During the wild build out (3 days to build what could normally take 1-2 weeks, with large machinery and forklifts zipping on by us) I realized that we should not be helping another designer build a garden, we should be one of the judges of the show. Through our almost 10 years, we have incorporated food growing plants into a variety of situations, from dozens and dozens of vegetable gardens tiny porch gardens, rooftop gardens, food forests, huge permaculture installations, using food plants interspersed with ornamentals (although we believe that is an arbitrary line).  We have used over 250+ varieties of vegetables, herbs, perennial-edibles, berry bushes, fruit trees, vines, natives to qualify us for the unofficial judge. Plus we are Certified Awesome!  Show gardens are fictitious, and do not necessarily have a base in reality with spacing of plants, siting of plants, and most obviously bloom time.  It is still amazing to see what people envision over the course of 6-12 months, and build in a matter of days.

So anyway,  I will be finally doing a thorough walk through discussing the Gardens

They are so diverse, so I will be honoring up the 2-3 I think did the best job at incorporating food. Here’s the Gardens we liked and why. I am disqualifying ours from the conversation for now since I am biased.  I’ll finalize things by Sunday afternoon.

  1. “Honey I Shrunk The Farm”.  Designer: Farmer Frog  Showing you can generate a lot of food in a small space, introducting the public to aquaponics and high  tunnel greenhouses.
  2.  “Nourrir Les Espirits” Nourishing the Spirits.  Designed by Treeline Designz and Calluna’s Garden. Incorporating some beautifully pruned peach trees into a hardscape. (more notes to come
  3. Anyone that did an outdoor kitchen with herbs around. There were four of these, so if you want to know more, come check out the show.

NOTE: I will be editing this with more notes from various gardens at the show as I walk around.

  • Espaliered Trees
  • Herb ground covers
  • Mixing in Edibles
  • Fruit tree-blocks (groups of similar trees)
  • Pruning Trees into cool shapes
  • Aquaponic production
  • vegetable garden production




Garlic for a Year!

How to Grow, harvest, and store garlic.

Feom wiki-how.com

Garlic is used to make a variety of dishes more tasty. It has wonderful health benefits and can be dried to last for a long time. Growing garlic is easy and inexpensive, and one growing season produces so much garlic that you’ll have plenty to share with your friends.

Part One of Five:
Preparing to Grow Garlic

  1.  In general, the best times for planting are mid-autumn or early spring.

  2. 2

    Choose a planting spot and prepare the soil. Garlic needs a lot of full sun, but it might tolerate partial shade provided it’s not for very long during the day or growing season. The soil must be well dug over and crumbly. Sandy loam is best.

    • Ensure that the soil has good drainage. Clay-based soils are not good for planting garlic.
    • Use compost and manure to add nutrients to the soil before planting the garlic. You also add compost in early spring.
  3. 3

    Source fresh garlic. Garlic is grown by planting the cloves – called seeds for our purposes – so to get started all you need to do is buy fresh garlic. Choose garlic from a store, or even better, a farm stand or the local farmers market. It’s very important that the garlic bulbs chosen are fresh and of high quality. If you can, choose organic garlic so that you avoid garlic that has been sprayed with chemicals.

    • Choose fresh garlic bulbs with large cloves. Avoid garlic that has become soft.
    • Each clove will sprout into a garlic plant, so keep that in mind when you’re figuring out how many heads to buy.
    • If you have some garlic at home that has sprouted, that’s great to use.
    • Nurseries also offer garlic bulbs for planting. Visit a nursery if you want to get a specific variety or to get advice on local conditions for garlic. You can also find unusual varieties from sources who sell on the internet.

Part Two of Five:
Planting the Garlic

  1. 1

    Break the cloves from a fresh garlic head. Be careful not to damage the cloves at their base, where they attach to the garlic plate. If the base is damaged, the garlic will not grow.

    • Plant the larger cloves. The smaller cloves take up just as much space in the planting bed, but they produce much smaller bulbs.
  2. 2

    Push each clove into the soil. Point the tips upward and plant the cloves about 2 inches (5cm) deep.

    • The cloves should be spaced about 20cm (8 inches) apart for best growing conditions.
  3. 3

    Cover the planted cloves with mulch.Suitable toppings include hay, dry leaves, straw, compost, well rotted manure, or well rotted grass clippings.

  4. 4

    Fertilize the cloves or top-dress with compost. The planted garlic needs a complete fertilizer at the time of planting.

    • Fertilize again in the spring if you are planting your garlic in the fall, or in the fall if you’re planting it in the spring.

Part Three of Five: Caring for Garlic Plants

  1. 1

    Water the plants often. Newly planted garlic needs to be kept moist to help the roots to develop. Don’t overdo the water, as garlic does not grow well, or may even rot, if sodden during cold months.

    • Water deeply once a week if rain has not fallen. Watering garlic is not necessary unless there is a drought, in which case water sparingly, as garlic hates wet soil.
    • Reduce the watering gradually as the season warms up. The garlic needs a hot, dry summer to allow the bulbs to mature.
  2. 2

    Take care of pests. Insects, mice, and other creatures may come to eat the garlic or make a nest among the plants. Beware the following pests:

    • Aphids seem to enjoy garlic leaves, and the flower buds. They’re easy to dispense with – simply rub your fingers over them and squash them or apply a
    • Many people tend to plant garlic underneath roses to deter aphids; the roses benefit from the aphids being drawn away.
    • Mice and other small creatures sometimes nest in mulch. If you have a problem with mice in your area, consider using a type of mulch that doesn’t attract them.

Part Four of Five:
Harvesting the Garlic

  1. 1

    Eat some scapes. As the garlic plants begin to grow, long green stalks called scapes will emerge and form loops. Pull off a few scapes and eat them if you wish.

    • This may damage the garlic bulbs themselves, so don’t do it to every plant.
    • Use gloves when pulling off scapes; otherwise your hands will smell of garlic for days.
  2. 2

    Note the signs of readiness for harvesting. Garlic bulbs are ready to be harvested when you can feel the individual cloves in the bulb, and the leaves turn yellow or brown.

    • Once the scapes start to dry, it is important to harvest the garlic or the head will “shatter” and divide into the individual cloves.
    • Begin harvesting at the end of the summer. Harvesting can continue well into autumn in most places.
    • Some warm climates may enable earlier harvesting of garlic.
  3. 3

    Loosen the area around each bulb with a shovel. Pull the bulbs out of the ground.

    • Be careful with the digging process, since garlic tends to bruise easily.
    • Wash them and leave to dry in a well-ventilated space or in the sun for a few days if rain is guaranteed not to fall. Garlic can get sunburned, so don’t leave them outside for too long.

Part Five of Five:
Storing Garlic

  1. 1

    Store garlic in a cool, dry place in your home. Dried bulbs can be kept in a garlic keeper (usually made from pottery), and individual cloves can be pulled off as needed.

  2. 2

    Make a garlic plait or braid. The dried leaves can be kept back and plaited or braided into a strand, from which you can hang the garlic bulbs in your pantry or kitchen. This is both decorative and useful.

  3. 3

    Store garlic in oil or vinegar. Garlic cloves can be kept in oil or vinegar. However, to avoid the potential for bacterial growth, keep in the refrigerator and consume quickly.

WARNING: Extreme care must be taken when preparing flavored oils with garlic or when storing garlic in oil. Do not store garlic in oil at room temperature. Garlic-in-oil mixtures stored at room temperature provide perfect conditions for producing botulism toxin (low acidity, no free oxygen in the oil, and warm temperatures). The same hazard exists for roasted garlic stored in oil.

Parking Day

This parklet is a series of raised bed rain gardens fed with water by a pedal-powered pump. Students at University of Washington’s school of Lanscape Architecture put it together, and CEL loaned the rain garden plants for it, including the following edibles: Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum, Elderberry (Sambucas nigra), blueberry, salal (Gaultheria shallon), and High Bush Cranberry (Viburnum opulus)