Heather Brown

New column to help North Island gardeners

A few years back a fellow gardener approached me regarding illustrating a gardening column.

  • Apr. 19, 2012 1:00 p.m.

A few years back a fellow gardener approached me regarding illustrating a gardening column he was writing with an aim to creating a series to be included in the local paper.

He thought maybe I could read some of his notes and come up with drawings to illustrate them.

This friend, some of you may remember him, Bill Shepherd, had been taming and expanding the area around his house on some acreage backing onto the Nimpkish River.

He and wife Marilyn waged their green offensive over many years and were just starting to attain the potential the warm valley bottom promised.

I read over the articles he’d started and drew up a few images to go along with them.

When we had about four completed, we started to plan the presentation to the publisher at the North Island Gazette.

That’s as far as we got because Bill passed away suddenly.

I was hesitant to carrying on with the project.

It takes a concerted effort to birth an idea and carry it through to the production stage and Bill was the concerted effort guy.

It’s been a few years now and I was looking at what we started and thought we should do something with this.

I talked to Marilyn, approached a few avid gardeners about the idea, and cornered my daughter, Sonya, to see what they thought of continuing on with this thing.

I’ve gardened all my life.  My mother used to say I could grow roses just by planting up the dirt under my finger nails.

Next week we will start the series and the first couple will be from Bill’s notes.

After that I will endeavor to answer questions  in following articles.

I will also include in each column, timely tips for North Island gardeners.

Time Tested Tips:

• I have always kept notes on when the last frost of spring was and when the first frost happened in the fall.

This helps in getting the veggie garden laid out, deciding on when to put out pre-started seedlings, when you should cover fall veggies to extend the season, etc.

• If you don’t have the patience to wait for the compost to heat up and start composting, add a handful of fertilizer over the top layer, work it in a bit, water and start layering over that.

This quickens the decomposition a bit and gets the pile cooking.  On the North Island during rainy spells, — or long dry spells, hey, it could happen — place a large plastic bag over the compost heap.

Moisture is good but heavy rains will leach away the nutrients and long dry spells will stop the process.

I leave a slight depression in the top of the pile where I can add water if necessary — this too can happen — and it’s a natural spot to add the next round of kitchen compost material, washed egg shell, carrot greens, coffee grounds and tea bags.

Keep away from anything that will attract vermin, unless your idea of turning over the compost is having a raccoon searching for the fish head you put in there.

I have had a double compost box going in the back yard since 1997, and the only things I saw bothering it were large earthworms, a rough sided newt, and crows, if I don’t get the top layer covered with leaves or soil within one and-a-quarter minutes of taking the kitchen clippings out.

Heather Brown is a seasoned gardener and lives on the North Island. Send your gardening questions to: heathermarybrown@cablerocket.com

 

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