Prune it right

February 24, 2015

It looks like we are having a very early spring this year. Many of us will not be gardening and pruning early enough to keep up with the “El Niño” conditions.

Usually, February is a good time to dig and move plants, prune fruit trees and roses, cut back ornamental grasses, and just get ready for the growing season. This year, most plants are way ahead of schedule.

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Master gardener’s corner — Bugged or elated?

September 23, 2014

I was down at Boehm’s the other day. The weather was gray but warm, and I was feeling a little flat.

When I got out of my car I sniffed the air to see if I could find the wonderful scent of chocolate. I couldn’t. I couldn’t because the smell of a fantastic rose overcame everything. It flooded the parking lot, the air and me. It was terrific. I was uplifted just by that smell.

The sense of smell is very strong and capable of bringing back images and memories that we think are lost, including childhood experiences or maybe a fantastic meal. A nice memory can lift your mood and change a cloudy day into a sunny one. I’m not sure if you can overload your senses or not, but it would be fun to try.

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Savor the summer in your garden

September 2, 2014

In going through my Issaquah Press files, I found an article from August 2009 that expressed my exact, same feelings this year. This summer must be a repeat of the one in 2009.

Spring in Issaquah is always cool and wet, right? In summer, we have high temperatures in the 70s, right? And we see cloud cover day after day after day, right? Not this year. This year, the sun, the temperatures and the days without rain have just blown us all away.

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Embrace the artistic you in your garden

July 29, 2014

A few years ago, a friend of mine from the East Coast visited her son in Seattle. She is a professional floral designer with an eye for the artistic, as opposed to the scientific.

We decided it would be fun to visit a nursery together and check out the plants. We each grabbed a cart and started out across the colorful, lush, potted landscape. She started filling her cart with everything colorful and beautiful. I was interested in odd specimens and natives that fit the peculiar conditions in my yard. We went our separate ways for a while, searching and looking at each and every morsel.

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Oh, to be an English gardener

May 27, 2014

MasterGardenLogo 2013 copyEnglish gardeners are really something. They know intricate little secrets that we wouldn’t even dream of.

Years and years of trial and error have taught them what works, and it seems to work on all levels, not just aesthetics. English gardens seem to make plants, animals, good insects and Mother Nature all smile in appreciation.

For example, they might plant early daffodils under a Corylopsis bush. Why? There are many reasons, and these are a few: First, the Corylopsis will keep frost off the ground when the daffodils are trying to bloom. Second, the shrub allows plenty of sun on the daffodils with its sparse branching and bare limbs in winter. And finally, the shrub leafs out and spares us the indignity of looking at the old, dead and dying leaves of the daffodils.

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2013 Issaquah Sammamish Home and Garden Show

May 6, 2013

Food preservation goes beyond home canning

April 17, 2012

Samantha Zistatsis, of Issaquah, cans everything at home, like peaches and pickles, to better preserve nutrients. By Greg Farrar

As a child, Samantha Zistatsis grew up outdoors, with a garden, critters and the whole nine yards. Her family took the best of nature and canned it for healthy eating throughout the year.

But when she grew up, Zistatsis took a hiatus from the outdoors, moving inside to concentrate on a career in electrical engineering.

However, armed with a new understanding of processes, when Zistatsis married and had children, she left the workforce to become a full-time mom and return to her first love — healthy eating.

To achieve that goal, she dove full bore into food preservation. She knew she had everything she needed to succeed at her Issaquah home.

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Gaining ground for Puget Sound by building rain gardens

April 17, 2012

12,000 Rain Gardens campaign aims to curb pollution, create beautiful landscapes

A completed rain garden must be maintained through ongoing mulching, weeding and watering as needed and the avoidance of fertilizer and pesticides. By Stewardship Partners

As more than 14 million pounds of toxins enter the Puget Sound each year, two Washington entities are working hard to curb the contamination — 12,000 times over.

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Learn to grow more than vegetables in community gardens

April 17, 2012

Starting a community garden can lead to abundant beans, kale and squash all summer long — not to mention a closer bond among neighbors.

Still, despite the ample — and tasty — payoff, establishing and maintaining a community garden is not as simple as Miracle-Gro. The process requires a dedicated team, green thumbs aplenty and a lot of elbow grease.

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Puget Sound Energy offers solar energy guidance

April 17, 2012

Puget Sound Energy is providing contractor referrals to residential electric customers interested in installing home solar-electric photovoltaic systems.

Bellevue-based PSE added 14 solar installers to the Contractor Alliance Network — a group of independent contractors prescreened by the utility to perform energy-related home improvement.

Customers interested in installing a solar-power system and in need of a contractor can receive estimates from contractors when they request a referral at or by calling 1-800-562-1482 toll free.

In addition to installing customers’ home solar-power system, contractors can help customers prepare interconnection and production payment documents necessary to participate in PSE’s net metering program.

Overall, more than 1,000 PSE electric customers have had solar-power systems installed and connected to the grid — up from a little more than 500 such systems in early 2010. The total generating capacity from customer-owned solar-power systems is more than 5 megawatts, compared to 2 megawatts in early 2010.

Customers can receive a 30 percent federal tax credit and other financial incentives for installing a solar-power system.

The state provides another incentive, administered by PSE through Renewable Energy Advantage Program. The state incentive pays customers for every kilowatt of power produced by solar-power systems.

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