Gardening for the Bees

When our hives got opened the other week we sadly found no signs of life.bees  The jury is still out on whether or not this was the result of a normal winter die off or if there were other things at play.  Since 2006 it’s estimated  that more than three billion honey bees have died in the United States, and billions more world wide.  These deaths are somewhat mysterious and have been termed, colony collapse disorder.  While there is no definite known cause research points to the heavy use of pesticides and the loss of biodiversity as some of the major players.  Why does this matter?

  • Honeybees account for 80% of all insect pollination
  • About 1/3 of the foods we depend on  require pollination (apples, almonds, tomatoes, blueberries, coffee and many many more)
  • USDA says this die off is threatening 100 different commercial crops that depend on pollination
  • This threat to crops could result in a ten-fold increase in food prices

This is not a doomsday notice though.  There are plenty of things that you can do to help from planting a bee friendly garden, to having your own hives,  and of course, taking care of your yard in an organic, pesticide free manner.  Creating a garden that will attract and feed honeybees is a fun and simple thing to do, whether it’s in your backyard or in containers, here are a few things to consider:

  • Plan so you have things blooming all season
  • Plant native plants and flowers, at least mixed in
  • Avoid overly hybridized plants as they don’t provide much pollen to feed the bees
  • Have a clean water source available
  • Plant flowers around your fruit and nut trees to bring in bees and other pollinators

Adding to the biodiversity in your landscape and gardening in an sustainable manner will help the honeybees, as well as help your yard be bountiful and toxin free.  Of course, keeping some of these small fuzzy friends is a great contribution as well.  You can learn more, get products and take classes at some of our local shops: Keep it Simple Farm and The Bees Neez.

 

Building a Wildlife Garden

We just finished a really fun wildlife garden for some clients that adore their wild pets, especially the squirrels.  This is a great example of how even a small space can be turned into a natural oasis to share with the critters around you.

                                                                      Before

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                                                                 Mid Project

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                                                                     Finished!

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Some of the main elements we created for this sanctuary include:

  • Replacing restrictive (small) deck and concrete slab with a sandset (permeable) flagstone patio
  • Two arbors to breakup sightlines of the massive walls of neighboring homes
  • Removal of back fence to open to green belt
  • “Dry” stream bed to allow for drainage of site runoff from neighbors property and slope
  • Stone outcroppings / stairs
  • Gravel Paths
  • Bubbling stone water feature for the sound of water and a place for wildlife to drink and bath in
  • Plantings are a mix of native, edible and ornamentals

“Hi Zac, I just wanted to reiterate how thrilled we are with the way that the back garden (we can’t really call it a yard anymore!) turned out. Everyone on the team was so amazing, from our initial meeting with Jessi, to working with you on the proposal estimate, and finally watching your wonderful team take such care in turn our unappealing hill of dirt into a nature paradise. We were extremely impressed with the skill, dedication and commitment to excellence that everyone had; to say you are meticulous and perfection driven is an understatement. It was a little sad this morning when I returned from my rehearsal and there were no hardworking and smiling faces to be seen! We cannot wait to watch everything grow and mature over the seasons… “

 

 

Spring is Coming!

Last week mother nature decided to begin her tease into the spring season.  It was 60 degrees and sunny through out the Puget Sound and everyone had huge smiles plastered across their faces.  Of course we then promptly received several feet of snow in the mountains and the temperature down here plummeted back down with the onset of clouds and rain.  That’s how spring seems to always begin – teasing us with little touches of light and life.  The garden is beginning to poke its head out and those little glimpses of color keep us feigning for more.  Hang on – she will be here soon!

crocus

The crocus are out!

fuki blooming

The Fuki in our greenhouse and around the pond are starting their funky blooms.

rhodies

The first rhodie flowers of the season!

rhubarb

Yummy – the rhubarb is working it’s way up too.

seedlings

We have a bunch of seeds going! Kale and some other greens as well as some artichokes and rhubarb are awaiting their larger pots.

 

 

An exciting year ahead!

It’s only February but it is already shaping up to be a busy and very exciting year.  N.W. Bloom and Jessi have been making their way into the media all over the place.  A few of our gardens are going to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens this spring, so keep your eyes open!

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We are thrilled to have our spring filling up with some fun installations that include native plantings, restoration, rain gardens and of course, edible gardens.

Fine Gard interview

Recently, Jessi got to sit down with Fine Gardening magazine’s Chief Editor Steve to talk about the importance of permaculture and sustainability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One of Jessi’s designs is in new book by Niki Jabbour, “Ground Breaking Food Gardens, 73 plans that will change how you grow your garden“.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While Jessi is going to be teaching all over the place this spring some upcoming highlights include:

A complete list of speaking events can be found on our speaking events page.  We hope that you are as excited as we are for this upcoming season.  Whether it’s in the field or in a classroom we hope to see you soon!

The Gift of Garden Help

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Do you have avid gardeners in your family?  Or those who want to be but they need that extra helping hand?  

Winter may not seem like gardening time, but it is the best time for planning, preparing, and catching up on maintenance so that you can get the most out of your garden during the productive growing months.  Landscapes should be a source of joy, not stress, and we have some great options to give to people who might need an extra hand, some more color in their life, or some inspiration to help create the yard they want.

A Design Consultation: a gift that will give back for a lifetime!   We specialize in unique designs to fit whatever needs one might have and creates them in a way that is perennial, ecologically sustainable, and low maintenance.  A consultation is designed to help with whatever needs a client hour knowledgeable team can help with a vast variety of landscape  to-dos.  We can work with you to create a gift certificate specific to your loved ones and their gardening needs.  Here are a few of our ideas, and areas of expertise, and we are also more than willing to work with you to create a unique gift as well.

Consultation topics can include:

  • Landscape design, planning and coaching
  • Rainwise advice and guidance
  • Edible gardening
  • Outdoor living and entertainment space ideas
  • Farm planning and animal / forage integration
  • Problem area solutions
  • Much, much more!

Maintenance: let us do the heavy lifting!

  • Pruning, weeding, seasonal cleanup
  • mulching
  • compost tea
  • whatever is needed!

Containers: Add color where ever you are.

  • Your pots or new
  • Perennial and annual
  • Totally unique

If this sounds like something you’d like to do you can contact us at nwbloomoffice@gmail.com  or (425) 486-6902 and we can get a gift certificate sent to you in time for the holidays. 

N.W. Bloom Nursery Fall Plant Sale – Deals for up to 50% off!

Mark your calendars! We are having a fall plant sale on Friday & Saturday October 25th & 26th, 9am – 3pm

After a great season of propagating, growing, potting, and re-potting plants, our nursery has an abundance of plants to offer. You’ll find a great selection of your favorite fruit trees, fruiting shrubs, other edible perennials and many useful plants everyone should have in their gardens – all at fabulous prices.

  • Fruit trees 20% off
  • Nut trees 25% off
  • Herbs 20% off
  • All other plants (excluding some specialty/rarer plants) will be 20% off
  • Orphanage plants will go home with any good offer!!
  • Anything in the clearance section is %50 off!

We have a lot of great additions we think you should come take a look at for your fall planting:

  • Plan for a row of Fall Gold Raspberries
  • Your garden is missing your very own Pine Nut Tree
  • Columnar Apples grow very well in pots and your patio could use a couple
  • There is nothing better than bees buzzing on Comfrey flowers
  • Now is the time to plan for fall crops

Fall is the best time for planting in the Pacific Northwest, so don’t miss this sale!

Columnar Apples: Compact tree with regular sized apples

Want edibles but only have a small patio?  Live on a house boat?  Have very limited space? Who says you can’t have apples? Columnar Apples are the answer.

columnar apple starkbros_comThese wonders will do surprisingly well in a large pot and produce 50+ lbs of fruit on one 8 ft column or trunk. Wait, what? Seriously, 50 pounds of apples from one teeny 8ft trunk with no branches. For real?

Most apple trees can grow 20 ft in height and width but Columnar Apples just grow straight up and sprout fruit from short spurs on the trunk!? Tell me more about Columnar Apples you say?

Well okay! Here are the bits you’ll need to know to make them grow:

  • They like full sun and moist well drained soil
  • It is hardy to minus 30° F or USDA zone 4
  • The flowers bloom in April
  • You will need another apple of any variety blooming at the same time to cross pollinate
  • The fruit will be ripe to eat in September

And like we said above, will produce up to 50 pounds on 1 tree!

They will have a very small branches with the length maxing out at less than a foot. The Northpole (similar to the McIntosh), Golden Sentinel (similar to the Golden Delicious) & Scarlet Sentinel (similar to the Golden Delicious but will be yellow-green with red blushes) are all good varieties to eat freshly picked or for baking and cider making.

Here’s another idea. Need a screen in your garden? Make it a screen of Columnar Apples each planted 2 ft apart to ensure good cross pollination and good neighboring! In conclusion, anywhere there is full sun and water there shall be Apples!

Growing Horseradish: A Ruben aficionado’s must have

Transplanting some healthy Horseradish.

Transplanting some healthy Horseradish.

Horseradish: an interesting herbaceous plant, with a pungent, mustard like root usually enjoyed as a condiment for a nice piece of steak or a hot Ruben sandwich. Some Ruben aficionados would even consider it a necessity to have a proper sandwich. Which can be quite troubling when there is none in the house. But this is not a problem for someone with a supply of bushy green horseradish growing in the garden. In fact even the young leafs are edible, making a spicy addition to a green salad or blanched as spinach substitute.

horsertadish_with comfrey

This troubled apple tree is getting some help from our Variegated Comfrey and now some Horseradish.

But growing these plants in the garden can have additional benefits beyond getting a kick of flavor on the dinner plate. Horseradish is known to be an aromatic confuser, or member of a group of plants whose strong smells disorient harmful bugs. Having one horseradish plant at each corner of a potato bed is enough to deter a number of potentially harmful bugs. Horseradish also produces essential oils that are known to have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Indeed it was used in 1500s England only for its medicinal qualities. It can help prevent fungal infection in fruit trees like brown rot on apples and potato diseases. By planting a nice full ring around a fruit tree will have these effects in addition to excluding weeds from the area.

Horseradish is a quite a hardy plant and requires little maintenance other than harvesting the roots. It can survive poor conditions including low nutrient soils and enjoys wetter soils where other plants won’t grow. It does grow best in full sun but can grow in dappled sunlight provided by an open forest canopy.

Growing horseradish in your garden can be a fun and provide benefits to your garden plants while providing some good flavors for your meals.

Hippophaë rhamnoides: The Sea Berry or Sea Buckthorn

Hippophaë-rhamnoides

Hippophaë rhamnoides. Picture from wikipedia

Here at the Nursery we have a ton of interesting berry shrubs but one of the useful berries in stock is the Sea Berry or Sea Buckthorn. Our favorite of the Sea Berry is the Titan. It bears abundant crops of very large, bright orange berries that have a sweet and sour pineapple taste, are an excellent source of vitamins A, E and have 7 times more vitamin C than lemons. Like most berry shrubs the Sea Berry needs cross pollination so a male plant is required but 1 male can pollinate up to 8 females and is a good looker with its light blue-gray soft foliage.

This wonder can grow in most inhospitable soil situations including sandy beach conditions and is likely where it got it’s name. It is so adaptable to poor soils because it will ‘fix’ the soil you put it in by adding the nitrogen all plants need to thrive. So, not only does the newest growth become inundated with fruit in early summer, and thorns to protect said berries, it is hardy to minus 40° F or USDA zone 3, can yield up to 30 lbs from a full grown 8ft tall shrub and it will fix the soil and everything around it will benefit.

The best way to harvest the branches covered in fruit, and thorns, is to cut off the whole branch with the fruit on it and freeze them. Once they are frozen you can shake the fruit right off the branches. The thorns don’t have a chance to do any damage this way and it truly is the quickest way to harvest. The fruit is commonly used in preserves, candy, liqueurs and in juices it is absolutely delicious when sweetened. After thawing press the berries, strain off the juice, diluted to about 1/3 juice, 2/3 water and add sugar or honey to taste. Yummy!

Silver Vine, Hot Pepper Kiwi!!

hot pepper kiwiSometimes you find an interesting new (to you) plant that seems too good to be true​. Here at the Nursery we have been a little too excited about the Silver Vine, Hot Pepper Kiwi and can’t wait to try to the fruit, first hand.

This little number is a native to Vladivostok, Russia so it’s hardy to minus 35° F or below! That’s USDA zone 3!! Brrrrrr. It will do fine in partial shade, likes moist but well drained soil, is not bothered by pests or disease. One stout male ‘Pavel’ can get busy and pollinate up to 8 ladies. It gets the name Silver Vine for the silvery look the leaves get later in the Summer months.

One full size 10ft lady vine can produce up to 30 lbs. of bright yellow-orange kiwi berries about the size of a globe grape with a sweet’n’spicy flavor. We are told it’s like a sweet mild chili pepper. Imagine walking along the fence with one of these vines on it and popping them into your mouth as you stroll along in September. I can see it now, mmmmmm….

Picture courtesy www.permacultuurnederland.org

Picture courtesy www.permacultuurnederland.org

Well in our short relationship with this kiwi we have noticed this vine is a vigorous grower and is rapidly reaching as high as it can. Already it is taller than all of us here. The male is blooming and the female is dressed up with buds waiting for her moment to shine.

We will keep you posted as these babies progress. September can’t come fast enough!