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.

 

 

The many uses of Lemon Balm

Lemon balm, Melissa officianalis, of the mint family, Lamiaceae, tends to be in the “love or loath” category for many gardeners.  Around here we love our weedy plants if they are edible and utilitarian, making themselves worthwhile around the farm and kitchen.  A few of the uses of lemon balm that we enjoy:

  • Edible – sun tea, hot tea, fish seasoning, pesto, salad dressings, jam, a different twist on a mojito, or anything that you’d enjoy lemon flavor with.
  • Medicinal – as an essential oil or tea to treat insomnia, anxiety, cold sores and indigestion
  • Attracts pollinators – Melissa means honey bee in Greek
  • Pest repellant – we use it dried for our chicken, duck and turkey bedding (it also makes them smell sweet)

Lemon balm is native to the Mediterranean as is apparent in its many flavorful uses.   It grows to about 24 inches and enjoys sun to part shade as well as moist well drained soil.  To keep it looking its best its best cut back mid-summer or when it begins to look drought and heat stressed.  A vigilant plant, it will pop its head right back up to supply you with another bountiful autumn harvest and greenery late into the season.  Lemon Balm spreads by seed, so if you’d like to maintain only the plant you have we recommend that you cut it back soon after flowering, otherwise, let it go and you’ll have plenty to share!

Lemon balm is an incredibly versatile herb, have fun and enjoy all that it has to offer!

File:Melissa officinalis2.JPGFile:Melissa officinalis - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-094.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pictures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_balm

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!

Mugwort: A Magical Plant

Common Mugwort: Artemesia vulgarisMugwort - Artemisia vulgaris (wikipedia image)

(Available in our nursery in one gallon size)

It sounds like something from Harry Potter doesn’t it? Well we certainly think it has many magical medicinal properties, and is something you can easily grow in your own food forest! I first found out about it when I visited a local lady spa. There, they have a trough of Mugwort Tea to dump on yourself. It smells heavenly and we were told it’s a topical anesthetic with antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.  Naturopaths continue to use the herb as a remedy for disorders of the digestive and reproductive systems. It can also be used to treat intermittent fevers with chills and shivering and is added to healing baths to ease discomfort from eczema, gout and arthritis. Its sage-like, spicy flavor makes a delicious seasoning for meat dishes too.  Mugwort also stimulates appetite, promotes good digestion, reduces fevers and relieves tension. When prepared as a tea (to drink), mugwort also provides an excellent source of minerals, especially calcium.  Also, you can use it to make ale! What more could you ask for?!

Mugwort is a vigorous grower and can get up to 7 feet tall. It will spread out in a cluster very easily but is also easily maintained. We have quite a few clusters coming up around the mugwort we planted last year in our food forest. So we decided to do a little propagation:

  • First, I dug up 2 clumps about 6″ in diameter.
  • Second, I filled a few 1 gallon pots with some good 3-way potting soil.
  • Third, I used the dandelion weeding tool to create a hole or plug space for the little tap roots to live in.
  • Lastly, I watered them in and wah-lah, mugwort for everyone!CArmin propogates Mugwort!For more information about Mugwort and it’s many uses (including edibility rating) be sure to check out one of our favorite resources.

The Plant Orphanage

Here at the NW Bloom nursery we have always had an “Orphanage”.  This is where all of the unwanted plants come to live and get the chance at a new beginning, in a new garden.

In the majority of our projects there are usually plants that the client wants to get rid of — for various reasons; maybe it was growing too big for the spot it was originally planted in… maybe it was the wrong color of flower.. maybe it was in a spot slated for a more desirable plant.  Regardless, we don’t believe good plants should go to waste!  Many of the plants we end up transplanting are the same – rhodies, boxwoods, roses, lilac, ornamental grasses, etc because they take to transplanting well.  Even though these are common in many landscapes, there are many projects that have no plants to start with or have a low budget, and getting more mature plants can save a lot of money!

Using her best, cheesy Vanna White impression, Jessi shows off a large orphan camellia. This large plant was being installed into a new landscape project which will provide the client instant privacy from their neighbors deck!

Hundreds, if not thousands of salvaged plants have found new homes in our garden projects.  It has been always been a common practice at NW Bloom since the business first started out!  Now, even the internationally recognized green building program LEED even gives projects points for reusing plants!

 

Our New Edible Plant Nursery!

IMG_1111It has not always been easy to find a good selection of edible plants to buy in the Seattle area –  they have either only been available through catalog sales or during a small window of time throughout the year.  So… we are excited to announce that we now have an edible plant nursery with an emphasis on permaculture/useful plants!

The nursery will be Open BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.

To get an idea of what will be in stock, see below.

Most of the plants we will carry are multifunctional having one or some of these attributes:

  • Edibles – mostly perennial plants that you only have to plant once and can enjoy the bounty year after year!  We will carry a variety of plants, from fruits, berries, nuts and roots.
  • Medicinals –  herbs used for healing purposes
  • Dynamic accumulators – These plants mine nutrients from the soil and store them in their leaves and roots which can be used to build your soils and increase your soil fertility!
  • Insectary Plants – These are great for attracting insects, whether it be forage plants for honey bees and other pollinators or by providing shelter for other beneficial insects that help keep pest populations in check.
  • Nitrogen fixers – these plants can help build your soil by adding nitrogen naturally
  • Rainwise -these plants are great for raingardens, bioswales or bioretention projects!
  • Other plants on hand will be plenty of natives, deer “resistant”,  for wildlife and chicken forage, shelter as well as beautiful chicken “resistant” plants.

To make an appointment and to get directions give us a call at 425-486-6902 or email info@nwbloom.com