Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Root crop harvest

Today was a good day in the garden. Bill and I decided it was time to harvest the last of the crops: carrots, parsnips, potatoes and leeks.

Here's the rundown on how the varieties of each performed this year:

'Red Core Chantenay'
'Mokum hybrid'
Carrots: I grew 'Red Core Chantenay', 'King Midas' and 'Mokum hybrid'. As you can see by each of the three photos (remember that you can click on each of them to view a larger image), 'Red Core Chantenay' had huge roots and won the prize for their heft. I've cooked with them over the past couple of weeks and, even though they're large, the roots are tender and delicious.

'King Midas'
'King Midas' came in second, with mid-sized, attractive roots. They were very productive in the bed and I think the root-size is perfect for most purposes.

'Mokum hybrid' has more slender roots but the yield was respectable.

Parsnips: I had a very disappointing harvest for the first time in all of the years I've been growing it. Darn! The main problem was poor seed germination. I had forgotten that the viability of parsnip seeds drops steeply after the first year, so it's my own fault. Next year, I will definitely use fresh seeds. Aside from that, the variety I grew was 'Andover', which produces very white roots. They were pretty slender this year and some of the roots were quite small. I always plant them in the same bed as the carrots because they're in the same family. Since the carrots produced magnificently, I'm not sure what to attribute the poor parsnip growth to.
My oh-so-helpful potato digger, Bill!

Potatoes: This year, in addition to the raised bed that I planted seed potatoes in, I also tried my hand at growing them in a 15-gallon potato grow bag.

First, the raised bed results: I'm embarrassed to admit that I forgot to take a photo of the whole harvest before we put them into storage! However, they produced quite well and I'm pleased with the harvest. I planted 'Viking Purple' and 'German Butterball' this year. The 'Viking Purple' was more productive and had larger potatoes. I grew them last year and was really impressed with them, along with the bright purple skins and white flesh. The size of the 'German Butterball' potatoes was smaller and we got a smaller harvest from them. We may replace them next year with 'Yukon Gold' -- a tried-and-true favorite for us.

Now, the grow bag results: We filled the bag with organic potting soil this spring and then planted a few small leftover potatoes from last year. You can see the total haul in the photo. Since I've never used a grow bag before, I wasn't sure how much of a harvest to expect. What do you think? Have you had better harvests than this from a grow bag? If so, maybe we didn't give them enough water. I know potatoes don't like a lot of water so we just used a single drip-irrigation tube to deliver the water to the bag.

Leeks: If you saw my recent video on growing and harvesting leeks, you know I was pleased with how the plants performed this year. I planted 'King Richard' seeds in January and am always amazed at how such tiny seeds -- and seedlings that look like a blade of grass -- can yield such big roots! As we harvested them today, we cut off the green leaves and the roots, to make it easier to store them in the fridge.

How am I storing everything for the next few months? Well, the carrots, parsnips and leeks are being stored in plastic bread sacks or grocery bags in the vegetable drawers of our refrigerator. The potatoes are a different story: Bill tried a method last year that I was sure wouldn't work. It turns out, he knew better than I and proved me wrong! He puts slightly damp straw into a plastic bin that has a lid. Then he puts the potatoes into the straw, covers the bin and stores it in our unheated (but insulated) garage. By the way, we don't wash off the potatoes before storing them because that can accelerate spoilage. We just dig them up and let them dry off a bit in the shade before storing them.

Now obviously I have way more produce than we can eat so I'm donating lots of carrots (and winter squash, too) to the food bank. I would have also donated some of the parsnips but the harvest was rather underwhelming to say the least!

I hope your root crops grew great this year and would love to hear which varieties you are pleased with. Just drop me a line at inthegarden@live.com.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Winter Gardening Q&A

As you have no doubt heard me say, I love growing veggies through the winter months in our cold climate! I live in Spokane, Wash., in USDA zone 4b/5. It gets very cold here each winter. I found I was really missing having fresh salad greens so I began researching and experimenting with doing this. And, of course, as a gardener, I really wanted to see if I could fool Mother Nature!

I've shot three videos on this topic so far this fall, which you can find on my YouTube channel (#1, #2 and #3).

However, I often am asked questions about what it involves so thought it would be helpful to do a quick Q&A on growing a winter garden. Here's what folks are asking me:

"By the end of the regular gardening season, I'm ready for a break. Why would I want to do even more work for months after my garden is put to bed?"

I completely understand how you feel, but the main task of growing a winter garden is harvesting your produce during the fall and winter months. You don't have to weed, water, prune or mulch.

"When do you start planting?"

I start most of my cold-tolerant veggies from seed indoors in late July or the first of August. Those are crops like kale that need a bit of a head start before planting them outdoors about 4-6 weeks later. Some cold-tolerant veggies need to be direct-sowed because they don't like to be transplanted; I do this in mid- to late August. The seed packets will indicate which sowing method is best.

"Which are the most cold-tolerant crops I can grow in a cold climate such as Spokane?"

Kale ('Vates', 'Winterbor', 'Starbor', 'Ripbor' and 'Redbor'), Claytonia (miner's lettuce), corn salad (mache) and Minutina. If you're not familiar with the last 3 -- and most folks aren't -- they are easy to grow and really add a lot to salads. I love trying new things and this is the perfect opportunity to do that. Other veggies that will grow until about December include 'Bordeaux' spinach, arugula and mizuna.

"Why don't you have to water the plants? Won't they get too dry?"

You would think so, but once it starts getting chilly, the soil will retain its moisture and whatever you covered the plants with (floating row cover or plastic) will also help keep the plants hydrated by holding in the water that has been transpired by the plants. I stopped watering my plants in about mid-October this year.

"How do you protect the plants from the cold?"

You can keep this as simple as you want, or get fancy!

Simple method first: I've had success with just covering the plants with a sheet of floating row cover at the time we start getting frosts and then as it starts getting a lot colder, I place a sheet of heavy-duty clear plastic over that and it works well. It's important to use hoops over the bed to hold the plastic and/or floating row cover over the plants. And it's really important to clip the cover(s) to the hoops so the covers won't rest directly on the plants which could cause them to become frosted.

This is a photo of another gardener's set-up.
I should also mention that the hoops should be sturdy and/or tied together with twine so they won't collapse during heavy snow. (see photo to right)

The fancy method: Cover the bed(s) with a simple plastic-covered hoop house or use grow beds inside an unheated greenhouse.

If you're going the plastic sheeting route, make sure it is anchored down so it doesn't blow off during strong winter winds.

"What types of problems do you encounter? Are there any insects?"

You would think it'd be too cold to have insect problems but I've encountered three types of insects over the past two winters. Fortunately, I know how to thwart them!

The first type of insect is slugs (technically gastropods), which can do a lot of damage to plant foliage. Refer to my method for organically eliminating them.

The second type is cabbage worms, which are the larvae of the cabbage butterfly. I know members of the cole or Brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale) are susceptible to them. As soon as I plant my kale outdoors in the fall, I cover the bed with a sheet of floating row cover to prevent cabbage butterflies from laying their eggs on the foliage. It works great.

The last type of insect is the leaf miner. The adults are flies. They lay eggs on the leaves of spinach, Swiss chard or beets. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae tunnel through the leaves, ruining the crop very quickly. Covering the bed with a sheet of floating row cover as soon as you plant any of these crops will also resolve this problem.

"What else is involved in growing vegetable crops through the winter?"

I recommend checking on your plants once a week, although if you're harvesting them regularly, that will suffice. You're mainly just looking to see if there is any insect activity.

"Anything you've learned the hard way, that I should know about?"

Yes! Do NOT underestimate the importance of daylight! Make sure your winter veggie bed is in as open an area as possible. Avoid locating it next to a building or under a big tree. Plants need all the light they can get, in order to be successful.

"What references would you recommend, so I can read more about this?"

There are three excellent references that you will find very helpful:
  • Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman (Chelsea Green Publishing, 1999, 243 pp.)
  • The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2009, 248 pp.)
  • Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour (Storey Publishing, 2011, 248 pp.)
Good luck! Remember you can always email me if you have any more questions.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Book Review: "Teaming with Microbes"

Teaming with Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis (Timber Press, 220 pp., $24.95)

by Susan Mulvihill

If you’re looking for a book that will help you transform your garden, I’ve found it. I recently finished reading Teaming with Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis (Timber Press, 220 pp., $24.95) and can’t wait to change some of my longstanding gardening practices.

I’ve long maintained that we gardeners take our soil for granted. It’s just there. We buy plants or start them from seed, and just plant them into our gardens without realizing our soils need a little bit of TLC.

We also were taught long ago that we should rototill or turn over our soil at the start of each garden season. Little did we know we were disrupting the established soil structure that helps air and water to move through it. Yikes.

I’ve been an organic gardener for many years now but fully understand that many folks use chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides in their gardens. While I knew these products were bad for the environment, I really didn’t realize the harm they were doing to the network of microorganisms in our soil (which the authors refer to as the “soil food web”).

As an organic vegetable gardener, I often use organic fertilizers for certain veggie crops. It turns out this isn’t necessary.

In “Teaming with Microbes,” the authors divide the book into two main sections. In the first, they take the reader on a fascinating exploration of the types of “critters” that are in our soil -- most of which we are unable to see without a hand lens or fancy microscope.

I got to learn about bacteria, archaea (really cool microorganisms that often live in inhospitable environments and play a key role in the nitrogen cycle within soil), fungi, algae and slime molds, protozoa, nematodes, arthopods (critters like spiders and beetles), earthworms, gastropods (snails and slugs), and reptiles, mammals and birds -- all of which play a vital role in the health of our soils. How cool is it to learn something completely new and to see images of each of these?

The second part of the book breaks down how you can apply what you learned in the first part to make your gardens grow better than ever.

The authors first explain what compost, mulches, compost teas and mycorrhizal fungi do for the soil and plants. Then they discuss the specifics of this as it relates to maintaining your lawn,  trees, shrubs and perennials, and growing annuals and veggies.

They’ve even included a garden calendar so you know what to do when.

Lowenfels and Lewis maintain that by discontinuing the practices of turning our soil over each year and using chemicals, and by applying compost, mulch, compost tea and mycorrhizal fungi, our gardens will be healthy and productive. And, if you haven’t realized this yet, this means less work and less expense because we won’t be rototilling or shoveling our soil and we won’t be purchasing expensive fertilizers and chemicals. Wow.

I heartily recommend everyone read “Teaming with Microbes” to gain a better understanding of the amazing soil food web out there and the far-reaching implications it has to change our gardening practices. We have everything to gain from it!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Garden travels: The Huntington Botanical Gardens

A few days ago, I wrote about visiting the Los County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens while in Southern California for the annual Garden Writers symposium. Today, I want to show you another amazing garden that was truly the highlight of my time down there: Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

It was wonderful to explore the enormous grounds that are broken into different regions, but I should also point out that it was 104 degrees that day. Ugh. So the biggest challenge was seeing most of it without having heatstroke!

The Huntington, as it's most commonly referred to, was originally established by Henry E. Huntington in 1919. He was a wealthy businessman who had a passion for collecting artwork, books and manuscripts, and plants from around the world.

At one point, I went into the Library to escape the heat and had the privilege of seeing the Gutenberg Bible, Chaucer's Tales, Audubon's "Birds of America," Shakespeare's First Folio and so on. What a rich history I found, all in one place!

But, as a passionate gardener, I was particularly interested in the gardens. They cover an impressive 120 acres, so you can imagine what a challenge it was to not become too overheated that day.

Highlights of the gardens include a delightful Children's garden (we should create one for Spokane, don't you think?), the Australian garden, the desert garden, a formal herb garden, a wonderful rose that I enjoyed strolling through, the jungle garden, the lily ponds, the Shakespeare garden, the subtropical garden, the Japanese garden, and much, much more.

My one regret was that I didn't see the Chinese garden. I really wanted to but was feeling very lightheaded from the heat by that point, so I reluctantly gave up and headed back to the entrance.

Before I forget, the gift shop at the Huntington is not to be missed! (and air-conditioned, thank heavens) It is huge and the selection of goodies runs the gamut from garden-themed items and fun things for kids to home decor and jewelry. You can even shop online!

Please have fun browsing through the photos below. Remember that you can click on any of them to view a larger image.

For more information on the gardens at the Huntington, follow this link to the listings.

Children's garden

Children's garden - fun tunnel to wander through.

Rose garden

Rose garden

Jungle garden

Desert garden

Lily ponds

Japanese garden

Friday, October 30, 2015

Product Review: Water Right Garden Hose

Susan watering her winter garden, using the Garden Right hose.
You might be thinking that all garden hoses are the same, right? Nope! After hearing high praise for the Water Right garden hose from fellow garden writer Joe Lamp'l (host of "Growing a Greener World"), I decided I should investigate it further. After all, I know you appreciate hearing about great gardening products.

I'll be honest with you: this hose is expensive and I found myself wondering what would justify the price. It turns out there are plenty of reasons one would want to buy it and it is an example of the old adage, "you get what you pay for."

The first time I hooked it up to the faucet in my garden to do some hand-watering, I was already sold. The hose is incredibly lightweight. How many of you find it annoying to drag heavy hoses around your garden? As someone with cranky shoulders, I immediately noticed the difference and enjoyed how easy it was to move it around the edges of my raised beds.

The next thing I liked was how the hose didn't kink. Our heavy-duty hoses just love to kink at the most inconvenient times. What a difference the Water Right hose makes in that regard. It helps you get down to the business of watering, easily and quickly, instead of having to fight the hose.

Another detail I'm fully supportive of is that the hoses are made in the USA. I think it's important to buy U.S.-made products whenever you can, so here's a great reason to do that.

If that weren't enough, how about a hose that has a 5-year warranty? How many hoses do you know of with a guarantee like that?

Other features you should be aware of include that the hose stays flexible in hot, cold or freezing weather, and that the fittings are brass. I should also mention that the hoses come in cool colors. Other than your basic black, they have gun metal (brown), olive green and eggplant! You can make a fashion statement in your garden.  :o)

Now for the details: I tested a 50-foot 500 series 1/2" polyurethane hose. It retails for $79.95. You can learn more by going to the Water Right website, or by either calling (800) 796-5420 or emailing them.

You can also view the video Joe Lamp'l made after testing the hose at his farm near Atlanta.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Garden travels: Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

When I was a little girl growing up in Southern California, my Mom used to take me to the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden as a treat. It was commonly referred to as "Lucky Baldwin's" back then -- after Elias Jackson "Lucky" Baldwin, who purchased the property way back in 1875 -- and it was always a thrill for me to see the peacocks there.
There are many diverse plantings.

There are many peacocks there today, as I happily discovered while attending the Garden Writers Association's annual symposium in Pasadena recently.

Some folks might recognize Baldwin's guest house, known as "the Cottage," from the old "Fantasy Island" TV series. (you know, "Da plane! Da plane!") It's situtated on the edge of Baldwin Lake.

So what all does this have to do with gardening? Plenty! In 1947, Los Angeles County purchased acreage surrounding Baldwin's homesite, for the purpose of creating an arboretum and it has been steadily expanded upon over the course of many years.

"The Cottage" 
Visitors will find orchid greenhouses, a formal rose garden, an herb garden, perennial test gardens, water conservation gardens, the Prehistoric and Jungle Garden, a waterfall and more. You would be amazed by all of the different plant collections representing Australia, Africa, Madagascar and the Canary Islands. And oh yes, there are lots of peacocks!

I've assembled some photos here to give you a mini tour of the gardens. It is well worth a visit!

Part of the formal rose garden.

Zucchino rampicante (similar to what I grew this summer).

Beautiful raised beds in the vegetable garden.

Turtle pond.

Oh, and did I mention peacocks?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Susan's Vegetable Picks for 2015

I'm frequently asked what my favorite vegetable varieties are. That can be tough to answer, though, because it's often difficult to choose from so many wonderful offerings.

As you've probably noticed, I love trying new varieties because I'm always in search of the perfect tomato, the most tender bean and so on.

However, I've put together the following list of some of the best veggies I've grown, just to give you ideas for next year's garden. Most varieties should be easy to locate at a large, well-stocked garden center. If you aren't able to locate some of them, try searching for the variety name on the web. And if you're still stumped, drop me a note! My email address is inthegarden@live.com.

Artichokes _ Green Globe, Imperial Star
Arugula _ Sylvetta
Basil _ Italian Pesto, Lettuce Leaf
Beans, Bush _ French Filet
Beans, Pole _ Italian Snap
Beets _ Cylindra, German Lutz, Chioggia
Cabbage _ Caraflex, Early Jersey Wakefield, Kalibos
Carrots _ Red Core Chantenay, King Midas, Starica, Tendersweet, Purple Haze
Celery _ Tango
Cilantro _ Slow Bolt, Sabor
Corn _ Luscious, Peaches & Cream, Silver Queen
Cucumber _ Straight Eight, Lemon
Eggplant _ Rosa Bianca (Italian), Ichiban (Japanese)
Kale _ Dwarf Siberian, Vates, Redbor
Leeks _ King Richard
Lettuce _ Red Sails, Vulcan, Outredgeous, Ruby Glow, Romaine, Buttercrunch
Melons _ Arava (honeydew-type), Napoli (Tuscan type), Alaska hybrid
Onions _ Copra, Yellow Sweet Spanish, Walla Walla Sweet, Highlander
Parsnips _ Andover, Cobham Improved, Hollow Core
Peas _ Green Arrow, Golden Sweet, Laxton’s Progress
Peppers _ Sunset Mix, California Wonder
Pumpkins _ Spookie Deep Sugar, New England Pie, Casper (white)
Spinach _ Bordeaux
Squash, Summer _ Romanesco, Sunburst pattypan
Squash, Winter _ Sweet Meat, Sweet Dumpling, Delicata, Lakota, Blue Ballet or Baby Blue Hubbard
Swiss Chard _ Bright Lights, Peppermint Stick, Pot of Gold
Tomato _ Jet Star and Chef’s Choice Orange (slicing); Sungold (cherry); Fantastico (grape); Amish Paste - Kapuler and Italian Pompeii (paste)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Book Review: "DIY Succulents"

by Susan Mulvihill

Have you been bitten by the succulent craze yet? Ever since I started seeing vertical succulent gardens and stunning arrangements made with them, I find that anything made with succulents draws me in like a magnet!

Fortunately, there’s a new book out that caters to the crafty side of folks like you and me. “DIY Succulents,” written by Tawni Daigle, is packed with over 35 project ideas that showcase these marvelous plants.

As she writes, “Succulents are rising in popularity, and with good reason. Their beauty and resilience make them perfect for creating tasteful, sophisticated, long-lasting works of living art.”

In the first part of the book, she delves into the care of succulents. Even though they can seem pretty straightforward to grow, there are some tricks of the trade one should know for the best success.

Daigle discusses the many varieties available, including growth habits, hardiness zones and how most propagate. Each description is accompanied by an attractive photograph.

She’s careful to list the few types that can be harmful to children and pets. Daigle also details the best growing conditions and how to deal with any problems that might arise.

I particularly enjoyed learning how to propagate succulents in more ways than just repotting a “pup.”

The second part of the book is what crafty gardeners will particularly enjoy. For each project, the author lists the materials needed and goes step-by-step through the process. Then she explains how to care for the plants used in the project, which is very helpful.

What types of projects will you find in “DIY Succulents”? Household ideas include a home address plaque with a small attached succulent planter, a succulent kokedama (moss ball string garden), tiny terracotta pot magnets, and a stunning living wreath.

Then there are outdoor projects such as a succulent bird cage, vertical-framed garden, vertical pallet garden, and a birdhouse with a living succulent roof.

Daigle takes it a step further with a chapter on succulent accessories such as succulent-adorned headbands and a living necklace. There are even fun ways to use succulents for holiday decorations.

Tawni Daigle has thought of every imaginable use for succulents, both indoors and out. “DIY Succulents” is sure to get your creative juices flowing! With the holidays fast approaching, wouldn’t it make a great gift for your gardening and crafty friends?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Organic orchard report

No, we don't have frogs on our apples but thought you'd enjoy this photo!
Earlier this season, I wrote how my husband Bill and I have been growing our tree fruits organically for several years. And how each year, it's been a learning process.

While plums are quite trouble-free, apples, pears and cherries are a whole different matter! Apples and pears -- which belong to the same family -- are susceptible to both insect damage and many diseases. Cherries primarily have one problem that requires action: those pesky little worms that burrow through the fruits. Yuck!

Let's look at cherries first. Cherry fruit flies are the parents of those horrid white worms. Bill hangs cherry fruit fly traps in the trees once the cherries start turning light green. The traps are used as an indicator of when the cherry fruit flies are active in the area.

Bill sprays an organic product called Spinosad every 10 days. It kills the fruit flies before they can lay eggs. This worked really well for us and we had a wonderful, worm-free harvest.

Now let's look at apples. Note that our pear trees are quite young so we haven't had to go through the full routine that I'm about to detail for apples, but the method for both types of trees will be identical starting next year.

When it comes to growing apples, our main nemesis is the apple codling moth. The adults lay eggs on the surface of the young fruits; the resulting larvae burrow into the apples to feed. They later drop from the apples to the ground to pupate, then later emerge as adults to begin the cycle all over again. Most adults overwinter in the bark of the trees.

Nylon footies
Each year, we  thin the fruits so the trees won't have too much to support and mature throughout the season. And each spring, we dutifully cover the young apples with little nylon "footies" to confuse the adults so they will hopefully not lay their eggs on them. Yes, it's tedious work but it has been worth the effort. However, there's more that has to be done to thwart the moths.

At regular intervals, Bill sprays our trees with a solution of kaolin clay (a natural substance) and water, which puts a powdery coating on the leaves and fruit. This also seems to confuse the moths into thinking they haven't landed on an actual leaf or apple.

With the combination of the nylon footies and kaolin clay mixture, we usually have about an 80% success rate (no worms).

Last season, in addition to the nylon footies and kaolin clay, Bill was occasionally using Bt. He found that it worked really well.

So this season, he decided to conduct an experiment by just using the Bt and kaolin clay, and not using the footies. For a while, it was looking really promising and we were excited to think that we wouldn't need to go to the time and expense of using footies.

It turns out we were wrong! But not only was that in regards to the codling moths, we also encountered two unforeseen problems.

We had more worms in our apples than we usually get so it appears the footies were really helping more than we thought. Apparently they really do confuse those moths.

The first unforeseen problem: if you live in the Inland Northwest, you know we are in the middle of a drought and also had extended periods of high temperatures this summer. We broke all sorts of weather records.

This is what stink bugs look like.
Because of things being so hot and dry -- and unbeknownst to us, I might add -- birds were flying into our little orchard and pecking the apples. Sometimes it was just a small hole but often there were quite large holes pecked into the fruit. When I picked our Jonagold apples last week, I was dismayed to get a much smaller harvest due to this problem.

The second unforeseen problem: Bill discovered stink bugs were piercing the skins of our McIntosh apples and sucking some of the juices out of them. These apples have thin skins so it was easy for the bugs to do that. This caused a lot of problems for us.

The bottom line: If we had used the footies, we believe they would have thwarted the codling moths, kept the birds from pecking the apples, and made it much more difficult for stink bugs to do their thing.

I wish I could've told you our experiment was a resounding success because that would mean much less work for all of us who are trying to grow our tree fruits organically! Unfortunately, that's not the case. Our plan is to go back to using the footies next spring, as well as to continue with the kaolin spray and occasional use of Bt.

Like I said earlier, it's always a learning process!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Oct. 4 column

2015 was a great year for growing peppers!
Well, I hope this won't make you sad, but my column in today's edition of The Spokesman-Review is my last one for the 2015 garden season. But not to worry! I'll be blogging away and posting to my Facebook page all fall and winter long! And you'll start seeing my columns again in about the third week of February.

But before I get too distracted, here's a link to today's column: Hot summer skewed garden results. This one is a season wrap-up which includes a bit of a "report card" on how some of the newer vegetable varieties I grew this year did.

I'm always hearing from readers that they love seeing the list of what I plan to grow in my first column each February. But what I think is also important is letting you know how they performed in my garden.

As I mention in my column, it might be a bit unfair of me to judge their performance solely on what turned out to be a very challenging growing season. For those of you who don't live in the Spokane or Inland Northwest, we had an exceedingly hot, dry summer. Some plants thrived in the heat and others struggled. And so did this gardener, for that matter!

I hope you'll enjoy today's column. Remember you can always email me (inthegarden@live.com) with a question or a suggestion of what you'd like to see on either this blog or on my Facebook page. I'm always happy to oblige!

Happy gardening!