Northwest Flower & Garden Show

We’re heading north to Seattle for the annual Northwest Flower & Garden Show. This year the show runs now through February 24th. http://www.gardenshow.com/ It’s showtime across the country, and it’s the best place to hear speakers, buy new plants and especially in Seattle we always find inspiration from the fabulous show gardens. I’ll be speaking and doing a 1:30 demonstration on edible gardening in containers at the NW Horticulture Society garden located in the entry. I can hardly wait to see this four part garden “Eat Your Vegetables! Garden to Table “.

I’ve designed and worked on gardens at this show. It’s pretty amazing backstage when trucks drive onto the fourth floor of the Washington Convention Center as construction begins. It’s a breakneck pace starting on Saturday and finishing at noon on Tuesday when judging begins. This year I’m a wide-eyed tourist and the show always makes me happy.

Garden from greenhouse

Our venture into straw bale gardening began with a garden promoting Plant A Row For the Hungry, a program of the Garden Writers Association. PAR encourages gardeners to contribute their surplus produce to local food banks, soup kitchens and shelters. These organizations are always short of fresh produce so look into sharing your surplus.

In My Garden

Suddenly the days are longer, the skies are brighter, and it’s a joy to be in the garden. This week I sowed Cascadia Snap Pea seeds in a straw bale. Legume inoculant will provide all the nitrogen they need. Gardeners in the Pacific Northwest once had to plant peas in January to get a crop because aphids transmit Pea Enation Mosaic virus. Enation diseased plants begin drying out and stop producing as soon as we have a trace of hot weather in early summer. Gardeners would rush to plant in January, no matter how cold and wet the conditions. My mother always referred to early pea planting as “mudding in”.

Plant breeders at Oregon State University began selecting for resistance to this disease over forty years ago. Today, we can plant OSU Sugar Pod II, Oregon Giant Sugar Pod, Cascadia Snap Pea, and Oregon Trail shelling pea, all released from the OSU department of horticulture and bred by Dr. James Baggett. OSU sugar Pod II is now the most widely grown edible pod variety in the world. It has good flavor, is tender crisp, and easy to grow and harvest.

I have grown peas and beans on wheat straw bales for several years with good results. When you sprinkle the seeds with legume inoculant the bacteria enables plants to form nitrogen rich root nodules from atmospheric nitrogen and you will not need to fertilize. You can read more about straw bale gardening on our Nichols Garden Nursery website:www.nicholsgardennursery.com