April 21st marks the start of the 2012-2013 community garden season at the Burien B-Patch. Previous gardeners are invited to renew their plots by March 16th while new gardeners can claim their plots by bringing just $25 to the Burien Community Center starting Wednesday, March 21st. (more…)
Have you ever wondered how to have a beautiful yard even without frequent watering or using harmful pesticides? Using native landscaping and organic pesticides can make that happen.
This seminar, meeting during Sustainable Burien’s normal meeting time, will teach landscaping with natural plants, composting yard and organic waste, using natural pesticides, and managing storm water run-off.
Register at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 206.248.4266.
Participants receive a free native plant!
Your Sustainable Yard
March 18, 2012 2:00-4:00pm
Burien Library Multipurpose Room
400 SW 152nd St
Burien, WA 98166
Have you ever wanted to learn about container gardening? Maybe you live in an apartment or have a shady yard. Maybe you’re looking to spice up your deck. Look no further: Burien Parks and Recreation is teaming up with Seattle Tilth to offer a $10 class on container gardening, focusing on growing your own vegetables and herbs.
Classes are on Thursdays in March, starting on March 9th from 6:30 to 7:30pm and ending on March 29th and they welcome you to come and learn to grow your own food and herbs right in your home.
Pre-registration is required, so round up a friend or get ready to make friends and call Burien Parks at 206.988.3700 or register on Burien Parks and Rec’s website.
Container Gardening Class
Thursdays through March 29th 6:30-7:30pm
Burien Community Center
14700 6th Avenue SW
Burien, WA 98166
Source: City of Burien
Twice a month Michael Stein-Ross contributes Sustain, a column about community & sustainability in Burien.
I enjoy living just three blocks from the Burien library. However, walking those three blocks yesterday took me fifteen minutes longer than it normally does. I didn’t pull a hamstring or have a stop-and-chat with a neighbor – instead, I ate blackberries.
The Himalayan Blackberry is the bane of most northwest native plant enthusiasts. It takes over and is really difficult to eradicate. It’s an ugly, prickly storm cloud in the native plant weather front. Thankfully though, there is one silver (or should I say purplish) lining to this cloud: the berries are delicious. Also, Rosemary Gladstar tells us in Family Herbal that “though the fruits have mild laxative properties, the roots and leaves are effective remedies for diarrhea and dysentery.” So if you find yourself eating too many at once, just chase them down with some blackberry leaf tea and you should be all good.
We have entered blackberry season and they are everywhere.
This means you have about a month to get your yearly fix, for free. Go to the parks, go to the empty lots, go to the alleys. Go alone or go with friends. And when you are done picking, save some sweetness for the dark winter months. It’s easy to tuck some away in the freezer. And if you are feel like having a party, why not invite some friends over for a “jam session”. I recently took up canning and it’s easier than I thought it would be. You don’t even need a special canning pot, just a big stock pot with a couple towels on the bottom so the jars don’t bump around. Also, blackberry jam doesn’t even require pectin. There are plenty of food preservation books at the library and our local Ace Hardware and the Grainery have reasonably priced new equipment. You can also find jars at any of our local second hand stores — unless I was just there. Doesn’t a blackberry smoothie on New Year’s Day sound incredible?
Each week Michael Stein-Ross contributes Sustain, a column about community & sustainability in Burien.
There’s a free workshop I recommend you check out this coming Tuesday.
Here are three reasons why:
•We are all responsible for the health of Puget Sound (which is essential to our well-being)
•I want Lake Burien to be clean when it eventually opens up for public use.
•The Marine Tech Center at Seahurst Park is a sweet place to visit.
When and where:
Tuesday July 12, 2011 from 6:00p – 8:30p
at the Marine Tech Center at Seahurst Park
2400 Southwest 140th Street, Burien, WA
I’ve written about rain gardens before as a way to divert run-off water from storm-drains to an area that cleans the water as it slowly percolates into the ground water. This workshop isn’t about rain gardens, but I’m betting they mention them.
According to the organizers you will learn “how to incorporate more native plants that use less water, how to attract more wildlife, and how to improve soil and water health, and the overall health of the Puget Sound.” Who wouldn’t want that?
If you want to help keep Puget Sound healthy, register for this workshop. It’ll be a good starting point for positive action, or a nice refresher if you are already on your way. And then a stroll along the beach? Heck yes.
This gardening season, I’ve learned quite a bit about things that don’t work. One of the things that I’ve struggled with this gardening season is making sure my plants get enough water. A lot of the time, I’ve been too busy or forgetful to gauge how much water my plants need (luckily this season has been rainy enough that I haven’t had to worry TOO much). But the drier months in Burien are coming up and we’ve already experienced a really nice, warm, rain-free couple of days this week. If the weather and my forgetfulness keep up, my plants are doomed.
This is where this week’s project comes in handy. With some inexpensive objects you may already have lying around, you can build a self-watering container that will keep your plants happy and hydrated.
These self-watering containers have recently been popularized by Earthbox, but the idea behind them is old and simple. The self-watering container holds a reservoir of water in the bottom that is absorbed by the plant as needed through a wick. This system allows the plant to regulate its own watering for just the right amount of moisture and the gardener to only have to fill the reservoir about once a week (depending on weather). Overflow holes inform the gardener when to stop filling the reservoir and provide air for the plant’s roots.
There are several methods to make this system (which are well documented in several places, namely here, but I’ll just show you what I did. In my example, the gap between the two buckets when stacked together acts as the reservoir, drilled holes in the bottom of the inner bucket allow for aeration and a place for the wick. An old plastic cup with holes in it connects the inner bucket and the reservoir to act as a saturated wick for the plant to draw water from. The PVC pipe that runs to the bottom of the barrel allows for refilling the reservoir. The lid on top keeps your plant’s moisture in.
+ Two five-gallon buckets and one lid (previously used for edibles, not chemicals) Mine have previously carried strawberries from the Wild Strawberry Festival and coffee grounds from Burien Press.
+ A twelve-ounce plastic drink cup (mine was previously a 12oz iced americano)
+ About 2 ft PVC pipe (1 to 1.25 inches diameter) (This cost me less than a dollar at McLendon’s)
+ Potting Soil
+ Plants to plant (I’m growing two kinds of heirloom tomatoes – Green Zebra and a Japanese black from Village Green Perennial Nursery in North Highline)
+ A drill
+ Sharp Knife or box cutter
+ Sharpie or pen (for marking the buckets)
Having the right tools will make things a lot easier, but this project is possible without them. If you don’t have these tools, do what I did and ask your local handyman for help.
Make your Markings:
First, put one bucket inside the other and make two marks, opposite each other for overflow holes. These holes should be placed on the outer bucket, just under the border of the inside bucket.
Next, turn the inner bucket upside-down. Using your sharpie, trace the outline of your cup (face down) in the center of the base. This is where the cup will rest as a wick. You will actually need to cut just inside this line, so the cup doesn’t slip all the way through.
Near the edge, trace the outline of the PVC pipe to allow for a refill. Then mark several spots where you will drill aeration holes. (Think swiss cheese)
You may want to use your cup again to trace a hole on the lid for your plant to stick out of. You will also need to trace the PVC pipe on one of the edges to allow for refill.
Measure the PVC pipe from the bottom of the outer bucket to the top of the inner bucket. Make sure it’s long enough for it to stick out of the top of the inner bucket when they are stacked. Also make a marking to cut the bottom of the pipe at an angle, so water can flow out into the reservoir.
Make your Cuttings:
The next step is to cut all these holes! You may use a jigsaw for the larger circles, or, if you’re super handy, (like my handyman Jan) you’ll have attachments for your drill that happen to be the exact size as the holes you need.
For the smaller holes, for aeration and overflow, I used a 5/16 drill bit which was about the size of a pea.
Jan had a handy table saw that could cut my PVC pipe at a perfect 45 degree angle. I insisted it didn’t need to be exact, but it’s pretty tough to argue with Jan.
The hole in the bottom of the inner bucket should be cut inside the line you previously traced. It should cause the cup to sit just at or above the bottom of the outer bucket without significant gaps.
You’ll need to puncture some holes in the cup. You may want to drill some nice clean holes into it, or if you’re ghetto like me, you’ll just cut some random X’s into the sides with a box cutter. As long as water can seep in, you’re good to go.
You’ve done all the hard work, now comes putting it all together. Place the inner bucket (the one with the aeration holes) inside the outer bucket (the one with only two overflow holes in the sides). Then, place the PVC pipe, angled side down, in its proper receptacle.
Fill the bucket with potting soil, and place your plant as close to the center as possible.
Carefully feed your plant through the lid and fit the PVC pipe in its proper hole in the lid.
And that’s it! Fill up your reservoir, set it, and forget it (for about a week)!
Get ready for some carefree forgetful gardening. Your plant is smart enough to take water when it needs it.
You have probably seen Topsy Turvy ads on TV and in stores, or maybe you have one hanging on your front porch. These devices have grown in popularity over the past few years and are work well for many reasons: 1. Because the plants are hanging instead of growing up a trellis, the gravity pulls them down faster than they would be able to climb up a pole. 2. No weeding involved! 3. You don’t have to bend down to pick your fruit. 4. They are less susceptible to disease and pests. 5. You can successfully grow a lot of different kinds of plants in it, including tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and cucumbers.
The only problem is, I think they look a little tacky.
Please don’t take offense, I just think there is a better way to do the same thing for cheaper than $19.99 plus shipping and handling that looks nicer, to boot!
If you want your hanging fruit or vegetable garden to look a little nicer and you want to be more sustainable, you can make your own hanging garden out of an old hanging basket or even a 5 gallon bucket.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Hanging Basket or 5 gallon bucket with a handle (or any opaque container)
2. Potting soil
3. A pocket knife (or if you’re using a bucket, a drill capable of making a large hole
4. A couple kinds of plants to hang (I’m using strawberries and tomatoes), must be seed starts, like you’d find at your local plant nursery or hardware store
5. A sheet of newspaper
To begin, take your pocket knife (or drill) and stab a hole big enough to feed your plants through in the bottom of your container. Mine ended up being about a 1.5 inch square. If you are planting more than one hanging plant,
Next, prepare your plants to be inserted in these holes. You may find it helpful to wrap a piece of newspaper over the base of your plant to keep it from falling out, if the hole you made is too big. I also recommend grabbing a friend to help you in this step. One person should hold the basket upside down while the other carefully feeds the leaves and stems through the hole. I can tell you right now that balancing the plant on your knee while holding the basket in one hand and trying to feed the leaves with the other is pretty difficult.
It is also helpful to have a place to hang that basket while you’re adding more plants and soil. The next step is to add any other plants you’ll have hanging from the sides. Make sure you break up the roots, so they can grow well. Then add some potting soil on top.
After that, you may even want to add plants that will grow from the top of your container. With my strawberries, I chose to plant two different kinds to cross-pollinate. I paired cilantro and oregano with my tomato plant, as well.
Once you place your plants on top, fill your container with remaining topsoil and voila, you have your own homemade hanging vegetable basket!
One important note about hanging baskets is that they need to be watered more frequently than plants that are in the ground. Strawberries and tomatoes need to have continual moist soil, so make sure you water every day and maybe even twice a day on especially hot days.
Stay tuned, in two weeks I’ll be talking about planting native plants in place of your lawn (or part of it).
Each week Michael Stein-Ross contributes Sustain, a column about community & sustainability in Burien.
While many Burienites were exploring the many health options at the Burien Health and Wellness Fair on Saturday, a small group of neighbors and community members dedicated the better part of a day to install a cluster of eight rain gardens around SW 150th St. and 24th Ave SW, just south of Eagle Landing Park. Rain Gardens are beautiful landscape features that catch and filter polluted runoff, help prevent flooding and provide habitat for birds and wildlife. Sharing labor, food and ideas, it became a very successful community building weekend! (more…)