Tuesday, November 13, 2012

From Lisa Alba, Advanced Inquiry Program graduate student and Community Engagement intern:
One of the best things about fall is the look and smell of fallen leaves. Brings back memories of raking them into piles and exploding through those piles as a child. Now, instead of raking those leaves and putting them in the yard waste container, use them yourself in your garden. Fallen leaves make great mulch, you can even save them until spring when the new growth needs some extra fertilizer.

Take a look around your yard and find all the places you can use leaves for winter mulch, then just rake the leaves over that area. If the leaves are too large, you can shred them a bit to promote faster decomposition. Leaving the larger leaves will help provide food and shelter for beneficial microbes, insects, and small critters for winter. 

Leaving those beautiful colored leaves in your yard over winter is not only festive, it is also good for the health of your backyard habitat!

Here's more information and resources on using fallen leaves to put your garden to bed for the winter:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Garden-Based Education with Seattle Tilth!


Seattle Tilth is offering three Garden Educator Workshops this fall. These classes are excellent professional development for educators seeking new ideas to teach sustainability topics to kids in a garden setting.

Grow a Garden with Kids: Fall Garden Educator Workshops with Seattle Tilth

Teachers, add some spice to your curriculum!

Intro to Organic Schoolyard Gardening
§  Sat., Oct. 20, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
§  $60 individuals, $50 Seattle Tilth members

Grow a schoolyard garden! Explore basic organic gardening principles through hands-on activities. Practice food growing techniques within the context of a schoolyard learning garden. Register now.

§  Sat., Nov. 3, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
§  $60 individuals, $50 Seattle Tilth members

Use the garden as a living classroom! Bring your teaching to life with hands-on activities for children in the garden. Explore garden design, seasonal program planning, developing a volunteer program and community engagement. Register now.

§  Sat., Dec 1, 9 a.m.-noon
§  $36 individuals, $25 Seattle Tilth members

This half-day workshop offers educators an introduction to sustainability in school gardens. Learn garden lessons, school projects and teaching techniques that will help your students understand the interdependence of the planet. Register now.
Fall Garden & Farm Tours for Children and Youth
Bring your class or group to Seattle Tilth’s gardens or farms for a hands-on educational tour! Learn about critters, plants, growing food and taking care of the environment. Children pre-K through 5th grade can visit our gardens in North Seattle or Issaquah, or our farm and wetlands in SE Seattle. Middle and high school students can also visit our farm and wetlands in SE Seattle. Find out more.

Visit our website to browse all of Seattle Tilth’s children’s education programs:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fall Savvy Gardener Classes

We've added a new class to our fall line up!
Many of you have asked us how to combine rainwater harvesting with drip irrigation. Now we have a class for you on September 26th. Check out the Irrigation section below and register soon. We anticipate this class will fill quickly.
Just a reminder that our first fall class starts on Saturday, September 15th at Magnusson Community Center.
These classes are brought to you by the Saving Water Partnership and Cascade Water Alliance so that we can offer free classes throughout King County. If one isn't in your area, we hope you'll check out other locations.


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Look under the lawn & yard care section (Fall Groundwork in the Natural Garden) for a class that talks about putting your food garden and other plants to bed for the winter. Other food gardening classes will resume next spring.


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Beautiful Solutions for Gardening on Slopes
Emily Bishton, Landscape designer and environmental educator
Learn how you can replace hard-to-mow slopes with beautiful, easy care plantings. We'll focus on critical soil building steps, plant selection, planting techniques and proper watering. See for yourself how a heavily-compacted slope in Magnuson Park has been completely transformed, and how the plants in a second garden rebounded as a result of building healthy soil. Please note, this class is not intended for very steep slopes that require structural engineering.
Optional hands-on learning: Join us after the class at 10:30 for experience in proper planting and mulching at the adjacent Resource Conservation Landscape demonstration garden. Additional sponsorship from Magnuson Community Center.
  • Register through Seattle Parks & Recreation
    Saturday, September 15 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.
    Magnuson Community Center/Windemere Room
    7110 62nd Ave NE, 98115
    Register through Parks online | Phone: (206) 684-7026
Wildlife-Friendly Gardening for Beauty and Sustainability
Emily Bishton, Landscape designer and environmental educator
Welcome songbirds, butterflies, and beneficial insects into your yard while conserving natural resources at the same time. Discover how urban wildlife can provide you with year-round natural pest and weed control and better pollination. See beautiful, tried-and-true plants in Magnuson's Bird-Friendly Landscape. Learn about design techniques and maintenance practices that can attract and nurture beneficial wildlife in your garden for years to come.
Optional hands-on learning: Join us after the class at 10:30 for experience in proper planting and mulching at the adjacent Bird-friendly Landscape demonstration garden. Additional sponsorship from Magnuson Community Center.
  • Register through Seattle Parks & Recreation
    Saturday, October 20 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.
    Magnuson Community Center/Windemere Room
    7110 62nd Ave NE, 98115
    Register through Parks online | Phone: (206) 684-7026
Wonderful Plants for Winter Color
Susie Egan, Owner of Cottage Lake Gardens, Master Gardener
Enjoy beauty in the winter! Learn about the trees, shrubs and perennials that will add evergreen foliage, eye-catching bark, bright berries and fragrant flowers to your garden. Master gardener Susie Egan will present a colorful slide show of all these plants which she grows at Cottage Lake Gardens.
  • Register through Brown Paper Tickets:
    Saturday, September 29 10:00 – 11:30 am
    21 Acres
    13701 NE 171st Street, Woodinville
    Register online | Phone: 1-800-838-30066
Sustainable Garden Design
Jessi Bloom, Owner of NW Bloom Ecological Landscapes
From low-maintenance, beautiful plants to delicious edibles, this class will cover strategies to create a thriving garden. Learn how to work with your yard's light, soil and water to create a healthy, nourished landscape. You'll also discover strategies that allow you to have a pesticide-free garden that is safe for families and pets. Award-winning landscape designer and horticulturist, Jessi Bloom is a Timber Press author and owner of N.W. Bloom Ecological Landscapes.
  • Register through Brown Paper Tickets:
    Wednesday, October 17 6:30 – 8:00 pm
    21 Acres
    13701 NE 171st Street, Woodinville
    Register online | Phone: 1-800-838-30066


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Healthy Soils
Ladd Smith, Co-Owner of In Harmony or Graham Haroldson, In Harmony
Healthy, beautiful, long-lived plants are the result of healthy soil. Participants will learn everything they need to know about soil to create an environment where plants will thrive. We will discuss what soil is made of, what lives in the soil, the importance of pore space, and how to use mulch to improve and protect your soil, while conserving water.
Register through Brown Paper Tickets.
Thursday, September 27 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Redmond Senior Center
8703 160th Avenue NE, Redmond
Register online | Phone: 1-800-838-3006


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Fall Gardening for Spring Beauty Next Year
Ladd Smith, Owner of In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes
Take advantage of cool weather, great plant sales and lots of leaves. Fall gardening provides a head start to next year's garden successes. Learn the key steps to put your garden to rest for the winter months. Discover how these tasks can reduce next year's weeding and watering while helping your plants thrive even more in spring and summer.
  • Register through Brown Paper Tickets:
    Wednesday, September 19 6:30 – 8:00 pm
    21 Acres
    13701 NE 171st Street, Woodinville
    Register online | Phone: 1-800-838-30066
  • Sunday, October 7; 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
    McLendon Hardware
    440 Rainier Avenue South, Renton
    No pre-registration needed. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis at McLendon's.
Natural Yard Care
Ladd Smith, Owner of In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes
By working with Mother Nature, you can have a great looking landscape that's easier to care for and healthier for families, pets, wildlife, and our great Northwest environment.  Come learn what Natural Yard Care is all about and how to create a healthy, beautiful yard. 
Register through Brown Paper Tickets.
Fall Groundwork in the Natural Garden
Falaah Jones, Seattle Tilth, Garden Hotline educator
Get a jump on spring by taking care of the garden in fall! Learn how to take advantage of our Maritime Northwest climate with fall planting and soil building. Discover which mulches work best for different types of plants and learn a variety of methods to protect your plants through the winter. Join us in some hands on soil building activities by planting cover crops, adding compost and mulching garden beds for the winter. You may be surprised as we dispel some common planting and mulching practices. Take these steps now for next year's successful growing season.
Register through Brown Paper Tickets.


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Rainwater Harvesting and Drip Irrigation:
A Perfect Pairing

Dan Borba, Natural Rainwater, Rainwater Harvesting and Carey Thorton, Seattle Tilth, Drip Irrigation
Rainwater is pure, plentiful and your plants love it. Best of all, it's free! Rainwater harvesting is the practice of collecting and storing rainwater for use in your yard. Drip irrigation is an extremely efficient and effective way to water your plants. This class will teach you how to utilize both technologies to help you save money and keep your landscape looking great!
Register through Brown Paper Tickets.
  • Saturday, September 26 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
    Kirkland Maintenance Center
    915 8th St, Kirkland
    Register online | Phone: 1-800-838-3006

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Seattle Celebrates Local Food and Urban Farming at 25th Annual Harvest Fair

Where else can you press apples into cider and learn to make cheese while listening to live music outdoors? Seattle Tilth’s Harvest Fair invites you to do all that and more at Seattle’s local food and urban farming festival! The 25th annual Harvest Fair is on Saturday, September 8, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Meridian Park.

The Harvest Fair is a lively event with workshops, demonstrations, family activities and tasty food. See urban goats and chickens, talk to beekeepers and cheese makers, swap seeds and barter home made goods! Local organic farm stands will be abundant and overflowing with fresh produce at the height of harvest season. Stock-up on native and edible plants, local books, garden supplies, farm crafts and sustainable goods.

Workshops and demos include yoga for gardeners, fermenting foods, natural dyes, seed saving, making mozzarella cheese, edible mushrooms and cooking demonstrations. Food donations are being collected for the food bank at the BEET Hunger booth.

Activities include:
  • Raffle to win a chicken coop, beekeeping starter kit or year’s supply of Organic Valley milk
  • Seed swap
  • Cider pressing
  • Urban livestock area
  • DIY herb crowns
  • Barter hosted by Backyard Barter (11 a.m.-1 p.m.)
  • Kids crafts in the children’s garden
  • Organic farmer’s market
  • Sustainable vendors
  • Kids' parade
  • Live music from Slap and Tickle, Mostly Water, Creepin' Critters, Holy Crows, Bucharest Drinking Team and Nyamuziwa Marimba
Readers to Eaters will present regional authors discussing their books in our speaker’s tent. Authors include:
  • Colin McCrate, Food Grown Right in Your Backyard
  • Jill Lightener, Edible Seattle Cookbook
  • Larry Korn, English editor of Masanobu Fukuoka's Sowing Seeds in the Desert
  • Pat Tanumihardja, Asian Grandmother's Cookbook

Known for teaching people to grow food organically and conserve natural resources, Seattle Tilth brings together over 50 participating organizations and businesses for this annual community event. Key sponsors include Organic Valley, PCC Natural Markets, New Roots Organics, Bastyr Center for Natural Health and Seattle Seed Company. Media sponsors include KUOW and Chinook Book. The Harvest Fair is a kick-off for Washington Organic Week.

Volunteers are needed to help make it all happen and volunteering is a fun way to get involved and meet people. Admission is FREE but donations are accepted at the entrance to help cover event costs. See you at the Harvest Fair!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Opportunities with National Wildlife Federation!

The following backyard habitat-related opportunities are available through your local National Wildlife Federation office:

Habitat Ambassador:
Help others learn how to garden for wildlife by hosting a table at a community event, giving a short presentation or distributing National Wildlife Federation literature. The training is done online with an NWF-provided CD and takes approximately five hours.

Community Wildlife Habitat™ Team Leader:
Once you have registered your own yard as a Certified Wildlife Habitat™, you can take your commitment to the next level by forming a Community Wildlife Habitat team and getting your community certified.

Habitat Steward:
Teach others in your community how to create habitat for wildlife by giving presentations, volunteering to create a Schoolyard Habitats™ site, writing articles for local media or restoring habitat in a public site. Training is in-person and more intense than for a Habitat Ambassador and takes 24 hours, usually over three successive weekends or you can participate in the Woodland Park Zoo Backyard Habitat Classes. Habitat Stewards make a commitment to volunteer for at least 30 hours within the year following their training.

Interested? Contact Courtney Sullivan, National Wildlife Federation Education Manager, at 206-577-7175 or sullivanc@nwf.org

Monday, March 19, 2012

Watershed Walks

Plan to attend a Watershed Walks training event Saturday, April 7, 1 – 4 pm and you’ll learn how to lead engaging, informative walks in your community that connect residents to their environment!

The Watershed Walks Program is designed to train Neighborhood Walking Ambassadors to educate residents about the natural ecology of the Longfellow Creek/Duwamish River Watershed. Individuals attending this event will become trained Neighborhood Walking Ambassadors. Camp Long Naturalist Jeanie Murphy-Ouellette and Feet First Volunteer Coordinator Darcy Edmunds will lead this training on how to effectively engage walking groups, what environmental threats affect our watersheds, and how individuals can reduce their impact on local ecologies.

The Watershed Walks Program provides an enjoyable way for people to learn about the relationship between their actions and a clean environment, and will provide participants an opportunity to experience their environment and community in a different, more intimate way.

Seattle Public Library - Delridge Branch
5423 Delridge Way SW, Seattle, WA 98106

For more information or to register for this free training, contact Feet First Volunteer Coordinator Darcy Edmunds by emailing darcy@feetfirst.org or calling 206-652-2310, ext. 5. Participation is limited to the first 20 people. All individuals will receive a training packet including a full color watershed map of Longfellow Creek. http://www.feetfirst.org/events/watershed-walks-training

The Watershed Walks Program is a collaborative effort by Feet First and Camp Long, made possible through a grant from The Mountaineers Foundation.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Early Morning Bird Walk at Woodland Park Zoo!

Saturday, May 12, 2012
6:45-9:00 a.m.

In celebration of International Migratory Bird Day, take a guided tour of zoo grounds with a keeper and learn firsthand about the wild birds that call Woodland Park Zoo home, and those that make it a temporary home during their annual migration. Zookeepers and expert staff will be your guides, giving natural history and birding tips to participants of all ages and levels of experience. The walk will last approximately two hours. Please bring binoculars and weather-appropriate clothing. A light breakfast of pastries and coffee will be served.

Cost: $20 per adult non-zoo member; $10 per adult zoo member. Children 12 and under are free. Reservations are required. RSVP by emailing Eric.Kowalczyk@zoo.org. Space is limited to the first 50 RSVPs.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spring is coming! Get nest boxes ready for new occupants

From Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife's Crossing Paths News Notes:

Spring may officially be several weeks off, but now is the time to get your bird nest boxes cleaned out and ready for new, incoming occupants. Many backyard sanctuary managers who use nest boxes leave them up year-round and leave nesting materials in them through the winter, when some birds will use them as nightime roost sites. But migrating birds that use cavities for nesting, like bluebirds, swallows and wrens, will be returning next month and they prefer clean quarters to follow their instincts to build their own nests.

All nest boxes attract insects - mites, lice, fleas, flies, hornets, spiders and more. In small numbers they are relatively harmless to birds, but in larger numbers they can cause injuries and even fatalities to young birds. Inspect all nest boxes to clean out insects and also to remove the old nesting material. Although some diligent and industrious birds will remove old nesting material before building their own particular nest, many more will just build on top of an old nest. That kind of layering can raise the nest dangerously close to the entrance hole where predators might reach eggs or young.

Your inspection may turn up dead nestlings or infertile eggs, which of course should also be removed. Be sure to use protective gloves, maybe even a dust mask, and dispose of everything you find in nest boxes away from the site to avoid smells that can attract predators. Nest box maintenance includes tightening screws, loosening lag bolts, unblocking drainage holes, and generally making sure everything is secure and working right.

If you find a nest box in your collection that year after year goes unused, consider relocating it. It might not be in the appropriate habitat or suitable height location for the species it's built for, or perhaps it's in the right place but is not built correctly. Check the entrance hole size, overall size dimensions, and other factors that are important to, and different for, various species of nest-box-using birds. Details are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/projects/nestboxes/index.html .

If the same nest box turns up dead nestlings or infertile eggs more than once, consider relocation to avoid competitors or predators, or remodeling to protect the species using the box. A predator block - just a one-inch thick piece of wood drilled with the appropriate size hole - mounted over the entrance hole to create a short tunnel into the nest, can deter starlings, raccoons, or squirrels that have chewed the original hole bigger. Another improvement is to remove any perch post projecting out from the front of a nest box. Our native cavity-nesting birds don't need these perches but they are used by more aggressive non-native birds to harass nesting birds.

If you often have earlier-arriving starlings or English house sparrows dominating your nest box site, you may want to plug the entrance hole until later this spring when martins or swallows or other native species arrive. Small paper cups and other such plugs work well. Remember to remove the plug as soon as you see your "target" species return to the area, or when you otherwise learn of its return to your area. (Online birding chat groups can be a good source of news about migratory bird movements.)

If you watch a nest box closely enough this spring to know when birds have finished raising a brood, you can clean out the box again to encourage another pair to use it or the same pair to nest again. Just don't bother an obviously occupied nest box.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spring Backyard Habitat Classes at Woodland Park Zoo

At this series of five classes, you'll learn from experts from Seattle Audubon, Seattle Tilth, Washington Native Plant Society and Woodland Park Zoo about how to design your wildlife habitat, attract birds and other wildlife to your backyard, select and care for native plants, manage your backyard sustainably, coexist peacefully with the wildlife you attract, and get your yard certified as a Backyard Habitat.

Cost: $25 per person / $100 for the five-part series if you register before 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14th.

For more information or to register, see the zoo’s Backyard Habitat page: www.zoo.org/backyardhabitat

Thursday, January 19, 2012

King Conservation District 21st Annual Native Bareroot Plant Sale

The King Conservation District offers a variety of native trees and shrubs for conservation purposes such as wildlife habitat, windbreaks, hedgerows, reforestation and stream enhancement. The plants are bareroot stock which means they do not come in pots or burlap bags, but are harvested from the field in winter when the plants are dormant and ready to be replanted. Bareroot plants are affordable, hardy, have well-developed roots, are easy to handle, transport and plant.

The King CD will hold its next native bareroot plant sale on March 2 & 3, 2012. We always recommend pre-ordering as this is the best way to ensure plant availability. For the first time ever, we are offering online ordering! Please see the King Conservation District website for more information or to order online. Pre-order deadline is January 27th.