Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Northwest Flower & Garden Show 2012: Seminar reflections

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show does a wonderful job of organizing seminars and bringing in relevant speakers for today's gardeners.  This includes more traditional gardening to edible gardening and backyard chicken keeping (and incorporating them into your garden). There wasn't a seminar I attended this year that I didn't learn something new and enjoy (that has not always been true in the past).  I am so thankful for all the hard work put in by the seminar team and the willingness for so many awesome seminar speakers to come and share with the show attendees.

Click on any of the photos below to check out these fantastic garden books!

Diane Ott Whealy (co-founder) from Seed Savers Exchange shared her story about why they focused on saving heirloom seed.  Because she had a close relationship with her grandparents and their farm, Diane learned about heirloom seed, how it connects the generations; how it has a story to tell.  Our story.

This is my first year focusing on growing with heirloom seed.  I am excited for this new adventure in the garden and, now, to learn more about each seed's story too!

It was greatly encouraging to learn that neither Diane nor her husband has a degree or background in horticulture, genetics, etc ~ they were AMATEURS; not experts.  Just loved to garden!  They have had a major impact in saving seed that would otherwise have been lost to gardeners.  Thank you!  

How I wish I had heard Rosalind Creasy share many years ago, but it was my time to meet her and receive now.   What a talented woman and engaging speaker!  She has a great wealth of information to share with gardeners and encouraged me to pursue true "edible landscaping" and not 'this type of garden here' and 'that type of garden' there...  Her garden photos were most inspiring!  She's the author of several wonderful books to encourage all kinds of gardeners and she shared, "ALWAYS have flowers and vegetables growing together!"

She also shared that the greater the COLOR in an edible plant, the more nutritious.  Just say NO to white veggies...!  It's colored cauliflower for us from now on.   

I "met" Willi Galloway of DigginFood at her trellis workshop that she gave.  (Wish I had felt well enough on Thursday to attend the seminar focused on her new book, but I shall purchase the book and follow her blog more closely now.)  She shared a lot of really great ideas and I can hardly wait to try them in our garden this season.  Our squash will never grow on the ground again... (Check out her blog to see her trellis ideas.)  And that, is just the beginning!  If you're a foodie ~ you'll want to get her book and expand your food knowledge.  

Bill Thorness, a local gardener, also had a great seminar about cool season veggies.  I've owned his book for a year or two now, but haven't actually read it yet.  After being in the seminar, it is on my MUST READ list and I'm looking forward to his new book to be published early next year.  Bill shared an informative planting guide with the focus of planting between February through November; what when and all the details.  I appreciated his talk about season extenders to help gardeners ~ floating row covers, cloches, soil thermometers, as well as general air temperature thermometer.  Great pictures and super encouraged to garden year round beginning in 2012!

The only seminar I attended that didn't have a book associated with it was Seattle Urban Farm Company's Peak of Perfection ~ learning to harvest at the right time.  *That said, they do have a new book being published this year.  It's available for pre-order from Amazon for release this spring.  It would be a great book for beginning gardeners.  Even though I've been gardening for a few years now, I did learn a lot in Colin's seminar.  Colin talked a lot about plant parts and understanding what each plant does and what part is eaten.   A few things I learned:  Must harvest green beans when they are pencil size.  If I keep up with the harvest, our plants will be even more productive.  Pumpkin/squash plants need to die back and allow the stem to dry too before harvesting for better storage.  Basil ~ cut or pinch off the part of the plant you want to harvest down to where the stem meet 2 branches that go out from the stem.  This will encourage the most growth from your basil plants.  Cabbage last a long time and can be left in the garden for an extended period of time or stored in the fridge.  And, if you want to grow cilantro ~ you should plant a few seeds every other week to keep a fresh supply in your garden...  

Jessi Bloom had two seminars entitled "What the Cluck?" Part 1 and 2.  I saw the title of her new book prior to the seminars and thought, "Free Range chicken gardens ~ yeah, right."  I've done a lot of reading about raising backyard chickens and attended a couple of classes.  Everything I had heard was, "You cannot mix your chickens and your garden or the girls will destroy it."  Then, I listened to what Jessi had to say throughout 2 seminars and I became a believer and know it's the best set-up for every aspect of raising our own food and incorporating chickens!  I am currently devouring Jessi's book and loving it!  It will be a process, but my plan is live out the model Jessi shares for it is a healthy model for our whole food system.

A few things I learned:  Chickens don't eat herbs.  They don't like the smell.  Jessi's Top 10 "chicken" plants.  Gardeners with chickens need to have a "tool box" ready to assist them if chickens begin causing problems with plants that you don't want them to.

You can also check out Jessi's blog at Garden Fowl.    

Thank you for being a voice that was different from the majority, Jessi!  I am so inspired!

I remember Graham Kerr as the Galloping Gourmet, but life brought a change in his path and he began looking at food much differently.  Today, he is encouraging people to be Citizen Neighbors ~ caring about others, our world and the food we eat.  His new project is E.G.G.S. Carton Club!  

His motto about food is:  Get your food fast before anyone else gets to it!  
(Especially if you don't want "stuff" put into it; chemicals, additives, etc.)  We have to know what we're eating and protect it too.

His new project is encouraging people to be actively involved with their food, their neighbors and their community (especially those in need).  His hope is that 6-12 people in a neighborhood will grow their own food, gather together once a month to share a meal together and also share food they are growing with those in need.  EGGS =

E:  Eat more plants; ALOT more plants
G:  Grow more plants
G:  Gather more; share a meal with neighbors
S:  Share with others

He is hoping this vision will catch on and a population of people will be living this out by 2020.  Graham indicated that our goal should be 1 pound of produce consumed (per person) daily, while reaching for 2 pounds ultimately.  He said that 1/10 acre can produce enough food for us to be fed each year.  It doesn't sound like too much space is needed, huh?  Are you up for the challenge?  Do you want to make a difference?  Check out his website, get to know some neighbors and get growing!

His book is about his first year growing a kitchen garden and has wonderful information about food you've grown, how to use them and, what look to be, tasty recipes!  I can hardly wait to read it.

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Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! Abundant blessings on your day... Joanie