Tuesday, March 31, 2015


nothing lasts forever;
but if you are lucky, it will last a lifetime

Sunday, March 29, 2015


when the gnawing and clawing become overwhelming,
the writing begins

Saturday, March 28, 2015

social anorexia

Writing this is difficult for me. The idea of how to explain my sketchy social behavior leaves my mouth dry and my head pounding. I will begin by saying that I am always filled with envy when meeting people who are actually good at consummating friendships and are comfortable with being overtly extroverted. It seems like most of the world has this skill dialed. I am pretty sure most people even enjoy themselves when they are with a large group of friends. And I can't help but wonder what is wrong with me.
Sometimes I feel like a social anorexic; denying myself the food of deep friendships, all the while slowly wasting away into a ghost or shadow of myself....someone easily looked through or seldom considered as an individual fit to be a good friend. And honestly, it is a symptom of my own choices. At some point, people get tired of inviting someone who never shows up or when they do show up, they are awkward, introspective and just plain weird. I have watched happy people become uncomfortably silent in my presence. And thus, the awkwardness between us grows and the intensity of my social discomfort only increases. I feel the need to run away, leave the scene or to find a chair in a dim corner and wait to go home.
And I will admit to bailing on more than one occasion when the pressure of just showing up to a party or event felt overwhelming and frightening. I have any number of default excuses that keep me from participating in large (or small) gatherings and I try and rotate through them; never giving the same excuse to the same person more than once in a row. And even as the excuses come tumbling out of my mouth, inside my head I am screaming to myself. Because more than anything, I want to be among you, I just don't know how to do it.

As it is with most people, personal baggage can be hard to identify and can take years of hard work to rectify. I have tried to pinpoint exactly when I developed such a friendship phobia (I don't have a people phobia; I love people) and it seems to have started in grade school and continued all the way through high school. Constant shunning by individuals I identified as 'good friends' and even some of my favorite family members, led me to build a wall around the softest parts of my heart. For the sake of self preservation I began to keep friends at arms length in anticipation of the eventual pain that comes with the dissolution of a friendship.
When I finally made my way to college my relationships became more genuine, stable and real. And although the wall was still there, I built a sturdy door with a solid lock and started handing out copies of the key to a couple of my favorite people. The door can still be barred from the inside, so even with a key, admittance is not guaranteed. I have heard the term 'social anxiety' and I suppose that applies to me. And although many people I know would describe me as extroverted (I interact openly with strangers, just not friends), the core of my being still houses a huddled and scared introvert.
But what I am really hoping to explain is that I understand that this is all on me; not on you, my friends. In fact, I love most of you more than you love me (certainly). I peek out of the curtains of my world into the great vista of yours and am satisfied with waving to you as you pass by. And honestly, I am content if you just wave back. If you are walking alone, I may even get over my fear enough to open the door and ask you if you want to come in. If you are traveling with a group, I will probably keep the door locked and I might even step away from the window and watch unnoticed through the gauze of the curtains. Some days, if I am feeling particularly safe, I might come outside and ask if it is okay to walk with you. And, mostly on those days, I am hoping  that you will smile, take my hand and lead the way. Because I don't know how to lead this dance anymore, although I am willing to learn the steps.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

July Pests 2014

Warm weather brings out the best and worst in all of us, including pests. Insect pests can be a re-occurring problem in any garden.  With warm weather and plenty of water available due to regular irrigating, insects can reproduce rapidly and can move from being a minor nuisance to down-right destructive. There are many pests that are common to gardens in this region and the WSU Chelan County Diagnosis Clinic has seen all of them.   One of the most asked about pests according to Linda Sarratt, Master Diagnostician, are cutworms.
There are many species of cutworm but all have essentially the same life stages and tell-tale signs of destruction.  Cutworms are the larvae of a small, brown, nocturnal moth. The female moth may lay hundreds of eggs in the fall which can over-winter on the soil surface or on low growing vegetation and plant residue (in other words, the weeds you didn’t clean out of your garden in September and October).  When the larvae hatch in the spring (timing of hatch out is moisture dependent), they begin to nibble away at the surrounding vegetation and are particularly keen on asparagus, beans, cabbage and other crucifers, carrots, celery, corn, lettuce, peas, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes....really, the whole garden (sometimes even turfgrass, depending on the species of cutworm).  Signs of cutworm damage are classic. One day, you will see a beautiful row of seedlings newly emerged and full of vigor. The following day, you will notice several seedlings look like they have been ‘cut’ at the base. The upper portion of the seedling may be still partially attached to its base but leaning at an exaggerated angle or it may be lying on the ground next to the ‘stump’ which used to be its stem. The following day, more seedlings will be missing. This cycle will continue until all seedlings have been decimated.
So what can you do about this?  If you think cutworms are the culprits at play in your garden, the first step is to try and capture one for positive ID. Cutworms feed at night and then hide under the surface of the soil during the day. By running your finger around the damaged plant and stirring up the soil to a depth of about ½ inch, oftentimes you will find the larvae (1/2” to 1.5” in length is typical). Any larvae that you find should be destroyed.
Another technique is to put foil or cardboard collars around newly transplanted seedlings.  Creating collars by cutting the bottom off of a compostable paper cup works well. The cup can be slipped over the top of the seedling after the bottom is cut off and then the base of the cup can be nestled down into the soil to a depth of about 1.5”.  This acts as a physical barrier between the cutworm and the seedling.
Additionally, diatomaceous earth (a non-toxic naturally derived form of powdered silica) can be incorporated into the soil around newly planted seedlings and can be sprinkled onto the plant itself. The diatomaceous earth is a ‘death of a thousand cuts’ to small, soft-bodied pests like the cutworm.
Lastly, practice preventative maintenance by removing weeds and other plant residue from the garden throughout the season but mainly in the fall. This limits the places for females to lay eggs.
For more information on cutworms, the University of Minnesota has put out an information sheet at the following web address, http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/cutworms-in-home-gardens/
If in doubt about the proper identification of an insect of particular concern to your garden, the WSU Master Gardener Diagnosis Clinic is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 1-4 PM at 400 Washington Street across from the court house in Wenatchee and is free of charge to home-owners.
As always, happy gardening!

Microgreens 2014

Oh fresh greens! I miss you already and winter has only just begun. I don’t deal well with the deprivation that this darkness delivers. Fortunately, there are some edibles that grow well enough indoors that I can indulge in chlorophyll over the next few months without the need for a heated greenhouse. Have you ever grown micro-greens? What about pea shoots? They are not that difficult to grow and they are incredibly satisfying to eat.
Micro-greens are the smallest of shoots, harvested in the stage between cotyledon and first true leaf.  Many types of plants are used as ‘micro-greens’ including broccoli, amaranth, radish or kale. While managing the garden at Sleeping Lady, I was given the opportunity to experiment at will to find the microgreens best suited to winter production in their greenhouse. A look through a Johnny’s Seeds catalog will give you an idea of the variety of plants that are used in micro-greens production. Some are used for their color, others for their sturdiness and keeping ability and others for flavor. The price range for micro-green seed is broad and often has little to do with the ease or difficulty in growing. Some of the most expensive seed is also the most finicky to grow with the highest chance of failure. Hands-down my favorite ones to grow were the radishes.  Often the seed was far less expensive than most other micro-greens, the size of the seed was larger and easier to handle and the growth rate was rapid and predictable.  The flavor and texture of the radish sprouts was also exceptional and the holding ability after being cut was much better than some of the more delicate sprouts (such as beets, purslane or amaranth).
Pea shoots are equally easy to grow. Again, many types of peas are sold for shoot production. The ones that have been most successful for me are the Dwarf Gray. They are also the least expensive pea seed when purchased in bulk. Before planting, pea seed should be soaked overnight in clean water. This will jump start the sprouting process.
The easiest way to grow micro-greens or pea shoots is to put a little container of soil (I prefer to use one of the shallow black nursery tray liners with the underlying support tray that is used for holding garden starts at the store) on your kitchen counter. Sprinkle seeds densely onto the soil surface (regular potting mix works well), press the seeds into the soil with the palm of your hand and then lightly sprinkle a little soil over the top. Water thoroughly so that the soil is damp all the way through (bottom watering works best for micro-greens and peas) and in a couple of days you will see the seedlings beginning to emerge. There is no need to fertilize. When the micro-green seedlings are approximately 1-2” in height and before the first true leaves are fully developed, clip the seedlings off and use as a garnish for sandwiches, soup or salads. For the pea shoots, wait until they are approximately 3-4” in height before clipping. You may be surprised how much flavor such a little plant can pack...they really are amazing.  After clipping, the plants will not re-grow. The soil can be dumped into the compost pile or worm bin (the worms really love to eat the leftovers).
If you have left-over broccoli, radish or kohlrabi seed from your summer garden, these can be used in the winter for micro-greens production. Avoid nightshades such as peppers, tomatoes or eggplant. These are not suitable for micro-greens production. When in doubt, Google it.

Happy Gardening!

Late Fall Planting 2014

Yes, the weather has cooled and the days are short. The rain makes me crave hot tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches and begs me to curl up with my book rather than don the rain suit for more gardening. The average gardener is calling it quits for a few months.  In typical fashion, most folks will be  finishing their harvest of root crops and kale and will be pulling out the near-dead eggplant and limp tomatoes to create a massive compost pile of old weeds and spent plants in one corner of the yard. Having a siesta from gardening does have its appeal but it is far from necessary; even at this time of the year. When you truly love to eat what you sow, there is always a way to make the season last longer.
If there has been proper planning, a tenacious gardener with hopes for a winter harvest or an early spring crop, are still working in their plots. Produce still abounds for those who have planned ahead.  This sweet spot of the year is when harvest continues but the work of weeding (and for the most part watering) no longer exists. It is the pot-o’-gold; Late Fall Bounty. This window of time can carry on all the way to Thanksgiving.  It is during this time that sowing for early spring crops takes place.

Early Spring crops are those who can tolerate lower temperatures but will still germinate in cool, damp soils. Greens are best suited to these conditions.  From now until Thanksgiving (or until the ground is frozen and can no longer be worked) seed for specialty greens can be sown.  The best case scenario is to begin sowing seed in October so that germination takes place before winter. Cotyledon stage or first true leaf stage tend to over-winter well and allow the plant a jump start in the spring for when the weather begins to warm.  For the greatest chance of success, Late Fall sown crops need to be kept from drying out. In the Upper Valley, rainfall is enough moisture to keep the soil damp enough for good germination. In drier parts of the county, additional watering may be needed to achieve good germination.  A covering such as a little hoop house or cold frame also increases the likelihood of a successful Early Spring crop as it holds in solar heat and keeps the soil from freezing too deeply. For fun, try a late fall planting of cilantro, miner’s lettuce, mache’ or spinach.  Spring greens may be closer than you think.... Happy Fall and keep on gardening! 

KPQ Home and Garden Show 2014

KPQ Home and Garden Show March 14-16th, 2014                            

Spring is around the corner and it is time once again for the annual KPQ Home and Garden Show. Master Gardeners will be making it a fun event for the whole family with a variety of workshops and activities to keep folks entertained and educated.  Master Gardeners will be stationed in the Crunch Pak room, the same location as last year, making the activities and information easy to find for home show veterans.  Seminars and speakers will be held in the bleacher area of the Town Toyota Center leaving the activity room open at all times to visitors of the home show. 
The theme for this year in the Master Gardener area is Growing Communities. Topics will be geared toward growing knowledge, growing beauty, growing food and growing kids.  As always, there will be crafts and projects for children.  This year, youngsters will be encouraged to ‘plant a rainbow’. All activities and crafts are free of charge. Master Gardener plant diagnosticians will be on hand to answer questions about plant problems and a variety of information will be presented on Master Gardener programs and learning opportunities.
A new addition to the Master Gardener area this year will be the sale of seed potatoes. The Master Gardener Association will be selling a number of hard to find seed potato varieties for the home garden as part of their annual fundraising efforts. Fresh, home grown potatoes are a real treat and are worth the effort. Potatoes can be grown vertically in containers on a patio or porch, making them an accessible crop for gardeners with limited space. Vertical gardening of potatoes will be presented as part of the Master Gardener speaker series happening at the home show.
A diverse number of topics will be presented by Master Gardeners on both Friday and Saturday. In addition to ‘Vertical Gardening’ other topics will include ‘Integrating Vegetables and Flowers’, ‘Freshen Up Your Garden Design’,  ‘The Beautiful Pollinator’, ‘Salsa Gardening’, ‘What’s New-An Overview of New Tools and Plants’, and ‘Let’s Go To The Fair’. A complete schedule and description of each presentation will be available at the Master Gardener area of the Home Show.
If you would like more information about the Master Gardener activities happening at this year’s KPQ Home and Garden Show, please contact Deb Benbow at debjeanbenbow@gmail.com.
Come on out and join in on the fun!

KPQ Home and Garden Show 2015

Attention all home owners, gardening fanatics and DIY specialists....it is time once again

for the KPQ Home and Garden Show. The KPQ Home and Garden Show will begin on

Friday, March 13, 2015 and will run all day on Saturday the 14th and Sunday the 15th at

the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee. If you have never attended the KPQ Home and

Garden Show before, you might be surprised by the number of opportunities available

for learning new gardening skills. The Chelan/Douglas Master Gardeners will be hosting

a myriad of workshops throughout the entire weekend. This year, the theme of the

Master Gardener display is Water Conservation and Water-Wise Landscaping; a very

pertinent topic for the upcoming season given the low snowpack and unseasonably

warm temperatures.

For the younger crowd, there will be a kids learning area including a science lab and a

multitude of hands-on activities available free of charge. These projects are a fun way to

introduce children to a love of science and the outdoors and is a welcome stop for all

parents attending the Home and Garden Show with children.

In addition to the kids learning area, seminars will be held daily for adults in the family.

On Friday at 4 PM Master Gardener Jan Clark will discuss Adding Edible Plants To The

Landscape. Caring for Ornamental Trees and Shrubs will take place at 10 AM on

Saturday, Growing Dahlias in NCW at 12 PM Saturday, Trees For Our Community at

1:30 PM Saturday an DIY Raised Garden Beds at 11 AM on Sunday. All seminars are

free of charge and open to the public.

The Master Gardener Association, which is the fund-raising arm of the Chelan/Douglas

Master Gardener Program, will be hosting tool sharpening demonstrations and will have

tool sharpening kits available on-site for purchase. They will also have available for

purchase the Day by Day Garden Planner for NCW. This is a hand-held guide to

gardening throughout the calendar year; containing pertinent and much needed advice

for the home gardener who is new to the area and is thoroughly perplexed by our NCW


And last but not least, is the perennial favorite for many homeowners; the Master

Gardner Plant Diagnosis Clinic will be available to answer questions about some of your

more perplexing garden-related issues.

If you have ever considered becoming a Master Gardener yourself, the KPQ Home and

Garden Show is a great opportunity to talk with others who have become a part of the

program and to find out more about the activities Master Gardeners offer throughout the


So mark your calendar, grab a friend and come and join us. We are happy to share our

gardening knowledge with you!

Firewise 2015

North Central Washington is a complex natural environment to live in. Fire has been a part of this place for millennia; erasing and re-writing the landscape and enlivening the forest with new growth while eliminating the overstock of debris and turning it back into accessible nutrients.  Many of the forest species in this part of the world have evolved to co-exist with fire. It is humans who are the most uncomfortable with the unpredictability of this act of nature and have tried to control the environment through its suppression. But, we need to concede to the power of fire and accept that we have chosen to live within its realm. It is our responsibility to be sure that we have taken the necessary steps to bring a fire-wise mindset to our homes and yards. Spring is the perfect time to begin thinking about this year’s fire season. Here are some helpful tips to get you started down the road to a more fire adapted lifestyle.

Needles are nature’s tinder. Rake and remove pine needles and dry leaves from within a minimum of 5 feet of a home’s foundation. As time permits – continue up to a 30 foot distance around the home. Dispose of collected debris in appropriate trash receptacles or yard waste containers.

If you heat with wood, get out your measuring tape and see how close wood piles are located to your home. If they are closer than 30 feet, they need to be relocated and moved at least 30’ away from structures.

Decks and roofs are an extension of your dwelling and need to be treated as such even though they exist outside the walls of your home. Sweep porches and decks, clearing them of leaves and pine needles. Rake under decks, porches, sheds and play structures and dispose of debris. Remove items stored under decks and porches and relocate them to a storage shed, garage, or basement.   Clear needles and debris from your home’s rooflines, gutters and roof valleys.

Tall, dry grasses encourage the spread of fire. Mow grasses to a height of four inches or less and irrigate as is appropriate.  Mowing should be done early on in the season as the muffler of a riding lawn mower can be hot enough to start a fire during the height of summer.

On mature trees, use hand pruners and loppers to remove low-hanging branches up to a height of 4 feet from the ground (specific height depends on the type and size of tree).  Pole saws can be used to limb trees up to a height of 15 feet to prevent a ‘ladder’ effect; allowing fire to climb into the canopy. To prevent accidental electrocution, pole saws should not be used in proximity to power lines.

Collect downed tree limbs and broken branches and take them to a disposal site.

Talk to your neighbors and encourage them to be Fire Wise. Join forces with neighbors and pool your resources to pay for a chipper service to remove slash from your adjoining properties.

If you would like more information on living in a fire adapted community, the Chumstick Wildfire Stewardship Coalition will be hosting a ‘Leavenworth Community Wildfire Preparedness Week’ during the last week of April. Master Gardeners will be participating with a Firewise Landscaping class being held at the Wenatchee River Institute on Tuesday April 28th from 6 -7:30 PM in the Barn at the Barn Beach Reserve. More information will be posted on the WRI website. The CWSC will be in attendance as well with cost-share information and resources for property owners. Here’s to a safe and fire-wise summer! Happy Gardening.

Farmers Market 2014

I hate to break it to you, but summer is ending. I think you already knew this. The angle of the light creates a golden hue on everything it touches and the leaves are beginning to fade from bright green to pale yellow. Have you visited your local farmers market yet this season? If not, now is the time. Winter is long and grocery store produce is boring. The markets are full of the bounty of the season right now, and you are missing it. 
This year, it feels as though fall arrived with a flip of a switch. Yet, there is still time to enjoy all of the warm weather crops that make summer so wonderful. Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Pluots, Raspberries and Melons. Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Cucumbers, Zucchini and Onions. And although some of the treasures of summer have come and gone (The spring strawberries and garlic scapes were amazing!) the markets are adding new items on a weekly basis. In anticipation of the coming frost, we see the arrival of all of our cold weather favorites which conveniently overlap with our warm weather friends over the next couple of weeks. The market is nothing if not abundant and beautiful.
Things to look forward to in the coming weeks are the variety of Potatoes (many growers each bringing 2 or 3 different varieties, all of which are impossible to find in a traditional grocery store), the first of the Celeriac and maybe even some Brussel Sprouts or Jerusalem Artichokes.  Garlic, Carrots, Kohlrabi and Beets will continue to make a strong showing as will stone ground wheat flour, artisan cheeses, honey, home baked bread and a selection of home-made wines and sauces. Apples and Pears are flooding in (with more than a few hard-to-find gems present from our local heirloom orchards) and can be bought by the case for processing or drying. Salad Greens, Collards, Kale and Chard are all still plentiful, even if you have long since run out in your own backyard plot.
At both the Leavenworth Community Farmers Market on Thursday evenings from 4-7 PM and the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market on Saturday mornings from 8-1PM, there are Master Gardeners available to answer your plant related questions.  Additional regional markets to visit include the Plain Valley Farmers Market Saturdays from 10AM-Noon, the Chelan Farmers Market Thursday evenings from 4-7 PM, the Manson Farmers Market Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8:30-11:30 AM and the Ellensburg Farmers Market Saturdays from 9AM-1PM. All markets run until mid to late October, weather depending.

A truck full of empty bins after market is the greatest compliment a farmer can receive. Take the time to pay them a visit. You will not be disappointed.

Curing Winter Squash 2014

Farmers markets and fruit stands are full to the brim with a beautiful selection of winter squash. Although they make a beautiful fall display for the porch or walkway, they are also pretty darn tasty to eat.  With care and proper technique, a variety of the hard-skinned squashes can be kept for months into winter and can be enjoyed as a soup or side dish for a holiday meal.
What is a winter squash? There are several species of squashes that are called ‘winter squash’, all from the genus ‘Cucurbita’. Unlike their fair weather cousins, these squash are harvested mature when the seeds have fully formed and the skin has created a tough outer shell. This is what gives the squash the ability to be stored for months before use. The trick to a long storage life is ‘curing’ the fruit for 10-14 days in a warm (not hot) and dry location directly after harvest. The curing allows for the fruit to lose a bit of its excess water which causes the flesh to sweeten due to a concentration of sugars, slows the fruit’s respiration rate which leads to a lengthened shelf life, and reduces the risk of rot. The skin on the fruit will harden during this process as well, creating the classic shell on the outside of the squash.
Not all varieties of winter squash should be cured before use. Acorn squash flesh becomes stringy after being cured and is better to be put into cold storage at 55 F or lower (but above freezing) directly after harvest. Same goes for Deilcatas, which are best kept between  45-55 F but can be stored at room temperature for up to 10 days before being turned into dinner.

The most common varieties of winter squash that should be cured prior to storage include Spaghetti Squash, Butternuts, Buttercups and Blue Hubbards.  In addition to curing, proper harvest is the key to long storage. Fruits should be cut from the plant to avoid breaking off the stem. A broken stem leaves an open wound in the skin where rot will likely occur first. Those fruits with missing stems should be consumed first as they have the shortest shelf life. Secondly, only harvest undamaged, fully mature fruits for storage. The color of the fruit should be fully developed. Under-ripe fruits can still be eaten and should be the first ones that make it onto the dinner plate. Third, harvests fruits before frost whenever possible. A light frost will lessen the shelf life slightly but a hard frost will damage the skin and make long term storage impossible. Happy Gardening!

Cover Crops 2014

We live in a part of Washington State where soils are lean and rocky. Our soils are only one step away from being the rocks that they were created from and lack the rich humus of organic matter that aids in water retention and allows plant roots to penetrate deeply into the earth. This can be a challenge when establishing a new garden.  There are different techniques used for creating good soil but one of my favorites is the incorporation of green manure crops, also known as cover crops.
Green manure or cover crops are made up of a variety of plant species that, rather than being harvested for the fruits, are turned into to the soil to add nitrogen and organic matter and increase the water retention and overall structure of the soil.  Cover crops can be incorporated into an already established garden rotation for a portion of the growing season or can be used to fallow a piece of garden for a year or more before being turned into the soil. Some of the advantages, other than adding organic matter to the soil, is the mining of nutrients from the deeper regions of the soil profile and bringing these nutrients to the surface, the increase of porosity through root penetration into harder soils and the stabilization of soils during the shoulder seasons and winter months when soil is prone to blowing away when left bare and un-planted which ultimately leads to nitrogen leaching.
Here is a quick list of cover crops that are suitable for a home garden:
·         Triticale and Winter Rye can be planted anytime.  Overwinters well if planted in September.  Has an extensive root system to hold available nitrogen.  Mow and till in 2-3 weeks before planting vegetable crop.
·         Hairy Vetch and Winter Pea can be planted anytime.  Will overwinter well if planted in September.  Will fix nitrogen from the air if innoculated with rhizobial bacteria.  Mow and till in 2-3 weeks before planting vegetable crop.
·         Buckwheat can be planted from April until August.  It grows quickly and can out-compete most weeds.  The flowers attract a large diversity of beneficial insects.  Mow and till under when seed heads are green, or it will re-seed.
·         Annual Ryegrass can be planted anytime.  It is useful in areas known to be weed prone as it tolerates mowing.  Will hold available nitrogen and help to build soil structure.   Mow and till in 2-3 weeks before planting vegetable crop.
·         Clovers can be planted anytime.  Will fix nitrogen from the air if innoculated with rhizobial bacteria.  Taproots help open compacted soils and flowers attract a large diversity of beneficial insects.  Most will overwinter.  Can be very useful in underplanting an already established vegetable crop.  Mow and till in 2-3 weeks before planting vegetable crop.

Chelan County Fair 2014

The summer is just flying by. Already it is fair season. Living in a city like Wenatchee, which straddles two different counties; locals have the option of attending two different regional fairs. The North Central Washington District Fair in Waterville will take place August 21st through 24th and the Chelan County Fair will be held September 4th through 7th at the Chelan County Fair Grounds in Cashmere.
There will, of course, be the rides and the snack foods and the trinkets for sale. But more importantly will be the barns. The last two years, I have had the pleasure of working the veggie barn at the Chelan County Fair and have assisted folks in registering their prize produce into competition. What an amazing diversity of colors, textures, sizes and shapes. I love to see what grows well for people and to see their pride in their hard work. I would encourage anyone with an interest in gardening, flower tending, canning, baking or animals to enter an item or two at either or both events this year. It can be a great thing to do as a family.
The Chelan County Master Gardeners will be present to accept items into registration and to answer questions at both fairs again this season. Entries for the Waterville Fair will be accepted Wednesday August 20th from 1-8 PM.  By exhibiting at the fair, you are eligible for an ‘exhibitors pass’ at a discounted rate. Information on what is appropriate for entry and a map of the Waterville fairgrounds is available in the NCW Premium Book at the following link http://www.douglascountywa.net/ncwfair/docs/Premium-Book-2014.pdf . Please note that animal entries are due earlier than produce and flowers.
Entries for the Chelan County Fair will be accepted Wednesday September 3rd from 9 AM-8 PM. Again, exhibitors are eligible for a reduced entry into the fair. The premium book for the Chelan County Fair is available at the following link http://www.co.chelan.wa.us/fa/data/exhibitor_guide.pdf

Even if you have a small garden, only a single dahlia plant or have made just one batch of cherry jam this summer, please consider participating in this annual celebration of the harvest. Traditionally, county fairs have been a great way to come together as a community and celebrate the joys of our agricultural heritage. Without participation by all of us, a fair dies and with it dies both the memories and the knowledge of the skills that have made us who we are today. And, taking home a blue ribbon now and again can be pretty fun too!

Asian Greens 2014

Spring is an amazing time of year in Central Washington. Never before have I lived a place where you can both snowboard through fresh powder and sow seeds in your garden during the same day. We are fortunate to have spring come early in our part of the world.  Although it may feel like a long winter to some, where I grew up the weather is still dipping below zero. I consider our almost guaranteed mild weather a gift from above and I relish the songs of the red winged blackbirds and robins who confirm my belief that winter is indeed over.
If you have not already started a few seedlings, now is the time to do it. Already at the farm, trays are filling up with starts....onions, shallots, leeks, basil, broccoli, celeriac, peppers and kohlrabi. Soon cabbage, tomatoes and eggplant will be added to the list. The high tunnels are planted to the brim with greens; little cotyledons already poking up above the dark soil.
For those of you who are living down valley, you can begin to plant your spring garden any day now. Many vegetables thrive in the cool of spring. Some of my favorites are the Asian greens. With a multitude of varieties to choose from and outstanding flavor and versatility, Asian greens are one of the underappreciated gems of the spring garden. They are fast to mature, take up very little space (compared to tomatoes or corn) and are easy to grow, making them a good choice for beginner gardeners. They are also forgiving at harvest time. These greens can be harvested at a baby size for salads or can be allowed to mature for stir fries. In Asia, these plants are typically not even harvested until they have begun to flower (when their nutrient content is at its peak). What this means for the home gardener is that you really can’t go wrong. No matter the size, these plants will remain edible and will not bitter (although the flavor changes with size). Since they are fast to mature and can tolerate cooler weather, the gardener can sow these greens early in the season, harvest  as needed and then use the  same garden space later on for warmer weather crops.

This year, embrace the spring vegetable gardening season whole-heartedly and free yourself from the bane of wilted grocery store produce. Allow yourself to experiment with something different...you might find a new favorite food.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Climbing Out

We drove out to Vantage, WA today for a little family climbing time. I commented to my husband during the drive on how much the landscape had changed since we first started climbing in this part of the state. He reminded me that our first visit to this area was over 15 years ago. Our first guidebook to Climbing in Washington State is testament to this truth. There, next to each route, is a date and a little note about the style of the ascent. And yes, indeed, most of those dates fall somewhere in the range of 13-15 years in the past.

Now the landscape is different on the drive out to the basin. Mass amounts of money have been poured into the agricultural industry as farmers (and Big Ag) race to fill the gap that will inevitably be left once California officially runs out of water. The mighty Columbia River runs its course through this shrub and sage covered landscape of broken down volcanic basalt. Natural annual rainfall amounts are pitifully low; yet man-made irrigation is transforming this landscape into one reminiscent of the Central Valley of California. Its hill slopes are being scraped flat and planted with endless aisles of apples, grapes, wheat and hops. The town of Quincy is blossoming with an influx of capital including the ever-growing Microsoft server banks that hold immeasurable amounts of useless data (including this post). There are vacation homes and wineries and B&Bs and parking lots full to the brim with people out for the weekend. What a thing, to witness the urbanization of a landscape and to remember lonely campfires, the call of coyotes and the forced comfort of sleeping in your car.


I am no longer afraid of being tied to the end of a rope. I used to be mildly terrified. I started climbing so that I could take the edge off of my fear of heights. When I was 12 years old, I crawled and clawed my way to the top of a 3 story fire tower on Rib Mountain in Central Wisconsin. I was passed by any number of people who casually climbed the wooden stairs. On my hands and knees, shaking with fright (and nearly back-tracking to the ground) I tried to catch up with my grandparents and my sister; waves of vertigo washing over me as I looked toward the ground.

I started climbing in college almost on a whim. My best friend and I took a weekend class through the outdoor education wing of the University of Minnesota, Duluth. During that 8 hour class, they taught us how to hip belay (does anyone ever actually do this?) and I climbed 2 whole pitches....barely. That was the last time my friend ever went climbing. I was not so easily deterred. I wandered down to the indoor wall a few times before the year was out and surprised everyone by groveling my way up a crack system on my first try.

My husband and I spent the formative  years of our relationship bonding over climbing and snowboarding. We nearly lived climbing for the first 4 years of our marriage....although many times the day for me would end in terror and tears (except at the gym). I was never really comfortable being on the pointy end of the rope and although I managed to work my way up into the low 12s on top rope, my hardest lead remained somewhere around the easy 11s....and that milestone was a massive mental stretch on my end. My husband (at one point) claimed that it is likely what killed my love of rope climbing.

What saved our climbing relationship was bouldering. I was allowed to fall to the ground. In fact, I KNEW that if I fell I was going to hit the ground. For some reason, I found this re-assuring. I never really trusted rope climbing because I never really trusted the rope or the gear or even my partner to save me from free-falling through space and eventually cratering into the earth. So, as much as my husband showed an aptitude and passion for rope climbing he nearly gave it all up to wallow in the boulders with me. But we had a marvelous time. Squamish was our second home for 3 straight summers and we made friends with Canadians from across the continent and looked forward to seeing them again and again.
 I blew out my shoulder on the last weekend of the last year one move away from gaining outdoor V6 status. I worked this problem hard for an entire season; I have never projected anything more. My shoulder has been fucked ever since...although to me it is my souvenir from the happiest of days with the person I love best.

When we moved to Leavenworth, life changed yet again and in some accidental way climbing got shelved in favor of new tethers like building a business, having kids and building a house. Like a noose, these tethers threatened to strangle both myself and my husband and at times I felt like we were drowning together into a slow fade. This town can be cruel. The tethers of adulthood are seen in some ways as failures. Where everyone lives free and the pursuit of personal awesomeness is viewed as the end goal of life, giving up personal ambitions can feel like a crime. I traded in 10 years of muscle and freedom for the eventual payback of  familial stability. At times, it was hard to rationalize the inevitability of this decision and I will not lie and say that there weren't moments where I was not without regret. But I can also say that looking back there is no way around this beautiful treacherous path; only a way through.

But lately, the most amazing thing has been happening. I have found that all of these encumbrances have begun to ease their grip. And in a sense, I now look forward in time and dread the day when my children will pull out their pocket knives and cut away at the webbing that has bound us together for so long. I have found that when I am climbing, I am no longer afraid of heights because I have so many other things that I fear more. I look forward to my time tied to the rope because it allows me to forget these other fears and to simply be; to move across the face of this beautiful world and to dance over the abyss. I have  inadvertently found myself on the other side of my own personal struggle. Now, nearly 40 I am faced with the daunting task of rediscovering my body but not rediscovering myself. I know who I am, which is why I feel so calm.