This week we are going to celebrate summer in four small bits. As in, mini-projects. I figured with COVID-19, many of us might be burned out on coming up with projects. It’s like eating salads: Why is it that a salad made by someone else tastes better than your own? With that, let’s get started ...

If the word “rat” makes you squeamish, then you might want to move on over to the comics. Today we’re going to cover a topic that affects everyone, whether you realize it or not.

Last year, on a sunny June day, I was giving B&B guests a tour of our garden. They marveled at the blue poppies and paused whenever a boat zipped by.  

Once upon a time, a friend had a summer job at premier nursery in the Pacific Northwest. She said that the nursery owner always had his new employees spend the first two or three weeks doing nothing but watering plants.

On our kitchen windowsill sits a small, barrel cactus with four stubby shoots that look more like fat noses. At only 3 inches tall, one might think she’s not much of a houseplant, but she’s my buddy. She keeps watch as I chop veggies, make smoothies and wash dishes.

Dear readers, I’d intended for this column to run on Monday, Memorial Day. Thing was, I forgot that there would be no newspaper printed on Monday, a holiday. With summer less than a month away, I’d like to focus on flowers, as in, the meaning of flowers.

When I drove by Mission Beach last Thursday, dozens of bald eagles were standing in the sand like fence posts. I pulled over to watch the action. There wasn’t much, save a little posturing between adults and “brown heads.”

Last Saturday’s plant sale brought dozens of folks out of the woodwork. And because we wore masks, the gathering of gardeners took on a masquerade look.

On a recent chilly morning, I carried my coffee outside and walked around the garden. I spotted new buds on the cherry tree and salmonberry bushes.

Last week, a gray whale made its way into the channel, and for a couple days it swam deliberate doughnuts and figure eights in front of cannery row, to the delight of local photographers.

 Dear readers, I don’t need to tell you how much comfort gardening can be in a time like this. The rules of social interactions have changed, but the “rules” of gardening remain the same. And I have to wonder, since gardeners are accustomed to dealing with the quirks of nature, if they aren’…

 After last week’s column about snow mold, followed by a stretch of pleasant weather, I decided it was time to cover a few Q&As. (I’m writing this from a safe distance, of course).

A few days ago, I took a walk around the garden. The sun felt warm and nourishing. As I pulled a weed next to a tired spinach plant, I glanced down at the ground and spotted a purple crocus. Yawning in the sunlight, it was a beautiful sight, in spite of the company it kept (twisted blades of…

Spring is near, but Old Man Winter might have other ideas. So when the weather outside is frightful, it may be time to consider exercise options. That is, head to the gym, the pickleball court, a Pilates class, chair yoga or any number of fitness zones around Kodiak.

Last week I introduced the Big Three — nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) — as part of our crash course in fertilizers. Today we’ll cover the secondary elements: calcium, magnesium and sulfur, plus the rest of the supporting cast.

I adjusted my goggles over my eyes and hair and started doing laps in the pool at Furnace Creek in Death Valley. The pool is fed by a natural, underground spring, and manages to stay at a cozy 85 degrees, which is pretty refreshing considering the average high temperatures in the area can re…

February is a lot of things. There’s President’s Day and Black History Month and National Cherry Month. Oh, and it’s time to start tomato seeds.

February is here and we’re one month closer to the gardening season. What’s the best way to get through the last vestiges of winter? How about starting seeds indoors? What kind of seeds you ask? Well, it’s time to start plants like celery and lobelia, but I’m thinking bright and cheery here:…

I shared this story years ago because it helped introduce a topic that confuses many people: Seed starting. And since we are approaching that time of year, I’d like to share it here. If anything, to lift us out of a winter slump by thinking about green, growing things.

No voyage from South America across the Drake Passage to Antarctica is complete without celebrating the first sighting of an iceberg. On cruise ships, a bottle of fine champagne is awarded to the first guest to inform the officer on the bridge of the sighting.

Gardening today is relatively easy. Even in Kodiak. We can walk into a local store and choose from a staggering variety of seeds. Minutes later, we’re back in the garden. We tear a corner of a seed packet and tap the tiny seeds out in a straight row. Sprinkle a little water. Done.

Last week I shared my master lists of easy-to-grow vegetables, flowers, and herbs. I made a boo-boo however. I accidentally omitted one of my favorite veggies from the list. It’s a leafy green veggie that should be on your nutritional radar—and odds are, you’ve never heard of it, let alone, …

One of my favorite gardening books begins like this: “The conversion of our apartment from a normal, barren city cave into a tropical jungle began quiet by accident one bleak witner day…”

According to a substantial amount of health care research, there is a distinct link between nature and healing. Did you know, for example, that hospital patients with plants in their room suffer less fatique and pain? And a study of  children with Attention Deficit Disorder who played in in …

Every major holiday has its classic color scheme. Halloween decorations are generally orange and black. Hanukkah colors are blue and white while Kwanzaa colors are black, red, and green. Valentine’s Day, as we well know, is all about reds, whites, and pinks. And every year around Christmas, …

Why is it so many of us get flustered while taking pictures during the holidays? Maybe because family get-togethers add another layer of pressure? Or maybe someone just handed you their smartphone and said, “Here, you take it!”

The holidays can be a busy time. Yet as we make our way through the various events, I think it’s important to embrace ways to make a positive impact to ourselves — which ultimately radiates out to our neighbors, our gardens, our community, and our world. 

First off, Merriam-Webster set me straight. Again. The plural of cactus is — are you ready? — cactuses, cacti and yes, cactus.

It was approaching Christmas, in the late 1970s. I had just returned to my homeport of Seattle after a 3-month voyage aboard a research ship. I lived aboard the vessel, but for the holidays, I wanted a break from steel bulkheads. But where to go? 

A few years back, we hosted The Dinner. So, it was my job to make gravy. Easy-peasy. I’d made enough gravy in my life to fill a hundred gravy boats. (Google “gravy boat”).

When I go to the grocery store, what do I get? Food? Well, yes. And questions. This last week, I was corralled in the coffee and tea aisle with a couple good ones. So let’s dive in, shall we?

As we enter the holiday season, when each calorie seems to double when you’re not looking, cooking takes center stage. I can only speak for myself, but it seems that, in the fall, I chop, dice, shred, and grate more than usual. Maybe it just seems like that because I’m spending more time indoors.

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My food dehydrator has been working overtime lately. Today, it’s tomatoes and bananas. Kale is next. As I researched how to dry kale, however, I cam across and article that listed kale as one of the most contaminated foods in the United States. How can that be?

 October is a buy time in the garden. So today I want to cover two topics: harvesting potatoes and overwintering potted plants.

What do red bell peppers, broccoli, and papayas have in common? They’re uber sources of vitamin C. But there’s another source of vitamin C. Here’s a hint: It’s located right at our doorstep.

My artist-friend Kate hopped over to the island last week for a visit. She was in search of old fishing floats, on which she paints nautical scenes, blending starfish, octopuses, seaweed and other ocean subjects with watercolors. By the end of her stay however, Kate was complaining of a mild…

Fall is in the air. The signs are all around us: Puffins have departed for the open ocean, salmon fishermen are hanging up their gear, the top of Barometer is topped with gold, and I haven’t seen a bumblebee since September 10th. 

 Winston Churchill once said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

Ah, September in Kodiak. There is so much going on: School and salmon, bumblebees mating (I cover that at the end), house cleaning (catching up after our stretch of sunny weather), harvesting and sowing. 

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During a normal Kodiak summer, our Emerald Isle is a refuge for travelers escaping the heat of Texas, Florida, Iowa and the like. But when Kodiak tied the all-time record of 86 degrees F. last week, even our B&B guests requested fans to cool down their rooms.

There’s a saying that we can live four weeks without food, four days without water, and four minutes without air. Today I’d like to talk about water, or the lack of it, and how it affects plants.