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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? 

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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”).

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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?

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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?

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

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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.

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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…

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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. 

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

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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.

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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.

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In 2017 we spent a month in southeast Australia. One weekend, we drove from Melbourne south to the Mornington Peninsula, home to historic Heronswood Gardens. The grounds are world-famous, for its Fork to Fork restaurant, and for its status as the first public garden in Australia to be certif…

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Clock time is a human invention. Unlike natural time, like the rotation of the earth and a leaf flowing down a river. Still, it’s August and we can’t help but notice that the sun rises and sets on a different notch in the trees now, compared to June. During August, we will lose 2.3 hours of …

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KODIAK — Do you remember the song “Edelweiss” from the “The Sound of Music?” Written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, “Edelweiss” turned out to be one of the most beloved songs in the musical.

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KODIAK - This time of year, you can see them standing alongside our roads. Out-of-towners gesturing and aiming their smartphones over fences and at sides of buildings. Listen carefully and you might hear comments that go something like this:

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KODIAK — It is Independence Day tomorrow, and the senior center will be celebrating with the Annual Stan and Nita Nelson BBQ.  Each year on this holiday, we celebrate the Nelsons with a holiday BBQ to honor them for donating part of their estate to the center’s endowment fund. 

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KODIAK — Orange hawkweed is not just a pretty flower. It’s terrorizing home gardens and wild spaces from Alberta and Alaska to Oregon and Australia. 

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KODIAK — Marty picked rhubarb the other day and carried the tote full of trimmed stalks to the front door. “The plants are really healthy and big this year,” he said jubilantly. “But so are the slugs.”

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KODIAK — I stood on the lawn near the compost bins and faced a group of summer school students. They were on a field trip from Main Elementary School to learn what makes good garden soil.

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KODIAK — Michael Jordan knows a thing or two about winning and losing. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career,” he says. “I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And…

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KODIAK — Most folks know rhododendrons as big, leathery-leafed shrubs with rounded clusters (called trusses) of stunning white, yellow, pink, red or purple blossoms. But there are also dwarfs a few inches high, such as our dark pink Kamchatka Rhododendron, which thrives on rocky alpine areas…

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KODIAK — Bedding plants are making a colorful splash at local retailers. That, plus the appearance of salmonberry blossoms and longer days, signals the beginning of the gardening season. Before you transplant those tender seedlings outside though, remember this: While you might enjoy a warm,…

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KODIAK — Don’t you just love wiggling your toes in soft, green grass? Me, too — until the day I went to a park and watched some kids playing Frisbee. They leaped high to snatch the Frisbee and then touched down on the grass. Barefoot. I cringed because I knew the lawn had been treated with c…

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KODIAK — It feels odd to be writing about snow in April. After all, it is spring, verified by the fact that we are now experiencing 15 hours of daylight. I guess that means that any snow will melt more quickly, right? 

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KODIAK — Forcing plants in late winter is a fun way to get a head start on colorful flowers and fresh veggies. Forcing involves producing crops out of season through replicating the conditions necessary for plant growth. You might recall my description of forcing a poinsettia in a dark close…

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KODIAK — As we enter Thanksgiving week, I’d like to focus on a few ways we can make a difference to ourselves, our neighbors, our community and our gardens. In a second, I’ll share my all-time favorite pumpkin pie recipe. But I want to cover four easy projects we can accomplish whilst the we…

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KODIAK — I bumped into a friend the other day, next to a display of pumpkins that were on sale. “How’s your garden doing?” I asked. “Ready for winter?”

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KODIAK — I’m grateful that the cold weather has been slow in coming, because I’ve procrastinated a few garden chores. I planted my garlic and flowering bulbs, no problem. Kale and broccoli, no sweat. But all those green tomatoes that stubbornly refused to turn red, I put it off ’til the last…

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KODIAK — I love hiking through Ft. Abercrombie on blustery days when wind and rain animate the spruce trees. When I look up, I feel like I’m inside a giant hairbrush, watching the bristles wave around the sky.

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KODIAK — Darn, I have slugs in my hoophouse. I learned a trick for keeping them from chewing on my broccoli and beans, though. I feed them candy. Not a Snickers bar, but something tender and sweet to a slug: Bok choy. I allow them to eat on it to their heart’s (do slugs have hearts?) content…

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KODIAK - A few years ago, I hosted a photography workshop for a group of camera buffs from Poland, California, British Columbia, and Wisconsin. After the PowerPoint presentation, we spilled out to the garden. It didn’t take long for the group to notice the blue poppies blooming in the corner…

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The weather these past couple weeks has been cool, but it hasn’t dampened our spirits. During KMXT’s garden call-in show last week where I fielded questions, we had more questions than time to answer them. Plant spirits are very much alive, too. Primroses and salmonberries are blooming, rhub…

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Seeds. Such amazing things. Seeds provide not only food for us (rice, corn, wheat, oats, pecans), but symbols that have colored our language through time. We speak of seed money, the seed of an idea, and fishermen refer to young oysters used for transplanting as seed oysters. This week I’m c…

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After decorating the Christmas tree branches with lights and ornaments, I stepped back to critique my efforts. Call me a design geek, but immediately, I found “holes” am ong the branches, spaces calling for ornaments to fill the voids. But I’d used all my ornaments. The next best thing? Make…

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Better late than never. Last Monday was President’s Day. Friday came, and something got me thinking about Thomas Jefferson’s gardens at Monticello. Thomas Jefferson wasn’t just a gardener extraordinaire, he honestly liked to eat vegetables, which, he said, “constitute my principal diet.” His…

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With visions of hairnets and tater-tots in my mind, I was secretly excited about becoming the substitute lunch lady at St. Mary’s School. The regular lunch lady at St. Mary’s had resigned and several parents and myself members stepped up to fill the gap for the remainder of the year.

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Are you in or out? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends 93 percent of their life indoors: 87 percent is spent inside buildings of some sort, then another 6 percent in automobiles. That’s only 7 percent of one’s entire life outdoors. Ouch.

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In many parts of the world, cleaning house is considered essential to starting the new year on the right foot. One Celtic tradition is to sweep floors from the outside of the room inward, which prevents any good energy from escaping out the front door. In China, cleaning house before Chinese…