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Snoqualmie Valley Record • July 27, 2011 • 11



Making the best of an imperfect season

Nursery at Mount Si offering great deals on late summer color The summer sun is hiding its face, but the perennials in Christine Earl’s hands don’t seem to mind the Valley’s confused seasonal weather. Earl’s boots crunch on the gravel as she moves from yarrow to salvia to bee balm, pointing out the plants that are coming into their big moment, sun or no, at the Nursery at Mount Si. The extra-long, extra-wet spring and cool, late summer that the Snoqualmie Valley is experiencing in 2011 has been hard on gardeners and on the nursery’s bottom line, but Earl, the Nursery at Mount Si’s manager and head buyer, knows how to make the best of the situation, helping gardeners and homeowners salvage the season and exercise their green thumbs. “This is a great time to be planting,” she said. “The weather is perfect—not too hot, not too cool.” Earl’s deer-proof, low-maintenance selections are ready to unveil a blaze of summer petals, blue skies or no. “This is a butterfly and hummingbird heaven right here,” she said. “They’re looking pretty gosh-darn good right now.” SEE SEASON, 12

Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

Knowledgeable staff at North Bend’s Nursery at Mount Si include, from left, back row, Grady McDonald, Beto Bueno, Christine Earl and Sarah Winslow; seated, Jose Larios and owner Nels Melgaard.

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The Nursery at Mount Si welcomes back singer-songwriter Carrie Elkin to kick off its Summer Guest Artist Concert series, Friday, July 29 in the nursery gardens. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with Elkin taking the stage at 7:45 p.m. An opening set with Charlie Loesel starts at 7:10 p.m. Advanced ticket sales or RSVP’s are encouraged and available at The Nursery at Mount Si or by calling Nels Melgaard at (425) 829-7995. The nursery hosts summer concerts as a way to bring community together for an evening of music and friendship Tickets are pay-what-you-can. The suggested ticket price for the show is $15 or $30 per family. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own chair and refreshments; don’t forget a light jacket or blanket as the evening cools down. Light concessions will be available, managed by and benefiting the Sallal Grange and Community Hall. Ticket sale proceeds less the artist fees will be dedicated to the Elk Fence Fund to benefit The + Nursery at Mount Si. The Nursery is located at 42328 SE 108th Street, North Bend. Learn more about the artists at and www.

SEASON FROM 11 Nearby, vivid pinks, reds and purples of dahlias, heather and poppies greet visitors as they step out of their cars. “You still have time to have an amazing amount of color in your yard,” Earl said. She helps compliment the plants with a hand-picked selection of garden art and furniture, water features, planters, trees and shrubs, all with an eye for helping people enjoy the outdoors and green, growing things. “We can help you set up a living garden space,” Earl said. “Every bit of it—all the furniture you will need, earthfriendly pesticides, soils.”

Back to basics

Facing its toughest summer yet, the nursery is now going through a big sale in a make- Year-round events it-or-break-it year. “People always ask, is it too “We’ve got a lot of invenlate to plant?” Melgaard said. tory that needs to move, based “We plant year-round.” on a sluggish economy and With proper soils, nutrients terrible weather,” owner Nels and water, “Plants are going to Melgaard said. be better in your garden than Still, the nursery remains the nursery,” he added. focused on getting local garYou can plant beets, carrots, Ad#:0001742207-01 Date:07/03/11 Day:SUN deners the healthiest plants, radishes,LUMBER lettuce and spinach Size:2X6.5 Cust:CHINOOK best garden know-how and from now through fall. Salesperson:KRISTINE NIEM Lastseed, Edited By:DMAGILL Ad#:0001742207-01 Date:07/03/11 Day:SUN basic, earth-friendly soils and Ad#:0001742207-01 Date:07/03/11 Day:SUN Pub:HERALD RETAIL Tag still Line: “It’s aColor good time to Size:2X6.5 Cust:CHINOOK LUMBER + + + ingredients. Size:2X6.5 Cust:CHINOOK LUMBER Info:3COLORFULL Salesperson:KRISTINE NIEM Last Edited By:DMAGILL Salesperson:KRISTINE NIEM Last By:DMAGILL Pub:HERALD RETAIL TagEdited Line: Color Pub:HERALD RETAIL Tag Line: Color Info:3COLORFULL Info:3COLORFULL



clean up a row and plant,” said Melgaard, who suggests getting the whole family involved in planting a row of seed veggies for the local food bank. The Nursery at Mount Si can help locals get involved in the community-garden Plant A Row program, and is also involved in other ways. It’s a drop-off spot for local farmto-table produce, and is also entering its summer entertainment role. The Nursery at Mount Si is planning several outdoor concerts this summer to benefit local good causes, and provide funds for the nursery’s badly needed elk fence. On July 29, singer-songwriter Carrie Elkin will kick off its Summer Guest Artist Concert series. More artists and events will follow, including the Grangestock benefit for Sallal Grange on August 5. There is a suggested $15 donation, but tickets remain pay-what-you-can. “I’d rather have people come,” Melgaard said. “It’s a unique, wonderful opportunity.” To Melgaard, the industry will always have its challenges, but the Nursery at Mount Si remains an oasis of beauty in the Valley. + “It’s an iconic place, ” he said. “It’s a meeting ground,” where neighbors meet and the community comes together.

Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

Manager Christine Earl goes over a basket of yarrow in the Nursery at Mount Si’s perennial department. The nursery offers a complete selection of perennials ready for summer color. “There isn’t a nursery that sits where we sit, with beauti+ ful pastures and happy cows on one side, and a gorgeous mountain on the other,” Earl said. “We have the most

incredible view.” • The Nursery at Mount Si is located at 42328 N.E. 12th St., North Bend; call the nursery at (425) 831-2274 or visit www.


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Mid-to-late summer is an ideal time to start a fall garden. You can grow a “second season” crop of your favorite cool-season vegetables and lovely fall flowers. In mild winter areas, you can grow even more garden favorites for harvest in late fall, winter, even into next spring. Now is the time to gear up for some of the best growing weather of the year, which lies in the cool weather ahead. Many casual gardeners don’t bother to plant later in the summer because they think of a garden as something to be planted in spring. The Home Garden Seed Association says that ‘fear of failure’ is the main reason gardeners don’t try seeds, and seeks to dispel that fear with its list of Top 10 Fall Varieties, easy and fun to grow from seed. The list includes beets, cilantro, lettuce, radish, spinach, calendula, kale, peas, salad greens and Swiss chard. Even where winters are cold, many vegetables can be grown to maturity before the first frost. Try broccoli, carrots, cabbage and arugula.

The nursery started out years ago as an organic farm, so it takes the healthy approach very seriously, starting with the soil. Melgaard emphasizes what’s under all the green trees and thriving plants: rich, living dirt. “We evolved from a certified organic farm. We didn’t know a lot about chemicals, and we tried to learn as little as possible,” Melgaard said. All soils at The Nursery at Mount Si are inoculated with life-giving or living materials, such as organic bonemeal, worm castings or old-fashioned manure. Melgaard said every measurement shows that beneficial soils mean healthier plants. Innovation is good, but Earl also goes with the tried and true: the plants that she knows are going to grow in the Valley’s unique microclimate.

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Snoqualmie Valley Record • July 27, 2011 • 13

P-patches growing in Upper Valley Public community gardens offer urban escape BY CAROL LADWIG Staff Reporter

Community gardens are becoming increasingly popular in the Valley. The city of Snoqualmie has two, Snoqualmie Ridge has another, and the city of North Bend is pursuing the development of at least one garden plot open to the public, in the short term. “The long term intent is to have some community P-patches at the Tollgate Farm,” said North Bend Associate Planner Mike McCarty. For now, though, the city wants to be sure that people would make use of the patches, if they were available. In Snoqualmie this year, 17 city residents are working on their own 12 by 6-foot garden plots. “We were full last year so added 12 additional lots this year,” Gwen Voelpel, Snoqualmie’s Parks & Recreation Director communicated by e-mail. “However, with the weather being what it’s been, we are not yet full.” Costs to the city of Snoqualmie have been minimal for putting in the gardens. Voelpel said the city has chosen lots that couldn’t be developed in other ways, and spent about $6,000 to

create and maintain each garden. Participants pay $25 for the summer for each 6 by 12 lot they use, and the city shoulders some of the maintenance and watering costs. North Bend would prefer to partner with another organization or neighborhood in developing a garden and sharing the costs, McCarty said. Previously, the city had considered a P-patch on land it owned near the Si View Senior Center, but public support has waned for that idea, and now the city is working with the community near the Si View Parks building. “It’s an ongoing interest, but it needs a facilitator,” said McCarty. Several North Bend and Snoqualmie neighborhoods have also created or started planning for their own P-patches, in the true spirit of the original P-patch. The concept began in Seattle in the 70s, when the city leased land from the Picardo farming family to create a community garden during a “Boeing bust” period of extended unemployment. People were asked to help maintain a large garden plot for the community, and in return for their help, they received their own private garden plots around the edges. The “P” in P-patch actually stands for Picardo, but it could also stand for many of people’s assumed meanings, peas, public, passionate people, or popular.

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