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Planning is key for winter gardens Even with the cold season winding down, it’s the perfect time for Whidbey greenthumbs to consider what to grow in a winter garden. Several Whidbey Island farms harvest in early 2014, and farmers have some tips about the types of vegetables to plant so they can enjoy fresh produce during cold months. Owners of two farms, Willowood on Central Whidbey Island and Deep Harvest farm on South Whidbey Island, are still picking such vegetables as carrots, beets and chard. Though months before winter, gardeners should start thinking in spring about the types of vegetables to plant, said Georgie Smith, owner of Willowood Farm located near Coupeville. “One problem is they think about it too late,” Smith said. Growers need to consider whether they want to plant vegetables that can grow under chilly conditions or plants that can store through winter. Those storable plants include winter squash, onions and shallots. As for growing vegetables through the

winter, Smith said vegetables such as carrots, beets, turnips, rutabagas and parsnips fare better when the mercury dips. Those seeds have to be planted early enough to be fully grown by the time cold weather blankets Whidbey Island. “That’s where most people make their mistakes. It’s really about looking at maturity dates,” Smith said. Some plants, such as parsnips, have a 120-day maturation and should be planted by late-May and early June in time to be mature by mid-October. Types of spinach that are suitable for cold weather should be planted in mid-August, cabbages in midJune and kale and chard in September. Once the ground is cold, the vegetables will either stop growing or growth will slow. Smith described the ground as being a giant refrigerator that stores the crops. Even though the region has weather conditions good for growing crops through the winter, Smith recommends a gardener be prepared should temperatures drop. Deep Harvest Farm owner Nathaniel Talbot said he was able to cover some of his crops with a material that provides insulation from the cold while allowing moisture


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tion died during recent cold snaps. She also suggested growers use a greenhouse to grow crops that may not be able to flourish in cold and wet conditions. Deep Harvest is almost done with harvesting crops. Talbot and Annie Jesperson have been picking food for the South End’s Good Cheer Food Bank.

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Dated to dazzling: remodeling a home By RON NEWBERRY Staff reporter

On a recent clear blue winter morning, Greg Goebel ushered two small, shaggy Cockapoos from the back deck into the house. “Lucy is big enough, we don’t have to worry about eagles,” Goebel said. “But Bella is about that size.” It’s no wonder why Scenic Heights Road bears its name. From inside Greg and Lynn Goebel’s Oak Harbor home, large windows beautifully frame picturesque, panoramic views of the city, sea and mountains. Mount Baker is making a bold appearance on this day, as if the home was built with that concept in mind. The Goebels spotted the house for sale on a bike ride seven years ago. The home was already charming but they saw a potential that got them to start dreaming bigger. They bought the house, knocked it down to the foundation, then rebuilt it into a grander home that has tended to draw a crowd. Although it’s been used to entertain large groups, the design’s intent was much simpler. “The goal with this home was to have the kids want to come home,” Lynn said. “They like to come home to their Whidbey Island retreat.” It’s been a gathering place ever since construction was completed in 2008. Using local resources and their own family grit, the

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Goebels transformed what was once a quaint one-story, twobedroom, two-bathroom brick home into a spacious twostory, four bedroom, 2.5-bathroom house. Jon Roberts of Oak Harbor-based Cascade Custom Homes worked with Lynn on the home’s design and his brother Jay Roberts managed the initial construction. “We took over from drywall,” Lynn said. “Greg has done most of this.” It turned into a family project with Greg leading the way. He got assistance from Lynn and their then teenage children Gregory and Millie. He also got a lot of direction from self-help YouTube videos and leaned on the Roberts brothers and other knowledgable friends for advice. “We had to do the majority of the work or there’s no way we could have afforded it,” Greg said. It was no small undertaking. Facing a hollow home of drywall, Greg also faced a tight deadline to get his family moved in. They had rented a home on a six-month lease during the project and the Goebels had only a few months to make the home “move-in ready.” That meant finishing the plumbing and electrical work after it was “roughed in” by subcontractors. It also meant installing wood floors, fixtures, wood trim, crown molding, wrapping the home with Tyvek and paint-


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ing the house inside and out. Wind gusts on Scenic Heights Road made wrapping the home with plastic sheets an adventure, Greg said. After that was completed, a friend put up the Hardiplank siding. “If I slept six hours a day, it was a good day,” Greg said. The major remodel turned a 1,900 -square-foot rambler into a 3,400-square-foot Craftsman-style house. The Goebels made it a point to use local resources in town, from Cascade Custom Homes to Northwest Cabinets to Island Paint & Glass Company, among other businesses. “My advice to anyone who takes this on, ‘Don’t be afraid to ask questions in the community,’” Greg said. One of the home’s centerpieces is a spacious, 350-squarefoot kitchen that has turned into a favorite gathering spot for family and friends. The kitchen is twice the size of the former kitchen and features Puget Sound views, granite countertops, two sinks, pull-out drawers, an island with bar stools, a custom pull-out spice rack and a flatscreen television in the corner. Cheryl Nunn, an interior design consultant from Oak Harbor, designed the kitchen. Oak Harbor-based Northwest Cabinets installed the cherry wood cabinets. “When you’re cooking, it’s like a little cooking show,” Greg said. “Everyone hangs out around the island.” The Goebels have played host to some large gatherings, serving a 16-plate formal dinner during a Downton Abbeythemed party last March. They had 28 people over for Thanksgiving and last fall had 37 young ladies spend the night from their daughter’s sorority at the University of Washington. Fourteen of Grego-

Greg and Lynn Goebel purchased a 1,900-square foot rambler (below) on Scenic Heights Road in Oak Harbor then had it transformed into a 3,400 square-foot Craftsmanstyle house. Cascade Custom Homes handled the initial construction.

rys’ fraternity brothers from the UW crashed there in the summer of 2012. “It was great,” Lynn said. They’ve even managed room for a regular visitor from the neighborhood, Bella. But playing outdoors with Lucy on Scenic Heights Road does pose some hazards. Bald eagles are a daily part of the landscape, Greg

said, and he remembered a time in the backyard when he thought he’d lost Lucy. He saw a shadow on the ground then noticed it moving toward his dog. The eagle got within about 10 feet of Lucy then changed course. “I didn’t know if it was going to whack her or not,” he said. “Now Lucy’s big enough, I don’t have to worry too much.”

A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in… “A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in—what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.” ~ Victor Hugo Enjoy the beautiful gardens of Whidbey Island. Once here you will want to make it your home.

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Fostering fowl: Tending to her flock is a busy job for one Clinton woman By CELESTE ERICKSON Staff reporter

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Clinton resident Marian Blue never thought she would be raising animals again until about a year ago. Growing up in Colorado, Blue always had animals around her home. She moved to South Whidbey 20 years ago and teaches at Skagit Valley College South Whidbey Center. Last year, a friend of Blue’s was moving and giving away her animals, and Blue seized the opportunity. “I decided, ‘Why not?’” she said. Now her home is filled with more than 15 chickens, mostly bantums and araucana breeds, as well as a rooster, ducks and turkeys. Apart from the birds she also has guineas, llamas and goats on her property. Blue feeds her birds every morning and afternoon. On her days off, she often spends her time working on improving her property for the animals. “I’m always working to get things organized,” she said. Since inheriting the animals, her home has changed as well. What was once a tool shed is used as a chicken coop, along with other sheds around the house. Raising animals requires a lot of careful attention, she said. “It’s a challenge, you have to really want to do it,” she added. On top of feeding, Blue has to make sure she is always available to care for the animals and watch for the possibility of infections, such as bumblefoot in chickens. If a chicken has problems, going to the

veterinarian isn’t always an option, she said. For the number of chickens she owns, it gets expensive. And sometimes the veterinarian offers the same answer as she would have come to, she added. More than anything, Blue’s biggest challenge has been dealing with the mud. “In Colorado, mud is not a problem,” she said. Mud is not good for bird’s feet and can make them uncomfortable, she said. Blue has tried a number of solutions to alleviate the mud, currently she is using bark and it’s been working well for her in the wet weather. Despite the challenges, Blue enjoys raising the animals, especially watching their behavior. “I love hearing the animals noises,” she said. Blue spends a lot of time outside with the animals and describes a personality for each of them. The turkey, Mr. Brown, likes to show off, while others she describes as kind. “There’s nothing like the feeling of a bird’s breast, soft and warm,” she said. She sells her eggs to passers-by who leave money on top of the fridge where the eggs are kept. For large bird eggs, the cost is $3.50 per dozen and chicken eggs are $2.50 per dozen. The duck eggs seem to be the favorite for her customers, she said. Blue also sells the eggs for people looking to raise their own animals. As her animal kingdom grows, she hopes to sell more eggs for raising in the future.

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Kitchens become home destination By JIM WALLER Staff reporter

Kitchens were once considered utility rooms, much like a garage designed for food preparation. No more. The kitchen is increasingly becoming a destination place in the home, according to John Encinas of Oak Harbor’s Encinas Construction. With that in mind, builders are equipping kitchens with “eating bars or islands that seat five or six people,” Encinas said. “More and more, people are hanging around the kitchen.” Steve Waldron of Waldron Construction in Oak Harbor agreed: “Islands take up a lot of room, so not all houses have them, but eating bars or breakfast nooks are almost always included. Every kitchen we do has some kind of eating bar.” The space allotted for the kitchen is growing too. “Everything is open design – big open kitchens,” Waldron added. And since the kitchen is becoming the gathering place in the home, owners want them to be a show place as well.

Master bedrooms used to be where home owners asked for special attention, with extra space, nice features and vaulted ceilings. “Kitchens are taking over,” Encinas said. Since guests are now invited to the kitchen, the kitchen’s appearance is important to home owners. Recent trends to jazz up kitchens, such as granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, are still important, Encinas and Waldron both said. In another attempt to spice up the appearance of kitchens, islands are being fitted with decorative legs to give the look of elegant furniture rather than a stack of boxy cabinets sitting in the center of the room. Use of color and textures are in. Common color themes today are stark contrasts, like black and white, or bright colors, like royal blue and fire-engine red. “Colors have almost come full circle from the ‘70s,” Waldron said, recalling the days of avocado and harvest gold. “Today we have colorful cabinets, like black or cherry red,” he said. Different surface textures are popular, SEE PAGE 9

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Tricks to create illusion of space FROM PAGE 7

such as granite counter tops combined with hardwood floors or wood-panel tabletops above tiled floors. Some of the styles are starkly different as well. The farmhouse look, complete with apron-front, cast-iron sinks with neutral tones are increasingly popular as is the opposite look, something very modern. The contemporary look features sharp lines with polished chrome or matte black. This new look is the fastest growing trend this year, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s survey of its 60,000 members, Some homeowners want a maximum of preparation space, giving the kitchen a commercial look. Deep sinks are often included, Encinas said. Some serious cooks require two ovens, an attribute rarely found in kitchens of the past. When small kitchens are necessary, new tricks are being used to improve their appearances. Bigger than normal light fixtures can make a room look larger and add “drama” to the space. Dark colors in a small space tend to make rooms look smaller, but


owners who want dark cabinets can avoid that illusion with light-colored counter tops and floors. Current kitchen trends go beyond looks. It is important the kitchens are environmentally friendly. Some of the green features are sustainable counter tops, such as bamboo and the use of water filters, more energy efficient appliances and water-based adhesives and air quality-certified laminates. New trends also include new technology. Ventilation hood covers and refrigerators now come with entertainment centers with LCD screens and music systems. New refrigerators provide advanced humility control to protect food, limit defrosting and keep odors from transferring. Sinks are being made out of copper, which has antibacterial properties. Other sinks come with built-in food preparation boards, pull-out spray heads and ventilation hoods. Preassembled decorative back splashes can be mounted as easily as hanging a picture. New kitchens often call for docking and charging stations. And finally, changes are going beyond the interior of the home; it is not uncommon to find homes with fully stocked outdoor kitchens.

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Above: Dark cabinets are a popular feature in new kitchens, even in small kitchens where dark colors make the room appear smaller. Builders offset dark cabinets with light countertops. Top Right: The trend of stainless steel appliances in kitchens is continuing in 2014.


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Optimal Orchard Find space, right variety key for growing fruit trees on Whidbey By BEN WATANABE Staff reporter

Ben Watanabe photo

Susan Prescott and Michael Seraphinoff prune fruit trees at the South Whidbey Tilth Farmers Market and Garden.

Distance and type make all the difference for growing fruit-bearing trees on Whidbey Island. As 20-year certified arborist and amateur orchardist, Gary Ingram said one of the most common mistakes among first-time tree planters is not giving it enough space to grow. A close second was the mistake of not harvesting the fruit and instead letting it fall for birds, rodents and bugs. Pruning will also have an impact on the yield of each tree. “Select trees that will fit,” said Ingram, a Greenbank resident who keeps 22 fruitbearing trees on his property, of the most important piece of advice for novice orchardists. “People tend to plant things too close.”

When buying a starter tree, make sure the space is already known. That eliminates some of the mystery because a dwarf tree is likely to grow at a certain height and have a certain breadth in its root system, while a standard tree can grow as tall as the house. Ingram recommends adding at least four feet to the spacing between trees. For example, if a dwarf tree is stated to grow 8 feet high with a 12-foot root spread, plant the trees 16 feet apart. Setting the trees too close can stunt their growth and may even kill the tree, said one farmer with the South Whidbey Tilth Farmers Market and Garden. “Allow a lot of space because you usually guess wrong and plant too close,” said Michael Seraphinoff. On wet and windy Whidbey Island, the SEE PAGE 11

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variety of fruit is nearly as important. Staving off rot and other disease is crucial for the tree and its fruit, and some types do better than others on Whidbey. Ingram tends to his Akane and Liberty apple trees, both of which are ideally suited to Whidbey weather. They become ripe in late fall and are firm and crisp. At the Tilth orchard — most of which were donations — of four pear trees, four apple trees, a couple of hazelnut trees and a few crabapple trees, pruning is a big part of the care for the trees. Akane apples, which Ingram described as sweet, tart, and of decent size, ripen a bit earlier in the season and do not keep well through the winter. Liberty apples, Ingram’s favorite to eat and to harvest, are firm, crisp, tart and a little sweet, and ripen in October. In a typical year, one of his 10-year-old Liberty apple trees will yield 200 pounds of fruit, giving him a bounty to eat right off the branch, dry, and turn into apple butter with plenty left to donate to the Good Cheer Food Bank. “It’s almost totally disease resistant,” he said. European and Asian pears have also done well for him. An Asian pear tree also yielded

plenty for the Tilth garden. Dwarf trees typically start around $40 and can even be planted in pots for an ornamental on-the-deck look. They take about three years before they will start producing, which is heavily dependent upon pollination. Ingram advised people make sure to plant a fruit tree near something with plenty of flowers on it or near another, different fruit tree for cross pollination. As far as hoping that one of those trees will be a cherry tree, Ingram wouldn’t endorse the idea. “You’re better off buying your cherries from eastern Washington than trying to grow them here,” he said. One trick to encourage pollination is to drill 3/8-inch holes into nearby wood posts or blocks and place them near the trees. The holes encourage mason bees — which come out of hibernation a bit earlier than other bees — to make their homes around the orchard, which can help with spreading the flowers’ nectar. Pruning was the final piece of advice. While Tilth leaders Susan Prescott and Seraphinoff organize two pruning days per year — one before the season, one in late summer — Ingram said that he does it only once. It directs the growth of the branches and fruit-bearing buds and helps keep the tree manageable.

Gary Ingram photos

Above: The frost peach tree has had some success on Whidbey Island. This tree’s owner, a certified arborist, said his produced small peaches of poor quality and would become fire wood. Inset: Liberty apple trees like this are popular for their sweet, tart flavor and durability.

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Crafty coziness: Creating kitchen took decades of gathering historic, mismatched items By JANIS REID Staff reporter

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The kitchen was decades in the making. Diane Billingsley said she started designing her current home in 1993 when she purchased an antique wooden mantel and stashed it in storage. The kitchen, with its cozy, mismatched and historic flavor, has high ceilings and items salvaged from locations all over the world. Billingsley and her husband Bob Reik finished the home in 2009. “It’s tremendously satisfying,” Billingsley said. “It’s a hard and long process, but when it’s over you can look back and say, ‘Yes, this was worth it.’” The home was designed to incorporate the architectural pieces and antiques they have collected over the last two decades. This is the third home she and her husband have built in addition to four remodels of older homes. Many of the furniture pieces in the kitchen are antiques: two wall cabinets and a butcher block from England; a large oak, zinc lined, breakfront tobacco cabinet; a large green buffet and plate rack from Ireland. In addition to incorporating her love of antique items, Billingsley said she designed the kitchen thinking about the “traffic patterns” when people entertain. “People always end up in the kitchen,” she said. The dining table, built from the repurposed wood of an old Russian box car,

shares the large space with the cooking area and the 12 feet by 7 feet marble island which is lined with bar stools. “That way people can sit and talk to me while I’m cooking,” Billingsley said. “Everyone is in here anyway.” Billingsley said since moving to the area, she and her husband have acquired a taste for local fare like salmon, crab and mussels. Not much of a meat eater, she grows her own vegetables and herbs in a kitchen-side garden and picks up the rest of her produce at local markets. Their kitchen incorporates a full freezer and fridge to accommodate cooking in large quantities that can be frozen for later. SEE PAGE 13

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Diane Billingsley designed her kitchen so she could easily interact with family and guests as she cooks meals and entertains. It is decorated with various items, as seen below. FROM PAGE 12

When family comes over, Billingsley is happy to play sous chef when others want to show their culinary talents. “They all want to cook in here,” she said. The eclectic style of kitchen lends itself to making the visitor feel at home. “Matchy-matchy is so boring,” Billingsley said. “Repurposing things gives it more character.” The large posts at the island are two of a set of four from a dismantled Victorian in Seattle, along with the pocket doors dividing the kitchen and the great room. The backsplash at the cook-top are old foundry oven doors from Belgium surrounded by tumbled marble. Most of the doors throughout the house are salvaged antiques — none of them match. The butcher store sign that hangs above the cooking area dates back to the 1800s and hails from Cheapside, London. An etched window above the dining are a windows is from Paris. The floors are finished antique oak planks salvaged from barn beams which Billingsley selected and placed herself. While the kitchen has all the conveniences of modern living, the soul of the kitchen hails from the historical building blocks Billingsley has incorporated. “There’s beauty in mixing the old with the new.”

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You cut the lawn, pruned the plants and trimmed the trees.

What should you do with the waste?

Compost it. Recycle it. Chip it. But please don’t burn it. PERMANENT BURN BAN AREAS IN ISLAND COUNTY

Washington state permanently banned burning residential yard debris and landclearing waste in Coupeville, Freeland, Langley and Oak Harbor.


Burning natural vegetation produces air pollutants that are harmful, especially for children, the elderly and those with asthma, respiratory illness or heart disease. For cleaner, healthier alternatives to burning, call the Northwest Clean Air Agency at 360-428-1617, visit nwcleanair.org, or call your local solid waste department.

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Ancient agriculture a sweet reward By JUSTIN BURNETT Record editor

Of all the home and garden hobbies, few have as sweet a payoff as beekeeping. This ancient form of agriculture has existed for thousands of years and it’s no surprise why. The prize is honey — lovely golden-brown and delicious honey. Of course the price for this sticky treat is the management of bees, lots of bees. Experienced beekeepers recommend hobbyists keep no less than two hives, which equates to about 160,000 individuals. So expect to get stung. It won’t happen everyday, but it will happen. “Yeah, it hurts,” laughed Keith Turner, a Central Whidbey beekeeper. “But you get used to it.” Turner, a retired engineer, bought his first hive in 2008 largely as a tool for pollinating his garden of vegetables and fruit. He remains a small hobbyist with about five hives — about 400,000 bees. That’s small potatoes compared to some commercial beekeepers, who manage up 2,000 hives or about 160 million bees. But what began as a gardening aid has buzzed its way into a full-blown passion, and one Turner couldn’t hide even if he wanted to. Standing in his shop amidst a mountain of beekeeping gear, the more the man talked about the little buzzers the bigger his smile became. “Once you get started in this … ,” said Turner, rubbing his hands and wearing an ear-to-ear grin. “It’s just fascinating,” he said. For one, worker bees, which are all females, see the world in 8,000 segments of polarized light, as opposed to the singlepicture view of humans. They communicate with pheromones and body movement, and with incredible effectiveness — workers can tell other workers

Justin Burnett photos

Above: Central Whidbey resident Keith Turner inspects honey comb from one of his bee hives. Right: A hive of Carniolan honey bees stir as the lid to their home is opened. Bees become sluggish during winter, but they can and will defend their home from intruders. not just about food sources, but where and how far away it is from the hive. “They use what’s called the whiggle dance,” Turner said. “The number of the whiggles is the distance and the orientation is the direction of the sun.” And while a worker bee’s life is short, about 35 days, not a second goes to waste.

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Turner said they fly about two miles a day, which is like walking to Seattle with just a small bottle of water. In a big way, watching how bees interact with each other and survive can be an eyeopening experience. “It makes you think,” Turner said. “It SEE PAGE 15

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makes you think about everything.” Beekeeping is also a lot of fun. Hives produce two kinds of wax that can be used for candle making, which can be an enjoyable craft by itself. Turner also belongs to the Whidbey Beekeepers Association, which meets at 7 p.m., the first Wednesday of the month, at Freeland Library. Membership is a chance to catch up with other beekeepers and talk shop, but it may also be a good place to get into beekeeping affordably as used equipment may be available. Starting from scratch, the beginning hobbyist can expect to spend about $500 on equipment [new] and bees, which come in buzzing cages packed with 4 pounds of bees — about 20,000 individuals. A healthy hive on Whidbey Island will produce from 10 to 20 pounds of honey every year, though only a portion of it can be collected for personal use. Much must be left behind so the bees can survive the winter. The amount and taste of honey produced, however, is heavily dependent on location. Bee’s need pollen, so places near flowering gardens are excellent areas to set up shop. For that reason, urban areas can be great, but check local ordinances first as, for obvious reasons, beekeeping is outlawed in

Above: Bees are most active in summer and tend to be more curious than cranky. Experienced handlers often can work with hives in T-shirts and pants, though a hat and net, right, are often worn as a precautionary measure. When threatened, honey bees sometimes focus their attacks on an aggressor’s eyes. many cities or towns. Locations next to mono-agriculture fields should be considered carefully as pesticides or chemicals in farming can have devastating effects on a hive.

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For more information, visit the Whidbey Island Beekeepers webpage at http:// whidbees.wordpress.com/ Turner also recommends “Beekeeping for Dummies” by Howland Blackiston.

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Home and Garden - Spring 2014 Whidbey Home and Garden  


Home and Garden - Spring 2014 Whidbey Home and Garden