Learning about miniature gardening

I love gardening. So when I saw a gardening demonstration and swap event announcement in the local newspaper, I wanted to go.  I didn’t even pay attention to the specific topic. 

The event, held on Saturday, June 18 at the R.H. Stafford Branch Library, was really interesting. I didn’t know what to expect, but was happily surprised to see three miniature or fairy gardens on display when I walked into the room.

Ginny from the Library demonstrated how to create miniature gardens including a Japanese Zen garden.

Attendees brought plants divided from their own gardens, gardening books and magazines, and other gardening related materials to swap.

I went home not only with some new knowledge about gardening, but also with a few plants for my garden.

I wish I had brought my camera to take some photos of the miniature gardens on display.

If you want to see what miniature gardens look like, check out this blog post 20 outstanding miniature gardens.

More photos of miniature gardensfairy gardens or Japanese Zen gardens can be found on Google images website.

Ginny is starting an email distribution list for garden enthusiasts for future gardening events and swaps. If you are interested in sharing gardening ideas and plants, let me know, or simply leave a comment here.

Fresh from the garden


Saturday was a perfect day for gardening and weeding.

The soil was still soft from the rain, the temperature was cool and there was no hot sun beaming down in the morning.

Working in the garden, weeding, transplanting and picking fresh salads, and working on the flower beds in the front yard was what I did in the morning.

Gardening is relaxing and therapeutic for me. I could spend all day doing it, without getting bored. Only my back won’t like it so much.

After a few hours of work, I rewarded myself with a big bowl of Romaine salad and cilantro. It was great to be able to pick my own veggie from the garden and eat it whenever I want.

The following two articles are from my Woodbury Bulletin columns.

The joy of gardening  

Lessons, garden style

Beginning of my gardening season

Yesterday was a perfect day for me to work in the garden.

No snow, no rain. It was cool and not cold. The soil was not very dry so when I tilled the soil, it didn’t fly all over me.

This year I started my garden work one month later comparing to last year. We had a long and snowy winter this year.

I did the first half of the work on April 11. Then we had unexpected snow again. Yesterday I was able to finish the second half of the work.

My gardening season always starts with tilling the soil and composting in the spring.

Since I started the vegetable garden in the backyard in 2001, I have been doing composting all year around.

During spring, summer and fall (2/3 of the year in Minnesota), I do composting by simply digging a hole in the garden and mixing in food scraps under the ground, or dumping the food scraps in the trench in the middle of the garden and cover it with some soil on the top.

During the winter months (4-5 months) when the ground is frozen, I just leave the food scraps in plastic bags under the deck. I compost them all when the weather gets warmer. 

When spring comes and the ground has thawed, I till the soil and mix under the ground all the food scraps that has been accumulated during the last few months.

Yesterday I asked my son to help me till the soil while I did the compost thing, he helped for only a few minutes and then run away. He said it looked so disgusting.

Not for me, I love doing it. It’s quite magic. I mix in the yucky food scraps and soon it will turn into black soil.

I feel good that I am able to garden organically using soils enriched with my own compost. It also makes me feel good to reduce trash and help protect the environment.

I worked several hours yesterday and on April 11 and got the garden prep work done – soil tilled and food scraps composted. I felt good.

Then I planted some seeds for lettuces, cilantro and a Chinese vegetable.

Hopefully I can harvest something early June.

The joy of gardening

What’s so special about this bowl of salad?

Nothing, except it’s from my own vegetable garden and it is the first salad of the growing season I got to taste for lunch today.

I love gardening and eating fresh vegetables directly from the garden. 

The following two articles are from my Woodbury Bulletin columns.

The joy of gardening  

Lessons, garden style 


Sharing Yards and Resources

The gardening season is soon upon us. I am really looking forward to working in my garden and eating home grown vegetables again.

In fact I already did some gardening yesterday when the weather was warm. I transplanted some Chinese chives from one side of my garden to another side, in hope of getting better and healthier growth this year.

Today I learned about a new website that might be of interest to gardeners or want-to-be gardeners: Yards to Gardens (www.y2g.org)

According to the website, the purpose of Yards to Gardens is to help create gardens by connecting people who are looking for gardening space with people who have available space, and to provide a place for exchange of gardening tools and resources.

So if you have space in your backyard that you want to turn into a garden, but do not like to do the work, you can offer the space to other people and let them do the work in exchange for some fresh produce. It is a win-win for everyone.

For more info, check the website and the press release.


Sustainability and Landscape Workshop

City of Woodbury 12th Annual Sustainability and Landscape Workshop, used to be called the Environmental Landscape Workshop, took place this morning at Woodbury City Hall.

The workshop was sponsored by the Woodbury Environmental Advisory Commission, a volunteer group that advises the City Council on matters relevant to sustainability including solid waste, air, water, land, energy, and other natural resources.

Four presentations were offered during the workshop:

  1. “The Unexpected Joys of Gardening with Natives” by Julia Vanatta
  2. “Superabundant Small Gardens” by Susan Reed
  3. “Psychology of Sustainable Behavior” by Christie Manning
  4. “Emerald Ash Borer & Other Invasive Insects That Really Bug Us” by Renae Smith

My favorite presentation was the second one on vegetable gardening. The session provided an overview of planting techniques for growing more food in smaller places. Reed shared tips for cost-effective gardening and how to maximize you harvest with the right varieties and efficient design.

I have been attending the annual landscape workshop since I moved to Woodbury in 2001, beginning with the fourth annual Environmental Landscape Workshop in 2002.

This year’s workshop was the best attended one ever. I can think of three reasons for the high turn out today.

  1. Vegetable gardening has become more and more popular in the last couple years with the economy going south. People are very interested in learning how to do it.
  2. Free non-toxic household cleaners in spray bottles were given away for attendees.
  3. Prize drawing for a compost bin must be attractive too.

If you missed the workshop, you missed the goodies, but you can still view the presentations.

The workshop was broadcasted live in South Washington County on cable television Channel 16 and will be replayed later. You can also view the program on the Internet via Web streaming on the South Washington County Telecommunications Web site at www.swctc.org.

First Gardener Michelle Obama

As someone who loves gardening and enjoys eating organic home grown vegetables, I was very pleased to hear last spring that our First Lady Michelle Obama planted a garden in the South Lawn of the White House, only two months after the Obamas moved into the White House. It is the first garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden in World War II.

The garden where fruits and vegetables are grown for use year-round provides food for the first family’s meals and formal dinners. But its most important role is to educate children about locally and organically grown fruit and vegetables, and to promote healthful eating.

Students from the area elementary schools helped planting and harvesting.

In June and October, the First Lady had harvest parties. She got down on her hands and knees and helped the kids dig up the vegetables. The food was donated to the local food shelf.

A Washington Post article on November 19 also reported that the First Lady visited Hollin Meadows Elementary in Virginia to honor the school’s nutrition and fitness efforts.

Hollin Meadows is one of hundreds of schools throughout the country to be recognized by the U.S. Agriculture Department for its emphasis on nutrition and fitness. The School has more than 14,000 square feet of gardens.

I am really pleased to see Michelle Obama as a role model and cheerleader for healthful eating and sustainable farming. Through her action, the First Lady can create a very powerful message about growing and eating healthy food.

A change in diets and eating habits is badly needed in this country at this time when obesity and diabetes have become a national concern. I have to commend the First Lady for her efforts in leading the change.