Jon Rowley Linking Soil and Flavor

Jon Rowley pursues the link between great soil and exquisite flavor. Rowley's a professional food-marketing consultant who has spent his working life searching for superbly flavored fruits and vegetables, the kind that come from superb gardening. His quest inspired an intense curiosity about the natural processes that produce the plant sugars that affect the flavors, and, logically enough, from there to an investigation of what makes truly great compost. At 59, Jon has become the dean of dirt...

And Stir Fry

The Bradner Park neighborhood's view of things has certainly made life complicated. Its view of things is stunning. You can sit on the high stone steps at the southeast corner of Bradner Park and watch what's happening in downtown Seattle, on the gentian waters of Elliott Bay and in the green and snow white grandeur of the Olympic Mountains beyond. A view to be coveted. That was the problem. Not that long ago, when the site was mostly asphalt, the Seattle Parks Department owned it, but the city...

Going Native With A Plant Society

Pacific rhododendron, the state flower of Washington, is an evergreen shrub with pale purple blooms. Pacific rhododendron, the state flower of Washington, is an evergreen shrub with pale purple blooms. It's the fun and companionship, Catherine Hovanic says, that has made the Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS) thrive. Assemble people who delight in getting to know native plants in the wild, and they will form strong friendships around the effort to protect and ex pand native plant habitat....

Step by Step

The building that houses the Seattle Audubon Society is one of those chunky Roman brick buildings dating from the 1950s, when someone came through Seattle who really knew how to sell Roman brick. There are thousands like it throughout the city, made of the same narrow, beige brick that was so popular for a few years after the war. When Seattle Audubon recycled this house to make an office in 1995, a landscape committee decided to hide the outside with native plants. The same plan would also...

Sharing the Bounty

Birds love fruit, but there don't seem to be a lot of fruit growers who love birds. Don Norman is an interesting exception. He does everything he can to attract birds to the same land where he grows abundant apples, pears, cherries, kiwi, grapes and raspberries. Somehow, for Don, it works. Other than the occasional flock of starlings, the birds don't take enough of his fruit crop to worry about. And whatever they take, there's plenty left. This is half an acre even on a quarter-acre you could...

Lets Have Tea and Compost

You can buy a complete outfit for brewing compost tea like E.J. Hook's. But commercial setups are much bigger than backyard gardeners need. So why not rig your own teapot for much less Start with good garden compost, a five-gallon bucket of water, and a small mesh or burlap bag. Half a gallon of compost, held loosely in the cloth bag, is about right for a five-gallon batch of tea. Add an aerator a large aquarium air pump- 27 at Seattle pet stores-will work . This is important, because...

James Jackson This Garden is Me

There's no lawn, but there's a riot of color in front of James and Octavia Jackson's house. It's the only house in the neighborhood with no grass, and Octavia says people are forever calling to her from the street to say how nice it looks. While she keeps an exacting eye on the flowerbeds in front, 82-year-old James supplies the vegetables grown from containers on a concrete patio in the back. Dark purple eggplants hang in extravagant bunches next to big, scarlet bell peppers. They aren't...

Healthier Habitats

Our backyards are our private spaces. They are our pieces of the world. But a backyard is also part of a larger landscape we share with our community and with plants and wildlife. The health and well being of all of us depends on having a clean, healthy, sustainable place to live. How we take care of our yards and properties the water and other resources we use, the fertilizer and pesticides we apply, the type of plants and landscape features we choose impacts the health and quality of our...