January wakes up gardening gene | Master Gardeners' Column

Logo of WSU Master Gardeners.  - File art
Logo of WSU Master Gardeners.
— image credit: File art

By Jody Burns

Special to the Journal

January: a new year, new resolutions — or maybe old resolutions promised again.  Even some colder temperatures to remind us that the calendar says winter.  For died in the wool gardeners, January wakes up the gardening gene.  Seed catalogues are in the mail.

January sun brings hope.

Maybe we’ll have an early spring … a warm summer … a repeat of last fall’s gorgeous weather.   A miracle: red tomatoes instead of green ones.

Regardless of your green thumb status, it’s not too early to begin planning.

If you’re ordering seeds, start dreaming and ordering.  Once the seeds are ordered, it’s time to think about bare root plants. The Native Plant Sale pre-order season is open.

There are some wonderful plants this year:  Pacific Rhododendron, Pacific Ninebark, Pacific Crabapple, and Red Flowering Currant.

These are all beautiful shrubs for your natural landscape.  Order forms are available at

If you don’t have access to the Internet, call Washington State University Extension at 378-4414.  Pick up of plants is March 24 on all three islands.  Order early as many of these plants sell out quickly.

Not sure how to design the native plant landscape you’ve been dreaming about?

Help is on the way in April.  The Master Gardener Spring Gardening Workshop will be April 21.

The workshop is a day full of gardening information, including an hour-long session led by Michael Budnick of Orcas Island on landscaping with native plants.

Other sessions include water catchment, building hoop houses, fruit tree pruning, choosing disease resistant plants, vegetable gardening, flower arranging.  Something for everyone.

Graham Kerr, the famous Galloping Gourmet, will lead off the day with a conversation about kitchen gardens.

You’ll come away a gardening expert.

While you’re thinking about your own garden, the Master Gardeners and the Grange encourage you to think about folks who are experiencing hard times, and would love to have some fresh produce and fruit.

The San Juan Food Bank has been serving an increased number of people.  It can use your monetary donations any time, but especially now.  The Master Gardeners have been donating produce grown in the Demonstration Garden to the Food Bank for four years—over 1,000 pounds alone this year.  Megan Jones, a member of the San Juan Grange and a master gardener is developing a program to make more fresh produce and fruit available to the Food Bank.

Perhaps you have a fruit tree that produces more fruit than you can pick and use.  Your garden has more vegetables than you can preserve or cook.

Megan is organizing a group of gleaners to pick and deliver that extra fresh produce and fruit to the Food Bank this summer.  If you’re interested in talking about how to put your extra produce and fruit on the table of those in need instead of on the ground, email

You’ll hear more about this program as the year progresses, but plan now to share the bounty of your landscape with those in need.

As always, the Master Gardeners are available at 378-4414 to answer all your gardening questions.

Get those Native Plant Sale Orders in and we’ll see you on April 21, 2012 at the Spring Gardening Workshop.


Jody Burns is a Master Gardener for the WSU Master Gardener program.

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