Corky Luster from the Ballard Bee Company tending Robin Haglund’s hives. It’s her third year of hosting hives for them.
Green My Ballard: Edible Garden Tour offers insights, ideas and inspiration
Looking for inspiration? Or growing tips, planting strategies or answers to your perplexing questions?
Sustainable Ballard’s 4th annual Edible Garden Tour is coming up on Saturday, June 23, with this year focused on the northeast segment of greater Ballard.
This annual walking/ biking tour is a fundraiser for Sustainable Ballard’s community projects, but it’s a benefit for all of us in the bigger scheme of things. And this is your chance to enjoy backyard sanctuaries and private spaces not usually available to the public.
Take the tour, and see how neighbors use containers, parking strips and raised beds, see bee houses and chicken coops and gather ideas for your own, and explore possibilities with fruit trees and berries. Gardeners will be on hand to answer your questions at the dozen-plus sites.
Date: June 23, 2012
Time: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Cost: $10 per person (adult; kids are free)
Where: NE Ballard (65th St. north to 85th, 15th Ave. NW east to 8th Ave.)
How: Get your tickets and map the day of the tour at Whittier Elementary School, 1320 NW 75th
All locations are within walking or riding distance of Whittier Elementary, where the tour officially starts. The tour routes are specifically chosen to not cross any major arterials and be walkable or bikeable.
“We have more folks this year with chickens and bees,” said tour organizer and garden scout Paula Jenson. “You’ll meet newer gardeners who are involving their kids, and more gardeners who are growing fruits and berries this year, as opposed to just veggies.”
Among those featured on the tour are gardens by Robin Haglund, owner and founder of Garden Mentors, and the owners of The Pantry at Delancey, a community kitchen by Delancey pizzeria founder (and husband to Orangette’s Molly Wizenberg) Brandon Pettit and partners.
While edible landscaping can be found on parking strips, front and side yards, the tour offers a peak into private backyard gardens otherwise hidden from sight. Garden Mentor’s Robin Haglund, who lives near Baker Park, is a professional garden designer and coach who works city-wide teaching people how to garden and transform their spaces.
When Robin and her partner moved into their home 13 years ago, they immediately began replacing their lawn. “I didn’t start out gardening professionally. That came later, after studying English and working in high tech and publishing,” she said. But she’s a self-professed “super plant geek.” That passion, plus a childhood spent on farms and ranches, eventually led to her new vocation.
At Robin’s place, you’ll see a small greenhouse, composting systems, worm beds, and various types of edible gardens including hoop houses, raised beds and cold frames. Bees and chickens live among the rain barrels and containers. Tomatoes, berries, fruit trees will be in full swing. She also collects rare plants, so ask if you have an interest.
When I asked Robin what advice she’d offer to the new or novice gardener, she suggested getting to know your soil. While not essential, it can save time and money in the long run by not spending valuable plant money on expensive fertilizers and enhancements, as different crops do better in different soils. While opinions vary about whether or not to test, staff at local gardening stores such as Swanson’s Nursery (http://www.swansonsnursery.com/) or Walt’s Organic Fertilizer Co. can be good resources.
King County’s website also has soil testing information, and, according to various sources, a reliable place to your samples is the University of Massachusetts' soiltest website.
Get your tickets, and more!
While you’re picking up your tickets at Whittier, pick up raffle tickets for garden items such as pop-up composters, rain barrels, hand tools and more donated by Fiskars. In addition to raffle tickets and informational materials on city regulations, soil improvements, and chicken and bee keeping resources,, you can also pick up coupons for Stoneway Hardware and Limback Lumber, both located in lower Ballard.
What else does your ticket get you? It’ll get you insights, ideas and inspiration, and a new appreciation for your neighbors. You’ll learn a lot and see your neighborhood with new eyes.
“Tours like these draw people out,” said Robin. “I think they help build community, inspiring people to get out and try things in their gardens. I know I learn a lot from my clients every day.” If past tours are an indication – and having been one of the gardens on the inaugural tour – both gardeners and participants are very willing to share their successes, failures, and everything in between. It’s a day – or a few hours – well spent.
For more information about the tour, contact Paula Jenson (email@example.com). For information about Sustainable Ballard, visit their wiki site at http://sustainableballard.org/.