Garden On, Vashon

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More on Low-Ouch! Gardening

March 21st, 2014 at Fri, 21st, 2014 at 2:34 pm by Karen Dale


Becky Bumgarner Fav Tools

I hope you enjoyed my article on “Low-OUCH! Gardening” this week for the Beachcomber’s Home & Garden Section. Since they didn’t run a lot of photos, I’ll run them here with comments.

The photo above is of Becky Bumgarner holding some favorite weeding tools. From left is her shrub rake, used to pull deadheaded weeds from garden beds without having to lean so much. Next is my Winged Weeder:  my favorite to weed my 6″ raised veggie beds (in truth, at 4′ long it’s a little short for to-the-ground work; the tool to the right of her ear is a better length as I’ll get to).

In her breast pocket is a little Cape Cod weeder—”Like using a fingernail to scrape just under the surface,” says Becky. And arching in front of her chin is a CobraHead: she likes how it can hook underneath paving and pull out those running grass-roots.

In her right hand and by her ear is the head of the Rogue Scuffle Hoe 25S. It’s ridiculously small: a 2.5″ triangular head at the end of a 5′ handle, but like all scuffle hoes, it’s TOPS for razoring off weeds just below the soil surface. (Made in Missouri: The article showed Becky in the correct stance, with the tool long enough so her pushing makes it glide across the soil instead of trying to stick and hold her up like a ski pole.

That last tool is what she’s nicknamed “The Thong—and the best tool EVER.” The Pro Radius Transplanter/Weeder with the ergonomic, lime-green handle looks like a bulb planter, but she claims its stainless-steel blade is great at loosening heavy soil to make it easier to dig, weed, or transplant.

Becky with Thong

Becky Bumgarner in action with “The Thong” Pro Radius Transplanter Weeder. This brand was designed for ergonomic ease of use (available at True Value).

Bad Back? Here’s how Carolina Nurik Copes

Carolina Nurik herniated a lumbar disk a few years ago while wrestling with a planted pot too heavy for her. Her place is an Edible Landscape, with dozens of fruit trees and lots of raised veggie beds on top of terraces, so she can’t quit gardening just because she’s got a bad back. So she’s learned to use new tools to adapt.

Over the years she has terraced her sloped property on Maury Island, and she’d added raised beds on top to hold imported soil and composts for her veggies.  Having the food at hip-height makes tending and harvest easier on her back. To weed the far side, she sits on a kiddie chair she found at Granny’s Attic.

In her greenhouse she raises tomatoes in five-gallon buckets and other large pots. To tend them, she sits herself on a Step2 Garden Scooter and scoots along from one pot to the next.

Her advice: raise everything to a level comfortable for YOU—don’t wrestle yourself into a position that will hurt you.

CArolina raised beds

Carolina can tend these raised beds on top of terraces without bending over much. This kit of walls and hoops came from Costco.

Carolina's Costco Compost BIns

These raised compost bins from Costco rotate on a central axle pipe that has air-holes to let oxygen penetrate decomposing matter.



Carolina, sitting on a Step2 Garden Scooter that rolls easily over flat ground, even gravel. (available at True Value).

Carolina, with her Step2 Garden Scooter that rolls easily over flat ground, even gravel, and a garden kneeler in the sitting position. (Available at True Value).

Rather than lug a heavy backpack sprayer, Carolina drags it behind her in a wire shopping cart that she got for $3 at Granny's. "Adapt!" is her motto.

Rather than lug a heavy backpack sprayer, Carolina drags it behind her in a wire shopping cart that she got for $3 at Granny’s. “Adapt!” is her motto. The yellow-flowering shrub is a Cornus Mas.Now, the news:

Timely Activities—

Up on Sunrise Ridge, the Food Bank garden starts its growing year with a Everyone Welcome Work Party this Sunday afternoon, March 23, from noon-4pm. Coordinators Jenn Coe and Emily Scott will lead a (hopefully) slew of volunteers  to fix the deer fence, pull mulch from raised beds, clean and organize the tool shed, prep flats for the Foster Seedling Program, and weed more garlic!

Vashon Farmers Market will open Saturday, April 5, at the usual 10am bell. I’ll be there selling my book, Garden On, Vashon! under the big white tent of Vashon Writers Coop, a group dedicated to helping Island authors reach their audiences. And if this market opener is like that of years’ before, you can expect first radishes, sunchokes, leeks and carrots big and sweet from overwintering, and perhaps some first spring greens from  island hoop houses.

THIS is the time for grafting fruit wood. Last weekend the fruit club put on an APPLE GRAFTING WORKSHOP at Sunrise Ridge, where I learned that RIGHT NOW, before buds crack open and leaves unfurl, is the right time to snip a 12-14″ length of first-year wood from a fruit tree you don’t have yet, but would like to. That strip of new wood—hopefully straight, about pencil-thick—can be grafted onto rootstock you get from a nursery OR onto branches of grown trees. The techniques for whip-grafts, bark grafts, etc are probably in books or on the Internet; I mention this because NOW IS THE TIME!


gardens on the south end of Vashon Island, on a sandy hilltop overlooking Quartermaster Harbor. "Garden On, Vashon" shares what the Island has to teach us about gardening HERE—from making soils to sowing seeds to raising plants to harvest, cooking, preserving, and designing new ways to cultivate your little chunk of Vashon Island. To contact me, email, or leave a comment.

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