Hands in the Dirt: MLT gardening tips for January 2021

This month is looking awfully wet. The water level in Lake Ballinger is very high and walking through the park is often like walking on a sponge. Is your lawn the same way? Avoid walking on it too much, as the compaction can harm the soil structure.

January is a great time to take care of your tools, including sharpening the blades on clippers and oiling wooden tool handles to prevent cracking. With care, good quality tools can last for decades.

Have you started planning your garden yet? Seed catalogs have been arriving in my mailbox since early December. It’s easy to be dazzled by new varieties, and I end up circling and flagging seeds like a kid with the old Sears toy catalogs. I’ve learned my lesson, though, and now cross check my wish list with the seeds in storage so I don’t end up with four packages of super sugar snap peas.

There is some concern that seed suppliers will not be able to keep up with the increased demand for vegetable seeds this year. If you are placing seed orders, it may be a good idea to get those in as soon as possible for best selection.

The MLT BOG maintains a seed library as a free resource for the local community. The library has been stocked by seeds saved from the BOG, leftovers from the very successful seed swap last March, and donations from local gardeners, including a very large donation from the estate of Jack D. Exum, Jr. Last spring we were able to provide free seeds to over 80 local gardeners. Are you or someone you know are worried about food availability and would like to start a garden? Unable to purchase seeds because the investment is too great? Can’t find seeds because stores are sold out? Or do you have seeds you would like to donate to the community? Please reach out to us on Facebook or at TheMLTBOG@gmail.com. We would love to help you.

Have a question about gardening?  Post it on our Facebook page.

About the BOG

The Ballinger Organic Garden (BOG) is a volunteer-led effort to develop a community garden at Ballinger Park. The BOG, in partnership with MLT Recreation & Parks and the MLT Senior Center and funded by a grant from the MLT Community Foundation, is currently in “Phase 0” while larger construction activities (creek restoration and trail installation) are completed.  Phase 0 includes maintenance of the existing raised beds and a garden plot on the south side of the MLT Senior Center in Ballinger Park. Phase 1 will involve installation of a larger garden with plots available for community members to maintain.  Want to volunteer, or have an idea of what you want to see in the future garden? Please let us know.

To stay up to date on what is happening at the BOG, including what’s growing, work parties, and events, follow us on Facebook  or Instagram.

Robyn Rice grew up in Eastern Washington, pulling weeds and picking up rotten fruit as dreaded chores assigned by her Master Gardener father. Today, Robyn is a fisheries biologist for an environmental consulting firm, and has been gardening in the Seattle area since 2010. Her science background leads to endless research about the “correct” way to do things, but her enthusiasm and sense of adventure leads her to garden fearlessly because hey, what’s the worst that could happen?


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