Favor flora or fresh veggies? Dig into urban gardening (2024)

Posted on May 17, 2024 by Ed Kromer. This entry was posted in Being Active, Eating Well, Engaging Interests, Staying Healthy. Bookmark the permalink.

As the Pacific Northwest soil begins to warm enough to support an explosion of new growth, May is the perfect time to think about gardening. Whether your passions run toward geraniums, dahlias and foxglove or tomatoes, blueberries and zucchini—or maybe all of the above—our region is a pretty ideal place to sow your seeds and starts.

Gardening in your yard, in containers on a balcony or in a community P-Patch is enormously satisfying. And it delivers a bumper crop of benefits. The practice of gardening reduces stress and boosts mood, encourages mindfulness, builds strength and confidence, exercises the heart and lungs, lowers blood pressure, encourages healthier eating and can foster social connections.

If you’re convinced that a little dirt under your fingernails is a ticket to wellness, fantastic! But where to start?

We are fortunate to have a wealth of gardening knowledge at the University of Washington, much via the sprawling UW Botanical Gardens, a part of the College of the Environment.

UW Farm

The UW Farm is a 1.5 acre student-powered urban farm and educational facility located on the UW Seattle campus. The farm’s mission is to be the campus center for the practice and study of urban agriculture and sustainability, and an educational, community-oriented resource for people who want to learn about building productive and sustainable urban landscapes.

Tune into the UW Farm YouTube channel to find a wide variety of educational videos on farming, gardening and how the UW Farm operates. Beginning gardeners might find especially useful the urban farming and gardening, farming tools, soil health and cooking demos playlists.

Read the UW Farm Blog or, better yet, subscribe to the Weekly Dirt newsletter, to get the latest UW Farm updates, information on the farm produce boxes and other knowledge around sustainable and organic farming.

You can also access the UW Farm’s Virtual Learning Library, which catalogs more than a decade of research projects and capstone experiences of UW students. Useful topics include gardens, food systems, farming production and practices—and even a recipe book to bring the best out of your harvest.

And, if you’d rather that your local, seasonal produce is grown for you—and want to support the UW Farm—you can subscribe to its CSA Program. There’s a waiting list for the 2024 season.

UW Center for Urban Horticulture

The Center for Urban Horticulture is a 16-acre landscaped site with buildings and gardens, and the 74-acreUnion Bay Natural Area, which provides publicly accessible wildlife habitat (more than 200 bird species have been sighted there) and an outdoor laboratory for UW research.

You can access a wide array of classes and workshops on topics that range from city beavers to urban foraging to native plants to forest bathing to street trees of Seattle.

Subscribe to the Center for Urban Horticulture’s E-Flora newsletter to receive news and events, as well as your choice of botanical topics and resources. And get gardening help from experts on Monday evenings.

Check out this list of upcoming Garden Tours and Plant Sales. Among them is the UW Farm Plant Sale on Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On offer: vegetable and flower starts, potted herbs, Dahlia tubers and farm staff on-hand to answer your gardening questions.

Urban Gardening Lunch & Learn

Don’t miss the upcoming Urban Gardening Lunch & Learn on Wednesday, May 22 from noon to 1 p.m., hosted by the UW Combined Fund Drive.

This session will highlight two vibrant local organizations that educate and advocate for folks to cultivate vegetable and floral gardens in yards, on balconies and in community gardens.

The Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS) brings together individuals who share a common interest in Washington’s unique flora. The society, which offers a variety of plant directories and education programs, will be represented by executive director Denise Mahnke.

The Tilth Alliance collaborates with Washington farmers, gardeners and eaters to create a sustainable, healthy and equitable food future. Among its many good works, Tilth Alliance cultivates thriving urban farms and gardens, supports sustainable Washington agriculture, offers invaluable resources for gardeners, including classes, natural lawn care and a Garden Hotline, and provides endless online resources. Tilth will be represented by Chris Hoffer, from the Community Education team, and Jenny Gallucci, who leads volunteers, events, donor relations and database management.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn valuable tips and strategies for your gardening endeavors.

Need more inspiration?

Check out the amazing diversity of plants and flowers and trees at the idyllic Washington Park Arboretum.

Take botanical tour around the world at the UW Biology Greenhouse (and meet exceptionally knowledgeable director Katie Sadler).

And save the date for the UW Farm Harvest Dinner, a gourmet fundraiser on September 19.

Favor flora or fresh veggies? Dig into urban gardening (2024)
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