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255. Growing Berries and Fruit Trees in the Pacific Northwest: How to Grow Abundant, Organic Fruit in Your Backyard | Tara Austen Weaver | Seattle, WA Part I
14th January 2019 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 00:57:54

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Today, I’m excited to introduce my guest from Tara Austen Weaver who’s written a book about growing


Growing Berries and Fruit Trees in the Pacific Northwest: How to Grow Abundant, Organic Fruit in Your Backyard

I know that you are going to love this because it’s got lots of great tips for anyone living anywhere not just in the Northwest and I’m super excited because last summer I was visiting Nola’s yard last summer because her blueberries were amazing and I am bound and determined to grow some this year! And there’s just so much to learn so welcome to the show!

To read the full shownotes click here.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My mom had a giant organic garden!

It wasn’t till I moved to Seattle about 10 years ago that everything fell into place, Seattle has such a giant gardening community! 

Everyone here it seems even if they just grow beautiful yards edible ones and everyone is out working and tending vegetables

I got bitten by the gardening bug

  • quickly used up all of the area
  • didn’t have much of a yard
  • I got a community garden plot
  • started studying permaculture

Eventually my mother moved up to Seattle and bought a house on half an acre!

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

I’m coming off not a fantastic garden year, because I moved this spring! I wasn’t thinking it through thinking I could move and garden and that didn’t really happen!

Perennial gardening is growing obsession

I have a busy life and in the summer I also like to go hiking. I am really really interested in those things that don’t need as much help and tending as lettuce and peas do

those twelve blueberry bushes were fine and asked nothing of me! 

master recipes I have developed over the years

  • this jam
  • crisp

you can make with any fruit

the other thing people don’t realize

commercial growers grow certain varieties because they stand up to transport that will stand up on the shelf.

There are a lot of amazing varieties that don’t get grown commercially because they are just too fragile.

My favorite strawberry variety is called Shushkan

not grown commercially

They really need to be processed within 24 hours

They have the most amazing flavor

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

well I feel like I actually had a slower gardening season next year so I have a jump on this year and I have my fava beans in already!

I had a really good tomato season about 2 years ago

growing tomatoes from seed

I want to really be on my tomato game next year

Once you start doing things from seeds and have access to all these interesting varieties you want more and more sort of like collecting baseball cards and you want all of them!

I am interested in doing more of that

I have really also gotten into chicories and radiccio and bitter lettuces!

 I have some that are actually growing on 2-3 year now, like the same plants, I just cut the seed stalk

do it sort of as a cut and come crop cut all their leaves as they are growing in the summer and it just resprouts from the root stem! 

3 year old chicory

I let some develop seed stems and the seeds drop reseeding themselves

very attracted by perennial gardening!

I love being in the garden but summer’s short in the US and in NW and I have  lots of things to do

half an acre a lot to look after

  • shortcuts
  • easier

permaculture approach if you can have a cycle that replenishes itself is fantastic



Year-Round Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year, No Matter Where You Live

I follow her on Instagram  it’s so fascinating to see what she is doing in Nova Scotia!

She has all of these cold frames and exciting to see what she is doing in the middle of Canadian winter surrounded by snow!

There is also another book

growing oriental vegetables

sounds like an outdated title

It is all about cold season gardening and talking about different varieties that do well in cold climates

I know mustards are heartier in cold climates.

We go through a lot of kale! My family eats a lot of kale. My mother has been kind of holding back from gardening as she gets older but one year she would plant things in the spring. She would be gone all summer long! She goes to Canada  and she can go 

I was like did you know how many kale plants you planted and she’s like oh, year a dozen or so and I was like no you planted 110!

  • can go multiple years
  • let it go to seed
  • bees love the blooms
  • birds love the seeds!

They crack open the seed pods and I let them open the seed pods and it sprouts!

Call me the lazy gardener

I think we are just busy so I would call you efficient. I  just wanted to correct the title, the 4 Season Harvest is Eliot Coleman


Eliot Coleman: Four-Season Harvest : Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long, 2nd Edition 

She just came out with a new book I have been trying to get her to be a guest on the show. 

Niki Jabbour's Veggie Garden Remix: 224 New Plants to Shake Up Your Garden and Add Variety, Flavor, and Fun

Niki Jabbour’s Veggie Garden Remix: 224 New Plants to Shake Up Your Garden and Add Variety, Flavor, and Fun

I have a green house doesn’t get a whole lot of use. We start seeds indoors and then we move them out to the greenhouse for a while. It gets a month and half of use. I would like to get some things growing things in there in the winter but the area in ground, is a mess of bind wind and quack grass. 

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.

I have actually been struggling a little bit with peas

sounds a little silly.

I have been having really low germination rates

This is the part of the show we call getting to the root of things!

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?

I have

  • bindweed
  • blackberries
  • horsetail

That kind of weeding is just misery.

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden?

This is gonna sound funny my favorite activity is going to be sitting and enjoying. Especially the first five to seven years I was working at my mother’s house and so I wasn’t living there all the time. I was just coming here to work in the garden and never getting to enjoy it and this friend of mine said, you have the worst situation here because

the best part of gardening is kicking back and having a nice beverage and enjoying it

Another part of my enjoyment is also bringing other people in

  • particularly kids

    Sometimes I think gardening is just a seed that has a very long hibernation period!

    if it gets planted in you as a child it usually sprouts at some point!

    What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?

    golden rules for being a happy gardener

    I was reading through them and going yeah yeah

    One was have a right size garden

  • One of my goals is to work on some irrigation systems which I don’t have

  • A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.

    the hori hori

  • I use the red Felco clippers

    Felco Pruners

    Every spring I get our clippers sharpened and it’s such a pleasure to do that! I didn’t realize all of our clippers were really dull, I have a friend who takes them apart and oils them and sharpens them but that’s not in my skill set yet.

  • A favorite internet resource?

    It’s interesting a lot of my garden inspiration is coming from Instagram

    That all comes down to who you follow

    I have been following a lot of

    • English gardeners
    • Dutch gardeners


    @Fordham Abbey

  • @yougrowgirl
  • Margaret Roach
  • I know you had Erin on your podcast  from Floret  in Skagit Valley which is about an hour north of where I am. 

    But there is another farmer in Ontario

    Dahlia May

  • endless summer farm (which is actually Michael Genovese’s Summer Dreams Farm)
  • What about what’s your channel on Instagram? Handle?

    @tea_austen on Instagram

    I post about the garden and I also do some food writing

    • posting what I am cooking out of the garden as well
    • travel and different things
    • I had a blog for years, although I don’t write much there

    tea and cookies

  • Growing your own food changes how you cook

    It’s no longer what do I feel like eating what looks good at the grocery store, it’s I have  6 heads of cauliflower what am I going to do with them?

    choices happen very early in the year in the choices start in what you choose to plant!

    Tell us about your book!



    Growing Berries and Fruit Trees in the Pacific Northwest: How to Grow Abundant, Organic Fruit in Your Backyard

    Some of the things that stood out to me were the apple socks and that raspberry starts were really called canes.

    We have coddling moths here in the pacific nw.

    pom fruit – pears and apples

    Pruning can be really complicated but it doesn’t have to be

  • trees want to grow!

  • berries and fruit trees

    This is sort of like legacy gardening

    It requires a lot less work from you that annual vegetable gardening but it is gonna be around for a long time

  • real fan of kiwi berries

    they look like miniature kiwis the brown fuzzy kiwis

    miniature size

  • They come ripe in September and October

    summer berries are out the door

    • take up into winter
    • high vitamin c
    • good for cold season

    fun for kids to grow!

    • wildberries
    • salmonberries
    • thimbleberries
    • evergreen huckleberries
    • currents
    • gooseberries
    • Final question-

      if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

      I think climate change absolutely




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