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Peas on a trellis with carrots and radishes below. They were such strong growers, they nearly pulled the trellis down!

Peas are always one of the first vegetables I plant in the spring. As soon as there's a sunny day in late February or March, I bundle up and head out to the garden to sow snap and shelling peas along trellises in my raised beds.

Peas are easy and rewarding to grow. Honestly, there's nothing more astonishing than the difference in flavor between sweet, crisp home-grown peas and the soggy, bland frozen or canned peas found at the supermarket. Are they really the same vegetable? I'm not convinced. I'm a staunch believer in eating peas raw; I eat most of my harvest right off the vine.

You might not "make friends with salad" but peas are another story. According to my grandmother, whenever she planted peas along the fence in her backyard, usually private and busy neighbors would suddenly show up with time to chat, nonchalantly picking and eating peas as they talked. So, if you want the neighborhood gossip, planting peas is the way to go. Here's how to grow them.

'French Petits Pois' Heirloom Shelling Peas are one my favorites. Small, sweet peas perfect raw or steamed.

  • Snap peas: fat and juicy edible pods filled with peas.
  • Snow peas: flat, edible pods with barely-formed peas that are quite good in stir-fry dishes.
  • Shelling peas: well, the name says it all. Split mature pods open to harvest the sweet, plump peas inside.



Pre-planting, amend your soil with 1"-2" of a high-quality compost, digging it in at least 6" deep. You may also want to add a vegetable fertilizer or bone meal to the soil.


Ideally, plant in full sun. I've had success planting in part-sun locations as well. A little afternoon shade in the height of summer will help extend the season.


Plant anytime from mid-February through early April in the PNW, when soil temperature is at least 40 degrees. Look for enation-resistant* varieties, especially if you plant after mid-March.


Sow seeds according to packet directions. Generally, 1"-1 1/2" deep and between 1" and 3" apart. Optional: coat seeds with an inoculant - a powdered beneficial bacteria -  to encourage strong roots and higher yields. If you choose to plant starts (baby plants), gently loosen the roots but don't worry about separating out the individual plants. Peas like to grow in thick clumps.


Water gently and deeply after sowing and keep the soil moist during germination. Then provide regular, deep watering. Always provide support (a trellis, fence, etc.) for climbing pea varieties or try the dwarf, bush varieties that don't need any extra support. Pea plants do not need to be thinned.


Pick peas regularly and they will keep producing through early to mid summer! If your snap peas have grown too large and are tough, you can use them as shelling peas and discard the pods.


I like to try new varieties this year and often sow seeds as well as plant starts. This year, I'm testing out 'Carruther's Purple-Podded Shelling Pea' seeds from Deep Harvest Farm on Whidbey Island and 'Magnolia Blossom Snap Pea' seeds from Renée's Garden Seeds. Both have bi-colored purple flowers! I'm also planting two of my old favorites: 'French Petits Pois Shelling Peas' (from starts) and 'Cascadia Snap Pea' seeds from Botanical Interests. 

Here are a few other varieties we love: 

  • Snow Peas:  'Oregon Sugar Pod' and 'Oregon Sugar Pod II'
  • Snap Peas:  'Sugar Ann', 'Sugar Snap' and 'Cascadia'
  • Shelling Peas: 'Green Arrow' (heirloom) and 'Tom Thumb' (dwarf)

So, there you are. Now, go forth and plant some peas. And don't forget to fill me in on any neighborhood gossip you might hear along the way ;)


*Pea Enation Mosaic virus causes "windowing" of the leaves, giving them a mosaic-like look. It also distorts the pods and reduces yields.

Editor's Note: A version of this post was published in March 2015.

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Editor's Note: With the recent cold and grey weather, we at Swansons thought it would be restorative to take a trip - albeit a virtual one - to the sunny climes of southern California. This is a peek at a visit to the renowned Lotusland gardens made by our Annuals and Indoor Plant Buyers, Liane and Mollie, this past August. We hope it leaves you feeling refreshed and even more ready for spring gardening!


In August, Mollie, our indoor plant buyer, and I were visiting growers in southern California and found ourselves with a free morning.  Without knowing much more than that it had an acclaimed botanical garden we took the opportunity to visit Lotusland.  What a fantastic place!

The Main House

Lotusland is a hidden gem in the foothills of Montecito, California; spilling across 37 acres on the historic estate of Madame Ganna Walska. I couldn’t help but feel we’d joined a secret (and highly dramatic) club right from the start. Because Lotusland is a public garden operating in a private, residential neighborhood, advance tour reservations are required to visit. Directions and parking information will only be provided once your reservation is confirmed. It brought to mind the mystery and excitement of being a nineteen-year-old, recently arrived in Paris, traveling from meeting point to meeting point awaiting the final directions to a dance party in an abandoned train tunnel. Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt! We practiced the secret handshake diligently for a week before visiting. (I’m kidding about the secret handshake.)  Is it weird that I find visiting a garden as scintillating an adventure as a rave was in my youth? Nope! Not when it’s Lotusland.

The feeling of adventure and discovery continued from the moment we arrived. Lotusland is a fabulous horticultural wonderland of whimsy, drama, and extravagance all brought together with the skill of a master show-woman. Every corner you turn is one of surprise and delight.  A two hour, docent-led tour took us through a labyrinthine series of gardens, with subtropical and tropical plants from around the world.  It was fun to see so many of the plants we grow in our homes used in mass in an outdoor environment, and fabulous to see them from the perspective of our indoor plant buyer, Mollie. Our docent gave historical and horticultural information sprinkled with just enough gossip to keep it spicy. While the plant nerd in me thrilled to see such an extensive and extravagant garden, the stories are what made it so enthralling.

A little history 


Originally owned by British horticulturist Ralph Kinton Stevens, and named Tanglewood, the property was planted with many unusual specimens. Today you can still find many plants from this era including California live oaks, Monterey cypress, some really cool mature palms with trunks like an elephant’s legs, the Asian lotus in the Japanese gardens, and a beautiful promenade of olive trees in the orchard gardens.


Subsequent landowners E. Palmer and Marie Gavit renamed the estate Cuesta Linda (pretty hill). They commissioned many of the architectural features present today including the Spanish-Colonial Revival main residence, an Italianate garden, brick pathways, an eight-pointed Moorish garden, the pool house (later occupied by the Gavit’s teenage daughter), the swimming pool, and the pink perimeter wall, as well as several other outbuildings. 


Opera diva Madame Ganna Walska acquired the property in 1941. Here’s where things started to get really interesting.  She brought her considerable resources, passion, vision, and creativity to bear in crafting this botanical wonderland over the next forty plus years. In her autobiography, Madame Walska proclaimed herself an Enemy of the Ordinary. I’d say she was wildly successful in her quest and that her gardens are the living legacy of it.

“It is impossible to separate the creation from the creator. This is a very personal garden. It’s all Madame Ganna Walska,” said Gwen Stauffer, Lotusland’s executive director. “She was a collector by heart. She collected all kinds of things, and when she found out plants were collectible she was collecting them with a vengeance, from all over the world.” (Bock)

The Theater Garden

In 1948 Ganna Walska had a small outdoor theatre built to resemble the one at her French chateau. The Theater Garden holds seating for one hundred on three tiers of benches made of sandstone. Here she placed her collection of antique stone figures, called “grotesques” from her estate in Galluis, France, which she retrieved after World War II (they were rumored to have been buried during the war to protect them from theft).  They are believed to be fashioned after engravings of “Gobbi” (literal translation: “Grotesque Dwarves”) made by French artist Jacques Callot in the 1600s, but little is known of their provenance.

Forty years later, there was little left except the stone steps. Isabelle Greene was commissioned to design a renovation that would “join hands” with Walska’s whimsical creativity throughout the Lotusland gardens.  Walska’s collection of grotesques from France was brought out of storage. Although Isabelle’s original design called for pairs of them to symmetrically march throughout the theatre, when she saw them off-loaded from the truck in a group at the theatre edge, she laughed out loud, seeing a “flock of gremlins” about to swarm into her space. She decided to leave many of them where they stood so that others could enjoy the humor. Beyond the group, one cheeky grotesque showing his tongue peeks out behind an olive tree, while a flirtatious female displays her leg to an ogling monk nearby. (Isabelle Greene and Associates).

The Cycad Gardens

Thought to be the most complete cycad collection in any American public garden, this was the last garden created by Madame Walska. It has been called a “million dollar garden” because its development (and surely its funding) coincided with the auction of her remarkable jewelry collection at Sotheby’s in New York in 1971.

The “Walska Briolette Diamond” Brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels. Photo © Sotheby’s.







Three Encephalartos woodii, among the world’s rarest cycads and extinct in the wild, are placed on a rocky cliff above their own koi pond.

The term cycad is used to designate a group of unusual cone-bearing plants that were common during the time of the dinosaurs. Most species are endangered and some are extinct in the wild.  Their extremely slow rate of growth and the hard-to-recognize differences among some species make buying mature specimens a costly proposition. Walska amassed 500 plants.

The Bromeliad Gardens

The two lush Bromeliad Gardens were my favorites.  Bromeliads blanket the ground between large coast live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.

The Merritt Dunlap Cactus Garden

This extensive collection of columnar cacti was donated to Lotusland in 1999 by Merritt “Sigs” Dunlap, a longtime friend of Madame Walska. Dunlap began his prickly collection in 1929 and remarkably grew approximately 40 percent of the plants from seed. The garden was designed by Eric Nagelmann on three-quarters of an acre and contains about 300 different species of cacti, grouped by their country of origin. Pacific Horticulture has an excellent article on the garden here: http://www.pacifichorticulture.org/articles/cactus-garden-at-lotusland/

Cactus and Euphorbias gardens adorn the front of the main house looking like something out of a Doctor Seuss..

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Swansons' Early Spring Sale lasts through March 11, 2018, offering great savings on trees, shrubs, and perennials. As you continue reading, think about adding to your tool belt while you shop through our best selection of fruit trees and berries of the year. 


We're on the forefront of our planting season and we're eager to get our hands back into the soil. Before we can get our gardens going, we're pulling out our favorite tools. Our tools are our back-saving prized possessions, and we want to tell you about our favorite ones!

The first two tools we list are the most popular among Swansons' staff. Everyone loves them! However, with many different gardening tasks, come many different favorite tools. After our top two choices, we share many of our other go-to tools that make gardening easier! Our thoughts on tools are generally ordered by use for smaller projects to larger ones.

Remember, whatever tools you use, it's essential they're kept clean and dry between uses to avoid spreading any diseases. 

 #1 Most Popular: Hori Hori Knife

The Hori Hori Knife is by far the most popular gardening tool we reach for. The question is not what it can do, but what can't it do?

What we have to say about the Hori Hori knife...
"The Hori Hori is a multi-purpose tool. You can dig holes for small plants, measure depth for bulbs, cut and excavate roots, some have bottle openers. It has a great design, being one piece of steel with a wooden handle." - Bram O.
"The Hori Hori!!! It does almost everything - digs holes for bulbs or plants, saws through roots, and digs up weeds!" - Deb Q. 
"The Hori knife truly is all purpose - good for digging in the dirt, root pruning, rough sawing, even a decent soil scoop. Also great for stabbing holes in the side of a bale of compost so you can rip the plastic off like a child on Christmas." - Brent K. 
"The best! This is a Japanese-made tool, and is great quality. The Hori Hori can be used for many tasks: weeding, digging a planting hole for small perennials and annuals, and opening bags of compost and soil." - Theresa V. 
"Great tool for easy digging-in to root balls and small plants that need to be pulled out. It slides and stabs with it's serrated edges and point - better than a trowel!" - Karin
"The Hori Hori does everything including whacking slugs! I have both the carbon and stainless steel versions and I prefer the stainless for ease of care and sharpness" - Kathy C.
"I do lots of container gardening, and it makes it easy to transfer items, remove plants from pots, and plus - you feel like a ninja with a big knife." - Liane S. 
"Great for weeding, cutting small roots, breaking up rootballs when planting, and cutting small branches." - Alex L. 
"As far as a multi-use tool goes, the Hori Hori truly delivers the all-around needs of basic gardening. You can measure bulb depth, saw roots, dig small holes, and use it as a garden knife." - Travis M. 
"The Hori Hori is definitely my favorite tool for all general weeding and small tasks. It does nearly everything! I use it to dig holes, plant bulbs, plant containers, break up root balls, and do root pruning." - Kathy B. 
 #2 Most Popular: Felco Pruners

The nursery professional's tool of choice! The Felco pruners are pruners of excellent quality, that stand out due to their replaceable parts, sharp blades, and comfortable use. 

What we have to say about Felco Pruners...
"This is a lifetime tool! Felco pruners have the best (Swiss!) quality. Each part can be replaced, including blades that can be sharpened and replaced. I have owned one pair for over 15 years and they still look like new!" - Theresa V. 
"I don't go to the garden without them. I missed them horribly when they were getting sharpened last year. They are easy to take apart for cleaning and oiling, and pretty easy to get back together again. You can buy spare parts, including the blade! I use them for large and small tasks, they are incredibly versatile." -Denise R.
"The Felco 2 is my other favorite tool. Great for pruning trees, shrubs, and small woody perennials." - Alex L. 
"Felco pruners! These make clean cups, are easy to sharpen, and have replacement parts!" - Deb Q. 
"Felco pruners really are the choice tool for the nursery professional. The Felco 6 pruners are my favorite since they are made to be more comfortable in a smaller hand. I've had my own personal Felco 6 pruners for 30 years because I can replace the blades myself, I love them!" - Kathy B. 
 Swansons' Favorite Tools for Small-Space Gardening

Needle-Nose Pruners & Dandelion Weeder "I love my small clippers for all kinds of trimming and harvesting in my vegetable and cutting gardens. They make it easier to snip in small spaces without accidentally cutting more than I would like! These are great for deadheading flowers as well. My second favorite tool is the dandelion weeder. This long, thin weeder makes quick work of dandelion taproots but I also love it for weeding small spaces in the rockery." - Aimée D. 

Fiskars Micro Tip Pruning Snips

Needle-Nose Pruners "The narrow blades, both of which cut like scissors, are perfect for anything small or finely textured - perennials, lavender, blueberries, Japanese maples. My favorite brand is the ARS." - Dan G. 

Fiskars Micro Snip "I particularly love the snips for clean up of spent orchid blossoms and precise cuts to dead/dying leaves so the orchids continue to look their best. Also great for spent pitchers and small leaves on carnivorous plants." - Matt B. 

Floral Scissors "These are perfect for all y indoor plant maintenance needs. Whether I want to trim the ends of a Dracaena or deadhead, these work wonderfully for making all my houseplants look perfect. Plus, put them next to some trendy garden décor, and it doubles as fine home décor." - Mollie T. 

Hand Claw

Three-Tine Hand Claw "The simple three-tine hand claw is ideal for surface weeding, digging in loose soil, fitting into small spaces, and it's great for root raking while planting or bonsai." - Bram O. 

Five-Tine Hand Claw "Great for container gardening! It is so useful for raking roots, top-level weeding, and spreading mulch." - Travis M. 

EZ Digger

EZ-Digger “These are great for lots of small projects because of the versatile shape. I use these for planting bulbs, pulling up grass, and planting seeds with the tapered side.” - Erich N.

EZ-Digger "The name says it all. Makes it super easy to claw through roots and dig out stones, good for scooping soil out of a hole while you work. With a little practice you can make nice neat trenches for row planting. Also it looks terrifying, which I appreciate. I like to have one in my hand (appropriately caked with mud and chopped-up bits of vegetation) when people start walking toward my front door with clipboards." - Brent K. 

Nejiri Gama Hoe

Nejiri Gama Hoe "This is a Japanese hoe with a long handle and narrow blade that is longer on one side than on the other. It is so handy for weeding especially!" - Claudia T.

Bachi Gata Japanese Hand Hoe "Excellent, ergonomic hand tool for digging (especially in hard, rocky soil), weeding, and chopping roots where necessary. Much easier on hands than trowel or most weeders." -Dan G. 

Sod Sickle/Saw

Japanese Sod Sickle/Saw "Very sharp! The bone sizes are so useful for container gardening, root pruning new plants before planting, as well as cutting into planted containers to remove root-bound plants." - Charlo W. 

 Swansons' Favorite Gardening Tools for Lawn & All-Purpose

Dramm 9-Pattern Revolver in Berry "A classic never dies. I enjoy this tool due to nine different spray options. Like 'mist' for carrot seeds and 'soak' for tomato starts. The bright color of the revolver keeps me from losing it if it is left attached to the hose laying in the yard (lazy gardener am I)." - Matt B. 

Kneeler/Bench "My favorite 'tool' is my kneeler/bench because without it, I would be found on my knees in the garden hours after I went out there to kneel down and weed! LOL! I am an 'all fours' weeder and planter, and am not able to get up without the use of that kneeler. It's also a handy bench for low-to-the-ground work." - Claudia T. 

Foam Kneeler

Tool Pouch & Foam Kneeler "Like many gardeners, it's easy to set pruners or tools on the ground, only never to find the tools again. I've lost many pruners that way. My favorite tool is the Corona tool pouch. The pouch slips onto my belt and can hold pruners, foldable hand saws, and tool sharpeners. My tools stay within reach and don't get lost! After a long day of kneeling in dirt, my knees and jeans have seen better days so I often use a foam kneeler. The foam kneeler keeps my jeans clean and my knees happy through hours of weeding and planting bulbs." - Jackie W.

Kneeler "You don't usually think of the kneeler as an essential tool when you are shopping, but it is essential. Gardening can be so hard on your body, that these are great. I'd recommend a bright color so its never lose in the lawn!" - Marina B. 

Manual Water Timers & Quick Disconnect Fittings for Garden Hoses "These are my favorites because they make watering much easier for me, and that makes it much more likely that I will do it! Lack of water is the #1 reason for plant deaths during their first year. The manual timer is spring driven, so it does not need batteries. One simply cranks it to the amount of time you want water to come out of the hose and once the time is up, the flow stops. I use it for my drip systems, soaker hoses, and individual sprinklers. The quick disconnects make it really easy for me to move my main garden hose to each of my different watering zone systems. The two pieces push and lock together and are able to be released by simply pulling back on a ring on the female fitting. I don't know how I functioned before the tiny investment into quick disconnects. Looking back I see my like in two halves. There is the before quick disconnect age, BQDC, and the after quick disconnect age AQDC. I'm much happier now." - Gabriel M. 

Rotating Grass Shears "Rotating grass shears are great for trimming the top and sides of my Vinca when it grows too tall and falls over the path." - Gwen P. 

Spading Fork "My very favorite tool is my trusty spading fork. I use it for weeding, planting, turning the soil, digging holes to insert posts or supports, and many other uses. I prefer the shorter handle because it's easier to handle and lighter weight. The brand doesn't seem to matter so long as it's sturdy." - Denise R. 

Convertible Pruner + Lopper

Convertible Pruner + Lopper "This is my new favorite tool because these are so versatile for pruning. They would work for smaller stems, but whereas most other pruners cut up to 1" diameter branches, these cut up to 1.25". What is unique about these is that the handles fold down to transform your pruners into loppers." - Cecil M. 

Folding Pruning Saw "These are incredibly useful, and my favorite tool! The folding pruning saw is very convenient for pruning my apple tree and Laurel. The blade locks into place, it's lightweight, and great for cutting firewood when I'm hiking." - Aaron V. 

Long-Handled (Wood) Round Point Shovel & Square Point Shovel"When you work with plants, you work with dirt. For many of us, our yards are works-in-progress. My favorite aspect of this is in how nothing is permanent. If I plant a shrub and a year later decide I don't quite like it, I move it. If the shape of a bed or slope of an area feels off, I dig or move dirt around until I like it. The round point shovel seems to be involved in nearly every project I do in my yard and would be the first gardening tool I would recommend for any new gardener. Square point shovels are not as versatile as spades in that they are not good for digging into the ground. It does however, shine when it comes to moving material (holds more per scoop), clearing loose material, scooping (dog bombs), and spreading mulches/soils/gravels. In a way, it is a great overall homeowner tool. If you add a wheelbarrow to your two shovel mix, you can do a ton of things yourself and get plenty of real 'natural' exercise." -Brian D. 

D-Handle Trenching Shovel "The longer, narrower blade than a standard shovel is easier to use in tight spaces." - Kathy C. 

Straight Rake & Shovel "My favorite tools are the straight rake and the shovel. These are seemingly simple tools, yet so amazingly useful in such a universal way. The straight rake to me is really the answer to spills, leveling areas, and some hoeing techniques for the garden. The shovel is great for leveraging rocks, creating hedges, as well as digging holes and the like. Love getting down in the dirt with proper tools!" - Geoffery S. 

Hula Hoe"The Hula-hoe is also known as a stirrup or loop hoe. You likely have a regular hoe in your garden shed to help with spreading and smoothing, but this tool is one to add as it's a time and back saver for pulling up small weeds in their infancy between your bed rows. Instead of crouching around on all fours, you can stand and use this tool of genius while scraping up those pesky weeds. The sharp edge of the loop skims off the top of weeds in a sweeping motion, leaving it's insufficient root system to die off. It's fun name doesn't hurt it's appeal, either." - Shelby T.


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Editor's Note: We are thrilled to welcome Katie Stemp and Kellie Phelan, co-owners of Seattle Farm School, to our blog! Katie, Seattle Farm School's founder, is giving us all the info we need to successfully grow herbs indoors. With cold weather moving in this weekend, we're excited for an indoor gardening project (and recipes for scrumptious herb-focused snacks). Learn more about Katie and Kellie at the end of this post.

Time required: 30 minutes once all materials are collected

Materials needed:
- Herbs of your choice
- Pots or containers made of metal, plastic or ceramic with drainage holes
- Tray or plate for under the container
- Good quality container soil mix, preferably organic
- Paper towel or coffee filter to cover drainage hole
- Grow lamp (optional for low sunlight locations)
- Fertilizer (fish emulsion, seaweed, or other herb-specific organic fertilizer)

Growing herbs indoors is easy! If their basic needs are met, such as good soil, adequate light
and the right amount of water, herbs will reward you with gorgeous plants and flavorful meals all year round. If you are new to indoor gardening or cooking with fresh herbs, these basic instructions will get you started.

Getting StartedHerbs

The first question to ask yourself when planning your indoor herb garden is what herbs do you like to cook with? If you have never used fresh herbs before, examine your spice rack and choose herbs that you frequently use in their dried form. Start with 3-5 favorites! A few herbs that grow well indoors are thyme, mint, rosemary, chives, and parsley.

Many herbs have similar light requirements and can be grown together in a large container, or separately in smaller pots. Mint is an aggressive grower and is best grown in its own pot. Grouping herbs with similar watering needs can help your plants thrive: rosemary, thyme, and sage need less water then herbs such as chives, parsley, mint, and cilantro.

We suggest starting with small herb plants you can get at a nursery for most of your indoor garden. Choose herbs that have good color, strong stems, no damage or signs of disease (yellow or browning leaves or mold growing on top of the soil). If you would like to try starting your herbs from seed you could easily grow basil or cilantro quickly. Bill Thorness, a local gardener and author, did a nice seed starting post on Swansons' blog.


For an herb to be useful in the long term, it will need room to grow. Choose a container that will provide at least 8 square inches of space per herb to avoid overcrowding. Good air circulation will help keep the leaves dry, which will help prevent disease.

Containers made of plastic, metal or ceramic are all good choices as long as they have drainage holes at the bottom. You can cut, drill, or pound drainage holes if needed depending
on the container material. For the purpose of growing smaller herbs indoors, terracotta
pots tend to dry out too quickly, making it hard to keep the soil at the correct moisture level.
Don’t forget a tray or plate to put underneath your container to keep extra water from escaping.


Buy a good quality soil mix made specifically for container gardening, preferably an organic version. It will help maintain the correct soil moisture level for your plant. Don’t use soil from your garden outside - it’s too heavy and usually filled with weed seeds. A nursery associate can guide you to the right product for your needs.


If your desired herb garden location does not get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day, you will want to add artificial light to keep your plants growing well. My kitchen has a large window above the counter but it faces north and gets no direct sunlight so I have added an LED grow lamp on a timer to keep my herbs healthy.


At home, transplant your herbs from their nursery pots to your indoor containers. On the inside of your chosen container, cover the drainage hole with a paper towel, coffee filter or plastic screening to keep soil in and let extra water out. Fill the container three-quarters of the way with the container soil mix, making a hole where the new plant will go.

Avoid damaging your herb by not pulling the plant out of the pot by its stem. Instead, take your herb out of its nursery pot by softly squeezing the outside of the container to loosen the plant from the pot, then place your hand at the base of the plant positioning the plant stem between your thumb and pointer finger. Turn the pot over and remove the herb from the pot. With your other hand, loosen the roots and place it in the new container. If the roots are too long and rootbound in the pot, you can cut off the very bottom of the roots to allow room for growth into the new soil.

Fill around the plant with more soil until its level with the original soil level from the nursery pot. Water around the plant to get rid of air holes in the pot, and top off with more soil if needed. Your soil level should be just below the rim of the container.


Ongoing MaintenanceWatering

A good rule of thumb for container herbs is to water only when the surface starts to dry out. Stick a finger into the soil and if it’s dry up to your knuckle (or an inch below the surface), it’s time to water. You want the soil to be damp like a sponge that has been squeezed out, not soaking wet.


Turn your containers weekly so both sides of the plants get adequate sunlight. Adjust supplemental grow lamp time based on how well your plants are growing or not growing. If they start looking “leggy” and get long stems with few leaves that look like they are stretching up for more sunlight, it’s a sign that your plant is not thriving and needs more light. If sunshine is not available, or we have long periods of gray overcast weather, provide additional light for up to 12 hours per day, with the grow lamp bulb 6 inches above the top of the herb. Note that no matter what, a plant grown indoors will most likely grow slower than those grown in the ground or large containers outside.


Keep the climate stable and containers away from cold, drafty areas of your home. An indoor temperature between 60-75 degrees is perfect. You can always move your herb plants outside in the summer and back inside for the winter.


All indoor herbs benefit from occasional feeding with an all-purpose water-soluble
fertilizer. Fish emulsion or seaweed can also be used. In general, fertilize herbs every 2 weeks and follow the instructions based on the fertilizer type. Only feed plants when they are actively growing and do not over-fertilize. Too much fertilizer may kill the herb plants.

Pruning & Harvesting

Prune for strong growth. Your herbs will grow best if you regularly prune and harvest from
them for good growth. Always cut sprigs, not individual leaves. On woody herbs like thyme,
rosemary, mint, and sage, either pinch or cut with scissors on the stem above a set of leaves to
encourage new branches to grow from the leaves you left behind. This type of pruning will
create a strong, multi-branched herb that will produce more than if you just picked the leaves
only. On soft-stemmed herbs like parsley, cut from the outer leaves and new ones will grow from the center. For chives, cut at the base of the stem.

Growing seasons

All plants will eventually flower as part of their life cycle, but pruning to delay this inevitability will give you a longer harvest. Once a plant starts to flower, the flavor becomes more bitter.
Many herbs will go dormant for part of the year and die back before regrowing. Don’t worry if you experience this at home, it’s perfectly normal! They need to hibernate for a while to regain strength and energy for the next growing season. Chives and other soft-stemmed herbs will do this more than woody herbs like rosemary or thyme.

Diseases & Pests

The most common way to kill an indoor herb is to overwater and rot the roots. If your herbs have good air circulation, are not getting too much water, and you are continuously pruning and harvesting from them, they will stay much healthier. If you do find signs of disease or plant weakness (leaves that are yellowing, mold growing around the base of the plant, or bugs attacking) be sure to isolate the plant from the others so that it doesn’t spread. Check the roots to make sure they are white, strong and healthy (not brown and dry or gray and mushy) and remove the affected parts of the plant or root then repot in new soil. 


Cooking with Herbs

Now let’s talk about using your herbs! This is the fun part! Your diligent care will be rewarded
with gorgeous fresh herbs that add flavor, dimension, and fun to your meals and drinks. You can add herbs to just about anything - sauces, baked goods, salads, pizzas, cheese plates, drinks, even desserts!

Here are a few of our favorite recipes from our upcoming book The Happy Hour Garden, due
out in early 2019.

Lemon Thyme Cocktail

In a shaker filled with ice add:
4 oz vodka
1.5 oz thyme simple syrup
1.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice (approximately the juice of 1 lemon)

Shake vigorously and pour into two chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a sprig of thyme.

Thyme simple syrup:
In a small saucepan combine:
20 coarsely chopped thyme sprigs
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water

Heat until sugar is dissolved. Let cool, strain, and store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.


Herb Crackers with Herb Goat Cheese

Herb Crackers:
In a large mixing bowl combine:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme or rosemary
1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Mix well, then add:
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter pieces (it works well to grate on a cheese grater)
1 cup heavy cream

Mix until soft, smooth dough forms. Divide into 4 sections, wrap in plastic and chill for 30
minutes or up to several days. Heat oven to 375. Roll out one dough ball as thin and evenly
as you can on well-floured parchment paper or a silicone mat and score with a pizza cutter into 2” squares. Brush top with 2 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Transfer parchment paper to a baking sheet. Bake until dark golden brown* (18-22 mins). Cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Tip: If the crackers don’t bake all the way until dark golden brown, they will have too much
moisture to be crispy.

Herb Goat Cheese:
Coarsely chop a variety of fresh herbs and edible flowers such as thyme, parsley, sage, chives,
oregano, violas, calendula and borage petals. Spread chopped herbs and flowers on a large
piece of plastic wrap approximately the length of a goat cheese log and 3 times the width.
Sprinkle with flake sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the goat cheese log at one end
of the herbs and using the plastic wrap as a guide, roll and lightly press the goat cheese into the herbs. Keep wrapped in plastic and chilled until ready for use. Remove plastic wrap, cut into slices and arrange on a platter or board alongside herb crackers and other cheese plate


Here is a handy cheat sheet with recipes and herb care:


About the Authors

Katie Stemp is the founder of Seattle Farm School, with a mission of growing a strong,
sustainable and self-sufficient community through teaching hands-on skills in fun urban
homesteading workshops. Katie, and Farm School co-owner Kellie Phelan, are currently writing a book called The Happy Hour Garden on how to use homegrown herbs and produce to create
delicious cocktails and appetizers. They hope you will join the fun at one of their Happy Hour
Garden classes this year! You can find a full list of their workshops at www.SeattleFarmSchool.com.

Seattle Farm School is coming to Swansons with a free seminar on growing herbs! Info will be posted soon on Swansons' What's Happening page. 


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Strawberries are always a popular plant for the home garden because they are delicious and easy to grow in our Northwest climate. Nothing says summer more than the first bite of a sweet, homegrown strawberry. Plus, they can be grown easily in small spaces and in containers. 

photo: thebittenword.com/Flickr


Would you like an early bumper crop? Strawberries all season long? Another harvest in early fall? The type of strawberry you choose makes a big difference in when and how much you will harvest.

There are 3 classes of Strawberries:
• JUNE-BEARING (summerbearing) strawberries produce one large crop in June.
• DAY-NEUTRAL strawberries fruit continuously throughout the summer and into fall.
• EVERBEARING (two-cropping) strawberries produce a crop in June and another in early fall.

Where will you be planting your strawberries?

DAY-NEUTRAL and EVERBEARING strawberries produce few runners, making them ideal if you would like your plants to remain somewhat neatly in their areas. They are great for borders, garden beds, and hanging planters. If you have a large space or would like your strawberries to spread more rapidly, choose JUNE-BEARING types.

NOTE: Strawberries are self-fertile so only one variety is necessary for successful yields... But who could stop at just one kind?


Choose a location with well-drained soil that receives full sun. Prepare the site by incorporating new organic matter using a planting amendment such as compost or soil-building conditioner. The goal is to have soil that is composed of about 25% new organic matter and 75% existing soil. You can add an all-purpose or small-fruit fertilizer at planting time following the directions on the package.

When planting in containers, always choose a high-quality potting soil. Containers filled with garden soil will not drain well and the soil will be too heavy for your strawberry plants' liking. 

Prepare strawberry plants by removing them from pots and gently massaging the roots to separate them slightly, then plant.

NOTE: Bare-root plants should be soaked in water for about an hour before planting. Plant them so the crown remains just above the soil (crowns planted below the soil are subject to fungal disease).


We recommend one of these two successful planting systems:

THE HILL SYSTEM is generally is the best system for DAY-NEUTRAL and EVERBEARING strawberries because they produce relatively few runners. After preparing the soil, make mounded rows about 6-9 inches tall and 1-2 feet apart. Plant the strawberry starts 12-15 inches apart in the mounded rows. Maintenance consists of simply removing all the runners that grow between the rows before they root. The idea is that by removing the “baby” plants (runners) the mother plant can focus on making bigger and better fruit. Runners can be rooted in another spot or put into the compost bin.

THE MATTED ROW SYSTEM is generally best for JUNE-BEARING strawberries, which produce ample runners. Plant the strawberry starts 1 foot apart in rows 3-4 feet apart. Then allow many of the runners to spread and fill in the rows, without letting the runners grow too densely (the foliage of the plants need as much sun and air as possible). Pruning out excess runners and foliage will likely be necessary.


Strawberry plants do very well in all types of containers: plastic, wood, ceramic, or terra cotta. You can even build your own strawberry planter, as shown by our friend Kirsten Dunn on the Dunn DIY blog. Whichever container you choose, be sure it has drainage holes. Strawberries do not like wet feet.

Simply fill the container with high-quality potting soil and an all-purpose or small-fruit fertilizer, following package directions. Plant one strawberry plant for every 10-12 inches of pot diameter. Strawberries have a spreading habit and shallow roots, so an extremely deep container is not necessary, but choose containers at least 6-8 inches tall. If you prefer a fuller look in your container right away, plant more densely but divide the plants after one year so they don't become overcrowded and underperform. 

photo: Getty Images


WATER deeply and thoroughly on a regular schedule throughout the dry summer months. Drip watering or a soaker hose is preferable to overhead watering and helps avoid fruit molding and other diseases. For containers, water when the surface of the soil begins to dry out. Strawberries definitely don't like sitting in wet, soggy soil but they don't want to dry out either!

FERTILIZE when planting and then annually in April with an all-purpose or small-fruit fertilizer, following the directions on the package. 

REPLANT with new strawberry plants after 4-5 years because by then they will likely have diminished yields. It’s best to wait for a few years before planting in the same location due to pests and diseases that can build up in the soil. For CONTAINERS, wash the container with a diluted bleach solution and use new soil when replanting to avoid pests and diseases. 

And now for the best part! Enjoy your delicious, homegrown strawberries. Once you've grown your own it will be hard to go back to store-bought strawberries ever again!

Have questions or are interested in learning more about the varieties we carry? Ask us on social media using #heyswansons.

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Editor's Note: We're excited to have Hilary Dahl, co-owner of the Seattle Urban Farm Co., and creator and Host of the Encyclopedia Botanica Podcast, as a guest blogger. In this post, she's offering great advice on planning and prepping your edible garden. Whether you are brand new to edible gardening or a seasoned pro, you'll find great tips to make this year your best vegetable harvest ever!

Author's Note: To keep things simple, this blog is focused on annual vegetable crops. An annual crop is one that is replanted every year, which includes most of the things people think of as vegetable crops (i.e Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Carrots, Beets). This is in comparison to perennial crops, that live year after year (i.e Apple Trees, Blueberry Bushes, Raspberries). I think it’s helpful to separate them into those categories because the annual crops have some pretty specific requirements.

 A quick overview of garden planning basicsLight

Almost all annual vegetable crops require a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight during the growing season to thrive. And in our region, more sunlight is always better, so if crops can get 10 or 12 hours of sunlight during the summer, that is even better.

Consider seasonal sunlight.Because of the high latitude of Seattle, the sun sits much lower in the sky in the winter months than it does in the summer months. This means that areas that don’t appear to get much sun in the winter might receive plenty of sun in the summer. On the flip side of that, deciduous trees can throw people off when picking out a site in the winter. It might appear that a site will receive full sun, but when the tree fills back out in the spring, the site might be completely shaded.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the sunniest spot isn’t necessarily on the south part of your yard. For example, my garden is actually on the north side of my property because it has full southern and western exposure.

There’s a great phone app called Sun Seeker that can show the solar path, its hour intervals, its winter and summer solstice paths, rise and set times, and more from anywhere on your site.

Size & Accessibility

Your garden is more likely to succeed if you see it every day. If possible, I highly recommend to gardeners to spend 15-20 minutes in the garden a few times a week, rather than a few hours every couple of weeks. This allows you to find pest and disease issues before they get out of hand and to make sure that you can tend to any other issues as soon as they happen. Having a garden that is easy to get to will help make frequent garden visits possible.

Once you find the right spot, create a dedicated space, set aside just for your annual vegetable garden. This will allow you to care for the soil in a way that is helpful to annual plants and would be harmful to many perennial plants. Consider the garden size that is most appropriate for you: how much time do you want to spend in your garden each week? Generally, a 100-400 square foot garden can be managed in 1-2 hours per week IF you’re not hand watering...


Drip irrigation

Think about where all of your water sources are on your site and how you’re going to get water from them to your garden. It is possible to hand water a garden, but it takes a lot of time. In order to have a really successful garden, it’s going to need to get a lot of water.

Keep in mind that we actually experience somewhat of a drought here in the Seattle area during most summers (occasionally going 90+ days without rain), so you may want to consider installing drip irrigation that is hooked up to an automatic timer so that you don’t have to spend all of the time you’ve allotted to your garden just watering every day. Automated drip systems on a timer are the simplest way to manage the irrigation in the annual beds. This can be attached right to the hose bib on the side of our house, and irrigation can be run from there.


Prepping your soil

When creating a garden it’s important to keep in mind that the health of your plants depends on the health of your soil. With proper care (aka, the following steps), your garden soil and plant health should improve with time.

Initial Soil Quality

Test your soil before you build a garden if you think there could be lead in the soil. It’s not super common, but we do find contaminated soil from time to time. King County offers soil tests for free. If you’re not in King County, we recommend the UMass Amherst soil test.

Test your pH

The pH of your soil affects the availability of nutrients to your plants. This means that even if you have added compost and fertilize your garden soil with everything imaginable if the pH is way off, the plants will not actually be able to absorb and use these nutrients.

You have three basic options for testing your soil pH. You can use a pH testing kit at home or you can send a soil sample to a lab. Both of these are good solutions, but I think for the average home gardener a home test is sufficient.

For almost all annual vegetable crops a pH between 6.2 and 6.9 is ideal. If your pH is above 6.9, it is considered overly-alkaline may benefit from a soil acidifier such as elemental sulfur. If your pH is below 6.2, it is considered acidic and will require an application of Calcitic lime or Dolomitic lime to make your soil more basic. In general, PNW soil is more likely to be overly acidic rather than overly basic.

Adding Lime

There’s never a bad time to add lime to your soil. Ideally, you’ll add it in the fall so it has time to adjust your soil, but if you have acidic soil, add it now and it will start interacting with the soil over the next few months so by spring it will have started to adjust your pH.

The advantage of Dolomitic lime is that it also provides magnesium and calcium to your soil, both essential plant nutrients. However, if applying Dolomitic lime, you'll need to be careful because over-application or too-frequent applications can throw the calcium-magnesium balance out of whack, which can lead to all sorts of plant health issues. If you haven’t performed a soil test specifically to get your current nutrient levels, it’s safer to add Calcitic Lime.

Adding Compost

Organic matter is the backbone of healthy garden soil. Broken down organic matter gives your soil the loose, crumbly structure that plants love, helps the soil absorb water and hold it so the plants can soak it up, and supplies important nutrients that crops need to grow.

Adding 2-3 inches of compost once a year is sufficient if it is added in the fall. If you're adding compost in the spring, you'll also want to top your beds with compost in the fall to protect the soil structure during the rainy winter months.

Also, loosen and fork the soil in your garden every spring and fall!

Adding Fertilizer

We recommend that every vegetable gardener have one of each of the following:

  • Balanced organic granular fertilizer to add to the soil at planting time
  • Liquid organic fertilizer to foliar feed plants every 2-3 weeks. We used a kelp-based liquid fertilizer because it provides micronutrients.
 Planning your crops Direct-Seeding vs. Transplanting

Some crops prefer to be directly seeded into your garden rather than started in pots and transplanted. Some of these include carrots, radishes, turnips, lettuce mix, arugula, and beets (but these can also be transplanted). Other crops are difficult to grow directly from seed in the garden and will perform better if transplanted, either using purchased starts (baby plants) or by starting your plants from seed indoors and then transplanting into the garden.

For many people, especially beginners, I highly recommend buying starts. Growing your own takes some specialty equipment, dedicated space in your house and attention for several months. Often, growing out transplants on a windowsill without lighting and proper care will result in leggy (because they don’t get enough light), unhealthy transplants that will struggle in the garden. It’s often a better use of time and resources to buy starts to plant each spring.

Tips for Buying Starts

You can buy starts at the nursery to transplant directly into the garden. Nursery growers have to overseed each cell in a container to make sure none are empty, but usually, several come up and young plants can be separated and grown individually when transplanting. This is VERY important or transplanted crops will be stressed, overcrowded and stunted. 

Some plants - squash in particular - don’t like to have their roots disturbed. It will shock them and slow their growth, so clip off all but one plant with scissors so they won't be overcrowded and stunted in the garden.

Crop Layout

Plants of the onion family

There are several different considerations to think about when laying out your crops. I've dedicated an episode of my gardening podcast, Encyclopedia Botanica, to each of these more in-depth planning topics, so check them out for more info. Follow the links below and you can play the episodes straight from my blog, no podcast player needed.

-       Plant family

-       Crop lifespan

-       Plant growth habit


More information on everything discussed in this blog can be found in our instructional gardening books, Food Grown Right in Your Backyard, and High Yield Vegetable Gardening. These books are both available at Swansons!

For more garden inspiration, follow us!
Instagram: @seattleurbanfarmco
Facebook: @seattleurbanfarmco
Twitter: @seattleurbnfarm

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2017 was an incredible year for the Kids’ Program at Swansons. We built up the program more than ever before, with monthly hands-on activities to inspire creativity and curiosity about the natural world around us. Each engaging, hands-on activity was a learning experience that gave kids' something to create and take home.

Anticipate bigger and better activities to come in 2018 for the newly-named Swansons Kids’ Club! We’re hosting activities on the 3rd Saturday of each month* and extending the drop-in time to 10:00am-2:00pm. Some activities are happening on both Saturday and Sunday and a couple are month-long, self-guided activities, so see our Kids’ Club 2018 Calendar of Events for dates and details.

*Exception: November's activity is the 2nd Saturday.  

Our first activity of 2018 is a special activity to kick-off the 2018 Kids' Club: painting a bird feeder or birdhouse. Merge your love for creativity with your love for nature when you drop in to decorate your own wooden bird feeder or birdhouse with colorful paints! Your little ones will love it, and so will the birds. While you get creative, learn all about backyard birding from our Bird Ambassadors, Swansons' experts who love sharing information about our local bird wildlife and how our backyards can help them thrive. 

We have a lot of thank yous to give out to all the families that joined us in 2017! We loved planting, playing, and making memories each month with you and your little ones. It was a year full of fun. Here are some of our favorite snapshots:

Building a bird feeder**
Botanical valentines
Mother's Day seed bombs
Father's Day herb garden
Father's Day herb garden
Painted garden rocks
Painted garden rocks
Rain boot planting
Rain boot planting
Rain boot planting
Glitter pumpkins**
Glitter pumpkins!
Candy Christmas trees
Candy Christmas trees**
Candy Christmas tree

Thank you for joining us in 2017! Mark your calendar for the fun-filled year ahead and see you in 2018!


**Photo credits; Thanks to our customers for sharing photos with Swansons! The starred captions are photos by the following (in order of appearance): @scottlosse, @scooter_to_the_c, @jamekris

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There were so many great blog posts on Digging Deeper in 2017 that it was hard to pick our favorites, but here is a selection of 10 posts that were entertaining, informative, and helpful. Enjoy!

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So much has happened over the past year at Swansons! It was a year full of fun, projects, and community. We want to thank you - our amazing customers - for making it such a great year! 

Here are some of the highlights of 2017, in pictures:

Projects at Swansons and in the Community

We love to get out into the community to meet our neighbors and help create beautiful spaces and new generations of gardeners. We also take on projects at home and at the nursery. 2017 was no exception, with several "planting parties," one of our own in the Ballard Edible Garden Tour, a Holiday Sharing Campaign for the Ballard Food Bank, and a new Pollinator Garden at the nursery.

Planting trees with King County Parks
Bram's garden on the Ballard Edible Garden Tour
Fall planting at Compass on Dexter
Compass Housing residents tending their garden*
Spring veggie planting at Compass on Dexter
Swansons at the Pacific Science Center Curiosity Days Event
The Holiday Sharing Campaign provided 300 lbs of food for the Ballard Food Bank
In the Ballard Syttende Mai Parade
Swansons' new Pollinator Garden
Watering the new Pollinator Garden Swansons Kids' Program

Our Kids' Program ramped up in 2017 with monthly activities that were a huge hit with kids and parents alike. 2018 will be another fun year for the newly-named Kids' Club, with more activities than ever. Did you attend a kids' activity session in 2017? Which project was your favorite?

Valentine's Day art project
Seed bombs for mom on Mother's Day
Plant a pizza herb garden with dad for Father's Day
Painted garden rocks
Painted garden rocks
Glitter pumpkins!
Edible ice cream cone Christmas trees
Picking decorations for the ice cream cone Christmas tree Our Employees

Working at Swansons is always an adventure. We strive to create a community where we work hard, recognize each others' talents, get creative, and have fun. We couldn't do what we do without the talented and passionate individuals that make up our team, from customer service to receiving to carry-out to office staff.

Birthdays are a great reason to celebrate
A pic of some of our ladies for International Women's Day
Everyone pitches in to unload a truck of new plants
Measure twice, cut once. Signage goals.
Marina finishing an annual flower display
Mollie's indoor plant seminars are always popular
A few of our hardworking cashiering team
2017 Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest
Geoffery helping a customer pick the perfect tree ..
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Ahh, winter in the Puget Sound region — legendary for the gray chill, the dampness, long nights (without snow to brighten them), and frequent windstorms threatening to knock out power. There are bright, beautiful days as well, but we talk a lot more about on how to survive the darkness here. To keep up our spirits, studies show the value of getting outdoors despite the cold weather, to hike or prune or do other gardening. That’s fine during our beloved “sun breaks” but not always feasible when it’s dumping rain or wet snow.

Here's another strategy: fluff up the indoor experience. Make it more homey. Cozy. That warm, welcoming atmosphere of quiet evenings by the fireplace with candles, big sweaters, warm socks, a mug of something hot, and good friends, or at least a good book. It's one way we get through winter short of resorting to a beach in Mexico or Hawaii.

Many northerly cultures have turned this form of nesting into an art. Our Norwegian friends swear by their Koselig; Germans speak of Gamütlichkeit. Citizens of Denmark call it hygge (pronounced "HOO-ga"). It's a term which is hard to translate exactly into English, but virtually any Dane (or northern European) knows hygge or its equivalent. It's what gets them through their chilly, gray winter months.

Browsing through Swansons’ gift shop recently, I picked up The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking. He is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute (yes, it’s a real organization) in Copenhagen. Danes are consistently ranked among the happiest people on earth, according to numerous surveys. How can that be, with their high tax rate and long, dreary winters? The Institute studies this question and one factor that stands out is the Danes’ propensity to frequently gather with friends in a comfortable, welcoming setting, any time of year.

Wiking says hygge is about “atmosphere and experience, rather than about things.” It’s about social intimacy, a sense of safety, the absence of annoyance, and enjoying simple pleasures. It's mainly about relationships with people. But there are "things" which help create and enhance that atmosphere. The book winsomely presents the principles and details to achieve it.

What, willingly spending an evening at home without digital input (with the possible exception of music or a movie)? It’s a bit of a lost art, akin to writing a letter by hand or having a face-to-face conversation on the bus. Some of us might stress out with such a challenge. But, as Wiking reminds us, this is how the happiest people on earth like to spend their time.

The book includes survey results on what makes people happy, or not. It shares tips on creating a comfortable setting for good conversation or just quiet companionship, with lists of all the cozy accoutrements mentioned above. There are even recipes for skibberlabskovs, snobrød, gløgg, and other satisfying (though not necessarily healthy) treats.

It's an easy read, tastefully designed like a typical Danish home. Wiking writes in a relaxed, conversational manner. At a glance, the book can appear as an infomercial for the Danish lifestyle, but it is laced with self-effacing asides. He describes traditional Danish cuisine as “50 Shades of Meat and Potatoes” (despite the fabled pastries of course). As to Danes' fashion sense (featuring mostly black clothing) Wiking advises, "In the summertime, you are allowed to go for a wider range of colors, even something crazily flamboyant like gray."

Wiking also explains, the more challenging or uncomfortable the weather outside, the greater the hygge factor when you come in. That also goes for the often-manic anxiety of preparing for Holiday gatherings. So — the theory goes — the higher that stress, the more you can exhale and savor the hygge once the gathering begins.

As luck would have it, Swansons' gift shop can help outfit you for the upcoming hygge season!

Photo: The New Yorker
Festive Mugs
Hand-Knit, Fair Trade Winter Accessories by Andes Gifts
Fun Holiday Décor
Cozy Faux-Fur Accessories by Pandemonium
Ultra Soft Blankets by Pandemonium
Beautiful Votive Holders
Stylish Winter Wear
Pandemonium Pillows - So Soft!
Chic Hats
Furry Winter Hats by Pandemonium

Wiking mentions that hygge has gotten a lot of media attention lately. Maybe with all our information overload and the current confrontational nature of our society, our nesting instinct is strong. Maybe we all need hygge more than ever. 

So cozy up your place with some candles and goodies, and invite someone over. But if a healthy dose of hygge and Christmas cheer isn't enough to get you through another Northwest winter, take heart — the Winter Solstice is coming, after which the days start getting longer!


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