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Staff > Features > Susan Mulvihill > Stories
Susan Mulvihill
FREELANCER
Susan Mulvihill inthegarden@live.com

Susan Mulvihill is a freelance gardening columnist for the Today section.


Most Recent Stories

News >  Features
Nov. 30, 2008, midnight
If the thought of holiday gift-giving makes your heart skip a beat, you are not alone. This year, the last thing we need to do is blow the budget on store-bought gifts. A perfect solution is making simple gifts using goodies from the garden or going with a garden theme. Two creative ladies who enjoy doing this are Maralee Karwoski and Cinde Johnson.

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Nov. 16, 2008, midnight
There are no rules for a wreath-making party except that you must have fun. Four friends recently did just that. Helen Hansen, Maralee Karwoski, Cinde Johnson and Jane Bitz got together on a weekend afternoon and created stunning holiday wreaths, all while catching up with each other and sharing ideas and techniques for this project.

News >  Features
Nov. 7, 2008, midnight
During the summer, our eyes appreciate the soothing greens in our landscapes: green lawns, green trees and green plants. But in the fall, our eyes skip over the green things and seek out the colorful aspects of the landscape around us instead. If your landscape looks fabulous during the warmer months but bland when autumn hits, take note of plants growing around town that sport eye-catching fall foliage or other interesting features. Then your wish list will be ready when it’s time to plant next spring.

News >  Features
Oct. 31, 2008, midnight
Steve Smith knows a thing or two about roses. As lead gardener of Rose Hill at Manito Park, he and his crew care for more than 1,500 roses. This might seem a little late to discuss winterizing roses but, according to Smith (who’s not related to former Spokesman-Review editor Steven A. Smith), the most important steps in the process of putting roses to bed for the winter have only just begun.

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Oct. 3, 2008, midnight
Trying to resist the fall bulb displays at garden centers around town? Don’t be afraid, because bulbs are easy to grow. And with minimal care, they will come back year after year. This is the time of year to plant bulbs for springtime color, so let’s get started. The hardiest spring-blooming bulbs for the Inland Northwest include tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, narcissus, crocus, and grape hyacinths. Other equally hardy bulbs that are less common are alliums, Glory-of-the-Snow and Guinea Hen flowers.

News >  Features
Oct. 3, 2008, midnight
Hasn’t this fall weather been beautiful lately? That makes it difficult to consider putting our gardens to bed and even harder for me to wrap up this column for the season. But the time has come. So far this year, I’ve covered topics like seed-starting, composting, soil preparation, organic gardening methods and how to grow many different types of cool and warm season crops.

News >  Features
Sept. 19, 2008, midnight
Even though fall hasn’t officially arrived, there is a definite chill in the air when the sun goes down. It’s time to talk about putting the vegetable garden to bed for the winter once we have had a killing frost. Of all the tasks we should accomplish this fall, the most important is to replenish the soil so it will be productive for the next growing season. Add organic materials such as compost, well-rotted manure, leaves and grass clippings from an untreated lawn to the soil at this time. They will break down over the fall and winter and give you a jump start on spring preparations.

News >  Features
Sept. 12, 2008, midnight
This summer, I have been profiling local gardeners. When I heard that Cole’s Orchard in Green Bluff is the only certified organic orchard in Spokane County, I visited to learn about their methods. Steve and Marie Cole have more than 1,000 apple, plum and apricot trees. As most gardeners are aware, fruit trees are challenging to grow organically because they are susceptible to pests and diseases.

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Sept. 12, 2008, midnight
Most gardeners are wary of acquiring any plant from the mint family because of its tendency to take over a garden in short order. But before you question my selection for this week, rest assured that Sunset Hyssop is not invasive. Also known as Licorice Mint and Hummingbird Mint, this perennial makes a delightful addition to the garden. It has delicate gray foliage and a pleasant licorice scent when the leaves are rubbed together. For this reason, an ideal planting location would be next to a path where you will brush up against it.

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Sept. 5, 2008, midnight
This is the last monthly update on how my garden is doing, as the vegetable growing season soon will end. Traditionally, our first frost occurs in mid-September; this year it’s anyone’s guess as to when it will hit because our weather has been so unpredictable. I’ve had both successes and disappointments this year. You can bet I’ll be jotting down a lot of notes in my garden journal in an effort to have better luck next year.

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Sept. 5, 2008, midnight
It’s amazing what four like-minded families can accomplish in their neighborhood when they work together. Not only did they create their own organic community garden packed with vegetables and flowers, but they also nurtured friendships with their neighbors.

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Aug. 29, 2008, midnight
Two weeks ago, I wrote that it’s time to start pruning your tomato plants to force them to ripen the existing fruit. While several gardeners have told me their tomato plants are putting out a lot of ripe tomatoes, it appears most gardeners are frustrated that this is a lousy year for growing them. Our cool, wet spring got everything off to a slow start. Most plants are about three weeks behind in their development. My own tomato plants have a lot of green tomatoes on them but they just don’t seem to be in the mood to ripen them.

News >  Features
Aug. 29, 2008, midnight
Today’s featured plant is my favorite annual bedding plant. Way back in the late ’80s, I came across it at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga. It was such an eye-catcher, I had to have some. Unfortunately, it took many years before the Profusion series of zinnia made it to the Inland Northwest. It was worth the wait. What makes these plants so special? To begin with, they bloom their little hearts out all summer long. They perform best when deadheaded regularly, but each flower is long-lasting so you won’t have to do this task very often. In addition to performing well in beds and containers, they can add splashes of color to the vegetable garden. The plants are disease-resistant and thrive in hot or cool areas and where there is high humidity. They are easy to grow and even attract butterflies. They make wonderful cut flowers because they really soak up the water, which makes them last a long time. With all of these delightful attributes, is it any wonder that cultivars in the Profusion series were chosen as All-America Selections winners?

News >  Features
Aug. 22, 2008, midnight
If this is your first vegetable garden, or if you’ve grown some new crops this year, it’s hard to know when the vegetables are ripe. Today, we’re going to take some of the mystery out of this. Pick ’em while they’re young and tender

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Aug. 15, 2008, midnight
Kim Hoover believes in growing her own vegetables organically and sustainably – important values that she instills in her students at St. George’s School each year. Hoover, a biology and environmental science teacher at the North Spokane school, is in her 15th year of teaching. She has established a garden on the campus that serves as an outdoor classroom for her environmental science students.

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Aug. 8, 2008, midnight
It’s time for the monthly update on how my garden is coming along. Harvesting the veggies regularly is my primary focus now. It can be tedious, but if I think ahead to how delicious my preserved produce will taste in the dead of winter, I know the effort is worth it. As you can see by the photo, the garden has really kicked into high gear thanks to our warm, sunny days. Besides harvesting, I’m monitoring the garden daily for any problems.

News >  Features
Aug. 1, 2008, midnight
How is your garden growing so far? Are you having any issues? When it comes to vegetable gardening, warm-season crops such as corn, tomatoes and squash can be susceptible to problems this time of year. Let’s look at a few of the most common ones. Corn

News >  Features
Aug. 1, 2008, midnight
For the past nine months, it’s been my goal to feature interesting and unusual plants in this column. So perhaps you might think daylilies are far too common to be profiled here. While it’s true that some daylilies – Stella d’Oro, for example – are overdone in landscapes, have you seen what the plant hybridizers have been up to lately? The red Chicago Apache daylily (inset) is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to blossom colors. There are thousands of cultivars just waiting to be brought home to your garden. Try doing an Internet search on daylilies to get a feel for the rainbow of colors now available. The newest cultivars have blossoms that are cream, rose, crimson, purple, apricot and blends of different hues.

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July 25, 2008, midnight
Even though he says he’s retired, Dave Swett is one of the hardest-working gardeners you’ll ever meet. Born in New Hampshire, he has been gardening since the early ’70s and learned organic practices from reading Rodale health and wellness books and Organic Gardening magazine. He and his wife moved to their farm in Deer Park in 1986. He started his three-acre truck farm, Yesterday’s Farm, in 1989, and it was certified organic a year later.

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July 18, 2008, midnight
Today’s featured plant may be called the Common Globeflower but it’s anything but common. While vacationing recently in Alaska, I spotted this globeflower growing in a garden in Anchorage. And if it grows well up there, which is in USDA zone 4, I figure it has to do well in our region, which is in zone 5. Many gardeners in the Inland Northwest are familiar with globeflowers that have orange or gold blossoms but, as you can see from the photograph, the yellow flowers of the Superbus cultivar are spectacular. It’s one of those must-have plants on my list.

News >  Features
July 18, 2008, midnight
In keeping with my Alaskan theme for today’s garden columns, I wanted to share some information about a wonderful garden on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Georgeson Botanical Garden was established in 1989, and while it has many types of demonstration beds, the vegetable garden captured my attention the most during a recent visit. As you can imagine, gardening can be a challenge that far north, so I felt they could teach us a thing or two about short growing seasons. Let’s look at some weather statistics.

News >  Features
July 11, 2008, midnight
It’s time for another monthly update on what’s happening out in the garden. Thanks to the warmer temperatures, all of the veggie plants – as well as the weeds – have been working overtime to get back on track after our chilly spring. Let’s talk about the successes first. This is the first year we’ve grown Munchkin broccoli. Last month I reported finding cabbage loopers on some of the leaves. Once I hand-picked the leaves that had worms, the plants grew well and we have been eating fresh broccoli for the past couple of weeks. To harvest broccoli, carefully cut off the primary head without damaging the smaller secondary heads below it. They then will start growing and can be harvested later. I’m pleased with this variety because the plants are very petite, and are easier to grow under a floating row cover than the standard varieties.

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July 4, 2008, midnight
Crop rotation and succession planting are two interrelated topics that all gardeners should think about. Crop rotation means not planting from the same plant family in the same bed, year after year. It entails a bit of advance planning, but it's something we should do every year. Why?

News >  Features
July 4, 2008, midnight
Whenever someone visits our garden in late spring and spots our Arnold Red honeysuckles in bloom, they immediately want to know what they are. While many can easily identify honeysuckle vines, this bush can be a mystery even though it is one of the most common bush honeysuckles. Perhaps this isn't all that surprising when you consider that there are more than 150 species of honeysuckle shrubs and vines in the northern hemisphere. Native to northeast Asia, the Tatarian honeysuckle is a deciduous shrub that is easy to grow and very tough. It has an arching growth habit with dense branches.

News >  Features
June 27, 2008, midnight
Throughout the summer, I will profile local vegetable gardeners to show how others grow their own food. Recently, Liberty Lake residents Jane and Mark Bitz invited me to come see their garden. Having grown their own vegetables for more than 25 years, they have established a solid gardening partnership. Mark Bitz is in charge of composting, turning over the soil in the spring and putting the garden to bed for the winter. Jane Bitz says she is "the planner and the planter."