Pacific Northwest

September, 2012
Regional Report


The Science Behind Gardening
Research scientist Linda Chalker-Scott is dedicated to bringing the latest scientific information to the gardening public. Whether it's exposing folklore or traditional practices, the author fearlessly presents facts that will inform you of the latest accepted scientific information.

The topics in her new book The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (University of Washington Press; 2010) include the diagnosis of common plant problems, understanding how plants grow, soil and its amendments, and the effectiveness of miscellaneous "miracle" additives that promise marvelous benefits. The format for each topic consists of her review of the "myth" of information on the subject, the reality of the situation, and "the bottom line," which is the actual truth to the topic, based on the accompanying research references. It's thought-provoking and a thoroughly enjoyable book.

Clever Gardening Technique

Easy Pine Sap Removal
I no longer use vegetable shortening when I cook, but I still keep a small can of it in my kitchen. Nothing works better to remove pine sap from my hands. I learned this trick when my boys were young and spent summer afternoons climbing trees. They'd come home with sticky hands and arms that no amount of soap and water would remove. A sage neighbor told me about the miracle of Crisco and I've used it to remove pine sap ever since. It even works on pruning tool handles and blades. I just scoop a dab -- probably less than a half-teaspoon of the stuff -- and squish it on my palms and between my fingers. I rub my hands together for about 30 seconds, wipe off the goop with a paper towel, then remove the greasy residue by washing my hands with a drop of dishwashing detergent and plenty of hot water. If you don't have a tin of vegetable shortening in your pantry, try rubbing your hands with a pat of butter. It's more expensive, but it works just as well.

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