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

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 https://amzn.to/2FzyJB9

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 blog.com

  • 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

    • I would love to , IDK if I think as a gardener I would encourage everyone to grow a little bit!

      If you plant a little pot of parsley on your deck and didn’t buy parsley again for the rest of your life. Again, those herbs are so frustrating you have to buy a whole bunch of them for the 2 sprigs for the recipe you are making and honestly the the rest of them rot and turn to slime in your fridge.

      food waste is a huge issue

      40% of food in mid-well to do countries is wasted

      And it’s wasted late in the process!

      Generally at the grocery store at the home kitchen stage. 

      That food when it

      • gets thrown into landfills, 
      • rots
      • releases methane contributes to greenhouse gas


      I would encourage everyone, but I am probably preaching to the choir, someone who can’t garden a lot just 

      • grow herbs

      • grow something that is easy

      and cut down on the food waste and transportation miles required to get food to your house

      another things that is really helpful to gardening is it ties you into the seasons! 

      when green bean season

      You know when you buy berries in the season in winter

      honking big berries have white in the center is the ghost of  a strawberry 

      also picked three states away sitting in a plastic carton so that’s three kinds of unfortunate!

      I’m happy there are recipes in the book get off the out of season flown from the

      I’m so glad too. You now how long I stand in the store saying I should buy strawberries because they’re good for me, but they’re wrapped in plastic so I shouldn’t but they’re healthy, but they’re laiden in chemicals.

      what’s interesting also, doesn’t entirely solve the problem

      frozen fruit is picked at the peak of ripeness, and frozen! 

      it’s actually in terms of carbon impact is probably better then buying the plastic cartons of out of season berries. 

      They don’t slice as nicely onto your breakfast cereal

      They are picked and flash frozen so they’re probably a little better

      My big thing with fruit is I feel like it’s so messy. You bite into a peach and a pear it drips down my arm. I feel like I eat on the go, I am always trying to force myself to eat fruit. Frozen berries would be good. IDK if anyone has said that. One of the biggest things for me was how you can take red peppers and just freeze them without blanching. You can just throw raspberries in the freezer right?

      Yes, There’s a section on freezing fruit in the book

      Do u have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

      here you go,

      this is a really common quote in permaculture

      the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago

      the second best time is now!

      I take that to mean jump in and do it

      I remember I moved into my first house in San Francisco I wanted to plant rhubarb

      but takes a couple of years to get established and I didn’t think I would be there, but I should have just planted it

      • read some books
      • get some working knowledge

      thinking about having

      will say I have another resource we forgot to mention talking bout food waste

      Scraps, Peels, and Stems: Recipes and Tips for Rethinking Food Waste at Home Jill Lightner

      Scraps, Peels, and Stems: Recipes and Tips for Rethinking Food Waste at Home

      jill Lightner

      It’s full of recipes for using the core of the cauliflower you cut off those florets and cut off a hunk of a core.

      She’s figured out good ways to do things with it

      We’re both nerdy in this food waste issue! 

      How do we connect with you?

      the book is out at the end of January



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



      link to my blog

      whole section on gardening

      massive recipe archives. I go to the blog to find my own recipes. It’s fun since the book came out I can use it in my own kitchen instead of having to get back on the computer.



      Thanks so much for sharing all of this knowledge I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a long interview like this. Congratulations on this book and some of your other ones I’m dying to read the Butcher and the Vegetarian!

      Well it’s nice to hear about gardeners in other climates. I’m not dealing with anything you’re dealing with.

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       Free Organic Garden Course 

      Remember you can get the  2018 Garden Journal and Data Keeper to record your garden goals in ourhttps://amzn.to/2lLAOyo

      You can  download the first 30 days here   while you’re waiting for it to come in the mail. 

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      We’d love if you’d join  Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Community!

      If you like what you heard on the Organic Gardener Podcast we’d love it if you’d give us review and hopefully a 5 star rating on iTunes so other gardeners can find us and listen to. Just click on the link here.

About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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