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Originally published September 5, 2012 at 3:21 PM | Page modified September 5, 2012 at 4:06 PM

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Classes to help make you a better gardener

Ciscoe Morris, Seattle Times garden writer, suggests attending gardening classes at Seattle Tilth as one way to improve your garden knowledge.

Special to The Seattle Times

Gardening Events

Ciscoe's Picks

Seattle Tilth's 25th Annual Harvest Fair: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, at Meridian Park, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N. in Seattle. The festival includes workshops, cooking demonstrations and activities for all ages. There also will be food and live music. Information at

2012 TOPSS (The Odd Plant Show & Sale): 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, sponsored by the Cascade Cactus and Succulent Society at Sky Nursery, 18528 Aurora Ave. N., Shoreline. The event includes a sale, a display of unusual specimens and experts who can answer questions. Information at

Prune the Overgrown Garden class: 10 a.m. to noon Sunday at Magnuson Park, 7400 Sandpoint Way N.E., Seattle, building 406. This is Plant Amnesty's most popular class and is an introductory to pruning and landscape renovation taught by Cass Turnbull. Information at

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My 95-year-old mom often tells me that you're never too old to learn. All those adult-education classes she takes must keep her sharp because she cleans my clock in Scrabble every time I go back to Wischeescin to visit her.

Improve your gardening skills by attending classes offered by Seattle Tilth. If you enjoy veggie gardening, fall classes include saving seed, putting your garden to bed and compost 101.

Thinking about raising some urban livestock? Take a class on raising chickens, ducks, rabbits, even goats. Topics also cover growing nuts and fruits, preserving food and more. There's even a course on container gardening and composting for apartment dwellers.

Finally, if you want to take your gardening to a whole new level, the comprehensive organic gardening course offered at Tilth will make you an expert at growing your own organic food. Taking any of these courses is guaranteed to make you a better gardener, but it probably won't help you beat your mom in Scrabble.

For a description of the fall classes being offered, visit and look for the "Garden Classes & More" link.

Don't overdo tidying up of garden

In a Seattle Times column last October, I cautioned everyone against being too fastidious when it comes to neatening up the border in fall. In the article I explained that rather than cutting everything back to tidy the garden, it's better to concentrate your efforts on removing diseased or slimy foliage, as well as seed pods of overly rambunctious seeders.

It's better to delay cutting back perennials and grasses, because drying foliage and seedpods provide shelter and food for winter birds and beneficial insects.

As long as you take out the slimy and blatantly unattractive foliage, drying leaves and seed pods add beauty and interest to what can otherwise be a stark and boring winter garden.

Two days after the column came out, I received an email from a frustrated reader. She had just finished whacking the living tweetle out of everything in the garden to neaten it for winter. She was upset that I hadn't written my advice a week earlier. Hence I'm reminding you way in advance this year. Don't overdo it. Your bird friends and beneficial insect buddies will appreciate it. Plus you might find the seed pods and berries attractive, too!

Ciscoe Morris:; "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING-TV

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About In the Garden

Ciscoe Morris' column runs Thursdays. His show "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. on Saturdays on King 5.