She empowers gardeners

Gayle Larson takes the intimidation out of gardening. - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Gayle Larson takes the intimidation out of gardening.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

POULSBO — Gayle Larson’s gardening bounty is plentiful and she wants to make sure others also reap what they sow.

Larson, owner of Dancing Raven Design, an edible garden consultation and design service in Poulsbo, said a little bit of planning under the cloud cover of fall and winter can pay off for next year’s harvest season. Now’s the time to start laying out a garden plan and preparing the soil.

“If you don’t have the nutrients in the soil, you’re not going to have a good garden,” she said, surveying her winter crops of leafy greens.

The beauty of the Northwest, she said, is that if proper care is rendered, gardens can yield vegetables year-round. In the winter, which many consider to be a dead zone for vegetable bearing, root vegetables still thrive.

She lives to help people who find gardening intimidating, and she insists that it shouldn’t be. A certified professional horticulturalist, she has been an urban vegetable gardener — her personal garden is in her front yard — for more than 10 years. Her gardening started in Seattle when she was growing tomatoes in pots on her driveway. Getting her tomatoes the required amount of sun took some diligence.

“I’d move those pots three or four times a day,” said the Edmonds Community College graduate.

Last year, when she lost her full-time gig at a landscape design company because of the economy, she was motivated to help others help themselves.

“I started to formulate in my head that this is what I’d like to do. I want to work with people to help them grow their own food,” Larson said. “It’s important for people to feel like they can do a little bit.”

Consultations can either be a one-time visit or on a continual basis. Her consultations include an onsite tour, garden planning and design, planting and crop rotation plans, irrigation and construction plans and guidance and support. She provides written reports and is always available to help troubleshoot and/or revive gardens.

Growing food for personal consumption is a way for people to connect with the land and with one another, she said.

“It’s tangible,” Larson said. “It’s part of the bigger picture.”

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