Monthly Archives: February 2017

Master Gardeners’ Hints for Growing Vegetables in Mirrormont

What veggies can you plant now? Is it better to plant seeds or starts? When is it safe to plant tomatoes? On Sunday, March 12th at 7:00 PM at the clubhouse, Jessica Klein-DiStefano and Linda Shepherd will share hints from their Master Gardener training and personal experience growing veggies in Mirrormont.

As always, Mirrormont Pea Patch welcomes everyone (aside from canine companions) to come and see the abundance of food we can grow here. Right now, we are eating over-wintered kale, collards, chard, and beets. Garlic that was planted last October has emerged, and rhubarb is sending up new shoots. Mints and wild Sylvetta arugula are starting to leaf out. Last year, Pea Patch gardeners feasted on our greens and fruits—and donated 747 pounds of organic vegetables to the Issaquah Food Bank.

Handout: MG Hints for Growing Vegetables, 1-22-17

Washington State University Extension Master Gardener Fact sheets: #2 Gardening Publications_2017 final

There are many planting calendars online, such as

The best way to decide when to start planting is measuring the soil temperature. Probe thermometers are inexpensive, costing about $10. For early season veggies, insert the thermometer 2 inches into the soil, measure several days in a row at mid-day, and take an average. Begin to plant cool season crops (arugula, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, turnips) when soil temperature averages at least 40 degrees.

Doors will open at 6:30 for Happy Hour socializing and refreshments — wine, cheese, tea, coffee, brownies…

Firewise on 146th — Next Steps

Thanks to everyone who attended the meeting on 2/16/17, we have enough interest to go forward with a Firewise project on 146th. We are fortunate that Deputy Chief Greg Tryon of Eastside Fire & Rescue, Jarret Griesemer of King Conservation District and Linda Vane of King County Parks & DNR have been so supportive of our community. They put a great deal of time and energy into assessing our hazards and tailoring their presentation to our neighborhood.

Zone map: Jarret Griesemer drew 30-ft and 100-ft buffer zones around homes on SE 146th St on the attached aerial photo. These are zones of protection for Firewise landscaping with the goal of fuel reduction — limiting the amount of flammable vegetation and materials surrounding your house and increasing the moisture content of remaining vegetation.

See more about these zones at

King County has a brochure on wildfire safety tips (the one handed out at Firewise presentation), ‘Fire safety tips for rural homeowners’ at      A list of fire-resistant native plant and Ciscoe Morris videos are at

Individual assessments: Ten people on SE 146th Street and seven others in Mirrormont have requested Jarret Griesemer &/or Linda Vane to walk around their properties and give them an individual assessment and suggest ways to make their homes more Firewise. If you want to be added to their list, please contact me or email them directly at

Pruning workshop: Linda Vane is scheduling a pruning workshop at 10:00 a.m. on March 11th at Sheila & Doug Nast’s home to provide instruction on best practices for pruning trees and shrubs.

Fuel reduction: Now is the time to start hauling dead branches out to the road in preparation for chipping. Please stack piles so the butt ends of all branches face in one direction. You may want to partner with your neighbors to hand branches up or down the slope. You need to be an MCA member in order to be eligible for your branches to be chipped (your only cost for chipping).

Help: You can get help hauling branches from Tahoma High Schoolers at $14/hour through Brian Olson — start scheduling them now, and pay Brian directly. Or, if you need more help, you might consider partnering with your neighbors to negotiate a good deal with Brian for his professional crew, who can help with pruning and bigger jobs.

Vacant lots/work party: While your first priority is making your own home more firewise, we want to organize a work party to work together on fuel reduction on the vacant lots, probably on April 15th. Russ Gawler at Fire Station 76 offered EF&R volunteers to help you, if they are available.

Resources: See the attached “How to Have a Firewise Home”     How to have a Firewise home (PDF, 826 KB)  and “Firewise Landscape/Construction Guide”  landscaping-2  (a caveat on this one is that it includes a few recommendations for vegetation management that are geared toward eastern Washington like “space conifer trees 30 feet between crowns”).

Funding: King Conservation District has earmarked $2000 for our Firewise project. These funds can go toward chipping branches and some work on the vacant “Landman” lots owned by Woodland Properties.

MCA Dues: Please pay your $50 annual MCA dues now so that you can benefit from this MCA-sponsored project. This will be your only cost, unless you opt to hire high-school helpers or Brian’s crew.

Track your hours: In order to remain a Firewise Community and qualify for grant funding, we need to contribute $2 per capita annually—about $3000. This includes the worth of your labor, valued at $20/hour, as well as any cash expenses. So please report the hours you spend on Firewise activities to me (including cleaning your roof)—as well as money you spend for roof cleaning, pruning and hauling branches.

Fire concerns: One homeowner on 146th reported there was a young kid arsonist in the neighborhood about 15 years ago. Another homeowner reported on a conversation with David Kappler on a hike; he said homeless folks camping in Tiger Mtn State Forest use campfires. Linda Vane said there are close calls every year in Western Washington, with fires roaring uphill and burning fast.

Triage: Deputy Chief Tryon emphasized that, in the event of a fire, firefighters determine which homes are defensible or not. Given limited resources, they will focus on homes that can be saved. If our community is well-prepared, we have a better chance of protecting it. He also recommended storing elsewhere: important papers or copies, photos, information you’d need for insurance.

Contact info:

Linda Vane Forestry Program│King County Department of Natural Resources & Parks    201 S. Jackson Street Suite 600

Seattle, WA 98104 (206) 477-4842
Jarret Griesemer King Conservation District, IP Forestry Project Coordinator    1107 SW Grady Way, Suite 130

Renton, WA 98057  (425) 282-1953
Brian Olson Olson’s Outdoor Improvements (206) 605-8839

Thanks for doing your part to make Mirrormont safer!

Linda Shepherd

President, Mirrormont Community Association

Firewise: Making Mirrormont Safer — 2/16 at 7 PM at the clubhouse

Image result for wildfire free

Unlike Eastern Washington, where catastrophic wildfires occur annually across the landscape, Western Washington faces a different risk. Catastrophic wildfires occur once every hundred years or more, on scales much greater than the annual fires that occur frequently east of the Cascade crest. Unexpected, large and highly-intense wildfires can occur on the west side, and have in the past. Fortunately our fire response has been able to limit the extent of fire spread. It’s not a matter of if a catastrophic wildfire will spread beyond our control, it’s a matter of when. We can only try to control ‘the when’ by keeping the density of fire fuels low and staying well-prepared to fight fires.

Wildfires do burn every year in east King County. It takes only a few sunny days for forests to dry out enough to catch fire. In windy conditions, wildfires can get out of control quickly. The defensible space you create around your home could be the only thing left that could save your home and property, should a catastrophic fire go ablaze.

Before wildfire strikes, learn how you can help protect your lives and property by creating a fire-adapted space around structures.

Please join us on Thursday, February 16th at 7:00 PM at the clubhouse for a Firewise presentation by ES&R Deputy Fire Chief Tryon, King Conservation District Forester Jarret Griesemer and Linda Vane with King County’s Forestry Program.

As discussed in our annual MCA newsletter, Mirrormont News, Jarret identified SE 146th St. as our highest risk area because it is on a steep slope facing Tiger Mtn State Forest, and the large amount of fuels present on many homeowner’s properties and especially on the vacant lots. Jarret and Linda will discuss strategies for working on steep slopes.

You can schedule a free individual assessment of your property at the meeting. Jarret or Linda can help you spot wildfire risks on your property and advise you what to do about them.

Brian Olson, of Olson’s Outdoor Improvements, will attend the meeting. He wants to offer homeowners a “Mirrormont deal” for winter clean-up services if the work can be scheduled as a group.

Doors will open at 6:30 for Happy Hour socializing and refreshments — wine, cheese, tea, coffee, brownies…