Rooted Beginnings – Meet Your Host – Episode 001

In Rooted Beginnings, host Erin Landon shares her background as well as a gardening calendar and WSU Extension Master Gardener events for September.
Rooted Beginnings Episode 001

Episode Description

In this introductory episode of “The Evergreen Thumb” podcast, Rooted Beginnings, host Erin Landon, a Washington State University Extension Master Gardener, shares her background and gardening journey. Erin discusses her experiences with gardening and her current gardening focus.

Erin also introduces the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program, providing a brief history of the program and its mission, as well as that of the Master Gardener Foundation of Washington State.

Finally, Erin outlines what listeners can expect from the podcast, including monthly gardening calendars, interviews with Master Gardeners, discussions with experts, and event updates. 

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Transcript of Rooted Beginnings

[00:00:00] Welcome to the Evergreen Thumb. I’m your host Erin Landon, a Washington State University Extension Master Gardener since 2015, and a certified permaculture designer and modern homesteader. I’m here to share up-to-date research-based horticulture and environmental stewardship knowledge to help you grow and manage your garden, and to share what the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program is all about. WSU Extension Master Gardner Volunteers are university-trained community educators who have been cultivating plants, people, and communities since 1973. Are you ready to grow? Let’s dig into today’s episode.

[00:00:43] Welcome to episode one of the Evergreen Thumb. Since this is episode one, I thought I would spend some time talking about what you can expect on this podcast, the type of guests we’ll have, and the type of content we will have in each episode. I also wanna talk a little bit about me, my background, and my gardening interests so that you can get to know me a little bit better.

[00:01:06] And I wanna talk a little bit about the Master Gardner program and just kind of a high-level history of the program and where we are and where we’re going.

Introduction To Your Host

[00:01:17] So I guess I’ll start by telling you a little about me. I have been a Master Gardener since 2015 and I grew up helping my mom in the vegetable garden. We always had some sort of garden. Sometimes it was smaller, sometimes it was larger. We always had small fruit like raspberries and strawberries. We had carrots and tomatoes, lettuce; a pretty standard vegetable garden for Western Washington. I had my first vegetable garden when I bought my first house in about 2000 and I grew tomatoes.

[00:01:54] I don’t know why I grew tomatoes, ’cause I didn’t particularly like tomatoes at the time. But then I had all these tomatoes I didn’t know what to do with, so I taught myself to make salsa because salsa was like the only way that I would eat tomatoes. So I learned to can salsa. Ever since then, I’ve had a garden in some way, shape, or form, a vegetable garden as well as ornamental gardens.

[00:02:14] But vegetable gardening right now is kind of my passion. As my, gardening experience grew. I learned about something called permaculture and it really resonated with me because permaculture teaches you to take your cues from nature and observe nature and incorporate that into your landscape design.

[00:02:38] There’s a lot more to it than that, and I will do an episode later on permaculture basics, but for right now, that’s, um, kind of the gist of it. I did a permaculture certificate course in 2013 and became a certified permaculture designer through Geoff Lawton’s online course, but I always felt like there was a missing component to my permaculture training, and I realized that that was a more localized aspect of it, a way to relate it to our local area, and that was when I realized that it was time for me to take my master gardener training.

I had been considering it for several years and realized that if I knew more about our planting environment and the things that we can grow in Washington, then I could more fine-tune my permaculture knowledge with my master gardener training. So I became a master gardener in 2015. I trained in Skagit County, and then almost as soon as my training was done, I ended up moving to Grays Harbor County, and I’m now a Grays Harbor/Pacific County Master Gardener, and I live in the Chehalis Valley about halfway between Portland and Seattle.

[00:03:55] My gardening interests are really pretty varied. Um, I’ve always had an interest in native plants, particularly medicinal native plants, learning to grow them, learning to use them, learning to identify them. Plant identification is something that I’m really interested in.

[00:04:11] Our vegetable garden, as I said, I’ve always had a vegetable garden. We recently just increased the size of our vegetable garden and, living in the river valley, we have very rocky soil. We don’t have a lot of topsoil where I’m at, and so we built a 50 by 100-foot vegetable garden with raised beds, and the garden’s about half done now. So we’re really starting to get into growing more and more of our own food.

[00:04:38] This is the first year I’m going to attempt, putting cover crops into our rotation. So that’s something that I’m learning about is which cover crops to grow and why and when. So gardening is a never-ending learning process. That’s the gist of me and my history, where I’m at.

Brief History of the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program

[00:04:57] So now I thought I’d take a moment and tell you a little bit about the Master Gardener program. The Master Gardner program was founded in 1973 by WSU Extension Agents in King and Pierce Counties, and that means that 2023 is our 50th anniversary. The Master Gardner concept has been replicated across the United States and internationally. There are currently approximately 4,000 WSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers in the state of Washington and 85,000 certified Extension Master Gardeners around the world.

[00:05:29] The mission of the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program is to engage university-trained volunteers to empower and sustain diverse communities with relevant, unbiased, research-based horticulture and environmental stewardship education. Basically what this means is that every WSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer has received extensive research-based training and education to address the needs of our communities.

[00:06:00] Not only do we go through a rigorous training program, but we are also required to continue our education as long as we are certified Master Gardeners. So we continually are learning and sharing what we learn with our communities and with other Master Gardeners. In our next episode, Jennifer Marquis, the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program Leader will be here to talk to us more in-depth about the history of the program, the future of the program, and our priorities when it comes to engaging and educating in our communities.

I also wanted to take a minute to tell you about the Master Gardner Foundation of Washington State. The Master Gardner Foundation of Washington State is a sponsor of the Evergreen Thumb and works closely with the WSU Extension Master Gardner Program to support the education of Master Gardners statewide.

[00:06:57] The foundation strives to provide the funding and resources to optimize the effectiveness of our people, the impact on our communities, and the partnership with the University. They invest in the continuing education of the more than 4,000 active volunteers throughout the state of Washington through the Advanced Education Conference and opportunities like this podcast.

[00:07:18] They also sponsor several WSU Extension Master Gardner Awards to recognize key contributors to the program, including WSU Master Gardner of the Year, the Ed LaCrosse Distinguished Service Award, and the Media Award.

Advanced Education Conference

[00:07:31] I’m taking a quick break to tell you about the 2023 Advanced Education Conference. The Master Gardner Foundation of Washington State in partnership with the WSU Extension Master Gardner program will present the 2023 WSU Master Gardner Advanced Education Conference taking place at Marriott Tacoma Downtown on September 27th through 30th 2023. This conference will be the culminating event of a year-long 50th-anniversary celebration.

The 2023 Advanced Education Conference offers top-notch classes and instructors with 35 classes taught on research-based gardening and environmental stewardship practices, including integrated pest management, native bees and pollinators native plants, rainscaping, healthy soils, waterwise gardening, home irrigation systems, and more. The WSU Master Gardener Advanced Education Conference is open to the public. For more information or to register, visit

What will the podcast cover?

[00:08:31] Alright, now I wanna talk a little bit more about the podcast content and what you can expect from us. Each month I plan to share a monthly gardening calendar. We’ll talk about some of the things to be done each month in areas of maintenance, uh, planting propagation, pest monitoring, and even some indoor gardening. Another thing I’d like to do is share our events calendar throughout the state programs, have plant sales and various events going on, and so I wanna share those with you. So if there’s something going on in your area or a neighboring area, you can go check it out and support the master gardeners. So the first up is the garden calendar. Since this episode will air in September, we’ll talk about what to do in the garden in September.

What to do in the Garden in September

[00:09:25] September is a good time to start thinking about harvesting winter squash, potatoes, and root crops. Um, protect tomatoes if there’s a threat of frost. East of the cascades, you wanna start reducing water on the trees to harden them for winter. It’s a good time to aerate and fertilize lawns. Just be sure that if you’re fertilizing, you are not doing so just prior to rain, and don’t over-irrigate, so that all of that fertilizer doesn’t run into the stormwater. For planting and propagation, it’s a great time to divide peonies and iris, pot them up or replant them. Um, it’s a great time to plant trees and other perennials and shrubs. Um, this gives them a chance to establish healthy root growth over the winter. Spring blooming bulbs; it’s a good time to plant those daffodils, tulips, and crocus.

[00:10:21] And then in Western Washington, it’s also time to start planting seeds of overwintering cover crops so that they get established before the weather turns too cold and wet.

[00:10:33] Pest monitoring and management. Copper spray for peach and cherry trees, this is a good time of year to apply that if it’s necessary. Control slugs as necessary. the least toxic way to manage slugs includes barriers and traps.

[00:10:50] For indoor gardening, it’s time to start thinking about bringing those tender outdoor potted plants indoors. I have a Meyer lemon that needs to get moved in every year. It’s also a good time to check for insects and re-pot and fertilize your house plants.

[00:11:06] So basically September and October are getting ready for winter. You wanna make sure you bring in all your crops, protect them against early frosts, and monitor for pests.

September Events Calendar

[00:11:19] Next up is the events calendar. In September, the Thurston County Master Gardeners have plant sales on the 13th and the 27th. In both cases, it is at the Dirt Works Demonstration Garden in Olympia.

[00:11:34] And on September 16th, King County is having their fall plant sale at Bellevue Botanical Gardens on Main Street in Bellevue. Also, the 2023 WSU Master Gardner Advanced Education Conference is Wednesday, September 27th through September 30th at the Marriott Hotel Downtown Tacoma. You can purchase tickets for the Advanced Education Conference until September 15th at

[00:12:03] You can find the complete calendar at Aside from our events calendar and monthly gardening tasks, we’ll be inviting master gardeners as well as university faculty and staff to join us to discuss a variety of gardening topics. I’ll also interview Master Gardeners about the work that they do in their communities.

[00:12:32] Episode 4 will be a discussion with Alice Allison of the Benton Franklin County Master Gardner program. We’ll be talking about their juvenile justice center project, working with youth in the juvenile detention facility, and teaching them to garden.

[00:12:51] That wraps up episode one of the Evergreen Thumb. Thanks for joining me. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast app so that you know when new episodes come out. And also, you can show your support for the podcast by writing a review on either Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts. You can find show notes and links to any relevant materials on our website at Thanks for listening.

[00:13:24] Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Evergreen Thumb, brought to you by WSU Extension Master Gardner Program volunteers, and sponsored by the Master Gardner Foundation of Washington State. We hope that today’s discussion has inspired and equipped you with valuable insights to nurture your garden.

[00:13:41] The Master Gardner Foundation of Washington State is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is to provide unifying support and advocacy for WSU Extension Master Gardner programs throughout Washington State. To support the Master Gardner Foundation of Washington State, visit

[00:14:03] Whether you’re an experienced master gardener, or just starting out, the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program is here to support you every step of the way. WSU Extension master gardeners empower and sustain diverse communities with relevant, unbiased, research-based horticulture education. Reach out to your local WSU Extension office to connect with master gardeners and tap into a wealth of resources that can help you achieve gardening success.

[00:14:28] To learn more about the program or how to become a master gardener, Visit If you enjoyed today’s episode and want to stay connected with us, be sure to subscribe to future episodes filled with expert tips, fascinating stories, and practical advice. Don’t forget to leave a review and share it with fellow gardeners to spread the joy of gardening. Questions or comments to be addressed in future episodes can be sent to

[00:14:59] The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed by guests of this podcast are their own and do not imply endorsement by Washington State University or the Master Gardner Foundation of Washington State.