‘Instant, alternative, permanent’

Enjoy the benefits of kale all year-round. Steve Fry will build a garden just like this, just for you. Sequim  Gazette  photo by  Mark Couhig

Enjoy the benefits of kale all year-round. Steve Fry will build a garden just like this, just for you. Sequim Gazette photo by Mark Couhig

Sequim Gazette

Common Sense Yard and Garden Services is introducing an exciting new product to gardeners on the peninsula. Steve Fry, who with his wife, Sherry, owns the business, is selling entire vegetable garden plots, installed at your home or workplace.


These “instant alternative permaculture” garden packages include four yards of material, 100 pounds of organic weed-free fertilizer, labor, delivery and setup.


Fry said the innovative gardens are the fruit of three years of trial and effort and take advantage of the many lessons he’s learned from his mentor Paul Gautschi.


“I was an old-fashioned gardener,” Fry said, “I would till it, fertilizer it and water and weed my garden all summer.”


But about five years ago he started sampling some of the goodies in Gautschi’s garden. “He’s been doing this for 30 years,” Fry said. Gautschi’s achievements have been well-documented: His orchard was featured on the cover of the January 1990 edition of Sunset magazine.


“Paul stops watering when the plants are this high,” Fry said, indicating about three inches. “He weeds, but very little.”


The trick, said Fry, is to grow your vegetables in compost.


Fry said that most gardeners believe you can’t grow in pure compost. “It took me three years to figure it out.” “Compost without manure draws the nitrogen out of the plants as it decomposes.” That’s exactly what you don’t want to happen.


Fry uses well-matured compost purchased from Lazy J Tree Farm. It’s at least 10 months old and it’s been regularly turned, Fry said. Add chicken manure, and let ’er rip.


Because of the way it’s been aged, the compost won’t produce any weeds — the weed seeds have been burned up, Fry said. “What you have is pure compost.”


“There’s super-high nutrition in this compost. You can taste the minerals.”


Get your garden on

Fry will install the entire bed in one day. Each bed is 12 feet by 14 feet and has four 2-foot by 8-foot planting rows. He’ll design the bed’s layout to take best advantage of the sun.


The total cost is $260, including tax. If you want a border, that’s another $40.


Fry installs the entire garden on a layer of cardboard.


“If you’re 60, 70, 80 and want to garden, you can,” he said. Almost no weeding is required, and the growing medium is so soft you don’t need any tools. And you will rarely have to water it.


Now is the time to buy your garden plot, Fry said. “If it gets put in now, it will be so full of water, you won’t have to do much watering.”


“Just poke a one-quarter- or one-half-inch hole in the compost,” Fry said. Drop in the seeds, and then just hand water as needed.


After that it’s just necessary to add a little compost every fall. Fry can take care of that or teach you how to do it yourself.


Fry said if it grows in the Pacific Northwest, it will grow in your new garden.


Sherry Fry runs her own businesses, which share a common theme of “eating your way to health.”


Steve is just picking up on that theme. “I want to get people back into the idea of going into their garden, picking it and eating it.”


For more information, see or call 683-2756.


For more information on when and what to plant, you also can turn to Master Garden Foundation of the Olympic Peninsula. See or call 360-565-2679.


Reach Mark Couhig at


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