Monday, December 28, 2009

Grow your own mushrooms - easy!

I’m not sure anyone thinks of mushrooms when they think of gardening. But vegetable gardeners are growing their own food, and mushrooms are food, so why shouldn’t we play in that garden, as well?

Those button mushrooms (white or brown) standard in the grocery aisle are grown in large, dark houses on a compost. The more exotic portobellos, shiitake, oyster mushrooms (among others) are grown similarly on their own favorite compost, in beds, bags or jars, under varying temperature and humidity conditions.

But you don’t have to have a large, dark house to grow mushrooms. There are table-top kits available by mail order and (occasionally) at local home and garden shows. These are easy to care for and such fun to watch grow. And then you actually get to eat mushrooms you grew yourself!

I wouldn’t say that they save money (much like regular city vegetable gardens), but they are no more expensive – pound for pound – than store-bought mushrooms.

Here are some mail order resources:

I got mine from: Fungi Perfecti
Olympia, Washington
Kits for oyster, shiitake, wine caps, cinnamon caps, and almond Portobello

Territorial Seed Company
Cottage Grove, Oregon
Kits for shiitake, oyster, button, maitake

Gardeners Supply Company
Burlington, Vermont
Kits for shiitake, Portobello, oyster, button

Friday, December 18, 2009

Coming up . . .

Weeds, Worms, and Winter Damage

How can it be that our recent freezing temperatures burn and blacken many favored plants, but the weeds are never damaged? In the vegetable patch, in the rock garden, in the driveway cracks, our winter weeds just keep coming. I think the two most common ones are the chickweed and the little bittercress or shot weed. Letting them go to seed only means more work next season. When weather permits, get out there with a sharp hoe or hand-pull the ones you can reach.

The cold doesn't seem to bother the worms either. They are happily pulling leaves down into the soft ground all over the yard. They must do this at night, 'cause I never seem to catch them at it during the day. Another good reason to cover beds with fallen leaves. Earthworms are able to move them and other organic matter deep into the soil.

What about those plants that have trouble with the freezing temperatures? My lovely scented Daphne has a good proportion of leaves with cold injury. However the flower buds are beginning to open and look just fine. Once the bloom is over, a bit of pruning will remove the bad leaves and new spring growth will fill in quickly. And my winter honeysuckle has opened its first sweet blooms. No cold problems for this charmer!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Coming up . . .

Winter and more winter!

I got the cold frame up (for the grapefruit tree) and brought in a couple of plants I couldn’t stand to lose, but didn’t get to my hardy bananas, as you see.

I’m not worried. Each of the past five or six winters they have died back to the ground, and each spring they have come up again. I mulch thickly with compost and leaves to protect the crowns.

Other gardeners have these hardy bananas growing close to the house or other spots protected from the coldest temperatures. Those bananas may keep some or all of their leaves through the winter. Mine are in the parking strip, exposed to the worst of the elements. However, the crown and roots stay warm enough to send up many new banana babies the following year.

Don’t Panic – back to the holiday cheer!

The cold weather has probably nipped many of our garden plants. But now is not the time to act. Rolled up, drooping leaves are the plants natural protective reaction to the low temperatures. Just the tips of branches may be damaged. In many areas, the roots of fall-planted perennials keep on growing through the winter, even as the leaves brown and curl.

Bring potted plants closer to the house and cover with straw, dried leaves, evergreen boughs, frost protective fabric, or even sheets. But don’t forget them. They’ll still need a bit of water, if they are out of the rain, just to keep them going. Drying out can be just as damaging as freezing.

Have you had enough of elves, grinches, and flying reindeer?

Find out about other unusual critters. Sally Fisher, Sally Fisher, waste reduction expert, Clark County Solid Waste Program, will tell you about Bats: Insect-Eaters of the Night. Find out about attracting these insect eating garden allies to your yard.
Clackamas County Master Gardeners (Milwaukie Center, 5440 SE Kellogg Creek Dr.); Monday, Dec. 14th, 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Last of the Paperwhites

It was just a small experiment and seemed to be going okay. Then, boom!!

To catch you up - Paperwhites (a relative of the daffodil) are a winter-season favorite for indoor blooming. Their big problem is that they grow very tall and often fall over. A listener (and a number of reputable source on the internet) said that adding alcohol to the water of the bulb would keep the leaves shorter. So I tried it.

My bulb in water grew to be two feet high and fell over - so far - normal. The leaves of the bulb growing in a 5% ethyl alcohol solution grew slower. It began to set flowers lower. So far; so good.

Then it just died. It could be:
- just a bad bulb
- I should have used isopropyl alcohol
- the alcohol method doesn't always work

I'm a bit discouraged, but I might try this again next time paperwhites are avilable (usually September/October). I need more data before drawing conclusions.

Anyone with their own method of growing paperwhites indoors is welcome to share.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A little more from Saturday

I mentioned my papyrus. It’s a plant I never would have bought myself (too big and showy), but the grower sent me a sample and I gave it a try. Papyrus usually grows by water, in a bog environment – which I don’t have. So I taped over all the holes in the pot, but one. This kept the water from draining out of the pot too quickly – keeping the soil on the wet side. It was quite a treat!

They’re hard to photograph, so see another one here.

Saturday caller, Harlan wondered why his chokecherries might be disappearing, just before he could harvest them. It turns out that Harlan isn’t the only one who enjoys this fruit. Chokecherries provide food for deer, chipmunks, raccoons, mice, squirrels, and over 70 bird species, including woodpeckers, thrushes, and cedar waxwings.

Fast-growing? Are you sure?

Sometimes you want to hide that neighbor or hide from that neighbor. So, you want something fast growing – Arborvitae? Leyland cypress? Bamboo? Consider:
--- Arborvitae need very well-drained soil to succeed. Do your preparation well.
--- Leyland cypress does grow fast – to 100 feet tall. That’s a lot of pruning in your future!
--- Bamboo screens quickly, but it may not stay where you want it. Strong barriers are needed.

You may have to live with your decision for many years. Consider buying larger plants or filling in with trellises and vines as plants mature. To get the look and feel you want, some patience may be in order.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Coming up . . .

The garden, yard, and lawn are getting pushed aside as cookie-baking, gift-giving, and tree-trimming take center stage.

This week Leach Botanical Garden is in the holiday spirit with a children's program that focuses on the cold weather coming up. There will be crafts and cookies. Call for details (503) 823-9504.
Wednesday, December 2nd, 10:00 am to 11:00 am.

Making your own wreaths and centerpieces this year? For some unusual greens to decorate the house inside and out, Leach Botanical Garden is the place.
Friday and Saturday, December 4th and 5th, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

But, are you still thinking about the 2009 vegetable garden?
Are you already planning the 2010 vegetable garden?
Chip Bubl, Columbia County Extension Agent, can help you out with Hot Topics in Vegetables and Other Botanically Interesting Discoveries. You want your garden to be up-to-date, don’t you?
Washington County Master Gardeners; CAPITAL Center (18640 NW Walker Rd., # 1411); Thursday, December 3rd, 7:15 - 8:15 p.m.

Paperwhite update

Looks like the alcohol-water mix is keeping the leaves shorter, all right. But will it flower as well as the bulb in plain water? More to come . . .

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tamarack Tree Follow-up

Tamaracks are members of the larch family, and native larches can be widely found in our forests. These trees have needles, as pines and spruce do, but larch needles turn yellow and fall off each winter. This is pretty unusual for a tree with needles and many people mistake it for a disease or other plant problem.

On Saturday a caller was concerned about her Tamarack tree, but not for that reason. Larch needles are attached to the branches in clumps or “tufts”. Our caller was seeing branches that had single needles attached directly to the twigs – more like a Douglas fir.

I consulted several of the experts over at Portland Nursery (Michael and Jim) for some insight. First, there are a number of different types of larch and some of them look quite different than the most common ones. Perhaps our caller did not get the variety she expected.

Second, and most likely, the needle tufts do not develop until the second year. First year growth has the single-needle arrangement. The larches at the nursery have pretty much lost their needles, but I did get a photo that shows this, just a bit.

So, we should expect that there really isn’t a problem and the tree will develop its special look as it matures.

Thanks to all for the opportunity to learn something new!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Coming up . . .

Looks like rain and more rain. Many of my beds are looking quite bare now that the leaves have fallen off in our windy weather. That bare soil can really be pounded by winter rains. Raindrops can do more damage than you think. Check out the side of the house or garage. The dirt you see spoiling the paint job was bounced up there by a drop of rain hitting the ground. This rain action breaks down good soil structure and can be the start of erosion.

Protect your soil’s surface with fallen leaves, straw, or compost.

Gifts from the Garden
Mary Ludlum will share her ideas for wreath, gifts and center pieces all made from the natural materials in your garden. Beautiful and inexpensive, but with a personal touch. The class is free, but please register here.
Farmington Gardens, Saturday, November 21st; 11:00 am.

Living Christmas Trees
Want to have a special Christmas tree this year and then enjoy it out in the yard for years to come? Learn how to choose the right tree and how to care for it before, during, and after the holiday season.
Portland Nursery – Stark; Saturday, November 21st; 1:00 pm.

Rain Gardens 101
Here in the land of rain, we even build gardens around it. Rain gardens are the elegant solution to the problem of an overloaded storm water management system. Learn how you can add one of these useful and beautiful garden features to your landscape.
East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (5211 N. Williams Ave., Portland); Sunday, November 22nd; 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Vineyard Planning and Planting
The Willamette Valley has many great vineyards – why not one at your house? Now is the time to make your plans for wine or table grapes. Find out about choosing, planting, and caring for all sorts of vines.
Portland Nursery – Division; Sunday, November 22nd; 1:00 pm.

Macramé Plant Hangers
You’ve brought those plants inside for the winter and now what do you do with them? Laura Altvater can help you turn simple twine into plant hangers to get those pots off the floor or window sill. Here’s one hanging in my kitchen right now.
Portland Nursery – Stark; Sunday, November 22nd; 1:00 pm.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Do your rhododendrons look like this?

While you’re cleaning up in the yard, you might find some damage that went unnoticed over the summer. This particular damage was done by lace bugs. Many people are seeing the discolored leaves now, but the insect that injured the plant is long gone. Here’s what happened.

Last spring (mid-May or soon after) lace bug eggs hatched. The juvenile form started sucking the juices out of the leaf cells. Then the adults continued this process. The leaves ended up looking bleached. It might be mistaken for sunburn or that the plant needed fertilizer.

This insect is very tiny – less than an eighth of an inch. The wings are lacy (thus the name – lace bug), so they are hard to see. What you do see is their droppings. They look like little spots of ink or tar.

What can you do now? Sadly, nothing. But, it’s raining and cold outside, anyway. What you do want to do is mark your calendar for two things.

First, right after your rhododendrons flower, prune them to shape them up and remove any really damaged leaves – they won’t turn green again. This will remove many of the eggs, too. Don’t prune before flowering or the flowers will be gone.

Next, in late May or early June – if you see the same problem starting on new leaves, think about taking action. For small infestations, spiders and beneficial insect predators may be enough to avoid further injury. If more serious intervention is needed, consider Ortho® MAX Tree & Shrub Insect Control Ready-to-Spray or Bayer Advanced 12-Month Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed Concentrate.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Coming up . . .

The increasing rain means less and less time out in the yard. But make a note of small tasks that can be done in between rain showers. Such as –

Trim back a rose or two
Toss dead leaves into the compost pile
Collect diseased leaves or fruit for disposal (not in the compost)
Cover bare soil with compost, straw, or fallen leaves
Add a layer of compost to vegetable beds
Create a fall centerpiece from garden greenery

While out in the garden, try to stay on paths and walkways. Walking on wet soil crushes the air out of it, decreasing its ability to drain through. Even after soil dries out spring, these air spaces are gone. Protect your soil this winter, for a better spring planting season.

And there’s always more to learn. Check out these classes and workshops:

Naturescaping Basics
Design your landscape so it reduces water use, stormwater runoff, and pollution, – all while providing a beautiful habitat for birds, wildlife, and you. You’ll find ways to save time on garden chores, get help planning your project, and see the practices at work. Register online with the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District.
--Leach Botanical Garden (6704 SE 122nd Ave., Portland); Saturday, November 14th, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.
--Kenton Firehouse (8105 N Brandon, Portland); Sunday, November 15th, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Growing Herbs Indoors
You may not want to spend too much time outdoors, but gardening with herbs inside can cheer you up (and enhance your dinners) all winter long. Pick the right herbs and get growing.
Al’s Garden Center - Gresham; Saturday, November 14th, 1:00 pm .

Native Plants Workshop
Heard all the buzz around native plants and wonder what all the fuss is about? Here’s your chance to find out how to use native plants to attract birds and pollinators into your urban garden. It’s free, but please register online here.
East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (5211 N. Williams Ave., Portland); Thursday, November 19th; 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bulbs, bulbs, bulbs

They got away from me a little and I didn't change the water to alcohol+water until they got about 3 1/2 inches high. I poured out the water from both containers and replaced the one with my alcohol solution. The other I just added new water.

Now we'll see whether the method works to keep the paperwhites short (or shorter).

In general bulbs need several months of cold temperatures to trigger flowering. When they are in the ground, winter soil temperatures provide this cold trigger. In warmer climates of the south and southwest, bulbs planted out in the garden do not come up year after year, because they never get that cold period.

Paperwhite bulbs (in the daffodil family) are the bulbs most likely to be "pre-cooled" and ready to be "forced." Most other bulbs could be forced into holiday bloom by giving them their cold treatment in the refrigerator. The challenge is getting bulbs early enough in fall.

For example, tulips need 4 to 5 months of cold, then another 2 to 3 weeks to bloom. For a late December display, you would have to get these bulbs in July to meet that schedule! Garden centers do not usually stock the bulbs until September.

For tulips, hyacinths, and most others, forcing will give an early spring thrill of new flowers, but not the holiday display that the trusty paperwhites provide.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Coming up . . .

Holidays are just around the corner! (Can you believe it?) And all the garden centers are dressing up for the occasion. Like Dennis' 7 Dees on Powell. Visit their Holiday Bazaar this weekend with local artists, and live music. Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

But before you get completely caught up in the decorating spirit, finish any “putting the garden to bed” activities. Don’t let them hang over your head.

This is really the last weekend to plant cover crops in the garden, but if you can’t get to it – don’t despair. A layer of compost, garden mulch, or straw will also do a great job of protecting soil from erosion and adding organic matter, as well.

Are there still plants in pots at your house (as there are at mine)? Well, get them in the ground. The soil is still a bit warm and roots can dig in a bit, before cold sets in. Cover the root zone with mulch, but keep it away from the crown of the plant.

For gardeners, there’s still lots to learn. Check out these classes and talks.

Plants That Deserve More Attention in Portland Area Gardens
Sean Hogan, co-sounder of Cistus Nursery with discuss plants that you may have overlooked.
Multnomah County Master Gardeners (Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church, 5441 SE Belmont); Tuesday, November 10th at 7:00 pm.

Sustainability – What Is It and How Does It Relate to Gardening
Rosalyn McKeown, Associate Professor Portland State University, will shed light on this complex subject in the contemporary, metropolitan context.
Clackamas County Master Gardeners (Milwaukie Center, 5440 SE Kellogg Creek Dr.); Monday, November 9th at 7:00 pm.

Indoor Citrus Care
These plants are great looking and sweet smelling – plus, you get fruit! You just have to try one.
Al’s Garden Center – Gresham; Saturday, November 7th at 1:00 pm and Sunday, November 8th at 3:00 pm.

Pruning in the Landscape
If there is clean up to do – do it right. Get some tips on how.
Al’s Garden Center – Gresham; Saturday, November 7th at 3:00 pm and Sunday, November 8th at 1:00 pm.

Indoor Edibles
Vern Nelson shows how to keep the fresh bounty coming in all winter and introduce you to growing micro-greens indoors.
Portland Nursery – Stark; Sunday, November 8th at 1:00 pm.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Keeping Paperwhites Short–er

Paperwhites (a cousin of the daffodil) are deeply fragrant and wonderfully cheerful in winter. One complaint, though, is that they get so tall, fall over, and look messy. Several remedies have been suggested:
Plant them deeper
Stake them up
Use a tall container
One Saturday listener had a new one to me – adding alcohol to the water.

I didn’t find anyone with actual experience with this method, but did find several articles on the subject – one from noted Cornell University. Using this method should result in plants about 1/3 shorter than normal, but with normal-sized flowers. I’m going to try it, and keep you posted. Here’s a summary of their method:

Plant the paperwhite bulbs as you normally would. (If this is your first time to plant these bulbs, see below.)
Grow the bulbs until the shoot is about 2” tall.
Pour off the water in the container.
Replace it with a 5% alcohol solution (recipe follows).
Whenever additional water is needed, use this solution.

Alcohol Solution
The alcohol you buy for home use comes in many strengths. Here are some sample conversions to get to the 5% strength you need. Mix the following amounts in a gallon of water.
Careful! If you make it too strong it will damage the plant, instead of just slowing it.

99% alcohol -- 6.5 oz. (3/4 cup+1 Tbsp)
90% alcohol -- 7 oz. (3/4 cup+2 Tbsp)
80% alcohol -- 8 oz. (1 cup)
70% alcohol -- 9 oz. (1 cup+2 Tbsp)

Growing Paperwhites
These pre-cooled bulbs will do just fine in soil, but they are usually grown in a more decorative way. There are even special containers for just one bulb (see photo), using water only.
Place about 2 inches of gravel (or pebbles or marbles) in a container with no drainage. Place the bulbs onto the gravel - pointy side up. Crowding them together helps keep them upright.
Add water to the bottom of the bulb and add more gravel to keep the bulbs in place.
As the water dips below the bottom of the bulbs, add more.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Coming up . . .

Halloween is just a day away, but there is still time to spruce up your front porch or stairs. And use up that too large zucchini. My neighbor, Glen, did this wonderfully spooky carving using vegetables right out of the backyard.

If you can’t use up all your fruit and vegetables for dinner, canning, or holiday decorations, don’t just leave them on the trees or in the yard. Any diseased or dying leaves or produce is an invitation for problems next summer. Out in the trash they go. (unless your compost pile gets hot enough to kill disease spores)

And have I said often enough that this is the time to add organic matter to your garden? A couple inches of compost, composted chicken or steer manure, or straw or a planting of cover crop will make a big difference come spring.

Annual Chrysanthemum Show and Sale
Did you know that the chrysanthemum has been cultivated for over 3,000 years? No wonder there are so many forms from the sweet daisy-like to the dramatic seen at football games. Discover the full spectrum of these colorful fall flower this weekend.
Portland Nursery - Division; Saturday and Sunday, October 31st from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and November 1st from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Chrysanthemum Exhibit at the Portland Classical Chinese Garden
Learn about the cultural significance of the chrysanthemum in China where the story of this flower began. All this week there will be events in the garden. All free with garden admission.
Portland Classical Chinese Garden; November 2nd through 8th.

Fall Fruit Tree Care
Lyle Feilmeier of Collier Arbor Care will talk about what needs to be done in fall to keep your fruit trees healthy and productive. Highlights on pruning, clean-up, and dormant spraying.
Portland Nursery – Stark; Sunday, November 1st; 1:00 pm.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Inspired by some Saturday calls

We love our hummingbirds, don’t we? Every region has its own favorites, but gardeners across the country do what they can to attract and take care of these interesting creatures.

I’m not one for the feeders, but I do try to have some plants available for the birds year-round in the garden. At this time of year, the pineapple sage (see photo) is just starting to bloom and will continue into November with this brilliant crimson display. It’s planted outside the upstairs office window and seeing the hummingbirds hovering is a treat on a chilly day.

As the leaves fall from shrubs in the yard, you may see the brown, grey, or white winter homes of the scale insect along the branches. They can be smooth, wrinkled, or fluffy as a cotton ball. All summer they have been sucking the nutrients out of your plants and now they are settled in for the winter.

If you are so inclined (and there are not too many of them), just rub them off with your fingers. I recommend a garden glove for this operation. You can also just prune off a branch or two where the worst infestation is found.

If it’s just too wet or cold, you will have other chances to get ahead of them. In early, early spring – after the coldest weather and just before green leaves or flowers come out – a horticultural oil spray will do a great job smothering them.

Mark your calendars!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Coming up . . .

The soil is still warm, so there’s still time to plant things that didn’t get planted this summer. Putting down roots is the key thing now – not lots of top growth. Add a bit of bone meal to encourage root activity or a slow-release, organic starter plant food. Leave the main feeding for spring.

Learn more about gardening then share your knowledge and experience with your community – become a Master Gardener. Classes start in January. Master Gardeners work with home gardeners all over the metro area – helping school children get started in a garden, growing food for the food banks at the demonstration gardens, answering rose growing questions at the Rose Garden, encouraging gardeners at area farmers’ markets, and more.

Find applications and more information online or at 503-650-3118. The deadline is November 30th.

If you need ideas for filling in some bare spots before winter, take a look at GardenSmart Oregon. This 52-page booklet provides alternatives for some of the invasive plants that can take over yards, parks, and other green spaces – plants such as butterfly bush, English ivy, purple loosestrife, or English holly.

You can find both native plants and other ornamentals that have the same look as the invaders, but less aggressive manners. Download at copy or pick one up at your local Master Gardener office and many other locations all around the state.

The leaves are coming down fast these days. They are a great addition to the compost pile – free soil builder or mulch made at home! Leaves break down faster the smaller they are. Run your lawn mower over them before you put them in the composter.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Coming up . . .

There’s still lots of fun to be had in the garden even as it gets cooler. We usually think of it as 'work' or 'cleaning up', but fall tasks are all part of the garden’s yearly cycle.

A layer of compost (2 to 3 inches deep) will protect roots from winter damage. Consider covering perennials beds and shrub beds with homemade or store-bought compost or organic mulch.

Spring bulbs – tulips, daffodils, crocus, anemone – are in the nurseries and ready to be planted. Plant them in spots that have good drainage and don’t get soggy over the winter.

Save time and trouble next spring. Pick up diseased leaves and fallen fruit. They’ll just spread problems around over the winter. Throw them out in the trash; don’t compost them.

Chinese Garden’s Autumn Plant Sale
Come find unusual and exciting plants for your own garden, at great prices, just in time for fall planting. Members of the Garden’s horticulture team will be on hand to help you select plants and to answer questions about their care.
NW 3rd and NW Everett, Saturday and Sunday, October 17th and 18th, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Workshops at the Chinese Garden
Favorite Fall Shrubs with Roger Gossler of Gossler Nurseries; Saturday, October 17th at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm.
How to Grow, Harvest, and Brew your own Tea with Veerinder Chawla; Sunday, October 18th at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm.
Workshops are free with Garden admission; no reservations are required.

Portland Rose Society
Want to learn more about roses, so your bushes bloom even better next year? Well, this is the place to start. Meet next year’s officers, get answers from consulting rosarians, or check out the lending library.
Oaks Amusement Park – Dance Pavillion, Monday October 19th, 7:30 pm.

Wintering Over: Prepare Your Yard for Winter
Learn how to keep your precious plants protected through the winter. Find out which plants should be pruned back and which ones are better left alone. Also, discover which plants need some extra protection before the cold temperatures set in.
Al’s Garden Center – Sherwood; Saturday, October 17th, 10:00 am.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Starting the Week Tasting Apples

This week’s show was done at Portland Nursery’s Apple Tasting. I got to talk to Bob Denney, the event’s creator, about the event and to Ken Whitten about fall planting. Even early in the day there were lots of folks tasting apples, sampling Bill’s cider (made right there), painting pumpkins, and listening to music.

Don’t lose that tree – One listener asked about a spruce that was losing needles and lower branches. She also noted black dots on the needles. These ‘dots’ are likely to be fungus spores. But of which fungus? Could be a needle cast, a tip blight, or even a root disease.

This is the time to get an exact diagnosis. Landscape trees are valuable assets and well worth saving. One of the county Extension Service Master Gardener clinics can make a diagnosis or talk to a nursery staff member. Getting the right treatment is key.

What about that wind! Fall certainly came in fast with some high winds. I have several tall trees that were really whipping about. I have them pruned regularly (it’s way too high up for me to do it myself) to ensure that dead or weak branches are removed, and that they can withstand the wind and ice of a Portland winter. An open tree canopy allows air circulation which is good for disease control, too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Coming up . . .

More gardening information from your Metro area Master Gardeners:

Soil pH Testing and the 10-Minute University
The Clackamas County Master Gardeners will provide free pH testing of garden soil. This is a critical piece of information for a robust garden. While there, take advantage of some very short courses.
--10:15 am Planning and Preparing Your Vegetable Garden
--10:45 am Gardening with Compost
-- 11:15 am Edible Landscape Plants
Milwaukie Center (5440 SE Kellogg Creek Drive, Milwaukie); Saturday, October 10th, soil testing 10:00 to noon.

Composting & Vermiculture – Wastes to Garden Gold
Elizabeth Howley, of Clackamas Community College, will offer first‐hand advice on the design and operation of a home composting system – from design to finished product. Plus, Laura Eyer, worm expert, will tell us about the "Reds," which live and breed happily in the organic rich environment of a worm bin. Come learn what worms eat, how many you need, and if your worm bin will smell.
Clackamas County Master Gardeners - Chapter Meeting; Milwaukie Center (5440 SE Kellogg Creek Dr., Milwaukie) Monday, October 12th, 7:00 – 8:00 pm.

The Impact of Invasive Plants – what you can do!
Vern Holm, of the NW Weed Management Partnership will share the some of the effects invasive plants have on our community and on the native species in our area. Find out what we can do to halt these silent invaders.
Multnomah County Master Gardeners - Chapter Meeting (Mt.Tabor Presbyterian Church, 5441 SE Belmont); Tuesday, October 13th, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Naturescaping Basics
Naturescaping is the practice of designing a landscape so that it reduces water use, stormwater runoff, and pollution, – all while providing a beautiful habitat for birds, wildlife, and you.
This workshop explores Naturescaping’s core concepts and provides participants with natural gardening and landscape design tips, a comprehensive workbook, and native plant to get started. Register online with the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District.
Leach Botanical Garden (6704 SE 122nd Av.); Sunday, October 11th, 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Exploring the Beauty of Nature through Flowers
The Portland Japanese Garden hosts an autumn exhibition of Ikebana. This art gives its students an understanding of the beauty found in plant material, expressed in their designs, as well as a sensitivity to the beauty of life itself. There will be demonstrations by local teachers on Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 pm. Free with Garden admission.
Portland Japanese Garden (Garden Pavilion); Saturday and Sunday, October 10th and 11th, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It’s not just pumpkins!

Listener Rod Raunig, who welcomed us to the world of growing giant vegetables, was on hand Saturday to help with the Pumpkin Weigh-Off at Bauman Farms. Rod was wonderfully cheerful though his own pumpkins had split several weeks ago, and he was not able to enter.

Many of the folks from the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers group spent the day helping move and show off an array of vegetable gardening achievements. There were 105 pumpkins entered and, when the last entry was taken off the scale, the prize went to Thad Starr with a 1,462.5 pound pumpkin. The competition was tough, too. Saturday saw eleven pumpkins over 1,000 pounds. That’s a lot of pie!!

Many young gardeners worked hard all summer for this event, too. The Youth Division prize went to Lawson Carter for his 662 pound winner. And it wasn’t just pumpkins. I saw a 95 pound watermelon, sunflowers close to two feet across, and a gourd that had to be a over six feet long!
Now, if you are intrigued by these marvels of the garden, mark your calendars and get started early next year. You can check local nurseries or the internet for competition-sized seed varieties. Members of the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers have access to seeds from past winners. And Bauman Farms will be helping out, too. Next spring you will be able to purchase pre-started giant pumpkin plants.

Generally the Willamette Valley has too short a season for a pumpkin to get prize-winning size, if you start them at the regular time (May – June). So, getting a jump on the season with starts will get you going fast.

I look forward to even bigger entries in 2010!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Coming up . . .

Pumpkin Weighing

Some weeks back, a listener let us know that he was entering one of his pumpkins in a Pumpkin Weigh-Off this weekend, at Bauman Farms. Well, I’ve never been to such an event, so I’m headed there to see these giant pumpkins for myself.

Make & Take Kitchen Herb Bowl
Josh will help you select the herbs that will get you through the winter and show you how to plant and care for them.
Drake’s Seven Dees - Eastside, Saturday, October 3rd; 10:00 am.

Wintering Over: Prepare Your Yard for Winter
Join us and learn how to keep your precious plants protected through the winter – which plants should be pruned back and which ones are better left alone and which plants need some extra protection from mulch.
Al’s Garden Center – Woodburn; Saturday, October 3rd; 10:00 am.

My Favorite Evergreens
Garden Author Lisa Albert shows us some of her favorite evergreens including conifers and small shrubs. Let these plants show their beauty in your garden year round.
Al’s Garden Center – Sherwood: Saturday, October 3rd; 10:00 am.

Two Native Plant Sales
The Nature Park Interpretive Center offers a large selection of native plants for every spot in your garden. You’ll find a wide variety of trees, shrubs and flowering plants. Hosted by the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District.
Nature Park Interpretive Center (15655 SW Millikan Way; Beaverton); Saturday, October 3rd; 10:00 pm to 2:00 pm.

Find beautiful and healthy plants for your garden or containers while supporting on-the-ground restoration throughout the Tryon Creek Watershed. Choose from a diverse selection of shrubs, flowering plants and trees with help from knowledgeable volunteers. Hosted by Tryon Creek Watershed Council
Southwest Community Center - Gabriel Park (6820 SW 45th Ave., Portland); Saturday, October 3rd; 9:30 am to 1:30 pm.

Free Admission Day at the Portland Classical Chinese Garden
In partnership with the Oregon Cultural Trust the Garden takes this day to celebrate Oregon’s extraordinary arts, powerful heritage, and cultural riches.
Portland Classical Chinese Garden; Thursday, October 8th; 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall is for buying - then, planting!

What treasures! For just a few dollars, I found raspberry plants to extend my sister’s patch, a boysenberry, several new plants to tuck into my stone wall, and a golden barberry.

I love buying plants anyway, but these were plants shared from Master Gardeners’ own gardens. Plants they didn’t need any more or that didn’t work out in their garden, divisions from established plants, or volunteer seedlings. I felt like I was getting a little piece of each garden.

I was thrilled to get the barberry. It was a little bedraggled (maybe it hadn’t liked its former spot) and I have no idea how tall or wide it will get. But what a color!

Now, an expensive and rare plant from one of our great local nurseries is just fine. But, the barberry and the others I brought home will have a little more history to them.

I admit I’m having second thoughts on the boysenberry. Maybe it should be planted on the fence line and fight it out with the blackberries.

Thanks to all my Multnomah County Master Gardener compatriots for sharing their gardens with me.

And I’ll see you at next year’s plant sale.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Coming up . . .

Slugs are out there laying eggs for the coming season, and now is the time to fight them. No matter what method you use (bait, trap, or pruner), fall is the best time to reduce their numbers. If you want to know more, I'll be speaking on slug hunting at the Master Gardener Plant Sale this weekend.

Master Gardener Plant Sale
Fall is the ideal time to plant and the Multnomah County Master Gardeners have been growing plants all season to share with gardeners this weekend – all at great prices.
There will also be short talks on raising chickens, fighting slugs, cooking, and propagating your own plants. Here’s a chance to have all your garden questions answered and find some new plants. Find out more (see page 16).
The Learning Garden (S.E. 60th, between Duke and Flavel); Saturday, September 26th, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Welcome the Rain
Celebrate clean water and soak up some knowledge about downspout disconnection, green streets, and urban stormwater issues. Explore ways to help improve water quality for people, fish and wildlife.
Free workshops cover rainwater harvesting, how to build an ecoroof, naturescaping, tree planting, disconnecting your downspouts, and more. A special Bicycle Tour will highlight stormwater solutions in the neighborhood. Bring your helmet!
Sponsored by the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District - Rigler Elementary School (5401 NE Prescott St); Saturday, September 26: 10:00 am to 3:30 pm.

Landscaping with Edibles
Be inspired about ways to incorporate edible plants into any landscape. Your garden can be beautiful and delicious. Abigail Pierce will highlight growing edibles and ornamentals together.
Portland Nursery – Stark; Sunday, September 27th, 1:00 pm.

Low Water Gardening
This last winter was a good test for Mediterranean gardens. That a majority of plants survived in Joy Creek’s no-water borders is testimony to both the plants themselves and the soil amendments that make these borders possible. Autumn is the perfect time to plan and plant a dry garden to take advantage of the coming rains. Maurice Horn (co-owner of Joy Creek) will discuss how they amend the soils and make plant choices.
Joy Creek Nursery; Sunday, September 27th, 1:00 pm.

Creating a Pet-Friendly Garden
If pets are an important part of your life, come learn how to garden in a manner that is safe for your ‘best friends’ while still being fun and creative for you. Melinda Frey, from Raindrop Garden Design, and Anne Taylor, from Living Elements, will share tips for providing for your pet’s needs in an environment that is beautiful and inviting for all who use the garden. Please call to register: 503-649-4568.
Farmington Gardens; Sunday, September 27th, 1:00 pm.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Coming up . . .

Le Tour des Plants, a festival of fall gardening, continues through the weekend. There’s still lots to see and do at nurseries up and down the Willamette Valley. Just yesterday, I picked up a few (okay, more than a few) fuchsias to tuck into the landscape. Thanks Ron and Debbie at Monnier's Country Gardens!

Ask the Professionals!
Get help with that tricky garden design challenge in your yard. Bring photos and talk to the Seven Dees landscape design professionals in a 15-minute, free consultation.
Dennis’ Seven Dees – Eastside, Lake Oswego, and Cedar Hills; through Saturday, September 19th, all day.

How-to-make-it Demonstrations
See how to make those light-weight, but look-tough, make-at-home hypertufa planters. Or learn how to build a green-roofed garden structure.
Egan Gardens, in Salem; Friday, September 18th, all day.

There’s Always Something New!
Take a look into the future of perennials at the Showcase of Hot New Plants from Terra Nova Nurseries.
Farmington Gardens; Friday, September 18th, all day.

Year-Round Edibles
Vegetable gardening doesn’t stop at the end of summer. Tracy, of Westwind Gardens will share the secrets of cool season veggies for a continuing harvest.
Dennis’ Seven Dees – Cedar Hills; Saturday, September 19th; 10:00 am to 11:00 am.

Winter Containers
Create a winter container combination that will delight you through the cold weather months. Joy Creek’s Ramona Wulzen will discuss the essentials for breathtaking containers throughout the winter.
Joy Creek Nursery; Sunday, September 20th, 1:00 pm.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sad Little Cucumbers

Last year there was a bumper crop of cucumbers. You could have one every time you left the house. Just pick it off the vine on your way to the car. This year three plants produced really nothing edible – as you see.

This seems to be a pollination issue. I wouldn’t think that this would be a problem in my yard. I have a crop of oregano which is covered with bees, throughout the spring and summer. That is my indication that they are around.

But perhaps they weren’t out and about at the right time, though. The male and female flowers have to be open at the same time. Female flowers only stay open for one day, and the female flower has to be visited 15 times, for full pollination.

Was it the weather? High humidity makes the pollen less “good.” Hot temperatures (we had those!) can damage the pollen.

Or maybe it was just me. Uneven watering can lead to uneven growth.

One idea I did have. The cucumbers were surrounded by bean plants. This seemed like a good use of space. The beans would go up the trellis and the cucumbers would sprawl on the ground. I wonder whether the bees just couldn’t find the cukes!

There’s always next year and thank heavens for the Farmer’s Markets!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Coming up . . .

Fall Gardening Festivities

Le Tour des Plants is really an incredible opportunity for gardeners and would-be gardeners to find new plants, ask the experts, and get some good deals on plants and garden accessories. Pick any day from Saturday, the 12th, through Sunday, the 20th, to go exploring nurseries from SW Washington to Corvallis.

Thirty-one retail nurseries are participating to show off gardening – many offering special pricing for fall planting. They are also holding a really astonishing array of classes – rain gardens, green walls, worm composting, dividing peonies, growing kiwis, pruning hydrangeas, and much, much more.

How about expert-guided tours of places you always wanted to see or never knew were there?

Did you know there’s an olive grove producing olive oil right here in Oregon? Red Ridge Farm will show you how it’s done.

Our own J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. has one of the largest collections of deciduous tree cultivars in North America – open to the public for only the second time ever. Trying to choose a tree for your home? See what it will look like 5 or 10 years from now.

There will be daily tours of the largest fuchsia display/test garden in the US at Monnier’s Country Gardens.

Check out all the tours on the Le Tour website.

There will be entertainment and food to sample at nurseries along with the plants. Opportunities to get design help and planting information. And surely someone has just the plant or pot you were looking for at a great price.

Pick up your Le Tour passport at local nurseries or check out all the activities online. Fall is a great time to garden and Le Tour makes it fun!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Coming up . . .

Though generally considered to be the last “summer” weekend, don’t let this Labor Day holiday end your gardening season. There are fall vegetables to start, plants to divide, fall flowers to plant, and roses left to bloom. Our Pacific Northwest climate means we can have good-looking landscapes year-round. Take advantage of our luck.

Living Wall Hangings and Miniscapes
Demonstration and inspiration for vertical gardening and knock-your-socks-off container plantings with Mulysa Melco.
Dennis’ Seven Dees – SE Powell; Saturday, September 5th, 1:00 to 2:00 pm.

Late Bloomers
Paul Bonine, co-owner Xera Plants, sees autumn as a time of reinvigoration and discovery with a multitude of plants reaching their peak. Join him and find how these can enliven your late summer landscape.
Joy Creek Nursery; Sunday, September 6th, 1:00 pm.

Dahlia Festival
Want to know how to divide your dahlias? This is the place to ask. Wondering what all the dahlia fever is about? This is the place to find out. Or would you like to just wander through fields of rich color in diverse forms. See the dahlia fields any day through September, but demonstrations and displays can be seen this weekend.
Swan Island Dahlias (995 NW 22nd Ave., Canby); Friday to Sunday, September 4th through 6th.

Native Plants, Garden Gems
Northwest garden writer, Lisa Albert, will speak on integrating the wide range of native plants into your existing landscape to take advantage of their beauty and variety.
Multnomah County Master Gardeners (Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church at 5441 SE Belmont); Tuesday, September 8th, 7:00 pm.

Big Bugs and Multiplying Hydrangeas

Last Saturday, caller George of Molalla sent us a photo of this insect – the Prionus beetle. It’s gigantic, isn’t it? Jean, our behind the scenes bug gal, identified it right away.

This intimidating specimen is not exactly uncommon in Oregon, but not found running around just everywhere, either. This is the adult stage. It appears in July or August and lives for about 60 days. Unfortunately, in those two months they lay lots of eggs.

The good news is that they don’t attack people or houses. The bad news is that they do attack tree roots – fruit trees and ornamental trees. They are a problem for hops growers (some of which are near Molalla).

Porch or driveway lights attract them at night, so that’s why they showed up on the doorstep.

Gardener Joe was interested in taking cuttings of his hydrangea. Now is a good time, but cuttings can also be taken in spring.

A branch that doesn’t have flowers on it may root faster. Take a cutting with two leaf nodes (where the leaves come out). Cut off the leaves from the bottom node – closest to the ground. Dip it in rooting hormone – just ask in the garden center. Put it in perlite. Keep the perlite well watered, but not sitting in water. Mist it with clean water every day.

Putting the whole thing in a plastic bag can help keep the cutting moist, but may also encourage disease. I usually put the cuttings in a plastic bag, but don’t close the top.

Propagating Deciduous and Evergreen Shrubs, Trees, and Vines with Stem Cuttings is an extension publication that has lots of discussion and photos to study.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Coming up . . .

Time to prune hydrangeas?

Many flowers are still looking good now, and many gardeners like to leave the dried blossoms on the plants over the winter. Others prefer to clean up the garden or take the flowers inside to enjoy.

To ensure that you get flowers next season, cut back flower stems just above a bud. You can do that now or in spring. Either way, cut out any dead stems, weak or damaged stems, or any others that don’t fit the shape you want.

No hydrangeas to prune? What about . . .

Fantastic Fall Containers
Join Al’s Experts Josh Clark, in Woodburn, and Lora Keddie, in Sherwood, as they demonstrate how to transition the colors in your landscape to the rich tones of fall starting with containers.
Al’s Garden Center – Sherwood or Woodburn; Saturday, August 29th; 10:00 am.

Rain Garden 101 Workshop
Learn how to construct your own rain garden and about the critical role they can play in urban stream restoration. Learn how to assess a site, choose the best location, select appropriate plants, and maintain a new rain garden. The class is free, but advanced registration is required. Register online with the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District.
Metro's Natural Gardening Series at Saint Paul Lutheran Church (3880 SE Brooklyn St.); Saturday, August 29th, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.

Gardening on Slopes
Richie Steffen (Coordinator of Horticulture at Seattle’s Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden) explores good plant choices for a broad spectrum of steep situations from full sun to dark shade. Considerations and tips for establishing plants and maintaining these difficult sites will also be discussed.
Joy Creek Nursery; Sunday, August 30th, 1:00 pm.

Cover Crops
These are the unsung heroes of the garden – supplying multiple benefits for a minimum of labor! Eric Sears will highlight the different types of cover crops and their benefits. He will also discuss how to plant and dig in cover crops. There is a cover crop for every situation, and they give an organic boost to the overall health and vitality of the garden!
Portland Nursery – Stark; Sunday, August 30th, 1:00 pm.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer winding down?

Don’t turn your back on your garden just yet. There’s lots to enjoy. My ever-bearing strawberries are still producing, and the tomatoes are in their prime.

I grew some of the blue potatoes (they’re more purple, actually) in a container, this summer, and harvested them early. I got a pound and a half of potatoes from a two-ounce start. Pretty good!

If your vegetable garden is still producing, too, consider one last shot of plant food. There are still weeks and weeks left for vegetables to increase in size or ripen up. So, if you haven’t added some fertilizer in the past month, help them out.

Fish-based plant food is one natural product that is available pretty quickly to garden plants and can make a difference fast. You can also use a fast-acting synthetic plant food – just mix with water.

Flowers in the garden and containers continue to bloom and bloom. Keep them watered when temperatures go higher and trim off faded flowers and scruffy leaves. Most will last well into fall. Consider a bit of plant food for these plants, as well.

Summer may be winding down, but our gardens are still going strong. Let's enjoy them!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Coming up . . .

Are you caught up in your garden – everything planted, fertilized, watered, and weeded? If you are, there are a lot of events to attend with gardeners who share your interests.

Landscape to Improve your Home’s Value
Designer, Ron Phillips, will discuss how to improve your home’s street appeal with skillful plantings. Then Vicki Burr, an experienced realtor, will share strategies to make your home stand out in this tough housing market. Bring large photos of your home and landscaping for on‐the‐spot professional assessment and suggestions.
Farmington Gardens; Saturday, August 15th, 1:00 pm.

Ground Cover Solutions
Ground covers can help prevent weeds and erosion, create a low-maintenance landscape and benefit wildlife. They also work well in container plantings and borders. Come learn about Stepables and other low-growing plants from Megan of Little Prince of Oregon Nursery.
Seven Dees Nursery – Cedar Hills; Saturday, August 15th, 10:00 am.

Ornamental Grasses
When you consider the variety of size, texture, and color available in ornamental grasses, as well as the differing environmental niches they fill, there is a grass suited to almost any garden. Join Maurice Horn, co-owner of Joy Creek Nursery, to learn about the care, maintenance, and growing habits to enhance their enjoyment and, best of all, simplify the gardener's work.
Joy Creek Nursery; Sunday, August 16th, 1:00 pm.

Arranging Flowers from your Yard
Join Al’s Expert, Bruce Hegna, to learn how to make beautiful flower arrangements using the flowers from your own yard.
Al’s Garden Center – Gresham; Saturday, August 15th, 10:00 am.

Crape Myrtle Basics
Nothing beats the late summer bloom of the crape myrtle. Join Al’s owner Jack Bigej as he shares the basics about one of his favorite plants. Attend this class and learn how to grow and care for these beauties in your yard.
Al’s Garden Center – Woodburn; Saturday, August 15th, 10:00 am.

Planting Partners for Crape Myrtles
Join Garden Designer, Jane Luthy, to learn about great partners to plant with the late-blooming beauties. From beautiful blooms to fabulous foliage, certain plants make great planting partners for crape myrtles.
Al’s Garden Center – Sherwood; Saturday, August 15th, 10:00 am.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Coming Up . . .

Hot Weather Watering
Confused about how much water is the “right” amount for your landscape? Find out how much water (in inches) your lawn, shrubs, trees, and flowers will need each week. Visit the Regional Water Providers Consortium website to sign up for your Weekly Watering Number email, specific to your zipcode. And start watering more efficiently.

Protect your garden from pests without pesticides
Learn how nature can help you control pests, weeds and plant diseases. Hands-on activities include identifying insects and applying compost tea. Includes a complimentary quart of compost tea, while supplies last. Free. No registration necessary.
Metro's Natural Techniques Garden (6800 SE 57th Ave., Portland); Saturday, August 8th, Presentation 10:00 am; Activity time 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Permaculture Basics
A key element in permaculture is to have plants in the garden serve multiple functions, grow well together, and eventually create a self-maintaining system. Learn how to weave this practice into your garden. Leonard Barrett is a professional permaculture landscaper through Barrett Ecological
Portland Nursery – Stark; Sunday, August 9th, 1:00 pm.

Arranging Flowers from Your Yard
Join Al’s expert, Barbara Dinsmore, to learn how to make beautiful flower arrangements using the flowers from your yard.
Al’s Garden Center – Woodburn; Saturday, August 8th, 10:00 am.

Join Jim Siehl, of Blooming Nursery to find out why eco-roofs have become an important element in green buildings, understand why engineering is necessary to make them possible, and appreciate the plants that do the work. Green roof technology is advancing very rapidly with examples of different styles of roofs visible in the Portland Metro area.
Joy Creek Nursery; August 9th, 1:00 pm.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Go Behind the Scenes!

Every year hundreds of plant breeders and growers travel to Portland to show off their newest shrubs, trees, and flowers to garden center buyers, landscapers, and garden designers from around the country. The Farwest Show is one of the largest nursery trade shows in the country.

Later this month, 10 lucky winners will go behind-the-scenes at the Show to meet top, local growers and see brand new plants coming on the market. They will also tour the New Variety Showcase with the garden’s designers. And how can you enter to win??

The Oregon Association of Nurseries organizes this show (which is for wholesalers) as well as two events for home gardeners. In spring, it’s the Yard, Garden & Patio Show, and coming up in September is Le Tour des Plants.

Le Tour is a self-guided tour of nurseries in the Portland metro area (including southwest Washington) and throughout the Willamette Valley. There’ll be display gardens, ideas for fall planting, helpful hints, hands-on demonstrations, discounts, special drawings, and lots of inspiration!

To stay in touch with all the Le Tour des Plants activities through the Random Acts of Gardening blog and to enter your name for the behind-the-scenes tour of the Farwest Show, sign up to receive email updates and share what gardening means to you.

Deadline is Thursday, August 13th. Good luck!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Coming up. . .

Washington County Master Gardeners
Demonstration Garden Here’s a chance to ask trained Master Gardeners your garden questions and see the planning and planting that make this area of the fairgrounds so popular.
Washington County Fair Grounds (873 NE 34th Ave., Hillsboro), Thursday through Sunday (July 30th to August 2nd), 10:00 am to 11:00 pm.

Southwest Portland Fuchsia Club Show and Seminar
Fuchsias come in such a variety of colors and forms, and they flourish in our Northwest climate. Plus, many of the most delicate are surprisingly hardy in even our worst winters. See the best of the best Saturday morning when judges decide which plants are worthy of the winning ribbons. There will also be as seminar so you can learn how you can grow these beauties in your own yard.
Al’s Garden Center – Sherwood; Show - Saturday, August 1st, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; and Sunday, August 2nd, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Seminar - Saturday, August 1st, noon.

Entrance Gardens
Join Lisa Annand, garden designer, and learn how to create beautiful gardens to surround and accent your entryway. From simple to more elaborate, learn how to make the entry to your home stunning.
Al’s Garden Center; Gresham: Saturday, August 1st, 10:00 am.

Make Compost for Your Garden
Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District and Metro present tours, presentations, and hands-on learning composting activities, plus receive a free natural gardening gift (while supplies last).
Cooper Mountain Nature Park (18892 SW Kemmer Rd., Beaverton); Saturday, August 1st, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm. Advanced registration required (503-629-6350).

Eating Seasonally From Your Garden
With a greater selection of veggie varieties available now than ever before, you can eat seasonally from your garden all year long. Rose Marie Nichols-McGee, of Nichols Garden Nursery, will talk about what seeds and starts will keep your garden productive through the fall and winter.
Farmington Gardens; Sunday, August 2nd, noon.

Planting Under Big Trees
If Mother Nature can plant under and around large trees, you can too. Russell Graham, Salem's Purveyor of Plants, discusses the challenges that face the gardener under trees, some techniques to consider before planting, and plants that do well in this environment.
Joy Creek Nursery; Sunday, August 2nd, 1:00 pm.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's Growing in My Garden

Though the days seem really too hot to handle, the garden keeps on giving.

For the past two years, I’ve grown Sweet Olive tomatoes, and they are still my favorite. They are hardly bigger than a cherry tomato, so they aren’t going to work all that well sliced on a sandwich. But they have a great, not-too-sweet, tomato-y taste.

And aren’t those beans gorgeous? They are good-looking in the garden, even if they weren’t good to eat. I’ve been eating them right out of the garden, fresh and warm. But if you do cook them, they turn green. I’m also growing green snap beans and scarlet runner beans.

The scarlet runners are mostly for the flashy flowers that cover the trellis, but the beans are yummy, if you get them soon enough. Like all beans, if you let them go too long, they get tough and less flavorful. Just let the lumps of the beans inside the pod start to show, then into the house.

Pulling off the beans tells the plant to keep on making more beans. If the pods are left on the plant, it can stop producing flowers and then – no more beans for us.

So, hot as it is, get out in the garden and reap the harvest your efforts have brought about.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Coming up . . .

Twilight In the Garden
Where better to spend a warm summer evening than surrounded by the delightful plants at one our region’s best display gardens. Join the folks at Joy Creek Nursery for the annual evening open house. Music and light refreshment.
Joy Creek Nursery; July 25th 6:00 to 9:00 pm

Hydrangeas, Beyond the Classics
If you’ve got full sun in your yard, and would love to add a hydrangea, attend this class and learn about some great options. Jerry Brown of Fischer Farms nurseries will share some new and exciting varieties of the classic hydrangea.
Al’s Garden Center – Woodburn; Saturday July 25th 10:00 am
Al’s Garden Center – Sherwood: Saturday, July 25th 1:00 pm

Succulent Container Gardens
Are you tired of high‐maintenance containers? Leah McDonald will help you discover the interesting, colorful world of succulents – many of which are hardy in our climate. Purchase your container and select your plants, and we will provide a place for you to plant them, as well as the soil and fertilizer! No charge other than your materials.
Farmington Gardens; Sunday, July 26th 1:00 pm

Harvest and Storage of Summer Crops
Your garden is growing--so now what? Come join Jolie Grindstaff as she draws on her 10 years of experience as an avid edible gardener and vegetarian cook to share tips, techniques, timing and recipes for harvesting and preserving your veggies, herbs and fruit.
Portland Nursery – Stark; Sunday, July 26th 1:00 pm

Backyard Plant Breeding
How are new plants made? Discover the secrets of plant sex and get hands-on experience with several genera with Diana Reeck, owner of Collectors Nursery. For all levels of gardening experience. (Please bring your own tweezers!)
Joy Creek Nursery; Sunday, July 26th 1:00 pm

Monday, July 20, 2009

Coming up . . .

Not satisfied with the living art they have created, some gardeners seek to embellish their natural world. If you are one of them, this week is the week and the 10th Annual Cracked Pots Garden Art Show is the place.

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week (July 21st and 22nd), over 90 artists will show off garden art to compliment every garden and appeal to every taste. From the dramatic to the delicate, you’ll find sculpture, planters, furniture, and more.

And all items are made from at least 75% reused and recycled materials. These Northwest artists are helping to reduce waste by “re-imagining” cast-off materials into artwork for the delight of gardeners.

Join them and see another side of recycling. 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm at McMenamins Edgefield (2126 S.W. Halsey St., Troutdale). Admission is free.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Flowers Changing Color??

On Saturday, a caller wondered why her Lily of the Nile (agapanthus) would be a lighter color blue this year than last year. I was reminded of a caller earlier in the year who had the same complaint about a favorite, deep-red rhododendron.

Yes, there are many red rhodies and agapanthus from pale blue to purple. But, right from the start, we’re going to assume that these gardeners have good memories and do know what color the flowers were last year. None of that eye-rolling!

So, what might be the explanation? Flower, leaf, and stem colors come from combinations of pigments made by the plant – delphinidin (blue-violet), carotenoids (for yellows), anthocyanins (reds), and, of course, chlorophyll (the many greens).

This explains why we don’t have a blue rose (there are no blue pigments in the rose family) and why some hydrangeas stay white (they have no pink and no blue). But once we the colors are present in the plant – what determines the intensity of those colors?

The complex system that produces the colored pigments depends on the presence of specific nutrients. If these are lacking, the plant may not be able to make enough compounds to give the deepest color. This is a good reason to use compost or natural plant foods, which are always rich in a wide array of essential nutrients.

Temperature can impact color, too. The lower the night temperature, the less intense the flower color is. So, warmer spring nights or cooler summer nights would be a factor that differs from year to year.

And light – that variable and varying Northwest commodity. A high amount and intensity of light builds up the colored pigments in plant leaves and flowers. Our famous cloud cover during critical times could also change the flower display from one year to the next.

So, keep your plants in good health and nutrition. The amount of light and the season’s temperature are nothing we can control. Let’s enjoy whatever Nature brings us.

Thanks to Phillip W. Simon (University of Wisconsin), Dr. Leonard P. Perry (University of Vermont), Dick Bir (North Carolina State University), researchers at Texas A&M University, and the dahlia genetics group at Stanford University for their work on the biochemistry of color in the plant world.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Coming up . . .

Kathy Shearin – workshop leader for East Multnomah Soil &Water Conservation District – will highlight ways to attract wildlife and save water while making the garden a feast for the eyes. Naturescaping focuses primarily on native plants, recommended because they are adapted to our soil and climate and need relatively little or no watering, fertilizing, or care once established. They are also less susceptible to common garden pests and diseases, and they attract a variety of native birds and butterflies by providing food and shelter.
Portland Nursery – Stark; Sunday, July 12th 1:00 pm

Green is a Color, Too
Many of us take the color green for granted, but, as Kermit the Frog reminds us, it is a real and vibrant hue. Come and explore the many ways this color can be used in the garden with Lucy Hardiman of Perennial Partners, a garden design collective recognized for their innovative approaches to garden design. Join Lucy and be prepared to have your eyes opened.
Joy Creek Nursery; July 12th 1:00 pm

Master Gardeners at King Neighborhood Farmers Market Multnomah County Master Gardeners are staffing an information table, so take in samples of weeds or plant problems and get some help for your garden.
NE 7th and Wygant between NE Alberta and Prescott Streets; Sundays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Watering on My Mind

This season I wanted to pay extra attention to water for the yard and garden. Yes, clean water is a precious environmental resource – not to be wasted, but the vegetables need enough to be productive, plus my shrubs and trees need the right amount for best health, too.

I began by more regularly digging into the soil with a trowel to see what was actually happening down there. Was the soil really dry under the mulch? Did the plants need water again, so soon?

I found that the extra effort paid off. I have been surprised more than once – thinking that the plants looked fine when the soil was quite dry down six inches. The plants would have wilted in another day. Just as often, I’ve thought that several hot days must have dried out the soil, only to find that it was still moist just under the surface. (Must be all that organic matter I add!)

And I think the garden shows the difference. So, save water by using it well. Water when the plant needs it, and – as my friend Greg advises – not just because it’s Tuesday or because you have the hose in your hand.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Coming Up . . .

Over the holiday weekend many folks will picnic or enjoy their own garden. If you want to take a stroll through someone else’s landscape, consider one of our local public gardens.

The Oregon Zoo has great horticulture interest, as well as animal exhibits. The Oregon Zoo Backyard Makeover exhibit shows how to design a home landscape for beauty as well as for the environment. There’s a before-and-after design, plus tips.

A favorite of mine is the Leach Botanical Garden in southeast Portland. There are over 2,000 plants in the collection and the cool streamside location is a refreshing spot to be in hot weather.

Another relaxing garden walk is the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden near Reed College. Though the most spectacular show is earlier in the spring, anytime in the deep green setting will refresh the spirit.

In Southwest is the Bishop’s Close, a larger and more dramatic setting. The diversity of plants and garden vistas make it a choice trip season after season.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thinking About Fall Planting

A garden doesn’t have to be something you start over Memorial Day weekend and then stop sometime in October. As summer reaches a fever pitch in late July and August, planting some more vegetables will let you enjoy fresh produce late into fall.

The Home Garden Seed Association has some easy-to-grow suggestions for late summer planting. Here are their top ten:

1. Beets
2. Calendula
3. Cilantro
4. Kale
5. Lettuce
6. Peas
7. Radish
8. Salad Greens
9. Spinach
10. Swiss Chard

As space opens up in the garden – lettuce has bolted, beans are finished – think about putting in a second crop of peas or a row of radishes. These two are especially easy to grow from seed.

Take a look at your garden beds. It’s time to plan how you can continue to pick vegetables on through fall, right in your own backyard.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Coming up . . .

Ground Cover Solutions
Megan of Little Prince of Oregon Nursery will discuss Stepables and other ground covers to help prevent weeds and erosion, create a low-maintenance landscape, and benefit wildlife. They also work well in container plantings and borders.
Dennis’ Seven Dees - SE Powell; Saturday, June 27th 10:00 to 11:00 am.

Water Conservation in the Garden
Learn about different methods to save on both money and resources in the garden with John Hartog of the Community Energy Project. He will discuss methods such as using mulch, installing drip irrigation, and planting drought tolerant plants. Make a difference in your yard and your water bill.
Portland Nursery – Stark St; Saturday, June 27th, 1:00 pm

Water-Wise Gardens
Summer heat is coming. Get some water conservation tips from the Regional Water Providers Consortium. You can also pick up a free copy of the Willamette Valley Water Efficient Plant Guide, a Watering Gauge Kit, and other materials to help you save water in your landscape.
Al’s Garden Center – Sherwood; Saturday, June 27th, 10:00 am to 2:00pm.

Tried and True Perennials
Landscape designer Sue Barr will discuss some tried and true perennials that are easy to grow, beautiful, and can take whatever the weather is likely to throw at them.
Al’s Garden Center – Woodburn; Saturday, June 27th, 10:00 am.

Simplify Your Garden
What a treat! Local author, Barbara Blossom Ashmun, will tell how to simplify the garden, by planting lower-maintenance shrubs and weeding out the fussier plants. Barbara will also read from her newly-released story, The Garden Saved My Life. After the talk, Barbara will be available to autograph copies of her book, Married to My Garden.
Al’s Garden Center – Sherwood; Saturday, June 27th, 10:00 am.

Building a Raised Bed
Come listen to in-house “handy man” Bill Wilder as he shows you how to easily build a raised bed and planters for gardening in almost any part of your yard. You can also tap Bill’s experience building trellises, arbors and cold frames.
Portland Nursery – Stark St; Sunday, June 28th, 1:00 pm.

Ground Covers
Ramona Wulzen has a passion for ground covers and container gardening. She can help you find plants that will enhance problem areas in your garden and learn how to keep them looking good, whether in dry shade under evergreens or in a sunny hot spot that gets little water.
Joy Creek Nursery; Sunday, June 28th, 1:00 pm.

Opportunities for Gardening Kids

Hooked on Hummingbirds
Find out more about this amazing little bird and how to attract it to your yard. Each child will leave with something to help invite hummingbirds to their home.
Al’s Garden Center – Gresham; Saturday June 27th, 11:00 am. Registration is required. 503 491 0771