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.