Saturday, November 27, 2010

Freeze Damage in the Garden

I did get the grapefruit into the garage and covered the less hardy pots outside. All the leaves got raked into the beds to cover most of the perennials. But I didn't get to everything before the freeze hit.

Once again the bananas froze. Oh, the crown and roots are fine and will put up banana "pups" come spring. But, one day I will find a way to protect the stalk enough to grow it taller than the eight feet I usually get. This year I just didn't get out there in time.

If some of your plants got caught out, as well, you may not be able to tell how bad the damage is until spring. We'll just have to wait and see whether that shrub or perennial leafs out. There will be more cold weather before planting season comes again, so take another look around the yard.

--Get the pots in close to the house or cover them with a "freeze blanket." Check your local garden center.

--Wind can dry out the leaves or needles of evergreens and roots can't take up water in frozen soil. Think about covering exposed plants - in containers or in the ground.
--Check on plants placed close to the house under the eaves. They may need water during winter dry periods.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Cold is Coming

Dire weather warnings are in every newscast. Winter weather will arrive any day. Yes, we need to get ready. But, take a moment to enjoy any last bits of fall. My tuberous begonia carries on blooming - seemingly oblivious of the frosty temperatures on the way.

The dahlias were so late starting in spring that they just didn't get all their blooming in over the summer. They still carry on, as well. I hate digging them up to store for the winter when there might be a few more flowers in the offing.

No other flowers are left in my yard, but there is still plenty of interest for the birds and if you know where to look.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Here's what's out in my garden . . .

You've probably heard Mike mention that I bring various clippings from my garden into the studio to show off or to be a reminder. Well, I thought everyone would like to see what we are talking about.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Turn left before you get to . . .

Have you ever gotten that advice? By the time you get to the tree (or gas station or Safeway), you've missed the turn!

Well, we do that in the garden, too. OSU Extension Plant Pathologist, Jay Pscheidt, says, "The phrase is 'spray before the fall rains'. Folks always ask when that occurs. The time would be now!"

As we get these last days before the rain starts in earnest, use a copper spray (Lilly Miller Microcop or Kop-R-Spray) for shothole fungus and brown rot on apricots and for apple anthracnose (sunken dead spots on branches and bulls-eye spots on fruit).

There are some other clean-up tasks to do before fall rains make gardening a soggy affair. Don't leave diseased fruit or leaves on the ground. This just allows the disease spores to blow or splash around the garden all winter. Get them out of the garden now!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Two Garden Doctors!!

This week is Apple Tasting at Portland Nursery and both your Garden Doctors will be on hand. Dave will be doing the show and I will stop by for a visit. Here's your chance to see us and attend a fun event.

This is the 23rd year Portlanders have had the opportunity to try out a bushel-ful of apples and pick their favorites. Once you've decided what you like, you can take home a bag for pies or table. Gardeners can even buy a tree to grow their own.

There'll be music, cooking demonstrations, cider pressing, and a scavenger hunt for the kids. Oh, yes. There will be also be lots of plants, too. Check out the sales for your October garden projects.

So, come by to see your Garden Doctors, ask that fall gardening question, and have a glass of cider!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Birds and Berries

Last Saturday a caller asked about red berries for birds. I thought of Nandina with it's brilliant berries, but was later challenged on that recommendation. My research went in two directions.

It seems that in some states nandina is considered invasive because birds eat the berries and disburse them - everywhere. But it’s not considered invasive in Oregon. Other information says that birds won’t eat nandina berries, anyway.

Carl Grimm and the folks over at Metro suggest that even if it isn't a particular favorite of the birds, it is a great landscape plant because of its hardy nature and water sparce ways. And it's not on any Oregon "problem plant" list.

Meanwhile, I'll also suggest pyracantha (fire thorn) . My mom had a fire thorn that always looked great against the brick front of the house with the dark leaves in summer and red berries in winter. And these days there are many types to choose from.

You can find brilliant, vigorous Mojave, the tiny (2 ft by 2 ft) Red Elf, and many in-between. The berries can be fire-engine red, a more orange-red, or really-orange. There's even a ground cover type called Low Boy. A variety to suit every bird lover's landscape.

Other shrubs offering red berries to the birds are kinnikinnick, red elderberry, some of the barberries, and the native red currant.

Photo thanks to Monrovia. Credit: Doreen Wynja

Friday, September 3, 2010

Visiting Wales - Invasives

One reason I went to Wales was that the climate is so similar to our Oregon one. I was surprised at how similar the weed palette is, as well.

As the train slid along from London to Cardiff, I instantly recognized the late summer purple of the butterfly bush – everywhere! I saw them pushing up from cracks in the sidewalks at stations, sprouting from ancient stone walls, nodding over canal banks, and encroaching on any space left untended.

Even as they invaded most wild landscapes, I saw that they are just as beloved by home gardeners in Wales as they are here. Several yards held large specimens as garden centerpieces.

Another quickly recognized invader was the Himalayan blackberry or bramble. Herb Robert (stinky Bob), dandelions, bindweed, and, of course, English ivy – all found in- and out-side of gardens. Wales and the UK are just as eager as we are to try to control these invaders. There, as here, they push out more desirable or just most other plants. Just as here, they cost the public time and money to keep them under control and prevent their advance.

In Oregon you can get information on identifying and controlling invasive plants at the Oregon Invasive Species Council or the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Also watch the Oregon Public Broadcasting program The Silent Invasion to see the damage these invasives can do in our own backyard.

Summer Harvesting

When it was still raining in June, I despaired of having any harvest at all, but now many crops are doing quite well.

The tomatoes are ripening slowly but surely. As always my Sweet Olive variety is the favorite. The patty pan squash was left on the vine too long as I was away on vacation and had to be peeled to be edible.

But the eggplant is wonderful! They are ripening nicely and many more to come on the plant. Rosemarie Nichols-McGee of Nichols Garden Nursery advised me to plant them in a container for best ripening – and she was right!

The beans are coming on, along with the grapes. The dozen onions I put in as an afterthought may produce something yet. I’m hopeful for a warm September to keep everything going.

With many crops it’s easy to tell when to pick, but others can be tricky – beans get stringy and squash gets seedy, for example. For some general guidelines on harvesting all kinds of garden vegetables, check out these publications from Minnesota and Michigan.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

And the Flowers. . .

Vegetable continue to grow with eggplants coming on and carrots getting bigger and sweeter. But, the flowers often steal the show and look great mixed in with the veggie garden.
This year the birds planted a dozen or so sunflowers and I didn't have the heart to pull them up as winter rains kept on and on. They were so cheerful and determined. So here they are towering over the banana plants which usually decorate the parking strip.

The unusual Leycesteria or Himalayan Honeysuckle is a favorite. The flowers are loved by the hummingbirds and the bees are buzzing about all the time. The arching branches are graceful and the leaves have a bit of a red tint, at the edges, matching the flowers, nicely. But, alas, I've planted it too close to the house. One of these days it will have to be moved farther to the front of the bed or find a new home.

The unusally colored Rosa glauca is the same - too big for my little city garden. But, until it gets its full size going, I'm enjoying it. The hips are spectacular against the blue-ish leaves. Shall I make rose hip jelly or rose hip tea?

I was a bit suspicious of the blanket flower (gaillardia), at first. I'm not one for many oranges in the palette (I generally go for the pinks and purples). But, the flowers are so bright and have such an interesting look, that it won me over. This one is called 'Frenzy'. And it blooms and blooms. I've cut the old flowers off again and again - more keep coming.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Veggies Growing Great

When the weather warms up, you just can't stop things in the garden. Yep, there's damage left over from the oddly wet and long spring (peonies with disease spots, a pineapple lily dead in a too soggy spot, tomatoes still green, etc.), but lots of other things look good!

I had a spiral tomato support that didn't work for me a few years back. After our visit from the Clackamas Tomato Master and her advice to get those tomatoes off the ground, I got it out again. This time I was more diligent in pruning off the suckers - and it looks great!!

Tying the cucumber up the bamboo trellis saves space, and gets the cukes out of the dirt. The beans are on their way up another bamboo trellis.

The Bright Lights Swiss Chard makes a colorful border, but the leaf miners have found it. The easy answer is to protect it with the floating row cover. It sure would spoil the decorative effect, though.

I started some of the alpine strawberries from seed and put them in place of the regular everbearing variety in the rock garden. They are tiny berries - about the size of the tip of your index finger - but with a really creamy taste. That is - if I get them before the slugs!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hot Times for Gardens

Our high temperatures can be hard on the plants in your garden. My winter honeysuckle did get some burned leaves, but most are just fine.

What you might see

Browning of leaves in centers or on edges - sunburn. Looks bad but won't kill the plant.

Tomato or squash flowers dropping off - they just can't take the heat. There will be more flowers when temperatures fall.

Wilting - many plants wilt to get leaves out of the hot sun. As temperatures drop in the evening, leaves pop up again.

Grass burns around edge of lawn - concrete reflects the heat onto the grass. To maintain a green lawn water once a week - 1" of water. A few mowings will remove damaged grass.

What you can do now

-- Water in the morning to get plants hydrated for the day.

-- Spray leaves in the afternoon to cool them off.

-- Shade newly planted shrubs and flowers with a box or fabric in the hottest part of the day, but don't over water - they have a small root systems.

-- Mulch around trees and shrubs to reduce evaporation and cool soil.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Maybe it's not just the weather!

I planted basil seed early this spring, but in a pot, and in my greenhouse. After much time, a few came up, got to about a half-inch tall, and that was it. More than a month later they all got thrown out - still about a half-inch tall.

Many folks were saying the same thing - my basil just died or my basil did nothing. And considering the unusual spring weather (rain, rain, and more rain), it didn't seem all that odd - basil loves hot, dry weather.

I still think that the wet spring is the answer, but this Washington Post article made me think. What if it's not just the weather?

How many times do we miss a correct diagnosis because - Oh, I know what that is!

This PNW wet spring is certainly responsible for many garden problems this season (herds of slugs, slow-growing tomatoes, rotting seeds, etc.) But, in between the showers, let's pay attention to the details and make sure we know what's really going on.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Endless Rain!!

It’s one of those years, isn’t it? Still raining in June.

The tomato spots are soggy, so the plants stay in their pots. Soil too cool and wet to have much hope for cucumbers and beans. Digging a hole for the fig just seems like a way to compact the soil. No amount of compost will improve the drainage after days of rain.

Well, containers it is! At least I can control the water for those plants.

One of the tomatoes can go into a converted cat litter bucket. The decorative pots can get planted. Maybe start more lettuce in pots – in case we never do get sun. And move them to shadier spots – if we do get sun.

Containers have such potential for the balcony, the deck, or the front steps – even as decorative items in the yard. Use them for long-lived shrubs and trees or for edibles. Use them for colorful annuals or as a small herb garden.

Get intrigued by containers, while we wait out the rain.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Coming up . . .

Planting time - - finally

Garden centers and nurseries are fully stocked, of course, but gardeners have other places to shop, too. Check out neighborhood garden sales. You might find some out-of-the-ordinary plants and be able to walk home.

For example --This Saturday, the Eastmoreland Garden Club (Unit 1) is holding their Annual Mother’s Day Weekend Plant Sale. Drop by Eastmoreland Garden Park (at the corner of SE Bybee Blvd. and 27th Av., across from the Eastmoreland Golf Course) between 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

You’ll find a wide variety of perennials, tomatoes, native plants, and more. Plus, it’s a family-friendly event with a children’s planting table. Local gardeners will be on hand to help you find some thing new for spring. All proceeds will be used to promote gardening in the area.

So, keep your garden eye out for the new and unusual - right in you own backyard.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reduce – Reuse – Recycle

Each Earth Day we focus on, well, the earth. How we can live better on the planet – energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction – in all areas of our lives.

Many of us connect with the green world around us through gardening. On Thursday, at Montgomery Park in Northwest Portland, the Multnomah County Master Gardeners and the West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (WMSWCD) will be available to help others connect with the green world.

From 9:00 am to 11:00 am the WMSWCD staff and volunteers will actually install a native plant garden at Montgomery Park. Visitors can see how these plants could fit into their own gardens and learn how to enhance their backyard habitat.

Master Gardeners will be on hand in the building lobby to answer home garden, landscaping, and lawn questions and help resolve pest problems. The Multnomah County Master Gardener office (open weekdays from 10 to 2) is on the 4th floor of Montgomery Park – Room 450.

For more information on WMSWCD projects (fighting invasive plants, bringing gardens to schools, encouraging native pollinators, and more), check out their website.

For gardening questions in any of the three metro counties, contact your Master Gardeners by phone, email, or visiting. Start here!

DIRT! The Movie

Let the soil beneath your feet inspire you. Tonight on Oregon Public Broadcasting you can see dirt from many perspectives – both global and personal.

We know how important to our gardens our backyard “dirt” is. Find out how our relationship to the soils around the world have impacted and will continue to impact us.

It’s a fascinating, intriguing, educational look at a busy world just beyond our doorsteps.

Oregon Public Broadcasting
Independent Lens
11:00 pm

Friday, April 16, 2010

Coming up . . .

Metro’s Natural Gardening Guru - Carl Grimm

Saturday we’ll get the chance to talk to Carl about all the gardening information Metro has available.

On the website, you’ll find all the tips you need for making your own compost and even plans for building your own garden debris compost bin. And if you want to try your hand a worm composting for kitchen scraps, you’ll find help there, too.

Metro also has several sites open for visitors. From the Zoo’s Backyard Make-over exhibit, demonstrating easy steps to bring nature into your yard, to the Natural Techniques Demonstration Garden in Southeast Portland. Find out more here.

For a copy of the Grow Smart, Grow Safe guide to lawn and garden products, the native plant guide, and a money saving coupon for natural garden products, click here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

So Much to Learn - - -

but there are so many opportunities to do just that. Wherever you want to follow your gardening passion, there are fellow gardeners willing to help you along.

My Garden Doctor partner, Dave Etchepare, is hosting an Edible Landscape Fair at Dennis' 7 Dees, on March 6th, at the Eastside location (6025 SE Powell Blvd).

This is a great chance to ask experts those questions you always wondered about or to get help starting something new. Discover knowledgeable folks on food forests, organic vegetable gardening, native edibles, growing food in containers and much more. Children will not be bored – they'll find special activities just for them.

Formal classes will include:
Grow your own Delicious Fruit! With Jim Gilbert
Edible Natives with Metro
Permaculture Class:
Plants that Give You Bang for the Buck(et)
Permaculture Class: Farm Hands without Hands

See the full schedule here.

Check out the bare root edibles – ready to transplant – and the newest blueberry – Pink Lemonade. Can you really have a pink blueberry?

And don’t miss a chance to have your pruner sharpened up (you have been pruning haven’t you?) and your soil acidity checked (it may be time to lime!), thanks to the Portland Rose Society from 1:00 to 3:00 pm.

Look for Dave!