Well, if April showers bring May flowers we are going to have a VERY beautiful May! The Northwest weather has become a problem not only for the home gardener, but also for the growers. A lot of damage is happening in the fields to flower and vegetable crops in Oregon and Washington. Keep watching, we will always try to give you a heads-up on how to prepare for the weather and how to protect your plants from the weather. Don’t worry; the warm weather will get here soon!
This week we featured...
Spring is a great time to catch all those early blooming plants, but don’t forget about the trees that are showing off. We took a walk with Dan Moeller of Hoyt Arboretum to check out the magnolia collection in Washington Park. The arboretum has a great collection of the 2 main varieties of magnolias, the Asian and the American. The first one we saw was a huge specimen, the magnolia ‘veitchii’. This one can get as tall as 60-90 feet so you better have room for it, but it also has pink blooms the size of a dinner plate! Dan contrasted that with the small evergreen magnolia ‘dianica’ this one wasn’t quite blooming but had great coppery buds that will open to white fragrant flowers and wonderful glossy leaves. Finally we saw the old favorite, the star magnolia. This one has white flowers that burst open in a star shape and will stay small for the garden. If you get a chance, check out the magnolia collection at the arboretum. It is free and there are self guided maps at the visitor’s center.
When you are putting your new plants in the ground it is always a good idea to give them a boost with a shot of fertilizer. The problem is that most fertilizers are granular and take a while to break down and release their nutrients to the plant. Fertilome has a liquid product that will do what the dry fertilizers do and a whole lot more, it also contains plant hormones that help reduce transplant shock and stimulates root growth. You just mix it in with the water you use to transplant and give your plant a good drink when it goes in the ground. Ryan at Larsen Farm Nursery (503-638-8600) showed us how well it works. You can find it at Larsen Farm or other independent garden centers.
Cold, Wet Plants
With all this bad weather it is hard for the avid gardener. It is also confusing. Some people have been thinking that they are seeing a lot of new disease on their garden plants. We visited with Laura Altvater at Portland Nursery on Stark St. (503-231-5050) to see some of the problems that plants are having in the garden. First we checked out what winter damage looks like on plants. There was a sedum that had spots on its leaves. The same thing was a cabbage start. It looked like a disease, but when you looked at the new growth of leaves it wasn’t there. That means it was hail damage. If it were a disease it would be on all the leaves. Next we saw the burnt tips to some chives that were caused by frost killing the very ends of the plant. Of course we like to think that it is only making the plant stronger! None of this light damage would kill the whole plant but it should be a warning to protect your plants if you see this. Finally we talked about tomatoes. These really need to be protected if you get them in the ground too early. There are walls of water, protective mulch and other ways of making sure they survive the early days of spring. If you ever have any questions you can call or stop by your local independent garden center.
Spring is here and it is time to dress up the garden. We stopped by Bauman’s Farm and Garden (www.baumanfarms.com, 503-792-3524) to see how they are dressing up. We found the addition of a new greenhouse at the farm. To celebrate the Bauman’s are having a Greenhouse Gallery this weekend. Brian Bauman invited us out to meet a couple of the artists and see some of their work. We visited with Ann Munson who makes a variety of different pieces, from mosaics, to paste paper, to some interesting cement works. Then we talked to Debbie Knitz about garden bling! She makes her art to bedazzle your garden; from little dangling pieces that you can hang from your trees to decorated pots and jewelry. If you are out and about on the 26th or 27th you should stop by and find some pieces you can use to decorate your garden!
Spring is the time to get your tools in shape for the coming season. It is also the time to think about getting new tools. Sometimes the old favorites make the job harder than it needs to be. We stopped by Drake's 7 Dees (503-256-2223) to see some of the favorite new tools that people ask for. Clare had a great display set up for a seminar that they will be having at noon on the 26th. She even had some of our favorites including the negirigama hoe. This one is sharp, but it is great for scraping those surface weeds off of your garden beds. The Japanese Hand Rake was next one the list and it looks like a backscratcher on steroids! It is one that really does a bunch of jobs; as a weeder, a cultivator, and a digging tool. We also saw a customer favorite, the EZ digger. It too is a multiple use tool and is great at making furrows in the ground for planting. It is always important to protect your hands whatever you do and so we checked out the new bamboo gloves that are on the market. Those gloves work really well with the many different pruners from Felco. These pruners are wonderful because you can buy new and replacement parts when they start to wear out. Finally we saw the Expando Rake. It is the favorite of one of the Garden Time crew (Therese). It can expand to become a leaf rake and then collapse down to be a rake for a smaller garden bed. With all the work you need to do in your garden, you should check out the new tools at your garden center.
Jan’s April Tips
The weather has been cold and wet, but you can still get some important work done in the garden. Jan McNeilan, retired OSU extension agent, showed us how they are preparing the soil for the coming season. Jan is also digging and dividing the hostas in her garden. This weather is great for transplanting and she is getting some of her perennials moved before it gets too warm. Jan also showed us the ‘soil in the jar’ test. This test lets you figure out the composition of your soil with out a lot of testing. You fill a jar about 2/3’s of the way with soil and then the rest of the way with water. You shake it up and let it sit for a day. The water will cause the soil to separate into the different types of soil. Sand, silt and clay will stay at the bottom and the organic matter will float to the top. The more stuff at the top, the better your soil is for your plants. If you have little or no floating stuff, it is time to amend! To learn more you can always check out the OSU extension website.