Welcome to Spring! We are excited to finally get some nicer weather with the promise of more to come. If you are itching to get out in the garden then this weekend may be for you! Sunshine and warm weather. Just remember to leave some space for new plants. With GardenPalooza coming up it is a great time to get something new for the garden, and there is nothing like having a new plant to enjoy this summer. Another sign that spring is here is the annual spring ladies night at French Prairie Gardens. Join William and Judy for an evening of fun, check out our story in this week’s show for more details.
I’m happy to say that our Garden Time trip to Victoria BC is full! We are excited about this trip as it is our first one for Garden Time. We hope to have many more trips in the future to some cool places… so keep checking in to our webpage or subscribe to our Facebook page for fresh updates.
Enjoy the weekend!
This week we featured...
Spring Equipment Maintenance
Now is the time to take care of those lawn equipment service problems so you can head into spring with ‘working’ equipment. Skyler from Stark Street Lawn and Garden (503-862-5016) walked us through some of the issues you may be dealing with and how to fix them. If your mower is acting up you can take care of the problem by changing the fuel and oil filters, changing the oil, spark plug and sharpening the blade. We recommend you get a professional to sharpen and balance your blade though. The same is true for all your lawn and garden equipment. Filters and fuel can be the 2 leading causes of problems when you fire stuff up in the spring. Old fuel is weak and will cause your equipment to sputter and not start and filters may become clogged after setting all winter. All of your other equipment should also be checked right now. Make sure your string trimmer has new line and that all the pieces are tight and oiled (if they need it) If you have a job you don’t think you can handle, give the guys at Stark Street a call or find a reputable repair shop. Always remember to have your model number and brand written down for the technician when you call so they can have the parts you need available. Stark Street also carries a full line of electric powered lawn and garden equipment so you can cut down the amount of exhaust you create in the garden. Check out the new equipment at any of their 6 locations!
Forcing Branches Indoors
Everyone can’t wait for the colors of spring, but if your patience is thin from the long cold winter you can ‘force’ the issue by bringing in cuttings from your favorite flowering shrubs. We recommend that you look for fully budded branches from your fruit trees, forsythia or flowering quince. You can lightly tap the end of the stem or cut the bottom of the stem to allow more water uptake and place them in a vase with water. After a few days the buds will pop and you will have flowering stem to enjoy for weeks, until those other spring colors start to show up.
If you are looking to go organic, it might seem like a daunting task. There are so many choices on the market! To help sort it out we stopped by to talk to the local experts on organic gardening, Concentrates Inc. (800-388-4870). We met with Heather at their store in Milwaukee and she talked us through the steps for using organics. First of all she recommended that you get your soil tested. It is always good to know what your soil needs before you throw more stuff on it. They have information in their store to help you get started and you will probably save a lot of money by doing this because you won’t be adding more fertilizer than you need. Then once you have the soil test done, they can help you pick the right ingredients for you garden. Some of the types of amendments you will find include kelp meal which is good for overall plant health, feather meal or cotton seed meal are good for adding nitrogen to your soil. Another amendment that is high in nitrogen is blood meal which is very popular. We also looked at bone meal. Some people believe that if you use this your dogs will dig around the plants that have it, but that is not true. In fact, it is high in phosphorus which makes it good for your roses and tomatoes. If you would like more information about organics and how to use them you can stop by and pick up some of their informational handouts or sign up for a class. They make using organics easy.
Pruning Japanese Maples
Japanese maples are a very popular plant for the home gardener. Most of these varieties are pretty small and they are pretty care free when it comes to maintenance. The one thing that scares most people is the pruning of these wonderful little trees. To get some tips we stopped by the home of Terrill Collier from Collier’s Arbor Care (503-72ARBOR). Terrill has a couple of Japanese maples in his yard and he brought in a crew to show us how easy it is to trim these trees back. Terrill told us that there are 2 main tips for pruning your maple. #1, always trim out the dead and diseased wood from the tree. #2, remove overlapping branches and create space while doing that. Doing those 2 things will go a long way towards getting you started. Once those 2 main items are taken care of you can go to work doing some light thinning. Try to create an ‘open’ look by thinning throughout the tree. Think of a 3 dimensional puzzle and make even cuts all around the plant that creates a layered appearance. This will help to make your tree appear less ‘chopped’ and more stylish. It will also keep your tree from looking like Cousin It. If you make a mistake don’t worry. These trees are very forgiving and will grow back to cover your mistakes. If you feel like you are still in over your head, give the pros at Collier Arbor Care a call and they will prune it for you. They can also assess all your trees to make sure they are healthy.
Now is the time to start some of your seeds indoors in anticipation of the coming spring and summer. Judy and William walked us through the steps of seed starting to show you how to plant your seeds and what types you can plant now to get a head start on the season. The basic rules for success include starting with a quality soil and fresh seeds. Sterile soil will help you keep your new plants happy and healthy, because they won’t be exposed to different molds and fungus. We used the Seedling Mix from Black Gold. Judy also mentioned the need to read the back of your seed pack so you will know how deep to plant your seeds and other care instructions. We recommend that you move and thin your small plant seedlings to bigger pots to give them the best start before they go in your garden. This would be a great year to start a vegetable garden to save some money; check out your local garden center for a great selection of seeds. For some more tips on successful seed starting, check out the ‘Seed Starting’ link on the How-To page. We were using seeds from Renee’s Garden a great national company and Nichols Garden Nursery a local company in Albany for this story, but you can find hundreds of different varieties at your local garden center.
French Prairie Gardens Ladies Only Night
Kick off your spring at the annual Ladies Only Night at French Prairie Gardens (503-633-8445) near St. Paul. They have a whole bunch of fun planned for March 27th from 3:00 to 7:00. The evening starts off with strawberries and champagne. Then you will learn about some new plants coming to the market with William and Judy, taste local wines, create your own hanging basket, and sample small plates and appetizers. They will also have a raffle that includes lots of cool gifts! It should be a great evening. The event is free and if you want to save some money you can go to their Facebook page (or call them) and RSVP to get an additional 20% off your purchases. The first 50 ladies to show up will get a goodie bag. Sorry guys, this is ladies only!
Kindergarden – Coloring Daffodils
This week’s Kindergarden segment is something that many people did when they were growing up; adding dye to your flowers to make them change color. We were using daffodils, but you can use carnations or even celery. You first go out into your garden and cut a fresh daffodil. You then add a couple of drop of food coloring to some water, green, blue or red work the best. We only had the paste type of food coloring and we felt it worked a little better. We also mixed it in lukewarm water which helps the plant bring it up to the petals. Over the next couple of days you will start to notice the color appearing on the outer edges of the flower. If you look closely you will actually see the small colored veins in the flower. It is a great way to see how plants use and take up water.