It was nice wasn’t it? We had a few days of warm sun and now we are back to the rain and cold again, but it was glorious while it lasted. It definitely got me in the mind set for spring! Spring is also a time to get our gardens ready for the summer ahead. Chores that are done now will bring you a better garden and, in the case of fruits and vegetables, they can give you a bigger harvest. In this week’s show we show you how to prune your grapes to get just that!
We also have a story on how you can help the Portland Japanese Garden get some recognition. To help them become one of the top 10 public gardens in North America check out their story below.
And speaking of spring. We are just a week away from GardenPalooza! This year we celebrate our 12th annual event on the 5th of April at Fir Point Farms. Over 45 garden vendors will be there and will help you get your garden ready for spring. Remember it is a free event with free parking. For more information just go to www.GardenPalooza.com.
This week we featured...
Pruning grapes can be intimidating. To take some of the fear out of it we stopped by Stoller Family Estate (503-864-3404) and talked to Rob Schultz, the vineyard manager to make it easier for the homeowner to tackle the job. Grape vines can grow in all different directions and that makes it difficult to choose the right ones for grape production. Grapes generally bare fruit on old wood. That means the vine is at least one year old. If you cut out all the old wood you will never get any fruit. This time of year you should study your plant. Pick a couple (2-4) of one-year old vines. Prune them on a vertical or horizontal trellis and prune off the rest of the vines. This will send all the growth (and fruit production) to these canes. At the vineyard they put a bow in the cane as they train it on the wire. This is to evenly distribute the energy of the vine so all the grapes grow in uniform quality. Once you cut back your canes you may notice some dripping from the fresh cuts. This is nothing to worry about, it is a normal occurrence and actually tells you that you have healthy vines. They will seal up within a few hours and stop dripping.
As the season goes on you will see some new growth. These new ‘green’ vines will become your fruit producers for the next year, so take care of them. Next spring you will have to choose a couple of these vines to be your fruit producers. So to recap; pruning grapes are a 2-year job. You are looking for one-year old vines for fruit for this year and you are promoting new ‘wood’ for fruit vines in the 2nd year. If you have any questions you can check out this brochure from OSU Extension. If you want to see how tasty wine can be with the correct pruning, just stop at the Stoller Family Estate or pick up a bottle at your local store.
The true sign of spring, daffodils! We started our spring with a trip to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm and visit with Karen Bever (1-800-711-2006) to talk about how daffodils can add an early touch of color to your garden. We talked about care and feeding of these early bloomers and how you can use them in your yard or garden. Daffodils are incredibly hardy and are one of the bulbs that can handle really cold temperatures. They are only tender when they are freshly planted. Wooden Shoe cuts and ships daffodils all over the country so they have to know how to make them last! Karen talked about some of the different types of daffodils including doubles and large cups ‘daffs’. Some of the varieties that she showed us included ‘Johann Strauss’, ‘Rip Van Winkle’ ‘Dutch Master’ and ‘Ice Follies’. Karen also gave us a tip for using daffodils in arrangements. They ooze a sap that will block other flowers from taking up water. Let the daffs sit in water for a couple of hours and then rinse them off and use them in your flower arrangements. Daffodils are also great at keeping deer away from your prized tulips; surround them with daffodils. Deer hate the ‘daffs’ and will ignore your tulips to avoid the daffodils. If you have any more questions about daffodils or tulips you can contact Wooden Shoe or stop by this weekend for the start of their annual Tulip Fest. One of the great additions to the fest is the ‘field cam’. Now you can check the cam on the Wooden Shoe website and see the field conditions before you leave the house! Stop by and pick up some daffodils and tulips to bring spring into your own home!
Capitol Cherry Blossoms
A lot of people have heard about the cherry trees in bloom in Washington DC. Well, you don’t have to travel across the country to see a flower show; you can just travel to Salem and visit one of our newest State Parks. State Capitol State Park is the 14 acre area surrounding the state capitol and the other state buildings around it. Bryan Nielsen, the park manager told us about the park and mainly about the beautiful cherries that are in bloom right now. The cherry trees line the mall directly in front of the capitol building and they are really putting on a show. These flowering trees are an Akebono variety. They are very popular in the Northwest and will do well in our growing conditions. Plus, according to Bryan, they need very little care. These trees also can handle tight conditions, the area where they grow is on top of a state parking garage and it has only 14 inches of soil in some places. The cherry trees only mark the beginning of the season for the park. This park has lots of significant plants and they will all be in bloom soon. In addition to all the plants we also found out that there are over 90 historical and informational markers and 6 major monuments in the park. It is an outdoor history lesson on the state of Oregon! Drive by this coming weekend to catch the show before it is all gone!
Japanese Garden Vote
If you have ever been to the Portland Japanese Garden (503-223-1321) you know how beautiful it is. Now you can help the garden get recognized nationally for that beauty. The USA Today website has chosen the garden as one of the best gardens in North America and now they are holding a vote to pick the top 10 gardens to be featured in the USA Today Travel section of the national paper. All you have to do is go to this website (http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-public-garden) and vote. You can vote every day until the 31st of March. There isn’t much time left so vote today and help them make the top 10.
If you want to see something spectacular, stop by the garden in the spring. We were able to walk around and it seemed like there was something blooming around every corner. It was a wonderful way to spend our afternoon!
One of the hottest trends in gardening is the idea of growing your own food. For some that means a vegetable garden. For others, they want to go a little further and bring poultry to their gardens. The benefits of chickens are many. They can help control insects and pests by eating them. They can help with fertilizing by just doing their ‘business’ as they walk around your garden. They can also bring you fresh eggs. Plus there is the added benefit of just looking cool! To learn more about chickens we stopped by Concentrates Inc. in Milwaukee (800-388-4870) to talk to Heather. If you have decided to have chickens in your garden you will want to get a few items to help them thrive. First of all you will need to get at least 3-4 baby chicks to start. In Portland the law says you can have 3 hens in your backyard. Remember to check with your town or county to see what the regulations are for your area. In some towns they don’t allow backyard poultry at all! Sometimes one of the chicks turns out to be a rooster and then you will have to get rid of it. Chickens are also social creatures and they are happier if they have company in the garden. As far as supplies you will need equipment for feeding and watering them. Smaller chicks will also need a heat lamp to grow. Then you will also need shelter for them. Even when they grow larger, chickens are not self-sufficient. You will need to feed them and make sure they have all that they need to thrive. Also, people move them around the garden from time to time to give them a fresh place to scratch and peck.
Some people have asked us about the type of chicken and whether certain chickens are better than others, and whether certain colored eggs are better for you. Heather told us that there is no difference between breeds for the most part and that most of those stories are old wives tails. Another little fact that she shared was that you can tell the color of the chickens eggs by their cheek color. White cheek, white eggs; brown cheek, brown eggs. We are not sure about the blue egg varieties! She also pointed out that if you are looking for cheap eggs, raising chickens may not be the answer, they take a lot of work, but sometime the other benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
If you are interested in raising chickens stop by Concentrates and ask them your questions or pick up a brochure. They can help you be successful as a urban chicken rancher!