What has happened with the time this spring? We seem to be moving very fast, it seems like just last week we were out at the tulip fields and now we are entering June! Still, sometimes I don’t think it is going fast enough! I can hardly wait for summer to officially arrive. For me it might be when we have our Garden Time Tour to Victoria BC. That would seem like a great kick-off to the summer season. I think the next kick-off to the summer season will be in January… why? Because we are proud to announce that we hosting our 2nd Garden Time tour to Costa Rica. This is a VERY affordable trip that will cover Costa Rica in 12 days. Airfare and 21 of your meals will be covered, and it is less than $3,000 (for double occupancy). Check out our Garden Time Tours page for more information.
Another event to mark on your calendar is the brand new Capitol Subaru Garden Dayz event at the Subaru dealership on the 14th of June. We will be giving away plants, packets of seeds and Dramm watering products. You can also sign up for a drawing for a $100 Al’s Garden Center gift card. There will be free hot dogs and pop, and if you take a test drive they will give you another gift! It will be from 11-3 on the 14th. We will see you there!
This week we featured...
Oregon Garden Wildfire House
With recent developments dealing with wildfire we thought we would take a look at ways to prevent wildfires from damaging and destroying your home. We found an excellent demonstration for wildfire prevention at the Oregon Garden in Silverton. They have a wildfire prevention house that you can check out on the grounds of the garden. Kris took us on tour and filled us in on things that you can do to lessen your risk of fire damage. We talked about spacing. Kris recommended that you leave a buffer zone that is ‘plant free’ away from the foundation of your home. We also talked about spacing your plants so they are not so tightly grouped. Kris also recommended that you use native plants that were fire resistant. The big problem is those plants that can accumulate dry material or that have a high sap content. These can help fuel fires and create more damage. These plants include arborvitaes and other landscape plants that can hide flammable materials. We also talked about ‘ladder’ fuels. These are plants that help the fire climb up off the floor of the forest and into the canopy where it spreads faster and is harder to control. If you are concerned about the threat of wildfire you can check out www.KeepOregonGreen.org and www.Firewise.org for more information on prevention or come on up to the Oregon Garden to see the wildfire prevention house.
Pear in a Bottle
Recently we noticed a bottle of brandy that had a whole pear in it. This fascinated us. This isn’t easy. How do they get a whole pear inside a bottle! You just don’t build a pear like you would a ship! This requires some planning! To learn how it is done we contacted Clear Creek Distillery (503-248-9470) in Portland. They are the ones responsible for this feat of engineering. We met with Rachel Inman in a Hood River orchard to see how they do it. Rachel met us with a bottle and some twine. She told us how they pick certain pears on the tree while they were still small to place them in the bottles. These pears are judged to be the ones that will survive until the end of the season and ripen, not easy since all pear trees will have ‘June drop’ where the tree self prunes to get rid of unviable fruit. Once she pealed away the smaller fruit and picked her ‘king’ fruit she placed the bottle upside down over the fruit. This allows the fruit to grow inside the bottle and avoids rain and irrigation water from entering the bottle. The morning condensation is not a problem either. It burns off with the morning sun. The only problem is sunburn! Once the sun get high in the sky the bottom of the bottle can act as a magnifying glass to burn the fruit. Rachel then has to cut little bags and cover the bottom of the bottles to prevent the fruit from getting cooked. Once the fruit is ripe they simply give the bottle a tug and a twist and the fruit comes off and remains whole in the bottle. Then they take it to the distillery and clean the fruit with small brushes and fill the bottles with wonderful Oregon Pear brandy! If you would like to have a sample of this tasty distilled beverage you can stop by the Clear Creek Distillery in Portland during tasting hours. Simply check out their website for times!
Margie’s Strawberry Pie
There is nothing like fresh grown Oregon strawberries! We know they are starting to show up at the local farmer’s markets. One place that we found with fresh berries was Margie’s Farm and Garden (503-866-6123). Margie said that they are picking Hoods, Shuksans and Puget summers right now and that other varieties are going to be ripe soon. That means it is time for fresh strawberry recipes. Margie grabbed some berries and we headed to her kitchen where she shared her strawberry pie recipe. This was a very easy recipe and it takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish if you have all your ingredients. First she had William crush 14 graham crackers in a Ziploc bag. This is a great chore for the kids because the bag keeps the crumbs from making a mess. Then the crumbs were combined with 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and half a cup of melted butter and mixed together. Then the mixture was formed into a crust in a pie plate. This was baked in the oven at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. While that was baking Margie took a sauce pan and, on the stove she combined 1 cup of sugar and 3 tablespoons of corn starch, a cup of mashed strawberries and a half cup of water in the pan. This was heated to a boil and then removed from the heat. By this time the crust was done baking. While the crust cooled a little Margie made a cream cheese filling by mixing 4 ounces of cream cheese and 2/3 of a cup of powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. This was spread as a bottom layer over the crust. Whole sliced berries went over this and then the strawberry ‘gel’ from the sauce pan went over that! It was incredible!!! If you are looking to try this recipe, be sure to stop by Margie’s for some fresh berries and then treat the family to one of life’s great pleasures, a dessert made with fresh Oregon berries! You can also print out the recipe here.
Protecting your investment in containers is tough in our weather. The rain and freezing temperatures can cause the best of containers to break over time. It is best to seal them. We stopped at Little Baja (503-236-8834) to check out a product that they use. Jared recommended a product from Timber Pro that you use on your fountains, statues, and birdbaths. This product is safe and easy to use. It helps keep water from penetrating into the cement and terra cotta where it can do some real damage and ruin your investment, and it is safe for the environment! Little Baja also does maintenance of fountains and water features as well. So if you have any questions, give them a call.
Portland Nursery Herbs
Summer is a great time to cook with fresh ingredients from your garden and one of the ingredients that you can use fresh for the whole summer are herbs. To check out some of the best herbs to use we stopped by Portland Nursery on Stark (503-231-5050) and chatted with Sara. First she started with her ‘cocktail’ herbs. These are herbs that you can use when making your favorite ‘adult’ drinks during the summer. The first plant was the stevia plant which is a natural sweetener. It has about 300 times the sweetness of sugar and is good with iced teas and other cold drinks. It is also great for diabetics since it is not sugar and won’t raise your glycemic levels. Then she also had lemon verbena and spearmint. A caution on the mint plant. It can get very aggressive and so you will want to keep that in a pot on your deck so it doesn’t take over your garden. Next were the ‘seasoning’ herbs. There Sara had sage, tarragon, rosemary, and thyme. These can be used in all sorts of recipes when you are cooking or grilling. The interesting part about fresh herbs is that you should use about 3 times as much as you would dried herbs. Drying them intensifies the flavor so you should use less, but using the fresh herbs guarantees the full flavor of the herb will show up in your dishes since dried herbs also lose their flavor over time. These plants love full sun and good drainage. Sometimes people will over water them, so be careful that you don’t. Next were the ‘salad’ type herbs. These included cilantro, parsley and red sorrel. People either love or hate cilantro, and if you try to grow it you will notice that it can grow and ‘bolt’ quickly. Bolting is when the plant goes to seed and that will sometimes change the flavor characteristics of the herb. We found a solution many years ago from Rosie and M and N nursery. She recommends that you get 5-6 plants and keep them in a container. Once a week you cut off a whole plant. You then work your way around the container and once you make the circle the first plant should have grown back to its mature level and would be ready to harvest again. Pretty cool. The sorrel is used by some people as a regular ornamental plant in their garden, but it can be used in salads and other dishes where it will add a spicy or tangy flavor. Finally we came to the mother of all herbs, that basil plant. This is a great fresh addition to sandwiches, salads and who doesn’t love a fresh pesto! If you are looking to add a little more flavor to your summer cooking, stop by either location of Portland Nursery to get your fill of flavor!
Garden Gallery Décor
Summer is the time for entertaining, both indoors and out. One of the best places for décor that covers both areas is at Garden Gallery Iron Works (1-800-423-0158) in Hubbard. We stopped by and checked in with Don Sprague to see what they had that was new and exciting. At Garden Gallery they make tons of stuff from metal and iron and so if you have seen something at your local garden center and it is made from iron, it probably came from Don and his crew.
We started off outside where Don showed us some of the newest decor features he had. He showed us his new recycled barn metal planters. These are made from old sheet metal and look very rustic even though they are really heavy duty. They even have them as a raised bed planter! He also showed us a hanging planter that was very easy to fill. Instead of planting up some containers, you simply buy hanging baskets and remove the metal hangers and then just drop them in! Instant planter! We also saw large portal arch that had a swing, which is not only functional, it looks cool too. Another thing they had outside was a planting bench that had a reused barn window as a backsplash.
Then we went inside. Inside there is a mixture of indoor and outdoor stuff for the home and garden. We started at a small bistro table and next to that was some ‘post toppers’ which were designed to attach to the top of a post and then you simply put a hanging basket on top. It was so cool we bought 3 of them to use in our garden. No more bare posts, just towers of color. We also saw some of their side tables. These are table that you can use for entertaining and they can serve as a buffet or a work table as well. The back room of the store is full of even more garden stuff! There is garden art including weather vanes, metal statuary and hangings. Trellises are a specialty as well and you can find a huge assortment of trellises and arbors. There is also bird baths and feeders, in addition to outdoor seating areas and even a pizza oven! There is just so much to see that we couldn’t cover it all. Stop by their place in Hubbard where they have the large petunia tree and see it all for yourself!
Little Prince Container
We are proud to have Little Prince of Oregon as our plant pick of the week sponsor. They are growers of excellent quality plants and we have had a great time sharing some of them with you. Recently we heard that they have started a blog and we stopped by to talk to Ryan about it. He told us that, as a grower, they are always looking to share information with the homeowner and this was an excellent way to do that. The first blog posting was about planting containers. Little Prince has a great selection of plants and many of them are perfect for containers. Ryan told us about the 3 rules of container making which include a ‘thriller’ and ‘filler’ and a ‘spiller’. This means that you have a taller signature plant in the center, ‘filler’ plants around that one and then some plants that ‘spill’ over the edge of the container softening the look and the hard edges of the pot. Ryan also showed us how the different colors and designs of the plant tags can help you in selecting your plants. It is really easy to figure out. ‘Made in the shade’ are plants that love shady areas in your garden. ‘Blades of Glory’ are all grasses. ‘Cliff hangers’ are plants that trail over the edge of a container or retaining wall. ‘Fit for a King’ are the unique plants, these are the ones that become the focal point for your plantings.
Judy then started to plant a container using some of the ‘Water Miser’ plants to show you how easy it is to plant them using their tagging system. By using their system of tags she was sure to get plants that had the same growing conditions and that means that all the plants would thrive! If you are looking for a little help in your plantings, be sure to check out the tags on the Little Prince plants at your local garden center. And if you are looking for the latest news direct from the grower be sure to check out their blog!
Parr Fence Board Garden Bench
Amber at Parr Lumber (866-214-7277) always has a great project for our viewers and this time was no different. This time she came up with another one of her ‘easy to do’ projects, a standing garden bench. This project used 8 cedar fence boards and a 2x4. First she stained the fence boards, though you could leave them unstained and let them age into a grey color. Then she cut 6 of the boards to create her side walls. The parts she cut off became the inside shelves. The dog-eared cedar gave it a finished look that was very beautiful. Then she just dressed it up by touching up the stain and adding screws to the side to hang tools and gloves. She even said that you can add more screws to the back and hang up your garden tools too. If you would like to try to make one yourself, check out her materials list and directions here, then stop by your local Parr Lumber for everything you need!
Removing Lawn Weeds
The return of the spring and summer warmth also means the return of the dreaded lawn weeds. Broadleaf weeds and weedy grasses can easily take over your turf grass and take your yard from a thing of beauty to a weedy mess in no time! To get some help we stopped and talked to Tom Combs from Bonide. Bonide makes a lot of the garden products that you have come to trust in your yard. Today Tom brought out the product ‘Weed Beater Plus’ and then showed us how to use it. The 2 different bottles we saw were a RTU (Ready to Use) which you could use if you had a small patch of a few weeds and the other product which was a hose end sprayer. Hose end means that you attach it to the end of your hose and then just turn on the water. This bottle delivers the spray in a premeasured amount over a large area very quickly. Tom told us that you have to follow a few rules when you spray. First of all this product needs warmth to work. Average temperatures need to be above 65 for the product to work the best and be careful not to apply it when the temperature get above 80. Try to spray on a day when there is no wind and be sure to not let it drift into your flower beds since it will damage your ornamental plants if you hit them. One more tip, walk backwards. By going to the farthest area first and walking backwards you are sure to not walk through the product and then transfer it to your flower beds if you walk through them. For more information on the complete line of Bonide products be sure to check out their website and while you are there you can download their Problem Solver’ app for your iPhone or Droid.