Is it done yet? The heat has been here for so long that people feel like they are in an oven. But this is what we have come to expect from summers here in the Northwest. We were warned by some of the forecasters that this would be a warm summer, and they were right. We have to remember that, even if we can’t change the weather, we can adapt to it. Be sure to check your lawn and garden to make sure you are watering efficiently and effectively. Don’t waste water by just pouring it on. Test your soil, set up timers and call Grimm’s Fuel and add more compost to your garden to help retain the moisture. You can also get some great tips by checking out the OSU Extension website and the Regional Water Providers Consortium website.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your garden is to keep yourself hydrated. On these hot afternoons, don’t work in the garden, just pour yourself a cool drink and sit in the shade and enjoy the sunny days.
This week we featured...
Peggie the Painter
A picture can say a thousand words, but a painting can speak to your heart. We have found an artist that can speak to the heart through her paintings. Peggie Moje is a familiar face around local public gardens and flower events. Her paintings really capture the vibrancy of the colors in the garden. The way she paints helps to bring a new attention to the details we sometimes miss in the garden. Peggie told us how she starts a painting. She sketches the scene first to figure out her composition and where everything will fit in the frame of her canvas. Then she fills in the spaces with her ‘impressionistic’ style of painting. The scene is real, but with subtle accents that she uses to make the picture better. She also uses the composition to pull the viewers eye through the scene. There is a ‘path’ for your eye to follow. She works quickly but also sometimes uses a photograph of the scene to help her stay true to the image even if the light changes or she has to leave. If you are interested in learning more about her paintings you can get a hold of her through her website. She even has art available through the Portland Art Museum Rental Sales Gallery, where you can rent her painting for you home.
Oregon Berry Festival and Blueberry Care
In celebration of the Oregon Berry Festival happening next weekend at the EcoTrust building in Portland, we decided to pay a visit to a local grower of blueberries and see if we could get some of our gardening questions answered. Melissa Hoffman from Hoffman Farms met with William in the fields of her family’s farm to talk blueberries. They grow 8 different varieties of blueberries on 140 acres just outside of Scholls near Hillsboro for their retail store and for local processing. The first question was about pollination. We had heard that you need 2 different blueberry plants to get fruit. That is false. Blueberries are self-pollinating. Melissa recommends that you get more than one plant so you can have a nice long season of berries to enjoy. Get an early season, mid-season and a late season variety so you can have fresh berries for months! Second question, how do you grow them? Melissa told us that blueberries love water but they don’t like to sit in standing water. Provide them some good draining soil that is not heavily fertilized. They do like acidic soil so you should treat them the same as a rhododendron or azalea. Once they get a couple years old you will want to start pruning them. Take 1/3 of the oldest canes out every year. Blueberries fruit on new wood so you will want to get rid of the oldest wood first. Leave the youngest canes for the best fruit production. Finally, how can you tell when your fruit is ripe. Melissa recommended that you look for entire clusters to be ripe. If you have one or two ripe berries then you may not get the tastiest berries. Also, look for the berry to be totally blue, even to the back of the berry where the stem connects to the berry. Totally blue means totally tasty!
The best place to learn about blueberries and all the other types of berries that we grow in Oregon is at the 4th Annual Oregon Berry Festival. The festival takes place on the 18th and 19th of July at the Ecotrust event space in the Pearl district. The festival features everything ‘berry’. You can buy fresh berries direct from the farmer, see cooking demonstrations, view berry themed arts and crafts and even attend a Gala Berry Dinner. The dinner has a fee, but the rest of the festival is free!
If you have any questions about berries you can stop by Hoffman’s Farm or come by the Oregon Berry Festival.
Lavender Wreath and Festival
Bringing the smell of lavender into your home is not hard when you can easily build a lavender wreath. We found out how easy it is when we visited Lavender Lake Farms (503-838-2620) near Independence in the mid-valley. One of the owners, Rhonda Johnson, told us how easy it is to cut and form a wreath from 3 simple materials. First she purchased a circular metal frame and some fine craft wire from her local craft store. Then she cut a bunch of lavender stems (about 25-30) to about a 6 inch length (leaving a tiny bit of green under the flowering part) and then tied them to the ring. You continue this around the edge of the ring, over-lapping the bunches, until you are finished. You may want to cut your own lavender from the garden or you can pick some up at her field. At Lavender Lake they carry a few different varieties that carry a special meaning for her family. Rhonda’s father help develop some of the most popular varieties on the market, so they really know their lavender!
This weekend would be a great time to stop by the farm because it is the Oregon Lavender Festival. The festival is always the second weekend in July and features over 30 different lavender growers all around Oregon so we’re sure you find one close to you. Some locations will be featuring crafts, classes, food and other lavender related activities. If you are looking for a fun activity for the whole family, you should stop by one of these great farms. And if you are in the Independence/Monmouth area, Lavender Lake Farms is a ‘must see’ stop!
A few years ago we heard of a product that was supposed to replace the wheelbarrow in our garden. We recently saw the Leafhopper being used by our friends at Heirloom Roses by their staff in the garden and we were impressed. We finally had a chance to try it out and meet the inventor and we can say, this is a great tool for any garden. The Leafhopper was invented by Mari Rittenour. Mari had some health issues a few years ago and needed something other than a wheelbarrow to move material around her garden. She came up with the Leafhopper and it has taken off! The Leafhopper is great for weeding… you simply throw all your yard debris and clippings on the Leafhopper and then, when it is full, you use the Velcro to secure it and then pick it up with the shoulder straps and carry it to your compost bin or pile. The shoulder straps allow you to continue to use both hands and is easier on your back. If you are moving mulch to your garden you can use it for that as well. Place your mulch on the Leafhopper and, when full, carry it to the garden bed and then use it to precisely place it around your garden. Quick and easy. If you would like to try this great product you can find it at most independent garden centers, or check out the retail locator on Mari’s website.
Amaryllis Bulb Care
Every holiday season thousands of amaryllis bulbs find their way into local homes. They give us wonderful blooms, but then after the holidays we can never seem to get them to re-bloom. We found a way to get them to re-bloom for you, year after year. Once the bloom is done for the holidays you will want to cut off the flower stalk. Keep the foliage intact and continue to water the bulb lightly through the winter. Once the temps warm up outside you can move the bulb outdoors for the summer. When we get to late July and into mid-August you will want to cut off the remaining foliage from the bulb and dig it out. Check the bulb to make sure it is firm and not soft. If it is soft, then it has probably rotted and will need to be composted. Remove the excess roots from the bottom of the firm and healthy bulb and store it in a cool, dark part of your garage until mid-October. Then you will want to plant the bulb again in a pot, leaving the top of the bulb exposed, and move it indoors. Continue to lightly water it again and soon you will see the new foliage and a new flower stem emerge to bring you beautiful color for the upcoming holiday season.