Camping, it is one of the best things about the summer. As you read this we will be taking a couple of days off to get away and enjoy the outdoors around a fire. Still we are not leaving our plants all alone. We have a house sitter making sure the plants survive and the business runs smooth while we are gone.
Last week we were getting close to running out of spots for our January trip to Costa Rica. I am happy to say that we are very close to being full! We may have room for 1 or 2 people and then we will start a waiting list. Don’t worry we are starting to make plans for our next trip and details will be coming out soon!
This week we featured...
One of the best flowers of summer is Echinacea. These heavy bloomers brighten up just about any garden with their daisy-like flowers. To see some of the latest introductions we stopped by Portland Nursery on Stark (503-231-5050) and talked with Sara Ori. Sara brought out a bunch of different varieties. Some were taller varieties for a big statement in the garden and some were smaller varieties which were great for containers and smaller gardens. We started with Magnus which is a variety that has the traditional color and structure of an Echinacea. It has that nice sturdy stem to keep it upright and tall in the garden. Next we moved to a newer, brighter colored variety called ‘Now Cheesier’. This bright yellow flower is a hybrid of the old ‘Mac and Cheese’ variety. It doesn’t get as tall and is great for flower beds and large containers. The third variety we looked at was the ‘Salsa Red’. This one starts out with curled white petals that unfold to show off a bright red color. This one holds its color really well in the bright sun of summer. It is also a small variety so it works really well in containers. We then moved to ‘Glowing Dream’ which will also stay small in the garden or a container. It is a show stopper with its deep magenta color. A sister plant to that one is ‘Tangerine Dream’. This one stays low as well, but it has a tremendous bright orange color that is really unique. Echinacea also work well with other plants either in your flower beds or in a container. If you are using them in a container you will want to follow the 3 rules. Thriller, filler and spiller. The thriller would be the Echinacea in the center of the container. The filler could be a grass or some other plant that would fill in right underneath the tall structure of the Echinacea. Then the spiller would be the plants that hang over the sides of the container to soften the edges. These could be Calabracoa (million bells) or even a sweet potato vine. If you are looking for a nice Echinacea or even some ideas for your late summer garden, stop by either location of Portland Nursery.
Summer Veggie Watering
In the past we have told you about how to efficiently use your water with our friends at the Regional Water Providers Consortium. Recently they introduced us to a gentleman who does seem to follow all the rules that we have been preaching! We met with Kevin in his very healthy vegetable garden and learned how breaking a few rules can give you a healthy garden and still save you money. Normally we would tell you to use drip irrigation or some other type of watering system that would target the area that you want to water. This time, however, we learned from Kevin that an overhead sprinkler works the best in certain situations. Kevin loves to garden. His vegetable garden was a thing of beauty. When he first built his raised beds he put pop-up sprinklers in all the corners. That didn’t work very well once the plants started to grow. The taller plants on the outside blocked all the water from the smaller, inside plants. Then he tried drip. The problem there was coverage. Some plants needed more water and some less, plus he would cut the hose when he dug in the garden and then would have to fix the system for it to work. So he went back to the old fashioned overhead sprinkler. This work great because he can turn it on and off when the garden needs water and he doesn’t waste as much. Plus all the plants get the benefit of being evenly watered! In fact, he was using less water, so much less that the water bureau came out to fix the meter because they thought it was broken. If you would like some watering tips to help you in the garden, check out the Regional Water Providers Consortium website at, www.conserveh2o.org.
Wild Rice Grower
When you think of growing rice, you probably don’t think about the Willamette Valley. However, for one local farmer in Mt. Angel, growing wild rice was the perfect solution to a farming problem. Jeff Ruef was growing corn on his property but he kept having problems is heavy clay soils and the persistent standing water from the nearby creek. One day his dad joked about growing rice and that led him on a journey to find a variety that might work. He found a variety of wild rice that is native to the Great Lakes area. That was the beginning of the Arrowhead Wild Rice Company. The rice adapted easily to his farm. He built some banks to hold the water in and then planted the rice. It grows in about 18 inches of water for most of the year and then in late July or early August they drain the water out and drive the combine in. Once it is harvested it ferments for a day to loosen the husk around the kernel, then it is cleaned and graded. The first grade is a nice long kernel which is prized by chefs. The second grade are small pieces which work well in soups and stews and the final grade are the broken bits that are left over. This is called the brewers grade. It is used by various brewers around the area for some of their beers. Rogue, Ft. George and Seven Brides have all used the rice in some of their beers. In fact, we were able to taste the Ruef Rice Beer from Seven Brides Brewing in Silverton and it was fantastic! Stop by and enjoy a pint, but hurry, they run out fast. For more information on Arrowhead Wild Rice you can check them out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/arrowheadwildrice.
Summer Rose Care and Sale
Summer time can be rough on your roses. They normally love the heat, but if you don’t do a little maintenance they won’t give you the blooms you’ve been waiting to see. Ben from Heirloom Roses (503-538-1576) met with William in the display gardens to show a couple of quick things you can do to get your roses to re-bloom again. First he told us about deadheading your roses. This means that you take off the old, spent, dried up blooms. You can use a pruner or sometimes you can just snap them off. Next he told us about summer pruning. With all the heat, some plants have become leggy. That means they have gotten tall and gangly. You can do some summer pruning to get them back down to a manageable size. Go down the cane to a height that you want to maintain and cut the cane just above a leaf node that has a five leaf branch. You will get new growth and more blooms in about 4-6 weeks.
If you love roses as much as we do, this weekend was made for you. Heirloom is having their annual summer clearance sale. You can get some of their roses at huge discounts this weekend. They will also have people there to answer all of your rose questions. They will also have some of their larger plants available to buy as well. If you are looking for more information you can always give them a call, or better yet stop by during the big annual sale this weekend, August 9-10, for a deal on some great roses.
Smith Blackberry Jam
Saving the taste of summer is made easy if you capture the flavor in a homemade jam or jelly. Joelle from Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) invited us into her kitchen to show us how quick and easy it is to make a jam from fresh fruit. All we needed was 3 ingredients, fresh fruit, pectin and a sweetener. The pectin we used was Pomona Universal Pectin which is great because you can use any type of sweetener (Equal, Splenda, Honey or even Stevia), so it is great for diabetics. First we crushed the berries and our sweetener then added the pectin, finally we added the calcium mixture (part of the Pomona product) to our mixture. Since we were making a freezer jam we didn’t even need to cook the fruit. Smith Berry Barn doesn’t use any sprays on their fruit so we just had to wash it off. After a couple of minutes we checked the mixture to make sure we didn’t need to add more sweetener or more calcium water to help it jell and we were done! We poured it into containers (in this case it was sterilized jars) and left a little room at the top of the jars for the jam to expand in the freezer. The freezer jam will stay fresh in your freezer for 6 months to a year! If you would like to try this at home, you can call Smith Berry Barn, or pick up a packet of Pomona’s Pectin; the instructions are in the box.