The Midwest is here! This week a lot of us got to experience the thunderstorms of the Midwest, and almost all of us enjoyed (?) the humidity of a late summer day. It was a pleasant reminder why I love the Pacific Northwest so much. Except for a few days a year, we have pretty mild weather. Not bad at all! It is great for me and the plants in the garden.
This week we had a lot of fun shooting stories for upcoming shows. In one day we enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee with Jan McNeilan, got to feed the elephants at the zoo, saw how they used local tomatoes to make a sorbet at Salt and Straw, and carved our names in pumpkins. There are some days I love my job!
I also want to give everyone a heads up. We will have a show next week on the 23rd, but the week after that is Labor Day weekend and we will be off the air because of sports programming. It only happens a couple times a year and we hope everyone understands.
This week we featured...
Village Green Wedding Garden
A few weeks ago we stopped by the Village Green Resort and Garden (800-942-2491) to check out how they were recovering some of the plants from winter damage. This week we took a little tour and learned a little bit more about the gardens. Ty took Judy on a quick tour of the gardens near the hotel rooms. The rooms are unique in that they all have little patios which open onto outdoor sitting areas with their own little gardens that you can enjoy. These little gardens overlook and some even have access to the larger gardens on the grounds. It is kind of neat to step from your room into a beautiful garden. We then moved to the wedding garden. This garden is right near the front of the hotel and it has a lovely grass lawn with a gazebo that is surrounded by color. The entrance to this garden also features a fountain and a rose garden that you can enjoy. If you would like to see more of the gardens you can stop by anytime you are in Cottage Grove. For more information check out their website.
Janís August Tips
The heat is on and the garden is showing the stress. We stopped by Jan McNeilanís house for the tips of the month and she found a lot of issues in the garden that needed to be addressed. First of all we started at the next door neighbors. Jan had pruned their plum tree and had done a great job, in fact too good of a job! It was loaded with fruit this summer and before she could put braces under the limbs one of them broke. The problem was that this was a grafted branch that gave the tree a different variety. She made the cut pretty precise to make sure she saved most of the grafted part. The reminder here is that you can prune your fruit trees now and they will not give you a lot of new growth that can be damaged in the winter. It also helps to shape the fruit trees now. We then went down a list of things that the home gardener can watch for in the garden. The first thing Jan brought up was bouquets. When you are cutting bouquets out of your garden you will need to shake them out before bringing them inside. Carpet beetles feed on the pollen from the blooms and then when you bring them inside they move to other feasts inside your home. Next we talked about spiders. This is the time of year when you start to see a lot of spiders in your garden. This is normal. These are the harmless orb weaver spiders that are trying to catch food to establish their next generation of offspring. These spiders are good for the garden because they help catch all the bad bugs in your garden. Next we talked about stress, not personal stress but plant stress. Right now, in the garden, you are noticing that your plants are showing signs of stress. It is best not to ignore these signs. If your plant is stressed going into the fall and winter it will have a harder time adjusting to the extreme temperatures and may not survive. Give your plants the water and nutrients they need now and you will have healthier and more vibrant plant for next year. Speaking of getting your plants ready for next year, now is not the time to prune your evergreens. If you prune them back now they will send out new growth that will be damaged in the cold of winter. Put off your evergreen pruning until next spring. Finally, we talked about strawberries. Now is the time to cut the plants back to the crown (right above the root) and fertilize them for the spring. If you do this now you will have a nice crop next year. If you are looking for more tips for the late summer garden, check out the OSU Extension website.
Stoller Grape Drop
We heard of something that seemed to be unreal! We heard that local winery and vineyard Stoller Family Estates (503-864-3404) was cutting off grapes in the vineyard! To find out more we headed to the estate to see what they were doing. Earlier this spring William met with Rob, who is the vineyard manager, to prune the vines to get the best crop and now we went out to find out if it was true that they were now cutting some of that harvest off. Rob told him about the process of how and why they cut off clusters of grapes. The vine can only produce so many Ďflavor compoundsí. That means to make a great wine you sometimes have to reduce the yield to concentrate those compounds in the remaining grapes. There is a huge process and formula for cutting off grapes and at Stoller they also have great vineyard people like Rob who also have years of experience too.
To find out what that means for the winemaker we traveled back up to the tasting room and talked with Melissa. She told us that making a great wine is not only concentrating those compounds by cutting off clusters of grapes, it also has to do with the soil, the sun, the elevation of the vines and even whether it rains and when it rains. These factors are all considered and accounted for when they prune, grow and harvest the grapes for their wonderful wines. These factors also change depending on the variety of grape and type of wine that you are making.
Kindergarden - Pumpkin Name Carving
We have a great little project for you and your kids leading up to the fall and Halloween. We traveled to the Ruef family farm to talk with Annie and her cousins about carving pumpkins before they are ripe. Annie is the great-granddaughter of Al Bigej, the founder of Alís Garden Center (503-726-1162). The Ruef and Bigej kids know what it takes to grow the plants (and pumpkins) that you can get at their stores. The kids actually help grow the pumpkins that you can buy at the stores starting in September and they are using that money to fund their college educations.
The twins were working hard on demonstrating how to carve your name into pumpkins while they are still green. If you do this now and leave the pumpkin on the stem, it will scar the skin as the pumpkin grows and when you harvest it later in the fall, your name (or carving) will permanently be on the pumpkin. You have to do this with green pumpkins and leave them on the vine. If you take the pumpkin off it will get ripe too early and the carving wonít turn out as well. You can use anything with a sharp edge to do the carving. The girls were using a can opener and a cookie cutter. If you are growing pumpkins, head out this weekend and give it a try!
Figs are ripe and oh so sweet! What makes them better is to prepare them on the grill! We stopped by Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) to get a quick and simple recipe from owners, Joelle and Rich. Joelle started by showing us the figs they picked up at their store. The best tasting ones are a little over ripe, but she decided to use the barely ripe ones because they held up better on the grill. After cutting them in half, she put olive oil on the outside skins. Joelle than sprinkled feta cheese on the open face of the figs and, using her special scissors, cut small sprigs of rosemary over the cheese. Then Rich moved them on to the grill. Over medium heat he grilled them until they were lightly brown on the outside skins. They then removed the figs from the grill and Joelle then drizzled honey and pink Himalayan sea salt over the top. It was incredibly delicious! You can find all the ingredients at Smith Berry Barn, except for the grill! Give it a try and soon you will be grilling figs all the time.