Welcome back!! Not only to you our viewers, but to the spring-like weather! Garden Time has returned this week for the start of our 11th season. We are so glad to be back on the air again. The spring is also welcoming us back on the air too. The weather has been warmer than normal again and that means the spring is moving ahead at a fast pace. We just found out this week that the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival is opening a week earlier again this season. They will open on the 18th instead of the 25th. Spring is definitely here!
Spring also means that your local garden centers are gearing up for the season with a full range of classes and seminars. This week we have a bunch of stories that you can follow up with a class at the respective nursery or garden center. Two of these include a pruning seminar at Smith Berry Barn and a edibles class at Garland Nursery. You can always find a complete listing of classes, seminars and events at our Events page.
We hope you join us every week for the next nine months for some great gardening information!
This week we featured...
Japanese Garden Reopens
A few months ago we stopped by the Portland Japanese Garden (503-223-1321) because they were closing. This closure was to allow the start of construction of the Cultural Crossing. The Japanese garden has been open for over 50 years and entertains over 300,000 visitors a year. Yet the facilities have not seen a major expansion in years. We were joined by Lisa Christy of the garden to learn how this project will extend the legacy of the garden well into the future. First of all this expansion is taking place mainly outside of the garden. The garden remains just as beautiful as always. In fact, it is probably looking even better since it had 6 months to ‘refresh’ during construction. The expansion includes a new entrance pavilion and garden spaces leading up to the garden and the learning arts center. At the center you will find lecture halls and event spaces, as well as a new library and Garden Gift store. There will also be a new Tea Café. Visitors can enjoy tea in a new beautiful setting.
Now is a great time to head up to the garden. Revisit the garden and watch the continuing construction. The final touches won’t be done until spring of next year, so you can watch the magic as it happens!
There is nothing like ‘REAL’ grass in your Easter basket. In this segment we saw how easy it is to grow grass for your Easter (or spring) baskets. All you need is weed fabric, potting soil, any type of grass seed (rye grass works well), and water. First you line the basket with the fabric. Remember the fabric will allow the water to drain so make sure it is a basket that can get wet. Next put in the potting soil and keep it an inch or so below the edge of the basket. Then sprinkle grass seed in the soil. Don’t go too light on the seed; you want it to be really full looking! Mix the seed into the soil and water lightly. The seed should start growing in a week to 10 days. Keep the soil moist until the seed germinates and it will be ready by Easter morning!
Portland Nursery Seed Starting
Now is the time to start some of your seeds indoors in anticipation of the coming spring and summer. Judy stopped by Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) on Stark Street in Portland to talk to Sara about the steps of seed starting to show you how to plant your seeds. The basic rules for success include starting with a quality soil and fresh seeds. Sterile soil will help you keep your new plants happy and healthy, because they won’t be exposed to different molds and fungus. Sara also mentioned the need to read the back of your seed pack so you will know how deep to plant your seeds and other care instructions. You can help the seedlings along by using a heating mat and grow lights, but if you have a warm place next to a window with lots of sun exposure, you should be alright. We recommend that you move and thin your small plant seedlings, after the first month, to bigger pots to give them the best start before they go in the garden. We did this with a natural and organic soil since these seedlings were for our veggie garden. Once you are ready to move them outside, give them a couple of days in a garage or protected area so they can acclimate to the outdoor temps. This would be a great year to start a vegetable garden to save some money; check out Portland Nursery or your local garden center for a great selection of seeds. For some more tips on successful seed starting, check out the ‘Seed Starting’ link on the How-To page.
Smith Fruit Pruning
Pruning is one of the hardest jobs in the garden. A lot of gardeners are afraid of cutting back their plants for fear of damaging them or possibly killing the plant. This is especially true of fruiting plants! Some believe that if you cut too much or at the wrong time you can reduce your yield! That’s true, but if you don’t prune, you can reduce your yield as well. To learn some basic pruning techniques we stopped by Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) in Scholls and talked with Rich. He is the reason for all the great fruit production they get on the farm. We started off in their raspberry field. Rich told us how they train the green vines that grew last year, off the ground and onto the support wires. These ‘year-old’ canes are the new fruiting canes for the coming season. The old canes that had fruit last year are cut down, cut up and mulched back into the ground. This system is true for most ‘cane’ berries. Cane berries are those that grow on a wire system and get their name from the cane shape they take when you train the branches on the support wires. You will always train the one-year growth on the wires and cutout the old fruit bearing canes from the previous year.
Then we moved on to the pear orchard. Here we saw how the pears also bloom on year old wood. Pruning here is to not only promote the highest quality fruit , but also to increase the size of that fruit. An unpruned tree will produce a lot of fruit, but it will always be small and will probably all mature at the end of the branches creating weight problems and possible damage to the tree. Rich showed us how pruning makes the fruit ripen better (with more exposure to sun) and easier to pick.
If you would like some tips for pruning your fruit you can stop by the nursery next weekend the 12th at 10am for some hands-on training on pruning techniques. Do a little pruning now for the best production ever!
The warmer weather has us all itching to get out into the garden and plant our vegetable garden. Still, it is too cold for a lot of your favorite garden vegetables. We stopped by Garland Nursery (1-800-296-6601) in Corvallis to chat with Erica about what you should be planting right now in your garden (or indoors) to get a jump on the season. We first talked about the safest plants to put in the garden right now and those are the cole crops. A lot of people call these ‘cold’ crops, but cole crops are actually members of the brassica family, like broccoli’s and cauliflowers. These plants can even handle freezing temps and snow. Peas are also great plants to put in the ground now. If you want to start some seeds outdoors you can look at radishes and carrots. These will handle the cooler temps as well. Onions can go outside right now too, and in a week or so you can start putting your potatoes in the ground. Potatoes can be bought now and left to sprout on your windowsill . Once they have started sprouting you can cut them into pieces with active ‘eye’s’ and get them in the ground. You can start planning the rest of your garden by starting some of your seeds now. Tomatoes, peppers and basil can be started by seed right now. These plants need nice warm growing conditions before they can go outside. In fact, if you buy little plants and try to put them outside they will just sit there in the cold and not grow, or they will die and you will have to buy more. Most of these varieties can only go out after Mother’s Day or later.
If you are looking for more information on what you should be planting now and into the spring, you can stop by Garland this Saturday at 1pm for an All About Edibles class. Garland will be having these classes at the beginning of every month through June to help you with planting the best edible garden this spring.