How far have you been? This summer I’ve asked a few people that question. We just got back from Ireland and a wonderful Garden Time tour, and now we are planning a trip to Hawaii for February, but I’ve been curious about people who have been here all summer. How far have you been? What I want to know is have you seen some of the great areas around the state? Have you been to the coast? We went to Rockaway and while traveling through Garibaldi we enjoyed Garibaldi Days. If you travel around Mt. Hood you can pick up some fresh fruit just yards from the trees that grew it. Eastern Oregon has roadside markets and stands featuring wonderful Walla Walla onions and Hermiston watermelons! There is so much to see and do around our great state, and a lot of it you can see in a day! Before the summer is over, you need to jump in the car and truly enjoy this wonderland in which we live.
Speaking of farmers markets, we stopped by Bauman’s for this week’s show and enjoyed some really great peaches. In fact, check out this week’s story at Bauman’s to see what they are doing with some of these orchard fresh favorites.
I do have a note about the Hawaii tour that I mentioned before. We have heard from a bunch of people that they would like us to stay a little longer in the islands. Well, we listened and we are in the process of making changes to the schedule. It looks like we will be doubling the length of our tour and keeping the cost around the same level. Details will be coming soon, but you can always contact Time to Travel Tours through our website and get on the list for updated information. Hope to see you in February.
This week we featured...
Making a Backyard Habitat
Do you have what it takes to be a certified backyard habitat. To learn what that means, and how to achieve it, we contacted the people at the Backyard Habitat Certification Program and met them at a garden of a person who was certified around a year ago. The homeowner was Trudy McDonough, and she and her husband went through the process. They said it wasn’t hard at all. They removed a bunch of juniper and ivy to build a wonderful, bird friendly garden. They even have a sign in their yard where they post updated information on animals in their area. It has the whole neighborhood excited!
We then turned to Cindy Ellison who helps homeowners through the certification process. She told us that this program is a joint effort of the Audubon Society of Portland and the Columbia Land Trust. They also work with Tryon Creek State Park. The process looks at 5 main areas for certification. Invasive weeds, native plants, pesticide reduction, storm water management and wildlife stewardship. When you apply she, or one of her colleagues, will come to your home and walk through it with you to point out areas that you can work on to get your habitat certification. All 5 of these areas are important to creating a welcoming environment for all types of animals. Don’t worry that you have to replace a lot of your garden plants with natives to qualify either. You can be registered with only 5% of your garden in native plants. The focus of the program is not just providing habitat for larger animals, but also for insects and smaller critters, because 96 percent of bird species feed their young insects. They will also work with you on getting more native plants in your garden too. Once you become certified you are eligible for discounts at local nurseries and plant sales.
If you are interested in the program you can go to their website. If you are in an area that doesn’t offer the program, you can still use their website to add your name to a list to get your area included in the future!
Bauman’s Peaches and Cider
Believe it or not, it is peach season! I know it may seem early to some but we thought we would check in at Bauman’s Farm and Garden (503-792-3524) to get the details. Brian met us out in the peach orchard to show us trees that were loaded so heavy that some of them had broken branches from all the fruit. The cool June and July didn’t hurt the peaches. The warm/dry spring was all they needed. That allowed for lots of good pollination and a ton of fruit. Brian also told us about the different types of peaches you can find. There are basically 2 types, freestone and clingstone. The freestone peach is the best for canning. The fruit doesn’t stick to the pit (stone) and it comes off easily. The clingstone sticks to the pit and can be a little messier when you are dealing with it, but it is still just as delicious! Another tip. Brian told us how most people will squeeze the fruit to see if it is ripe. That is not how to tell if it is ready, and all it does is bruise the fruit. He told us to gently pick up the fruit and turn it over. The top of the peach where you will find the stem is the best gage of ripeness. If that top part is fully ‘colored’ and not green, then the fruit is ripe. Don’t worry if the fruit is still a little green, the peaches will quickly ripen if you leave them on your counter for a day or two. In fact, Brian likes a few of his peaches a little green so they don’t ripen all at once!
Next we traveled to the store and met with Christine, the cider master, at Bauman’s Cider to try some of these wonderful peaches in her cider. She had 3 varieties for us to try. The first one was a clean and crisp mixture of just peaches and cider. Very refreshing. The second one was a blend of peaches, cider and raspberry juice. This one was a little more complex and was very nice with the addition of raspberry flavor. The final one was a barrel aged cider that included obsidian blackberries and peaches. This one was a favorite with both William and Judy. It was more complex and almost had a spicy taste to it.
Your chance to try these ciders is today, Saturday the 13th, at the farm. Christine will be tasting the 3 different ciders and if you stop by you can try them and vote for your favorite. The one with the most votes will be the one that they offer on tap until the end of the season. Don’t wait to stop by these ciders and the peaches won’t last long!
I know it sounds like a long, made-up, word, but evapotranspiration is a real topic and an important one when you are talking about the health of your landscape and saving water. This week we met up with Jim Meierotto from the Regional Water Providers Consortium to learn what the term means! Every plant, and even the soil, in your yard loses moisture due to evaporation and transpiration. Evaporation can happen due to the heat of the summer day. Transpiration is just the normal ‘sweating’ and ‘breathing’ of your plants. Either way your plants are losing water every day. It is how we replace that water where we could have problems. Jim gave us a demonstration of what that means. First he had a jar filled half way with water. This is your lawn and represents how much water it takes for it to be healthy. He poured out some of the water and that represented the amount of water lost to evapotranspiration. Now when you water you want to put back close to the same amount of water that the lawn has lost, but sometime we over water. Jim then poured in extra water to overflowing, showing how when we over water it just is wasted. Some tips to avoid that? Start by setting out some measuring cups (yellow ones can be picked up from the Regional Water Providers Consortium). Run your sprinklers until you have 1 inch of water in the cups. Take the amount of time it took to fill the cup and divide that out over the week. That is how much you have to water to get 1 inch per week on your lawn.
What happens if the weather gets hot or there is rain forecasted for our area? Go to the RWPC website and check out the weekly water number. This will tell you whether you need to water more or less than your 1 inch measurement. With a little bit of effort on your part at the beginning, you can save money and energy in the long run!
Tip of the Week – Pet Urine
If you have seen big green spots in your lawn it means you have a pet (or a frequent visitor). These green circles are from your pet’s urine and it is caused by the salts that occur in the urine. You may also notice that there is a dead spot in the center of the green; this is the grass dying from too much salt. You are seeing it more now because of the summer stress that the grass is under from all the heat and the lack of water. To get rid of the spots you have to flush them with water as soon as the animal is done. This will dilute the salts and reduce the problem areas. You can also train your dog to use a specific area of the lawn or set up a dog run to limit their movement. If you can’t flush the area, try to keep your lawn in good shape, that will minimize the stress and help the spots blend in. Some people recommend that you add tomato juice to your dog’s food to help neutralize the salts in the urine, but we would recommend that you check with your vet before you add anything to your pet’s food.
Daisy Rakes and Lightning Rods
Bob Denman at Red Pig Tools (503-663-9404) is our go-to guy when it comes to tools, how to use them and their history. We visited him at his store outside of Boring to hear a couple of stories about tools that he is researching for an upcoming book on tool history. The first tool was a long handled pruner, it is also known as a ‘Lightning Rod’ tool. It is used to prune tall trees, mainly Christmas trees. The long handle lets workers reach all parts of the tree without having to bend over all the time. The reason it is called a Lightning Rod tool was told through a story of Bob being on top of a barn on a clear day. He was working on a roof with a crow bar in his hands, with storm clouds in the distance, when suddenly a lightning strike hit a tree nearby. The crow bar reminded him of this tool and that it is essentially a ‘Lightning Rod’ for the workers who use it.
The second tool is well known and in use today in England. It is a daisy rake. This type of rake is used in the UK to remove daisies from lawns. The grass goes easily through the tines, but the broad leaf daisies are caught and pulled out. This brought up another story about violets in the lawn. A gentleman asked for a tool to remove violets from his lawn. Bob recommended this tools but also reminded him that getting violets out with a rake was pretty hard to do. The gentleman balked at the price of $40. So Bob told him there was one other solution. He offered to sell him a packet of daisy seeds and to spread them out over his lawn and allow them to grow. He then told him to go to the nearest Catholic or Episcopal church and get some holy water. Take that home, sprinkle it over your lawn of daisies and violets and say ‘ I now baptize you a meadow’ and then sit down and enjoy your meadow!
If you are looking for some great tools and the story to go with each, stop by Red Pig Tools in Boring or check out their website!