We are in the homestretch, not only for the holidays, but also for our 11th season of Garden Time. Next weekend, on the 26th, we are wrapping up our current season of the Garden Time show. Don’t despair! We are just finishing up contracts with our TV station partners on a new contract that will have us back for two more seasons!
The winter is a scary time for the home gardener with fruit trees. Knowing what to do and when to do it is not easy. To get some tips we traveled to the Home Orchard Society Arboretum on the campus of Clackamas Community College in Oregon City to talk to Tonia about what you should be doing right now. Tonia talked about orchard sanitation. That means that now is the time to look at cleaning up your fruit trees and plants to make sure that you are not carrying any diseases or pests into the new season next year. Getting the dead leaves and old fruit up and away from your plants will help keep those problems away from your plant in the months ahead. Pruning is always a big question for the home orchardist. Pruning and spraying can start taking place in January. You want to make sure that you are getting to the root of the problem and pruning is best when you can see what you are doing without the leaves in the way. You can also directly attack the pest problem with your synthetic or organic sprays in January if you don’t have foliage blocking your application of sprays. When you do spray, always remember to follow all the warnings listed on the labels!
For cane berries you can cut out the dead or spent branches. If you have a berry that fruits on 2nd or 3rd year wood, you want to train those canes up and off the ground after getting rid of the spent canes from this past year. If you have old bush berries like blueberries you can wait until January and remove 1/3 of the oldest wood from your plant to ensure new growth and good production.
If you would like to learn more about the Home Orchard Society and their place in Oregon City, they are looking for a little deal! They are asking people to come out and trade a little cash and elbow grease in exchange for some fruit from their garden later in the season. Think about it. You do a little work, learn about the plants and then you get to harvest the bounty of the garden for your table. Not a bad deal! To learn more check out their website and give them a call!
Winterizing Your Fountain
Water in the garden is great, but once the weather turns to freezing it is time for you to look at protecting your investment in your fountain so you can enjoy it for many years to come. Jared from Little Baja (503-236-8834) showed us how to protect and preserve your fountain. First you need to get out all of the water in your fountain. Jared uses a shop vac and a small hand pump to make sure every drop is out. Any water left in the feature will freeze and then you will have permanent damage. He even plugged in the pump after he was finished to make sure that all the water was out of it. Next he scrubbed down the fountain to make sure that all the algae was gone. He used a natural, non-toxic cleaner to do the job. Once again he dried the fountain. Finally he covered the whole thing with a clear 4 mil plastic and tied it off at the bottom. The clear plastic allows the sun to warm the fountain and evaporate any remaining water. Jared also poked a few holes in the plastic to let the evaporated water escape. Now if this seems like a huge task you can call Little Baja and have the them come out and do the job for you. They will even return in the spring and set it up for the summer of 2017.
Jan’s November Tips
To wrap up the 2016 season in the garden, we visited with Jan McNeilan for our reoccurring tips of the month! We caught Jan in a light rain shower in her garden with a shovel full of leaves. She recommended that you use your leaves from your trees to cover your pots and beds. Last year she had some bulbs that didn’t make it into the ground. She put them in pots and covered them with leaves. In just a few months she had bulbs blooming to greet her in spring. With those piles of leaves in your beds, you can be sure that the slugs will be hiding under them. Jan recommends that you bait for slugs now. Slugs can lay hundreds of eggs between now and spring and if you get rid of some of them now, that means less slug problems in the spring. Speaking of the spring. You can also be weeding now during those dry periods in the garden. A reduction of weeds now also means less in the spring.
Jan also told us to not be in a hurry to clean up the garden for the fall and winter. Leaving the seed heads on your old flowers will help the birds who over winter in our area. Plus, you should hold back on pruning your fruit trees and spring blooming plants. The garden is a wonderful place in the winter and you should enjoy it without getting too anxious about cleaning up.
It is time for poinsettias! They are starting to make their appearance at local garden centers and other stores. One of the best places to get a poinsettia is at any of the 3 Al’s Garden Center locations. Al’s grows over 45,000 poinsettias in 40 different varieties. To check out some of the newest and coolest varieties we stopped by the Al’s location in Sherwood (503-726-1162). Judy started with some of the new colors. The newest colors are not only great for the Christmas season, but also for Thanksgiving. One of the newest colors is ‘Orange Spice’. This one is a deep orange color which is also good for the OSU Beaver fan in your home. The next few were softer non-traditional colors. ‘Cinnamon Star’ was light cinnamon brown/peach color. ‘Premium Picasso’ was a peach color with a sprinkling of red spots on the bracts (petals/leaves) and ‘Gold Rush’ had a peach color as well with gold tones showing through. Now, we don’t want to leave the U of O duck fans out in the cold; ‘Envy’ has a green, chartreuse color to the bracts. She also showed us the REALLY unusual poinsettias that are painted. All you have to do is pick a color from their selections and they will paint your poinsettia! They also add glitter. The only request is that you give them at least 24 hours to paint it and let it dry. Now you can have a poinsettia that is purple, blue, orange, or gold! Talk about a Christmas splash!
William then shared some of the more traditional colors of poinsettias. In the pinks, whites and reds, there are still a lot of variation. We started with the new Princettia series of plants. These come in the traditional colors but with smaller, colored leaves. If you are looking for the more traditional red, then you want ‘Christmas Day’! This one is red! For an even darker red you can pick ‘Cortez Burgundy’.
The big question that we hear is ‘how do I pick a good one’ and ‘how can I make it last’. If you are looking for a good plant; first look for good branching. A single branch plant will not give you the bunches of blooms that you want. And speaking of blooms, the bright colors you see are not the flowers of the poinsettia. The flower is the small center buds that are usually yellow. The bright colors are modified leaves (bracts). As for the blooms you will want small tight buds that are not yellow yet, that means they are early in their bloom cycle. Also look for good healthy green leaves under the brightly colored ones.
Now that you have picked out a good one, how can you make it last? Al’s recommends that you treat your plant with tender loving care. Make sure that is doesn’t get placed in too hot of a spot, that it doesn’t get in too many drafts and keep it in bright non-direct sunlight. You will also want to water it regularly without over watering or having it set in water. Remember to remove the decorative foil sleeve when you are watering it. If you follow these tips it will be around for a couple of months if not longer! You can find a sheet of ‘care tips’ at all Al’s Garden Center locations or on their website.
Living Christmas Trees
Sometimes we hear that people want a real Christmas tree and one that is not cut. Even though the cut trees are grown to be a harvested crop (think tomatoes or corn), some people feel better with a ‘living’ Christmas tree. One place where you find a huge selection of living trees is Portland Nursery. Where other garden centers bring in cut trees for the holidays; Portland Nursery only carries living trees. Sara from Portland Nursery joined us to fill us in on these ‘non-traditional’ trees.
Living trees are great. You can use them to commemorate a baby’s first Christmas or the first Christmas in a new home. Still there are a few rules you need to remember. If you are thinking of getting a tree you need to remember that it is a ‘living’ tree. That means it needs water and sun. It is also an outdoor tree. That means you need to acclimate the tree to the warmer indoor temps. Start by placing your tree in a sheltered area outside or in your garage for 3-5 days. Then you can move it indoors. Once it is inside your home, you can only have it inside for 7 days or less. First, you need to keep it well watered (ice cubes are a good idea) and away from heating vents, sunny windows, woodstoves and fireplaces. Preferably in a cool area of your home.
Once the holidays are done (7 days) then you need to get it ready to move back outside. Place it in your unheated garage or a protected area on your patio for at least 7 days, then you can move it out in the yard or plant it. You don’t have to rush to plant the tree right away. Your tree can live in its container for at least a year if you keep it watered and maintained. When you do plant it in the ground, remember that old saying ‘right plant, right place’. You don’t want to plant a giant redwood right next to your house! Place your tree in an area where it can grow and thrive. Then you can enjoy it for years to come! If you have any questions you can stop by either location of Portland Nursery, or you can find their helpful information sheet here, http://portlandnursery.com/docs/trees/Trees_Living_Christmas.pdf
A Holiday Vintage Flea
The current decorating trends are pushing antiques as a hot item, but they can also make great gifts for that hard to satisfy person on your shopping list! Flea markets have always been known as the place to be for some of these valuable, ‘buried’ treasures that you can use in your home or your yard. Next weekend, November 26th and 27th, there is one place where you can get your holiday shopping and flea market fix at one time. Margie’s Farm and Garden is hosting ‘A Vintage Flea’. A Vintage Flea is a vintage/flea/antique market with anything from antiques and mid-century vintage to crafts and castoffs. We visited A Vintage Flea earlier this summer when they had their third event. Kathy joined us to tell us about this holiday event which is twice as big as the previous one. At the event you can find cool furniture that had been repurposed, homemade crafts, and one of a kind items, in addition to the antiques. You will also find a lot of holiday décor items to get your home ready for the holidays. There will be food, wine tasting and other holiday treats as well. Plus, if you need a Christmas tree, Margie will have those available too! She will also have wreaths and garland available as well. This is a great event for the one-stop shopper! If you don’t want to wait for the official ‘free’ event on Saturday and Sunday, they will be having a special preview night on Friday the 25th. For an $8 fee you can be the first to shop the 60+ booths. Plus you can enjoy wine or beer, snacks and live music! Check out their website or Facebook page for all the details!