This week we all deserve a break! I know it is Spring break, but the week off is nothing compared to the break from all this rainy weather. The rains have let up a little and the temperatures are getting warmer, but we could all dry out a little bit too. A lot of people have noticed that the cooler temperatures have everything taking a little longer this year. We seem to be where we were a few years ago. Let’s hope it gets warmer sometime soon.
The cooler weather has plants suffering, but it also did some damage to containers this winter. In this week’s show we look at some of that damage and see how to prevent it in the future.
We are also just a week away from the GardenPalooza event happening at Fir Point Farms in Aurora. This year we have over 40 vendors. It is a free event and there is lots of free parking. We will also have a bunch of giveaways from our sponsor, Dramm. Looking for a watering tool? Dramm has ‘em! We will also have garden books, seeds, soil and gift cards being given away every half hour. PLUS! Garden Gallery Iron Works is giving away a Bistro set and French Prairie Perennials is giving away $1,000 towards a Visualscaping landscape during the event! Come get flowers, plants and garden art, and possibly walk away with a prize!
This week we featured...
Winter Container Damage
This past winter was hard! A lot of gardeners have noticed that some of their plants have not returned for an encore performance. They have also noticed that some of their containers have suffered a similar fate. We went to Little Baja (503-236-8834) on Burnside to ask Jared how this happens. The main reason? Pots holding water. When a pot holds a lot of water it will freeze when temperatures drop and the water expands. Then when it thaws out the ice contracts, breaking the clay or concrete. This means your pot will fall apart. The best way of preventing this is to make sure your containers get good drainage. Lift the container up by using pot lifters, either clay feet or a plastic ring, and let the water drain freely. You can also move your containers near your home when the temperatures drop to help them stay a little warmer. Some people also ask about ‘sealing’ their containers. This means applying a sealer to their container to prevent water from entering the pot. This will work but it also eliminates one of the benefits of a terra cotta container. Terra cotta clay ’breathes’. The clay allows water and air to transfer through the clay creating healthier plants and roots. Sealing the pot will stop that healthy transfer. Jared recommends that you come in and ask them when would be the right conditions to seal you containers.
Of course if your containers are broken, like ours, you are not worried about preventing damage, you are looking to replace them. Little Baja just got in a new shipment of pottery, including pots, containers and decorative items. Stop by and look at everything they have to offer and then take home a quality pot for your plants!
Kindergarden – Coloring Daffodils
This week’s kindergarden segment is something that many people did when they were growing up; adding dye to your flowers to make them change color. We were using daffodils, but you can use carnations or even celery. You first go out into your garden and cut a fresh daffodil. You then add a couple of drop of food coloring to some water, green, blue or red work the best. We only had the paste type of food coloring and we felt it worked a little better. We also mixed it in lukewarm water which helps the plant bring it up to the petals. Over the next couple of days you will start to notice the color appearing on the outer edges of the flower. If you look closely you will actually see the small colored veins in the flower. It is a great way to see how plants use and take up water.
French Prairie Gardens Ladies Only Night
Kick off your spring at the annual Ladies Only Night at French Prairie Gardens (503-633-8445) near St. Paul. They have a whole bunch of fun planned for March 30th from 3:00 to 7:00. The evening starts off with a basket building time, where you can get William and Judy to help you with your hanging baskets for the coming season. Next is the ‘show and tell’ of the evening. Mark from Little Prince will share tips on shade gardening and then Youngblood’s Nursery will talk about the newest plants coming out this year. They will also show you some of the great hanging basket combinations they have available this spring. You can also taste six different microbrews on tap, and sample small plates and appetizers. They will also have a raffle and scavenger hunt that includes lots of cool gifts! It should be a great evening. The event is free and if you want to save some money you can go to their Facebook page, or call them and RSVP to get an additional 20% off your purchases. Sorry guys, this is ladies only!
TOW – Read the Label
When the spring approaches it is time to get out and spray, or apply garden products to your lawn and garden. We wanted to remind you that when you are using garden products to read the label. As they say ‘The label is the law’. That means that when applying a product, whether organic or chemical, you should follow all the printed instructions on the label. Those instructions are tested for safety and effectiveness. Plus, as pesticides and herbicides get older they tend to lose their effectiveness. The spring is a good time to check your garden chemicals to make sure they are not too old. It is also a good time to review their safe use. If you buy a new chemical product, use a marker to date it so you can easily see when you bought it. If you need to dispose of an old bottle, check with your local garbage hauler to learn how to dispose of it safely. Always remember to store all garden products, whether organic or chemical in a safe area away from pets and children.
Basic Garden Tools
People are always asking what types of tools do I REALLY need in the garden. Well, we have come up with the basic CCD. That means Cutting, Cultivating and Digging tools. We visited the tool wall at the local Al’s Garden Center (503-726-1162). There we found the basic tools for beginners and also tools for the advanced gardener.
Basic tools for the beginner or small garden
• Pruners – a good solid pair for cutting. We recommend the Felco pruners, because they are well made, come in different sizes for different hands, and have replaceable parts so you don’t need to replace the whole pruner.
• A hand held Garden Fork - for cultivating. We recommend getting a good SOLID, heavy duty fork. This means the tines will stand up to deep and repeated digging.
• A hand trowel – for digging. Once again a good solid, heavy duty trowel for getting big (or small) scoops of soil.
More advanced tools for larger gardens
• For Cutting you may look at pruning saws for removing branches. Loppers, which are just larger pruners and hedge trimmers with a large cutting surface for hedges and ornamental grasses.
• For Cultivating you may want a hoe for removing weeds and creating rows for planting. A rake for breaking up the soil, leveling the soil and cleaning up debris in your beds, and a large garden fork (thicker than a pitchfork) for breaking up the soil and digging.
• And for Digging there is nothing like a good spade or shovel. There are many different types so make sure the one you get has a strong handle, the right blade for the job and is comfortable in your hands.
All these tools can be found at most of your independent garden centers. If you have questions or are looking for a specialized tool, make sure you stop by and ask the helpful staff. Remember, the right tool for the job makes that job easier!
Cane Berries and Grapes
Spring is the time for planting and that is especially true for your fruiting plants. Earlier we talked about blueberries at Portland Nursery on Stark Street (503-231-5050), this time we talked with Ken about cane berries and grapes. Planting a cane berry or grape is great for the garden and if you take care of it, you can see fruit for many years to come. Most of the cane berries are on a two year cycle. The first year they grow canes and the second year they fruit. Ken started with raspberries. These are one of the easiest berries to grow. They don’t need much training. Generally just a couple wires to keep them from falling on the ground. They grow and fruit, and then you remove those ‘spent’ canes and allow the next set of canes to grow and fruit. For a black berry you also have a two year cycle. The fruiting canes should be trained on a wire, usually horizontally. The new canes for the season you let grow along the ground (training them under your wire so they don’t trip you). Once the season is over and the fruit has been harvested from the canes on the wire, you can cut those down and compost them. Then you take the canes on the ground and train them up on the wire. Those canes will become your fruiting canes for the next year. Then you just repeat the cycle year after year.
For grapes it takes a little more work up-front. The first couple of years you are establishing the plant for future fruit. The first year plant needs to be trimmed to allow for one main leader (main vine). Let this grow. The winter of the first year you will cut that back to the top two or three, main branches. Then you let those grow for the second year. For year three you should have a plant that is now established and ready for more detailed pruning. This might require a few more tips than we can share here. You can get those pruning tips from our friends at Portland Nursery! Once you get past year three you will have everything you need to get a lot of great fruit from your grapes.
For more information on growing any type of fruit you can stop by Portland Nursery or check out their website which has very helpful worksheets on their Garden Solutions page.