Happy Mother's Day weekend. We would like to take this time to wish all the mothers out there are very happy Mother's Day and the best of weekends. If you are not a mother, we have a few suggestions for you! Do something more than a breakfast or brunch for mom this year. Take her to her favorite garden center and get her some 'living' flowers. Then take her home and help her plant them up. This way she can celebrate Mother's Day all season long.
As I write this I know that the show may have been preempted in the Portland area. We have a German soccer game that may have gone long and it may have cut into our program. Just know that you can always watch the show on-line by clicking the link below or you can check out our YouTube page for the entire show. We are also seen on other stations that you may be able to view on your TV set. Check out our Stations link to see if another station is carrying our show in your area.
This week we featured...
Lan Su Spring
We love the Lan Su Chinese Garden (503-228-8131) in downtown Portland, so we were a little scared to visit it after this really bad winter. Who knew what kind of condition it was in? Well, when we met with Glin of the garden staff, we were very relieved. The garden had some damage but it was looking great. Yes, some plants were removed but the rest of the collection was just starting to pop! All that new growth also created a maintenance issue with the conifers. We noticed one of the staff and they were in the process of 'candling'. The new growth of a conifer shows up as a light green spike at the tip of the branches. This is the 'candle'. If you snap that off when it is new then you can control the growth of your conifer. That was just part of the work going on in the garden. We also noticed some plants that were looking great right now including a white and a red fringe flower. Magnolias, camellia's and other plants in the garden were looking great too.
Another thing taking place in the Garden this month is their celebration of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Through the end of May the garden will be hosting performances and presentations from a broad range of cultures from Asia and the pacific rim. One of the coolest displays is the Lan Su in Bloom, a botanical art exhibition inspired by the beauty of the Lan Su Garden. The Garden invited artists to take the garden and its flowers as an inspiration for art works. Those finished paintings and drawings are on display in the buildings of the Garden and are spectacular. They are so detailed! This is just one of the things to see this month. There are also presentations of Kung Fu, art, dance, and music. For a complete list of events check out the Lan Su website.
Crystal Springs Rhododendrons
We went to see the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden for their big Portland Rhododendron Show and Plant Sale that happens every year on Mother's Day weekend. Dick 'Red' Cavender talked to William about the winter weather that they had experienced in the garden. This winter they lost a few branches off a willow tree and a couple of rhodies were uprooted, but overall the garden did great! The cold winter and spring has made the blooms a little late this year. That just means that the season will be a little longer and that the blooms are coming on in waves, especially with the recent heat, making this weekend a prime time to come and view the flowers. We also talked about the 'azalea lace bug' problem that has been affecting gardens all around the area. Some gardeners have taken out their azaleas and rhododendrons; in fact some in the print media have written that it may be the only way to completely get rid of this pest. Red told us that you don't need to go to that extreme! In fact there are many ways of treating the problem including chemical, organic and mechanical means of control. You can apply a systemic chemical to the plant, but either do it before blooms appear or after they have died back. If you want to do an organic treatment, there are soaps and oils that can be applied, but will need to be done multiple times during the season. Or, you can try a mechanical means of treatment which may just be a high pressure spray to knock the bugs off the plant. Any of these treatments will be much cheaper than tearing out your plants and replacing them with new plants. He also covered all the events happening at the garden this weekend. There is the plant sale in the parking lot, which is free to the public. There is also the cut flower show which is in the middle of the garden and can be seen with the normal admission charge, and don't forget the wonderful garden itself! We also talked about the benefits the garden has enjoyed because of the generosity of gardeners and rhododendron lovers around the state. The garden is maintained by volunteers and the plant sale that the Rhododendron Society is conducting helps to raise funds for the garden. We also talked about the 'free' days in the garden. They used to be Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but have now been moved to Mondays and Tuesdays. If you come on any other day the fee is just $5! If you would like to learn more about the garden and about volunteering check out the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden website, or call 503-771-8386. You can also find out more about the Portland Chapter of the Rhododendron Society at http://rhodies.org.
Rosarian Rose Garden Contest
For over 100 years the Royal Rosarians have been the official greeters to the city of Portland and have been ambassadors of good will to guests of the city and the world. Since 1938 they have also sponsored the Royal Rosarian Foundation Rose Garden Contest. Royal Rosarian and rose garden curator, Harry Landers met us at the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park in the Royal Rosarian Garden to tell us about the rose contest and how people can enter. The contest has many categories and is open to anyone within a 20 mile radius of Pioneer Courthouse Square. Generally they ask that gardens contain at least 25 roses to enter, but there are categories for special gardens that can have as few as 12 roses. Check out the Royal Rosarian website for details. Just click on the 'Events' link for all the rules and an entry form. The entry period ends on the 26th of May. Judging takes place on the 4th of June followed by the awards presentation on June 20th at the Rosarian Garden. The website even has tips for winning!
If you get a chance you need to stop by the Rosarian Garden at Washington Park and see all the great flowers. It also contains plaques for all the Rosarian Prime Ministers to date. There is currently a little construction, but don't let that stop you. The garden is always wonderful to visit, even when there are no blooms! And remember the Rosarian slogan... 'For You a Rose in Portland Grows'.
Jan's May Tips
Spring is a busy time in the garden, so why make more work for yourself? We visited Jan in her garden for the tips of the month. Her advice for gardeners right now is 'take it easy'. A lot of people are seeing vegetables in their garden centers and want to get them in the ground as soon as possible, but it still may be too cold where you live! Remember the soil temperatures should be in the mid 50's before you put any warm weather crops (tomatoes, peppers, basil, etc.) in the ground. Buy the plants and keep them well watered and by a south facing window in your home for a couple more weeks. You can still get some of those cold weather crops out, like peas, lettuces and potatoes. Any warm weather crops will just sit there (and may die) until it gets warmer.
Another area where you should take it easy is with Crane Fly. There have been a few warnings popping up in the media about crane flies and damaged lawns, but those cases are few and far between. There are
a lot of different kinds of crane fly and some don't do any significant damage to your lawn. The one we need to worry about is the European Crane Fly. If you think you have a crane fly issue you can dig a 1 foot by 1 foot square of turf and flip it over. If you have 25 or more crane fly larvae then you need to treat for the problem. Don't just start spraying unless you know you have a problem. This is true for any pest in your garden. Treatment without a problem will just kill off the good bugs too. Jan also mentioned another situation where you need to 'take it easy' and that is with new gardens. If you move to a new house or one that was previously owned, take a year just to see what plants are in that garden. Sometimes there are bulbs and other perennials that might just pop up and you might want to keep them. It is better to wait a season or two before you make those major changes.
Now is also the time to get your raised beds prepared. Jan was installing new beds and while they were being built we took a step inside her greenhouse to see what she is going to put in them. Jan had a bunch of annuals and seedlings just setting in the benches waiting for the soil to warm up. Her piles of plants included clematis, tomatoes, some vines and marigolds. The key to the spring garden is not to rush too much on getting things going, the warm weather will come and soon the entire garden will be thriving. For more spring garden tips and information you can check out the OSU Extension website, http://extension.oregonstate.edu.
Ed's Easy Seed Tape
Seed tape is a great way to make sure that your vegetable plants and annuals are well spaced in your garden. Unfortunately there are a couple of drawback to the tape. One is cost, and the second is getting the varieties of seeds you want on the tape. Well Ed, one of our viewers, came up with a great idea that he found on the internet for making your own seed tape, using toilet paper. This idea came about because he is a busy guy and thinning his vegetables was bugging him. He didn't have the time and he felt he was wasting seeds when he had to thin out the rows. Building the tape was incredibly easy! You simply take a roll of toilet paper and roll off a long strip. Make the spaces where you want to put seeds with a pen. Pour your seeds, Ed was using tiny carrot seeds, into a bowl or plate. Then make up a flour and water mixture into a nice paste-like consistency. Using a small paint brush get a dab of paste on the brush and pick up a seed. Apply the seed to the spot, the paste should make it stick, and repeat. Once it is dry, and that should only take an hour or so, you can plant the roll of TP in your garden or roll it up for later in the season.
This is a great project for any gardener and can even be a craft for young ones in your family. Plus it will cut down on seed waste and save you a few bucks too! Thanks Ed, for the great idea!
Ants are the #1 pest problem in the US. There are lots of products that can get rid of them and it can be confusing if you want to stop them before they invade your home, yard or garden. William and Judy shared a few of the different products that are available to the homeowner. William started with the chemical bait, Amdro. This contains ingredients that can kill and also create an effective barrier around the perimeter of your home. It is also effective on most types of ants including carpenter ants. It is very important that you follow the application instructions on these products. Remember the label is the law! Follow it!
Judy then talked about baits. There is one big difference with most of these baits...ants treat them as a food. The baits are taken back to the nest and once it is taken to the queen, she is gone and most of the time so is your problem. Some of the most effective of the baits are ones that include borax. If you have found a 'home remedy' on the internet, it most likely contains borax. The Terro product is one that most people are aware of. Bonide also makes one called Revenge. The liquid application is great because you can see the ants on the first day all huddled around drinking up the sugar/borax solution and then the next day they are gone. There are even all organic solutions that you can use that use all natural oils and essences. If you have an ant problem, stop by your local independent garden center and see which products might work the best for you.
Sedum Wall Hangings
Sedums are great plants for the garden, but did you know they are also great plants for your walls? Sedums are wonderful plants for wall hangings! They stay tight and compact in their planters, which makes them prefect plants for creating a wall hanging. Becky from Sedum Chicks (503-508-7727) showed us how you can take these adaptable plants and use them in a frame that you can hang on a wall. First she used a combination of plants so there is a lot of visual interest. Then she planted them tightly in a frame that they make at their business. These plants will perform well even if you don't water them every day! Once she had them packed in the frame she recommended that you water them well and then hang them up! Sedum Chicks planters are available at a lot of local retailers, plus you can get them at various farmers markets. To learn more about getting these planters or getting the plants to do this on your own, check out the Sedum Chicks website!
Getting Your Irrigation Ready
With all the recent rains it is hard to think about summer watering, but now is the perfect time to get your irrigation system in shape for the season. We met with Kevin from the Regional Water Providers Consortium about how to do that! We started at the outside faucet of a local home. The faucet is the go-to spigot for most homeowners during the summer. We hook up hoses and use it for plants and pools for a good 6 months or more. It is also one area that can give you leakage problems. If you didn't cover your outside faucet during the winter you might have cracks in your pipes or the fitting may have become loose. Hook up a hose and see if there are any small leaks that you can see. Most of these can be easy to fix. Also, if your hose is leaking, maybe there is a bad washer, you can use a little bit of plumbers tape to stop that from leaking. We also noticed something on the faucet. It was a vacuum breaker hose bib. This little device is great at protecting your entire water system from contamination. When you shut off your water it releases the pressure in the hose so none of the water can 'backflow' into your home. This is great if you are using your hose to apply any sort of chemical in your garden. The hose bib will prevent the water in your hose to flow back into your house pipes.
Another thing you can check is the bigger backflow device in your yard between your home and the water main. This should be checked every year or every other year at the very least. This protects not only your home, but everyone in your neighborhood from a backflow event.
We then moved over to the outdoor sprinkler controller. This unit controls all the zones and your entire outdoor watering system. With this you should turn on each 'zone' and then walk around and take notes on a piece of paper about what needs attention. Leaks, areas where sprinklers need adjusting, plants that need to be moved or trimmed, anything that attracts your attention, all should written down so you don't forget. Also check to make sure that the timers all work so each zone is getting the right amount of water that it needs. After you are done, shut it off. The spring rains are doing great right now so you don't need to add to them. Keep an eye on the weather, on your plants and on the www.conserveh2o.org website for tips on when you should start your system up for the season. While you are at the Regional Water Providers Website, check out the how-to's on getting your system ready, and check out the videos and worksheets. It will make your watering much easy and more efficient.
If you like fresh vegetables, you can't beat onions fresh from the garden. Some people have a tough time with onions, but they are really easy if you follow these simple rules. First get your starts from your local garden center. You may find them in 3 different packages. One package will be the tray pack; another is a bunch of starts that are rubber banded together, and you will also find seeds. With the tray pack or starts you will want to separate them into individual plants and plant them in the ground as a single stalk. Spread them out from 2-5 inches depending on how big you want your onions to get. If you plant them close together you will get smaller onions. If you have a larger variety like Walla Walla you can plant them further apart to allow them to get larger in the ground. If you are planting seeds you will find that they are very small. That means you will need to thin the plants out as they grow. No worries, these little, mini onions are great for seasoning in your soups and stews. Then you will have room for your other onions to grow bigger. William also shared his rules for success. Use good loose soil so they grow nice and big, and water well for the best success.
TOW - Double Gloves
A painful blister on the hand of Producer Jeff brings us the tip of the week. If you ever get blisters from working with your garden tools you may want to try this tip. We recommend that you wear double gloves when you are working. First put on a pair of rubber surgical gloves and then put your garden gloves over the top. The friction that causes the blister between your glove and your skin now happens between the 2 sets of gloves. This will prevent blisters and will make your gardening much less painful.