Made you look! I know that some of you did a double take last weekend, looking for our show in Portland. Yup, we were moved around a little bit due to German League Soccer, and it may happen again this coming weekend. So just be aware that our program may start late again this weekend. It is out of our hands, it is due to a previous contract with FOX sports and KPDX. Sorry, and thanks for the patience.
This weekend also marks one of our hottest weekends of the year so far. I know that a lot of you are going to head to your garden center and pick up some plants. Just don't forget to take a few breaks from the heat and drink lots of water. Then in the late afternoon, just sit and relax, and enjoy your garden. We've been waiting a long time to do that!
This week we featured...
Gardening is very healthy for you in more ways than one. It is well known that working in your garden can help you relax and promote good overall mental health, but did you know that there are lot of beneficial properties from plants for your physical wellbeing? One of our local experts in medicinal plants is Laura Altvater at Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) on Stark. She joined us in the greenhouse with just a few of the plants that have known health benefits. We started with a bunch of lemon scented plants including lemon grass, lemon verbena, lemon thyme and lemon scented geranium. The theme behind this group of plants started with lemon being a natural mosquito repellant. Laura told us that was false. You would need a lot of lemon oil from some of these plants to even start to be effective as a mosquito deterrent. You can still use these plants around your deck or patio, but they are much better as a flavoring in tea. We also looked at White Sage. This is a plant that you would burn as part of a cleansing of your home or personal space. It can be very calming. Rosemary can also be used in cleansing rituals and for culinary purposes. Bee Balm was next and we learned that it is a great plant for attracting bees and butterflies to your garden, but is also great in teas. Another great herb in the kitchen is English Thyme. This herb is also good for respiratory problems. If you add it to hot water and breathe in the vapors it will help you get better.
Laura then shared some of the things she cut out of her garden including a couple of plants that you can eat. She had William try violets and forget-me-nots. These are just a few of the flowers that you would not normally eat. Other plants that you can use in teas and for medicinal uses included comfrey, raspberry leaves and lovage. Laura also showed us a basket of homemade and commercial medicinals. You can now find a lot of plant-based medicinals at your local store. Though she prefers to make her own when possible.
If you would like more information on medicinal plants you can stop by and see Laura at the Stark Street location or one of the knowledgeable staff members at the Division Street location.
Hops are not just for beer! In the Northwest, we also love hops because they are a great vining perennial plant in the garden. We stopped by a large hop farm to talk to a local grower about how they grow them and to get some tips for the homeowner. Gayle Goschie of Goschie Farms is a 4th generation hop farmer and she had lots of good information to share. First of all she talked about the plant. Hops are prolific growers and at the first of May the shoots are already about 18 inches tall. In the field they only train 2 or 3 bines to go up the rope to the top of the structure. There are more shoots available, but they want all the energy to go into these select bines, and less energy going to multiple bines. You can cut off the unused bines and just push them down. Hops can grow on just about anything. The key is that the structure should be very strong to support all the weight of the bines. Plus the bines grow clockwise on the wire (or rope) and can grow to between 20 and 30 feet high if you give them room! They like full sun and lots of air circulation. The air circulation will limit any mildew problems you might have and keep the plants from holding in moisture. Drip irrigation is preferred for healthier plants. You may also see aphids showing up on your plants, but if you leave them alone their natural predators, like ladybugs, will usually take care of them. You should also limit the amount of nitrogen when you fertilize to prevent the foliage growth that will attract more aphids. Then during the summer you just stand back and let the plant grow. It can add inches a day if conditions are right. Later in the summer you can look to harvest the hop flowers if you like. That starts to happen in August and September, and Gayle invited us to return for tips on how to do that, so stay tuned!
STIHL Power Washers
It is spring and that means spring cleaning, inside and out. To help with the outside cleaning you may need a power washer. The right power washer can help make a tough job easy. Wayne from STIHL Tools showed us a new STIHL power washer and explained how you can use it. STIHL makes 4 different models and the larger models have a lot of pounds per square inch and a lot of water volume. The home owner may not need something that big. For most homeowners a machine that has a PSI of 2000 or less should do the job. If you have a higher PSI you could do some real damage to your deck or the side of your house. Look for a model that has interchangeable nozzles that will help you adjust the pressure to meet your needs. Always start with the widest nozzle you have and work down to the finer nozzles to avoid damage. The STIHL washers have a lot of features that will make your job easier too. These include an ergonomically efficient handle trigger to lessen strain, detergent hoses for cleanup jobs and a non-marking hose so you don't mark up your work area. You should also be aware of maintenance issues. Make sure the oil is good and that the pump is operating correctly before you start. Be sure to check you owner's guide for tips and features. If you are looking for a machine to make your outdoor chores easier, check out the different STIHL machines at a local independent STIHL retailer.
Tsugawa Garden Vines
As summer approaches a lot of people are out in their gardens looking for ways to make their gardens look more dynamic. One way to do that is to add structure to your garden; taking your garden up and away from the ground. One way to do that is with vines. One of the best places for vines is Tsugawa's Nursery (360-225-8750) in Woodland Washington. We met with Brian Tsugawa to discuss just a few of the options available for the home gardener. The first one that we looked at was the Mandarin Honeysuckle. This has a bright orange colored tubular bloom which really attracts the hummingbirds. There are lots of new colors out there besides the old whites and off-whites. The next plant was the evergreen clematis. This one is different than the regular clematis because it keeps its leaves all year long and it blooms really early in the season. The most popular varieties of the evergreen clematis are white or soft pink, and give you a nice fragrant bloom early in the season. If you match these early bloomers with the deciduous (late blooming) varieties you can end up with waves of color lasting for months. The next one was one that is not a very popular vine, Akebia. This vine is an aggressive grower, but it can easily be maintained with good pruning. With all this growth you are rewarded with tons of tiny purple flowers. The foliage is also really great, with a tiny cluster of 5 leaves on each branch. We then moved to one of the most popular vines on the market, the wisteria. Wisteria are known for being very aggressive in the garden and one of the common complaints is that they are not prolific bloomers for some gardeners. The key to getting them to bloom is a hard pruning in the late winter (around February). If you cut them back really far they will still give you lots of growth and lots of blooms. If you don't cut them back you will need a fairly strong support system set up. They not only get aggressive, they can be heavy and can collapse a trellis or arbor in a season or two. We saw what can happen if you keep one pruned back. Brian's mom had a wisteria in a container and they have pruned it hard each year and it is still in a container nearly 25 years later and still blooming. The final plant that we talked about was the Jasmine. The jasmine is probably the most fragrant of all the vines. It is a member of the olive family, but there are lots of varieties that are hardy for our area. We looked at the 'White Star' jasmine. It will do well if you give it good drainage and a little protection in the winter. It is well worth the effort of protecting it, because of the great fragrance!
If you do have a vine you will want to probably get some sort of structure for it to grow on. Trellises and arbors are great but remember that you will want to get one that fits the growing habit of the plant you chose. Don't get a short 3 foot obelisk if your plant is going to grow 10-12 feet a year. Make your choice based on the plant you chose and how much you plan on pruning it every year. If you have any questions about vines and structures that they can grow on, stop by Tsugawa's Nursery in Woodland. It is just a short drive that you won't regret!
Bonide Lawn Weeds
The return of the spring warmth also means the return of the dreaded lawn weeds. Broadleaf weeds and weedy grasses can easily take over your turf grass and take your yard from a thing of beauty to a weedy mess in no time! To get some help we stopped and talked to Tom Combs from Bonide. Bonide makes a lot of the garden products that you have come to trust in your yard. Today Tom decided to educate us about the most common weeds in your lawn. The first group were broadleaf weeds. These are weeds like clover and dandelions. You can tell a broad leaf weed because it has a branching of the veins in the leaves. These plants are called dicots. A grassy weed is a monocot and they have a straight vein along the center of the leaf. Crabgrass is a typical weed in this category.
To battle these weeds there are two different types of products to use. Tom brought out the 'Weed Beater' line of products from Bonide. The first was the 'Weed Beater FE'. This is a natural weed control for broad leaf weeds and you can tell that by the tan edge on the label. The other product was 'Weed Beater Ultra'. This one was a synthetic that also takes care of the broad leaf weeds. Both of these products need to be applied on a dry day and will need 3-5 hours to set on the plant with no rain or watering. Tom told us some other rules that you have to follow when you spray. First of all this product needs warmth to work. Average temperatures need to be above 65 for the product to work the best and be careful not to apply it when the temperature gets above 80. Try to spray on a day when there is no wind and be sure to not let it drift into your flower beds since it will damage your ornamental plants if you hit them. One more tip, walk backwards. By going to the farthest area first and walking backwards you are sure to not walk through the product and then transfer it to your flower beds if you walk through them.
Then Tom brought out a product for those monocot, weedy grasses. This product 'Weed Beater Plus' was a synthetic that takes care of the grasses and also handled the broadleaf weeds too. The rules for using this product were the same as for the other products. For more information on the complete line of Bonide products be sure to check out their website and while you are there you can download their Problem Solver' app for your iPhone or Droid.
SLUGS and SNAILS!!! These little pests will devour your new plants and vegetables. If you are looking for a way to keep them in check, William and Judy had a selection of different ways you can deter them or just get rid of them. Slugs are a real problem here in the Northwest and spring is the time when you may notice them the most. They will eat the foliage off your nice garden plants and may even eat the plants as they are just coming out of the ground. Look for holes in the leaves of your tulips, iris and hostas. These are a few of their favorites. First we talked about the chemical baits that you can use. These tend to be the most effective and are made with Metaldehyde which goes by the brand name of Meta. You can get this bait in a liquid, meal and pellet form. If you have children or pets and are looking for something safer, you can check out the products that contain iron phosphate. These are safe around pets and children. William talked about the non-chemical methods of control. He covered beer traps, which works like a scent trap, copper tape which gives them a shock and even an electric fence. You can even stalk your garden in the early morning and just drop them in a bath of soapy water or just cut them in half with your pruners. Take the time to find the method that's best for you and check with your local garden center if you need help.
Mirna's Red Cabbage
The spring is the time for fresh vegetables to start showing up in our local stores and markets. One of our favorite stores to shop is World Foods Portland, with their locations on Everett and on Barber. One of the owners is Mirna Attar, who is also the executive chef at Ya Hala restaurant (503-256-4484). She told us about a great recipe using red cabbage and beets that she was willing to share. We met her at the store on Everett in the Pearl to see how to make it. Her recipe was a red cabbage wedge salad. We started with Red Cabbage. These were cut into quarters, seasoned with salt and olive oil, and placed on a sheet that went in an oven at 450 degrees for at least 20 minutes. The beets that Mirna used were yellow beets. They have a different flavor and don't stain everything they touch when you are cooking with them. These are hard and need to be boiled for at least 2 hours to get them ready for dicing. The diced beets are tossed with quinoa, salt, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, and pomegranate molasses. This is going to be the topping of our wedge salad.
Once the red cabbage wedges came out we put a couple scoops of the beet mixture over the top of them. Then she added some slices of feta cheese and allowed that to melt over the wedge and topped with pea shoots and a dressing. The dressing was made out of the pomegranate molasses, olive oil, lemon zest and a dash of salt. Then it was ready serve! It was delicious!
If you would like to try this you can stop by either location for World Foods Portland. If you would like to have some wonderful Lebanese cuisine, be sure to check out Ya Hala!
Making a Floral Crown
One of the most fashion forward trends for the summer are floral crowns or head wreaths. To learn more about this trend and for tips on making them we stopped by and talked to Kim Foren at Geranium Lake Flowers (503-228-1920) in downtown Portland. She is a true artist and the ones she makes are incredible! People are using them for graduations, weddings and other less formal events. In fact she had made a simple one for William to wear that included hebe, bay leaf and rosemary. We then started to build one from scratch. To start you would use a ribbon or a wire form of some type. This is what you would tie your flowers to so you want to make sure that is strong enough to handle the weight of the flowers you are using. Then you need to make short bundles of flowers about 3 to 4 inches long which will be added to the wreath. When you do this you want to wrap them with a florist tape so they stay together. When you have a bunch of short bundles then you add these to the wire so they're about 1 or 2 inches or so apart. Then to preserve them you will want to mist them and put them into a sealed plastic bag. This will keep them fresh for about a day or so. These are a true showstopper for any gathering. If you don't feel comfortable making your own you can stop by Geranium Lake and they will make one for you, then you'll be the life of the party.