Picture perfect weather! We have been having such a great run of nice weather lately. It has been great for shooting our stories, and for getting some projects done around the garden. For one we are about ready to re-seed some areas of the lawn. We have also done a little painting on the exterior of our home and we are just about done with the replacement of our deck.
If you have been watching the show you know that we have been doing a series on decks and replacing them. We've decided to go with a composite decking from Fiberon over cedar and this week we show you what to look for when tearing out the old deck. Check it out for some great tips!
This week we featured...
Jan's July Tips
The summer is time for enjoying the garden, but it is also the time to take a step through the garden and do a few chores too. One thing that people are doing in the garden right now is starting to can and preserving their fruits and veggies. If you are one of those people, and you get in a bind, you can call the OSU Food Preservation hotline at 800-354-7319. There are people that can help you with tips for doing things correctly. They can even point you to people who can help make sure your canning gear is operating at peak performance.
Jan also had a warning about composting your lawn clippings. If you are using a herbicide on your lawn (to get rid of weeds) you will want to avoid composting them for at least 2-3 mowings. This compost will affect your other flowering plants if you spread it around your garden. Another tip was about dealing with yellow jackets in your home. If you have one in your home and you don't want to swat at it, all you have to do is give it a quick spray with cooking oil. It will not be able to fly with its coated wings and will fall to the ground so you can easily deal with it safely.
If you are thinking about late season vegetables, now is the time to plant those. Kale, cabbage, broccoli and peas can be put in right now. Other perennial plants can go in right now too, you will just need to keep them well watered. If you are wondering what to plant in your area, check out the Grow Your Own brochure from OSU Extension. It can tell you what to plant and how to take care of it during the heat of summer. Mid-summer is also a time to do a little deadheading. Roses and rhododendrons are prime for deadheading. It will promote more blooms later this season for your roses and blooms for next season on your rhodies.
Recently we talked to our friends at Conrad Lumber Co. (503-625-7535) about picking the right deck material for replacing or repairing your deck. We decided to use a composite material from Fiberon for a deck replacement.
This week we met with Josh from Outdoor Living and Renovation (503-995-0174) about the installation of the Fiberon material. First we had to take out the old 25 year old deck. Josh told us that this is a great place to start for replacing any deck or patio. This is when you get some eyes on the ground. One thing we noticed was the amount of rot we found. The top of the old deck looked pretty good, but as Josh pointed out, that is the part that we worked to clean and preserve for all those years. Underneath, it was untreated and the water had done a number on the old cedar. The homeowner can also see the condition of the footings and where the deck attaches to the home. It is right about now when the homeowner feels a little overwhelmed and where it is good to have a professional contractor come in. Josh and his crew noticed that the footings had moved over time and they also noticed the condition of the contact of the old cedar with the home was pretty good, but needed a little work to prevent long term damage.
Next time we revisit the project, we will talk with Josh about the installation of the Fiberon product and tips for the homeowner when installing it on their own.
NW Natural Outdoor Heat
The summer is all about outdoor entertaining and creating the right atmosphere is key to setting the mood, but even in summer that mood can be hampered by those cooler evenings. We stopped by NW Natural Appliance Center (503-220-2362) to learn about how you can extend those wonderful evenings with a little heat! Matthew talked to Judy about different ways of bring the heat to your deck or patio. The first place we started was near a natural gas fireplace. These are great because you just throw a switch and you have heat and no smoke! These can be built into a wall or be free standing. They can even be operated by remote control. You can get a hand held controller so you never have to leave your chair.
Now, if you are looking for something more typical of a campfire you can go with a fire bowl. These are round and can be placed in the middle of your deck or patio so people gather all around them. They are filled with a decorative glass or lava rock so they look good all year long. Once again, there's no smoke so your guests aren't moving their chairs to avoid it. The added benefit to these is that you don't even need a gas line to them. They can be run off propane and you can even hide the tank in a little table. If you are looking for something that provides that table space and heat. You can go with a fancier unit that provides both.
The fire pit tables can also run off natural gas or propane. They are great for entertaining because your guests can put their glasses and plates on them while visiting. With the latest trend going for deep seating and fire pits this one is a winner. Plus, when you are done you can place the cover over the fire pit and it becomes just a table.
These are just a few of the designs that they have to choose from. You can find more options at the NW Natural Appliance Center in SW Portland. They can also point you in the direction of a contractor to extend your gas line if you want to do that too. Get one of these units and you can enjoy that deck well into the fall!
Red Ridge Olive Trees
A lot of people think that you can't grow an olive tree in the Northwest. Well, that is not true. If you have the right variety they can actually do quite well. We talked to someone who should know. Paul Durant of Red Ridge Farms (503-864-8502) grows olives and produces olive oil for sale in their gift shop. He has trialed a lot of different varieties in his fields and there are some that do better than others in our area. One of the varieties they found early was the 'Arbequina' which was thought to do well in our cooler climate. Unfortunately, the freeze proved them to not be as hardy as they thought. At that time Red Ridge had paired with a grower in California, to bring in a couple other varieties as well. Now they are propagating their own from those frost survivors for oil making. The three that we featured were the Frantoio, the Leccino and the best one of all, the Picual. These three do well in our climate and will produce olives with different flavor characteristics. A point that Paul made about growing these is that they do well in pots. Then, if they threatened by a freeze, you can move them to a protected area. Still, you can also plant them in your garden if you plant them in well drained soils with a high pH. That might mean that you have to add lime to your soil once a year or so. If you have ever seen an olive grove in Europe, they seem to thrive in rocky soils. Another point that will insure your success included checking out the roots of the plants you purchase. Their plants are well established and when you pulled them out of the pots they had very good root structure. Also, you will need a couple of different varieties so that your pollination is successful. They need another variety to cross pollinate with. If you have any other questions you can contact the farm or stop by the nursery and gift shop just outside of Dundee. They also have Durant Vineyards on the property as well, so you can have a glass of wine too. They always have a bunch of events going on not only with their olive mill, but also in their winery. Check them out!
Smith Blackberry Jam
Saving the taste of summer is made easy if you capture the flavor in a homemade jam or jelly. Joelle from Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) invited us into her kitchen to show us how quick and easy it is to make a jam from fresh fruit. All we needed was 3 ingredients, fresh fruit, pectin and a sweetener. The pectin we used was Pomona Universal Pectin which is great because you can use any type of sweetener (Equal, Splenda, Honey or even Stevia), so it is great for diabetics. First we crushed the berries and added our sweetener then added the pectin, finally we added the calcium mixture (part of the Pomona product) to our mixture. Since we were making a freezer jam we didn't even need to cook the fruit. Smith Berry Barn doesn't use any sprays on their fruit so we just had to wash it off. After a couple of minutes we checked the mixture to make sure we didn't need to add more sweetener or more calcium water to help it jell and we were done! We poured it into containers (in this case it was sterilized jars) and left a little room at the top of the jars for the jam to expand in the freezer. The freezer jam will stay fresh in your freezer for 6 months to a year! If you would like to try this at home, you can call Smith Berry Barn, or pick up a packet of Pomona's Pectin; the instructions are in the box.