Happy Labor Day weekend! This weekend we are battling heat and smoke. The summer is one of the hottest on record and the smoke is a by-product of that. Please be careful of the weather and fire as you enjoy this holiday weekend. If you are not traveling out of the area, consider stopping by your local independent garden center. We recently did and spent over $100 on some great plants to add to our garden. We'll be enjoying those plants for many years to come.
This week we featured...
Collier's Beneficial Bugs
Bad bugs can take over a garden and if you have bad bugs in your trees it can not only destroy the look of your garden it can create an unsafe danger as well. A dead or dying tree is a big problem. To avoid the problem you can be proactive in looking out for your tree's health. We did that by calling Collier Arbor Care (www.collierarbor.com <http://www.collierarbor.com/> , 503-72-ARBOR). Recently we were able to meet up with Logan Collier to learn how they are tackling the bug problem in a new safe and effective way, with beneficial bugs. That's right, you get rid of the bad bugs, with some good bugs! We met with Logan at McMenamins Edgefield (http://www.mcmenamins.com/Edgefield) in Troutdale to see how they help the horticultural staff control problems. McMenamins is known for the natural and organic way that they manage their garden and so beneficials are the way to go for them. Logan brought out 3 different 'good' bugs that they use in the gardens. The first one was a green lace wing larvae. These are called the 'Aphid Lion' because they eat so many different bad bugs, in fact they even eat each other if there is nothing else around to eat. They have to be stored in a cardboard honeycomb to keep them separated until they are released. The second good bug was a Neoseiulus predatory mite. These are microscopic in size but they have a huge appetite! These small spiders actually eat other spiders and when the bad bugs are gone they hang around for a while and will tackle the problem again if the bad bugs return. To distribute these little guys, it was almost like shaking salt out in your garden. The final bug was the Aphid Eating Midge. This was Logan's favorite beneficial bug. As adults they fly into the trees and lay eggs next to aphids then the little orange larvae will inject a toxin into the legs of the aphids to paralyze them. It will do this to more aphids than it can eat so you get a lot of coverage from just a few beneficial larvae. If you would like to learn more about the way Collier uses beneficial bugs to control problems give them a call or check out their website!
State Fair Winners
A couple of weeks ago we stopped by the State Fairgrounds as they were getting ready for the opening of the 2017 Oregon State Fair (https://oregonstatefair.org). We talked to Ken about how you can enter your fruits, flowers and vegetables for the fair, with a chance to take home the coveted blue ribbon. This week we returned to the fair to see some of the winners and we were pleasantly surprised. Ken met us to let us know that they had doubled the amount of entries in the fair this year. We saw a huge selection of single stem flowers, arranged bouquets, fresh and weird vegetables that had placed well in the competition. It is a testament to the great gardeners in our state. We also saw some of the largest vegetables we've ever seen in a separate area. These included a sunflower that was a 3rd time winner for one lucky young lady, and a pumpkin that had to be brought in on a forklift.
If you would like to see these wonderful award winners, you can stop by the fairgrounds this weekend. It is the last few days of the fair, which wraps up on Monday.
If you want to join them for a chance to win a ribbon next year, mark your calendar for the beginning of August in 2018, to check out the Oregon State Fair website for details and your chance to win a ribbon!
TOW - Pear Ripening
Bringing fruit into the backyard garden is something we are all trying to do and with the abundance of small and dwarf varieties it is easier than ever. But with some fruit, like pears, it is hard to know when to pick the fruit. This week we gave you a few tips on ripening pears that we picked up from a flyer we got from the OSU Extension Service (http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/node/413). Look for a slight tenderness at the top of the pear where the stem is located. If there is a little 'give' pick the pear and then store it in your refrigerator (the time in the refrigerator depends on the variety of pear). Pears tend to ripen from the inside out and this will help even out the overall ripening of the fruit. If you follow a few simple rules you can have a sweet luscious pear that won't be mealy or gritty!
Swan Island Dahlia Arranging
You can build an award winning flower arrangement with flowers from your garden if you follow a few simple rules. We stopped by the Swan Island Dahlia Festival (www.dahlias.com <http://www.dahlias.com/> , 800-410-6540) to learn how easy it is to do. The Festival is finishing this weekend and features over 400 cut flower arrangements on display, but you can stop by any day to see the beautiful fields and take home some cut flowers of your own. Heather from Swan Island walked us through the steps of building a great display. First she heat treated the stems in 160-170 degree water, which will make the cut flowers last longer. Then she started with one variety of flower which established the size and height of the arrangement. Then she filled in with the other styles and types of blooms. She even used the discarded stems to add filler to the display. It is very easy to do! If you are looking for ideas or you want to fill your day with color, stop by the Dahlia Festival and check out the display or the fields of color. As we mentioned before this is the final weekend of the festival and it wraps up on Monday. You can also see the fields until fall, after the festival, they are open every day from dawn to dusk.
The Wall Patio
We have featured work done by The Wall (http://bythewall.com, 503-735-9255) before. They are known for their use of recycled concrete in landscaping. But we recently found out about a job they did on building a brand new outdoor patio for entertaining. We travelled to Vancouver to visit with Andy and Daphne Didier to learn what The Wall had done in their back yard. For years their backyard had served many purposes, from grassy lawn to vegetable beds. Now they were looking for something with a little less maintenance and more open for relaxing. In the past they had used The Wall to redo their front entry and to rebuild their chimney, but this was a bigger project. They were very happy with the previous work so they called Rick and his crew back! Rick told us that this was right up their alley. The Wall does poured concrete as well as recycled concrete and they can also work with pavers, stone and blocks as well! Not only did they come into this small space and pour a new patio, they were also able to build a custom outdoor fireplace for Andy, which was a major requirement for the job. It turned out fantastic! If you would like to have The Wall build you a special outdoor area, give them a call and they will come out and help you get it started.