Remember summer? All those wonderfully hot days… and the smoke, and the fires… well those days are long gone, but we can still have nice days ahead. Granted they won’t be as warm as August, but they are still nice. These are the days when we struggle with getting ready for winter. We still have all our lawn furniture out, but a couple of our neighbors are already prepared for winter. Oh well… all I ask for is a few more dry and warm days!
PN Planting Spring Bulbs
Now is the time to start getting your spring flower bulbs in the ground. A little work now and you will be rewarded with great spring color! We stopped by Portland Nursery on Stark (503-231-5050) to talk with Sara about her favorite (and the most popular) bulbs for spring. She had 3 favorites to talk about; daffodils, crocus and tulips. The first blooms of the spring are the crocus. Actually most of these bloom in the winter. They are also the shortest of the spring bloomers, but you can’t beat the colors! They are so vibrant after a winter of blah! Next are the daffodils. They are the signature flower of the early spring. Most people think of the old standby of King Alfred, the bright yellow daffodil, but now days they come in so many other colors! You can get creams, pinks and peach colored blooms. Plus they bloom for a long time too. You can also get smaller jonquil varieties that won’t flop over as much. The final flower of the spring garden is the tulip. These are late spring bloomers with a huge array of color. You can also get double petals and blended colors. If you get the larger varieties they can be floppy in a heavy rain, but there is nothing like a tulip in the spring.
Sara recommended that you plant all 3 in your garden beds, then you can have waves of color for months. But how deep can you plant them? The package will generally tell you, but a good rule of thumb is to go down about 2 to 3 times the size of the bulb. If you would like to see a huge variety of spring bulbs you can stop by either location of Portland Nursery, or other local independent garden centers.
Smith Baked Apples
This is the season of the apple. There are lots of apple type festivals happening in the next few weeks, but what can you do with all these apples? To get a couple of ideas for baked apples we stopped by Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) and met Joelle in the kitchen. Smith Berry Barn sells a ton of different apples that they grow on the property and Joelle has become an expert on how to prepare them. Today she was showing us 2 different recipes that you could use. The first one was a baked apple standing on end. This one was pretty easy. First you core your apple and stand it on its end with the cored hole on top in a baking dish. Then you mix a traditional ‘apple crisp’ topping together in a bowl. This combines butter, flour, brown sugar, oatmeal, chopped hazelnuts, ground cinnamon, salt and some freshly grated nutmeg together in a bowl. Once mixed you simply fill the center core with this mixture until it overflows. Then add some of the apple cider to the bottom of the dish, until it covers the bottom with a ¼ to ½ inch of cider. Then bake for 35-45 minutes until the apple can be pierced with a fork.
The other recipe was even easier. This one starts with a cored apple sliced in half. Lay them in your baking dish with the cored side up. Place a teaspoon of fruit jam in the center of the apple, we used Smith Berry Barn’s own raspberry jam. Then sprinkle the crisp topping on top of that, add the apple cider as before, and bake. Serve both with a nice helping of vanilla ice cream!
These are just a couple of the recipes that you will find on the Smith Barry Barn website. Also on the website you will find a daily update on what they have fresh at the farm, so you will know what is ripe before you head out the door! Check them out this Sunday for their 24th annual Heirloom Apple Festival on October 15th from noon to 4pm. There are lots of activities including live music, hot food off the grill and tons of family activities, oh, and don’t forget the apples!
Columbia Empire Hazelnuts
Fall is the time to harvest and one that is especially unique to the Northwest is the hazelnut harvest. Hazelnuts, or filberts if you are native, are growing in popularity. They are healthy and delicious, and you can find them in lots of your favorite candies. To catch a harvest we traveled to Columbia Empire Farms near Sherwood. We met with Andrew, who manages the farm operation, to get the steps involved in harvesting these tasty nuts. He told us that they rely on mother nature for most of the work. It is up to her to make sure the nuts are ripe. When they are they fall to the ground. Then a machine sweeps them to the middle of the row between trees, into a windrow. Another machine comes along and picks up the nuts, leaves and twigs, and separates a lot of the leaves and twigs before it goes to the cleaning facility. At that facility the nuts are washed multiple times and dried. Then they are graded for size before they are cracked and removed from their shells. At Columbia they do all this on their farm and then they make wonderfully delicious snacks out of them. The whole nuts are roasted and packaged for resale. Some of the nuts are salted, and even smoked before they are packaged. But what happens if the nuts are in tiny pieces? For the answer to that we moved to the candy facility. There we met with Linda who showed us how they combine chocolate and nuts to make even more luscious confections. Sometimes the whole nuts are coated in milk or dark chocolate, but if they are just tiny pieces, then they are made into a brittle and covered in chocolate. This brittle has been given the name ‘poop’ as a marketing tool. This poop is made for different groups, occasions and seasons. So you can have reindeer poop, or Squirrel poop, or even gingerbread poop (even duck and beaver poop if you are a local football fan). Never mind the name, it is all wonderfully delicious candy made right here in the valley. If you would like to get your hands on this poop, or any of their other tasty products you can check out their retail website. They also make some killer jams, jellies and syrups!
A few years ago we heard of a product that was supposed to replace the wheelbarrow in our garden. We recently saw the Leafhopper being used by our friends at Heirloom Roses by their staff in the garden and we were impressed. We finally had a chance to try it out and meet the inventor and we can say, this is a great tool for any garden. The Leafhopper was invented by Mari Rittenour. Mari had some health issues a few years ago and needed something other than a wheelbarrow to move material around her garden. She came up with the Leafhopper and it has taken off! The Leafhopper is great for weeding… you simply throw all your yard debris and clippings on the Leafhopper and then, when it is full, you use the Velcro to secure it and then pick it up with the shoulder straps and carry it to your compost bin or pile. The shoulder straps allow you to continue to use both hands and is easier on your back. If you are moving mulch to your garden you can use it for that as well. Place your mulch on the Leafhopper and, when full, carry it to the garden bed and then use it to precisely place it around your garden. Quick and easy. If you would like to try this great product you can find it at independent garden centers (like Al’s Garden Center or Portland Nursery), or check out the retail locator on Mari’s website.