Happy Earth Day (weekend)! Yes, tomorrow is Earth Day and it is a great day for gardeners, but for us, every day is earth day. This weekend especially. The sun and warmth is making a comeback and we are making our way out into the garden.
The returning warmth is also a reminder of spring and summer color. All your local garden centers are full of great color, both annuals and perennials, so don’t wait to get some of that color into your garden now. The weather also has more than a few people thinking about their vegetable gardens. If you do start planting your veggies now, keep an eye on the overnight temps. If those temps get too cold, have a plan for covering or protecting those tender veggies. We are still waiting to put ours in for another week or so. If there is one thing we’ve learned from our tips of the month with Jan, it’s that the vegetables will catch up even if you get them in late.
This week we featured...
Growing Belgian Endive
If you have been to Europe you have most likely encountered endive. This leafy vegetable is very popular in Belgium, and is now making its way over to the United States, though we do have another form of the plant already here, it’s called chicory. We were recently at the Wooden Shoe Tulip fields when we ran into Wim and Anja Vissers of Vissers Endive. They were giving out sample of endive and it gave us an opportunity to learn more about this incredible vegetable. Wim told about how this vegetable makes it to our tables by growing it twice! First they plant small seeds out in a field. These mature into full grown plants during the summer. Then they are harvested and the leaves are cut off of the root. The roots are then cold-treated in a cooler for a while. Then the roots are replanted in trays and placed in a dark room. As the new plants grow they maintain a white or soft yellow color. After they reach a certain height, the tops are snapped off and they are sold to foodies and restaurants.
We then asked Anja to give us some suggestions for serving endive. She had a simple appetizer which just had a single leaf with potato and egg salad on them. She also uses apples and other sweet toppings. These toppings help balance the tart flavor of the leaves nicely! You can also use them in soups and salads. To learn more you can check out their Instagram page.
Planting Antique Succulents
Succulents are one of the hottest trends out there, and with this new trend we met with a friend of the show for a way of combining the new with the old. Diana Youtsey is the creative mind behind Diana Youtsey Designs and she found a way of using succulents in antique containers. These containers are a wide range of things. She has used old dishes, cups and serving vessels to become homes to succulents and sedums. Another thing that she does is combine tender/tropical succulents with the more hardy and common outdoor types. This allows her to stretch her plant dollar by using cheaper outdoor types with those more expensive tropical types.
Another thing that she cautioned people to do is to be aware of drainage. Succulents can drown in love as people tend to overwater them. Diana either finds containers with drainage holes, or uses a ceramic drill bit to make holes, or she just watches her watering so that she doesn’t overwater the plants. Plus, once she finishes planting her containers she top dresses them with moss, rocks, lichens and other materials. We even saw an air plant used in the arrangements. This is a great plant since it needs little or no water at all and adds a nice texture to the design.
If you are interested in looking for a container to use or to see some of Diana’s creations, you can stop by the Vintage Revival Home décor store, located in Ridgefield Washington, minutes north of Portland. It is loaded with a wonderful collection of vintage, rustic and handcrafted items. Diana also does custom work too!
FPG Hanging Basket Varieties
Every year growers are looking for the newest in plants for their hanging baskets and French Prairie Gardens in St. Paul (503-633-8445) is no different. They want their baskets to shine all summer long, either in the sun or the shade. We met with Katie to see what they were using in their baskets this year! WE started with shade baskets. These baskets love morning sun and afternoon shade. They will wilt and their foliage might burn if they get too much sun. The plant that really stood out in these baskets was the fuchsia named ‘Autumnale’. It has a nice two toned leaf of a reddish center and a yellowish edge. It will really pop in the shade.
Then for the sunny places there are a lot of different choices. We started with a petunia named Main Stage Blueberry, with a dark center and light purple edges. The next was a bacopa from the ‘Secrets’ series. Bacopa usually has a trailing tendril with small flowers along the edge, but this one had huge flowers! It will draw more attention to those trailing tendrils than its older cousin. The next showstopper was another petunia called ‘Pink Sky’ This one looked like a pink petunia that someone threw spots of white paint on the flowers. It is stunning! It has a sister flower called ‘Night Sky’ which is a blue variety with white spots. A couple of other petunias included the very pink ‘ColorRush’ and the blue and white flower of the ‘Blueberry Swirl’. You can find different combinations of these plants in most of their hanging baskets. Once you get them home you will want to give them regular watering, about twice a week (more if it gets hot) and a dose of Jack’s Classic water soluble plant food, once every two weeks to keep them blooming all summer long.
You can always count on French Prairie Gardens to have great events too. One coming up is the annual Mother’s Day Brunch. It is a farm style brunch with wonderful food. Go to their website and book now while there are still seats available.
Hulda Klager Lilac Days 2018
It is that time of year, Lilac time. We took the short trip up I-5 to Woodland Washington to check out the lilacs at the Hulda Klager Lilac Days (360-225-8996). This year the blooms were just coming on! The cold weather has held the plants back, but now they are starting to pop. We met with Ruth to talk about the flowers and she pointed out a couple that are doing well now including the light colored ‘Josee’ and the darker Harvard University bred ‘Lilac Sunday’. She also told us about pruning. You should cut your lilacs after they quit flowering. Don’t wait until fall or you will be cutting back the blooms for the following season. When you do cut them back you should take them all the way to the ground, removing only about 1/3rd of the stems per season. This will promote new shoots coming from the ground.
The 2018 Lilac Days will run from this weekend through Mother’s Day. Hulda Klager hybridized many lilacs and became known as the ‘Lilac Lady’ in the Woodland area. She opened her garden to the public for an open house in the spring during the 20’s. She passed away in 1960.
The Hulda Klager Lilac Society now runs the garden and opens it every year for this festival. They have spent a lot of money in the past few years to improve the gardens and grounds. The improvements include restoration to the historic home, the water tower and the addition of signage. New seating areas and even an expanded and improved parking lot. They charge a small fee during the festival. That, and the proceeds from the gift shop, keeps this garden going all year long. Another way that the group raises money for the garden is through a lilac plant sale. Of the hundreds of varieties of lilacs in the garden you will find a great selection available for sale. Some are blooming in pots and when you take them home they can make an instant bang in your garden. All these funds are used to continue to improve the garden, including the ample covered seating! Take the time and visit it when you get a chance, it is spectacular!
Maples for Containers
If you are looking for a tree that can handle a small space consider the Japanese Maple. They are great and some varieties are well suited for containers. To find out the best ones for pots, we stopped by Tsugawa Nursery (360-225-8750) in Woodland Washington. Tsugawa is known for their selection of maples and Brian had his staff pull 5 different ones for us to consider. The first one was a short one called Fern Leaf Japanese Maple ‘Aconitifolium’ and as the name implies it has a fine textured leaf. Brian also likes this one for the fall coloration. It has bright red foliage! The second tree was ‘Shaina’, a smaller leafed variety that starts out with a deep red leaf. It is one of the bigger trees available for pots, getting up to 6 feet tall. The third tree had a two-toned leaf and was called ‘Tsuma Gaki’. It stays small and retains the leaf color all season long. The fourth tree was called ‘Spring Delight’ and it is a taller variety with a weeping habit and looked great in a taller container. The final tree had a short and spreading habit and looked great in a short round container. That was a point that Brian brought up. You should spend as much time looking for a container as you would a tree. They work together to create an overall look and feel, and they should work well with your existing garden and landscape.
When you do plant your tree in a container, give it the best chance for success and use a quality potting soil and starter fertilizer. They actually carry a fertilizer specifically made for Japanese Maples! If you would like a Japanese maple for your garden and don’t have the time to plant one, the crew at Tsugawa’s can put one together for you. They have one of the biggest selections of maples available in our area.
Jan’s April Tips
This month we found Jan huddled over her computer for our monthly tips of the month. Before she explained her new computer toy she told us about her recent plantings. She started with 6 pots of ‘cup and saucer’ vine seeds. These are wonderful vines that are hard to grow from seed. Jan has had success with them in the past and decided to try again. The key with any seeds is to make sure they have the right conditions to grow. Jan used a great potting soil and gave them the right amount of moisture and heat, and now comes the patience. You should check the seed packet to make sure you know the time for germination. If you are not seeing sprouts, do some light digging to see if you can find a sprout. Remember, not all seeds germinate. Replant the seeds if necessary. The next tips she had for us was about vine twining. Not all vines climb the same direction. Some twine clockwise and some twine counter clockwise. Don’t try to force a vine to do what it is not supposed to do.
Then we looked at her new gadget! Jan recently bought a computer magnifier. This little tool was allowing her to closely examine some leaves and see them on her computer. She was able to look at a camellia with ivory leaf virus. Knowing that she can now treat the problem with her camellias by adding more magnesium to the soil. She was using this tool to find sunscald on a skimmia, root weevil on a berginia and a daphne and some other problems as well. The best example of this little gadget was seeing the differences between Azalea Lace Bug and Spider Mites on two different plants. They had a similar pattern on their leaves but under closer examination you could see differences that helped diagnose the problem.
Spring is a time to get out in your garden and take a look at all your plants. Tools like this magnifier help make the job easier. For more great monthly tips, you can go to the OSU extension website, http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening.
Al’s Great Big Tomato Contest
Do your kids have a green thumb? Would you like them to? The chance to get your kids excited about gardening is happening today (Saturday April 21st) at all 4 Al’s Garden & Home (503-726-1162) locations. Eve joined Judy to fill her in on the details. If you bring in your kid (13 and under) between 11am and noon they will get a free ‘Beefsteak’ tomato plant. They will grow them all summer and at the end of summer there will be a big weigh-in. The kids with the largest tomatoes will win big prizes including a $70 gift card, free kids club for a year and much more.
The key to good growth is support, either with a structure or a tomato cage, good soil, with lots of fertilizer and calcium (to prevent blossom end rot), full sun and good watering. Another thing is that you can plant your tomato a little deeper to start, that will promote more roots and better growth.
If you kids are interested in trying to grow the biggest tomato, have them stop by your local Al’s, but hurry, there are only 70 starts per store!
Spring is the time for gardening! The change in the weather is drawing everyone back outside and into the garden. It is also the time for lots of pollen in the air. For those who suffer from allergies, this is a terrible time to be in the garden. But did you know that there are ways to alleviate your allergy suffering? To learn some tips for making these symptoms tolerable we stopped by Providence St. Vincent Medical Center on the west side of Portland and talked to Dr. Ken Weizer. He told us that more than taking over the counter drugs to feel better, you should take a look at your overall health. Dr. Ken recommended that we start by drinking lots of water. Allergies can dry out your sinuses and that can make matters worse. The fluids in your nose help to flush out the pollen and other allergens. Also remember to wash your hands and face often. You carry a lot of the allergens around on your hands especially after working in the garden. You can help yourself by keeping those hands clean. You can also wear a mask. This creates a physical barrier for allergens to go through. You can also help your sinuses by washing them out with a neti pot. This is a container that you use to pour water through your nose and sinuses to clean them out. When you get home Dr. Ken also recommends that you wash your clothes and bedding often, especially your pillow cases.
Another way to help your allergies is to be selective in your garden plantings. We found a book called ‘The Allergy-Fighting Garden’ by Thomas Leo Ogren, which gives you tips for smart landscaping to help with your allergies, just be aware that there are plants all around that will still be producing pollen, even if you reduce the ones in your garden. Sometimes the pollen is just the last straw for our systems. Some people have a lot of little allergies and once the pollen hits, it is just enough to push us over the edge! Dr. Ken recommends that you contact your doctor to see if there is a way to figure out the other little triggers and see if you can reduce those as well. Providence has lots of resources Including their Integrative Medicine site, and their page on seasonal allergies.
So look up these resources and then get out and enjoy your garden!
Setting a Fence Post
When you are doing a big structure in your garden and you want to make sure that it lasts for a while you want to make sure that there is a good foundation. And the beginning of a good structure is a solid post. This week we walked you though the steps for setting a post. You first need to start by digging a good hole. At least 18 inches is good for the starting depth. You will also want to check to make sure that you are in line with your property and that you are not digging into any underground gas, electric or communication lines. You can call 811 and have someone come out for free and mark the lines with just a couple of days’ notice. Then you will put a couple of inches of pea-gravel in the base of the hole. This will allow the rain water to drain into the soil and will prevent your post from rotting at the base. Put in your treated post and next set up braces to keep it level and sturdy while you pour your cement. Once the concrete is poured you will want to wait for a week or so for it to cure. It may take longer if it is wet or cold. You can then remove the braces and put your brackets in for fencing or begin building your trellis or arbor. Once you have this solid base you should be able to enjoy years of sturdy support!
Coastal Outdoor Living
Summer time and the living is easy! It is not only a song, but the mantra at your local Coastal Farm and Ranch (541-928-2511). We stopped by and chatted with Jess at the store in Albany. A lot of people think that Coastal is all about cow feed and wrangler clothes, but they also have everything for your backyard. Jess told us about the great selection of tools available, but they also have grills, smokers, and patio furniture. They also have all the lawn care products you need to get your lawn and garden in shape. If you are getting ready for the summer and that outdoor lifestyle, you need to stop by your local Coastal Farm and Ranch for everything you need!