Ahhh… the spring has arrived. For most gardeners it arrived last week with all the pleasant temperatures that we enjoyed, but this week it became official on the calendar. The forecasters have also weighed in and said that those cold, arctic blasts should be gone. Now, we just want to get out in the garden and get those flowers and vegetable planted! Check out our tips from Blooming Junction below on your spring planting.
We are also two weeks away from GardenPalooza. This year it is on the 6th of April at Fir Point Farms in Aurora. Over 40 garden vendors will be there and we will have giveaways every half hour. It is a free event with free parking. Check out the GardenPalooza website for more details.
This week we featured...
Early Spring Veggies – Blooming CSA
With the warmer spring weather we may be itching to get out and plant our vegetable gardens, but hold on, it may be too early for some of your favorites yet. You may not be able to plant your tomatoes and basil outside yet, but you can enjoy vegetables if you aim for cole crops instead. We stopped by Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) to talk with Justin, the farm manager, about what you can and can’t do now. First we started by talking about cole crops. A lot of people call them ‘COLD’ crops, but cole refers to plants in the Brassica family including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, kales and Brussel Sprouts. These can be planted in the ground now because they can handle the colder soils and outdoor temperatures. Other plants that can go out right now are onion starts, leeks and garlic. Seed crops that can go in the ground right now include carrots, radishes, turnips and beets. Peas can also be planted right now as well.
Most of your other crops like tomatoes, basils and cucumbers will have to wait until the soil temps get a little warmer. Use a soil thermometer and wait for an average temperature of 45 degrees to get some of your other crops in the ground. The ground temperature is only part of the equation for veggie success. For the colder night time air temperatures you may want to cover your plants with a floating row cover or frost cloth. This will protect them from the cold temperatures and maintain the warmth that they need to get a good start.
Justin also talked about the importance of baiting for slugs. He uses a product called Sluggo which is safe for pets and children, though he did caution that you need to always follow the directions for use. Failure to use a slug product could mean losing your entire crop overnight and having to start all over again. If you do need to start again, Blooming also sells the plant starts for all your favorite vegetables.
If you are not a big vegetable gardener and still want fresh produce, you can stop by the farm store at Blooming Junction. They grow a lot of what they sell so you are going to get the freshest produce around. One way to ensure that you get all the veggies that you need is to sign up for the CSA program. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. If you sign up you will get lots of fresh produce, once a week, for 20 weeks starting in the early summer.
For more information on the CSA program, some fresh vegetables, or even a beautiful plant or two, you can stop by Blooming Junction in Cornelius.
French Prairie Gardens Ladies Night 2019
Kick off your spring at the annual Ladies Only Night at French Prairie Gardens (503-633-8445) near St. Paul. They have a whole bunch of fun planned for March 28th from 3:00 to 7:00. The evening starts off with a basket building time, where you can get William and Judy to help you with your hanging baskets for the coming season. Next is the ‘show and tell’ of the evening. They will also show you some of the great hanging basket combinations they have available this spring. You can also taste five different microbrews and three different ciders on tap, and sample small plates and appetizers. They will also have a raffle and scavenger hunt that includes lots of cool gifts! It should be a great evening. The event is free and if you want to save some money you can go to their Facebook page, their webpage, or call them and RSVP to get an additional 20% off your purchases. Sorry guys, this is ladies only!
As gardeners we are starved for late winter and early spring color in the garden. One plant that gets overlooked in this quest for color are the heathers. We stopped by the Al’s Garden and Home store in Wilsonville (503-855-3527) to check out 5 varieties of this versatile plant. Most people don’t know that there are lots of different colors and sizes for the home gardener. Heathers thrive with early morning sun and moist, but not wet, condition. If you ever go to the coast you will see lots of heathers and heaths in gardens there. That is because they like those cool and foggy conditions. In your garden you can put them in well-drained acidic soil and give them light watering every few days and they will thrive. It is often found in bogs and tough conditions in Europe and North America.
The varieties that we looked at included two whites and three reddish/pinks. Judy started with a smaller white called ‘Ice Princess’ which stays small and compact at 6 inches tall and around 12 inches wide. The one next to it was ‘Springwood White’ and was a little taller at 12 inches and 18 inches wide. The next one was a bright pink plant called ‘Vivellii’ and it gets about 8-10 inches tall. Next to it was ‘Kramers Red’ and like its name it was redder than vivallii. Kramers gets over 12 inches tall. The last plant we looked at was Mary Helen, with pink flowers and a rust colored foliage that looks great all year long. These plants can be sheared back and they will become fuller and may even rebloom later in the season. To see more of these great plants visit your independent garden center or any of the Al’s locations.
Tip of the Week – Smartphone Gardening
Our tip of the week showcases how you can use simple technology to make your lawn and garden thrive. We showed you how to use the calendar in your phone to put in reminders to do simple home and garden chores. For example, when you prune your roses in mid-February you should put in a reminder to fertilize those roses again in six weeks. In fact, every six weeks are a good time for deadheading and/or fertilizing all your roses. Also, if you have houseplants, it might be tough to remember when you last watered them. We tend to overwater them anyway. Put a reminder in the phone to check them every two weeks to see if they need water. If you have a lawn, the best way to make it stronger and less susceptible to diseases and moss is to keep it fertilized. About 3-4 times a year, your reminder in your phone will tell you that your lawn needs a feeding. Put that smartphone to use and get healthier plants and a stronger garden.
Kindergarden – Coloring Daffodils
This week’s kindergarden segment is something that many people did when they were growing up; adding dye to your flowers to make them change color. We were using daffodils, but you can use carnations or even celery. You first go out into your garden and cut a fresh daffodil. You then add a couple of drop of food coloring to some water, green, blue or red work the best. We only had the paste type of food coloring and we felt it worked a little better. We also mixed it in lukewarm water which helps the plant bring it up to the petals. Over the next couple of days you will start to notice the color appearing on the outer edges of the flower. If you look closely you will actually see the small colored veins in the flower. It is a great way to see how plants use and take up water.
Small Fruit Planting
It used to be that if you wanted to have fresh fruit in your garden you needed to have a lot of area and set up elaborate supports to keep the vines and canes off the ground. Those days are gone. Now, with new introductions of plants, you can find smaller varieties of fruiting plants that don’t need all the space or supports. To take a look at some of them we stopped by Tsugawa Nursery (360-225-8750) in Woodland to talk with Brian Tsugawa. We met at a raised bed in the middle of the nursery to check out three different plants and learn why they are great for smaller gardens. The first plant we looked at was a blueberry, ‘Bountiful Blue’. This berry is semi-evergreen has a great small habit that makes it great for containers or in a garden bed. It also has a nice crop of berries during the summer. The second plant was a raspberry. In the past we have done stories on raspberries in the garden and they required posts and wires and lots of support, but these newer varieties can be grown in a much smaller space and without the posts and wires. The new ‘Raspberry Shortcake’ is a great performer for the smaller gardens. Raspberries need great drainage and that makes this variety wonderful for containers. Finally we saw a blackberry called ‘Babycakes’. This one does get a little taller than the raspberry and it may need a little support, but you could give it all that it needs by just using a tomato cage!
Of course you will want to give them a great start with a great garden soil, and a starter fertilizer. For the blueberry you will want to use an acid based fertilizer, since they love acidic soils! For more great fruiting plants for small spaces, you can stop by Tsugawa’s or your local independent garden center.