I’m lovin’ the summer! Getting out into the garden during the summer is a matter of timing. If the forecast is for hot weather, the key is to getting out in the morning and getting those pots watered. If the forecast is for showers, it’s timing the trips to the garden during the dry periods to check veggies and picking what the garden has to offer. It is all about taking advantage of the opportunities that the weather presents. Sometimes the planning is centered around watering and vacations. We hope you garden is doing well as you enjoy this wonderful summer!
This week we featured...
Portland Nursery Sunflowers
One of the most overlooked annual in the summer garden is the Sunflower. The newer varieties of sunflowers are amazing and are not anything like the old standbys you used to find in your garden. Sara Ori at Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) on Stark told us about some of the new varieties available and we just had to stop by to learn more. Sara told us that the newer plants come in all different sizes and styles. The newer styles include some that don’t get very tall at all. Some can stay as short as a foot or two high, while others can get 10 feet tall or more. Some of the shorter ones that she liked included the prolific Sunbelievable ‘Brown eyed girl’. This one just keeps blooming and blooming! Then we moved to a couple of smaller sunflowers including the ’Little Becka’ and ‘Double Dandy’. The Little Becka has a wonderful little red tint to the center of the bloom that gives a nice warm color variation. Double Dandy was more of a faded peachy color and looks like an antique coloring to the petals. Very different! If you are looking for even more sunflower-ish blooms then look no further than rudbeckias! The Rudbeckia ‘Electra Shock’ had a very cool bloom with petals that look almost like tubes. These will slowly open up to give you red and orange petals! But that is what is fantastic about these newer plants. They can change your expectations about sunflowers and decorating with them. If you would like to pick up some of these newer plants, you can stop by Portland Nursery and bring home a little sunshine to your garden.
Tomato and Garlic Fest 2019
Nothing beats the great flavors of summer and two of the most popular flavors are tomatoes and garlic, and coming next weekend you can get plenty of both at the Heirloom Tomato and Garlic Festival at Northwest Organic Farms in Ridgefield, Washington. To learn more about this wonderful little festival, we stopped by the farm to talk to Joyce, one of the owners. She gave William a quick history about the farm and how they started growing organic vegetables. This love of natural and organic vegetables has helped create the festival they celebrate now. The festival is happening today, the 17th of August at the farm from 10am to 6pm. You can stop by and enjoy tomato tasting by the Washington State Master Gardeners and a group of other vendors as well. Don’t forget to pick up your share of tomatoes and garlic, and enjoy the tastes of summer.
Along with all the other ripe fruits and vegetables right now are peaches. And one of the latest and tastiest ways to prepare them is on the grill. One of the places you’ll find the best peaches is at Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172). Before we got to the recipe we learned how to choose the best peaches at the store. Joelle said you should NEVER squeeze them. This is not a reliable way to test them and it will just bruise them in the process. You should just look at the top of the peach at the stem. If the area around the stem is green, or slightly green, then the peach is not ready. It should have the ‘ripe’ color all the way around the stem.
Then we started on the recipe. Take a ripe peach and cut it in half and remove the pit. Brush olive oil on the outside skin and the cut side of the peach. This is to keep it from sticking to the grill. She then sprinkled on some pepper and some Himalayan sea salt and they we ready for the grill. Rich was manning the grill and had it set for medium high. He also brushed on some olive oil to help prevent the sticking. He ended up grilling the peaches for 12 minutes on the cut faced side (to soften them and give them some grill marks) and about 5 minutes on the skin side. Once removed from the grill Joelle scooped some mascarpone cheese into the center of the peach, drizzled on some honey and topped it off with fresh basil cut with her special chiffonade scissors. It was divine!!!
If you would like to try this recipe on your own you can find everything you need at Smith Berry Barn. Stop by, pick up everything and then prepare to wow the family tonight at dinner!
Drought Stress Trees
Summers can be long, hot and dry. That can create some problems for the trees in our area. To see some of the damage and get some tips on tree care we met with Lyle from Bartlett Tree Experts (503-722-7267) at his home near Damascus. He said that you should look for the signs of drought stress on your trees. Those include curled leaves, scorched leaves and even burned and pealing bark on some trees. Some will even lose leaves if they are very stressed. For some trees, like maples, that could also mean the beginning of changing to its fall color. This too was a sign of drought stress. You may even see drought symptoms on your conifers. All these symptoms can open up your tree to other problems too. The tree is a pressurized system and if there is not enough fluid in the system it opens up the tree to attacks from pests. At Bartlett they are seeing more borer attacks, aphids, and foliar diseases.
What can you do to help your trees survive? Even if we have had a couple of showers in the area or you do some watering already, Lyle recommends that you give your trees a deep watering. Adding mulch and fertilizing will help as well. Bartlett has a couple of great handouts to help you with your stressed tree. One gives you 5 steps to drought recovery. While the other walks you through the signs of drought and long term problems for your trees without proper help. If you think your trees are in trouble you can always give Bartlett a call and have them come out for a free consultation.
Ever moved from a home and wanted to take along your favorite rose? Or maybe a friend wanted a rose just like one in your garden. You could try to find the same rose at your local garden center, but if you can’t, we have a way that you can take a cutting and share it with anyone! Rachel at the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park showed us how you can make a new plant with just a few things, no greenhouse needed!
She told us that you simply wait for a stem to finish blooming on your rose bush. At that point cut the stem down as you normally would when deadheading. This is a vegetative cutting. Make sure that you have at least 3 leaf nodes on the stem. Cut off the flowers and the bottom 2 leaves. Leave the leaves near the top of your cutting. Take a sealable bag of clean potting soil and water it down. Don’t soak it. Get some rooting hormone and dip the bottom end of the stem in the hormone. Don’t use a lot, just a little dab on the bottom. Then place the cutting in the bag of soil and seal it up. Keep it in a warm place, with indirect sunlight and don’t open the bag for at least 2 weeks. Pretty soon you should see roots forming inside the bag. Once the roots are formed, transfer the rose to a larger pot and treat it like any other potted plant. You now have a new rose made from your old rose! Try this project with your kids and show them how easy it is to make plants grow!