The tastes of the fall are wonderful! Late season berries, nuts, tomatoes and squash are crowding the shelves of our farm markets and grocery stores. This week we get to taste a few of those flavors. Be sure to travel out and get a little taste of your own. While you are running around, why not stop by French Prairie Gardens for the ‘Run for your Life 5K’ on Sunday. This event is very family friendly and even if you don’t run, you can buy a beer and cheer on the others who are more athletically inclined!
This week we featured...
Fall and Winter Berry Plants
Fall brings color to your garden as your plants put on their fall coats. That fall coat isn’t always leaf color, sometimes your plants will also share colorful berries too! To see some of the plants that have interesting berries we stopped by Tsugawa Nursery (360-225-8750) and talked to Brian Tsugawa about some of his favorites. He had a few plants that will bring seasonal interest to your garden including a couple of viburnums to share, including the large shrub ‘Pink Beauty’ with the pink and blue berries and the ‘Davidii’ with the neon blue berries. The larger of the 2 was the pink beauty and the shortest was the davidii. The difference was the leaves. The davidii is the evergreen, the pink beauty was deciduous (losing its leaves in the fall). Hollies are known for their berries, but the variety ‘Blue Princess’ that Brian brought out, is also a compact variety so it won’t take over your garden, still you are rewarded with wonderful red berries. Another short evergreen with berries is the Pernettia ‘Rubra’. This is not as well known, but the pink berries turn red, thus the name ‘rubra’ which means red. It has been around for years but is underused. A very well-known berried plant is the Calacarpa ‘Profusion’. This plant is also known as beautyberry. It is a large shrub that has neon bluish-purple berries that hold on through the fall and winter. It can be easily pruned to stay small if you want. A very popular berried plant is the pyracantha. We saw the ‘Red Elf’ with orange berries, but there are lots of varieties in various shades of red and orange that work well in any garden. They can be a shrub or can be trained on a trellis or arbor. Our final plant was also a well-known plant, the Euonymus (burning bush). This plant earns its name because of the bright red fall color, it almost seems on fire! We saw both presentations of the plant, one version on a standard (a trunk) and one version as a shrub. Both were bright red in their foliage and full of berries.
These were just a few of the varieties of berried plants you can find at your independent garden centers. For more choices, stop by Tsugawa’s and check out these ‘berry’ wonderful plants.
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!
French Prairie Gardens Fall 5K
Fall is a busy time at French Prairie Gardens (503-633-8445). Stacy met us and said the garden center is full of plants that you can use to refresh and update your containers. Plus, they are getting ready for their fall festival and the wonderful pig races we always enjoy. Then we talked about an event that is near and dear to their heart, the Fight for Your Life 5K. This race is a benefit to the Em’s Fight foundation to help people battling cancer. It was founded by the Pohlschneider family (Stacy and her family) in remembrance of her sister, Emily, who passed away from cancer. This race takes place on the 29th of this month (tomorrow) and is a really fun event. For your entry fee you get to enjoy this ‘set your own pace’ race, a complimentary beer (or other beverage) and all the fall activities on the farm. To learn more about the foundation and Emily check out this video. You can learn more about the race at http://fightforyourlife5k.com. This race is fun even if you don’t run! You can always stop by, have a brew and cheer on the racers. Come out, make a difference for cancer patients and their families and have a great time doing it.
Bauman Cider Fest
A few years ago we went out to Bauman Farms to see the kickoff of the Bauman Cider Company. Christine was the member of the family who asked why they weren’t making cider with all the apples and fruits they were growing. It is amazing how far this company has come! Christine has been the driving force behind the success of this new company. Her tasty ciders have drawn quite a crowd and she is now winning awards for her flavor combinations. The production facility has grown tremendously!
This weekend marks their 4th Annual Cider Festival. We met with Christine in the production facility to see how she is now using wooden barrels to age some of her ciders. The taste was incredible. This weekend, during the festival you will not only get a chance to taste the Bauman blends, but there will be nearly 20 different cider makers there with 30 different ciders to taste, but this is just the beginning of the fall activities. This Cider Festival event will take place within the Bauman's Harvest Festival over two days: September 28th and 29th, and the Festival hours will be from 11 AM to 4 PM each day. Your $20 Tasting Fee includes 8 Tasting Tickets, a Bauman's Cider Festival tasting glass and a Harvest Festival general admission ($8 value).
It is a great way to kick off your fall fun!
RWPC Water Storage and Recycling
The recent natural disasters in the US and around the world have people keen on disaster preparedness. A key part of that is saving enough water for you and your family. To get some tips on doing that we stopped by the home of Bonnie from the Regional Water Providers Consortium. There she told us about how she stores her water for emergency use. She told us she saves 14 gallons per person. That amount should cover 1 gallon, per person, per day for 2 weeks. Half of that daily amount is for drinking and the other half is for cooking and hygiene. Bonnie took us to her garage to show us her supply. She had quite a bit of water saved. Two large 55 gallon barrels were full, plus she had numerous smaller bottles and other containers full of water. She empties and refills the containers every 6 months to a year to keep them fresh, and if they get older than that she has household beach to purify them if needed.
The fall is the perfect time to set up your water supply and the perfect time to refresh and recycle the water you currently have stored. She put William to work pumping out the old water from her storage containers and then she took that water and used it in her garden to water her plants. A wonderful way to recycle! If you would like to get started on storing water for an emergency you can go to the RWPC website http://www.regionalh2o.org for details and for more tips on disaster preparedness.