Rain, winds are in full swing this week and that marks the typical fall season for our area. The fall festivals are getting wet and the winds are picking up and the temperatures are dropping. Still, that is no reason to not get out and enjoy these harvest happenings. The fall season is also the start of the ‘open house’ season too. Check with your favorite local nursery or garden center and see what they have planned for the holiday season. You can find a lot of those listings on our events calendar.
This week we featured...
Jan’s Oct Tips
The fall is the time to start your annual garden clean up and getting everything ready for the upcoming cold. It is also a time to get ready for the upcoming spring. We always get some great tips from Jan McNeilan and this month is no different. We found her in the garden where she was deconstructing a planter. In the spring and summer we show you how to build these wonderful containers, but now you can take them apart and over winter the plants for next spring. Some of the plants can be planted in smaller containers, like geraniums. Others can be propagated by cuttings, like coleus and Swedish Ivy. For those indoor plants that are going back inside you can clean those up and look for insects and diseases before they go back inside. The fall is also when you start seeing more insect and bug activity. They are feeding as they prepare for the winter and if you see them inside, they are just looking for a warm spot to survive the cold winter weather.
Another thing to take care of in the garden is to treat and bait for slugs. The ones you eliminate now are not going to produce eggs for next spring’s crop of summer slimers. Finally, Jan told us that the tomato season is over, but if you have a translucent green or ones that are just starting to ripen, you can take them inside and let them ripen on your kitchen counter. If you would like more tips on what to do in the fall garden, check out the OSU Extension website at https://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening.
Smith Apple Butter
Apples are the fruit of fall. You can find them everywhere including all the fall festivals that are happening around the area. Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) recently had their Heirloom Apple Festival and Joelle told us that they still have a bunch of different apples still available. What to do with them though? Joelle, had a quick and easy recipe that she shared with us to use some of those delicious apples, it was for Apple Butter. All you need are apples, a few ingredients and a crock pot. Joelle used 3 of the 20 different types of apples that they grow on the farm. You can use any type of apple so it really doesn’t matter which ones you choose. You start by peeling and coring them, and filling up a crock pot. Smith Berry Barn has a great tool that peels, cores and slices the apples all at once. Once the pot is half full, you can add the other ingredients. That includes a half cup of brown sugar, a half cup of regular white sugar, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, a half teaspoon of nutmeg and a quarter teaspoon of cloves. You can also add a half cup of apple cider to the mix to give it some juice for cooking and to enhance the flavor. Now comes the hard part. You plug in your crock pot and let it simmer on low for 10 hours, stirring it every couple of hours. After the 10 hours you can use an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree the mixture (be careful it is hot and may splatter). Then leave the lid off your crock pot and turn it up to high for 2 hours. This will let some of the moisture cook off and give you that ‘butter-like’ texture. You can pour it into jars and use it out of your fridge for a week or so, or you can freeze it or can it to make it last longer. It works great on ice cream, over oatmeal and even just in a bowl! For all of the ingredients and tools, you can stop by Smith Berry Barn. You can also check out their website for more great recipes!
Tsugawa Fall Crape Myrtles
The fall really brings out the colors. One plant that most people would not think of when they think of fall colors is the crape myrtle. We traveled to Woodland, Washington to visit Brian Tsugawa at Tsugawa Nursery (360-225-8750). He had a few different varieties of crape myrtle around the nursery. These all had wonderful fall color just starting to bust out with the promise of more color to come. The crape myrtle is known for the wonderful late summer blooms that they get, but it can offer so much more to the fall garden. The leaves on most varieties are striking with their vibrant colors and the bark has a multicolor variation that looks great in the winter garden after the leaves are gone. Plus there are a bunch of different heights to choose from. The larger plants can get as tall as 25 feet and the shorter bushes can stay around 3 feet high or shorter with pruning. If you would like to see some great late season blooms followed by wonderful fall color, consider the crape myrtle. You can find a great selection at Tsugawa’s or your local independent garden center.
There is another great reason to visit the nursery this weekend. It is their Gift Shop Open House, running Friday-Sunday, October 18-20. They have new gift items and decorations, plus free classes in pond care, fall chores and container gardens, in addition to their monthly bonsai classes. Check out the specials page on their website for details and learn how you can get a 15 % off coupon good on most items in their nursery.
Moving Plants Indoors
A lot of people take their indoor plants outside during the summer months. It is good to get them some sun and fresh air, but now is the time to bring them indoors for the coming winter. We have some tips that will help keep them healthy and happy. First, start adjusting them for the reduced light and watering they may encounter indoors. Next, prune off the old, dead or diseased leaves and limbs. Finally, get those bugs! Hit your plants with a stream of water from the hose. This will clean them up and get rid of most of your bad bugs that are on the plant. Next you will want to spray your plant with an insecticide or you can add a granular systemic product that will work for 6 months or more. You can use one of the commercially available products out there. If you are concerned about chemicals or you have a citrus (or other edible plant) you can choose an insecticidal soap or Neem Oil product. The insecticides will kill the sucking insects, the natural products smother them. Once you bring your plants in you will want to protect the floor around them. Use a drip tray or saucer under your plants to catch the water. Also, you want to place your larger plants on a plant caddie so you can roll them around easily. Check with your local independent garden centers for more tips.
We are tired of lugging our potted plants around every time the season changes. Our problem was solved by a new product we found called the Potlifter. This product is designed to lift just about anything in the garden. The buckle was easy to latch and handles were comfortable to use. They say you can use it to carry pots, stumps, boulders and even sacks of concrete. As long as it is 72 inches around and less than 200 pounds it can be carried safely and easily. You can find them through the Pale Trading company.
When moving those outside containers remember to pull them up close to your house, under the eaves, to protect them from the extreme cold. The heat from the side of your home with help them through those colder days. Since they are under the eaves, remember to water them occasionally since they don’t get the benefit of all that Northwest rain. You can even wrap them with a little frost cloth if you are really concerned with the weather.
Prepping Your Fruit for Winter
The winter is a scary time for the home gardener with fruit trees. Knowing what to do and when to do it is not easy. To get some tips we traveled to the Home Orchard Society Arboretum on the campus of Clackamas Community College in Oregon City to talk to Tonia about what you should be doing right now. Tonia talked about orchard sanitation. That means that now is the time to look at cleaning up your fruit trees and plants to make sure that you are not carrying any diseases or pests into the new season next year. Getting the dead leaves and old fruit up and away from your plants will help keep those problems away from your plant in the months ahead. Pruning is always a big question for the home orchardist. Pruning and spraying can start taking place in January. You want to make sure that you are getting to the root of the problem and pruning is best when you can see what you are doing without the leaves in the way. You can also directly attack the pest problem with your synthetic or organic sprays in January if you don’t have foliage blocking your application of sprays. When you do spray, always remember to follow all the warnings listed on the labels!
For cane berries you can cut out the dead or spent branches. If you have a berry that fruits on 2nd or 3rd year wood, you want to train those canes up and off the ground after getting rid of the spent canes from this past year. If you have old bush berries like blueberries you can wait until January and remove 1/3 of the oldest wood from your plant to ensure new growth and good production.
If you would like to learn more about the Home Orchard Society and their place in Oregon City, they are looking for a little deal! They are asking people to come out and trade a little cash and elbow grease in exchange for some fruit from their garden later in the season. Think about it. You do a little work, learn about the plants and then you get to harvest the bounty of the garden for your table. Not a bad deal! To learn more check out their website and give them a call!
Do you have questions about fruit in your garden? Maybe you are interested in planting some fruit but are not sure what varieties to choose. This weekend you can attend the All About Fruit Show put on by the Home Orchard Society. This event takes place at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby. The event is both Saturday and Sunday the 19th and 20th from 10am to 4pm. You can talk to experts, listen to speakers, and learn about over 500 different varieties of rare and heirloom fruit. You can even taste some of them.