We are nearly to spring... can you feel it? The weather this past week has been a great tease for the upcoming season and we are all itching to get back outside (without our sweaters) and enjoy some great gardening.
A lot of you have been reeling from all the news about the Coronavirus and the effects that it has had on events in our area. Unfortunately, we are not immune at Garden Time. We are sad to announce that we are postponing our GardenPalooza event from April 4th to June 27th. We’re just happy that we are able to continue our event for our 18th year, even though it won’t be in the early spring. Check out the GardenPalooza website for more details.
Also, the Garden Time Tour to Portugal and Spain is still on for this fall. We only have a few seats left. We know that the recent concerns will be addressed within months and by the time of our tour things should be returning to normal. This trip is a great value and we are looking forward to sharing some spectacular gardens with everyone this fall.
We hope everyone stays healthy and safe.
This week we featured...
When you hear about African violets you might think about the tender and temperamental little flowers that your grandma had. That’s not the case anymore. We stopped by the home of Kristie Moore of Violet Source, a local grower and member of the Portland African Violet Association to talk about these cool plants. She started with one plant many years ago and quickly fell in love with them. Even though there are 1,000’s of varieties out there, she has over 200 in her house. There are tons of different sizes, leaf and bloom colors to choose from. Kristie loves the semi-miniatures which stay small and she can have more of them on display in her home, but she also had a new ‘micro-mini’ from her friend Wes Carter that was just tiny! We heard that they really thrive if you take care of water and light issues. The easiest way to kill an African violet is to overwater them. Kristie uses a wicking system where strings in the bottom of her pots draw water up and to the plant when it needs a drink. Kristie also talked about overhead watering. People have been told that overhead watering is bad. She told us that is because of the temperature of the water. Keep the water at room temperature and it won’t leave spots on your leaves. She also controls the temperature by having them in an area that doesn’t experience the extremes of hot and cold. Good indirect lighting also helps. African violets like consistency!
If you would like to find out more about African Violets and how to grow them, or even to pick up a few for your home, you can see people from the Portland African Violet Association today, Saturday the 14th, at the Portland Nursery on Division Street. Between 10am and 3pm you can see a lot of these cool plants and even a few rare ones that you can’t find anywhere else.
Displaying Daffodils and Tulips
Some of the first flowers of spring are the Daffodils and Tulips. Now you may want to bring in those flowers to enjoy in a vase, container or arrangement. Beware of the daffodil! When daffodils are fresh cut they ooze a sap that will block other flowers from taking up water. This is especially true for your tulips. Let the daffs sit in water for a couple of hours and then rinse them off and use them in your flower arrangements, and they won’t stunt your tulips!
Daffodils are also great at keeping deer away from your prized tulips; surround them with daffodils. Deer hate the ‘daffs’ and will ignore your tulips to avoid the daffodils. If you are itching for tulips mark your calendar for next weekend. That is the start of the annual Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival. Stop by and pick up some daffodils and tulips to bring spring into your own home!
Grafting Fruit Trees
As a kid I always thought that I could plant an apple seed and get a tree full of apples in my backyard! I learned later that was impossible. The seeds from an apple are a mish-mash of different genes and you can never be sure of what you will get. The only way to get a fruit tree that is a true variety is to graft one. Grafting is the art of using one type of tree for healthy roots and another type of tree for good fruit production. To learn more we stopped by the Home Orchard Society Arboretum at Clackamas Community College. We met with Tonia Lordy, who is the manager, to get a tour and lesson in grafting. She had a demonstration table set up where she showed us how to graft an apple tree. She started with a piece of root stock that was a dwarf variety that would help keep the plant short, and made a sharp cut down the center. Then she took a piece of scion wood and made a sharp cut in a ‘V’ shape. The scion wood is actually a piece of first year ‘new wood’ from a parent plant (a type of apple you want to have in your garden to eat). She then pushed the V into the cut on the root stock. The surface areas of the 2 cuts have to match up pretty well for the graft to work. The cambium layers of the two pieces must be touching! Then you wrap them with a piece of rubber band and some grafting seal to keep it from drying out or keeping bugs and diseases from entering. If the graft works you should be able to start harvesting apples in 3-4 years.
If you would like to make your own tree you can contact the Home Orchard Society through their website. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak their annual Fruit Propagation Fair at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby which was scheduled for this weekend was canceled, but they can point you the direction of a member that can help you.
Sweet peas are often overlooked in the garden. Like their edible cousin they can climb up a wall or trellis and give you a cascade of color. To learn more about them we stopped by Portland Nursery on Stark and chatted with Sara. Older varieties were known for powdery mildew problems and very limited colors to choose from, but newer varieties are improved and full of spectacular colors. Some of these newer varieties are actually older varieties that are proven winners. To help your pea seeds whether for flowers or fruit, you should always use a pea inoculant. This is a powder that you add to water and then apply to your peas. This helps them get a strong and healthy start which will give you better production and nicer flowers.
Stop by either location of Portland Nursery for a great selection of flowering and edible peas for your garden.
If you like fresh vegetables, you can’t beat onions fresh from the garden. Some people have a tough time with onions, but they are really easy if you follow these simple rules. First get your starts from your local garden center. You may find them in 3 different packages. One package will be the tray pack; another is a bunch of starts that are rubber banded together, and you will also find seeds/sets. With the tray pack or starts you will want to separate them into individual plants and plant them in the ground as a single stalk. Spread them out from 2-5 inches depending on how big you want your onions to get. If you plant them close together you will get smaller onions. If you have a larger variety like Walla Walla you can plant them further apart to allow them to get larger in the ground. If you are planting seeds you will find that they are very small. That means you will need to thin the plants out as they grow. No worries, these little, mini onions are great for seasoning in your soups and stews. Then you will have room for your other onions to grow bigger. Ryan also shared his rules for success. Use good loose soil so they grow nice and big, and water well for the best success.
Pruning Apple Trees
Pruning is one of the hardest jobs in the garden. A lot of gardeners are afraid of cutting back their plants for fear of damaging them or possibly killing the plant. This is especially true of fruiting plants! Some believe that if you cut too much or at the wrong time you can reduce your yield! That’s true, but if you don’t prune, you can reduce your yield as well. To learn some basic pruning techniques we stopped by Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) in Scholls and talked with Rich. He is the reason for all the great fruit production they get on the farm. Last week we talked about blueberries but this week we moved to the orchard and started on an apple tree.
Apples fruit on an older wood. Fruit spurs are formed on wood that has been cut back, forcing growth to these spurs. Pruning here is to not only promote the highest quality fruit , but also to increase the size of that fruit. An unpruned tree will produce a lot of fruit, but it will always be small and will probably all mature at the end of the branches creating weight problems and possible damage to the tree. Rich showed us how pruning makes the fruit ripen better (with more exposure to sun) and easier to pick.
If you would like some tips for pruning your fruit you can stop by the nursery for some hands-on training on pruning techniques, today, March 14th. Check out their website for times of this annual pruning seminar. Do a little pruning now for the best production ever!
TOW – Floating Hellebores
In the late winter leading up to spring it is hard to enjoy the colors of your outdoor plants. To help you enjoy them, bring them indoors. Winter blooming plants like hellebores are even more difficult to enjoy because the flowers sometime face down to the ground. One way to enjoy them is to cut the blooms and float them in a bowl of water. This way the blooms are facing upwards and, because they are in water, you can enjoy their beauty for a week or two.