What are you doing to stay busy? With the Stay at Home orders for Oregon, Washington and Idaho a lot of people are starting to go a little stir crazy. But do you hear that??? It is your garden calling you to come out and play! Yes, even though there might be restrictions on movement out in public, you can still enjoy your garden. In fact, a lot of your local garden centers are open and serving the public with a fresh assortment of garden veggie starts and seeds. In fact, in the show today we’ll talk about both, how to shop your garden center and how to start seeds.
While we are all aware of the dangers of this Covid-19 virus, and the importance of isolating ourselves from others, we also want to make sure that we take care of each other. Check in by phone or email with friends and family. Be good to one another and we will soon be out and about again!
This week we featured...
Wilco Backyard Chickens
One of the hottest trends in gardening is the idea of growing your own food. For some that means a vegetable garden. For others, they want to go a little further and bring poultry to their gardens. The benefits of chickens are many. They can help control insects and pests by eating them. They can help with fertilizing by just doing their ‘business’ as they walk around your garden. They can also bring you fresh eggs. Plus there is the added benefit of just looking cool! To learn more about chickens we stopped by the new Wilco Store in Lake Oswego and talked to Marla. If you have decided to have chickens in your garden you will want to get a few items to help them thrive. First of all you will need to get at least 3-4 baby chicks to start. In Portland the law says you can have 3 hens in your backyard. Remember to check with your town or county to see what the regulations are for your area. In some towns they don’t allow backyard poultry at all! Sometimes one of the chicks turns out to be a rooster and then you will have to get rid of it. Chickens are also social creatures and they are happier if they have company in the garden. As far as supplies you will need equipment for feeding and watering them. Smaller chicks will also need a heat lamp to grow. Then you will also need shelter for them. Even when they grow larger, chickens are not self-sufficient. You will need to feed them and make sure they have all that they need to thrive. Also, people move them around the garden from time to time to give them a fresh place to scratch and peck.
Some people have asked us about the type of chicken (layer or broiler) and whether certain chickens are better layers than others. Marla told us that there are so many breeds available that you really have a wide choice of options! The best thing you can do is talk to one of the experts at Wilco! They can help you get your chicks off to a great start and then they are there to help you as the chickens grow up!
If you are interested in raising chickens stop by your local Wilco store, or better yet, check them out online, and get all your questions answered. If you would like to purchase they can help you make the decision without even going to the store. Then you can drive by for a ‘hands free’ pickup. They can help you be successful as an urban chicken rancher!
Building a Simple Hoop House
In the last couple of years we have shown you how to build your own raised garden bed. Recently we had the itch to get out and do a little early gardening so we came up with a simple way to build a basic hoop house to protect our tender vegetables and get an early start on the gardening season. The one we built was very easy to construct. We stopped by a local hardware store to pick up 4 different materials we would need. We needed 3 hoops for our 6 x 4 foot bed. So we needed 6 pieces of 2 foot long rebar (you might need to get 3 foot pieces if your soil is soft). 3 - twelve foot pieces of PVC ˝ inch pipe, plastic sheeting that is clear and at least 6 ‘mil’ thick, and finally some clamps to hold the plastic on the poles. Drive the rebar in the ground on each side of your raised bed. Be sure to call 811 to locate any underground obstacles. Leave about 6-8 inches above the ground and slide the PVC over the rebar on one side. Get some help, bend the pole and slide it over the rebar on the either side of your bed. We did this until we had 3 nice hoops. Then we pulled the plastic sheeting over the hoops and secured it to the hoops with the clamps. At the ends we folded the plastic and secured that to the sides of the raised bed. Remember to check and water your plants since they will not be receiving any direct rainfall. Also, keep your eye on the weather and when days get above 55 degrees you may want to take the plastic off for a few hours until dark.
Now you can plant your tomatoes, peppers and other tender plants out a little sooner than you normally would, or in our case we want the bed to heat up so we get asparagus a few weeks sooner. What a quick and easy way to start your garden early or extend it later this fall!
Spring is the time to divide! We’re talking plants and one of the easiest to divide are the ferns. We stopped by Sebright Gardens (503-463-9615) and had Thomas give us some hands on instruction for how to do it. If you look at your ferns in the garden you will see the little ‘fiddle heads’ coming up. These tightly curled fronds are the new growth for the coming season. If you see them you can be careful not to break them off while dividing your plant. Thomas started by digging around and then underneath the plant. This will avoid those tender new shoots. Then, while working from the bottom of the crown, Thomas used a knife and his hands to tease apart the plant creating divisions, and with a little work, he came away with 3 new plants. By working from the bottom he was able to protect and preserve the new growth on top.
Once they are divided they can be planted in hummus rich soil. They grow well in forest settings with lots of natural compost on the forest floor. If you create a nice rich soil with a lot of garden mulch, they should thrive. Remember to keep them well watered during that first year of growth and they should adapt well.
If you would like to add ferns to your garden, you can check out Sebright Gardens website. They grow over 100 different ferns as well as some other great plants!
Now is the time to start some of your seeds indoors in anticipation of the coming spring and summer. The basic rules for success include starting with a quality soil and fresh seeds. Sterile soil will help you keep your new plants happy and healthy, because they won’t be exposed to different molds and fungus. We always use Black Gold Seedling Mix for starting our plants. Not only is it free of disease and pests, it is also soft and light so your plants can set roots faster and your plants get a quicker start. Black Gold is also a natural and organic soil since these seedlings were for our veggie garden. You will also need to read the back of your seed pack so you will know how deep to plant your seeds and other care instructions. You can help the seedlings along by using a heating mat and grow lights, but if you have a warm place next to a window with lots of sun exposure, you should be alright. Remember to keep those seeds moist. If they dry out once germinated, they could die and then you would have to start all over. We recommend that you also move and thin your small plant seedlings, after the first month, to bigger pots to give them the best start before they go in the garden. We did this with a natural and organic soil since these seedlings were for our veggie garden. Once you are ready to move them outside, give them a couple of days in a garage or protected area so they can acclimate to the outdoor temps. This would be a great year to start a vegetable garden to save some money; check out your local garden center for a great selection of seeds. For some more tips on successful seed starting, check out the ‘Seed Starting’ link on the How-To page.
Shopping Your Garden Center During Covid-19
A lot of your local nurseries and garden centers in Oregon and Washington are still open as essential businesses because they can provide you with vegetable starts and fruit plants, but a lot of them have started new services and have new procedures for you to follow.
Here are some of the services that your local garden center may offer.
If you would like to order online, a lot of garden centers are taking orders through email or by phone. Check out your local nurseries website or Facebook page to see what they have to offer right now. A lot of them are posting pictures of plants that are available. Then email or call them with a list of the plants you would like to purchase. For most of them, you can even pay by credit card over the phone. Don’t forget to order extra soil or other garden products at the same time as you make your plant purchase. This will eliminate extra trips.
If you have ordered on-line, some nurseries are offering curbside pick-up. Just call them when you arrive at the nursery and they will bring your plants out to you. Other nurseries are offering free delivery in a limited area, though some orders may need a minimum purchase to qualify. Please be patient as staff may be busy and trucks have to coordinate deliveries.
If you are headed to your favorite garden center be aware that policies have changed there too. Social distancing rules are being strictly enforced. Some nurseries may ask you to leave if you are not following their guidelines. Always follow the instructions of nursery staff. Some places have limited hours or other special considerations, check their website. Be aware that all nurseries have adopted comprehensive cleaning procedures, but still be careful of high touch surfaces.
For a list of garden centers and nurseries that are open and what their new procedures are, check out this website, www.PlantSomethingOregon.com/coronavirus. The main thing is that we want you to be safe and healthy as you garden this spring.
If you live in the Northwest you have moss. This is one of the biggest problems facing the homeowner and with the warmer weather around the corner you may have the urge to renovate your lawn for the summer months ahead. But first you have to get rid of the moss. We found a bunch of different products that you can use to get rid of the moss right now. Now is the perfect time to attack the moss. The colder weather means that the moss is not actively growing and that means it isn’t sending out spores. Those spores helps spread the moss and so killing the moss reduces your problems in the future. The Northwest is perfect for moss. We have the temperate climate and the moisture that it really loves, and it is a condition that we get from a lack of care. If you take care of your lawn and help the grass grow, then you can help keep the moss from taking over. But first you have to get rid of the moss! We first featured the Moss Out product from Lilly Miller. William started the story by spraying a patch of the lawn and by the time we finished the story the moss was already turning black! We also learned that if you have the Moss Out product it contains iron and you should be careful not to let it get on buildings, patios or clothing. The iron will cause a stain. Wash it off quickly. Other types of moss removal products include one from Bonide that contains potassium fatty acids (which is considered a natural product) and one from Worry Free which contains citrus oil.
If you like moss, then keep it! Some people love the look and feel of the thick green carpet. Just remember that later in the season, that moss will turn brown and die in the summer heat, and that can leave the door open for weeds to take over. The best cure for that is to keep your lawn nice and healthy! A strong lawn will not allow the moss to take over. So, once the moss is gone make sure you reseed with a quality seed and maintain it correctly.