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We are getting the heat in the garden again. The veggies are starting to show signs of recovery and growth. Plus some of the flowers that were drooping in the baskets are now bouncing back. We are even seeing new blooms pop up. Of course after that first flush of blooms you may need to give your perennials a trim. Check out our story this week with Kerry at French Prairie Perennials about how to do that.
It is also time for fresh fruit. We also have a story on how to prepare and preserve all that fruit so you can enjoy it all year long!
This week we featured...
Garland Deer Resistant Plants #2
A couple weeks ago we talked to Lee at Garland Nursery (1-800-296-6601) about some great plants to try and keep the deer away from your garden. We are back again with a few more plants that he had to share. The key to all these plants is that they are deer ‘resistant’. That means that the deer don’t like them, but they will eat them if they are hungry enough. Lee had divided this group of plants into shade and sun loving varieties. We started with the sun lovers! The dwarf blue spruce ‘Glauca globosa’. This one has a texture that they don’t like. For us it is a great little plant in the garden that stays short and round, with that lovely blue foliage. Next to that was the Feather Reed Grass, Calamagrostis ‘Avalanche’. This one has white and light green variegation on tall thin leaves. They look very graceful in the wind. They also have tall seed heads that last through the early winter. The final plant in this group is a heather, ‘Mrs. D.F. Maxwell’. This is a summer bloomer and has great pink flower spikes that contrast well with the spruce and the grass. A great combo!
Another great combo of plants was right next to these on the cart. These are the shade lovers of the bunch. The tall Japanese maple ‘Ukigumo’ was first on the list. This one likes a little shade because of the variegated foliage. It has a little green, cream and pink color on the leaves which is more striking in the spring. It goes to more green in the summer and then has great fall color and structure in the winter. Another shade plant is the small rhododendron ‘Wine and Roses’ this one has pinkish/rose colored flowers in the spring and then you get the incredible foliage for the rest of the summer with deep red coloring under the leaves. The final plant that deer don’t like, but you will, is the Brunnera ‘Looking Glass’. The bright foliage is a great highlight for the darkest parts of your garden, but then they also reward you with wands of blue flowers in the spring. It is like a forget-me-not but not as weedy. Slugs also don’t like this plant either!
We love perennials! They give us great colors and textures for most of the summer, and they come back year after year. Still, they can get a little ratty looking in the middle of summer and sometimes we just don’t know what to do. Where do you go for advice? For perennials you go to French Prairie Perennials (503-679-2871)! We stopped by the Aurora store to talk to Kerry about some of those wonderful color plants and what you can do to freshen them up during the summer. We started with a Lupine. These are wonderful plants known for their huge spikes of blooms that last for weeks. Once that bloom has faded you want to cut the flower stem back down to a leaf joint or new vegetative growth (generally at that leaf point there can be new sprouts or new growth). This will stimulate new flowers or focus the energy on making a stronger plant. A smaller campanula was next on the chopping block and we’re not kidding. The blooms were all gone on this plant and Kerry gave it a ‘ponytail’ cut. She grabbed all the spent bloom stalks together and made a ponytail between her fingers and then cut it all off. This was a BIG haircut, but she told us that this ‘reset’ was good for the plant. Within a couple weeks the foliage will be back and new flowers would soon follow. Astilbe was next. It has large, long flower stems and they also need to be cut down to the base, leaving the foliage intact. New flower stalks will return and if you keep cutting them off it will keep blooming. Kerry also told us about the importance of mulch for your perennials. Mulch in the summer helps keep the roots cool and that helps the plant produce more blooms. New mulch in the winter protects those roots from cold and frost. Regular watering will also help keep those roots cool too.
Kerry had some delphiniums on her table too. These confuse people because they don’t know where to cut. Kerry went to the base of each bloom stem and cut it there, once again, leaving the foliage intact. The new flower growth comes from the base of this plant. We love gaillardia (also called Blanket Flower), but they have a tendency to get long bloom stems with multiple blooms sprouting from those stems. Here you can cut the individual spent blooms from the stem and enjoy each bloom along its length, or if there are too many gone, you can give this plant a ponytail haircut as well. The gaillardia growth also brought to mind fertilizers. A lot of people ask Kerry about fertilizing their plants and she recommended a fertilizer that is lower in nitrogen. If you have a bag of fertilizer there are usually 3 numbers on the bag. They stand for Nitrogen –phosphorus –potash. She says you should have a nitrogen level (the first number) at around 10 to 12. This will give you short and strong stems. Long stems are what you get with some dahlias like the one we had next on the table. Here you can go down along the stem and cut off the individual spent blooms and continue that until you run out of new blooms and then take it down to the bottom where there is new growth. We moved to 2 different veronicas. One had a bunch of dead flower stalks and it got the haircut, and the other only had a couple of spent bloom, so it got the removal of individual stems, leaving the blooming ones on until they are done. The final plants were a couple of Gauras. One was leggy, with long and wild flower stems and was smaller, but Kerry showed us how, if you cut those leggy branches off, you get a fuller plant with more blooms! More blooms for your buck!
These were just a few of the flowering perennials you can find at French Prairie Perennials in historic Aurora, but don’t just drive by! Stop and go in the gift shop as well. We can guarantee that you will leave with a plant and something special from the gift shop as well!
Smith Berry Barn – Prepping & Preserving Your Berries
This time of year there seems to be a fresh new berry getting ripe every day. While there is nothing like the taste of a fresh berry, sometimes we would like to preserve our favorites for later in the season. The best way to do that is by freezing them. To get some tips on freezing your berries we stopped by Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) in Scholls. Joelle and Rich grow dozens of different varieties of berries and they have become experts in preserving them. They have to; they use these fresh frozen berries in their delicious shakes and jams all year long! Joelle brought in some fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries to show us what to do. The first thing you do, no matter which berry you have, is to refrigerate them. The berries continue to ripen even after you pick them, so the refrigeration helps slow down that process. If you are getting ready to eat them or can them you wait until you are ready to use them before you wash them. This helps the berry stay firm. To wash them just float them in a bowl of clean water. This will remove any dust or sprays on them. Smith Berry Barn doesn’t use any sprays so it is just a tiny bit of dust that you will be removing. Once they are clean remove them from the water and pat them dry with a cloth or paper towel. If you are washing strawberries make sure you leave the stem on until you are done so the berry doesn’t get any water inside the fruit. Take the stem off right before you eat them or freeze them.
You can now eat them fresh or get them ready for freezing. To freeze them, spread them out on a cookie sheet or other tray in a single layer and place them in the freezer for about 4-6 hours depending on your freezer and the type of berry you are freezing. Take a bite of one to make sure they are frozen completely. You can then pour them into a sealed or zip-lock freezer bag for storage. Make sure you label the bag with the date to keep track of freshness. You can now pull the berries out and use them for any late season recipe that you have. Make sure they defrost before you add them to your recipe. To get some of the freshest berries check out the Smith Berry Barn website. They have a daily updated list of what is fresh in the fields!
Blooming Junction - Fall Vegetable Planting
If you love to have fresh vegetables past fall and into winter, now is the time to start planting! Yup, July may be hot and may seem to be the wrong time to get anything in the ground, but it is the best time to get some of your late season crops planted. Justin from Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) is an expert in vegetable gardens as the Farm Manager at the nursery and he joined Judy to talk about what the home gardener should be doing right now.
The crops that people should be focusing on getting in the ground right now are the root crops like beets, carrots, parsnips and even some leafy greens. Some cole crops like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower can go in the ground a little closer to fall since the cooler temps can make those crops a little sweeter and tastier. When planting seeds you should also be looking for varieties that will do better with fall plantings. Some packages will even tell you if they perform better in the fall. During the heat of summer we also have to remember to water consistently for good germination. We should also work on providing good drainage. Even though they need good watering now, when those fall rains return we will need that excess water to drain away quickly.
Protection from summer heat and pests is a good idea too. At the farm they use a shade cloth that they cover the veggies with on the really hot days, it also provides protection from flying pests and aphids while the plants are establishing. Speaking of pests, you will also need to watch out for slugs and snails. Justin uses Sluggo on their fields because it is safe for people and pets, but there are a lot of safe slug products out there to use. If you don’t want to try your luck with starting seeds, you can also buy plant starts at a lot of your local garden centers to get a head start.
Finally we headed up to the farm market where they sell a ton of fresh produce for those who want to do it the easy way! You can even sign up for their Fall CSA program, which will bring you an assortment of fresh produce every week throughout the fall. For more information, seed, starts, or even flowering plants, just stop by Blooming Junction and get everything you need!
Summer is a time for celebration! Whether it is a birthday party, wedding or even the company picnic, you can make the celebration even more special with confetti. And, now you don’t have to worry about the environment! We found a way to make confetti with leaves from your garden. Just use a hole punch and select some leaves from your favorite plants, almost any leaf will work, and start punching holes! You can speed up the process with a 3-hole punch if you have one. Some people even have used a heart shaped punch to make it even more special. It’s a great kids project too. So get out your hole punch and celebrate!
TOW – Pinching Basil
For our tip of the week we had a simple one for you. This one is all about extending your harvest of your basil well into the season. If your basil is starting to get a flower stem you need to pinch it off. This will promote new leaf growth which is what you use for your pestos and salads. It will also give you a stronger and healthier plant and extend your harvest season.