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August draws to a close and in years past that meant that summer was over and the kids were getting ready to go back to school. However, this year things are a little bit different. We are adjusting to a different kind of fall (even though summer is still here until mid-September) and things have changed. What hasn’t changed is the garden. Every year at this time we are celebrating our late summer blooming plants and the bountiful harvest from our gardens. Just this morning we paid another visit to our garden to harvest more cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots and zucchini. The taste of summer is the one constant we can depend on right now!
If you have extra produce from your garden, be sure to check out our story on donating your extra veggies to those in need.
This week we featured...
Smith Berry Barn – Pesto
One of the great tastes from the summer garden is fresh basil. You can add it to salads, dressings and other culinary delights, but one of the best ways to enjoy it is to make a pesto from it. Joelle from Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) joined us to show us how easy it is to make a delicious pesto that you can add to many dishes from the kitchen. First she gathered about 4 cups of fresh basil leaves and a handful of parsley, and then blended them together with about 4 cloves of garlic. She also added some parmesan cheese, and some olive oil and blended it all together. She also told us that you can add nuts of any kind, including pine nuts, cashews or even hazelnuts. You can use it fresh or you can freeze it for later. Joelle uses a flexible silicone muffin tin to freeze single servings. If you want to try this yourself you can find the recipe on the Smith Berry Barn website.
Oregon Slug Trap
In the organic garden, using a beer trap to get those pesky slugs is nothing new. We recently found a new take on this old remedy. We met with Dirk from The Oregon Slug Trap in Aurora to talk to him about how he developed the new version of this old standby. He mentioned that the old type of trap used to be just a tuna can in the landscape. That old trap filled with water and could be easily knocked over. This new design keeps the rain out and is harder to knock over, plus the trap is harder for other animals to get into and is designed to attract only the slugs! It comes in green and white right now, but they are also looking into other colors to match your landscape. You can find the traps at French Prairie Perennials (14936 3rd St NE, Aurora, OR 97002) in Aurora and through their Facebook page.
Dahlia Flower Types
The fields are blooming, but things are different this year! We’re talking about the Swan Island Dahlia Festival (800-410-6540). This year the festival was cancelled but the fields are still open and you can still visit, and it is still one of the most spectacular shows of the summer. 40 acres of blooms greet you as you drive up. We met with Heather and she said the crew at Swan Island is still welcoming people to visit every day, except Wednesdays, to wander the fields, visit the cut flower stand and stop by the gift shop, but there is not a lot of other organized activities due to the corona virus. They ask that when you visit you bring a mask and observe distancing with other guests. If you can make it by for a visit you will be rewarded with tons of color!
The dahlia has one of the most diverse blooms you will ever see. The types of flowers, colors and styles is huge. Heather told us about a few of the different kinds you will find. She mentioned that some blooms can start at 1 inch in diameter and others can get 12 inches or more in diameter. We saw the different styles of flowers including pom pon, orchid, single, collarette, cactus, decorative, Waterlily, and laciniated! Off camera Heather also talked about things that the home gardener can be doing now to help their own dahlias. She recommended watching for spider mites. These tiny pest can start attacking your plant at the base and you may notice some yellowing of the leaves at the base of you plant. The other thing you can do is to give them lots of water right now and to ‘deadhead’ or remove the old blooms, the watering and deadheading will promote more growth and even more blooms!
Heather also mentioned that, even though the cut flower display, classes and the large food cart area are not here this year, you can still enjoy a nibble or two. Check their Facebook page to see if they have a featured food cart stopping by for a visit. This weekend they have Chop Chop Chicken Sundaes stopping by. Remember your visit is free, but they are asking that you bring a can of non-perishable food or school supplies by if you can and donate it to the Canby Center.
Donate Your Harvest
The home gardener is harvesting in high gear right now and if you are finding that you have more than you can eat or can, why not donate to those who need a little help right now? The Oregon Food Bank and AmpleHarvest are there to point you in the direction of the food bank or pantry in your area. Simply check out their websites to see who is close to you and what they are accepting. Help out a friend and feel good about what you’re growing!
Don’s Garden – The Wall
If you are a home owner, there is nothing more frustrating than having a yard or patio and not being able to use it. This is more common than you know! It seems like everyone has a part of their yard or garden that is not being used. We found a local homeowner named Don who decided to do something about that. He called The Wall (503-735-9255) and they helped him reclaim and rejuvenate his back patio area. Don talked with Judy about what he started with. An old wooden deck, a small beat up piece of lawn and a slope that he wanted to make useful. George from The Wall took some of Don’s ideas, and some stone that he had bought before the project, and started transforming the back yard. It started with creating a level patio made of stone. This replaced the old wooden deck and created a level surface so Don doesn’t have to step down from his house. Next came the fountain with an echo chamber underground. There is no standing water above ground, the reservoir is below ground, and it makes a wonderful soothing noise to cover up the sound of the neighborhood. Finally, the patio had a fire pit included so that Don can entertain outside well into the evening.
We then moved over to chat with Rick from The Wall. He told us that not only did they tackle the issues about the patio area, they also helped with installing retaining walls around the yard to create more level surfaces so there is more yard to enjoy. Add to that the stone walkways, plantings, and other features and Don has a garden he can enjoy and show off! They even helped him with some areas in his front yard too. Rick also mentioned that they were more than happy to work with the materials that Don already had on hand to create this paradise. The Wall has a long list of partners as well, so even the landscape and new cedar fencing was easy to do and included in the project. We think this rejuvenation was about as easy as you can get. Don just figured out what he wanted and The Wall made it happen. They can do this for you too. Give them a call and start to make the most out of your whole yard!
RWPC – Summer Water Checkup
It is the middle of summer and it seems like our sprinklers and hoses are running every day, either on the lawn in the vegetable garden or watering our patio pots and containers. That may be an exaggeration, but we are using a lot more water than we would the other 11 months of the year. There are ways to make sure that we are using our water effectively and efficiently. To get some tips we met with Kevin McCaleb from the Regional Water Providers Consortium at a local home to see what he would recommend. He mentioned that even though we had a nice wet June, that water is all gone and, in fact, we are in the middle of a 3 year drought. 95 percent of the state is below normal for rainfall for this year.
He mentioned that the place to start is by just using your eyes to watch your irrigation system. Turn it on and see where the water is going. Are you watering the pavement, is it running off your lawn and into the street? If you have a slope, is the water staying where it’s supposed to? Also, take a look at your plants. Some of them may need water and others may not. If just a few need a drink, consider just hand watering those and leaving the others. Speaking of plants, your lawn may be looking a little tired too. Kevin recommended that you leave your lawn to dry out and not apply as much water. Grass goes dormant during the summer and it takes a lot of water to keep it green. If you cut back on the water, there is no need to worry, come September and the fall rains, it will bounce back and you’ll be mowing again!
Kevin also recommended that you watch your pop up sprayers in the lawn. Sometimes the amount of water going through them causes a fine mist because the pressure of your system is too much for them to handle. If that water becomes a fine mist, it will just blow away and not end up where you want it. Check with your local hardware store to see if they have a pressure regulator to help reduce that pressure. You could also be putting too much or not enough water on your lawn and garden due to weather changes. Because of that we recommend that you subscribe to the weekly watering number from the Regional Water Providers Consortium. This number is based on the weather and other conditions and is sent to your computer or mobile device so you can adjust your sprinklers and get the most out of watering.
Where can you find all this information and even videos to walk you through the process? At the RWPC website at www.Regionalh2o.org. Check it out and get the most out of your watering system for the rest of the summer!