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I’m hearing that a lot of our viewers are tired. Not just because of the changing season (which always make me a little sleepy), but because of all the work of getting their gardens and patios ready for winter. Plants are being moved indoors, patio sets are being covered or stored, and gardens are being put to bed. There is definitely a change in the air. Among all these chores, take some time to do some relaxing outdoor activities. You can check out the ‘safely distanced’ events at farms around the area, take a walk looking at the colorful trees or even whip up a fall treat in your kitchen. We feature a few of these activities on this week’s show. So enjoy the season!
This week we featured...
Hoyt Fall Color
Fall is here and the trees at Hoyt Arboretum (503-228-TREE) are putting on their annual show. Martin Nicholson, the curator at the arboretum, took us out to show us the fall color and we didn’t have to go far. We started at a large specimen of American smoke tree. It was a huge mass of vibrant red leaves. It was here where we asked how the tree turns such a variety of different colors. Martin told us that the trees sense the change in the length of daylight and start shutting off the flow of nutrients to and from the leaves. This causes the chlorophyll to slowly degrade and disappear from the leaves causing the other colors to appear in the leaves. These chemicals are always there during the year, but they now become more visible. The direct sunlight makes it appear faster. Martin even showed us how the leaf was a bright red in the sunlight and a yellow/green in the shaded areas.
We also talked about the Maple Trail of the arboretum where the Sugar Maples were one of the stars of the show. These are the trees that people equate with fall, but there are so many other maples that look great too. The Arboretum has nearly 70 types of maples to check out. It is a great place to be if you are a photographer! The arboretum is a great place to take the family or any out-of-town guests. It is open year round but the color show won’t last forever. The show is just starting and will continue for the next few weeks!
Planting Onions and Garlic
A few minutes now will lead to a flavorful future. Judy and Ryan gave us tips for planting onions and garlic for the fall. Planting now will allow the bulbs to create the roots that will make for a bountiful harvest next fall. Ryan started by showing us how to plant onions. They come as a package of little ‘bulblettes’. These are planted in a trench about 2-3 inches deep. Remember to space them out so that when the onions grow they have the space to give you a big crop. Then you cover them up and let the fall rains do their work. You should be harvesting your onions around the end of June or into July. Then Judy showed us how to plant garlic. Get some garlic from your local garden store. Don’t use the garlic from your local grocery store; it is treated to keep from sprouting. Break apart the cloves and plant the individual parts about 3-4 inches apart in a trench about 4 inches deep. Garlic is one of the easiest bulbs to grow, since you can let the rains keep them watered over the winter. The garlic will be ready about July when the tops die back by about 1/3.
To keep the squirrels and cats out of the garden bed and prevent them from digging up our crop, we covered the ground with a bird netting. This can be removed once the leaf growth breaks through the soil. So plant now and get a start on a successful garden for next year.
Fall Garden Spiders
A lot of people have noticed the increase in spiders this fall. We have been hearing questions about whether there are more spiders than normal and are they bigger? In the past we talked to Gail Langellotto, an entomologist with Oregon State University’s Extension Service. She told us that there are not more spiders, nor are they any bigger than in the past. They are just more active in the fall and are either looking for food or a mate and that makes them more visible in the garden. A lot of people have an aversion to spiders, and they do look kind of creepy, but they are great garden helpers! They are a natural pest control for the gardener. They don’t feed on plants, they just catch other bugs and pests. The spiders you see in your garden are not even a threat to us. They only bite infrequently and will usually run away if bugged. Of the 700 to 800 species of spiders in Oregon, only the black widow has the potential to cause serious harm to humans. This spider is found in the drier areas of southern Oregon and east of the Cascades more commonly than in the Willamette Valley. Hobo spiders, research shows, are not poisonous to humans, but their bite may cause pain, redness and itching. Poisonous brown recluse spiders do not live in Oregon, according to Gail. If you would like to keep the spiders at bay here are a few tips.
• Wear gloves, pants and a long-sleeved shirt when handling firewood or stored boxes where spiders may have built funnel-shaped nests.
• Seal holes around doors, windows and outlets for plumbing and wiring where spiders can find entry into the house.
• Sweep webs from corners, rock walls and under eaves. Repeat as necessary.
• Keep porch lights switched off as much as possible to keep from attracting flying insects that make good prey for spiders. Or switch to yellow bulbs, which attract fewer night-flying insects.
• Place simple cardboard sticky traps (without the use of insecticide spray) along baseboards and bed frames where wandering spiders tend to move.
• Keep vegetation near house mowed or trimmed.
You can also contact your local extension office for help in identifying the ones in your garden.
FPG – Fall Fest
Fall is a busy time at French Prairie Gardens (503-633-8445). To hear all about what they have going on we stopped by and talked with Stacy. Due to the Covid virus they have made a few changes to their annual Pumpkin Patch event. This year they are asking that you reserve a 2 hour time to come and play in the pumpkin patch, mazes and other activities that they offer. You can do that by going to their website and booking your time there. If you do, you can enjoy some of the listed activities like the Pigtucky Derby Pig Races, Corn Maze, Sunflower Maze, Rope Maze, Obstacle Course, Tube Slide, Farm Ninja Course, Pig Barrel Train Rides, Tire Swings, Hand Pump Duck Races, Jump Pad, Tractor Wagon Ride, Hamster Rollers, Corn Cannon, and Apple Slingshot.
If you are not into the fall fun on the farm, you can still stop by and pick up a few fall plants for your garden, enjoy a beer or cider, and shop the farm store full of fresh produce and tasty baked goods. So whatever you need for the fall, whether it is a little fun, or something a little tastier, you can find it at French Prairie Gardens.
Smith Pear Dishes
This fall is the time for pears. Pear and apples are at their flavorful best right now and the good news is that, if chilled or refrigerated, they can last for a few months and be used when you need them. One of the best places to get fresh pears and apples is at Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172). We stopped by the store and joined Joelle in the kitchen again to get another great recipe for some of the fresh pears they offer. She showed us 4 of the varieties of pears that they have on the farm right now. Red Bartlett, Bartlett, Comice, and D’Anjou are available either for u-pick or fresh picked in their store, but you can always call or check their website for current availabilities. We also talked about how to ripen pears. They are usually picked while they are still a little green. Then they are chilled in a refrigerator. A couple days before you need them, you bring them out to let them ripen at room temperature. They turn out perfect with a wonderful taste and a smooth, but not grainy texture. Today Joelle was using Bartlett pears for a quick and easy pear dish. First, she peeled, sliced the pears into quarters and then she cored them. On her stove she had a pan of butter (about 2 tablespoons) with a tiny bit of thinly sliced ginger put into the butter. The pear quarters went into the pan and were browned on all 3 sides. Then a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and other spices went on top. You can find the recipe on the Smith Berry Barn website. After the sugar was a little caramelized, the pears are dished into a bowl and served. We had ours with a little ice cream and it was wonderful!
If you would like to come out and pick you own pears, right off the tree, we recommend that you schedule a time to pick through the reservation system on their website. On the site you will also find more great recipes and a complete availability list for all their great fruit and vegetables on the farm. Including the recipes for the pear cobbler and pear butter that we also saw.
Hell Strip Revisit
Earlier this year we stopped by the home of Bonny, our friend from the Regional Water Providers Consortium. She was in the process of replacing the lawn in the parking strip in front of her home. These areas near the road are also known as ‘Hell Strips’ due to their lack of regular irrigation and tough plant selection. Bonny had chosen plants last spring that were gong to be drought tolerant, with little or no care needed once they were established. That meant that she would have to water them this year to get them rooted and keep them healthy. We returned to find a bed with happy plants and a lot of local pollinators! The garden was doing well and just starting to spread out. The nepeta, or catmint, was doing really well! Bonny also told us that she only had to water every week or so to keep them happy. We think they were doing so well because Bonny and her husband also had applied a thick layer of wood chip compost over the soil. This covering also helped suppress the weeds too, with only a few that popped up during the season. Bonny made sure that her trees did well too by using a bucket to water them. This bucket had tiny holes drilled in the bottom of it. These allowed the water to slowly drip into the soil for a good deep watering of the trees. Her next plan is to plant some spring blooming bulbs so she can get a nice burst of color in the spring.
Going back to the buckets for watering her trees, we noticed that she had a portable storage container of water next to the bucket. This was part of her emergency supply of drinking water for her family. September is emergency preparedness month and it is a good time to check your supplies and refresh them if needed and that includes your supply of safe drinking water. Bonny and her family have taken the 14 Gallon Challenge. They have stored 1 gallon of water, per person, per day, for 14 days. This supply will help if there is an emergency and they need drinking water. It is this time of year that they use the old water in their garden before refilling their containers for the upcoming year.
For more tips on preparedness and water efficiency, check out their website at www.Regionalh2o.org.