COVID-19 AWARENESS: Please note that we are taking all necessary precautions to keep our on-air personalities, interviewees and crew safe during this challenging time. However, we do run repeat stories and segments that were shot last year, before social distancing practices were recommended by health officials. If you see our hosts standing close to someone, please be assured that the segment was shot before March of 2020. We thank you for your concern and your interest in Garden Time.
Happy St. Patrick's Day weekend! It feels like spring, doesn't it? I feel lucky already! This is going to be a good growing season. With the nice weather people want to plant stuff! Remember, a warm day does not make a 'spring'! The soil temperatures are still too low for a lot of plants to thrive. Make sure you check with your local garden center to learn the growing conditions your plants need to survive and thrive. Maybe a little clean up in the garden, and then a nice break to enjoy this glorious sun!
Also, don't forget to change your clocks this weekend. We 'Spring' forward an hour.
This week we featured...
Kindergarden - Coloring Daffodils
This week's Kindergarden segment is something that many people did when they were growing up; adding dye to your flowers to make them change color. We were using daffodils, but you can use carnations or even celery. You first go out into your garden and cut a fresh daffodil. You then add a couple drops of food coloring to some water, green, blue or red work the best. We only had the paste type of food coloring and we felt it worked a little better. We also mixed it in lukewarm water which helps the plant bring it up to the petals. Over the next couple of days you will start to notice the color appearing on the outer edges of the flower. If you look closely you will actually see the small colored veins in the flower. It is a great way to see how plants use and take up water.
First Season Fruits
There are a lot of new gardeners out there and they are just learning the benefits of being able to pick their own fruits and vegetables from their gardens. Vegetables are great because they produce the same year as you plant them, but fruits are a different matter. Planting a fruit tree or bush could mean waiting a few years for that plant to produce an acceptable harvest. We stopped by One Green World (877-353-4028) to chat with Sam about some possible fruits that you can plant and harvest in the same year! He not only brought out some familiar varieties that you can plant, but also a few different varieties you can try! First, Sam noted that most of the fruits that produce in the first year are smaller and bushier varieties of plants. That being said, he has a few he recommended.
The first was a Chilean Guava, a member of the myrtle family. This evergreen ends up covered by tiny fruits that look like pomegranates. They require very little care and don't need great soils to do well. Some say the fruits taste like strawberry pop tarts. A more traditional fruiting plant with a twist is the 'Pink Lemonade' blueberry. Covered in 'pink' blueberries it is a show stopper. Blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to grow in our area, because they love our acidic soils, but this one will make growing blueberries a little bit more fun! The third plant was the goumi. The one featured was 'Sweet Scarlet'. We've seen this one around the area and they can get loaded with fruit! You can eat them fresh or use them in jams and jellies. This plant is also great for your garden as it is a nitrogen fixing plant. That means it replenishes your soil by returning nitrogen to the ground. It's like getting fruit AND free fertilizer. The final plant is not known for its pleasant taste, the aronia. What it lacks in taste it makes up for in nutrition. The aronia is used with other juices and fruits to boost their nutritional value. The dwarf variety we saw can produce a ton of fruit and even handle those soggy parts of your garden. Freeze them and throw them into your smoothies and you will get a boost every morning.
These are just a few of the selections of berried plants that you can find at One Green World. You can check them out in SE Portland off of Foster Road, or go to their website. They ship nearly everywhere!
Growing Easter Grass
There is nothing like 'REAL' grass in your Easter basket. In this segment we saw how easy it is to grow grass for your Easter (or spring) baskets. All you need is weed fabric (we also used a left over plastic clamshell), Black Gold potting soil, any type of grass seed (Wheat grass works really well), and water. First you line the basket with the fabric. Remember the fabric will allow the water to drain so make sure it is a basket that can get wet. Next put in the potting soil and keep it an inch or so below the edge of the basket. Then sprinkle grass seed in the soil. Don't go too light on the seed; you want it to be really full looking! Mix the seed into the soil and water lightly. The seed should start growing in a week to 10 days. Keep the soil moist until the seed germinates and it will be ready by Easter morning! Once it is done you can recycle it, or if you used wheat berries for your grass, you can add the grass to your smoothies or your pet might like to chew on it.
The spring garden is home to the 'loner' of the bee world. The Orchard Mason Bee is a wonderful, early spring, pollinator. It will fly in colder weather than its honey-making counterpart. It is also a very busy bee. It can pollinate many more flowers than the honey bee, plus it is much more docile too. It hardly ever stings! The one difference between the 2 varieties? The mason bee is pretty much done pollinating by mid-May and then it heads into hibernation to wait for the next spring to start all over again. We met with Sara at Portland Nursery (503-788-9000) on Division to learn more about these little 'busy bees'. She told us about these industrious bees and how they pollinate your garden plants. Then these bees will find holes in the wild to lay their eggs. We have found them laying eggs everywhere including cracks in our house. The best part is that they don't do any damage to the area where they lay their eggs. You can watch these bees as a family project with some of the cool mason bee homes that you can get at either location of Portland Nursery. For more information on welcoming the Mason Bee to your backyard, stop by and check in with the Portland Nursery staff, or check out this handout from Portland Nursery and OSU Extension on their website.
Spring Grape Pruning
When you approach your grapes in the spring you may not know where to start. There are so many vines that it is hard to know where to make the cut. To learn some tricks of the trade we travelled to the Dundee area and stopped at Stoller Family Estate (503-864-3404) . There we met up with Jason Tosch, the VP of Vineyards. He and his crew have the job of taking care of the vines and make sure they stay healthy so they can grow the perfect grapes for their delicious wines. Jason told us that you are looking to save buds right now. For the home gardener it could be as simple as leaving 2 vines with 4-5 buds on them. These buds will grow new canes and those canes will grow your grapes. The key is to not be afraid of cutting. Cutting (pruning) is the key to success. If your vines start to bleed while you are cutting them, don't worry, that's normal. It is caused by the warming of the vines and they will seal up not long after you finish cutting. Also, Jason recommended that you put your vines in an area where you can get them lots of sun exposure. Grapes will survive very nicely (once they are established) without a lot of supplemental watering. In fact the vines are not watered at all during the late summer unless there is a drought. This helps to create the sugars that make them so sweet. They also hold off on fertilizing the vines. The fertilizer would only create more foliage on the plant and that will limit the sunlight that can reach the fruit.
What if your plant looks like a big mess with a ton of vines (like a bad haircut)? Then you can cut a bunch off and leave 2 larger vines to become trunks. From those 2 'trunks' you can leave upright vines with 2-3 buds on each to produce your fruit for the season. It is less intensive on the details and will still give you a great harvest of fruit. Just follow these simple rules and you should have a great crop of grapes on your table this late summer and fall.
If you would like to taste the results of Jason's grapes, and his work, stop by Stoller Family Estate and visit their new Experience Center. It is a must see tasting room, with little snacks, tons of room and lots of great tasting wines. Give them a call and book a time for tasting!
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.