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Spring is here! Yes, we have a few clouds and cooler mornings, but the week ahead is looking fantastic! It is time to get out and do a few chores and then sit back and enjoy the warmth.
This week we featured...
Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival Update
You know that spring is in full swing when the tulips are in full bloom at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival (503-634-2243) in Woodburn. Last year the festival was one of the first casualties of the Covid crisis. This year things have changed for the better! Karen from the farm joined us in the fields which were just starting to pop with color, to tell us about some of the changes. We started by talking about ‘full bloom’. With the many varieties of tulips in their fields you can never really approach ‘full bloom’ as some are fading while others are just starting to pop! That being said, this weekend will be as close to full bloom as you can get. If you are thinking of going to the fields remember that this year they will have a timed ticketed entry. You can go to their website and book your time and ticket there. Once you get to the farm you can visit one of two different fields of flowers. This will allow people to distance so they can feel safe visiting. Speaking of safe, the farm is following all of the State of Oregon guidelines for masks, crowds and distancing, so please bring your mask and be considerate of others. Of course Karen also reminded us of the ‘Field Report’ link on their website so you can see where they are in the bloom season and how close they are to peak bloom!
The fields are only part of the fun once you get there. To learn more we visited with Cassidy about some of the other opportunities for visitors to enjoy. Once you are on the grounds you can visit the gift shop, which is full of tulip and Dutch themed gifts. There are a limited amount of food vendors also on site if you get a little hungry after walking the fields, and you can also pick up Wooden Shoe wines or Red Barn Hemp CBD products for your family. You can also pick up cut tulips and potted flowers to take home with you. There are other activities, but things are changing as protocols change, so go to their website to get the most updated information!
We are so happy the tulip festival has returned for 2021! Let the fun continue!
STIHL Kombi System
We have featured the Kombi system before, but there have been a couple of new additions to the line of tools and the motors that run them. We stopped by to visit with Wayne from STIHL tools to learn more. The Kombi System is a group of tools that all use the same motor, all you have to do is change the attachment for the lawn or garden chore that you are trying to tackle. First of all there is the choice of power plants to run the system. You can get a number of different gas powered motors to meet your gardening needs. They even have a complete line of battery powered units which takes all the trouble out of mixing fuels and engine maintenance. Then you have the full line of choices for attachments. These include sweepers, trimmers, edgers, cultivators, and pruners. These attachments are very easy to change too. Just unlock the attachment from the power unit and pull it out. Push the new one in and lock it and you are good to go. Check out the full selection on the STIHL website, or https://www.stihldealers.com/ for a dealer near you.
Planting Summer Bulbs
I know that we are just seeing some of our spring bulbs blooming, but it is also the time to start thinking about the late summer color we get with summer blooming bulbs. There are lots of bulbs and tubers that you can plant in April and May including tuberous begonias, lilies, gladiolus, crocosmia and dahlias. Remember too, that these bulbs will benefit from a little boost of bulb food when they go into the ground. You can pick up a prepackaged box of food or even try some bone meal. Also, you want to plant the bulb or tuber at the right depth. To help you, Portland Nursery has a page about bulbs that you can check out on their website and they even have a downloadable chart that shows planting depths. For more information you can call or stop by either location, on 50th and Stark, or 90th and Division.
Potatoes are one of the easiest vegetable crops to grow. There are only a couple of things to learn about the potato and how you can produce a nice crop of potatoes. Judy started by talking about using a good seed potato to have the best chance of success. A lot of grocery store potatoes are treated with a sprout-inhibitor that prevents the potatoes eyes from developing while in storage and on the shelf. A seed potato from a garden center has never been treated with that sprout inhibitor. Then when preparing a potato for planting you can cut the potato into chunks as long as each piece has a developing ‘eye’ on it. That eye is the beginning of a new plant. Once the cut is made, let the potato set overnight so the cut ends can dry out.
Then we moved over to Ryan. He was ready to plant in a raised bed. Potatoes love good drainage and full sun. If they set in water or too much moisture they can become weak and diseased. They also love a nice soil. If you have compacted soil they will have deformed or small potatoes. The nicer the soil the longer the roots and the better your yield. That is why a raised bed would work well for your potato crop. What about planting them deep? You can plant them 6-8 inches deep or go a little deeper and pile soil up around the plant as it gets taller, but you could do either. As long as the soil and water is good, you should get a lot of great potatoes.
Planting an Herb Container
Growing your own vegetables and herbs are very popular right now. So to learn how to make an herb pot we stopped by Little Baja to talk to Wayne. He was using a strawberry pot, which is a pot with lots of little pockets that you can plant with different types of herbs (or strawberries). They have the largest selection of strawberry pots in the area! Wayne started by filling the bottom of the pot with a fine quality potting soil. This will give the plants all the nutrients they need to get started and none of the pests and diseases if you use regular soil from your garden. He filled the container to the bottom layer of pockets. Then he inserted various herbs in the pockets on that first layer. Their strawberry pots had nice large holes so he could use a little larger plant in each pocket. Then he filled the container with soil up to the second row of pockets. He topped the container off with a large thyme plant. He was careful to leave a large reservoir around the top plant for watering. The problem with containers is that people pack them to the top with plants and soil, so when you do water them, the water runs over the side. This reservoir will allow that water to drain slowly through the whole container so all the plants get watered.
Little Baja doesn’t just have strawberry pots. They have one of the largest selections of terra cotta, concrete, fiber and clay pots in the Portland area. If you are looking for a quality container, stop by and check them out! Then try building your own herb pot this spring and enjoy fresh herbs all summer long.
Newberg Camellia Festival
We made the short drive out to Newberg to learn about one of the newest of festivals in the Northwest. Newberg, the camellia city, is hosting their Annual Camellia Festival this Saturday, April 10th from 9-5 at the Chehalem Cultural Center. This year the festival has some changes due to covid, but there is still a lot going on. The city is partnering with the Oregon Camellia Society who is having their annual show at the Cultural Center. If you love camellias this is the place to be. We started our visit with Collier Brown from the camellia society. He talked about camellias and brought in 5 different blooms for us to look at. It was amazing to see all the different styles and flower types. He also talked about how to grow camellias. The show is a great place to see different varieties and to ask the experts about camellias and how to grow them.
We then visited with Carissa Burkett to learn about all the activities that they have planned for this weekend. She told us about some of the changes they have in place for the festival. The day starts with a fun run. They will have different start times for smaller groups so distancing can be maintained. There is also a plant sale in the building that will be spread out for safety. She also told us that the Cultural Center is the place to be for activities in Newberg all year long. These include, music events, art shows and classes, and even a lavender festival later this summer. You can find out more at their website. Even though the festival is smaller, it still will be a lot of fun! Stop by and check them out!
Margie’s Spring Color
We love spring color and some of the best color plants are at Margie’s Farm and Garden (503-866-6123). She had tables full of spring color plants that you can add to your garden. Some of these plants are still aching for warmer days and need to be protected. You can protect those tender plants by covering them on those cold nights or bringing them into your garage. Others can go outside right now and do fine. All of them are bright and cheerful! We started with dahlias. These shorter varieties are made for containers and pots. They do need a little protection right now, but once the threat of frost is gone they will bloom all through the summer. You can get them to rebloom by deadheading, or removing the old blooms to promote new ones. Next were Gerbera Daisies. These plants like a little cooler temps and can continue blooming while the days are warm. When the summer comes along they will slow down in their blooming, but they are a great plant for your garden. Full morning sun and protection from hot afternoon sun is good for these guys. Coleus were next on her list. These are not known for their blooms but the foliage is spectacular! They do send up smaller flowers, but the striking leaf color is why people go for them. They don’t like these cold nights and mornings, but once it is warm they love the full sun! Behind the coleus were nemesia. This small bedding plants have colorful spikes of two-tone flowers that bloom all summer long if you remove the spent bloom spikes. Some people can have these return year after year, but they do like the sun, so plant them after the ground heats up a little bit more. Everyone’s favorite, geraniums were next. These can go outside now and they will bloom and bloom (if you keep snapping off the dead blooms) all season long. A lot of people will use these as a center piece to their hanging baskets and pots, but they can go just about anywhere! A few in pots around your deck will assure a colorful show for all your summer entertaining. An old favorite are petunias. Margie has about 50 different varieties of petunias and they come in all shapes and sizes. From the Million Bells and Super Bells, to the Night Sky series of petunias which has incredible colors and polka dots on their petals.
Margie then talked about the basket combinations that they carry. These mixes came in full sun and shade types of plants. She also recommended that if you plant your own that you use a good potting soil, never soil from your regular garden, and a well balanced fertilizer. They use the Jack’s line of fertilizers for healthy plants and lots of blooms. To see more colorful plants and all the supplies to keep them healthy, stop by Margies!
Hoyt Arboretum Magnolias
Spring is a great time to catch all those early blooming plants, but don’t forget about the trees that are showing off. We took a walk with Martin Nicholson of Hoyt Arboretum (503-865-8733) to check out the magnolia collection in Washington Park. The arboretum has a great collection of the 2 main varieties of magnolias, the Asian and the American, about 20 cultivars which are in bloom right now. Magnolias are a native to other parts of the world but they do well here too. You just have to remember that they need specific conditions to thrive. Most of them like full sun, but their roots don’t like the heat. So if you can provide those conditions you can grow most of the different varieties available. They also like summer rainfall, so give them a little drink during the heat! One of Martin’s favorite magnolias is a huge specimen, the Magnolia ‘veitchii’. This one can get as tall as 60-90 feet so you better have room for it, but it also has pink blooms the size of a dinner plate! Martin mentioned that this is just the start of the blooms. There are some varieties that will start blooming soon and others that will bloom later, so you can see flowers throughout the spring and summer. If you get a chance, check out the magnolia collection at the arboretum. It is free and there are self-guided maps at the visitor’s center.
Al’s DIY Containers
Getting those spring and summer baskets can seem like a daunting task if you are new to gardening. What plants should you choose, what type of container, what soil should you use? All these are questions that even perplex experienced gardeners. This coming week you can have all those questions answered at any location of Al’s Garden and Home (503-726-1162). We met with Mark and Amy Bigej, a couple of the owners of Al’s, joined Ryan at their Sherwood location to talk about how to plant a container. Amy led the way by talking about what type of planter to use. Pick something that fits into the color scheme of your patio or deck. You can even go a little crazy if you are looking to draw attention to a certain area of your garden. Pick a pot that can handle the plant material that you will be use too. Then follow the rule of – Thriller, Filler and Spiller. The ‘Thriller’ is the tall focal point plant that you use in the center, if the planter is seen from all sides, or towards the back if it is seen from one side only. You can use an ornamental grass or a small conifer for your thriller. Then you can use the ‘Fillers’. These plants are the ones that create the next layer of color and texture below your ‘thriller’. These can be smaller annuals and perennials that add complimentary color and texture to your container. Finally, the ‘spiller’. These are plants that hang over the edge of your planter to soften the edge of the container. These can be trailing varieties of flowers and vines or other types of ground covers.
Mark then filled us in on the DIY Container Days at all Al’s locations coming up this week. Starting April 15th and running through the 19th you can stop and pick a pot, or bring your own, pick and pay for your plants, and then head to the planting tables and plant your container with complimentary soil and fertilizer. They will also have gloves and sanitized tools for you to use. You can get everything done in one stop! Check out their website or Facebook page for all the details.
Garden Like a Girl Gloves – Spring
A few years ago we heard about a new company in the Portland area and we introduced them to you, 'Garden Like a Girl' gloves. Garden Like a Girl was started by Tom and Mary Garlock. Mary is a gardener and always found that her garden gloves just were not cutting it! They would wear-out quickly, let dirt in and could get sopping wet if working around water. She also found out that the materials in the most popular gloves on the market contained known carcinogens. Both Tom and Mary are cancer survivors and so they decided they had to find a better glove, that is when they started to design their own. Tom had a background in making and marketing sports gloves so he knew how to start the design process.
When we did our first story with them, they were in the middle of wear-testing their designs and fund raising for further development. Now we are so happy to announce that they are in full production and have their gloves available for sale in selected garden centers and on their website. As with any new successful product, the key is in the details! They spent the last few years working on a glove that is truly 'Ruggedly Feminine'. They have finger tips reinforced with KEVLAR so your nails won't poke through them. The palms are padded so your hands are protected from those sharp and pointy plants. There is a breathable panel on the back so your hands don't get so sweaty when wearing them, and there is an adjustable wristband so they stay on, nice and tight. They are designed to fit well!
They also carry a nice group of other garden clothing that is made from combinations of recycled plastic bottles, upcycled cotton and organic cotton. You can find v-neck, short sleeve and long sleeved shirts. They also have hoodies, pullovers and even masks to keep you safe.
These shirts not only feel good, they do good too. A percentage of profits from the sale of shirts and gloves goes to cancer research. Check out their website and then pick up a pair for the garden.
TOW – Transporting Trees
Our tip of the week is about getting your new trees and tall shrubs home safely from the garden center. The minimum wind speed which is considered the threshold for a tropical storm is a sustained 39 miles per hour. So just driving down the street with your tree standing upright in the back of your truck is beating it up pretty badly. We stopped by Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) and talked to Ron about how to transport your plant safely. He told us that you should always lay your plant down with the top of your plant facing backwards. Most trees have a large stake tied to the tree. You can rest that on the tailgate to prevent any damage to the tree bark. You can then use a couple bags of mulch or compost to hold the plant in place so it doesn’t roll around. So use these tips and your tree will thank you for it.