December 2, 2006

We always get questions this time of year about the mushrooms in lawns.  Are they dangerous?  William talked about the conditions that cause the mushrooms.  They are caused by decomposing matter in your yard and that there is no way to remove the mushrooms from a lawn. They will continue to occur where organic matter exists.  To be on the safe side they should be removed if you have small children or pets, they could be poisonous.  If you don’t have pets or small children, you can choose to let them be and enjoy nature at work!

November 25, 2006

Fresh cut greens are a staple of the holidays.  Unfortunately, they can dry out quickly once we get them indoors.  Judy gave us some tips for preserving them throughout the holiday season.  First, give your greens a fresh cut and put them in water for a short time before using them for decorating.  If you can keep them in water, you can add a preservative to the water to keep them fresh longer.  If they can’t be in water you can use a product like ‘Wilt-proof’.  It is a spray that seals in the moisture and helps keep them fresh.  The final thing you can do is to have your greens flocked.  The flocking totally seals in the moisture.  A little work on your greens while you are decorating will ensure that they will be around until Christmas and beyond.

November 18, 2006

The cold, wet, winds of winter are blowing.  If you have landscape trees you may want to consider staking them to prevent damage to them and the rest of your landscape.  William showed us how to use a single stake and also a 3 stake method to help a small tree stay stable.  The main rules to follow include using wide, loose bands around the trunk to prevent girdling the tree.  Also allow a little bit of play in the cords.  A slight movement is good and will promote root growth.  If you have a larger tree and you feel it might not have a solid root system, you can contact a certified arborist for help.

November 11, 2006

Tired of bagging your leaves?  Here is a quick tip that will help your plants and save your back!  Rake your leaves into your garden beds.  This will help the plants by protecting them from the bitter cold, plus it will also keep the rains from compacting your soil during the wet months ahead.  This spring you can compost the leaves to finish the job that nature started or you can put them in your yard debris container where they will take up less room than they do now.

October 28, 2006

If you have indoor plants that have been enjoying the nice weather, now is the time to clean them up and get them ready to bring back indoors.  First, give them a good rinsing, even under the leaves.  This will knock off most of the pests that can harm your plants.  Then apply a granular systemic insect control at the base of the plant.  This will control the sucking insects and you don’t have to spray.  Finally, you may want to use a little leaf shine spray to give your foliage a glossy glow.  Doing this will give indoor plants a healthy start for the upcoming season.

October 21, 2006

The number one question that Bauman Farms receives this time of year is ‘How can I tell when my squash is ripe?’   Brian Bauman from Bauman Farms (503-792-3524) joined us to share the answer for our ‘tip of the week’.  There are 2 things you should look for if you are wondering if your gourd is ripe.  First, look to see if the foliage is dying back.  If the foliage is brown and crispy, then check the spot where the squash is in contact with the ground.  The spot should not be white.  If it has changed color to a cream or orange color then it is ready to harvest.

October 7, 2006

With colder days on the way it is time to start thinking about moving some of your tender plants to protected areas.  Judy and William moved a couple pots up under the eaves of a house.  The eaves will help keep the frost from forming on the plants and it will keep the plants warmer as well, with the radiating heat from the siding.  If you have plants that are ‘touchy’, now is the time to move them.  One thing to remember; you will need to water them.  The eaves that protect them from the cold will also prevent water from reaching the plant.

September 30, 2006

Slugs are not just a spring time problem.  Fall, with its increasing rains, can bring them back into your garden when you thought they were under control.  Remember to bait now so they don’t destroy your beautiful fall flowers.  We recommend a quality bait like Corry’s, but if you have pets or small children you can use a product like Worry Free from Lilly Miller.  It is an organic product that is safe to use in any garden setting.  Some people say that if you bait now you will reduce the amount of slugs you get next spring because they are not around to lay eggs.  Always remember to read and follow the label directions with any garden product.

September 16, 2006

A few minutes now will lead to a flavorful future.  Judy gave us tips for planting garlic for the fall.  Planting now will allow the bulbs to create the roots that will make for a bountiful harvest next fall.  First dig a trench about 4 inches deep.  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.  Top dress with a bulb food and water well.  Garlic is one of the easiest bulbs to grow, so this could be the start of a successful garden for next year.

September 9, 2006

With the warm days of the late summer the mosquito population can become unbearable.  One way to help control these flying pests is to eliminate the standing water in your yard.  If you have anything in your garden where water is allowed to set, mosquitoes will lay their eggs.  Our tip for this week is to add a mosquito dunk to the water.  The dunks contain Bacillus thuringiensis, which kills the larvae before they hatch into adults.  Because it is a bacterium that targets the larvae it is safe to plants, fish, people or wildlife.  Another tip, if the water is moving, like in a fountain or bubbler, they can’t land to lay their eggs so the dunk is not necessary.

September 2, 2006

The dahlia festival at Swan Island Dahlias, (1-800-410-6540) in Canby, is in its final week and we stopped by to get our tip from Nick Gitts.  He showed us how to make your cut dahlias last longer.  They do it at the dahlia farm by ‘steaming’ the stems of the dahlias.  They immerse the cut stems in 160 degree water and leave them there.  By doing this it opens the vascular system of the plant and they don’t seal back up.  That means the plant continues to take up water longer and stays fresher longer.  There is one thing to remember: Make sure the flowers are above the edge of the container when you steam them, you don’t want the flowers steamed as well!

August 26, 2006


If you have seen big green spots in your lawn it means you have a pet (or a frequent visitor).  These green circles are from your pet’s urine and it is caused by the salts that occur in the urine.  You may also notice that there is a dead spot in the center of the green; this is the grass dying from too much salt.  You are seeing it more now because of the summer stress that the grass is under from all the heat and the lack of water.  To get rid of the spots you have to flush them with water as soon as the animal is done.  This will dilute the salts and reduce the problem areas.  You can also train your dog to use a specific area of the lawn or set up a dog run to limit their movement.  If you can’t flush the area, try to keep your lawn in good shape.  That will minimize the stress and help the spots blend in.

August 12, 2006

Our tip of the week comes from the OSU Master Gardeners.  When your cucumbers and squashes start to bear fruit you can apply a general ‘all-purpose’ fertilizer to extend the growing season.  Not all your garden fruits and vegetables will respond to this type of care.  Some of your plants will respond to additional fertilizer by growing more foliage, but cukes and squashes enjoy the extra boost!

August 5, 2006

August means Bar-B-Que’s and outdoor fun.  It also means wasps and yellow jackets.  As the summer comes to a close the wasps and yellow jackets become more aggressive.  Now is the time to get those traps up in your yard for the remaining days of summer.  There are a number of traps out there for the home gardener.  Some of them can be used and thrown away. Others are meant to be re-used.  Those require the addition of some kind of attractant.  Check at your local garden center to find the trap that works for you.

July 29, 2006

The heat makes us all thirsty!  Our garden tip of the week helps quench the thirst of your hanging baskets and small container gardens.  We found a small ‘kiddie’ pool, filled it ˝ full of water and set our driest plants in the water.  During those days that have excessive heat, the plants really like the extra water and we don’t have to worry about constant watering.   There are a couple of precautions you have to follow.  Don’t leave them in there for more than a day or two; they can get too much of a good thing and that may create mold, fungus or disease problems.  And don’t over fill the pool.  Allowing the plant to take what it needs from the pool is good, drowning it is not!

July 22, 2006

If you have hardy geraniums they are looking pretty bad right now.  The blooms have long since passed and the seed heads are starting to form, but you can still get more bloom before the season is over.  Judy showed us how to cut the plants back to the base.   They will look a little bare for a couple of days but soon you will see new growth and a whole new set of blooms!

July 15, 2006

Those wonderful irises of the late spring are looking pretty bad right now.  Dry, dead leaves are mixed with sad, damaged leaves.  Now is the time to clean them up.  First, pull all the dry leaves out of the clump.  Then cut back the green leaves to about 2-3 inches from the ground.  Later this fall you can dig, divide and replant them, but for now this will take care of them and make your beds look much better.

July 8, 2006

Like one of our previous stories, our tip of the week also deals with hostas.  Thomas from Sebright Gardens (503-463-9615) told us how to freshen up a sunburned damaged hosta.  By using an ordinary scissors he was able to trim off the sunburned edge of a hosta and make it look like a normal leaf.  For the ones that saw heavy damage he took off the whole leaf at the base.  You can remove up to one-third of the damaged leaves without harming the plant.  If you have more questions you can always give them a call and Thomas can help you out.

July 1, 2006

By now most of your roses have seen their first flush of blooms.  That means it is time to give them a haircut!  By pruning your roses now you will ensure a quicker and more prolific second bloom.  Christine Williams from Heirloom Roses (503-538-1576) gave us some pointers for getting the job done.  After the rose has finished blooming, follow the stem down past the second five-leaf set.  At the base of that set, make a 45-degree cut.  This will force the plant to send up a new flower stalk and within 6 to 8 weeks you should have second flush of blooms.  At that time you can choose to make the cut again and see if you get a THIRD flush.  If you have any questions, feel free to call or visit Heirloom Roses for more tips. 

June 24, 2006

Our tip of the week comes to us from our friends at Stihl Tools.  Wayne Sutton from Stihl told us about the importance of keeping fresh gas in our power tools and equipment.  He recommended 89 or higher octane rates fuels that are not more than 30 days old.  Gas gets weaker as it ages and weak gas creates most of the problems a homeowner will encounter in their power equipment.  For other power tool tips check out the Stihl website.

June 17, 2006

We’ve all seen wonderful waves of annual color. William showed us that planting them in a triangular pattern close together will create a blanket of color that will last all summer and into fall.  Don’t skimp, buy extra plants. For the cost of a couple of lattes you can have a garden that will be the envy of the neighborhood.

June 10, 2006

If you have a hanging fuchsia basket you may notice that, as the summer goes on, the flowers don’t seem as prolific as they were when you bought it.  The problem may be the fruit.  Like most other plants, once the fuchsia is done blooming it starts to create a seed or fruit.  This takes energy away from new flowers and sends it to those seeds.  To keep your fuchsia blooming longer just remove the seeds and give it a shot of fertilizer.  Then you can enjoy those wonderful blooms all summer long!

June 3, 2006

We have all had the problem: We have a wonderful groundcover in one of our beds and right in the middle is a huge weed!  So we bend down to pull it out and the top snaps off, we know the root is still there and we will see that weed again.   Here is a way to do the weeding only once!  Take some full strength Round-up or other weed control and using a small paint brush, paint the weed killer on your unwanted visitor!  In a week to 10 days you will see your opportunistic friend disappear.

May 27, 2006

With the recent hot weather, your bird bath may be starting to attract more wildlife than birds.  Bacteria and algae may be starting to build up and that can cause health problems for the local bird populations.  Judy walked us through the steps for keeping your bird bath nice and clean.  It starts with a good scrubbing with a 10-to-1, water-to-bleach, solution.  Once you have scrubbed out the bird bath, rinse it a couple of times to remove all the bleach, and then add about a teaspoon of ProTec water treatment.  That will keep it nice and clean and your local birds healthy!

May 20, 2006

So your early blooming rhododendrons are starting to lose their bloom.  Here is a tip to help you get more bloom out of them next year.  Take the spent bloom at the base and snap it off.  Be careful not to damage the new growth coming out at the base of the bloom.  By removing the old bloom you are telling the plant to not produce seed heads and to spend its energy on the bloom for next year.  We got our tip from Dick Cavender to Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens (503-771-8386) in SE Portland.  He knows what he is talking about!  The gardens look spectacular right now!

May 13
, 2006

Spring is here.  If you notice browning on the tips of your evergreens, don’t assume they are dead.  It may be winter burn from strong winds or cold.  It doesn’t kill the plants.  Prune it off or let nature take its course and it will grow over.

May 6
, 2006

People often wonder how they can prune their conifers.  It can be hard if your trees and shrubs get away from you and get too big.  There is one way you can keep them in check!  It is called "candling."  When your conifer starts showing new growth, those are called "candles."  You can regulate the growth of your conifers by removing some or all of these candles.  It is a great way to avoid unnecessary pruning as your plants get older.

April 22, 2006

Now is the time to deadhead your early spring blooming plants.  By removing the seed heads, you are telling the plant to send the energy to the bulb or tuber to make it stronger for next years bloom.  Don’t cut back the foliage yet! That part of the plant is putting the ‘gas’ in next years engine.  When the foliage dies back in a couple of weeks your can just pick it up and clean up your garden bed then.

April 15, 2006

Actually, we are talking about plant stands or anything that keeps your planters up and off your deck.  By using these plant feet you are preserving and extending the life of your deck or patio.  It also allows for increased air circulation and that means healthier plants!

April 8, 2006

Our tip of the week has us at Parr Lumber (503-644-1178) to visit Chris Erskine for tips about cleaning your deck.  Chris showed us 3 products for cleaning your deck.  The one you choose will depend on your type of deck.  When you are done cleaning you need to seal your deck.  By leaving your deck exposed you could be creating more problems in the future.  Picking the right sealer is very important and could extend the life of your deck.  Check with your local Parr Lumber location to find the product that works for you.

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