TIPS OF THE WEEK - 2007

HOLIDAY GREENS FOR CENTERPIECES
November 24, 2007

Fresh cut greens are a staple of the holidays and you can find lots of choices of cut greens at your local garden center.  We found a huge selection at Portland Nursery on Stark (503-231-5050).  They even have all the tools and trimmings to create a wonderful centerpiece for your holiday table.  Unfortunately they can dry out quickly once we get them indoors.  William 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.
 

COVER CROP
November 10, 2007

If your garden has been kind of weak the last few years it may need the refreshing boost of a cover crop.  Over time the soil can lose a lot of the nutrients and that means smaller plants and less yield from your best vegetables and flowers.  Cover crops help rejuvenate your soil by fixing nitrogen and putting nutrients back into the ground.  By planting these plants (vetch, clover, and peas) we are providing ‘green’ manure to the soil.  Cover crops also help prevent soil compaction caused by the rough winter weather.  Planting a cover crop now will help your garden be healthier this coming season!
 

MOVING YOUR POTS
October 13, 2007

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.
 

RIPE SQUASH
October 13, 2007

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 squash 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.
 

SEALING POTS
September 22, 2007

Our tip of the week is about wooden containers.  Wooden containers can add a different look to any deck or patio.  Unfortunately, when the wood has long term contact with the water and soil it can break down quickly.  We found pruning sealer can solve that problem!   Pruning sealer is used by some for covering fresh cuts when you prune your trees.  We found that if you use a pruning sealer on the inside of the container you can extend the life of your pot quite a bit.  Give it a try!
 

DOG SPOTS
September 8, 2007
 

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 is good shape. That will minimize the stress and help the spots blend in.
 

STEAMING DAHLIAS
September 1, 2007

The dahlia festival at Swan Island Dahlias, (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!
 

POOL PLANTS
August 25, 2007

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!
 

DEADHEADING ROSES
July 21, 2007

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 5-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 6-8 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.
 

LAWN WATERING
July 7, 2007

The heat is here and you may be thinking that your lawn could use a drink everyday.  Hold on!  James Schneider from JB Instant Lawn (800-527-1439) told us how to get a lush healthy lawn without pouring a bunch of water on it.  If you have an established lawn you want to deep water it only once or twice a week.  Over watering promotes lawn diseases and weed growth.  By watering less the turf becomes stronger.  It has to develop a stronger, deeper root structure to get moisture from the soil.
 

BAD GAS
June 23, 2007

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 rated 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.
 

DEADHEADING FUCHSIAS
June 16, 2007

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!
 

DEADHEADING RHODIES
June 9, 2007

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!
 

CLEANING YOUR BIRDBATH
May 26, 2007

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 10-1, 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!
 

WASHING PEONIES
May 19, 2007

If you grow peonies in your garden you probably have seen the ants that accompany them.  Ants are attracted to the sugary sap that forms on the buds.  Even though they make great cut flowers, you may be hesitant to bring a bouquet inside your home because of these little critters.  The problem is easily solved by washing them in a bucket of water.  Just swish the blooms in the water for a couple of seconds and then take them inside and enjoy the wonderful color for a week or more!
 

MEASURING SPOONS
May 12, 2007

Our tip of the week is one designed to keep you healthy.  When you are mixing any garden product or chemical always use a separate set of measuring spoons.  No matter how hard you wash a set, it may contain residue.  Keep that separate set around and mark it well.  It is better to be safe than sorry.
 

DOUBLE GLOVES
May 5, 2007

A painful blister on the hand of Producer Jeff brings us the tip of the week.  If you ever get blisters from working with your garden tools you may want to try this tip.  We recommend that you wear double gloves when you are working.  First put on a pair of rubber surgical gloves and then put your garden gloves over the top.  The friction that causes the blister between your glove and your skin now happens between the 2 sets of gloves.  This will prevent blisters and will make your gardening much less painful.
 

WOODY STEMS
April 28, 2007

The spring is the best time to bring in cut flowers for display in your home.  The problem is that the blooms don’t last long enough, especially the woody stemmed ones.  William showed us how to extend the bloom time on your woody stemmed cut flowers by smashing the stems with a hammer.  You want to crush the stems about 1-2 inches up the stem before you put them in water.  The smashed stem allows the flower to draw more water and thus it will last longer.
 

MAILBOX STORAGE
April 21, 2007

Our tip of the week is a little bit about recycling as well.  We recently replaced an old mailbox and while we could have thrown it away, we decided it could serve a more useful purpose in the garden.  We installed it in the garden and now it holds all our small hand tools and gloves.  When we have to head inside for a quick break the mailbox holds our garden gadgets until we are ready to work again.  No more lost tools in the garden!
 

SMALL VEGGIES FOR SMALL CONTAINERS
April 7, 2007

A lot of people think that you can’t grow vegetables if you don’t have a huge garden.  William was joined by Sue Berg from New Dimension Seed to check out a couple of new varieties of tomato that stay small and make great container plants.  These tomatoes are just a couple of the varieties that you will find in your local garden center that can handle deck planters and containers, and reward you with a bounty of veggies for your table.  Try some of these smaller varieties this summer.
 

REMOVING LEAVES
March 31, 2007

A couple of weeks ago we told you not to remove the leaves and dead stems from your winter damaged plants.  Sometimes, in a few cases, you need to remove the leaves to appreciate the beauty within.  William showed us how to trim the leaves off a ginger to show off the freaky blooms at the base of the plant.  Another plant that needs a haircut is the epimedium.  These plants have small, showy blooms that can get lost in the foliage.  One other one is the hellebore.  In all cases, these plants go new leaves with in weeks and are not damaged by this.  If you would like to learn more about trimming these plants you can check with our friends at Extra Perennial Nursery (503-628-1492) in Scholls.
 

CHEMICAL LABELS
March 24, 2007

As pesticides and herbicides get older they tend to lose their effectiveness.  The spring is a good time to check your garden chemicals to make sure they are not too old.  It is also a good time to review their safe use.  If you buy a new chemical product, use a marker to date it so you can easily see when you bought it.  If you need to dispose of an old bottle, check with your local garbage hauler to learn how to dispose of it safely.
 

CONIFER FERTILIZING
March 17, 2007

If you have wandered through the tree and shrub section of your garden center you may have noticed that they all have fertilizer in their pots.  That reminded us that now is a good time to do the same at your home.  Put down a good tree and shrub fertilizer and work it in around the drip-line of the plant.  That is the area below the outside edge of the plant.  The rain drips from the end of these branches on to the fertilizer and helps it dissolve into the soil. 
 


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