November 28, 2020

Trimming Your Iris

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. For more tips on iris care you can check out the website for Schreiner’s Iris Gardens.

November 21, 2020

Preserving Holiday Greens

The smell of fresh greens in the home during the holidays is intoxicating! But after a few days those fresh cut greens can become 'dried' cut greens and a fire hazard. We found a product that can help seal in the moisture and prevent those greens from drying out. Wilt Stop from Bonide can be sprayed on your greens to seal in the moisture and help them last longer. It can also be used on your outdoor conifers to seal in the moisture and help prevent winter wind and cold damage. We found this product at a lot of the independent garden centers around the area. If you need to find the location nearest you, check out their 'Store Locator' on their website.

November 14, 2020

Fall Leaf Mulch

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 31, 2020

Cover Crop

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! A great selection of cover crop seeds can be found at Portland Nursery. They also have a great in-store and on-line brochure to help you make your decision on what type of seed might work best for you.

October 24, 2020

Topping Weeds

The cold winds of fall and winter are arriving and if you are trying to squeeze out the last of your summer harvest we have a tip for you, frost cloth. It is a light white material that you can use to cover your plants and protect them from a light frost. The fabric is permeable and can allow rain and water to get to your plants, but protect them from the elements. This cloth will protect your tomatoes and other tender veggies so you can get a few more days of harvest out of them. If you can’t get to a garden center to pick up some frost cloth, you can use a cotton sheet. That will do the trick too. Also remember to remove it during the day to allow sunlight and air circulation to get to your plants.

The other benefit of the frost cloth is that you can reuse it in the spring. If you get your spring vegetables in early, the cloth will keep them a little warmer, and protect from early pests and predators, so you can get an earlier start to your growing season. So you can extend your growing season in the spring and the fall!

September 5, 2020

Little Baja Container Tree Watering

Our tip of the week is from our friends at Little Baja (503-236-8834). Little Baja are the experts in containers. They sell terra cotta, concrete and glazed containers for the home gardener. One of the biggest questions they get this time of year is how do I keep my plants from dying. Wayne told us that the problem is water. When a tree or large shrub is in a container they are reliant on you to keep them watered. They cannot pull water from an extensive root system in the ground. Plus, when you water them, they need LOTS of water. A little bit on the top won’t make it to the roots. You have to give a large tree about 1-2 gallons of water every day during the heat of summer. This is especially true if you have a tender tree like a maple. An evergreen tree with needles will dry out slower and can make it by if you miss a day, but a maple if left alone can be damaged permanently.

Also, it does make a difference on the type of container you use in the garden. Concrete and glazed pots help to seal in the moisture, but a terra cotta pot breathes. That is what makes them so great for your plants (they stay healthier in Terra Cotta), but that also means that they can lose moisture faster too. The key is to pay attention and make sure your plants stay well hydrated. If you have any other questions about pottery, or statuary, stop by and ask our friends at Little Baja.

August 22, 2020

Topping Weeds

So you’re in a hurry and you see some weeds in the garden on your way out the door. Our tip of the week is meant to buy you a little time before those weeds go to seed. Simply deadhead the weed! That’s right, pinch off the top of the weed. This will keep it from spreading all over your garden, until you can get out and pull the whole weed when you have more time. Remember not to leave the weed head on the ground. Even if it is pulled, the seeds can still be active and start making new weeds, so get them up and off the ground as soon as you can.

August 15, 2020

Rehydrating Your Baskets

The summer heat is here and if you forgot about watering your hanging baskets, they may have taken a huge hit! Baskets dry out quicker than your other containers and when they do they have a harder time recovering from that heat. When they dry out the soil shrinks and the root ball gets tight. When you try to water that dry ball the water runs around the ball and out the bottom of the container. To remedy this you can just fill up a tub of water and let your plant container soak for an hour or so. Then push the soil back out towards the edge of your container so the water won’t leak around that root ball. Hang it back up and make sure that is stays well-watered for the rest of the summer and you should be good!

July 25, 2020

Pool Plants

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 metal wash tub, filled it ½ full of water and set our driest plants in the water. You can even buy a cheap ‘kiddie’ pool to hold even more plants. 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 11, 2020


Raking Needles

The summer means bare feet in the grass, unless you have fir trees in your backyard! Our tip this week will help make your lawn more bare-foot friendly! After you mow your lawn, simply give your lawn a quick rake and then mow again. The quick raking will draw some of those pesky needles to the surface and they will be picked up by the second pass with a mower. Once we get into the middle of summer you will not have to do it quite as often, since the trees will drop fewer needles then.

July 4, 2020

4th of July Prep

Our tip of the week is about getting your home and garden ready for the fireworks of the 4th of July. The days leading up to the event you should clean all the dried leaves and debris from your roof and gutters so there is nothing to catch on fire if a stray firework makes it up to your roof. The afternoon of the 4th you should water your yard and garden for the same reason. The additional moisture will help prevent fires from flaring up. If you have acreage or a larger lot, make sure that you create a ‘defensible’ area around your home in case of wildfire. Check out the FEMA website for more helpful information.

June 27, 2020

Smart Phone Gardening

Our tip of the week showcases how you can use simple technology to make your lawn and garden thrive. We showed you how to use the calendar in your phone to put in reminders to do simple home and garden chores. For example, when you prune your roses in mid-February you should put in a reminder to fertilize those roses again in 6 weeks. In fact, every 6 weeks is a good time for deadheading and/or fertilizing all your roses. Also, if you have houseplants, it might be tough to remember when you last watered them. We tend to overwater them anyway. Put a reminder in the phone to check them every 2 weeks to see if they need water. If you have a lawn, the best way to make it stronger and less susceptible to diseases and moss is to keep it fertilized. About 3-4 times a year, your reminder in your phone will tell you that your lawn needs a feeding. Put that smartphone to use and get healthier plants and a stronger garden.

June 20, 2020

June Drop

If you are new to growing fruit you may have noticed that your fruit trees are dropping a bunch of small fruit right now. This is called ‘June Drop’ and it is normal. At this time of year the immature fruit on the trees is dropped by the plant to make room for the fully pollinated fruit. It is the plant concentrating the energy into viable fruit. You may also notice a drop later in the season as the plant once again drops fruit to make more room before the harvest. In fact, if the plant doesn’t do it, you may want to thin out the fruit later in the season. Keep your fruit clusters to 2 or less. This will give you bigger, healthier fruit.

June 6, 2020

Deer Defeat

The spring is a great time to grab fresh edibles from the garden, and no one knows that better than the deer. Ryan found a young buck in his garden nibbling on hostas, roses and huecheras early one morning. The deer go for the tender and tasty new growth on your plants and even ‘deer resistant’ plants can get damaged.

To combat the problem Ryan picked up some Deer Defeat. This product is made from eggs, clove oil, castor oil and other ingredients that make your plants taste terrible. You just spray it on your plants and let it dry. It will even stay on during rain so you don’t have to reapply as often. Ryan found Deer Defeat at French Prairie Perennials (503-679-2871) in Aurora.

May 30, 2020/June 13, 2020

Tool Handle Measuring Stick

Our tip of the week is about making your tools do double duty. When you buy a plant or plant seeds a lot of the tags will tell you to keep the new plants separated by a distance to make sure they have room to grow. Most of us don’t carry around a measuring tape to make sure we keep those distances, so why not make your long handled tools be the measuring tape? Simply make marks on your handle at 6 inches intervals and then all you have to do is lay your tool down to measure the distance and you can plant without worries!

May 23, 2020

Stone Garden Markers for Bulbs

Our tip of the week takes us out to our spring bulbs as they are dying back for the season. How many times have you been planting in the garden in late summer or fall and have dug up some of those same spring bulbs? To remember where those bulbs are buried, simply take a flat rock and write the name of the bulbs (example: tulips) on one side of the rock and place it next to your bulbs, then when your spring flowers are gone, you’ll still know where those bulbs are buried!

May 9, 2020

Training a Climbing Vine

Our tip of the week comes to us from Ryan’s garden. He showed us how he trains up a climbing vine on a wire in his garden. This is a vine that he didn’t cut back in the fall. Right now he is just taking a long piece of twine and wrapping the vine with it and tying it to the wire. He then took his pruner and trimmed off the wild pieces that weren’t tied up to the wire. Even though the vine isn’t pruned back it will send out a new flush of growth and blooms, to reward Ryan and his family all summer long.

May 2, 2020

Deadheading Spring Bulbs

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

April 25, 2020

Cleaning Up Your Japanese Maple

Ryan traveled the long distance to his front year to get us our tip of the week. He stepped out to trim his Japanese Maple for the spring. Now you can prune your maple any time of year, but in the spring you can see the branches that are dead and the ones with new growth, making it easy to get rid of the old and make way for the new. This is just a simple pruning of your maple, if you haven’t taken care of your plant for quite a while, you may need to seek professional help. For that we recommend Bartlett Tree Experts (503-722-7267). They can do the big pruning jobs so your plants are something to be proud of.

April 11, 2020

Cleaning Up Your Perennials

The spring is the time for cleaning up your garden for summer, but what is still living and what is dead and needs to be cut back? Ryan took us into his garden to show us how to cut back your perennials. He started with hardy fuchsias. Here he cut back all the brown and dead stalks to the ground. You could see the new growth and so it was easy to see where to cut. Next he moved to the toad lily next to the fuchsia. This one was also easy to see where the new growth was. If you are wondering on some of your other plants, just scratch the outside bark of the stem. If you see green under the first layer of bark, that means it is still a growing branch. If it is brown under your scratch, then it is probably dead or dying and can be cut back. Remember brown is dead and green is good!

March 21, 2020

Two Season Seeds

Our tip this week will help you with a full belly later this summer. We talked about 2-season seeds. We visited a local garden center and picked up some early germinating varieties of vegetable seeds and bought 2 packs of each. These seeds will grow faster and mature earlier in the season. Then once they are done you can plant them again to enjoy a second harvest of your favorite vegetables this late summer and fall.

March 14, 2020

Floating Hellebores

In the late winter leading up to spring it is hard to enjoy the colors of your outdoor plants. To help you enjoy them, bring them indoors. Winter blooming plants like hellebores are even more difficult to enjoy because the flowers sometime face down to the ground. One way to enjoy them is to cut the blooms and float them in a bowl of water. This way the blooms are facing upwards and, because they are in water, you can enjoy their beauty for a week or two.

March 7, 2020

Trimming Hellebore Leaves

Our tip of the week involves hellebores and cutting the foliage. You can do this in spring once the hellebores starts to bloom. By cutting the old leaves off you can enjoy the flowers without all that beat up and tattered foliage. Don’t worry, in late spring the new leaves will grow in and the plant will continue to grow and be healthy.


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