Ohhhh… I’m stuffed full of Halloween candy. I don’t think I can head out into the garden to do any work. I think it is a good excuse. Of course, I can do some easy stuff. I need to walk around and check under my eaves to make sure the plants are not drying out. I should also check on the hoses and sprinklers to make sure they are put away. That will put me in the garden shed and I should check on the power equipment, tools and other garden things to make sure they are ready for the winter. See, one thing leads to another and now my day is full! I’m pretty sure you can find some things to do too. Have fun!
This week we featured...
Your local garden centers are getting into the holiday mood! Al’s Garden Center (503-981-1245) is one of the best at sharing that cheer with the gardener. We paid a visit to the Al’s growing facility in Woodburn to see some of the 50 different varieties that they grow. Paul the Al’s Grower showed us how they use light or the lack of it to get the poinsettias to color up at the right time. Black plastic will help them control the light and the resulting brilliant color is hard to argue with! He showed us a couple of his favorites that were just starting to turn color. We saw Jester Dark Red, Cortez Electric Red, White Glitter, Orange Spice and Ann’s Christmas Star. Here are some tips you should remember about poinsettia care: give them lots of light, keep them out of drafts, keep them watered (but not over-watered), don’t fertilize them. You can get more care tips at your local Al’s location. If you are looking to decorate for the holidays or are trying to find a great gift for a gardener, check out Al’s. Better yet, check out their annual Evening of Lights happening at the Sherwood location on Thursday, and the Woodburn location on Friday, from 4-9pm.
It is getting colder and it’s about time to get your pond ready for winter. We met up with Eamonn Hughes of Hughes Water Gardens(503-638-1709) to see how to prepare our ponds and pond animals for the cold. Eamonn talked about the importance of feeding your fish the correct foods to prevent them from dying. Once the pond temperature drops below 50 degrees you should stop feeding your fish. They can’t process the food in the colder water. You will also want to keep your pond running. The water movement will prevent freezing and damage to your pond liner and pumps. If you have to shut off the pump, you will need to drain all the water out of the water feature to prevent long-term damage. You should also take care of your pond plants by either lowering them deeper into the water or moving them to protected areas. To get answers to all your pond questions, contact the experts at Hughes.
Ever wonder where your garden seeds come from? To find out we traveled to Cottage Grove to visit with Josh of Territorial Seeds (800-626-0866). We started our tour at the trial gardens. Here is where they test the different varieties they sell to see how they perform in the northwest climate. It isn’t pretty because they don’t use any chemicals or weed killers. That way they can get an accurate feel for the conditions the seed will perform the best in. They have hundreds of varieties of tomatoes, beans, corn, peppers and pumpkins. In fact we even got a preview of one of their new peppers that will be introduced next year, Calico. Then we moved to the seed packing facility. Here, they have a machine the can pack just the right amount of seed in a packet. Of course if it is a large or hard-to-handle seed, those are still packaged by hand. They even test the germination to make sure they will sprout for you at home. If you want to pick up some seed, you can stop by their retail store in Cottage Grove or give them a call for a catalogue.
A lot of gardeners have the common chrysanthemums in their garden, but one of the overlooked types of mum is the show mum. We visited the garden of Clair Kidd who grows lots of these huge varieties and is part of the Portland Chrysanthemum Society (503-255-6119). The show mum is grown for contests and also for the stunning display they put on in your garden. These mums are protected from the sun, pinched back to just a few blooms and cultivated carefully. Clair explained that these are classified by bloom type into categories like ‘Reflex’ and ‘Irregular Incurve’. We also saw the varieties, ‘White City’ and ‘Xena’. If you are interested in seeing these blooms up close you can check out the 69th Annual Flower Show "Kaleidoscope of Mums” this weekend, November 1-2, Saturday and Sunday at Portland Nursery, 90th and Division hours, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can also get information on joining the society at this event.
Having a ‘green’ house in your backyard shouldn’t send you to the ‘poor’ house. We found one by Solexx that is easy to assemble and really inexpensive too. A greenhouse will help to extend your gardening season and it will give you a head start on next year. Michelle Moore from Solexx Greenhouses (800-825-1925) and William assembled one in just a few hours. When you order the kit it arrives in just a couple of boxes. The kit is so well organized, and color coded, that it is really simple to assemble with just a couple of tools. A couple other benefits… it can be sited anywhere and there is no need for expensive site preparation, you can place it directly on your lawn. Plus it is lightweight. You can assemble it in one area and move it to another area with just 2 people. This is great if you want to place it over an existing garden area. Check out their website to see all the different types of greenhouses available and all the tools to extend your growing season.
Red Pig Small Tools
Small tools help the gardener get the job done quicker and easier. But there are some small tools that defy description and whose tasks are interesting. Bob Denman from Red Pig Tools (503-663-9404) is a tool genius and he pulled out some of the more interesting tools he makes. The first one was a girdling tool. This tool cuts a small piece of bark off a fruit tree and shocks the tree into producing more fruit. He then brought out a bench scoop that is designed to pick-up more stuff from your potting bench. He also had a weeding tool, a bulb lifter, a root hook and a ball weeder. These are all made by Bob and will last for generations to come. If you are interested in more tools you can check out their website for the full list of tools they make.