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Wow! Glad everyone made it through the heat wave last week! Not so sure about some of our plants though. A lot of gardeners are now discovering that a lot of their plants are showing damage from the extreme weather. Some are blaming the sun, but it was a combination of factors. The sun didn't get closer to Earth or any brighter, it was a combination of sun, heat, humidity and in some cases wind, all working together to do the damage. If you are noticing a lot of damage, most experts agree to continue to water and care for your damaged plants. Give them a couple weeks to recover and then you can go in and do some clean-up and pruning. Given the time, some plants will recover a little and others will stabilize. Pruning when your plants are stressed from the heat will only stress them more. Now that the heat is gone, take a break and breathe, and let your plants do the same.
That said, this week we have some tips for preparing for the next heat wave, which we know will come. Enjoy the cooler temps!
This week we featured...
Fire Resistant Plants
With most of the Pacific Northwest suffering under low rainfall and drought conditions, people are concerned about gardening responsibly and preparing their gardens for the possibility of fire. We were all shocked at the spread of wildfires in September of 2020, but the threat of fire is real for any home, not just those in the forest. A hot BBQ grill, a wayward cigarette, an outdoor fire pit can also start a fire in the middle of the city. Picking the right plants can help to prevent or slow down a fire from spreading. The idea is to create a 'defensible zone' around you home. This means placing plants that have natural fire resistant tendencies near you home is always a good idea. To help get us started on thinking about fire protection and prevention we stopped by Portland Nursery (503-788-9000) on Division to talk with Sara. She had a nice selection of plants and also told us about characteristics of plants that would do well. Plants with a thick sap, and fragrant plants are all generally more flammable than other plants. We started with shrubs. She had rhododendrons, camellias, hostas and gardenias. These all have thick leaves and a few are actually native to our area, so they can withstand the heat. For perennials you are looking at established plants like delphiniums and daisies. These are great along with iris and rudbeckia. These stay pretty hydrated to help prevent a quick spread of fire. Groundcovers are great too. Bark chips and fir mulch can be a big problem since they can dry out and catch fire quickly. A good groundcover plant will retain moisture and help to slow the spread of flames if they get close. These are only a few of the suggestions for plants. If you are looking for a much larger list there is a great resource on the OSU Extension website. If you are concerned about your landscape, check out this great resource and then pay a visit to either location of Portland Nursery.
Smith Raspberry Mint Cocktail
The warm days of summer call for relaxation and cool beverages. When looking for a refreshing adult drink we only needed to stop by Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) in Scholls. Not only do they have a wide assortment of kitchen and bar accessories, they also have fresh fruits and berries for your cocktail and even an assortment of simple syrups and flavorings for the amateur and expert mixologist! One great drink for those hot days is a raspberry and mint cocktail. Joelle joined us to show us how easy it is to make. We started by making a simple syrup. This is easy and is just one cup of water and one cup of sugar. Boil to dissolve the sugar and then add a cup of mint leaves (take the bottom leaves and leave the top for later), take it off the heat and let it steep for about 20 minutes. Strain it and you have your mint infused simple syrup. Next take some more of your fresh mint leaves and muddle them in a glass. This is just crushing them to release the mint oils and flavor. Then take some fresh or frozen raspberries and crush them in the glass with the mint. Add about an ounce of the mint simple syrup (you can add more to taste later if you want). Place a couple of ice cubes in the glass. Joelle had cubes with raspberries frozen in them for a special touch. Add an ounce or two of vodka or gin, and then add 3 more ounces of a tonic water to fill up the glass. With the spear left over from your mint leaves, pierce a few raspberries on the spear and use it for a garnish, and there you have a refreshing summer drink. Remember, you don't have to use a liquor in the drink. You can just add more tonic water and leave the spirits out for those who don't drink.
If you are looking for all the fixin's for a refreshing summer drink you can stop by Smith Berry Barn. They have u-picks open nearly everyday so check their website for details, then get out there and pick up a taste of summer!
Hot Weather Plant Care
Our recent hot streak has us worried about our plants and how to prepare for the next furnace blast from Mother Nature. Here are a few tips to consider as you prepare.
First of all observe. You may already know of plants that stress easily. Watch your plants to see if there are burned leaves, yellowing leaves or drooping leaves. All these are signs of stress and that can lead you to the next step.
Water, water and water again. During extreme heat overwatering is not a worry. The key is to give your plants a deep soaking. Start in the early morning while it is cool and water them at the base of the plant if possible to minimize evaporation. Later in the day you can give them a separate watering to give them a boost. You can even mist your plants. We know that some people say not to mist them in the full sun because it causes the leaves to get burn spots as the little droplets act as small magnifying glasses. This is a major myth! The water sits flat on the leaves, too close to focus the sunlight and so it can't burn the leaves. It acts more as evaporative cooling for the plants. If the burning myth were true., a lot of plants in nature would have burn spots due to rain showers followed by sun breaks. When you are watering pay special attention to your hanging baskets and containers on your deck or patio. These can dry out much quicker than your landscape plants and they are hard to rehydrate when they do dry out. Water them until the water runs from the bottom drain holes. If they do dry out, fill a large tub or kiddy pool with water and let them soak.
Another thing you can do is move your tender plants into the shade. This could be under your eaves, under large shade trees or to the sheltered north side of your home. What to do if you can't move your plants or large containers? You can also do what Jeff from Fishingham Garden taught us. Use umbrellas (he found some cheap ones at a local discount store) to cover your plants or even a large 10x10 pop up canopy if you have one. You can also use a white shade cloth, or frost cloth, to drape over your plants. These reflect the sun and because they are porous they can allow water and air to make it to your plants. Do not use a black plastic or cloth to cover your plants. The black material will attract sunlight and heat, and will bake your plants underneath. The one thing we caution people about is to not move your plants indoor in the air conditioning. The sudden change in temperature will shock the plant and possibly end up killing it.
So now you know what to do, but what SHOULDN'T you do? Don't fertilize, don't prune your plants and don't mow if you can avoid it. These activities can create more stress for your lawn and plants. Wait until cool weather comes. The same is true if you have new plants in containers. Don't plant them until the weather is cooler. Leave them in their nursery pots and protect and water them. Then, when you do plant them in the cooler weather, water them in well!
Finally, walk around your garden when you have a few minutes. Take note of plants that are struggling in their current location. Make plans to move them to a better location this fall when the rains return. That will give them the rainy season to grow accustomed to their new location. Remember to drink water yourself too.
Once the heat is done. Leave your plants alone for a couple weeks. We know that you may want to trim back the burned and damaged foliage, but that could stress your plants. Continue watering and caring for your plants. Some parts may rejuvenate and other parts may not. The damage is done, so let your plants rest and recover. You can prune them back in a couple weeks and assess the damage then.
We know the heat can leave some long lasting damage and we hope these tips help you for the next heat wave.
Stur-D Fence Post Bracket
In the past we have featured the Stur-D Fence Post Bracket on the show. We had focused on winter damage to fences and we used the bracket to fix the winter damage to fence posts. Recently we found a post that was rotted but was holding up a trellis and a fruit tree. That means it is time to get out and fix that fence post! The damage and rot was at the base of the post where it makes contact with the top of the soil. That means that the rest of the post is perfectly fine and didn't need replacing. To help fix this problem we met with Chuck the owner and co-creator of the Stur-D Fence Post Bracket (503-941-5228). This is a steel support bracket that will fix your fence post without digging up the old cement. It is really easy to do. You start by digging a hole next to the broken post (6 inches away from the post) and just outside of the old cement ball. Dig down about 18 or 19 inches deep. Attach the Stur-D bracket to the post. You pre-drill the holes and then use large lag screws to secure the bracket to the post. Fill the hole at the bottom 1/3 full of water and add a sack of concrete and mix it in the hole. Add the rest of the concrete and water to fill the hole. Then level and secure the post for 24 hours until the concrete sets up and you're done. It was just that easy!
If you are looking for this quick and easy fix that will add years to the life of your fence, you can check out their website, Parkrose Hardware or your local Parr Lumber location!
Getting the right piece of garden equipment can make any job easier. For some who have a larger garden that can be a problem. It seems like each job requires another huge piece of equipment just to get it done quickly and correctly. We recently found a tractor that can handle all those large garden chores with little or no problem. We met with Ryan from BCS America (1-800-543-1040 in Oregon City to talk to him about the BCS Tractor. This versatile tractor is incredible! It is built to handle just about any job. The best thing is that it isn't a mini tractor and it isn't a large farm tractor either. This is the best of both worlds! This tractor has a dependable Honda engine in a rugged frame. This powertrain is gear driven and not belt driven so there are no loose belts robbing you of power for your jobs. A cool feature is the easy to use PTO. This is the attachment that allows you to change from one implement to another in seconds. You can go from a mower, to a tiller, to a powered wheelbarrow, to a sweeper with a couple of levers moved. The handles are so adjustable that you can make the machine into a pushing vehicle, into a pulling vehicle, and even move them from one side to the other so you can practically walk next to the machine as you work. There are so many attachments (we thought the log splitter and snow blower were really cool too) that you can do just about any job with little or no effort. How would it be if you didn't have to pull out a different machine for every job? Now you don't!
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.