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Welcome to the break in the heat! This week we actually cooled down a little bit and that sent me out into the garden to do more assessment of the damage to our garden plants from the severe heat from a couple weeks ago. It is surprising how much recovery and new growth we are seeing in our ‘damaged’ plants. We will continue to water and pamper our plants until the fall rains come, and keep our fingers crossed for a normal summer.
One thing we have noticed is the return to some of our normal summer events. Community concerts are popping up on our schedule again, and that was followed by some of the garden tours as well. This week on the show we return to Parry Farms for their annual Lily Flower Market and Festival. It was good to hear that they are back to normal and ready for visitors. Always check our calendar of events as we add new events every week.
This week we featured...
Jan’s July Tips
It is the middle of summer and we are back out in the garden of Jan McNeilan for our tips of the month. For a lot of us we have our vegetable crops starting to produce in our gardens. Some people are seeing a lot of blooms on their zucchini and no fruit. Jan told us that this is because these early blooms are the male blooms on the plant. You know this because they are at the end of long stems. The female blooms will just start showing up now and they are much closer to the plant. The male blooms are also the ones that some people use for a fried bloom recipe. Take a few for the recipe but leave a couple for pollination. Don’t worry you will get your zucchini, just give it time. Then we moved over to a brugmansia in a pot. Jan has been giving it regular watering so the roots have stayed towards the surface of the container. This is fine, but the plant will dry out quicker and get heat stress sooner because of those surface roots. She told us that she will be doing less watering and deeper watering so those roots start to stretch further down in the pot. Now if we get a lot of heat, then you should monitor your plant and give it more frequent watering, but in the long run deep watering will be better for your plants.
This time of year we also start seeing problems with our plants. Is it a burn problem, an insect/pest or a deficiency of some kind? The key is to figure out the problem before you treat it. This is true with all the burned and damaged plants we’ve seen, plus with the little bugs that are appearing on our plants. Do you know what a Ladybug larvae looks like? We recently found some caterpillars on a plant and they were totally destroying it! Not to worry, these were the caterpillars for the Cinnabar moth. These little critters were eating the Tansy ragwort plant. This plant is a noxious weed and needs to be removed from our gardens and pasture lands. This was a good guy and we need to let them do their job. Good thing we knew about it before we sprayed!
We returned to the garden to talk about sunscald on plants and vegetables. For plants, those damaged pieces may recover on their own. Wait and see what the plant does. For fruits and vegetables, if you can recover any fruit, just cut off the scalded part (after it ripens) and eat the good part.
For more tips or to get your gardening questions answered, you can go to the OSU Extension website, https://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening, or you can follow Jan on her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PNWgardentips.
Talk about a bad rap! Bats in the garden! A lot of people are afraid of bats and would prefer them to stay away from their gardens, but they would be better served to invite more of these hungry little insectivores to their backyards. We stopped by Backyard Bird Shop in Lake Oswego (503-445-2699) and met with Darlene to learn more and dispel some of the rumors. One of the big rumors is that they will chase you or get stuck in your hair. Both false. They are just flying around and looking for bugs, and they will keep their distance. They are also no more likely to carry rabies than any other mammal. The risk is VERY small. The best way to attract these little guys is by creating a welcoming place for them. That includes a source of water nearby, and a nice house to live in. Bat houses are not like bird houses. Bats fly into a house from the bottom. They will climb up inside and rest for most of the day and only emerge at dusk to hunt. The rest of the time you probably won't notice them. The common Little Brown Bat can cram a couple dozen of his relatives into one house. They are social and like tight spaces. They also like heat, which is why you should place your bat house about 12 to 15 feet off the ground, protected from the wind and facing south towards the sun. Keep it away from trees and limbs so they fly unobstructed and away from predators. The best part about having bats in your neighborhood? You will notice a difference in the amount of bug bites you will get. In our neighborhood we hardly use any bug spray at all! For more information on bats and how to make them welcome, stop by any Backyard Bird Shop location.
It is lavender season! The lavender plants are blooming in the garden, but not all lavender plants are the same. Different types and styles can do different things in the garden and can be used for different purposes. One of the best local growers of lavender is Blooming Advantage (http://www.bloomingadvantage.com), and you can get their plants at Blooming Junction (503-681-4646). We met at the Blooming Junction nursery to talk with Billie Jo about some of the different types of lavender, how they are different and how you can use them in the garden and the kitchen. We started with the English lavenders (augustifolia’s) which are some of the easiest and hardiest to grow in our area. We had 2 varieties to show, Munstead and Hidcote. These are great for use in various lavender products like potpourri and sachets. Next we moved to the Spanish lavenders, also called French lavenders. The difference between these and the augustifolias are the flower type. These have a spike of flowers on top of the bloom instead of a row of flower down the length of the stem. Some of these varieties included the Otto Quast, Silver Anouk and Anouk Supreme. All of them different in heights and colors, with one even having a silver colored foliage. The final group were the tall Intermedias, Grosso and Provence. These are much taller and are the go-to plant for harvesting essential oils. People say that these have a stronger fragrance too, but all of them smell great!
As some of these get big they can get leggy, floppy and woody, the key is to cut them back. Once the blooms are done and we are heading into late summer and early fall, cut them back into a smaller mound and they will stay more manageable and less floppy. There are dozens of different styles and types on the market and you can find an excellent selection at Blooming Junction. While you are there you can also pick up the freshest of summer produce. It is a great place to visit!
We recently returned to one of our favorite places for mid-summer color. We took a trip to Forest Grove and discovered a gem of a festival all about lilies. Kenn Parry is known for the great Christmas trees he grows, but a few years ago he decided to take his hobby, and love of lilies, to the next step, the Lily Flower Fest (503-348-9601). He started to sell them on-line. One year he was left with a lot more lilies than he expected and so he decided to plant them and invite people to come out and enjoy them. Now here we are a few years later and he has a festival. People can come out and stroll the grounds and look at lovely blooms, or a great view of Mount Hood! This year they will not have food on-site, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying all the color!
You can also get all your lily questions answered. One of the most asked questions was 'how do I deadhead, cut off my dead blooms'? Other questions are about height and styles of blooms. Kenn explained some of the differences and told us how you can cut them a little long and produce more tiny bulbs, or you can cut them short and create a larger bulb. It was amazing to hear that the amount of stalk you leave determines the type of growth you get in the bulb. If you are looking for some great blooms and a fun time, plus getting all your lily questions answered, then the festival is the place to be. Can't make it out, check out their on-line store.
Updating Your Sprinklers
Summer watering time is here, especially with all the recent heat, and as you crank up your sprinklers understand that you might be spending a lot of money and water on your garden and not getting the results you want. You don’t have to make a huge commitment to changing your watering system to reap some benefits. Steve Carper from the Regional Water Providers Consortium, met us in a backyard to share some tips for watering cheaply and more efficiently. He started with a trowel. Steve brought this out to demonstrate how to dig around your sprinkler heads and bring them up-right again if they had started leaning or falling over. This will make sure that they are not shooting spray into the air or into the ground and that you are getting full coverage. Then if your head is not aimed right you can simply grab the post and turn the whole head. If that doesn’t fix the problem you can replace the head with one with a different coverage pattern, or if you have ‘Multi-stream rotators’, you can use a simple tool to make the adjustment.
Another way to help control and conserve water is with a rain sensor. These can be hooked up to your system and then, if it rains, it will shut down your system until the rain is gone, and then it will turn on your system again. If all this seems like an ‘over my head’ project, then you should contact a licensed and bonded landscape contractor who has a background in irrigation systems. They will make sure your system is running effectively. For tips on watering wisely and how to pick a quality contractor, check out the RWPC website at www.Regionalh2o.org.ow this is more like it. The weather has returned to a somewhat normal pattern. Cooler mornings and moderately hot afternoons. This is how the summer is supposed to start. The good news is that the cooler weather is giving our plants a break to recover from the recent heat wave. We could use a breath of fresh air too. Time to get out and assess your plants, and see which ones are hurting and which ones survived. After this week, they should be less stressed and ready for some ‘clean-up’ pruning.
It is also a good time to prepare for the next round of heat which we know is coming before the end of this summer. Adjust your sprinklers, add protective mulch where needed and figure out protection for those tender plants. Good luck!