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The heat has returned. We are looking at temperatures near 100 again and the summer continues. We still have a good month to go with the chance of hitting 100 again still in our future. This last few weeks we have done numerous stories about how to prepare and deal with the excessive heat. If you need a refresher or maybe you missed those stories (and the accompanying information) you can always check out our archive for more information and links to those stories.
Right now though, the only thing that is hot is our 600th episode! That’s right! We have hit 600 episodes and we couldn’t be prouder. Thank you all for being there for all or part of our journey. It has been a blast and we will continue to provide great garden information for many more shows!
This week we featured...
Central Oregon Waterwise Gardening
During our recent trip to Central Oregon we learned a lot about growing conditions on that side of the state. There are a lot of considerations when planting in the Bend/Redmond area. To get a visual example of what we can plant and how we can grow plants we stopped by the Hollingshead Water-wise Demonstration garden in Bend. There we met up with OSU Extension Master Gardener Chris Miao to learn more. Chris is a longtime volunteer and peer educator in the Master Gardener program in Central Oregon and she had a list of things to consider when gardening in the high desert area. We started by talking about soil. Soil in the high desert is sandy and pretty much lacking in nutritional and organic content. That means you need to amend the soil by adding organic material, not just once but annually if possible. Then we moved to temperature. The temperature in this area can swing from 90 in the day to 40 at night. Due to the elevation ranges, from 1000 feet to 4,000 feet you get a cooler and shorter growing season. That slows down plant growth and limits what you can plant in your garden. For vegetables that can mean choosing a selection of seed with a shorter maturity as well. Also, due to all these variations you can have a microclimate that is very different from your neighbors too. Next on the list was moisture. There is little or no water during the summer months and so it is critical that you have an efficient and effective watering system. For most gardeners that means a good drip system. High efficiency overhead watering can work, but a drip system works the best so that the precious water can be applied directly to your plants. In the demonstration garden they have examples of different types of watering and how to use them. Then we moved to plant selection. When you go plant shopping you have to take into consideration all the variables we talked about. With all the variations in water, elevation and temperature, you need to really know your planting space before you make your purchases.
As for personal tips for the new central Oregon gardener Chris recommends patience and persistence. She also said that people need to get educated first too. Signing up for OSU master gardening classes and other educational opportunities will help smooth out any problems. You can also find a whole bunch of resources on the OSU Extension Publications page. There is a great publication about water-wise gardening in central Oregon to get you started. Click here to see it.
Finally, Chris mentioned that you should feel proud once you get started and have signs of success. Gardening in central Oregon can be tough, but you can be very successful if you follow these simple steps.
Egan Summer Color
Right now, a lot of gardens are looking a little tired after our hot spring and summer. Those annuals and perennials might need a boost, and the best way to do that is to add a few more plants to your garden for additional color and texture that can carry you through the fall. We stopped at Egan Gardens (503-393-2131) and talked with Ellen Egan about some plants she would recommend right now. She started with some great annual color. These plants may not make it through the winter, but they will help your garden ‘pop’ for the next 3-4 months. The first plants she pulled out were the Pepper plants. Chilly Chili is covered in little yellow peppers that will turn red and orange in the next few weeks and though they are edible, they are not the best for culinary uses. A taller pepper plant was the ‘Black Pearl’. These peppers start out a shiny black color and then turn bright red later in the summer. If you have some medium sized annuals and perennials that are looking bad there are some annuals that can take their place. Scaevola is also called the Fan Flower for its fan shaped blooms. These trailing blooms literally cover the entire plant so you get a big splash of color. After a heat wave the geraniums are also looking tired, so Ellen recommend one of the colorful Pentas plants. These have the taller flower stalks that resemble the clusters of blooms you can find on your geraniums and they keep blooming through the fall too. Zinnias are a familiar annual plant and they love the heat, though most people forget about them after the early summer.
For perennial selections Ellen had more choices on the cart. We started with the Black Eyed Susans. The bright ‘Amarillo Gold’ was stunning! You really need sunglasses if you see this one in the summer sun. Then there was the taller two-tones ‘Denver Daisy’ which was huge! Agastaches are also a great perennial bloomer in the summer garden. They have tiny tubular flowers that spike up tall over the foliage and are hummingbird magnets. They also come in a range of softer colors so you don’t overwhelm the other flowers in your garden. Phlox is a flower that also does well in the heat, though in extreme conditions they do need a little more attention. They will bounce back quickly though. This is another one that has tall stalks of flowers that rise up over the foliage, for a great mid-summer show.
Finally don’t forget the hanging baskets for a great splash of midsummer color. There are still annual baskets and perennial combinations that you can enjoy for months, if not years, to come. If you are looking for ideas to refresh your summer garden, stop by Egan Gardens and see all of the great plants they have to offer.
FPP – Summer Perennial Care
We love perennials! They give us great colors and textures for most of the summer, and they come back year after year. Still, they can get a little ratty looking in the middle of summer and sometimes we just don’t know what to do. Where do you go for advice? For perennials you go to French Prairie Perennials (503-679-2871)! We stopped by the Aurora store to talk to Kerry about some of those wonderful color plants and what you can do to freshen them up during the summer. We started with a Lupine. These are wonderful plants known for their huge spikes of blooms that last for weeks. Once that bloom has faded you want to cut the flower stem back down to a leaf joint or new vegetative growth (generally at that leaf point there can be new sprouts or new growth). This will stimulate new flowers or focus the energy on making a stronger plant. A smaller campanula was next on the chopping block and we’re not kidding. The blooms were all gone on this plant and Kerry gave it a ‘ponytail’ cut. She grabbed all the spent bloom stalks together and made a ponytail between her fingers and then cut it all off. This was a BIG haircut, but she told us that this ‘reset’ was good for the plant. Within a couple weeks the foliage will be back and new flowers would soon follow. Astilbe was next. It has large, long flower stems and they also need to be cut down to the base, leaving the foliage intact. New flower stalks will return and if you keep cutting them off it will keep blooming. Kerry also told us about the importance of mulch for your perennials. Mulch in the summer helps keep the roots cool and that helps the plant produce more blooms. New mulch in the winter protects those roots from cold and frost. Regular watering will also help keep those roots cool too.
Kerry had some delphiniums on her table too. These confuse people because they don’t know where to cut. Kerry went to the base of each bloom stem and cut it there, once again, leaving the foliage intact. The new flower growth comes from the base of this plant. We love gaillardia (also called Blanket Flower), but they have a tendency to get long bloom stems with multiple blooms sprouting from those stems. Here you can cut the individual spent blooms from the stem and enjoy each bloom along its length, or if there are too many gone, you can give this plant a ponytail haircut as well. The gaillardia growth also brought to mind fertilizers. A lot of people ask Kerry about fertilizing their plants and she recommended a fertilizer that is lower in nitrogen. If you have a bag of fertilizer there are usually 3 numbers on the bag. They stand for Nitrogen –phosphorus –potash. She says you should have a nitrogen level (the first number) at around 10 to 12. This will give you short and strong stems. Long stems are what you get with some dahlias like the one we had next on the table. Here you can go down along the stem and cut off the individual spent blooms and continue that until you run out of new blooms and then take it down to the bottom where there is new growth. We moved to 2 different veronicas. One had a bunch of dead flower stalks and it got the haircut, and the other only had a couple of spent bloom, so it got the removal of individual stems, leaving the blooming ones on until they are done. The final plants were a couple of Gauras. One was leggy, with long and wild flower stems and was smaller, but Kerry showed us how, if you cut those leggy branches off, you get a fuller plant with more blooms! More blooms for your buck!
These were just a few of the flowering perennials you can find at French Prairie Perennials in historic Aurora, but don’t just drive by! Stop and go in the gift shop as well. We can guarantee that you will leave with a plant and something special from the gift shop as well!
Smith Berry Barn Canning Supplies
Many times we have been out to Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) to get tips and share recipes using fresh fruits and vegetables. These recipes are great and you can find a lot of them on the Smith Berry Barn Website or you can search ‘Smith Berry Barn’ in our archives to find even more tips and recipes. One thing that we haven’t always shared was that all the supplies and tools you need for canning and preserving your fruits and veggies are available at Smith Berry Barn. Today we met with Joelle in her kitchen to cover some of the tools you will need for canning this summer and fall. We started with the fruit. Yes, every season is fruit season at Smith Berry Barn. Right now they have Triple Crown Blackberries and Blueberries fresh in the fields. Today she used blackberries to show us what you would need to make jam. The pectin that she recommends is the Pomona’s Pectin. This is a citrus based pectin that allows you to use any kind of sweetener in your jam. You can cut back on the sugar and even use honey or any other type of sweetener. It is very easy to use too. She started talking about equipment. She had a nice large stainless steel pot with a smooth bottom so it would work well on induction and glass stovetops. This container has a jar caddie inside to hold your jars of jam when you cook and seal them shut during your hot water bath canning. Other items that you would need include a food mill. This allows you to separate the seeds from the fruit that you are canning, great for blackberries. Joelle also has jars of all different sizes for your jam. Once your jam is ready you will need a funnel and ladle to get the jam into the jars. You will also need canning lids and a small set of tongs to pull the hot lids out of the sanitizing water and putting them on your jars. She also recommends a canning jar lifter. This helps you pull the hot jars out of the canner. After the jars cool off you can label them with decorative labels or even a red gingham jar decoration.
There is nothing like having preserved fruits and vegetables from your own garden in the middle of winter. These tools will help you get started and set you on a course of preserving for many years to come. For these tools and many other kitchen utensils, check out Smith Berry Barn.
TOW – 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.