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Ahhh…. The cool weather has returned and it feels great! With this little break in the high temperatures we are getting our first taste of fall. We noticed the cooler evenings as we sat out on the deck this past week. Even though fall officially begins in a month, we are sure looking forward to it. The plants in our garden sure appreciate the cooler nights too. If you had some plants that got a little fried in the heat this summer, now is the time to mark them. In a couple weeks you can move them to new locations or make changes in your garden to help them survive next season.
We are also noticing the cooler nights have the yellowjackets getting a little more aggressive too. They are sensing the change in the seasons that are on the way and are making their preparations for the upcoming winter. Make sure you have your wasp traps baited so you can enjoy these remaining days and evenings in your garden.
This week we featured...
Any time of year you can make a trip to the tropics by getting on a plane, but did you know that you can bring the tropics to your backyard here in the Pacific Northwest? One flower that screams ‘tropical’ is the hibiscus! There are many types of hibiscus and there are 2 types that do really well in our climate and are also perennial! To learn more about these different types we stopped by Wavra Farms and Nursery (503-364-9879) and talked to Diane about these beautiful plants. We started with the large blooms of the hardy hibiscus. These blooms are so huge that they are called the ‘dinner plate’ series of hibiscus, though they are also known as the Rose Mallow type. These are perennials that grow well in the summer heat with good watering and have these huge blooms that last only a day or so, but once the plant is established your plant will seem to always be in bloom with lots of buds coming on until fall. These plants will die back in the winter and will return from the ground in the late spring of the following year. Diane recommended that you leave the dry stems as a marker of where your plants are located. The hollow stems can be a problem if you cut the tops off and leave them open in the winter. These tubular stems will funnel water back down to the roots and will rot the crown of the plant.
Then we talked about the Rose of Sharon style of hibiscus. These are a shrub type of hibiscus and have smaller flowers, but they still have that tropical feel to them. These flowers, like their larger cousin have a life span of about a day or two before they are done and fall to the ground, but your plant should have plenty of blooms to cover your plant for the late summer and into fall. Since these plants don’t die back to the ground in the winter you might need to do some pruning to maintain their shape. This can be done in the fall to insure lots of blooms the following year.
Both plants like to be well watered in a well-drained soil. When they start to bloom you can fertilize them every couple of weeks with a liquid fertilizer to help them continue to bloom. These are great plants for a nice showy summer garden. Stop by Wavra Farms and check out their great selection!
Sebright Jewel Box Sale
What do you have in your Jewel Box? Some old rings and pendants? How about checking out our jewel box? We stopped at Sebright Gardens (503-463-9615) where they are hosting the annual Jewel Box Sale of the Cascade Nursery Trail this Saturday. The Cascade Nursery Trail is a group of small but unique nurseries that offer some really cool plants! In the spring everyone is looking for some great blooming plants, but now you can find plants that will reward you with wonderful late summer and early fall color and texture.
Kirk from Sebright joined Judy in their demonstration garden to showcase the great plants they have to offer during the sale. These plants really enjoyed the summer heat and were looking great. That included some of the hostas that Sebright is known for. A lot of hostas really took a beating during the extreme heat we had. Kirk showed us a few varieties that continue to grow leaves so he was able to pull of the old burnt leaves, leaving a bunch of nice new ones, like on ‘Frozen Margarita’. Not all hostas can be treated this way, but there are some that respond well to this pruning. Some of the other hostas that he had that were looking great included ‘Peanut’, ‘Hands Up’, ‘Moonstruck’ and 'Emerald City Chick'. Sebright is also known for their huge selection of ferns. Kirk had brought out a couple of maidenhair ferns to share. Mairis's Maidenhair Fern was a taller one that looked really delicate, but it loved the summer heat. The partner fern was ‘imbricata’, a smaller version of the native fern found here. Both perform well if they are kept moist in the heat. Other plants he featured included the alliums (bee magnets!), Rose of Sharon hibiscus, Crepe Myrtles, and heucheras. There were just so many great plants on the table we didn’t have time to show them all!
If you would like to see these and a whole lot of other wonderful plants check out the Jewel Box sale today only, Saturday the 21st at Sebright Gardens, featuring all 8 members of the Cascade Nursery Trail. Bring a picnic lunch, wander the gardens and take home some beautiful plants! Stop by between 9am and 3pm for a great time.
Summer Dahlia Care & Festival
It’s Dahlia time! The late summer and all the way through fall is the time to appreciate these wonderful and prolific bloomers. The place to see dahlias is at Swan Island Dahlias (800-410-6540) in Canby. Heather joined us in the huge display garden to talk to us about dahlias and how to care for them in the summer. Dahlias are great because you can plant them in the spring and get wonderful blooms in the same year. You don’t have to wait a couple of seasons to enjoy huge splashes of color. The key to getting these waves of color is to make sure they get a few things. We started by talking about water. She told us that the plants were about 2 weeks behind because of the heat in July. It really slowed down their growth, but now they were coming on strong. That is due to the amount of water they were being given. They love deep water right now. Just a couple minute ‘squirt’ of water is not enough to get down to those deep roots. You want to trickle a hose at the base of your plant for a long time, or a long drench of water, to make sure they are well watered. If the water is not getting to the roots, you will have fewer blooms. The second thing that dahlias need right now is fertilizer. You can give them a little shot of a low nitrogen fertilizer every few weeks to ensure a nice, continual bloom.
If you love color and dahlias, you’ve probably been to the Dahlia Festival at the end of August. The past few years have had them make some changes to the festival and so there is no big planned event. The newer festival covers 2 months instead of 2 weekends. You can visit the fields throughout all of August and September. This extended window allows you to see the fields without the huge crowds because you won’t have to wait for those special weekends. The flowers will be blooming for the next 2 months and so you can come out anytime to see the show! No only do they have all those blooms, but they have small special events and activities. Those activities include classes, yoga, a Friday Farmers Market and a whole lot more. Check out their website or Facebook page for all the activities and details. The fields and the gift shop will be open 6 days a week (closed Wednesdays). They even have a special self-serve kiosk so you can pick up bunches of fresh cut flowers to take home. Plus, while you are there you can see the flowers in bloom and then go online to order some for your garden (they will be shipped early next year). Online orders through the end of September will also receive 10% off!
This year has been a record year for tomatoes. If you are having a record year for tomatoes, you might be thinking about preserving some for the year ahead. One way of doing that is to can them. We found some great canning instructions at the OSU Extension website. Let’s walk you through the steps, briefly, on how to can, though you can find the complete instructions on the website.
To start we picked tomatoes that were ripe or just getting ripe. You do not want to can over ripe fruit. If it has started to spoil it could taint the rest of the jar. We also picked a lot of different varieties for our canning. This will add different flavors and textures to our soups, salsas and stews. If you are making a sauce or ketchup you may want to stick with one variety.
There are 2 methods for canning a ‘hot pack’ method and a ‘raw’ or ‘cold pack’ method. We are doing the raw/cold pack method. Start by washing and sterilizing the jars, rims and lids. Boiling water is the best way of doing this. Make sure you check the jars for chips (don’t use those) and the rims for rust (don’t use those either). Next, fill your canner with water and start heating it to a boil. Fill another pot with boiling water for blanching your raw fruit. You will also need an ice bath for the fruit after it is blanched.
Now place the tomatoes in the hot blanching water for about a minute until the skins start to crack. Then remove them and place them in the ice bath. You can now remove the skins and cut out the stem cores. Take your sanitized jars and stuff the blanched, skin-less tomatoes in until it is filled to the neck of the jar. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the jar (to help preserve the fruit) and ¼ teaspoon of salt (this is for flavor). Then fill the rest of the jar with some of the blanch water to fill the jar to about ½ inch from the top of the jar. Run a butter knife or spatula around the inside of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Put the sanitized lids on the top of the jar and secure with the rims/rings till they are hand tightened.
Then you will place them in the canner full of water. Once they are lowered into the canning bath they should have about an inch of water covering the tops. Let them boil in the bath for 45 minutes. Once out of the bath, let them cool. You will hear the lids popping. This is a sign that they are sealing.
Once cool, mark the lid with the date and store in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight. Now you can go to your pantry when you are working on your favorite recipe and enjoy the taste of summer long after the sunny days are gone!
If you have any questions about food preservation you can check out the OSU Extension website or you can call the Food Safety and Preservation Hotline at 1-800-354-7319.
Bauman Cider and Peaches
Believe it or not, it is peach season and the best place to find fresh peaches is at Bauman’s Farm and Garden (503-792-3524). Brian met us near the peach display in their store to talk about peaches. Bauman’s grows a lot of different varieties of peaches and we have paid a visit to their orchard in the past and saw trees that were loaded so heavy that some of them had broken branches from all the fruit. The season has been good and that allowed for lots of good pollination and a ton of fruit. Brian also told us about the different types of peaches you can find. There are basically 2 types, freestone and clingstone. The freestone peach is the best for canning. The fruit doesn’t stick to the pit (stone) and it comes off easily. The clingstone sticks to the pit and can be a little messier when you are dealing with it, but it is still just as delicious! Another tip. Brian told us how most people will squeeze the fruit to see if it is ripe. That is not how to tell if it is ready, and all it does is bruise the fruit. He told us to gently pick up the fruit and turn it over. The top of the peach where you will find the stem is the best gauge of ripeness. If that top part is fully ‘colored’ and not green, then the fruit is ripe. Don’t worry if the fruit is still a little green, the peaches will quickly ripen if you leave them on your counter for a day or two. In fact, Brian likes a few of his peaches a little green so they don’t ripen all at once!
Next we traveled to the other side of the store and met with Christine, the cider master, at Bauman’s Cider to try some of these wonderful peaches in her cider. She was really proud of her Peach Bellini cider which was just being introduced this week, but she also talked about the popular Peach Raspberry cider as well. These were just a couple of the huge selection of ciders made with fruit and apples grown right on the farm! These ciders include the popular Loganberry, Boysenberry and Strawberry varieties of ciders. They even have some limited small batch ciders that are made from specific varieties of apples from their farm. There are so many to choose from, we’re sure you can find one that will suit any taste.
The big news that Christine shared was about some wonderful awards that they recently won. She told us about the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP). This is the Olympics of cider makers and Bauman’s won a bunch of awards. They won 7 gold medals, 9 silver, and a bronze! This haul included ‘Best of Show’ for 3 ciders, Mountain Rose, Bourbon Vanilla, and Strawberry Mojito. Then to top it off they won ‘Small Producer of the Year’! I guess the judges agreed with cider drinkers here in Oregon that Bauman’s makes a world class cider! If you would like to try some of these ciders you can find them at various bars and restaurants around our area, or you can stop by the farm and enjoy one as you shop. Even better? You can now order them online and have them delivered to your doorstep!