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We are near the end of winter and spring is officially a couple days away. I’m excited, aren’t you? The days are just going to get brighter and warmer! That means more time in the garden. Judy is excited to get out in the garden too. She is now a few weeks past her accident and her leg is getting better. Once again, she is so thankful for all your kind thoughts and best wishes. As many of you know by now, the Garden Time TV show is ending. Please check out this link to read our statement about the show. You can always access our video library through our archives or follow us on Facebook for topical garden information. Please stay with us as we continue the show through the spring until the 25th of June.
This week we featured...
Now is the time to start some of your seeds indoors in anticipation of the coming spring and summer. The basic rules for success include starting with a quality soil and fresh seeds. Sterile soil will help you keep your new plants happy and healthy, because they won’t be exposed to different molds and fungus. We used the Espoma Organic Seed Starter soil for starting our plants. Not only is it free of disease and pests, it is also soft and light so your plants can set roots faster and your plants get a quicker start. Plus it has 2 types of mycorrhizae that will help your plants get a better start. The Espoma soil is also an organic soil since these seedlings were for our veggie garden. You will also need to read the back of your seed pack so you will know how deep to plant your seeds and other care instructions. You can help the seedlings along by using a heating mat and grow lights, but if you have a warm place next to a window with lots of sun exposure, you should be alright. Remember to keep those seeds moist. If they dry out once germinated, they could die and then you would have to start all over. We recommend that you also move and thin your small plant seedlings, after the first month, to bigger pots to give them the best start before they go in the garden. We did this with a natural and organic soil since these seedlings were for our veggie garden. Once you are ready to move them outside, give them a couple of days in a garage or protected area so they can acclimate to the outdoor temps. This would be a great year to start a vegetable garden to save some money; check out your local garden center for a great selection of seeds. For more tips on successful seed starting, check out the ‘Seed Starting’ link on the How-To page.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest
One of the first signs of spring for many people is the annual appearance of the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival (503-634-2243) in Woodburn. Two years ago the festival was one of the first casualties of the Covid crisis. This year things are changed for the better! Barb from the farm joined us in the fields which were just starting to pop with color, to tell us about some of the changes. This year they will have a timed ticketed entry. You can go to their website and book your time and ticket there. You can only get tickets on the website! Once you get to the farm you can visit the huge field of flowers and all the other public areas, there are no restrictions. The modified ticketing will allow a more manageable crowd so you won't have the long lines that they experienced in the past. Of course Barb also reminded us of the ‘Field Report’ link on their website so you can see where they are in the bloom season and how close they are to peak bloom! You can also book hot air balloon rides through their website as well!
The fields are only part of the fun once you get there. Once you are on the grounds you can visit the gift shop, which is full of tulip and Dutch themed gifts. There are some new food vendors on site if you get a little hungry after walking the fields, and you can also pick up Wooden Shoe wines or Red Barn Hemp CBD products for your family. You can also pick up cut tulips and potted flowers to take home with you. There are lots of other activities so go to their website to get the most updated information!
We are so happy the tulip festival has returned! Let the spring begin!
Rogerson Cutting Garden
Now is the time for planning and planting! For some though, it can be a little intimidating to plan out your garden beds for the season. To help you with that struggle we found out about a class that you can attend to get you started. We met with Kathy Whitman at the Rogerson Clematis Garden to learn about a class on planning your cut flower garden. She told us that the class is more than just drawing up a plan, it has useful tips on plant selection and learning about putting the right plant in the right place. It will help you learn how to create a gorgeous cut flower garden that will also give you year-round color and interesting textures. Later this spring they will also have a class to show you how to cut those flowers and arrange them for your indoor displays. Kathy even told us about a few other classes including one on hanging baskets that are coming up soon. We also learned that they will soon open up their sales area, around April 1st, so you can purchase some great clematis for your garden. If you would like to attend this class which takes place on March 26th between 10am and noon, check out the Rogerson website. The fee is $10 for garden members, only $25 for non-members, and free for higher levels of membership. Stop by and get some great tips for your summer flower garden.
Displaying Daffodils and Tulips
Some of the first flowers of spring are the Daffodils and Tulips. Now you may want to bring in those flowers to enjoy in a vase, container or arrangement. Beware of the daffodil! When daffodils are fresh cut they ooze a sap that will block other flowers from taking up water. This is especially true for your tulips. Let the daffs sit in water for a couple of hours and then rinse them off and use them in your flower arrangements, and they won’t stunt your tulips!
Daffodils are also great at keeping deer away from your prized tulips; surround them with daffodils. Deer hate the ‘daffs’ and will ignore your tulips to avoid the daffodils. If you are itching for tulips, mark your calendar for next weekend. That is the start of the annual Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival. Stop by and pick up some daffodils and tulips to bring spring into your own home!
Spring Grape Pruning
When you approach your grapes in the spring you may not know where to start. There are so many vines that it is hard to know where to make the cut. To learn some tricks of the trade we traveled to the Dundee area and stopped at Stoller Family Estate (503-864-3404) . There we met up with Jason Tosch, the VP of Vineyards. He and his crew have the job of taking care of the vines and make sure they stay healthy so they can grow the perfect grapes for their delicious wines. Jason told us that you are looking to save buds right now. For the home gardener it could be as simple as leaving 2 vines with 4-5 buds on them. These buds will grow new canes and those canes will grow your grapes. The key is to not be afraid of cutting. Cutting (pruning) is the key to success. If your vines start to bleed while you are cutting them, don't worry, that's normal. It is caused by the warming of the vines and they will seal up not long after you finish cutting. Also, Jason recommended that you put your vines in an area where you can get them lots of sun exposure. Grapes will survive very nicely (once they are established) without a lot of supplemental watering. In fact, the vines are not watered at all during the late summer unless there is a drought. This helps to create the sugars that make them so sweet. They also hold off on fertilizing the vines. The fertilizer would only create more foliage on the plant and that will limit the sunlight that can reach the fruit.
What if your plant looks like a big mess with a ton of vines (like a bad haircut)? Then you can cut a bunch off and leave 2 larger vines to become trunks. From those 2 'trunks' you can leave upright vines with 2-3 buds on each to produce your fruit for the season. It is less intensive on the details and will still give you a great harvest of fruit. Just follow these simple rules and you should have a great crop of grapes on your table this late summer and fall.
If you would like to taste the results of Jason's grapes, and his work, stop by Stoller Family Estate and visit their new Experience Center. It is a 'must see' tasting room, with little snacks, tons of room and lots of great tasting wines. Give them a call and book a time for tasting!
TOW – Trimming Hellebores
Our tip of the week involves hellebores and cutting the foliage. You can do this in spring once the hellebores starts to bloom. By cutting the old leaves off you can enjoy the flowers without all that beat up and tattered foliage. Don’t worry, in late spring the new leaves will grow in and the plant will continue to grow and be healthy.