Wow, Memorial Day is here, the traditional start of the summer season. It seems like last year at this time we were still in the throws of winter! Cold, wet weather had yet to let go of the Northwest. This year things are much different. We have set records for warm weather and the sunny days seem to have far outnumbered the wet ones. I’ve even had a few days of ‘hammock time’. I’m not sure I was able to do that last year until August! We can only hope that the good weather will remain with us for many months to come! Before you enjoy the upcoming holiday sit back and enjoy this week’s show.
This week we featured...
Pear in a Bottle
Recently we noticed a bottle of brandy that had a whole pear in it. This fascinated us. This isn’t easy. How do they get a whole pear inside a bottle! You just don’t build a pear like you would a ship! This requires some planning! To learn how it is done we contacted Clear Creek Distillery (503-248-9470) in Portland. They are the ones responsible for this feat of engineering. We met with Rachel Inman in a Hood River orchard to see how they do it. Rachel met us with a bottle and some twine. She told us how they pick certain pears on the tree while they were still small to place them in the bottles. These pears are judged to be the ones that will survive until the end of the season and ripen, not easy since all pear trees will have ‘June drop’ where the tree self prunes to get rid of unviable fruit. Once she pealed away the smaller fruit and picked her ‘king’ fruit she placed the bottle upside down over the fruit. This allows the fruit to grow inside the bottle and avoids rain and irrigation water from entering the bottle. The morning condensation is not a problem either. It burns off with the morning sun. The only problem is sunburn! Once the sun get high in the sky the bottom of the bottle can act as a magnifying glass to burn the fruit. Rachel then has to cut little bags and cover the bottom of the bottles to prevent the fruit from getting cooked. Once the fruit is ripe they simply give the bottle a tug and a twist and the fruit comes off and remains whole in the bottle. Then they take it to the distillery and clean the fruit with small brushes and fill the bottles with wonderful Oregon Pear brandy! If you would like to have a sample of this tasty distilled beverage you can stop by the Clear Creek Distillery in Portland during tasting hours. Simply check out their website for times!
Now is the time to apply a good layer of mulch to your garden. Chuck from Grimm’s Fuel (503-636-3623) joined us to talk about the different types of mulches you can get for your garden beds. In the past people liked the red, fresh color of a new Fir or Hemlock mulch. This type will age to a grey color and will help keep the weeds in check. The problem is that they tend to pull nitrogen from your soil as the wood breaks down and that leaves less for your plants. The other problem this year is availability. The wood based mulches are harder to come by due to the housing market, fuel costs and timber harvesting. The new popular mulch is Garden Mulch. This is a nice dark color and it will help your garden by providing nutrients for your plants. Grimm’s has all the different types of mulches and can deliver them in bulk or can even blow them in so the work is done and you save your back!
Tsugawa’s Raised Beds
Gardening in raised beds is great. The vegetables usually ripen earlier and because you are using fresh soil and compost you can get better production and a bigger harvest too. The problem has been building a raised bed. Most of the kits are too expensive or too hard to assemble. We found one at Tsugawa’s Nursery (360-225-8750) that takes care of both problems. The GreenBed is a kit that is made out of wood chips and concrete. It is very durable and is non-toxic. Brian showed us this product that is locally made in Philomath, Oregon. It is pre-drilled so putting it together is easy. Once it is assembled it can be planted right away! Plants in a raised bed stay warmer and so they really take off. The bed at Tsugawa’s was recently planted and the plants had grown tremendously in just a couple of weeks. The tomatoes were even blooming! You can find it at Tsugawa’s and we even found them at Garland Nursery in Corvallis.
New Seasons EarthPots
We have featured the EarthPots product many times over the past couple of years. It is such a great product if your want to easily start a garden without the mess of dealing with plastic pots and containers. This week we were at the brand new New Season’s Market at Progress Ridge in Beaverton. The new EarthPots introduction was a new sleeve around individual plants. This sleeve allows you to carry the plant out in your shopping basket without getting soil all over your groceries. You can also get the new ‘6 pack’ of plants in an easy carrier. Also, this weekend they are having a special price on EarthPots plants. Going green can’t be easier!
In the U.S. we have become known for our large expansive lawns. But the upkeep and maintenance of these lawns can cost you a lot of time, water and money. To learn about alternatives to the traditional lawn we stopped by a home in the Tigard area that has a couple of different types of lawns. We were joined by Steve Carper from the Regional Water Providers Consortium to talk about the benefits of replacing your turf. Steve mentioned that most traditional grass lawns take a lot of time and money to look good. You have the mowing and watering every week, but you also have fertilizing, de-thatching, aerating and disease and insect problems to take care of too. For all those reasons people are moving away from the traditional grass turf. Steve also mentioned that these alternative lawns are not for everyone. A lot of people still enjoy the feel and look of grass, and that is OK too, but there are other choices too.
To learn about those choices we met with the homeowner, Keith, who has installed a couple of different types around his house. We started in his side yard where he had planted a mix called Fleur de Lawn. This mix includes ryegrass, dwarf clover, yarrow, daisies and alyssum. It only needs to be mowed about 3-4 times the whole year! It looks like a meadow the rest of the time. It allowed for better drainage of rainwater and less pest and diseases problems. The front part of his lawn was planted with a mix called ‘Rough and Ready’. This one doesn’t get as tall and stays green without a lot of watering. This mix also has a micro-clover that stays low and full, plus it adds nitrogen to the soil for all the other plants and grasses in the mix, so there is less fertilizing! Keith picked these blends up at Hobbs and Hopkins Company right here in Portland. If you would like to learn more about water saving tips you can do around your home or garden, check out the Regional Water Providers Consortium website at www.conserveh2o.org.