Welcome to summer! I know it may not seem like it right now, especially since I just found out we have set a record for rain this year. Still they are predicting a warmer and drier summer compared to last year. I can hardly wait!
We are also happy to announce that William and Judy will be appearing at the 10th annual Polk County Master Gardener Fall Fling on September 8th! They will be giving a talk and holding a class. Other people who will be appearing will be Willi Galloway who wrote the ‘Grow, Cook, Eat’ book we had on the show a few weeks ago, and Bob Denman from Red Pig Tools! We will have more details later this summer. So mark your calendar!
This week we featured...
Irrigation Tips and Tricks
Saving water in the garden is very important. It can not only save you water; it can save you a lot of money over time. Judy met with Kevin McCaleb from the Regional Water Providers Consortium. He works for the Lake Oswego Water Department and he helps people find ways to save water in their homes and gardens. He brought some of his favorite tools that home owners can use to determine their water usage. The biggest thing that a home owner can do is to monitor their water usage. They can do this by using a simple soil moisture probe. This can be placed in the ground and it will tell you when your plants need water. By using this over time, you can get a feel for how much water your plants need to survive. Then there is the old tuna can method (or the measuring cup/gauge that they can get from their local water company). Just place these around your yard and garden to catch the water when you are using your sprinkler system. This will tell you how much water is going on your yard and garden. This will allow you to adjust your sprinklers to use water more efficiently. The problem with sprinklers is that they are calibrated when they are installed and then never adjusted after that. You will also want to do simple things like hand water plants when they need it instead of turning on the whole system for one or two plants. You can also group plants with similar water needs together, drought tolerant plants together and other, needier plants together. If you have an automated system you may also want to install a rain sensor. This will shut off your system when it is raining out and keep you from wasting water. These are just a few tips. You will find more at the Regional Water Providers Consortium website. As Kevin said, take a few small steps now to realize savings later.
Early Summer Hydrangeas
William likes to say that every garden needs a hydrangea. After visiting Hydrangeas Plus (866-433-7896) we can see why. They not only grow the plants they have a garden full of them. Kristin showed us some of her favorites in her garden and in the nursery. She started at her house with the hydrangea ‘Japonica Coerulea. This one had wonderful blooms and amazing foliage color. It is also one of the earliest to bloom in her garden. It starts out white and ages blue. We then moved over to hydrangea ‘Schizophragma Roseum’, this is a climbing hydrangea that starts out a soft white that ages to a gentle pink color on the lacecap blooms. The new growth has cool red stems! We then move to her greenhouses to see a couple of other varieties. Inside the hoop house we saw the hydrangea ‘Serrata Shirofuji’. This is a small hydrangea and it is covered in white blooms. It is also an early bloomer. It would be great in a container! The last hydrangea is one of William’s favorites, hydrangea serrata ‘Painters Palette’. This one has blooms that are a rainbow of colors. The foliage only compliments that color blast. We also covered the rules for changing the color of the bloom on certain varieties. For blue blooms make your soil acidic, pink blooms go for an alkaline pH. It is a little too late to do that if your flowers are blooming but you can do it if you apply lime or aluminum sulfate at the right time of year. If you have any questions, you can call Hydrangeas Plus and they will be very happy to help you. Or you can stop by today, June 23rd between 10am and 4pm during one of their special sale. They only do this a couple times a year and it is the best time to pick out a beautiful plant.
If you have weeds in your garden, and who doesn’t, you may be wondering what type of weed control you should use. William and Judy gave us a brief rundown of some of the most popular methods available and things to be aware of. William covered some of the chemical methods including Round-up, that kills weeds (and plants if you’re not careful), to some of the pre-emergents like Preen and Casoron. Pre-emergents are products that slow or stop the germination of seeds before they can sprout. He also talked about Crossbow which will take care of the toughest weeds including blackberry bush. Judy then talked about some of the more natural methods like corn gluten which is a pre-emergent and landscape fabric which can be a barrier to weeds. A more natural barrier can be achieved by using a layer of newspaper covered with garden mulch. Of course there is always the old fashioned way of using the old hoe! If you ever have any questions about what to use in your yard or garden, check with your local garden center.
Early summer has arrived and that means the strawberries are looking ripe and ready for picking. You may enjoy strawberry shortcake and slicing strawberries over ice cream, but there are so many more ways to enjoy them. William and Judy thought up some interesting combinations for dipping sauces for you to enjoy. We featured ‘night and day’ which had strawberries in half white chocolate and half dark chocolate. We also had ‘Coco-berry’ which was a dip into frosting with coconut flakes. All of them were delicious! We also enjoyed the filled berries! For this we hollowed out a berry with a small melon baller and then filled it with cream cheese frosting, then topped that with ground graham crackers for a mini-cheese cake berry. If you are looking for more ideas, check out the Garden Time On-line magazine from June of 2009. The Garden Time Magazine is free and it comes to you in your e-mail box each month. Click here to sign up.
Jan’s June Tips
This month for the tips of the month Jan had only a few things to show us. We started by one of her new tomatoes. This one is the Indigo Rose, which was developed at Oregon State University. It contains Anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are in the class of flavonoids – compounds found in fruits, vegetables and beverages – that have aroused interest because of their potential health benefits. It has a darker fruit that is slightly larger than a cherry tomato. Jan also showed us a little caterpillar that can be pest in your garden, the leaf roller. They chew and eat the leaves on your plants but they won’t kill the plant. Then they roll themselves up in the leaf to pupate. It can be hard to get rid of since they are protected by the leaf and away from any sprays that you want to use. If they bother you, you can just squash them.
Next we moved to the vegetable garden. Jan and Ray now garden almost exclusively in raised beds. They no longer use a tiller and they are easier to weed. Jan did show us a mistake they made when planting their garden. It was with her broccoli plants. She had planted them in a north-south direction. This caused the plants on the south side of the bed to grow larger and shade the north side plants, causing them to be shorter. She should have planted them in an east-west pattern so they all grow evenly. Even Extension Agents make boo-boo in the garden sometimes. We also noticed a lot of volunteers in her garden. Volunteers are plants that sprout from seed left over from the fruit of the previous season. She recommends that you not keep certain plants that come from seeds. If you had zucchini and winter squash planted together the seed they produced may not be true to either variety. She had a few potatoes and a bunch of nasturtiums popping up. These you can leave them in your garden since the potato comes from the spuds you forgot to dig up the previous year, and the nasturtiums are just flowers and any variation may turn out to look interesting. Most of these volunteers will just compete for water and nutrients that your new plants need. For more gardening tips you can check out the OSU Extension website.