Pleasant! That is about the only word we can use to describe the weather so far this summer. I know it hasn’t been hot enough for some people, but we have noticed that our plants seem to be doing much better in this moderate heat. That isn’t to say that the hotter weather would not be welcome. The tomatoes and peppers would LOVE more heat.
We have found one problem in the garden recently. Yellow Jackets had formed a nest near a pathway in our garden. That triggered a story about wasps and how to deal with them. One application and they were gone. If you are looking for ideas on wasps and preventing them from being a problem, check out the story.
This week we featured...
Fry Road Fuchsias
When most people think of fuchsias they are thinking about the tender, hanging basket kind. We paid a visit, once again, to one of the local growers of hardy fuchsias to learn about the perennial beauties. Mark from Fry Road Nursery (541-928-7038) took William out to the berm where they had planted some fuchsias last year. If you can recall, they planted them really deep! The upper third of the plant was all that was seen when they were finished. Like tomatoes, hardy fuchsias can be planted deep. This means better drainage for the plants and more protection during the colder days of winter. William was impressed with the growth in just one year. We also saw that these plants were in full sun and they were thriving, another benefit of the deep roots. Mark also pointed out some of the varieties that he liked. Delta’s Sarah was the first one we saw. The bluish, purple flowers seemed almost transparent and stood out well against the green foliage of the plant. Another great one in this bed was DebRon’s Black Cherry. Deep red sepals pull back to show off a nearly black corolla in the center. Next we moved to a flower bed that was right next to the gravel parking lot. Here, again, the flowers were looking good in full sun. The first one here was Fuchsia ‘Viola’ which is one of the first to bloom in the garden in various shades of pink and red. The next one that was just starting to bloom, was Whiteknight’s Pearl. This one has a smaller more delicate flower that has an iridescent pearl color. It is a profuse bloomer in the mid summer. The final one we saw was Waconda Queen. This one has a great combination of red sepals and a purple corolla with streaks of pink. These plants were thriving here. If they can grow and look beautiful in full sun, near cars, they will really shine in your garden!
If you would like find some of these plants you can stop by the nursery near Albany or you can drop by Dancing Oaks Nursery (http://www.dancingoaks.com), today, the 28th for a one day sale from 10am to 4pm.
This is the last weekend of the Waterlily Festival and Art Show at Hughes Water Gardens (503-638-1709) and we realized that we had never really talked to Eamonn Hughes about water lilies. We met him in the Waterlily house at the nursery to talk about the different kinds of water lilies that we can grow in the Northwest water garden. There are 2 main categories of water lilies, tropical and hardy. The hardy ones will survive any winter weather that we will get here, as long as you place them in the right area of your pond or water feature. They need to be moved to a deep area in your pond. They are safe as long as we don’t get 6 inches of ice, which would be very unusual. Once spring rolls around you would just bring the plant up to the shallow areas of your pond again and fertilize it for the new season of growth.
Tropical water lilies can be wintered over as well. They just need to be brought into a sheltered area like a garage or shed where they will stay warmer. Just be aware that they might not survive even if you protect them, just enjoy them for one season and consider any other seasons as a bonus. They really like a warmer water temperature of around 65 to 70 before they really take off. The tropical will also give you more bang for your buck. Where a hardy lily will give you one or two blooms a week, the tropical ones will give you one or two new blooms every day if conditions are right!
Water lilies are not just for a pond either. Some of the smaller varieties will do well in a water bowl on your deck. To learn more about water lilies and how to grow them just stop by and ask the great staff at Hughes Water Gardens.
Pest Patrol - Wasp Solutions
It is that time of year when the wasps start to make their way into our gardens (and picnics, and parties, etc.) We found a nest in our yard so we thought we could share some information with you about dealing with them. First of all, if they are not in an area where there are a lot of people, you can just leave them alone. Wasps can be a beneficial insect if they are not bothering people. Unfortunately we found our nest near populated area, near a garden path. Next identify the type of flying insect you are dealing with. If it is a honey bee colony you can get a bee-keeper to come and get them and they can soon be put to work in an orchard making honey! If it is a harmful pest, there are various ways of taking care of the problem. One way is to use a pheromone trap. There are a couple that are on the market by Rescue. These use scent to attract the wasp or hornet. They are targeted to the hornet or wasp and not to honeybees. There are also glass traps that work on the same theory. The most effective way of controlling them is with a chemical spray. This involves an insecticide that you buy and apply it yourself. Remember to ALWAYS read the label, it is the law! You will want to wait until dusk, that is when all the wasps return to the hive, and you can make sure you get them all. Get a product that has a stream sprayer, this will get you out of the area where the nest is. And finally, use protective clothing and don’t spray in a breeze. We stopped by Al’s Garden Center in Woodburn (503-981-1245), but you can find most of these products at your local garden center. You want to make sure that you get the bugs that are causing a problem and not any helpful bugs… follow these simple rules and you can be stinger free this summer.
Smith Berry Jam
Saving the taste of summer is made easy if you capture the flavor in a homemade jam or jelly. Joelle from Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) invited us into her kitchen to show us how quick and easy it is to make a jam from fresh fruit. All we needed was 3 ingredients, fresh fruit, pectin and a sweetener. The pectin we used was Pomona Universal Pectin which is great because you can use any type of sweetener (Equal, Splenda, Honey or even Stevia), so it is great for diabetics. First we crushed the berries and then added the pectin, next we added the calcium mixture (part of the Pomona product) to our sweetener. After bringing the fruit to a boil we added the calcium/sweetener to the pot and kept stirring. After a couple of minutes we pulled the mixture off the stove and poured it into out containers (in this case it was sterilized jars). Joelle went one step further when she added a sprig of lavender to the mix during cooking to add an additional unique flavor. If you would like to try this at home, you can call Smith Berry Barn, or pick up a packet of Pomona’s Pectin; the instructions are in the box.
There are lots of plants in the garden that will bring some flavor to your summer cooking. Some of these plants are familiar herbs that are already found in your kitchen in a dried form. During the summer months you can actually grow some of these same spices in your own garden, fresh! We started with parsley. This plant is not just for decoration it can also be added to salads and soups. English thyme was next. It also can be used in stews as well, but is also good with roasted beef and pork. Mint can be used in adult beverages and also is great when brewed in teas. Be careful to keep this one in a pot because it can get invasive. Chives are great for baked potatoes. When they are fresh, chives can just be clipped off and chopped and added to any number of dishes. Stevia was next. This is a plant that is used as a natural sweetener. A lot of diabetics are now using this plant because it won’t affect their blood sugar. Lemon grass is a plant that is not hardy in our area, but it is a lovely plant in the garden. It can also be used in a lot of Asian recipes. Judy then showed off a few more of her favorites. One of her favorites is rosemary. This can be used in stews and soups, and the woody spears can be used as skewers for shish kabobs. It will add a great flavor to your meat as it cooks. Basil is a great plant. It can be used in salads straight off the plant, but can be combined with pine nuts and olive oil to make a tasty pesto sauce for pasta. Bay is another great plant for roasts. Use the leaves when you are roasting meats for a distinctive flavor. You can add the leaves to stews when cooking; just remember to remove the leaves before serving. Sage is a great garden plant with a lot of different varieties to choose from. Sage will work well in stuffing during the holidays. Lemon verbena is a nice herb for teas and sauces. Just add a little when you are cooking or brewing for a nice light lemon flavor. You can also chop it up and use it in fruit salads. The final herb was tarragon. This one will give you a subtle licorice flavor. If you add it to vinegar or oils it will give them a light flavor. It is also good with chicken or chicken salads. If you would like to try to grow some of these, a good way of doing that is with an herb container. Just plant a few of these in a pot and place the container by the back door so they are right there when you need them. We found a huge selection at Portland Nursery on Stark (503-231- 5050) but most of these are available at you local independent garden center.