Hot, hot, hot! The heat is overpowering. You can feel it and your plants can feel it too. I find myself out in the garden daily. Granted, it is in the early morning or the late evening, but I am out there looking for stressed and thirsty plants. This is the few day of the year that we should be watching our garden. I find it interesting that we will run out at the first sign of frost and cover our tender plants, but we tend to let them go during the hottest days of the year. This is also a dangerous time for your plants. Make sure you give them the same attention as you would during the winter.
We also want to bring your attention to another event coming up, and this is a ‘hot’ ticket as well. William and Judy will be appearing at the Polk County Master Gardeners Fall Fling on the 8th of September in Dallas Oregon. You have to register by the 25th of this month. Go to their website to download a registration form. Your $25 registration includes 3 presentations, snacks, lunch, displays and door prizes. In fact, in this week’s show we talk with one of the presenters, Bob Denman from Red Pig Tools.
This week we featured...
The heat is affecting more than our plants in the garden. The heat has kicked the ripening of fruits and vegetables into gear too. We got a call from Brian Bauman at Bauman’s Farm and Garden (503-792-3524) to let us know that everything is coming on pretty fast right now. This was a warning to all our canners out there. If you are looking to preserve the harvest and usually get your fruit later in the month (or season) maybe you should check with your local market. To show us how fast everything was ripening we walked through the store. First we saw some of the melons that were fresh from the field. These were unique ‘yellow’ melons that were delicious! We also talked about how the home gardener can tell when their melons are ripe. When the tiny leaf at the top of the stem (near the melon) starts to dry up and die, that is the sign that the melon is not taking in anymore water and the melon is ripe. We also talked about corn. In the Midwest the corn is not getting enough water, but the sweet corn at Bauman’s is looking and tasting great. If you have tomatoes you should make sure they are still getting a little water. I know, we have told you that you should cut back on water when your plants set fruit, but in this heat they do need a little bit of help. Just keep and eye on them and watch for sunburned fruit and wilting plants.
Finally, we moved to peaches. The peaches this year are loving the heat, maybe a little too much. They are really ripening fast, so fast in fact that Bauman’s has them on sale this week. At around a dollar a pound it is a deal you can’t pass up. If you are not into canning peaches there are other ways to enjoy them. If you go to the Bauman’s Facebook page, which you can access from their website, you will find a great recipe for peach salsa. You can also make a Fuzzy Wuzzy, one of their favorite iced peach drinks. Just slice one whole peach (with the skins left on) into a blender. Add 4 oz. of lemonade and 16 oz of ice, blend and enjoy. If that is still too much work you can pick up a bunch of peach treats from their bakery. Stop by and enjoy the fruits of the season!
Water Saving Garden – Sandy
Saving water is one thing, but getting a beautiful garden at the same time is quite another. We have been working with our friends at the Regional Water Providers Consortium to showcase some ways of conserving water in the garden and this week’s story is one that really shows how much you can save without giving up a beautiful garden. The home we visited was in Sandy and belonged to the Brown family. Tracy joined William in the garden to explain what they had done. The old yard was a typical lawn that would die in the summer and required a lot of maintenance. Tracy felt bad since he didn’t have time to keep it up to par with the other lawns in the neighborhood. So he and his wife decided get rid of the lawn and replace it with drought tolerant plants. The first place he started to look was the www.Conserveh2o.org website for the information. There he found the brochure ‘Water-efficient Plants for the Willamette Valley’ on their brochures page. This gave him a great list of plants that he could chose from for planting in his garden. And what a difference it made. The first year when they were establishing their garden they only had to water about 4 times during the whole summer, now that the garden is established, they have only watered once.
Now they have a nice dry creek bed for rain water runoff, a bunch of paths wandering through the garden and a nice seating area that’s gets almost daily use during the summer. Their garden is no longer an eyesore either. It has become the model for other water-wise gardens in the neighborhood! If you would like to start your own water-wise garden, start with the Regional Water Providers Consortium website and then take a trip to your local garden center.
As we approach the end of summer it is hard to think that fall is just around the corner, but it is coming. That made us think about our tools and getting them ready for fall. We paid a visit to Red Pig Tools (503-663-9404) to chat with Bob Denman. Bob is a font of knowledge about tools, how to use them and how to take care of them. He told us that you shouldn’t just think about maintaining your tools for the fall or winter, but any time of year. You have paid a lot for your tools and you should make sure that investment lasts a long time. As Bob said, a butcher doesn’t use dull tools to cut meat and you shouldn’t use dull tools in the garden.
Keeping a sharp edge on your large tools is important. It helps make every job easier. We started with a shovel. To sharpen this tool we needed a file. The file needs to be used properly. You don’t drag it back and forth on the cutting edge of the shovel. The motion should be a nice smooth pushing stroke that starts at the outside edge and finishes at the point of the shovel. You should sharpen the edge just about every time you use the tool. Don’t stop your maintenance with just sharpening! Make sure the handle is treated too. Bob recommends that you sand down the handle and then apply linseed oil (or just about any type of oil) to it to make sure it stays strong. If you are look for more tips on maintaining tools you can stop by his shop near Boring Oregon, or you can come and see him at the Polk County Master Gardener Fall Fling! He will be giving a class on tool maintenance, so register to see him at the by the 25th of this month. The Fall Fling is taking place in Dallas Oregon on the 8th of September.
Jan’s August Tips
August marks the middle of summer and it is also the time you will start to notice problems in the garden. To find out what to look for we stopped by and visited with Jan McNeilan, retired extension agent from the OSU Extension Agency. We started in her backyard near the fuchsias. These plants were overwintered in her greenhouse and were looking good except for some curling leaves. These curled leaves were a sign of an insect problem, aphids. On closer inspection we could see them running around on the back side of the leaves. Jan said they could also have mites, which show up in this warmer weather. She was going to take the plants down and hose them off and if that didn’t work they would get a spray of insecticidal soap (an organic treatment). The location of the fuchsias also showed us how maintaining one plant can help another. Below the fuchsia was a hydrangea. It was looking fresh and healthy due to the water it was getting from the fuchsia above. During these hot days the fuchsia was getting water and the remaining water was helping out the hydrangea below. It brings up the point of ‘deep watering’. When you are watering make sure that your plants are getting the full benefit of the water. After watering, dig down and see how far the water goes down. Is it reaching the roots? With deep watering you make sure that the plant gets plenty of water and it also means you may not have to water so often. We then moved to the vegetable garden.
In the veggie garden we checked out some beet leaves. These had ‘leaf miner’. This little bug gets into the middle of the leaf and mines out the cells for food. It leaves a skeleton of the leaf structure behind. This needed to be treated earlier in the season by placing a floating row cover over the plant when the leaves first started to come out. It doesn’t affect the vegetable and there is nothing you can do now so don’t worry about it. The other big problem that you should be looking for right now is late blight. It is a disease that comes in now to tomatoes and starts to yellow the leaves from the base of the plant upwards. It will also blacken your fruit, possibly ruining your crop. It happens when the nights stay warm, creating the right conditions for blight. You should thin the leaves at the base of your plant to promote good air circulation to help prevent it.
If you would like more tips on what to do inn the garden, you can always check out the OSU Extension website.