Are you ready for fall? This evening as I was sitting on the deck, the wind picked up and a cool breeze came up. It made me think that our warm and sunny days are limited. I donít think that the heat is completely gone, but I know that we will be getting cooler weather. I personally think that September and early October are some of the best days we have here in the Pacific Northwest.
There are other signs that summer is coming to a close. The first one is the Swan Island Dahlia Festival. This is a great festival for the whole family. Check out the interview that Judy did with Nick Gitts out in the fields. Also, fruit and vegetable harvesting is another sign of the changing seasons. We have 2 stories about vegetables in this weekís show. Mark Bigej talks about fall vegetable planting and Willi Galloway tells us how to tell when fruit is ripe.
Today, Saturday the 25th is the last day to register for the Polk County Master Gardeners Fall Fling which is taking place on the 8th of September. A $25 fee includes presentations from Willi, Bob Denman from Red Pig Tools and, William and Judyís talk. You will also get snacks, lunch, displays and door prizes. There are also other workshops available for an additional fee. Those workshops include one on tool maintenance and hanging baskets for fall color in which you can take a basket home at the end of the day! Call 503-623-8395 before the end of the day, today, the 25th.
This week we featured...
Alís Fall Veggies
You may think that your vegetable garden is at its peak right now and will soon be dropping off as the days get cooler. Actually now is a great time for planting a veggie garden that will provide fresh vegetables for fall and early winter. We stopped by the Alís Garden Center (503-726-1162) location in Sherwood to see which vegetables Mark Bigej would recommend planting. The first thing he pointed out was a tomato plant. This plant was loaded with fruit and some were even ripe! He brought this out to show people that some of your local garden centers still might have vegetable plants that are very close to harvest. You donít even have to grow them! The best part about these plants is that they are in containers already and if the weather starts to get cool you can move them to a protected area and continue to harvest fruit.
We then moved to a cart full of vegetable starts. Mid to late August is good time to plant certain crops. Lettuce is a great crop for fall. The heat of summer can make your mature lettuce plants bolt (they send up seed heads), but with the cooler weather coming they will slow down on seed production and provide a nice crop for harvesting in early fall. The warm soil and cooler weather is also great for chard, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. These are known as Ďcole cropsí, and are known for tolerating very cold temperatures late into the season. Root crops like onions, carrots, rutabagas and turnips will all do well in the fall garden too and can sometime be left in the garden long after the frost returns.
Donít forget the late summer color of flowers either. If your garden is getting a little tired looking, you can find some great late season color at all of your local independent garden centers.
Swan Island Dahlia Festival
WOW! If you have never been to the dahlia festival you have missed one of the most spectacular shows of the summer. 40 acres of blooms greet you as you drive up. But that is only part of itÖ Nick Gitts from Swan Island Dahlias (800-410-6540) showed us the different styles of dahlias and high-lighted a couple of the different varieties. We saw the different styles of flowers including pom pon, orchid, single, collarette, cactus, decorative, Waterlily, and laciniated. The colors are just fantastic too, just about every color except blue! He also filled us in the special events that they have planned for the 2 weekends of the festival. If you stop by on August 25, 26, 27 and September 1, 2, 3 (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) you will also get a chance to see over 15,000 blooms in 400 different cut flower arrangements. You can also enjoy food, cut flowers and informational talks to help you grow dahlias like the experts. And it is all free. Take some time to head down to Canby (not Swan Island) for the annual dahlia festival.
Williís Harvest Tips
We have had Willi Galloway on the show before. She has written a new book called Grow, Cook, Eat and it shows you how to grow some great plants from seed to harvesting. It even has some recipes using these harvested garden goodies. The question that seems to come up a lot for her at this time of year is Ďhow do I know when things are ripe?í It is hard to tell sometimes when a vegetable is ripe. One of Williís favorite vegetables is the Green Zebra tomato. This one is green with dark stripes when it is ready to pick. The tips for picking tomatoes are the same even if the color is not your normal red. Feel the tomato; it should give a little bit when you squeeze it. If it is hard, it is not ready. Also, smell it. It should smell like a ripe tomato. You can also go by the maturity dates on the seed packet. Remember when you bought the packet? It had a listed Ďnumber of days to maturityí. If you are close to that number of days you are close to harvesting. If you are growing carrots you can uncover the tops of the carrots. If the top is as large as a nickel then the carrot should be close to being ripe and ready to dig.
These and more tips are included in her book. If you would like to hear Willi speak, you can sign up for the Polk County Master Gardeners Fall Fling which is taking place on the 8th of September. Call 503-623-8395 before the end of the day, today, the 25th.
Fruit Tree Harvesters
The fruit in the trees is ready to harvest and now you have to figure out how to pick the ripe pieces in all those high parts of the tree. To see what kind of tools we could use we stopped by Red Pig Tools (503-663-9404) in Boring and talked to Bob Denman. The one tool that we have seen a lot of for picking fruit is a wire basket and claw at the end of a long pole. Bob said that was an effective tool, but that if the fruit wasnít at the right stage you could damage it or the tree with the claw when picking your fruit. The 2 different tools he recommends both involve cutting blades to gently cut the stem and avoid damage to the tree.
The first tool was like a pruner at the end of a pole. The difference was that this pruner had two pincher pieces that could grab the fruit stem and hold it while the blades cut the stem. Very effective and easy to get into small spaces, but it can only get one piece at a time. The next tool was able to hold more than one piece of fruit and was just as effective. This tool featured a cutting tool over the top of a vinyl sack. When you got close to a piece of fruit you could cut the stem and the fruit would fall into the sack. After about 3-4 pieces you could bring it down to empty the bag. These are just a couple of the cool tools you can find at Red Pig.
You can also see Bob at the Polk County Master Gardener Fall Fling (503-623-8395) He will be giving a class on tool maintenance, so register to see him by the end of today, the 25th. The Fall Fling is taking place in Dallas Oregon on the 8th of September.
Second Step Gardeners
Sometimes people need a little help. Second Step Housing (360-993-5301) is a program in Vancouver, Washington that helps place at-risk women and families in need in temporary housing until they can move into their own, permanent housing. These families have made the first step at getting their lives in order and this housing helps them move to the second step. As part of moving into this housing they are encouraged to help themselves by establishing or contributing to a garden. We met with some of the Second Step clients, staff and volunteers that make these gardens possible. First we met with Debbie Dover, the Executive Director of Second Step to learn more about the organization and what it does and then we chatted with the garden coordinator Martha Brett who started the program. She got the idea from her son, Chase, who was looking for a senior project for a high school requirement. He not only came up with the idea, he wrote the first grant proposal and secured the funding for the first garden. Since then they have been able to grow the program to 24 raised garden beds and other planting projects at their housing facilities. We talked to resident, Jennifer, who loves the garden! For her and her family it is a chance to do something together as a family and her kids love all the fresh vegetables!
If you would like to help you can contact the Second Step Housing office, or you can attend their annual Step into Fashion event on October 5th. Check out their website for all the details.
The Labor Day weekend is here and that means one last big Bar-B-Que for the summer. With all that is going on you donít want to waste your time in the kitchen trying to feed everyone. Jerry from Gartnerís Meats (503-252-7801) invited us to his place to show us how easy outdoor entertaining can be! Jerry had the Traeger Grill loaded with marinated chicken breasts, portabella mushrooms stuffed with Italian sausage and twice baked potatoes. These were joined by a full compliment of macaroni and potato salads, breads, rice dishes and other treats that you will also find at Gartnerís. The chicken was the highlight of the show. These breasts were marinated in Gartnerís own special marinade and grilled on medium heat until they had reached 160 degrees. If you are not into chicken, Gartnerís has other goodies for the grill including steaks, burgers, short ribs, brats, and chops among others. If you are looking for a quick and easy meal, anytime, stop by Gartnerís.