This past week found me rushing around the yard getting everything put away for the fall and winter. I also cleaned out the gutters and pick some more of the last fruit of the season (raspberries and tomatoes). Are you ready for the up-coming winter yet? If you are looking at doing some fall
clean-up make sure that you check out our story this week on safety equipment.
Then when you are done, head out to your local harvest festival. We start the show this week at French Prairie Gardens (503-633-8445). They have a ton of stuff happening every weekend including the Pigtucky Derby Pig Races! It is a blast and the one thing you have to see every fall!
The weather is getting colder and most of your perennials are starting to look pretty sad. There is one type of plant that is still looking great in the garden and that is the hardy groundcover. These plants can make your garden look good anytime of year and provide a good backdrop for your other plants, no matter what the season. We stopped by Al's Garden Center (503-726-1162) in Sherwood to chat with Mark Bigej and see a few of his favorites. He had pulled 10 different ones to look at. We started with some of the smaller ground covers. The Wirevine 'Little Leaf' has a cute texture and will do well even in shady areas. Speaking of cute textures, the Brass Button 'Platt's Black' has a tiny fern-like leaf that is very unique. It can be a little aggressive when it grows and it may not look sturdy, but it is. We have this one in our garden and we walk on it all the time! Next we saw one of the old standbys in the garden, Irish Moss. This one is not as aggressive at the Brass Buttons, and is great between stepping stones and in pathways. If you are looking for a fragrant plant, Corsican Mint is your plant. This one is also a plant that can take heavy foot traffic in the summer and when you step on it, it will give off a great mint smell. In the winter it may get beat up a bit, but it will come back in the spring. Another plant that is very popular is the Blue Star Creeper. This one not only is a great ground cover that can take heavy traffic, it also produces tiny blue flowers that cover the ground in the spring. The last of the small groundcovers was the Elfin thyme. It also gets covered with small blooms in the spring and can take heavy foot traffic. We then moved to the larger groundcover plants. The first one was the Taiwan Creeping Berry or Rubus. It spreads out and covers large areas really well. It also will look great as a weeping plant, spreading out and covering rocks on hilly areas. A plant with a great story behind it is the Wintergreen. This is a low growing plant that was once used as a flavoring in chewing gum. The berries are safe to eat and they taste like a mint flavored gum. Another low shrub is Knick Knick. Knick Knick stays evergreen and is a good replacement for ivy in the landscape. It is also very drought tolerant once it is established and is good for larger areas.
These are just a few of the groundcovers that you can find on the market. A great place to see more of the different varieties is at the Stepables website, then stop by your local garden center and see which ones might work in your garden.
We are nuts for filberts... or are they hazelnuts? Both names refer to those wonderful nuts that are grown locally and found in candies, deserts and snacks. The hazelnut industry in Oregon is one of the largest in the world. We paid a visit to Kirk & Sons Hazelnut Farm near Independence, Oregon to see the annual harvest. Lance Kirk told us how they wait in the fall for a little wind or rain to help knock the nuts to the ground. They sweep them to the middle of the rows and vacuum them up. Next they are washed and dried and sent to a processor. Some of the nuts make their way down the road from the farm to the Rogue Distillery where it is used in their Hazelnut Spice Rum. If you are interested in picking up some of the nuts for yourself (without the rum) you can contact them or 'like' them on Facebook.
Black Gold Bulb Containers
Getting early spring color is not hard. You can do it easily by planting containers full of spring blooming bulbs. To learn how we stopped by and visited with Donna Wright from Black Gold. She actually had 2 projects for us. She put Judy to work on planting up a container with daffodil bulbs in it. There were 6 bulbs that were put in the pot about 4-5 inches down and then covered with soil until the pot was almost full then to make it look nice for the remainder of the fall and into winter we topped the pot with pansies. These pansies will continue blooming by your front door until spring when the bulbs will sprout and grow around them.
The other project was forcing bulbs for the upcoming holidays. Donna found a pot that didn't have a hole in the bottom. Then she filled it with some beautiful white decorative rock that Black Gold also sells at local garden centers, until it was about 1 inch from the top of the pot. Then she poured water in until it just covered the rocks. Then she pushed some paperwhite bulbs into the rocks just so the bottom of the bulbs touch the water. You don't want to immerse them because they will rot. Make sure they stay in contact with the water until roots form and then in a couple of weeks you will have some fragrant white blooms to enjoy during the upcoming holiday season.
It is time to get out into the garden and clean it up for the coming winter. Before you head out make sure that you are protected to prevent any possible injuries. First of all, make sure you are wearing thick sturdy clothing and closed toed shoes. Long sleeves are a must if you are working with roses and blackberry vines. Along with that you will need a good pair of gloves. Think leather gloves and possibly even gloves with leather gauntlets (the part that covers your forearm). Next is eye protection. Don't just wear plain sunglasses. We found that good safety glasses are worth the money you spend on them. The latest and greatest are the Fuel line of glasses from 3M Company. You only have one set of eyes, take care of them. Finally is a dust mask or respirator. If you are doing dirty, dusty work, this will keep stuff out of your mouth and lungs. If you are spraying any type of material, make sure it is a respirator with new filters. Accidents happen, even in the garden! Take steps to be safe even for the small jobs!
It is apple season and that means it is the perfect time to enjoy the bounty of the season with fresh applesauce. Joelle from Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) let us know that she had a simple, easy recipe that anyone can make in a short period of time. We caught up with her in her kitchen where she was busy preparing apples with an apple peeler/corer/slicer. This is a neat gadget that does all 3 jobs at once. You can not believe how great it works. They carry them at Smith Berry Barn and she swears by them. She had picked 2 different varieties of apples, Liberty and Macintosh. She picked both because of their firm texture (which helps in the peeler/slicer) and their different complimentary flavors. After preparing about 16 apples in a pan Judy added lemon juice, brown and white sugars and a cup of water. We then cooked it on the stove for about 40 minutes while we stirred and mashed it. Then we ran it through a food mill (or a strainer will do) to even out the consistency. You can serve it while it is still warm or freeze it to enjoy later this winter when you need a reminder of those wonderful flavors of summer.
To get into the 'apple' frame of mind you can stop by Smith's this coming Saturday and Sunday the 20th and 21st to enjoy the 19th Annual Heirloom Apple Festival from noon to 4pm. There will be apple sampling, live music, tasty apple treats, and lots of kid friendly festivities. Don't miss it!