Can you believe it is November already? It doesn’t feel like it is since we had all that warm and dry weather through the beginning of October. Of course, the rains of the last 2 weeks sure made it feel like fall! With the change of the calendar and the ever changing weather, we are moving all our plants indoors this weekend and doing one last check of the garden for awhile. Oh, and we are also changing our clocks back too. Love that extra hour of sleep!
This week we featured...
Fall Peony Care
Fall is the time to get out and clean up your garden for the coming winter. If you have peonies you may wonder how to take care of them to get them ready. To learn some tips about care, we stopped at Adelman Peony Gardens (503-393-6185). Carol Adelman told us about the possible dangers of grey mold (also known as botrytis). It can form on the dying leaves of your plant and if left unattended it can weaken or even kill your plants. The best way to prevent it is to cut off all the leaves and throw them away. If you compost the leaves the spores will not be killed and when you spread the compost the next year they will just spread to your plants again. For herbaceous and intersectional peonies the foliage gets cut off. If you have a tree peony, leave the woody stem and just remove the leaves. Don’t cut off the woody part of the plant! Now is a good time to fertilize the plants too. Use a good tulip fertilizer around the drip line of the plant. The fall and winter rains will wash it into the ground.
Fall is also the time to dig and divide your favorite peonies. Carol showed us how easy it is to do. She even told us that you don’t need to divide your plants as you would with other perennials. These plants don’t get overgrown or choke themselves if they get too large. Still you can use this technique to get extra plants for your friends and neighbors. The keys to success are to make sure you dig a large root, make sure your divisions include an ‘eye’ and to build a good planting area for your new root with a quality bulb fertilizer and a little lime. Carol even showed us how the rules remain the same for different styles of peonies, including the newest intersectionals. If you have questions about peonies or you are interested in purchasing one, you can contact them at the gardens.
Grande Valley Iron
Fall is a great time for taking inventory of your garden and to add structure to your garden for next season. We stopped by Grande Valley Ornamental Iron (503-981-6923) to check out what they had to offer. First we met with Ed Viska in the front of the store. It was packed with tons of trellises, arbors, fountains, and obelisks. There were lots of benches and seats too. He told us that he started making iron structures because they last! Wood structures will wear out and rot, but iron can last for decades. He told us about how they build everything they sell right here in the Willamette Valley with American craftsmen.
But it isn’t all about outdoor accessories; they have a lot of iron pieces designed for indoors as well. We went inside to talk with Jan Viska. They make a lot of different items for inside the home as well, from wine holders, to tables and cabinets; they pretty much can make anything out of iron. Right now they are having a sale to reduce their inventory for the winter. Stop by and check out all the choices.
‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire’… We have all heard the old holiday carol, but few of us have ever tasted a roasted chestnut, even though they grow in our area. We heard about a chestnut farm near Hood River so we decided to pay a visit and learn more about these traditional, but underused nuts. Bernardo is the new owner of Nella Chestnut Farms (1-800-400-3658). Bernardo is Italian and his experiences with this nut have a deep rooted tradition. Even Judy, who is also Italian, has had chestnuts with her family for meals and snacks. First of all Bernardo told us that many cultures from Italian, to French to Asian, use this nut in their cooking. In Europe you can find vendors on the street corners during the fall, roasting these for shoppers. To harvest them you have to make sure that you are not using the Horse Chestnut (these can make you sick), the correct ones are like a big sharp, fuzzy looking pod. Once the pod falls from the tree you can step on the pod to have the nut pop out. Then take the biggest ones and cut them with an ‘x’ on the outside (to prevent them from bursting in the oven) and then roast them for 25 minutes at 400 degrees, you can then eat the yellow meat inside. You can even cook them in the microwave! There are lots of other ways to enjoy these naturally delicious nuts and you can find more recipes on the Nella Farms’ website. You can even order them on-line. Check them out this weekend for their annual Chestnut Roast at their farm in Hood River, taking place both Saturday and Sunday between 1 and 5pm.
Building a Solexx Greenhouse
Having a ‘green’ house in your backyard shouldn’t send you to the ‘poor’ house. We found one by Solexx that is easy to assemble and really inexpensive too. A greenhouse will help to extend your gardening season and it will give you a head start on next year. Bev Perry from The Greenhouse Catalog (800-825-1925) and William assembled one in just a few hours. When you order the kit it arrives in just a couple of boxes. The kit is so well organized, and color coded, that it is really simple to assemble with just a couple of tools. A couple other benefits… it can be sited anywhere and there is no need for expensive site preparation, you can place it directly on your lawn. Plus it is lightweight. You can assemble it in one area and move it to another area with just 2 people. This is great if you want to place it over an existing garden area. Check out their website to see all the different types of greenhouses available and all the tools to extend your growing season.