Happy Labor Day! We hope that you are not laboring too much in your garden this weekend. It is time to relax and have one more big weekend before we settle back into the normal routine for fall. The recent rain and wind have us in the mood for fall and some cooler temps. We are also in the process of picking, canning and preserving our favorite vegetables and fruits while the weather is a little cooler. We know it will get hot at least one more time before the fall truly arrives. Enjoy this wonderful holiday with your friends and family!
A quick note to our Salem viewers on KWVT. They are moving our show to 8:30 on Saturday mornings. They recently signed a contract to air ACC football games and that means a shift for us. We are happy for them since this is a major conference football league and may help draw more viewers to the ‘Garden Time’ show before the games air. We are really happy they want to keep us as a partner and maintain our program on their station!
This week we featured...
We are always looking for new books that can be helpful to the gardener. We recently found one that will not only help the novice gardeners but some veteran green thumbs as well. The book is called Garden-pedia and one of the authors, Maria Zampini was just in town for a trade show so we met up with her and chatted about the book. Maria had the idea for the book in her mind for quite some time. She was raised in the garden industry and eventually found herself writing gardening articles for consumer magazines. Throughout her life she would find herself using terms that some people didn’t understand. So she wrote the book to help define those ‘garden’ terms so everyone could understand them. The one additional benefit she found was that a lot of people in the industry didn’t know all of these terms either. One term that she used as an example was ‘deadheading’. For those in the industry we know it means to remove the spent blooms from a plant to either spur new blooms or redirect growth. For those non-gardeners it sounds kind of scary. This is just one example of the great definitions you will find in this book.
If you would like a copy you can find them at your local quality bookstore (like Powell’s here in Portland) or though Maria’s website. Grow your vocabulary while you grow your garden!
Swan Island Favorites
When you are a grower there are certain plants that you just love. We found out that is true with dahlias when we made a stop at Swan Island Dahlias (800-410-6540) for their annual festival and ran into Nick, the patriarch of the festival. Swan Island grows hundreds of varieties of dahlias and they are constantly surrounded by these beautiful blooms. You would think that they get tired of the color! Nick actually had 3 buckets of blooms that were his favorites and he even had some new blooms to introduce as well. One of his all-time favorites is Bluetiful, not only for the great color of the bloom but also because the plant will almost become a hedge of color in your garden. Other favorites included, Bridezilla, Innocence, Angels of 7A, Sheer Heaven, Peaches and Dreams, Cutie Patootie, and Southern Belle. We then moved to the REALLY large blooms that impress visitors and still impresses the staff too. The first one was Gitts Perfection, which was hybridized by Nick’s dad many years ago. Another that was hybridized by his dad was Nick Sr, a beautiful 2 toned bloom. The other 2 favorites were Harvest Moonlight and Spartacus.
Finally we moved to the newest introductions! We saw Frozen, which was the largest of the new varieties. They also have introduced the new Garden Time dahlia as well. This weekend is your chance to see some of these favorites for yourself during this last weekend of their annual dahlia festival. Check out the 40 acres of blooms and the cut flower display. There is also food, demonstrations and lots of vendors to see. Plus, if you order before Monday the 7th, you will get 10% off your tuber order! Make this Labor Day memorable with a visit to the dahlia fields!
Water-wise Hop Garden
This summer has been trying! The heat and dry conditions have made it hard to keep everything well-watered. Still most of us want to have a nice garden and not break the bank on our water bills. To see how one person does it we stopped by the garden of Steve Carper. Steve work for the Tualatin Valley Water District and also represents the Regional Water Providers Consortium. He talks to people all the time about water and how to use it more efficiently. We met in his garden and he told us how they have modified their gardening and plants to accommodate an old sprinkler system. He also showed us his raised beds where he had a wonderful vegetable garden. He uses a combination of the sprinkler system and hand watering to keep his plants happy and healthy. The key is to pay attention to your plants and the weather conditions.
Nowhere is that more evident than his hop plants. Steve is a home brewer and he loves to dabble in growing and using some of his own garden hops. The hop plant is a perennial plant, which means it comes back year after year. These hops still need supplemental water sometimes even though they can be a little drought tolerant during most of the season. The point, once again, is to pay attention to your plants and act accordingly. Good observational skills and some common sense will go a long way to reducing your water use and maintaining a healthy landscape. For more information on how you can manage your water, both inside and out, check out the RWPC website at www.conserveh2o.org.
This year has been a record year for tomatoes. If you are having a record year for tomatoes, you might be thinking about preserving some for the year ahead. One way of doing that is to can them. We found some great canning instructions at the OSU Extension website. Let’s walk you through the steps, briefly, on how to can, though you can find the complete instructions at the website.
To start we picked tomatoes that were ripe or just getting ripe. You do not want to can over ripe fruit. If it has started to spoil it could taint the rest of the jar. We also picked a lot of different varieties for our canning. This will add different flavors and textures to our soups, salsas and stews. If you are making a sauce or ketchup you may want to stick with one variety.
There are 2 methods for canning a ‘hot pack’ method and a ‘raw’ or ‘cold pack’ method. We are doing the raw/cold pack method. Start by washing and sterilizing the jars, rims and lids. Boiling water is the best way of doing this. Make sure you check the jars for chips (don’t use those) and the rims for rust (don’t use those either). Next, fill your canner with water and start heating it to a boil. Fill another pot with boiling water for blanching your raw fruit. You will also need an ice bath for the fruit after it is blanched.
Now place the tomatoes in the hot blanching water for about a minute until the skins start to crack. Then remove them and place them in the ice bath. You can now remove the skins and cut out the stem cores. Take your sanitized jars and stuff the blanched, skin-less tomatoes in until it is filled to the neck of the jar. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the jar (to help preserve the fruit) and ¼ teaspoon of salt (this is for flavor). Then fill the rest of the jar with some of the blanch water to fill the jar to about ½ inch from the top of the jar. Run a butter knife or spatula around the inside of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Put the sanitized lids on the top of the jar and secure with the rims/rings till they are hand tightened.
Then you will place them in the canner full of water. Once they are lowered into the canning bath they should have about an inch of water covering the tops. Let them boil in the bath for 45 minutes. Once out of the bath, let them cool. You will hear the lids popping. This is a sign that they are sealing.
Once cool, mark the lid with the date and store in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight. Now you can go to your pantry when you are working on your favorite recipe and enjoy the taste of summer long after the sunny days are gone!
If you have any questions about food preservation you can check out the OSU Extension website at http://extension.oregonstate.edu or you can call the Food Safety and Preservation Hotline at 1-800-354-7319.
TOW - Measuring Tools
Our tip of the week is about making your tools do double duty. When you buy a plant or plant seeds a lot of the tags will tell you to keep the new plants separated by a distance to make sure they have room to grow. Most of us don’t carry around a measuring tape to make sure we keep those distances, so why not make your long handled tools be the measuring tape? Simply make marks on your handle at 6 inches intervals and then all you have to do is lay your tool down to measure the distance and you can plant without worries!