Rain, rain go away. Come again another YEAR! Boy, the spigot has been turned on lately. We are pretty close to measuring the amount of rain in feet and not inches, but soon it will stop raining and we will venture (in our hip-waders) outside again. Hopefully by then the flowers will not disappoint and will be showing off their colors because they continue to grow even in these monsoon-like rains. I only hope that is it before July!
This week we dove outside to shoot a few stories about things that you can do now, in the garden, between showers; including treating your moss, planting blueberries and dividing your perennials. See there are things you can do even in a downpour!
We also want to remind everyone to mark their calendars for April 1st which is the date for this year’s GardenPalooza. It should be a blast, rain or shine. Go to www.GardenPalooza.com for more details on this year’s event.
This week we featured...
If you live in the Northwest you have moss. This is one of the biggest problems facing the homeowner and with the warmer weather around the corner you may have the urge to renovate your lawn for the summer months ahead. But first you have to get rid of the moss. We found a bunch of different products that you can use to get rid of the moss right now. Now is the perfect time to attack the moss. The colder weather means that the moss is not actively growing and that means it isn’t sending out spores. Those spores helps spread the moss and so killing the moss reduces your problems in the future. The Northwest is prefect for moss. We have the temperate climate and the moisture that it really loves, and it is a condition that we get from a lack of care. If you take care of your lawn and help the grass grow, then you can help keep the moss from taking over. But first you have to get rid of the moss! We first featured the Moss Out product from Lilly Miller. William started the story by spraying a patch of the lawn and by the time we finished the story the moss was already turning black! We also learned that if you have the Moss Out product it contains iron and you should be careful not to let it get on buildings, patios or clothing. The iron will cause a stain. Wash it off quickly. Other types of moss removal products include one from Bonide that contains potassium fatty acids (which is considered a natural product) and one from Worry Free which contains citrus oil.
If you like moss, then keep it! Some people love the look and feel of the thick green carpet. Just remember that later in the season, that moss will turn brown and die in the summer heat, and that can leave the door open for weeds to take over. The best cure for that is to keep your lawn nice and healthy! A strong lawn will not allow the moss to take over. So, once the moss is gone make sure you reseed with a quality seed and maintain it correctly.
Tip of the Week – Two Season Seeds
Our tip of the week involves seeds. You can pick up a cool season crop seed right now and start your garden early. Cool season crops include vegetables like lettuce, radishes, peas, kale and cabbage. Then in August you can plant these same crops again and enjoy a second harvest because they can handle the cooler temperatures of late fall.
With end of winter and the storm season coming to a close we have seen a bunch of damaged trees around town. A lot of these trees have bent or broken limbs from the wind and snow. To help you take care of the small branches and to preserve the health of your trees we decided to share the technique called ‘3-cut pruning’. This technique should be used if the branch is on the lower part of the tree and smaller than the size of your arm. Anything bigger or higher in the tree should be tackled by a certified arborist. We started by cutting off most of the small branches from the end of the broken limb. This reduces the weight of the limb to reduce the risk of injury when you are cutting it off. Next go to the trunk of the tree and, on the underside of the broken limb make a cut of about 2-3 inches deep. Then go to the top side of the limb and go further out on the limb and cut through the limb. The limb should start to fall, but the cut on the underside of the limb will keep the bark from pealing back into the trunk and the good bark that the tree will need to heal. Make sure to be careful when you get to the end of the cut so the limb doesn’t fall on you or your feet. Finally, you will now have a small piece of wood to cut off to finish the project. Around the base of the limb where it meets the trunk you will notice a wrinkled ‘collar’. This is important to keep when you cut off the final piece of wood. Cut the last part of the limb off as close to the collar as you can without cutting this collar. Once the limb is gone the tree will start to grow over the wound where the limb once was. If you notice rotten wood in this cut area, call an arborist, it could be a sign of deeper damage. In a few short years your wound area will be covered with new bark and your tree will continue to grow in your yard for years to come. If the job seems too big for you and you are looking for a certified arborist, check out our friends at Bartlett Tree Experts (503-72ARBOR).
Deer Defeat Spray
The new growth of spring on your plants is an invite to a buffet for your local deer. Even if you have planted ‘deer resistant’ plants, they can be a problem, because deer eat EVERYTHING when they are hungry. Now if you are done picking the right plants and putting them in the right areas and you still have problems with deer you may need a little more help. Rick Naylor from French Prairie Perennials (503-679-2871) has found a product that might be just what you need. Deer Defeat is a deer, rabbit and groundhog repellant. Rick has used it at various clients homes and it has worked great. He sprays it on the plant and the deer leave it alone. It lasts a long time too! It is also safe around animals and kids.
Blueberries for Containers
Spring is the time to think about summer fruits and vegetables! Everyone wants fresh produce in the summer and the late winter is the perfect time to plant for the coming season. If you are looking for fruit, the blueberry is the best fruit to start with. We met with Sara at Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) on Stark Street to talk about blueberries for containers. Sara loves blueberries in containers. They are easy to grow, they are tasty, healthy and, if they are in a container, they are easy to pick! She brought out a few of her favorites to share. Her number one pick is ‘Sunshine Blue’. This one is semi evergreen, so it has leaves most of the year, and has beautiful fall color. It does better with other blueberries around to help pollinate it, but it can do pretty well on its own. The next few varieties she shared stay pretty short. Those included Top Hat, North Sky, and Polaris. These are all pretty compact, but the berries are tasty and if pruned correctly, will produce a lot of fruit. We also saw the variety ‘Jelly Bean’. This one was from a group of plants labeled ‘Brazzelberries’, but they are now called ‘Bushel and Berry’; same plants different name.
If you are looking for a container, look for one that is twice the size of the 1 gallon pot you buy the plant in. Use a good quality potting soil and a fertilizer that is acidic. Blueberries love acidic soil, so a ‘rhody, azalea and camellia’ food will help them get started. Also, look for a nice place on your deck in the full sun. They’ll thrive there. After a couple of years, take the plant out of the pot and look at the roots. If they are cramped and crowded, up-pot your plant to a larger home or do a little root pruning (cutting off about one third of the roots) to help it stay comfortable in its container. You can also help your production by cutting off the oldest 2-3 branches every year or so.
Once you get a variety you like, you will be looking for other areas on your deck or patio to grow these wonderful, and tasty berries!
Dividing Perennials in the Ground
Dividing your perennials is not hard. In fact you can do it with just a shovel. William and Judy found a lobelia that had just spread too far in the yard. It was covering part of the lawn and was hanging out into the street. The first thing Judy did was to cut back the plant. The early spring is the perfect time for dividing your plants. The foliage is dead, and by cutting it back you can see the entire crown of the plant. Then William took a shovel and just drove it down into the middle of the plant. By cutting a line across the middle of the plant he was able to cut out that part of the plant and keep it from spreading into the yard again this year. The best part? We now have parts of our favorite plant that we can share with our friends and family. Remember to always know where you irrigation and utility lines are by calling 811 before you dig!
If you want to get more precise in your dividing, you can dig the entire plant up, cut it apart and then replant a smaller portion. Either way, it is easy to divide most of your garden perennials like this! For more tips check with your local independent garden center.
Little Prince Sedum Solutions
We all love birds in our gardens. Plus, attracting bees to the garden is also a top priority! We also want the house for both to look great and be functional at the same time. To see some bird and bee houses that serve both purposes we stopped by Little Prince of Oregon, a local grower of fine plants and perennials. They had an idea for combining a cool sedum roof with bird and bee houses. We visited with Mark at Little Prince to see these sedum flats and how they use them. These wonderful little flats of sedums were called ‘Sedum Squared Solutions’. He showed us how they use flats of sedums and cut them to the perfect size to get them to fit the birdhouses, feeders and mason bee homes that they make. These sedum flats are not only for bird houses or feeders… you can use these small flats of sedums and cut them up with a steak knife or scissors and use them anywhere around the garden! Check out your local garden center to see if they carry these wonderful ‘sedum solutions’!