It’s fall on the calendar, but is it winter!? This past week we had warnings for frost on the east side of the Cascades, snow at the passes and cold rains on the west side. It could almost be winter. This time of year is a transition between seasons and one that all gardeners need to be aware of. Protecting those tender plants from cold and wet moves to the top of your to-do list. Make sure you keep an eye on the calendar and the weather forecast and then get out there and get those chores done.
It is also a great weekend to get out and enjoy the various festivals around the area. We cover a couple in this week’s show. Check out your local garden center to see what they have planned or our events calendar on the Garden Time website.
This week we featured...
Fall and Winter Interest Plants
There are lots of plants that will keep your garden interesting during the cold and rainy winter months ahead. Carol Westergreen of Out in the Garden Nursery (503-829-4141) in Molalla met with us to share some of her favorites. We started with Sarcococca which is also known as Sweet Box. This plant is sweet! It has an incredible sweet fragrance during the winter months that will knock your socks off. It is a low grower and is not much to look at, but the smell is heavenly. The next plant was the Leucothoe ‘Zegreb’. This one is known for the great dark foliage that shows up in the cold. The leaves are a normal green for much of the year, but during the winter they get a wonderful burgundy. Plant number three was the Viburnum ‘Spirit’. This is a sun lover and was developed for the ‘cut flower’ industry because it grows upright and has long lasting beautiful flower buds. A nice bright display for your garden. The next plant was a structure plant. It was an Ilex (holly) called ‘Sky Pencil’. This one is a tall and narrow one that grows slowly, to about an 8 foot height. The next plant looked like a holly but is really an Osmanthus called ‘Goshiki’. It is a slow growing plant that likes sun or shade and it has an incredible variegated foliage that brightens up the garden. It can even have a fragrance when it blooms in the fall. If you are looking for something small, the dwarf Pieris ‘Little Heath’ is the one for you. This one stays small and is great for containers. It has a cream colored edge to the foliage that will get pink or a light burgundy color in the winter. The tallest plant in her mix was next. This was an Edgeworthia, also known as Chinese Paper Bush, because the Chinese used it to make paper. This is not an evergreen plant, losing its leaves around November, but it produces a bright yellow bloom in late January that is very fragrant! Another interesting part of this plant is the bark which looks cool and the fact that it almost always branches in sets of three. A very low ground cover plant is the Cyclamen. These come in a bunch of different varieties that bloom at different times. One variety blooms first in fall, with tiny flower stalks that get a couple inches tall, then they grow their foliage. Another variety sends up their foliage now and then they bloom in January. Unlike the ‘florist cyclamen’ that you get as a holiday gift, these varieties are very hardy for our area. Speaking of hardy, the final group of plants were ferns. Carol had a wonderful selection of ferns including some shorter varieties. The first was a Maidenhair Fern which stays small and evergreen, and doesn’t look like a fern at all. Then there are the Hearts Tongues Ferns. These look like little broad swords coming out of the ground. They actually change as they grow, so they look like one plant when little and then like something else when they get larger. Then we finished with a variety of shield ferns, all of them different and great for the winter garden! If you are looking to add some winter interest to your garden stop by and see Carol. Hurry, she’ll be closing the nursery for the winter in just a couple weeks!
Portland Nursery Apple Tasting
Be prepared for a celebration!!! A is for apple and you will find a ton of apples (and pears) at Portland Nursery’s (503-231-5050) 30th Annual Apple tasting at the Stark Street location. This landmark celebration features over 50 different varieties of apples and pears available to taste. This is an event for the whole family. There is a kid’s area with face painting, a scavenger hunt and pumpkin painting. There are demonstrations, fresh baked apple strudel and live music are also on the list of activities. Another reason for stopping by is to get a chance to vote for the best scarecrow. Fellow shoppers have entered their best scarecrows for the chance to win prizes. You can also shop from a variety of local vendors that will be offering local honey, mustard, jams and a whole lot more. Special events include a special ‘Elder Day’ on the 18th from 1-3pm with discounts for seniors, and everyday discounts on apple prices. You can also help out your community too. While the event is free, you can bring a non-perishable food item for the Oregon Food Bank! And don’t forget the fresh pressed cider! Speaking of cider, you can sample hard ciders! Now is the time to also take advantage of all the wonderful fall perennials available at both locations of Portland Nursery. Come see these and a bunch more at the tasting!
Did you know that we can grow cranberries in the Northwest? In fact, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are major growers of this native American plant. The harvest season for this great little berry starts in mid-September and runs until the middle of November. To learn more about the cranberry and how it is harvested we drove up to Long Beach and Ilwaco in Washington State. Our first stop was the Washington State University Research and Extension unit, and the Cranberry Museum in Long Beach. The Research unit has over 10 acres of research plots and production fields where they test new varieties of berries and, during the fall, demonstrate harvesting for visitors. We met with WSU Extension Agent, Kim Patton, to learn about the cranberry plants they grow there. He told us that the cranberry is a low growing vine and they are looking for better yield, higher fruit quality, disease resistance and pest management. They are long lived and look the same whether they are 3 years old or 100 years old. The cranberry is considered a ‘super fruit’ by most nutritionists because of their high content of proanthocyanidins, an antioxidant which helps overall cell health. They grow in their beds during the growing season and are pollinated by bees. When they are mature the growing beds can be flooded for harvesting, and that is where we went next.
Our second stop was at the CranMac Farm where they had flooded the bog and had a crew pulling floating booms gathering all the cranberries. Ardell McPhail joined Judy to explain the process. First they flood the bog for 2 days to get the water level up and over the top of the plants. Then they take a mechanized beater into the bog and it beats the plant until the berries rise to the surface. Then they are corralled by the crew with floating booms to one area of the bog. Then a conveyor is set up and it scoops the berries up and out of the bog and into bins located on a truck. These are taken to the Ocean Spray processing plant. This process is called wet harvesting. Almost all of the berries processed this way will be turned into juices and sauces. The whole berries that you buy in store are usually ‘dry harvested’, which is more labor intensive and gentler on the fruit.
All this work will be celebrated this weekend as the Long Beach peninsula hosts the Cranberrian Fair on October 14th and 15th from 10am to 4pm. Betsy Millard from the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum told Judy how the Cranberrian Fair is celebrated in 2 different locations. In Ilwaco at the CPHM they will have a lot of vendors and activities featuring local artisans and demonstrations. People can see pottery, jewelry, paintings, homemade pies and even a blacksmith. They will even have the 1889 Nahcotta train car open for tours. This only happens twice a year! There is a $5 fee to get into the CPHM, but the other museum open this weekend is free.
Judy then talked to Melinda Crowley from the Cranberry Museum in Long Beach. This museum is back at the WSU Research Station where we started the day. It has some great displays of the history of cranberries on the Washington coast. You can see some of the machinery that they used and learn about the differences between dry and wet harvesting. That is also the location of the bogs where they will be demonstrating a wet harvest. The museum also has a great gift shop. It is loaded with everything cranberry. You can find clothing, cards and lots of tasty cranberry flavored treats (try the ice cream!)
There is a trolley that will shuttle people between both locations so you can enjoy both museums for a fun and educational time.
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 cannot 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.
Don’t forget about the 24th annual Heirloom Apple Festival happening on Sunday the 15th from noon to 4pm to learn more about this and other recipes. It will be a great time for the whole family!