Welcome to the start of our 13th season of Garden Time! We are glad to be back from our annual winter break. Each year the winter break seems to go by faster and faster. This year we are greeted by snow in the lowlands and gardens that are mud pits. Still, we are just a few weeks away from SPRING! Soon we will be in our gardens again and not long after that we will be enjoying the heat of summer. Can’t wait!
A few housekeeping things before the show. The shows are on the same three TV stations as last year. In Portland, the station has changed its name from "PDX-TV" to "FOX 12 Plus", the channel is the same though. Also, some times have changed on the repeats of our program in Salem. Please check your TV listings for the correct times (we also have them on our website).
The Garden Time tour is getting close to being full! You may remember that we are going to London, Paris and Belgium this August. It is a gardener’s bucket list tour! We are down to our last four or five seats. If you would like to join us please click on the ‘Tours’ link on our website.
And finally, some of you may have not received the current issue of the Garden Time magazine for March, which went out on the first of this month. We have noticed a large amount of ‘bouncebacks’. These are addresses that cannot be delivered to by the company who handles our delivery. We are trying to get to the bottom of the problem with our email server representative. If you want a copy of the current issue you can get it here, http://www.gardentime.tv/gto/1803/GTDM-1803.pdf. Thanks for your patience and we hope to have the problems ironed out soon! You can also find back issues on our magazine page.
In the meantime, let’s get ready for spring!
This week we featured...
Hybrid Tea Rose Pruning
Rose pruning time is here. Yes, we know that it is really cold and that snow is still falling around our area on certain days, but if you look you will see new growth starting on your old canes and so now is the time to really do some cutting so your plants will give you the best blooms in just a few months. We took a trip up to the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park to talk to rose curator Rachel Burlington about how they cut the hundreds of roses in the garden. Most people will tell you that you need to cut your roses by the middle of February, usually around Presidents Day, but you can put off the cutting until mid-March if necessary. In the past we have had experts tell you to cut to an outside bud and to clean out the center of the plant to help with airflow, but at the Rose Garden they just cut back all the stems to the same height. They cut away all the small canes, anything smaller than a pencil and they leave the rest. The feeling is that if you have more canes, you have more flowers! In fact some studies have shown that this type of pruning is actually about the same for the health of your plant as the old style of cutting. It is hard to argue with the wonderful display of blooms that they get up at the garden during the spring and summer! The only thing that we recommend not doing this time of year is fertilizing. You’ll want to wait until mid- April to do that.
Now is the time to start some of your seeds indoors in anticipation of the coming spring and summer. The basic rules for success include starting with a quality soil and fresh seeds. Sterile soil will help you keep your new plants happy and healthy, because they won’t be exposed to different molds and fungus. We always use Black Gold Seedling Mix for starting our plants. Not only is it free of disease and pests, it is also soft and light so your plants can set roots faster and your plants get a quicker start. Black Gold is also a natural and organic soil since these seedlings were for our veggie garden. You will also need to read the back of your seed pack so you will know how deep to plant your seeds and other care instructions. You can help the seedlings along by using a heating mat and grow lights, but if you have a warm place next to a window with lots of sun exposure, you should be alright. Remember to keep those seeds moist. If they dry out once germinated, they could die and then you would have to start all over. We recommend that you also move and thin your small plant seedlings, after the first month, to bigger pots to give them the best start before they go in the garden. We did this with a natural and organic soil since these seedlings were for our veggie garden. Once you are ready to move them outside, give them a couple of days in a garage or protected area so they can acclimate to the outdoor temps. This would be a great year to start a vegetable garden to save some money; check out your local garden center for a great selection of seeds. For some more tips on successful seed starting, check out the ‘Seed Starting’ link on the How-To page.
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!
Dormant Tree Spraying
If you have fruit trees, now is the time to dormant spray before they start to flower. Dormant spraying will help control insects and diseases during the coming growing season. William and Judy showed you the type of spray you can use. William used an All Seasons Horticulture Spray from Bonide. This is a spray that is all natural and will smother insect eggs, preventing problems before they start. You can spray now before the flower buds open. Once the flowers are open you can let the pollinators go to work and get your tree pollinated. Once the fruit has formed you can spray again to prevent any other problems. Another product is the Bon-Neem product. This is also all natural and can be sprayed up to the time of harvest. It will also help control fungus and mites too. These products are available at your local independent garden center. Your local garden center is also where you can get all your pest questions answered.
There is nothing like ‘REAL’ grass in your Easter basket. In this segment we saw how easy it is to grow grass for your Easter (or spring) baskets. All you need is weed fabric, potting soil, any type of grass seed (rye grass works well), and water. First you line the basket with the fabric. Remember the fabric will allow the water to drain so make sure it is a basket that can get wet. Next put in the potting soil and keep it an inch or so below the edge of the basket. Then sprinkle grass seed in the soil. Don’t go too light on the seed; you want it to be really full looking! Mix the seed into the soil and water lightly. The seed should start growing in a week to 10 days. Keep the soil moist until the seed germinates and it will be ready by Easter morning!