Saturday, January 9, 2021

I JUST NEED ONE MORE-----

look through the seed catalogs.  The orders have been placed but I keep thinking I may have missed something that would be a revelation to central Oregon gardeners.


If I hadn't taken a third cruise through Burpee's catalog I would have missed ordering the On Deck hybrid corn.  Why am I glad I looked one more time?

On Deck hybrid corn is a Burpee exclusive corn bred for containers.  Granted it will only produce one or two ears of corn per plant, which can be the same yield as other varieties of bicolor corn that are grown in the field.  The great asset is that it is meant for containers giving apartment dwellers and patio gardeners a chance for homegrown corn  The recommendations for containers is 9 seeds per 24 inch container.  Maturity is 61-63 days, add on our 14 days and the variety comes within our 90 day time frame.

My "search engine" has been chugging along all afternoon trying to locate sources for the All America Selections but not connecting with any results.  I suspect although the varieties are introduced as 2021 winners, the seeds aren't easily available until the following year.

To satisfy your curiosity, the winners this year are:

Celosia Kelos Candela Pink, according to the fact sheet, available in plant form only 

Echalion Creme Brulee, an echalion is larger than a shallot  and this variety is the only shallot to win a AAS rating.  (Most shallots are over 100 days maturity)

Leucanthemum Sweet Daisy Birdy, a perennial in the Shasta daisy family.  Hardy to zone 3.  Sounds great, if we can find a source.

Pepper Pot-a-peno F1 is a compact jalapeno pepper perfect for hanging baskets.

Squash Goldilocks F1 is an acorn squash with high yields and a nutty flavor. 

Zinnia Profusion, Red Yellow Bicolor starts out with a vibrant red center, then as it ages, morphs into soft shades of apricot, salmon and dusty rose.

If anyone can find the sources for these selections please share.

Then on the other hand, is the National Garden Bureau.

The National Garden Bureau members and Board of Directors select plant classes that consumers can grow successfully.  Their selections aren't as specific as the All America Selections.  They brand their categories as "Year of the".  There are five categories each year.  Categories include an annual, a vegetable/edible, a perennial, a bulb and a flowering shrub.  The following are the choices for 2021.

Annual:  Year of the Sunflower

Vegetable/edible:  Year of the Garden Bean 

Perennial:  Year of the Monarda

Bulb:  Year of the Hyacinth

Flowering shrub:  Year of the Hardy Hibiscus

These categories are easier to match to varieties that we can grow and we can be part of the national campaign of trying something we haven't tried before.

The hardy hibiscus is a non-tropical hibiscus rated for a zone 4 (with protection).  Depending how dedicated you are to your plants, I would suggest a less intense care routine by using the Water Wise Gardening publication for suggestions of flowering shrubs.  Personally, I have lusted after the fragrant abelia in the OSU Redmond Demo Garden.

I have worn my brain out making choices and submitting orders.  It's time to put the seed catalogs aside and close with

 A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR WITH WISHES AND HOPES OF SEEING EACH OTHER SOON!

Learn more about the OSU Demonstration Gardens in Central Oregon: tune into KPOV 88.9 FM on Tuesday, January 19th between 9 and 9:30am for Gardening: Get Good at It.





  
   

Saturday, December 26, 2020

LESSONS LEARNED

Many gardeners had an experience last spring that we hope not to be repeated this year.  We placed our seed orders in March but had to wait until May, and in some cases mid June for delivery.  That was probably, for most of us, the introduction into living a life in which we had no prior experience. Who would have thought garden seeds, especially vegetable seeds could become such hot sellers?  Maybe it was the shortage of certain necessary daily used paper products that was the real eye-opener.

The seed catalogs have been arriving since the week before Thanksgiving.  All with seductive verbiage and photo-shopped pictorials to put us to the test.  Should I order this variety or that one?

All gardeners have their preference for a particular catalog.  I gravitate to the catalogs that offer the most information for that variety.  I want to know the how's and wherefores of the growth and yield, not just the price point.

Last spring I took advantage of a free packet of experimental hybrid tomato seeds.  The catalog description had all the key words, "most disease-resistant tomato ever offered, high yields, perfectly round, 74 days, old-timey flavor".  All were true except for the flavor statement.  In addition to the skin being  tough the flavor was very weak.  It's great to experiment with vegetable varieties but always have your tried and true varieties growing close at hand.


It is legend that varieties of flowers or vegetables that claim to be new and improved lose a trait in order to develop one that the public is looking for.

Good examples are flowers and why the scent has been bred out of them.  Mainly it is because the consumer indicated their preference of cut flower longevity over fragrance.

Old-fashioned petunias are fragrant but don't last as a cut flower.  Many of the new varieties aren't fragrant and in some cases smell downright bad but have a longer cut-flower longevity.  However, the new petunia will have a shorter life span in the garden bed.  In the case of the carnation everyone wants a cut stem to last weeks in a vase.  (Yes,  I understand that non-fragrant flowers are coveted for those with allergies!)

It turns our that for most flowers aroma production and length of flower life are tightly linked by a plant hormone called ethylene.  More ethylene makes a flower fade faster but produce more scent while less ethylene causes the opposite effect.  Plant breeders with the best intentions have made showier longer-lasting flowers with little or no aroma.  

I have always been curious about the freely given tags of "NEW" on listings of varieties in the first few pages of a catalog.  I wonder if the variety actually is a new development or simply a product that has not previously appeared in the catalog--which would make it "NEW"  I need to think about these things during the day instead of midnight.

It has been a tradition at my house on New Years Day to spend the day with the stack of catalogs, a black marking pen and a supply of yellow stickies to mark pages for possibilities for 2021.  This year the orders are going to be finished and at the computer by days end--no more disappointments over sold out varieties.  Remember, many seed providers offer discounts within a specific time period.

Stay healthy and continue to wear your mask--you know the old saying "It ain't over till it's over".

Be sure to listen to the Gardening:  Get Good at It "Winter Birds" segment on Tues. December 29 on KPOV 88.9FM between 9-9:30 am

Saturday, December 12, 2020

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING PART 2

In our early days of stepping into the world of dirty hands and broken fingernails, we made do with tools we had on hand.  For instance: the kitchen scissors from the miscellaneous drawer, husbands woodworking saws from his workbench and then spotting a needle-nose pliers that would probably come in handy is added to our bucket.

Before we know it, we become "educated".  We subscribe to several gardening magazines, attend gardening classes and we are on our way to realizing the above mentioned implements are no longer appropriate.

We proclaim ourselves gardeners and all of a sudden we want our own specific tools for the task at hand and some sort of wheeled container --wheel barrow, little red wagon, maybe a cart to tote them to wherever.

Thanks to stylish looking coffee table style gardening magazines and a few dozen seed catalogs, a whole new consumer world opens up to us and we want it all.

BUT,  do we need it all?

You probably have a good practical all purpose pruner.  Have you noticed it is  really difficult to use when you want to get into a tight space to cut out  damaged or infected plant material?  Maybe it is time to ask for a gift of needle-nose pruners.

You may have a faithful pair of household scissors but they won't be the answer for garden chores.  Ask Santa for serrate scissors from your local plant nursery or garden center.  The serrated blade will grip the stems so cutting flowers is smoother and easier on your hands.

My two very favorite tools are my Hori-Hori knife and a proper pruning saw.

The Hori-Hori knife is a multi-tasker.  It can take out weeds by their roots and it is great for digging holes for transplants or bulbs.  The serrated blade can cut through anything from twine to the root mass of perennials you want to divide.  That is the one item I always make sure is in my bucket when I work in the Demo Garden in Redmond.

Several years ago I treated myself to a proper pruning saw.  The saws on the workbench just didn't do the job causing lots of frustration and usually ending up with a botched up pruning job.  My pruning saw has a 14" curved blade with 3-sided VERY sharp teeth that makes branch removal easy and efficient.  Another plus is that the blade is replaceable.  My regret is that I didn't consider moving up the pricing ladder to the style that has the folding blade.  As I mentioned the blade is very sharp so care needs to be taken to keep it stored in the original cardboard sheath.  This year I need to reinforce the sheath by wrapping it in a heavy tape.

I shouldn't be telling family stories but this is too funny not to share.

Scenario:  Son arrives for a few days to help with garden chores.  Keeps getting smacked by a juniper branch.  Son says, "Have you got one of those long handled thingies with a cutter up at the top?"

I guess I have some work to do on proper terminology.

Yes, I do have long handled loppers.  However what I really want is the long handled ratcheting loppers.  The ratcheting action will make cutting branches easier.  From what I have researched, setting the blade is a little tricky but once you learn the action, the rest is easy, plus quicker than the basic loppers.

Also going on my wish list is a folding sickle.  I would use it on the large area of herbaceous weeds that my weed eater can't handle.  At least that is my excuse for going shopping.

There is a myriad of tools to lust after and each year newer and better (so they tell us) tools come to market.  One tip that is worth following is to mark your tools with some personal identification like a bright tape.  There are two good reasons.  One is that are easy to see when you lay them down and walk away.  The other is that small hand tools have a tendency to be left behind when you are working in the Demo gardens or Community gardens.  The tools are picked up at days end and at the Redmond Demo garden are placed in a Lost and Found box in the garden shed.

Hopefully for Christmas or any special day in your life, you will receive the tool of your hearts desire---after all, they are cheaper than diamonds!

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Selecting a Christmas Tree" segment on Tues. Dec. 15 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am.



 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

X-MAS SHOPPING MADE EASY


 I heard the conversations ramping up a week ago. "I don't know what to get X,  Y & Z for Christmas".  Hopefully X, Y. & Z are gardeners as they are the easiest people in the world to shop for.  However, with some items you know they want or need, you will find it difficult to gift wrap and ship if necessary.  In that case, buy a gift card, print out a photo from the internet, write a personal note on the merits of the tool and send it off with love and hugs.

Rakes have been on my mind, probably because I had a new rake but donated it to a call out for garden tools when the clean-up started after the summer fires. 

Would you believe there are 32 different rakes for your garden and landscape?  Even rakes have a history to be acknowledged.  Rakes were invented in 1,100 BC in China and were all wood.  In 1874 a U.S. patent was given to a rake design that was described as "like a dustpan and broom combined".

The rake most popular is the garden rake but even there you have choices.  A flathead or a bowhead.  The flathead attaches to the handle.  When you look at it straight on, you see a "T".  Think of Mr. McGregor's rake as he was chasing Peter Rabbit from the garden.    

The bowhead is probably the one we are most familiar with.  It has an arching support that gives the rake more stability.  The best ones have a head, think frame, of forged high carbon steel.

I keep thinking of asking Santa for a thatch rake but in thinking it over, the better idea is to ask my lawn service if they could add thatching to their work list.  There are choices here also.  Some thatch rakes are one-sided, some have two-the sharp crescent-shaped blades remove debris and the round side is for cultivating.  Adjustable thatch rakes let you choose the angle that works best for the amount of thatch you have.  If your thatch is 1/2 inch deep or more, you need to rake, or perhaps use a power dethatcher.

Leaf rakes--that's another study in the tool fitting the purpose.  Sorry, there is no one-for-all rake that combines the garden rake and the efficiency of a leaf rake.  I have a 24 inch wide plastic leaf rake that is great for using in the wide open lawn.  Some leaf rakes go to a width of 30 inches, probably better used by someone who is taller than I am.  Because of the repetitive nature of leaf raking, comfort should be a major consideration.  The ergonomic designs have evolved into designing a curved handle.

The meal leaf rakes are good multipurpose rakes.  The springy nature is perfect for removing debris from less dense shrub borders along with fluffing the soil.  Look for metal rakes that have an enamel-coated stress bar that runs across the tines.  The stress bar keeps the tines from tangling with their neighboring tines.

A shrub rake makes cleaning under a packed perennial border a joy instead of a drudge.  I bought one this summer with a long handle and an expanding head.  It got a little tricky adjusting to where I wanted to clean out but still much easier than trying to clean out  under shrubs using hand tools

The rake we should all have is a roof rake to remove snow and ice from roofs.  Remember February 2019 when we had a recorded snowfall of 37.1" (average snowfall for February is 5.5")  At that time if we didn't have one, we vowed we needed to get one as soon as the stores restocked.   Did you?  Maybe it is time to buy ourselves a present.  Perhaps if we are pro-active now we could ward off the massive snowfalls.  What we need is a few inches at a time, followed by a few sunny days to melt the snow on the roof.  Wouldn't it be great if we could direct Mother Nature!

The next blog on Dec. 19th will focus on some hand tools.  Too late for Christmas, put it on the list for the next special occasion.

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Creating a Pollinator Garden" segment on Tues. Dec. 1, on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am .

 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

THROW OUT OR GROW?

When you see snow flurries mixed with rain, it is time to get serious about storing the remaining garden seeds from 2020.  

I have several seed viability charts for flowers and for vegetables but not a good source for the viability of herb seeds.  Since it was too nasty to be outside I started a search.  

Growing up in the "waste not, want not" generation it is really difficult for me to throw away anything that may still have a purpose, and especially garden seeds.  However, it is a total waste of time and energy to be ever hopeful that some 6 year old marigold seeds will germinate, even at a 25% rate.  I discovered that depending on type, marigolds have a viability of 2-3 years.  I now feel I have permission to throw out the seeds and not feel I am being wasteful.  Back in the day, I probably would have tried to do something crafty with them.  Now I would rather read a book.

Apparently my computer doesn't totally understand the catch phrase I use on my searches, which is edu sites only. Even though I specifically noted "herb seed viability charts: edu sites only"  I had to wade through germination tables, ideal climate charts and charts on soil recommendations.  Plus many commercial sources to purchase seeds.

I did find two sources that I printed out for my garden notebook.  One was from Johnny's Seeds and the other was from Snoqualmie Seed Savers.

Johnny's chart labeled as a Seed Storage Guide wasn't as informative as I had hoped.  Most all entry's were  classified with a range of 1-4 years viability.  I had hoped for a chart more definitive from them.  I have been a customer for years and always felt they did an excellent job with their cultural information.  That's why I was surprised their chart wasn't more detailed.

Snoqualmie Valley Seed Exchange is a 10 year old volunteer based seed exchange located in Duvall, WA.  Their criteria for participation in the donation of leftover seeds is that the seed can be no older than 3 years, or you have tested their ability to germinate.  With that standard in mind, I feel confident that their definitive charts are more accurate.  The chart is available at 

Parsley is an example of the differences in listings.  Johnny's list reflects 1-4 years, the seedsaver list is 2 years and the Iowa State Extension lists 1 year for seed viability in their cultural info on parsley.

The optimal conditions for seed storage is low humidity and low temperatures (45 degrees F).  A general formula is that the sum of he temperature and % of relative humidity should be less than 100.  According to Johnny's fact sheet the actual storage life will depend upon the viability and moisture content of the seed when initially placed in storage, the specific variety, and the conditions of the storage environment.  

When you get right down to the nitty-gritty of life there are no guarantees.  The only way to be sure of germination is to count out 10 seeds, germinate them between damp paper towels in a plastic bag.  After several days check for germination to see how many have germination.  If 5 have germinated, you have 50% germination.

Be sure to listen to the Gardening:  Get Good at It "Winter Chores" segment on Tues. Nov. 17 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am.








   

Saturday, October 24, 2020

IT'S TIME TO CELEBRATE

 There's no cooking involved, we don't have to clean house or polish the silver.  It is time to sit back and as Master Gardeners accept a heartfelt thank you from the Oregon State University Extension Service staff.  The week of Oct. 26-30, 2020 is "Celebrate Master Gardener Week"  I hope you can find time to take advantage of the weeklong events being provided to celebrate the volunteer work of OSU Master Gardeners.

The celebration events include a film festival showing of three films.

The Love Bugs follows entomologists Charlie and Lois O'Brien and their world-wide collection of over 1 million insects.  The colors, shapes and sizes are fascinating along with some of their stories.  Charlie has Parkinson's disease which now limits his daily life and restricts his days of collecting.   Lois was 90 years old and still collecting when the film was recorded two years ago.  Together they made the decision to donate their collections to Arizona State University where they had spent many years.  The O'Brien's are truly dedicated in their love of the insect world and their love for one another is evident in their humorous exchanges with each other.  The quality of the photos is fantastic--makes you want to grab a net and capture a few.  I watched the film and was overwhelmed with the feeling of gratitude I had being able to share their heartbreak in moving on in their life.  If you need a few giggles and maybe a tear or two in your day, I highly recommend watching The Love Bug. 

The second film is Land Grab.  It is the story of a political firestorm in Detroit.  An eccentric finance mogul wanted to spend $30 million of his fortune to create the world's largest farm in the most economically devastated neighborhoods of bankrupt Detroit.

The third firm is The Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf.  The film features the Dutch garden designer and plantsman in a documentary sharing his creative process, his theories on beauty, and the ecological implication of his ideas.  Oudolf has been considered a leader in the 'New Perennial' movement also referred to as the 'New American Style'. 

After viewing each of the films there is an opportunity to take part in film discussions on Zoom with the filmmakers and/or local experts.

On Friday Oct. 30 you can test your insect smarts on an interactive trivia tournament hosted by OSU Klamath County horticulture faculty member Nicole Sanchez.  

It is mind-boggling to think of the amount of time and effort that has gone into offering the OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteers such a bountiful, generous "thank you" gift.

Registration is required to attend the events as was noted in an e-mail from the Deschutes Extension Office sent on Oct. 21st.  In case you missed the Registration, it is open at:

https://envisionextension.thinkific.com/enroll/958130?price_id=1051846

Some films and discussions have capacity limits so sign up early.

On Oct. 29th at 6 pm PST Langellotto will livestream an update on the Master Gardener program in Oregon.  It is hard to think that come the new year our Master Gardener life won't be back to what we have known.  It is especially important that we have an overview for what the expectations are for the coming year.

I will just be so happy when we can get back together for a massive group HUG! 

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Native Plants" segment on Tues. Nov. 3 on KPOV 88.9FM between 9-9:30 am.

   



Saturday, October 10, 2020

ADDICTION, FIXATION, OBSESSION----

Which is it?  I can't decide.  Every time I hear of a tomato variety that is new to me I get an adrenaline rush.  I immediately want to look it up, track down sources, try to learn the origin--European or US developed.  Then the BIG question, will the variety grow in Central Oregon?  So many questions to be answered.  

I never feel the impulse of "I want it NOW".  What I do want is to immediately start researching.

I can  thank friend Toni for sending me into a tailspin of who, what, where and when's.  The tomato new to me (thanks to her) is 'Bloody Butcher', a horrible, but certainly memorable name.  I have already created several scenarios in my mind as to the origin of the name.  With Halloween just around the corner, how could I help myself?

What I have learned so far is that 'Bloody Butcher' is a reliably early heritage variety, it's origin is believed to be Germany.  The 3-4oz cluster tomato ripens in 55-70 days, about the same time as Early Girl. There were several reports that felt it is tastier than Early Girl.  The taste reports ranged from "unique, sweet tangy flavor", to "rich tomato flavor"  to "tasteless".  It is an open pollinated variety which means the seeds can be saved.  The plant is indeterminate in growth so production would be over a longer period of time.  It was rated as being an excellent producer in the greenhouse as well as the open garden. 

The variety is potato-leafed.  The term may be unfamiliar to gardeners who are early into tomato culture.

We are most familiar with the multi-lobed, serrated tomato leaf.  There are many variations of regular leaf tomato from color differences of green or green/blue hues to width and length of the leaf.  Some varieties have heart-shaped leaves and some have droopy dissected foliage referred to as wispy droopy leaves.  There are also varieties that have dark green puckered leaf structure referred to as Rugose, a hairy regular leaf structure is referred to as Angora.

Potato Leafed Tomato vs Regular Tomato 
The potato leaf lacks the lobes or notches seen on regular leaf tomatoes.  They look like the leaves of a potato plant.  The young potato leaf seedlings are less obvious in their difference as they do not show this lack of serration until they are a few inches tall. 

Potato leafed tomatoes tend to have more heft than regular leaf tomatoes and there has been some claim that this makes them more resistant to disease.  Purple Prudence, and Brandywine are examples of potato leafed tomatoes.

At the end of the day, potato leaf tomatoes can be chalked up to just another of nature's curious quirks. There doesn't seem to be any scientific involved explanation other than, after all, tomatoes are in the same nightshade family as potatoes.

I remember in my early days of tomato growing and the first variety we grew of potato leafed plants, I was sure there was something wrong with the plant.  That was long before research could be accomplished with the flick of a switch and a mouse!

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Spring Bulbs to Plant Now" segment Tuesday October 20 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am.