Friday, October 22, 2021

TIME FLIES

Before you know it daylight savings will be ending, Sunday November 7th, to be exact.  Then the days seem to really fly by and the Holiday season will be here.

I looked at the containers next to the front door and felt sad.  The bountiful bright marigolds are brown and drooping; the white calibrachoa is limp from the frosty nights.  The deep burgundy red flowers of the geraniums have been replaced with withered brown flower heads.  However, there is a glint ofhope.  The geranium leaves are still green and pliable so the project will be to dig out the geraniums and repot to a container in the sunroom.  To clarify--the sunroom is an enclosed patio, unheated but for the good graces of the central Oregon sun.  Since it is smaller than the greenhouse it stays warmer.  What's left in the containers will go into the compost.

I'll miss the color spot on the front porch so I've decided to create fall colors by wrapping pruned branches with yarn which I have a stash of from project leftovers.  Hopefully it will look like a massive bouquet of color.  I will use some rabbitbrush and artemesia to soften the look, plus a pumpkin or two to add different shapes.  That should carry the eye candy through Thanksgiving. 

Probably some passerbys will raise an eyebrow and think "Oh my, a busy hands at home project."  I agree, it is pretty simplistic but how can gardeners live without color and without keeping busy till spring seeding time?

I did the yarn wrapping last year for Christmas on a small scale to add color to a basket of greens.  It's a little tricky working with the glue and keeping the yarn looking neat as you go round and round but I think it's worth the effort, plus it used up scrapes of yarn.

It's not too early to think of and collect ideas of natural ornaments for the holidays.  I can't help but wonder if the DIY craft supplies will be limited due to the shipping problems that seem to be universal in all industries. 

Have you been thinking you really need to toss out long expired spices before the new year?  Coat the surface of a craft (Styrofoam) ball with glue.  Use good craft glue or a cool glue gun.  To make the hanger knot the ends of a ribbon or cording together.  Bend a 4 inch length of light weight wire in half (even a straightened out paper clip would do).  Attach ribbon or cording to the ornament with wire  and secure with a dot of glue.  Do the hanger before coating the ball.  Or if you are using the decorated balls in a basket, you can eliminate the hanger.  Working in small areas at a time, spread with glue and firmly press in the spices with your fingers until they adhere.  You could also add juniper berries, rose hips, seed pods, lavender buds or or anything else of interest from your garden.  I shamefully admit that I found several seed packets that are at least 10 years old so I am going to use those also.

Currently I am being tormented with the ideas I have collected for recycling tomato cages into Christmas trees--just can't decide which way to go--fancy or natural--decisions, decisions.

Don't forget to check out Gardening: Get Good at It "Five Easy Houseplants" segment on Tues. November 2 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 a m

   

Saturday, October 9, 2021

THE SPICE IS RIGHT


With every change of season I experience another surge of energy for a season appropriate project.  Herb drying and herb mixes are on my current list.  Just for fun I counted up the number of seasoning herb recipes I have and the grand total is 22.

Some are duplicates.  Who needs four recipes for Herbs de Provence?  I'll edit the collection by determining which of the ingredients I can use from my homegrown stash  and supplement the remainder from a market that supplies packaged dried herbs that are organically grown.

My method of drying herbs is very simple.  I use a microwave plate lined with a paper towel.  Arrange 1/2 to 1 cup of herb leaves in a single layer and cover with another paper towel.  Dry on full power 1-2 minutes.  Check after l minute.  I pull the tray if there is just a hint of dampness left and let the herbs finish drying at room temperature.  Leaves should be crisp enough to crumble.  Depending on leaf size and thickness the process could be 2-4 minutes.  Store in an air tight container.  

In addition to filling your own spice shelf, containers of your homemade mix makes wonderful Christmas gifts.


My favorite mix is a Sweet Herb mixture which is a versatile mixture to flavor stews, soups, vegetables, pasta sauces, chicken and roasts.

❤❤❤SWEET HERB MIXTURE ❤❤❤

1 Cup dried parsley

3/4 Cup dried marjoram

1/4 Cup dried basil

3 Tablespoons dried thyme

3 Tablespoons dried lemon thyme  ( I am out of my lemon thyme, will use some lemon zest this year)

3 Tablespoons winter savory

2 Tablespoons dried tarragon


I decided to keep the following Herbs de Provence recipe (a little more involved than the others, but more traditional)

    HERBS de PROVENCE

2  Tablespoons dry basil

4 Teaspoons dry oregano leaves

2 Teaspoons EACH: dried thyme, dried marjoram, dried tarragon, and dried savory

1-1/2 Teaspoons crushed bay leaves

1 Teaspoon EACH: fennel seed, dried mint leaves, ground sage, dried rosemary leaves and dried  lavender (optional)

Blend into a fine powder and store in an air tight container.  An elegant herb sprinkling for meat, poultry or mixed with steamed or sautéed vegetables.


This is a great convenience when you have all the ingredients for a taco but no packets of seasoning.

    HOMEMADE TACO SEASONING

2 Teaspoons chili powder

1-1/2 Teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 Teaspoon paprika

1/2 Teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 Teaspoon salt

1/4 Teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 Teaspoon onion powder

1/4 Teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 Teaspoon black pepper

Taste and adjust spices as desired.  Makes the equivalent of 1 standard packet of taco seasoning.


I used the poultry seasoning last holiday season on turkey parts.

    POULTRY SEASONING

1/4 Cup dried ground or crumbled sage

1/4 Cup dried thyme

2 Tablespoons celery seed

2 Tablespoons dried marjoram

1 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 Teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional  (I chose not to use it)


Bouquet Garni is the classical traditional French herb mix for preparing stocks, soups, casseroles, meats and vegetables.  A container filled with these cheesecloth filled bags would make an excellent gift.  Include direction on how to use the blends in soups and stews.

 
BOUQUET GARNI

1/3 Cup dried Italian parsley

3 Tablespoons dried thyme

3 Tablespoons dried lovage leaves (lovage leaves taste like celery, you could probably use dried celery leaves)

2 Bay leaves, crumbled  

Mix together.  Place 1 tablespoon of the mix in the center of a 4-inch square of cheesecloth, doubled or in a small muslin bag. Gather up the corners and tie with kitchen string, leaving a long end that can be tied to the handle of the pot so it is easily removed from the dish before serving.  Makes enough for about 14 bags.

Have fun and fill your spice shelf with homemade mixes.  There are blends for seafood, Oriental dishes, meat blends, and blends for vegetables.

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Sustainability in Your Garden" segment on Tues. Oct. 19 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am





Saturday, September 25, 2021

A SNIPPET, A PINCH, AND A DAB

Have you ever read an old family recipe that measured the ingredients as a pinch of this. a snippet of that, or just a dab?  I have my mother's cookbook, over 80 years old that is filled with those measurements.  As a young bride without any cooking experience to speak of, I would call my mom for interpretation. Her advice would be something like -- "well maybe try 1/4 cup" or maybe it would be  with advice to "try a teaspoon, if not enough add more".

All those memories came to mind when I was thinking about the canning season.  According to the predictions grocery prices may double as we move into winter. I'm thinking that a trip to a farmers market or veggie stand would be wise.

I remembered I had a measurement guide in my canning file from a 1998 Old Farmers Almanac. Harvest season is here.  If you are thinking of doing some preserving, either canning or freezing this guide might help.

When harvest recipes call for 1 pound of beets, exactly how much do you need? 

Asparagus:                   1 pound =   3 cups chopped

Beans (string):             1 pound =   4 cups chopped

Beets:                           1 pound =   2 1/2 cups chopped (5 medium)

Broccoli:                    1/2 pound =   6 cups chopped

Cabbage:                      1 pound =   4 1/2 cups shredded

Carrots:                         1 pound =   3 1/2 cups sliced or grated

Cucumbers:                   1 pound =   4 cups sliced (2 medium)

Garlic:                              1 clove =   1 teaspoon chopped

Onions:                          1 pound =   4 cups sliced = 2 cups cooked

Peas:                   1 pound whole =   1- 1 1/2 cups shelled

Potatoes:             1 pound sliced =  2 cups mashed = 3 medium

Pumpkin:              1 pound =   4 cups chopped = 2 cups cooked, drained

Spinach:                         1 pound =   3/4-1 cup cooked

You may ask, why use a canning method when it is easier to freeze.  One reason is if we have a major power outage, there is a chance of losing the contents in your freezer.  Your canned goods will still be available on your pantry shelf.  

One word of caution--if you have an old Ball Blue Book guide to preserving, recycle it and treat yourself to a new edition.  The canning process has changed over the years.  As fun as it is to say we use our mother's canning books, the results could be a risk.

Prior to COVID, preserving classes were offered through the nutrition program with the Master Preservers program at the OSU Extension campus in Redmond.  Hopefully that program will resume in 2022.

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at it "Gear Up the Garden for Cold Weather" segment on Tues. Oct. 5 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 a.m.




Saturday, September 11, 2021

WE WALK THE WALK---DO WE KNOW THE TALK?

So many words in a botanical glossary, some are easy to pronounce, others can be a bit of a tongue-twister.  Whether we use them or not is not important.  What is important is that when we hear or see them written we can feel a little smarter than we were.  We may just need to jog our brain a bit to remember we really have heard them before.

ALLELOPATHY  The excretion by some plants of compounds from their leaves and/or roots that  inhibit the growth of other plants. 

APOSEMATIC  The characteristic, such as a color, odor or other markings, some insects have to serve as a warning to predators that it's toxic and they should stay away.  Red, yellow, black and white are the most common colors.

CANDELABRUM  A strong dominate rose cane with accelerated growth that originates from a bud union and explodes with many blooms.

Ligularia dentata
DENTATE  Having a toothlike or serrated edge that projects outward, such as a dentate leaf or root.  French lavender (Lavandula dentata) and ligularia (Ligularia dentata) have dentate leaves.

ENTOMOPHILY  When plants are pollinated by insects, that process is called entomophily.  Both insects and plants benefit from pollination,.  As they travel from flower to flower, insects gather nectar as a food source, at the same time spreading pollen to other flowers, which aids in plant reproduction.

EPINASTY  An abnormal downward-curving growth or movement of a leaf, leaf part, or stem.

ETIOLATION  Development of yellow, long, spindly growth on a plant as a result of insufficient light.

Fasciation of a Rose
FASCIATION  Distortion of a plant that results in thin, flattened, and sometimes curved shoots.  Can affect asters, geraniums, primroses, and lilies.  May be caused by a bacterial or viral infection.  Can return but doesn't spread.

GLAUCOUS  Covered with a grayish, bluish, or whitish waxy coating that is easily rubbed off.  Blue spruce needles are an example of glaucous leaves.

HAUSTORIUM  A modified hyphal branch (a single fungus filament ) of a parasitic plant.  Grows into a host plant's cell to absorb food and water.  Writer's note--not all of nature is warm and fuzzy!

INDEHISCENT  Not bursting open at maturity to release seed.  Green beans, grapes are examples.

MESOPHYLL  A leaf's inner tissue, located between the upper and lower epidermis, where raw materials (carbon dioxide and water vapor) are held for use in photosynthesis.

PEDUNCLE  The main stem supporting a cluster of flowers (as opposed to a pedicel, which is the stem of an individual flower). 

PLEACH  To intertwine branches of trees, vines, or shrubs to form an arbor or hedge.

REMONTANT  A plant that has the ability to produce flowers more than once in a growing season .  It is common for modern roses (Rosa hybrids) to bloom from spring through fall.  In other plants such as hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp) and bearded iris (Iris hybrids) it is less common but much coveted.

THIGMOTROPISM  The ability for vines to find something to grab onto--plants can detect and respond to solid objects.  Climbing plants and vines use  tendrils to twine around solid objects to gain support.  That has always been one of my "wonders of nature"--how did they know how to do that!

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Garden All Year: Build a Cloche" segment on Tues Sept. 21 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 a.m.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

THE MOTIVATION OF A DUMPSTER

All it (motivation) takes is the arrival of a large dumpster delivered to your side yard by your local disposal company.  At the request of a family member, I might add.  But that's another story.

I live on 2 acres so there has been ample space  during the past 30 years to "save" in case we might need it.  Who knows when you may need dozens of cut off pieces of PVC pipe ranging from 4 inches in length to 12 inches?

Moving on---the dumpster arrived and the family went to work carting half rotten plywood scraps, short pieces of 2 x 4"s, the PVC pieces, a pair of sawhorses that had been scheduled for repair 10 years ago, a wooden step ladder I was going to use for garden art many years ago.  Eventually the dumpster was filled to the brim.  

What a release it was.  However, my family has now created a Dumpster Monster who is almost ready to dump anything that isn't nailed down.  I've got the fever and am ready to dump.  I have always

recycled as much as possible and I will still move forward with that philosophy.  However there is so much  accumulated stuff from over the years that can't be recycled, some because of restrictions, some because  "make do, or do without" is no longer a household golden rule.

Now that the "boneyard" is cleaned up under the massive juniper tree across the ditch, I have to start on my passion of saving gardening magazines.  

I subscribe to four gardening magazines with the justification of needing them for continued research information.  The plain truth is I love the beautiful photography, the wisdom of the garden gurus, the pictorial visits to botanical gardens, plus the new research developments from non-commercial sources.

The new plan for my new life is to have breakfast every morning with one magazine from the stash.  I peruse the pages one last time removing anything that seems of value and then take the magazine directly to the recycle basket.  Before the end of the day I will give a second look to what was saved asking the question, "Does this REALLY apply to Central Oregon"?  The answer usually results in tossing several of the items.  

The process of purging and tossing is very therapeutic.

The next chapter will be the pleasure of sharing what is appropriate, either in the blog or the basis of an article for the scheduled newspaper articles. 

A good example of why it's important to have a second read of what I saved involves a tip regarding wine corks.

The tip was to save the wine corks and put them in a mesh produce bag.  When planting a large container in the spring you use the bag of corks for a lightweight filler.  At the end of the season, you hose off the dirt and save for next year.  Another tip was to use the corks as a top dressing mulch in a container.  Although the tips sounded reasonable in the beginning, I became more skeptical the more I thought about them.

I have been told that wine corks for the most part nowadays, are man made, not natural.  How do they make them?  What chemicals could leach into the soil, the root system?   Needless to say, that tip went into the recycle basket.

Perhaps the years of "research-based" master gardener training makes Master Gardeners more skeptical.  We are more comfortable with facts, not cutesy window dressings.  The moral is if you come across a tip think twice before implementing it.  Think WWMGD--What would Master Gardeners do?

Mark your calendar for the next Gardening: Get Good at It "Roses in Central Oregon" segment on Tues. August 31 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 a.m. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

WHAT HAPPENS IF--

Rosemary
you plant herbs that don't get along very well with other plants?  The simple answer is they fight for their space and resources in the garden.  The question came to my mind after reading that rosemary is a bad companion to tomatoes.

WHOOPS!!  I have grown rosemary in my greenhouse in the same bed as my tomatoes for at least 15 years.  It was a puzzle as I had never noticed any problems whose origin I could correlate to the relationship between the rosemary and the tomatoes closest to the rosemary.

After much thinking of, was it this or was it that, the only answer I could come up with is that I had mixed two plants with different water requirements.  Rosemary needs a Mediterranean climate of sunlight and dry soil.  Tomatoes also need lots of sunlight but more water.  Because of the greenhouse conditions of  high humidity and air circulation, I have always been frugal with the watering so generally don't have fungal or disease problems with the tomatoes.

The exercise took me to checking the herbs I have planted to learn more about the good, bad and the ugly features of each.

Cilantro
Cilantro draws beneficial insects into the garden-deters aphids, potato beetles, and spider mites.  Benefits beans and peas when planted closely.  Good companions are basil, tansy, yarrow, lavender, dill, spinach, tomatoes.  Bad companion is fennel.

Lavender needs full sun, attracts pollinators and is most valuable planted near the vegetable patch.  It makes an excellent companion for roses.  Lavender is valued in Central Oregon as a deer-resistant plant. Lavender is a Mediterranean herb.  Good companions include rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano and thyme., all of which do well in pots.  Bad companions would be moisture-loving herbs and plants.

Parsley can be a little tricky to germinate.  Asparagus is believed to benefit the most out of all the veggies planted near it.  Parsley has the reputation of getting along well with roses.  Planted around the base of roses, it is said to enhance the fragrance of the flowers.  Parsley flowers attracts hoverflies, which eat harmful insects including aphids and thrips.  The plant is a favorite of swallowtail butterfly caterpillars as well.  Good companions include beans, basil, cilantro, radish, tarragon, tomatoes.  Bad companions include mint, lettuce.

Sage

Sage deters pests such as cabbage moth, bean beetle and carrot fly.  Attracts beneficial insects and pollinators, which helps the whole garden.  Good companions include beans, cabbage, carrots, peas, rosemary, strawberries.  Bad companions include basil, cucumbers, onions.

Thyme is the perennial herb that appears to be everyone's friend.  Thyme is able to protect companion plants from cabbage worms, corn earworms, tomato hornworms and flea beetles.  Attracts beneficial pollinators such as honeybees.  Good companions include rosemary, lavender, oregano, sage, cabbage, potato strawberries, Brussels sprouts.  Bad companions are listed as none. 

What is the difference between an herb and a spice?  Many people use the the terms interchangeably, but there is a difference that distinguish one from the other.  Herbs are obtained from the leaves of plants that do not have woody stems.  They tend to thrive in more temperate climates and can be used fresh or dry.  Spices can be obtained from woody or non-woody plants and are always dried before use.   Except for the leaves, all other parts of the plant are spices, including the seeds, fruits, flowers and bark.  Spices are usually native to hot, tropical climates.

Coriander
All these definitions mean that the same plant can be both an herb and a spice.  Cilantro is a good example.  Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander leaves and because of this, cilantro could be classified as an herb.  Dried coriander seeds (a spice) are frequently used in cooking, making it completely legitimate to refer to coriander as either an herb or a spice, just depends on what part of the plant you are using.

Dill you know department.: dill derives its name from the Old Norse word "dilla, meaning "to lull."  The oil derived from the seed has long been used to soothe colicky babies and settle adult digestive upsets.  Ancient Romans wove the yellow flowers into wreaths that served double duty in their banquet halls.  In addition to their beauty, the flowers had a unique aroma which was fresh and spicy.  Perhaps we would be better off using dill flowers rather than plug-in or spray room fresheners for our homes.

Just a thought.

Be sure to mark your calendar to listen to Gardening: Get Good at It "Spiders" segment on Tues. August 17 on KPOV 88.0FM between 9-9:30 a m

  








































                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           


Saturday, July 24, 2021

MAYBE WE SHOULD ALL TRY A LITTLE HARDER

Wickiup Reservoir

A recent news clip on local TV stopped me in my tracks with a big "WHAT?"  The newscaster went on to explain if the Deschutes River water level reaches a certain level, perhaps in August, Parks and Recreation will have to cease irrigating major public parks.  First and most alarming would be Drake Park in downtown Bend.  Think of your favorite park and it would probably be included.  How could this be?  Bend has always had the reputation for inviting green, grassy, mind refreshing public parks.

Yucca in Bloom

 

The news clip ended with short interviews of two residents, one from California and the other from Arizona, who both said brown grass in the summer was the norm for them.  We have much to learn in how to accept changes, even in our gardening.

I'm not sure if I've gone through another "quarantine" eye-opener, but it seemed when I was out and about doing errands that I was seeing a greater number of yucca plants either in full bloom or just starting to open.  All were well kept with last years brown leaves trimmed off .  To me it indicated that the homeowner was intentional with the planting and proud to show it off. Curiosity led me to call a nursery and inquire if they had any yucca plants.  "No, all sold out" was the answer with the added comment that more were due in the next plant shipment.

Maybe we are changing our thinking and becoming more conscious of water consumption and not taking our water for granted.  Maybe we are starting to set a different criteria for our garden purchases.  Maybe instead of grabbing up what is newest, biggest and most popular we are thinking more about water-wise and fire resistant choices.

Agave
Plant developers are faced with two specific conditions and challenges.  They are on the hunt for new plants that can withstand dry conditions and that will offer interest suited to smaller gardens and landscapes.  Emphasis is leading towards finding varieties of agaves and yucca.

The noticeable difference between agave and yucca plants is the shape of the leaves.  Yucca leaves tend to be long and slender often compared to the shape of swords.  Agave leaves stand out because of the spikes that run along the edge of the leaves.  Yucca is featured in both the Water-Wise and the Fire Resistant OSU Extension Publications.

Yuccas make a great low maintenance screen or garden accent, especially when the plant flowers.  I have three and finally one bloomed last year and again this year.  The other two are alive and well but not blooming.  Unfortunately I didn't record the year they were planted but I did learn that yuccas only bloom when they reach a certain age of maturity--still have research to do on that.  Regular fertilization and trimming encourage flowering.  Adding phosphorus-rich fertilizer or bone meal encourages flowers to form.

When I drive from Bend to Redmond on Deschutes Market Rd. and see fields not being irrigated I think maybe it is time to have a second look at the Water-Wise and Fire Resistant publications to make wiser purchases.  Our agriculture community needs all the support they can get.

Mark your calendar to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It Season Extension Techniques segment on Tues. August 3 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 a.m.