Wednesday, July 30

Community Garden July Album-Portland, OR


Community Beds of Tomatoes

Mini raised Beds of Basil and more herbs in the background

Sunday, July 27

Propagating Petunias from Cuttings

This was an unintentional discovery. While deadheading my petunias, a piece broke off. It had pretty blossoms on it so I put it in a small vase on the kitchen window sill. Then I forgot about it until yesterday. The blossoms died and I was about to toss it in the compost, when I noticed these roots growing.
It rooted without rooting hormone- just plain water. So I planted it. Easy.
This is what my cutting will develop into once established. I bought these mini white petunias on clearance at a department store in June. They were half off because they had been neglected and dried out. It didn't take long for them to bounce back with a little water and pruning.

From now on when I have some cuttings left from pruning, I'll put them in a vase to propagate more petunia plants.

Turns out Petunias, as well as Tomato cuttings, root very easily. Take a look at these videos to see how Halvor in Norway roots his tomatoes and petunias.

Saturday, July 19

Propagating Hydrangeas and Spirea

In 2006, The Washington Park Arboretum Bulletin proclaimed: “Even in the smallest and humblest garden, a sturdy hydrangea at once proclaims the place as the abode of a real gardener rather than a mere purchaser of plants to cover the landscape.”

I've never had hydrangeas in my garden though I love them. My grandmother had two beautiful hydrangeas in her yard. My mother has them too. So, I'm going to try to become a 'real gardener' this year. 
I've seen the how to propagate instructions floating around on Pinterest. With some rooting powder and cuttings, I can start my very own baby hydrangea plants.
 So I asked my mother if I could take some cuttings from her plants.
 I brought them home, dipped the tip in rooting powder and cut the leaves in half. My mother says this is to make most of the energy go into the roots, yet leave some leaf for food production.
 I stuck the cuttings into potting soil and watered. We shall see if I become a real gardener this year with my hydrangeas.
 These beautiful specimens are my mother's hydrangeas from which I took the cuttings. Even though it will take a whole lot of time, I'm hoping to someday have plants as gorgeous as these.

She also let me have come cuttings from her spirea bush. I followed the same directions as the hydrangea.

Fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 17

Ask Our Readers: Growing Lemon and Mandarin Trees

This question came to us from a gardener in Queensland, Australia: "We have a mandarin tree that's about three years old now and doesn't seem to be growing and has never had any fruit. Our lemon tree has had one or two lemons but that's about it. If you have any ideas as to what we can try I would appreciate it."

We've never grown citrus, but did find these YouTube videos which might be a good starting place. The first is from Greg the Gardener with Lemon tree tips and the Kiwi Grower, who grows a variety of citrus trees including Mandarin.

But, we'd also like to pose this question to any of our viewers who have experience with citrus. If you have any tips or advice for our fellow gardener, please post in the comments below. 



Tuesday, July 15

Malva Zebrina and Creme De Cassis Hollyhocks

This pretty pink and purple perennial  is Malva Zebrina, commonly known as Hollyhock Mallow. My daughter saw it at the garden center and loved the pretty flowers, so we added it to my cottage garden.
 I planted it in front of my tall hollyhock because the colors seemed to compliment each other nicely. I have no experience at all with this plant so I'm hoping it will survive the winter for many more years in my garden.
In the past, I've tried starting hollyhocks from seed with no luck at all. This year I purchased a plant from my local nursery and for the first time I have hollyhocks in my garden! I'm hoping it will seed in for many more years of enjoyment.

 I've learned several things about hollyhocks:

1) The height is astounding! I knew these were tall plants, but still a little surprised by just how tall this one grew.
2) Snails love to eat hollyhock leaves
3) Japanese Beetles love to eat hollyhock blossoms
This particular hollyhock is a variety called "Creme De Cassis" 
If you'd like to try growing Creme De Cassis hollyhock from seed, visit the link below for information and a great description of this adaptable variety.

Thursday, July 10

Pretty Petunias

 While standing on my deck in the searing July heat recently, the scent brought me back to a happy spring day in a local greenhouse. The source: my containers of petunias basking in the sun as they love to do.
The trend with my containers this year is petunias. I love petunias. I started with a flat of a variety called "Daddy Mix" this spring. I liked them so much I went back to the garden center to find some more.
 Daddy Mix blooms have delicate veins and come in a variety of colors: plum, lilac, blue, coral, and purple. I also added two varieties of miniature petunias in white and lavender. I think the miniature petunias are adorable and add some nice size contrast in a container.
Petunia care is relatively easy, with the exception of deadheading. They like hot sunny spots with about 6 hours of sunlight. They are somewhat tolerant of dry conditions but I like to give a light watering regularly which has worked well for me. I also added some organic fertilizer to the soil before planting. Regular deadheading will encourage more blooms for eye popping plants through the summer.
I've planted my containers with Daddy Mix, Picobella mini white and mini lavender petunias. I've also added some pink geraniums for an added splash of color and variety.

Sunday, July 6

My Own Guerrilla Garden Project-Portland, OR

So this summer I have been working on a big project right behind my house.  My duplex backs up to acres of  wild Himalayan Blackberries that serve as a buffer to the railroad and free way. As a side note, the Blackberries sound like a lovely asset, but in the Pacific NW they are one of the top 10 most unwanted plants. Just one yard of infected land can have 500 canes.

It is the same land that is behind my community garden down the street. Luckily you can't see this eye sore from my house. It is behind a wall of fifteen,  8 ft cedar firs. I have enclosed some photos of how the land looks right now after working on it for a few weeks. I plan over the summer to do more posts on the progress of turning this wild land into a workable garden.

This gives you an idea of what I am dealing with. Behind the wall of weeds
is a 20-30 foot immediate drop
Here are the nasty Blackberries. There are acres of them.
 Here is a definition of the term Guerrilla Gardening in case you have never heard of it:

  1. Guerrilla gardening is the act of gardening on land that the gardeners do not have the legal rights to utilize, such as an abandoned site, an area that is not being cared for, or private property.

This land behind my house had been used by my neighbors nine Mountain Goats, who are the only ones that seem to love eating the Blackberries. So with the help of my neighbor Dan and his goats, I have taken over as much of the land I can to garden. My, what a project this is turning out to be. It certainly keeps me busy. I think it will take several years to get it in decent shape. For now I am able to do some gardening with a couple of small raised beds. Along with the weeds, another problem I have is that the sun is very strong all day. It sounds crazy, but it is almost too hot.

I put in two raised beds.
This weekend I found some drawers on the street while on my walk with my dog RC. I made several trips to take them back to the back garden to use them as mini raised beds.  This is something I have seen many Portland Gardeners do. My next project is to fill them with soil and plant herbs in them. Any ideas on what herbs have shallow roots?

Future mini herb beds.
Right now other vegetables I have planted are Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Winter Squash, Beans and Cucumber. I threw down a few flower seeds such as Cosmos, Zinnia and Sunflowers just to cover any areas that I pulled weeds. Right now I just feel like I pull weeds and they grow back in a few weeks. My worst weeds are the Blackberries and Horseradish.

Beans along the fence

So far I have a system with the weeds where I pull them out and immediately take them over to the goats. They now make a ton of noise when I am working back there because they know they are going to get fed.

Okay, so that is it for now. I hope I can show you more progress next week. Has anyone done any Guerrilla Gardening before? I know it is common here and well received. I would not suggest you do this in all areas of the country.

What to do when it is just too Darn hot to Garden?

It has been a very hot summer everywhere. From what I have been told it is normal to get 100 plus days from the months here from  May to Oct...