How to Grow Hops

How to Grow Hops

Researching how to grow hops for the beer lover in your life (maybe you) who wants to add hops to your garden? We here in the Pacific Northwest take a lot of pride in our hops, and think they’re a beautiful, practical, and useful addition to any home garden.

Choosing a Site For Growing Hops

Hops are best planted in full sun. Plants will perform best if planted in well drained soil. Soil in the Willamette Valley can be improved by adding a compost mix to the soil prior to planting. Hops have a very large root system and should not be kept in a container too long.

Planting Hops

Hop rhizomes should be soaked for several hours before planting. Examine the rhizome for the buds, these buds will indicate up from down. The buds should be facing up. If you are unable to tell which way is up, plant the rhizome sideways. Hops will thrive in any garden soil, but grow more vigorously with enrichment from compost or manure. As the vine begins to grow it is advisable to train it onto a trellis. In a single season the vine will grow to a length of 25 feet.

How to Care for Hop Plants

Never let the plants dry out. This is a recipe for disaster, especially for newer plantings. Water deeply at least once a week. Remove any weeds carefully. Mulching is beneficial in the winter months, but be sure to keep mulch away from the stems and crowns.

Pruning Hops

Hops have a perennial root system, but an annual top. After flowering the top will start to die back. After the entire vine has died or turned brown cut it back to ground level. There is nothing that needs to be done to the vine after that. Fertilize again in the spring with a slow release, all-purpose granular fertilizer. 

Live in the Portland or Vancouver Metropolitan Area and looking for a place to purchase hops? Look no further than our Portland Nursery and Garden Center, located on Scholls Ferry Road. We’ll be here to help you get started.

Planting Fruit Trees

Planting Fruit Trees

Planting Fruit Trees can be one of the most rewarding things a gardener could do for themselves. And it’s totally possible. This is meant to be a brief overview of the types of things you’ll need to know when planting fruit trees for yourself.

Choosing a Site for Fruit Trees

Fruit trees should be planted in a full sun location. Avoid planting trees in the shade or around any older trees. Fruit trees require well drained soils. It is always a good idea to amend the site with compost before planting.

When to Plant Fruit Trees

Plant fruit trees as soon as possible in late winter/ early spring.

Bare Root Trees

Soak the roots in a bucket or wheelbarrow of water and root stimulator for about a ½ hour. Dig the hole just large enough to accommodate roots. Fill the hole with water twice to check for drainage. If the hole has not drained within 12-24 hours find a better drained spot. If the native soil is heavy clay, blend one third organic soil amendment with the backfill soil. If the soil is reasonable, just use the native soil for backfill. Form a small mound of soil in the bottom of the hole to spread the roots over; making sure the graft is a couple of inches above the soil line. Fill the hole with soil. Do not put fertilizer in the hole or it may burn tender roots, or, use a mild transplant fertilizer. Check to be sure tree is no deeper than its original soil level. Make a watering basin with extra soil. Fill the basin with water mixed with root stimulator making sure the tree is well watered and no large air pockets are left around the roots. Paint the trunks with white latex paint to prevent sunscald.

Planting Potted Trees

Dig the hole twice as wide as the pot but no deeper. If the soil is heavy clay, amend with one-third organic soil amendment. Place the tree in the hole so it rests slightly above the surrounding soil level. Fill in hole with backfill, building a water basin slightly wider than the root ball around the tree. Water the tree thoroughly. Paint the trunk with white latex paint to avoid sunscald.

Fertilizing and Pest Control for Planting Fruit Trees

Best growth will be accomplished with the help of fertilizers. There are many organic options as well as conventional options. All fertilizers should be applied after leaf fall in autumn and again before bloom in the spring. Trees that are planted in the lawn may need more nitrogen than those planted in a garden bed. Generous amounts of lawn clippings or compost make a great substitute for a nitrogen fertilizer. Don’t let fertilizer touch the trunk of the tree.

There are many pests that target the fruit trees. These include insects, bacterial infections and fungi. All of these are treatable and can be treated through out the year. Please refer to Drake’s 7 Dees Nursery’s Fruit Tree Spray Schedule Handout.

Harvesting Fruit Trees

Apples and Sour Cherries are ready for harvesting when they are easily picked from the tree. Sweet Cherries, Plums, Prunes, and Peaches will all continue to ripen after harvest. European pears should be picked while they are still green and should come off the tree easily when ready. Persimmons ripen late in the fall when they become soft. Nuts fall to the ground when mature. For best quality, gather and dry walnuts

If you’re interested in growing fruit trees and happen to live in the Pacific Northwest, be sure to visit us at our Portland Nursery and Garden Center.

How to Grow Asparagus

How to Grow Asparagus

It’s the most wonderful time of year for outdoor living… it’s grill season and garden season! Putting veggies straight from the garden on to the grill is the best. Whether you grow it yourself, or purchase it locally grown, we all can agree that fresh asparagus is absolutely the best tasting spear around. Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that once established produces a plentiful harvest for several weeks each season.

Where to plant asparagus

Asparagus does well on mineral soils with plenty of lime and bone meal to sweeten the soil. If an asparagus bed is made up of organic matter, it is best to install the bed a few months prior to planting. Installing the bed in the fall and planting in the spring would be ideal, but not essential.

Planting asparagus

The most efficient way to grow asparagus is to plant them in rows 4-6ft apart. Dig a trench one foot wide and 8-10 inches deep. Fill the trench with 2-4 inches of organic matter (This can be ground bark, decomposed leaves, or well rotted manure). Cultivate the organic matter into the bottom of the trench. Fill the trench with water to soak the soil thoroughly. When the trench is no longer muddy, set the roots so that the tops (crowns) are 6-8 inches below ground level and not touching. Cover the crowns with 2 inches of loose soil. Be sure to water to dampen new soil and roots.

In the spring when growth starts and skinny shoots (spears) appear, gradually fill in the trench until the shoots are at ground level. Never cover the tops of theses shoots.

If you have an area with slow drainage, there is a danger that that roots may rot. In this case work organic material into the soil about a foot deep and plant roots 1-2 inches deep. Next fall cover with 2 inches of soil and do the same the following year. The roots will then be covered with 5-6 inches of soil. Using this method, you will have to put board or raised beds around the rows or gently slope soil up to raised beds.

When to Plant Asparagus

Feed with a complete fertilizer high in nitrogen when the plants put on a growth spurt in mid-summer. Don’t harvest the first year. The second spring you can harvest 2-3 weeks until the spears become skinny. It is important to leave some spears on so they can become ferny stalks. These encourage the roots to build up a supply of food for next year. Keep watering after harvest until fall when the top growth browns, then cut back to ground. Third year harvest can last 8-12 weeks. Always cut asparagus below ground level but at least two inches above the crown. The stalk should easily snap off in the prime location for harvest.

How to Grow Asparagus from Seed

For many people, it’s much easier to buy an already established asparagus plant. When you purchase your asparagus already started, you benefit from lessened time to populate your garden. That said, there are good reasons to want to grow your asparagus from seed, too. Namely, seeds are much more affordable. (We sell them in our Portland Nursery and Garden Center). You also theoretically benefit from having plants that started in your soil, and don’t run any risks of accidentally killing the plant in the transplanting process. The downsides to growing asparagus from seed are that it’ll take much longer to grow them.

Some Great Ways to Enjoy Asparagus

asparagus-on-barbecue

Have you tried it grilled on the barbecue? One of the easiest and most delicious ways to enjoy asparagus takes just a couple of minutes, and a few ingredients.

Grilled Asparagus: Simply wash and pat your spears dry. Coat with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill on the barbecue for 5-7 minutes until they reach desired tenderness. Pair with a nice grilled steak or salmon and you have a fantastic fancy home cooked meal!

How about an awesome appetizer? Like peanut butter and jelly, bacon and asparagus are a perfect pair!

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

1 pkg bacon (unprocessed, nitrate free)

Asparagus

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Bake bacon on a cookie sheet under cookie racks in the oven at 350 for 5 minutes. Take it out and wrap each piece of asparagus (or a small bunch of 3-5) with pieces of bacons (careful, it’s warm).

Drizzle a little olive oil over, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Return to oven for 10 more minutes, turning once or twice, until bacon is crispy. Serve immediately.

How to Plant and Care For a Blueberry Bush

How to Plant and Care For a Blueberry Bush

Did you know that blueberries are related to Azaleas and Rhododendrons? No wonder then, that they grow as well as they do here in the Pacific Northwest. 

There are three categories of blueberries; Highbush, Lowbush, and a hybrid of the two – the so called Half-highs. 

For garden variety purposes, most of the breeding efforts have gone into the Highbush variety, but there are several excellent Lowbush varieties on the market too. They are particularly interesting to those of us living in small urban lots, as they are far easier to fit in.

Growing Blueberries

When you do decide to grow blueberries, there are a few things to consider. 

First, you have to have at least two. It doesn’t matter what variety they are – they are not at all picky in that regard. Be sure to plant them in relatively close proximity to each other for best pollination. 

This will also help our bees. You see, there is an economic logic to their foraging – a concept called “flower constancy”. This means that they prefer the same kind of flowers planted in drifts so that they don’t have to expel energy flying all over the place to pollinate. Pretty cool, huh?

Blueberries are, however, picky with soil. Like their floriferous cousins, they like their soil on the acidic side, which is usually what we can offer them here in our northwest area.

They also like well-drained soil, but for their roots to be moist. Cotton seed meal is a good fertilizer for blueberries.  If you can provide them all that, you are most assuredly in for a treat!

Blueberry tree? Blueberry Plants? Answer: Blueberry Bush.

Many people think that blueberries grow on trees, or a pretty indoor plant, however, blueberries are, in fact, a bush. There are many blueberry bushes that, if left to grow on their own accord, may be mistaken for a blueberry tree. Don’t let this deter you from including blueberries in your next landscaping project, though. Because there are so many different varieties of blueberry bushes, there are certainly options that would be both aesthetically pleasing for your landscape project, and produce delicious berries that you’re sure to love. 

patio-blueberry-bush

 

How to Grow Blueberries in 5 Steps

1. Blueberry Sunshine Requirements:

Blueberries require a sunny location for best results. Avoid planting around trees. Trees will provide too much shade as well as take away the water and nutrients needed for blueberry success. Blueberry bushes have very specific soil requirements. Soil needs to be well drained and high in organic matter with a pH range between 4.5 and 5.5.

2. Planting Blueberries:

Spread roots as wide and shallow as the root ball will allow, being very careful to set the crown of the plant (where the main stem joins the roots) level with the ground. Acid compost or peat moss may be mixed with your soil and firmed around the roots when they are set, but avoid firming heavy clay soils over the roots or around the plant. A mulch of aged sawdust (not cedar) or an acid planting mix, up to 6” in depth, over the entire planting will prove beneficial in discouraging weeds while keeping the plant evenly moist. Do not fertilize during the initial planting. Apply a well balanced slow release acidic loving fertilizer after four weeks of growth.

3. After Planting Care:

Remove all the blossoms the first year after planting. This will allow your plant’s roots to become more established. Add an additional couple inches of aged sawdust or acid planting mix as mulch each year. Acidic fertilizer should be applied each February and again in the late spring each year.

4. Pruning Blueberry Bushes:

By the third year remove weak twiggy growth. If shoots appear too crowded remove some older shoots entirely. Blueberries can be thinned out to increase fruit size and quality. Otherwise, pruning is not necessary. All pruning should be done in the winter and early spring when the plant is dormant.

 5. Blueberry Harvest Time. When are blueberries in season?

Since different varieties set berries at different times, you can plan it so that you can have berries from late June through late August.

Berries will ripen over a 2-5 week period depending on weather and variety. Berries occur in clusters of 5-10. Don’t be too excited to pick the berries when they first turn blue. They will develop better flavor if you leave them for a few days.

 

Lastly, not all blueberry bushes are created equal. Here are a few that do well in our northwest climate:

blueberries-growing-portland-landscape

Bluetta Blueberry Bush

a 3’ – 5’ upright compact and cold resistant sort that sets berries very early.

Bluegold Blueberry Bush

a 3’ – 5’ high mid-season high-yield producer with pretty, golden fall color and yellow winter wood.

Brunswick Blueberry Bush 

a US native, coldhardy lowbush which tolerates sandy soils and part shade. It only grows 12”-18” tall and produces berries in mid-season. Red fall foliage, but best of all – fantastic red wood with yellow flowers in spring  – just when you need a shot of color the most!

Jelly Bean Blueberry Bush

a miniature shrub (1’ – 2’) perfect for a pot on a patio, or a low hedge along a path. Berries in mid-season, and pretty red-edged leaves turning a fabulous red fall color.

Sunshine Blue Blueberry Bush

a highbush variety perfect for the PNW. Berries in mid-late summer.

Top Hat Blueberry Bush

a 2’ tall lowbush which produces in mid-season. Because of its well-behaved spherical growth habit, it makes a great landscape plant.

 

Best of all – we carry them all at our Portland Nursery and Garden Center! Come get your favorites!

 

Growing Artichokes

Growing Artichokes

If you’re looking for information on growing artichokes at home, we’ve written this guide just for you. In it, we aim to cover all of the necessary information one needs to grow delicious artichokes to be enjoyed in your home garden.

Choosing a site for Growing Artichokes

Artichokes need to be able to grow quickly to become edible. Artichokes need partial to full sun and a lot of room. Do not plant artichokes in containers. Watering is key and the soil needs to be very good with excellent drainage. Artichokes prefer additions of compost and/ or manure in generous amounts each season. Slightly acidic soil will help with production.

Planting Artichokes

Place the plant in a 12”x 12” hole. You want the depth of the hole to be the same depth as the nursery container you bought the plant in. Fill the hole with rich compost. It is important to make sure the soil around the plants is well fertilized and loose. Keep the plant moist at all time. For highest production, fertilize the plants every 6-8 weeks with a balanced fertilizer. Allow five feet of growing room for each plant.

Caring for an Artichoke Plant

Here are some basic rules to achieve success:

Water well to encourage production. Flowering too early will stress the new plant so stalks should be cut back. When summer temperatures pass the mid-70s reduce the water and feeding. After the first killing frost, cut off the big leaves and stems and mound earth around each plant. This will keep your plant healthy for next season. One fourth of the plants should be replaced each year to keep production steady.

Harvesting Artichokes

Artichokes are perfect for eating when they reach a good size but before they begin to open. The bud is the edible part and can keep up to one month in the refrigerator.

Live in the Portland or Vancouver Metro area and looking for a place to buy artichokes? Don’t forget to call us at our Portland Nursery and Garden Center today! We’re looking forward to working with you!

Growing a Currant Bush

Growing a Currant Bush

If you’re interested in growing a currant bush in your Pacific Northwest home, then you’re in luck. We wrote this guide specifically for you. We are always here to help.

Choosing A Site for Growing Your Currant Plant

Currants and Gooseberries both prefer a sunny location but can tolerate part shade. The soil needs to be well drained and contain organic matter. It is ideal for the pH to range 5.5-7.0. This is the pH range of the Willamette Valley naturally. Since currants and gooseberries are hosts to White Pine Blister Rust, it is not wise to plant a currant or gooseberry if you have five-needled pines in your landscape.

Currant Planting

Amend the soil with compost. Space the gooseberries and red or white currants 3’-4’ apart in rows. Black currants are more vigorous so spacing them 4’-5’ apart would be wise. Rows can be 7’-10’ apart. Dig a hole large enough to fit the spread of roots. Add a well balanced slow release fertilizer to the fill soil. Press down on the soil around the plants to avoid air bubbles and water thoroughly. At planting time, prune all branches to a length of 4”-6”. This will stimulate new growth. Mulch around the plants before the summer arrives with 2” of compost, sawdust or other organic materials.

Growing Currants

Remove all the blossoms the first year after planting. This will allow your plant to become more stable. Fertilizer should be applied each February and again in the late spring each year. Currants and gooseberries can also be trained as a fan shape on a trellis. This is attractive and will help with small spaces.

Pruning a Currant Bush

Pruning is best done in the winter months when the plants are dormant.

Red and White Currants and Gooseberries produce their fruit on 2-3 year old wood. Remove any stems that are older than 4 years old. Black Currants produce best on 1 year old wood. Strong 1 year old canes and 2-3 year old canes that have an abundance of strong 1 year old branches are the most productive. When you prune, keep a total of 10-12 canes per mature bush- about half should be 1 year old shoots. Make your pruning cuts close to the ground.

Harvesting Currants

Pick black and white currants as well as gooseberries as an individual fruit. If you try to do this with the red currants, you will ruin the fruit. So it is best to pick these in clusters.

Looking for where to get a currant bush? If you live in the Portland or Vancouver Metropolitan area, be sure to stop by our Portland Nursery and Garden Center. We’ll always be available to answer your questions.