How to Grow Hops

How to Grow Hops

Are you researching how to grow hops for the beer lover in your life, and interested in adding hops to your garden? We 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 placed in well drained soil. Soil in the Willamette Valley can be improved by adding a compost mix to 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 – they 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 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 garden center. 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 plants to have as part of your garden. The following is a brief overview of what you’ll need to know when planting and growing fruit trees for yourself.

Choosing a Site for Your Fruit Tree

 Avoid planting trees in the shade or around older trees as fruit trees need to be planted in full sun to thrive. Fruit trees require well-drained soils and it is best to amend the site with compost before planting.

When to Plant Fruit Trees

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

Bare Root Trees

When working with bare root trees, soak the roots in a bucket or wheelbarrow of water mixed with 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 spot with better drainage. 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 in the bottom of the hole to spread the roots over top; making sure the graft line 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 young roots. Alternatively, use a mild transplant fertilizer. Check to be sure the tree is no deeper than its original soil level as this can cause the tree to rot. Make a watering basin with extra soil. Fill the basin with water combined 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 the 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 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 fruit trees. These include insects, bacterial infections, and fungi. All of these are treatable and can be treated throughout the year.

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 walnuts from the ground and dry.

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

How to Grow Asparagus

How to Grow Asparagus

Taking veggies straight from the garden to the grill is the best. Whether you grow it yourself or purchase from a locally grown source, we can all 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 in 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 is not essential.

Planting asparagus

The most efficient way to grow asparagus is to plant in rows 4-6ft apart. Dig trenches 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 well in order 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 the 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 boards or build raised beds around the rows, or gently slope soil up to make mounded rows.

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 for 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 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. You also theoretically benefit from having plants that have started in your soil, and don’t run any risks of accidentally losing starts 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 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 strips of bacon as desired (careful, it’s warm).

Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and 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 that they grow so well here in the Pacific Northwest. 

There are three principal 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 are more than happy to offer them here in the Portland 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!

 

Tree? Plants? Answer: Blueberries are a Bush

Many people think that blueberries grow on trees or are simply an 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 tree. Don’t let this deter you from including blueberries in your next landscaping project, though. If planned and cared for, they will be a great addition to your space.

patio-blueberry-bush

 

How to Grow Blueberries in 5 Steps

1. Meet 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. Plant Correctly

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 fertilizer after four weeks of growth.

 

3. Pro-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 Properly

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. Harvest at the Right Time

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.

 

Varieties of Blueberry Bush

Not all blueberry bushes are created equal. Because there are so many different varieties of blueberry bush, there are certainly options that would be aesthetically pleasing for your landscape project in addition to producing delicious berries you’re sure to love. Here are a few that do particularly well in our climate:
blueberries-growing-portland-landscape

 

Bluetta

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

 

Bluegold

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

 

Brunswick

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

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

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

 

Top Hat

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

 

Growing Artichokes

Growing Artichokes

If you’re looking for information on growing artichokes at home, this is the place for you. We aim to cover all of the necessary information one needs to grow delicious artichokes to be enjoyed straight from your home garden.

Preparing 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 times. 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 garden center today!

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 between 5.5-7.0. This is the typical pH range of the Willamette Valley naturally. Since currants and gooseberries are hosts to White Pine Blister Rust, it is not wise to plant these 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 feet apart in rows. Black currants are more vigorous so spacing them 4-5 feet apart would be wise. Rows can be 7-10 feet 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 inches. This will stimulate new growth. Mulch around the plants before the summer arrives with 2 inches 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 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 garden center. We’ll always be available to answer your questions.