Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Thursday, May 21, 2015

June 7 Container Design Workshop

Hi gardening friends,

You don't want to miss my next container gardening design workshop at Portland Nursery. This class has limited participants and always fills up fast. It is really fun and I hope that you can join me.

Make and Take Summer Interest Containers
with Jolie Donohue
The Gardening Goddess, Jolie Donohue will be here to help you make your own gloriously showy summer container. Jolie will assist in proper selection of plants for great design in sun or shade – your choice. $10 fee + plants you choose. Container and soil included. Please bring your own gloves and hand trowel.

9000 SE DIVISION • Sunday • June 7 • 1:00-2:30pm
Click here to register for this class.

Here are some goodies from my container design portfolio to help get you inspired!

Organic Gardening Workshop Series Update

Hi gardening friends!

Here is an update on the organic gardening series I am teaching at Springwater Studio in May & June. For registration information please contact Springwater Studio. I look forward to seeing you soon in a workshop!

Join Jolie to learn the benefits of companion planting for the healthiest, happiest plants possible. She will discus tips and techniques for great crop combinations and methods of interplanting veggies with flowers and herbs. Learn strategies to make your urban garden a year-round haven for our favorite beneficial winged creatures.

Fragrant, delicious herbs awaken the senses and enliven culinary creations. Jolie introduces a diverse palette of culinary herbs and how to grow them successfully in your garden. An avid kitchen-gardener cook, Jolie is passionate about beautiful delectable edible flowers! Join her as she shares tips on types of edible flowers, their culture and care in the garden, harvesting and recipes.

You have planted your veggie garden and it is not thriving or producing. What now? Jolie will help you identify the most common seasonal pest and disease issues in the Portland veggie garden as well as organic methods for happier, healthier more productive plants.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It is Tomato Planting Time!

Hello gardening friends!

It is May 19th and the temperatures are finally right for planting tomatoes and other warm season veggies. Tomatoes need soil temperatures of 60 degrees and night temperatures consistently above 55 degrees. In Portland we are holding steady above 50 degrees at night and the next week forecast looks good. This is what we have all been waiting for. Yahoo!

It is now a good time to begin planting:
Summer Squash
Winter Squash

Please see these post for tips on planting tomatoes and cucumbers. Have fun! Jolie

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Growing Cucumbers

Cucumbers are another of our favorite warm season edibles for the home garden. A cucumber harvested at the peak of freshness from the summer garden is hands down better than any cucumber you will ever get from the grocery store. Especially those tasteless green tubes masquerading as cucumbers you find at the grocery store during the winter. Eating seasonally is awesome-not only does it just taste better it is also more sustainable.

Growing cucumbers in Portland is relatively easy if you plant them at the right time. Cucumbers need ground temperature of 60-65 degrees and night air temperature of at least 55 degrees. Typically in Portland this is mid May to late June. If the weather is not warm and dry, cucumber plants will grow slowly and fall prey to disease.

Cucumbers cucumis sativus are a member of the cucurbits family along with zucchini, summer squash, winter squash, pumpkins and melons. Cucumbers require a full sun location with at least 6 hours of sun per day. Cucumbers are rambling vine plants that need to be spaced 3-4 feet apart in all directions. We have successfully grown cucumbers up a trellis in our raised beds. These days there are also patio varieties that don't get as large and are excellent for growing in small spaces including containers. Check out patio snacker!

Cucumbers require very rich well drained soil. They will rot out in the thick clay of native Portland soil. Prepare your planting bed by adding fresh compost and organic matter like coco coir or earthworm castings. Better yet grow cucumbers in a raised bed filled with fresh planting mix.

In Portland you can plant cucumbers by seed or by transplant. Cucumbers are heavy feeders and benefit from an organic granular vegetable fertilizer in the planting hole. Additional applications of organic granular fertilizer are every 4 weeks during the growing season. Once plants have grown to a decent size and are beginning to set flowers and fruit I begin applying an organic liquid bloom fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.

Cucumbers are more than 90% water and are stressed by insufficient watering. Cucumbers want average to moist watering while growing, about 2 inches a week. If it is not raining you will need to provide supplemental water. The frequency and amount will depend on your location and soil. Water stress can be the cause of bitter tasting fruit and odd shaped fruit that is smaller in one end.

Cucumbers and other members of the cucurbits family have separate male and female flowers on the same plant that require pollination for fruit set. If your plants develop flowers and then the subsequent tiny fruits fall off, lack of pollination is the cause. Be sure to plant plenty of flowers in your biodiverse garden to encourage pollinators and keep them safe by growing organically and avoiding the use of sprays.

In Portland it is inevitable for cucumbers to fall prey to the dreaded powdery mildew. The leaves will develop a white residue and then shrivel up with crispy brown edges. Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that flourishes in the summer in Portland. To prevent powdery mildew practice crop rotation, clean up all plant debris in the fall. During the growing season you can prevent powdery mildew by spacing your plants appropriately to provide good air circulation. Water the soil, not the plant, by use of a watering wand, drip irrigation or soaker house. If you use overhead watering the fungal disease easily spreads by splashing from leaf to leaf and soil to leaf.

Some cucumber varieties are for slicing and others are for pickling. In general you can harvest any immature cucumber variety for pickling. Our favorite all purpose variety is 'Muncher.'

Other varieties we have enjoyed growing are:
Homemade Pickles

Visit Territorial Seeds for an excellent selection of cucumber varieties tested for the PNW gardener. Portland Nursery also makes some suggestions for the Portland gardener.

Visit Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for an incredible selection of heirloom and rare varieties.

More tips on growing cucumbers from our friends at Rodale can be found here.

We've still got a few weeks until its time to plant cucumbers in Portland. I can hardly wait! We love to make sun pickles. I can just taste them.

Happy gardening, Jolie

Friday, May 1, 2015

Happy May Day!

Happy May Day Gardening Friends!

I love all the seasons and all the weather we are blessed with in Portland. However, I am super grateful for the warm spring we are having this year. I am celebrating Mother Nature's abundance on today's May Day/Beltaine. May Day is an ancient spring celebration and most are familiar with the tradition of dancing around a may pole. Beltaine is an ancient fertility festival with Celtic roots held on May 1st, in between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. Wear green on May Day to celebrate nature.

As I walk through my garden I am delighted by elegant velvety bearded iris, orange and red azaleas, red rhododendron, fat purple spanish lavender blossoms, lady and sword ferns unfurling their new fronds, a carpet of fragrant wisteria blossoms littering the path. Native dicentra formosa has sprouted up tiny pink blossoms in every untended patch of the garden. Our beautiful magenta clematis just opened her very first blossom of the year. As the white and pink bleeding heart blossoms fade and drop they are replaced by the fat peony buds so close to bursting open. Our flowering dogwood tree is covered in creamy flowers. Dahlia sprouts spring from the warm soil pushing up their hopeful heads to the sun. Seeds for carrots, radishes, scallions, mesclun mix, runner beans, morning glory, sunflower and amaranth have sprouted. Everywhere I look in the garden it is a sea of green, so full of spring's lush leafy promise.

Butterflies dance, bees buzz and birds flutter in and out, splashing in the bird bath. I am celebrating spring. What better place to celebrate May Day than your own abundant garden? I honor Mother Nature in all of her aspects, and today in her fertile spring self. Enjoy the season friends!

Happy Gardening, Jolie

Thursday, April 30, 2015

For the Love of Dahlias

Oh dahlias, how I love you. For a professional and hobby plant nerd, picking a favorite plant is near impossible. I just could never do it. However, for certain dahlias are in my top 10 favorite flowers. They are just so beautiful in the summer garden. Their blooms are a favorite of brides everywhere.

Several years ago I started with just one dahlia variety, hollyhill black widow. She’s a beautiful dark deep burgundy red. I wore her in my hair and in my bridal bouquet when I was married. She is very special to me and was my entry into the world of dahlias. The year I got married I asked my 3 best friends to grow dahlias in their gardens to use in our centerpieces. I am confident that also hooked them on growing dahlias.

In my small yard with limited sunny space I’ve managed to squeeze in these other varieties: fire magic, John Kaizer and little scotti. I loved fire magic so much I accidentally planted it twice in my small flower bed! When there was no more room for dahlias in the ground I found a sunny spot for 2 containers. This year I’m experimenting growing dahlias in pots. I choose varieties Margaret Duross and Elijah Mason. I'm not sure if they will thrive in a pot. I was concerned the tall plants would become top heavy, so I have wedged the pots together to support each other and I plan on giving them some cage support as they grow. I'll let you know how it works.

I buy all my dahlias tubers from Old House Dahlias here in Portland. Mark is super knowledgeable and his selection is mind blowing.

Watch his video here to learn about planting dahlias.

Here are some tips for planting dahlias in Portland:

-Dahlias need soil temperatures consistently at 60 degrees. In Portland this is typically April-May.
-Plant in full or part sun. My dahlias are thriving in an area that gets dappled morning sun followed by hot afternoon sun.
-Dahlias need well-drained soil so they don't rot out in the wet clay Portland native soil. Amend your ground soil with compost, sand or aged manure.
-Dahlias are large plants that need to be spaced at least 2 feet apart from other plants.
-Plant tubers on their side 4-6 inches deep.
-Do not water tubers until they sprout.
-Dahlias like a low nitrogen fertilizer. I use fox farm big bloom liquid fertilizer.

For more information on planting, growing, and dividing dahlias see the Old House Dahlia website.

It is perfect weather to start planting your dahlias in Portland. So pick some new varieties and get growing.
Happy Gardening,

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Planting Tomatoes

Good morning gardening friends!

It is not yet time to plant tomatoes in Portland, it is still too cool. However, since everyone is so excited, and with good reason, about growing tomatoes I thought I would offer up some planting tips. In the upcoming May edition of the Concordia News I report on growing tomatoes. Did you know tomatoes are the number one home grown gardening plant in the united states? I would say we have a tomato obsession on our hands.

Spring has sprung full force in Portland. In May we are itching to fill up the edible garden for our summer harvest. Tomatoes are a favorite of gardeners everywhere. One of my all time favorite garden quotes comes from public radio show host Mike McGrath "Everybody wants to grow tomatoes. Tomatoes are the gateway drug to all of gardening."

Lest we get too eager to start planting tomatoes, here are some tips for successful growing in Portland.

• Tomatoes like warm weather. They need consistent minimal night temperatures of 55 degrees. In Portland this is typically between May 15-June 1. Planting your tomatoes too early will result in stunted or dead plants. Right now our night temperatures are averaging in the mid 40s.
• Tomatoes like warm soil. They need consistent soil temperatures of 60 degrees.
• Plant your tomatoes into the garden by transplants/starts. Portland does not have a long enough or hot enough summer to facilitate direct seeding tomatoes. If you want to start tomatoes by seed start seeds indoors in mid-February.
• Tomatoes need a full sun location, ideally south facing, where they receive 8-10 hours a day of sun. They will not set fruit in shady areas.
• Tomatoes are "heavy feeders” and appreciate being planted with an organic granular fertilizer, which will slow release to your plants through out the season.
• Tomatoes are prone to blossom end rot. To prevent the disease blossom end rot, add a calcium source into the planting hole, such as a spoonful each of rock phosphate and lime.
• Tomatoes have very long root systems (3-4 feet) and they need plenty of room to grow. Make sure your planting bed is deep enough for the tomato's roots.
• Tomatoes are big plants and need proper spacing to thrive. Give the plants plenty of space between each other, at least 4 feet wide per plant.
• Tomatoes need support. Tomatoes have dense branches laden with heavy fruit. Install a tomato cage or other support system at planting time to prevent later damage to your plant.
• Tomatoes don't need a lot of water. Be consistent with a deep watering once a week throughout the growing season. Inconsistent watering contributes to fruit splitting and blossom end rot.
• Tomato plants take several months to produce in Portland. Expect your harvest to begin in late August and end in October when cold temperatures set in.
• Rotate your crops. Do not grow your tomatoes in the same place every year. This will create disease and pest problems. Use a 4-year rotation for all edible crops!

Do you know what tomato varieties you will grow this year? High on our list of favorites are lemon boy, ananas noire and sungold. I can almost taste them now…

Happy gardening! Jolie