Portland Yard, Garden Patio Show

I’m in Portland at the annual YGP show at the Oregon Convention Center this weekend. If you’re looking for a jumpstart on spring and summer this is the place to be. What first caught my eye was  a fence of espaliered apple trees surrounding a flourishing potager garden. In the corner is a cozy chicken coop, one chicken laid an egg yesterday and happily announced her achievement to the world. However, my heart went pit pat when I saw all our Nichols Garden Nursery seed packets used as row markers for the peas, mizuna, mustards, lettuce and more. To our happy surprise the vegetable garden was planted entirely with Nichols seeds. We are not able to down load this photo until we’re back home but I do want everyone to have a chance to see how a productive urban garden can be packed with comfort and charm. This garden from Barbara Simon Landscape Design and Alfred Dinsdale Landscape Contractors received the prestigious “Best of Show Award” features an outdoor cooking and eating area and is an inspiring mixture of enchantment and practicality. Top garden speakers, a multitude of garden products, including Nichols Garden Nursery seeds, plants, bulbs and more  signal we are quickly moving  to the longer days for spring and summer. Come to the show to look, listen and shop and learn. I may even have found some beautiful concrete pavers to easily build a new patio.

Go  to this blog by Kym Pokorny, from the Oregonian for a wonderful garden photo with the potager somewhat hidden.  http://blog.oregonlive.com/kympokorny/     Since I’m not at home with some of my tools you may need to cut and paste this url.

I see it’s time to begin sowing tomatoes, peppers, celeriac, leeks, eggplant and in a couple of weeks get basil started so all will be ready for May transplanting. If you’re sowing leek, onion or shallot seeds go back and see Easy Gardening tips from March 4th 2008 for an easy start on these valuable vegetables.

Easy “Mole” Sauce

A turkey cooked in Mole Sauce is a delicious option for Thanksgiving dinner. This is the recipe Nichols Garden Nursery uses with Mole/Poblano Pepper seed. It is a simple traditional mole sauce. The Mole Pepper is a typical elongated  semi-spicy Pasilla type pepper. As they mature the color changes from green to chocolate brown. Seed starters should think about getting peppers into a starting mix the month of March and keep the sown seeds warm until germinated. As soon as you see sprouts remove from bottom heat.

Moles often include chocolate and a mixture of peppers, spices, broth and are delicious with poultry or pork, serve over rice or fold into burritos. Try this recipe and don’t be afraid to add a few other peppers to smooth out the heat or jack it up to your standards. You can make large batches to freeze.pepper-holy-mole

“Easy Mole” Mole

3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

2 cups Chopped Onions

8 Red/Brown ripe Mole Peppers,

deseeded & chopped

2 cloves garlic peeled & chopped

1/4 cup raisins, chopped

4 tsp Chili powder, hot or mild

3/4 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Ground cloves

2 cups Chicken or Turkey Broth

1 16 oz. can Diced Tomatoes or 2 large chopped, peeled tomatoes

1 oz. dark unsweetened chocolate

2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter

1 Corn tortilla, lightly toasted and shredded

Heat oil in a large skillet, add onion, garlic, pepers and raisins. Saute’ until onions are slightly transparent. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes. Puree sauce in food processor or blender until smooth. For chicken, turkey or pork mole, add precooked meat to sauce. Serve with rice.

This sauce without added meat freezes beautifully and it’s worthwhile to have several pints stocked away. One year we made a fantastic roast turkey basted with mole, defatted and cut into joints and bathed with more mole.A fantastic holiday meal!

Northwest Flower & Garden Show

We’re here in Seattle for one of our favorite annual events. If you are anywhere near Seattle come this week for the what may be the last hurrah at a truly great gardening show. The show gardens never fail to please, Judith Jones and her troop from Fancy Fronds has created a fantasy “The King and I” garden, with wonderful design, details, costumes, and a glorious abundance of  flowering plants, ferns, and shrubs. Judith is a recognized expert on ferns. Over at another garden space an artist  from Costa Rica is creating an intricately carved mask that he told us takes six days to complete. This garden is designed by The Northwest Orchid Society. Entering the show is a garden of four seasons with quilts and plants. It is my favorite entry garden of all the shows I’ve seen. I hope someone takes on this show where February blooms in Seattle. Duane and Alice Kelly, show founders are ready to move on to other things and this show would not be the class act it is without their passion and energy.

This morning I gave a talk on Practical Home Propagation, those who attended pretty much filled the available chairs and were all so gracious to sit through the talk and ask good questions at the end. I’m happy to see more gardeners growing vegetables,  growing from seed, and beginning to feel a little more confident. Only a few years ago I was seeing people’s eyes grow wide as they would say”me, grow from seed, I’m not sure I could do that”. My answer always is a hearty response ” of course you can, your ancestors have been doing this for thousands of years”. I haven’t heard this for awhile, so either gardeners are growing from seed with confidence or I’ve been giving a lot of talks on seed starting.