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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.

Blogging Again

It seems I forgot to do something this summer. Caught up in gardening, harvesting, guests, travel and cooking my blog has been sadly neglected. We still are bringing in trays of produce and pleased to have discovered some new varieties for our 2008 catalog. Our current favorite summer squash is a tossup between the delicious, prolific Salman F1 Zucchini

Salman F1 Zuchini

and the Italian heirloom Tromboncino.

Tromboncino Summer Squash

I’ve been slipping zucchini into everything I can manage, omelets, soups and even some seemingly rich chocolate cupcakes. I’ll try to post that recipe later as I didn’t do a great job measuring the ingredients. If you find you have too much zucchini to deal with right now shred it and measure out two cups into a zippered plastic bag and freeze. They will retain a fresh flavor for at least three months.

Our fall garden is already producing, kale, lettuces, arugula and spinach. Just a step outside and I have wholesome fresh greens for our household. The beauty of this is we can keep planting for a few weeks more.

It’s not too late to sow Misato Rose radish.

Misato Rose Radish

It is so beautiful with a bright rosy interior. To serve peel, slice, and add a simple dressing of lightly sweetened and salted rice wine vinegar then watch the color bloom. At their best during cool weather, I usually harvest these when between two and four inches. They are also known as watermelon radishes. In Northern China they are often served as street food. The entire radish is peeled, placed on a stick and swiftly sliced into a multi-petaled rose.

Mesclun mixes and salad blends can still be planted. Collect your seed packets from spring and sow out remaining lettuce seeds or order new seeds. Lettuce will slowly and steadily grow through winter in most areas. I like to clip plants after the second set of true leaves appear and harvest just what I need for the table. Next time I clip back another area. You can expect at least three pickings from this Cut & Cut Again technique. Lettuces clipped back seem more resistant to winter cold and frost. A plastic tunnel or covering of polyspun fabric will hold in warmth and boost yields. Lightly fertilize every few weeks, liquid seaweed is my usual favorite.

It’s sunny outside and the garden beckons.