Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What's Going on at Fat Dog Farms in May?


May is probably my most favorite month in Oregon.  Warmer and longer days mean more time to spend outside!  The gardening season is just beginning–get your gloves and shovels ready.

This is probably the busiest time of the year at the farm.  Currently, we are planting the garden and preparing for the upcoming sale on May 17.  Once a year, we open our doors to the community. This is a unique opportunity to come and spend a morning or afternoon walking the gardens, talking with neighbors, meeting new friends, sharing a meal, and talking about our favorite passion … gardening! We have been busy creating fun garden items, starting organic and heirloom vegetables from seed, digging and dividing plants, and crafting up much more to share with everyone. If you are in the area, this is definitely an opportunity you do not want to miss as this only happens once a year.

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To Do

  • Treat yourself to at least 1 great new plant before the best selection is gone.
  • Make a visit to a local farmers market and find some great plant deals (i.e., Fat Dog Farms – May 17 Spring Sale!).
  • Water regularly, even if rain is predicted.
  • Trap moles and gophers as new mounds appear.
  • Control slugs with bait or traps (Slug Shack’s) and by removing or mowing vegetation near garden plots.
  • Prune early spring-flowering shrubs, bulbs, and early spring flowers like pansies and primroses after blooming.
  • Wait to prune evergreens, hedges and other shrubs until late spring into early summer.
  • Clean bird feeders.
  • Prepare your irrigation system for summer.

Planting


Give everything a good feeding of seaweed, bone meal (I have found that liquid is best as this will keep pets from digging up your plants and trying to eat the soil/bone meal).
It’s time to divide crowded perennials.
Keep the perennial vegetables and berries weed
It’s time to plant warm season crops and others if you have not already done so: beans, beets, corn, cucumbers, dill, peppers, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, and watermelon.

House Plants

Now is a good time to repot houseplants in new soil.
 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What's Going on at Fat Dog Farms in April?


 April showers bring May flowers!  This statement is so true.  The rains this month are a beautiful beginning to spring.  It has been a long winter with plenty of rain, but the sight of fresh, rain-kissed leaves in the spring is something that makes me smile.  This month, Mother Nature likes to show off her talents with torrential downpours, the occasional sighting of a rainbow, and the sounds of hail hitting the roof tops.  These are all signs of a beautiful spring in the Pacific Northwest.


 
This month at the farm we are busy with planting and planning for the upcoming sale in May. Once a year, we open our doors to the community. This is a unique opportunity to come and spend a morning or afternoon walking the gardens, talking with neighbors, meeting new friends, sharing a meal, and talking about our favorite pastime passion … gardening! We have been busy creating fun garden items, starting organic and heirloom vegetables from seed, digging and dividing plants, and crafting up much more to share with everyone. If you are in the area, this is definitely an opportunity you do not want to miss as this only happens once a year.
 

Planting

Plant starts or direct sow seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, Chinese vegetables, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, and spinach. When danger of frost is past, plant beans, corn, cucumbers, melons, squash, and tomatoes. 
 
It’s a good time to look for containerized flowering shrubs (azaleas, rhododendrons, and lilacs are blooming heavily now); flowering trees (cherries, crabapples, and dogwoods); and roses. All climbing vines from clematis to wisteria are available now as well.

Begin to harvest asparagus spears now when they are no more than 18cm tall. If this is your first season for asparagus, do not harvest until next year.

It is time to prepare the rest of your vegetable seed beds by removing all weeds and forking in plenty of organic compost. To warm up your soil, simply cover prepared soil with sheets of black plastic to keep it drier and warmer in preparation for planting.

A good idea for quick and easy pea supports is to use some sticks around your pea plants now. Just push in some twiggy sticks and the vines will grow up them.  In fact, if any of your garden plants will need supporting this year, put the supports in now so the plants grow up through them. Adding supports afterwards is difficult and may damage the plant.

Mason Bees

Mason Bees are busy this month!  They should have all emerged by now and are busy pollinating and reproducing young for next year.  Mason bees are hearty bees, they don’t mind the spring rains, and will skip a day or two if the weather is not favorable. Besides the minimal cost and upkeep, mason bees are the top pollination specialists. Studies conducted in netted orchards have shown that 250 female mason bees can pollinate apples as effectively as 50,000 honey-bees! Now that’s pollination at its best! These little guys will rarely wander very far from their home and are easy to care for. Mason bees don't make honey; instead they help produce great crops of fruit, berries, and vegetables.

At Fat Dog Farms, we sell mason bees and supplies. Currently, we are out of stock on the bees this month, but do have supplies available.  Bees will be available for purchase again in June for next year’s pollination needs.

 
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Monday, March 24, 2014

What's Going on at Fat Dog Farms in March?

Ahhh, spring! This is the beginning of the beautiful cycle of life in the garden. You should start to see bulbs poking up through the earth even though there is still some frost in the forecast. If you planted crocus last fall, they will be popping up and adding a splash of color to your yard. There is still the time for pansies, primroses, and potted bulbs to be planted, but there are other early flowers to plant this month, too! Sweet peas, calendulas, dianthus, and snapdragons can be planted now, as well as spring and summer blooming perennials and bulbs including dahlias, lilies, and gladiolus. Early spring is also a great time to dig and divide plants. Shasta daisies, asters, mums, and purple coneflowers are ready to be divided. 

What to Plant Now


Edibles:

  • Seedlings of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi.
  • Bare-root asparagus, rhubarb, onion sets,  and potatoes.
  • Sow seeds of leafy salad greens such as lettuce and spinach. Beets, carrots, and radishes can also be sown now.
  • Start warm-season seeds indoors now and you will have healthy seedlings for planting when all danger of frost has passed in early May. This includes basil, eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes.

Perennials:

  • Nurseries have a great selection of bare-root plants. Buying bare-root plants is a great way to stretch your gardening dollars. You can also plant potted or balled-and-burlapped landscape plants.

Fertilize                

  • Bulbs: As new shoots appear, scratch bulb fertilizer into soil around plants. This feeding ensures a strong show next year.
  • Landscape plants: Use a complete, all-purpose product for trees and shrubs. Apply before growth begins.
  • Rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias: Choose a fertilizer for acid-loving plants.
  • Berries: Feed plants with an all-purpose fertilizer. You can also heap compost around canes. Do not feed strawberry plants until after harvest in June.
  • Begin Slug Patrol (See Slug Shack below)

Roses are best planted this month, and the best selection of the year is now. It’s also time to prune existing roses.

Bare root berries, grapes, asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries and fruit trees should be planted this month.

March is a great month for planting trees and shrubs. Our garden centers are full of beautiful spring flowering shrubs now.  We just planted a cherry tree because we lost ours to disease last year.  Make sure to water them regularly for the first year.
 

Slug Shack

Go after slugs this month…every one you get now will help keep the population low. As soon as bulbs begin to poke through soil, slugs start a feeding frenzy! Slugs are most active during mild, rainy weather. To get a jump on controlling these voracious chewers, use some beer to catch the slugs.  It’s a great alternative to toxic slug catching chemicals. We recommend Slug Shacks!  Poor beer into a small can—an empty can of tuna or cat food can should do the trick—then put the shack over the top to protect from diluting rains and/or watering and it will also disguise the sluggy mess underneath.  Empty the can every week and refresh with more beer. Visit www.fatdogfarms.com to order your Slug Shacks.
Sluggy mess kept out of sight with Slug Shack.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What's Going on at Fat Dog Farms in February?

Plantings


Now is the time to start the following seeds indoors:  broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, kale, leeks, lettuce, melons, peppers, pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, tomatoes, and watermelon.

You can direct sow outdoors the following seeds (provided  your ground is not frozen ): brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, onion sets, peas, radish, and turnips.

February is a great time to check out your local nursery!  Bare-rootstock plantings of fruit trees, shrubs, roses, berries, and grapes are all available now. Wait until the soil temperature is above freezing to plant any bare-root plants.


Hardy annuals (seeds) are ready to be sown outdoors as well. Calendula, English daisies, poppies, and pansies can all brighten up your landscape.

Outdoor annual plantings of primroses in pots on your porch, tucked in garden spaces, or even in pots indoors will brighten the short days of winter.



Garden Cleanup


During these chilly days, it can be refreshing to be outdoors. It’s time to start cleaning up the yard and garden beds. Remove leaves that may have blown in during winter. Cut down any remaining perennial stems, but take care not to damage emerging new shoots. Clip ornamental grasses before any new stems appear.

Apply Dormant Spray to Fruit Trees


If you didn’t have a chance to apply dormant oil last month, now is the time to catch up. Spray plants before they leaf out—while they're still dormant. This is probably the most important spray of the year to control insect problems. Many diseases and insects (or their eggs) overwinter on plants. Follow the label instructions carefully. In general, spray on a warm day (above 40 degrees F) with no precipitation or freezing temperatures predicted for eight hours after application. Apply horticultural oil and lime-sulfur in separate sprays spaced at least two weeks apart. For an organic dormant oil recipe, refer to our previous post: What’s Going on at Fat Dog Farms in January.

Pruning Trees and Shrubs


It’s time to finish up your pruning this month. Be careful with flowering trees and shrubs – you don't want to trim off developing buds. As a general rule, prune flowering shrubs and trees within a month after they stop blooming.

Prune deciduous shade and fruit trees, and deciduous shrubs such as:
  • Grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Clematis
  • Caneberries
  • Roses

Fertilizing
 



At The Farm, we use “Down to Earth” products to fertilize our plants and vegetables.  This is a great organic product that seems to work magic on my plants!  I use a combination of bone meal and seaweed for most plants, but the acid fertilizer is saved for the blueberries, lilacs, and hydrangeas that I would like to be blue.
If you planted a cover crop in fall, it should be ready now for digging in or tilling if the soil is dry enough and also not frozen. My favorite type of cover crop is crimson clover (also known as “green gold” in my household) and it has proven to bring successful crops year after year.

Fun Projects

Build a cold frame! You'll be able to get a jump start plant radishes, spinach, lettuce and other cool-season crops in it this month and use it for fall planting as well.

Here we constructed a box with scrap wood and a few small pieces on the end to act as a hinge for the glass. The white cord is conntected to a soil warming cable. With the cold frame and soil warming cable, I should be able to grow a large pumpkin this year!













Stems of forsythia, flowering cherry, osmanthus and witch hazel all are good candidates for forcing into bloom.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Time to Get Dirty!

It is that time of year when gardeners begin to dream of getting dirty!  I have great news for those longing to get dirt under your fingernails…it’s time to dust off your seed racks, clean and rinse your seed starting trays, and mix up a batch of dirt to sow your first set of seeds.
January seeds to begin indoors: basil, cabbage, celery, eggplant, leeks, peppers, and tomatoes.  It is also time to direct sow your radish seeds in your garden. I use a floating row cover to protect from frost as well as protecting from white flies.

SOIL:

Now it’s time to get a little dirty!



In a large bucket, I have found that combining 1/2 soilless mix and 1/2 organic topsoil will make a great mixture for starting seeds indoors.  Add enough water to this mixture so that the soil will hold form if you squeeze some in your hand and some water should drip out as well.  You really want your soil to be pretty wet—almost soupy. It takes practice to get the blocks to be perfect, but with time you will be able to form blocks with ease. 

FORMING YOUR SOIL BLOCKS:

I use a handheld soil block that forms 4 - 1” blocks of soil at a time. There are several other sizes available, but the 1” soil blocker seems to do the trick for me. This process has worked great because I can use my own mixture of organic soil, it saves a great deal of money, no plastic pots hanging around, and the satisfaction of digging into the dirt in January is filled!

Plunging into the bucket, I push the soil block into the mixture and give it a little twist.  I usually have to push it a few times to be able to compact the soil enough to form solid blocks.  Then I scrape the bottom of the soil block to make it even and set the blocks into the flat, aligning them as close as possible to each other. Then just keep filling up the flat until all of the space is filled.
   

SOWING:

Sow, sow, sow, and label your rows accordingly.  Make sure to tend to your seeds each day by watering and rotating your trays.

WATERING:

Germination requires consistent moisture. It is important that the soil be kept moist but not soggy to prevent the seeds from rotting. Some gardeners cover their flats with clear plastic until the seeds germinate. Many seed starting trays have plastic covers to help retain moisture during this critical period. I have a combination of both.

As soon as your seeds have sprouted, remove any plastic covering to reduce moisture and humidity levels. Check the soil every day to make sure that it is moist and not too wet. Too much moisture will delay root growth and lead to disease problems. Letting the soil dry out a bit between watering helps prevent molds and fungus from growing on the soil surface. 


LIGHT:

Most seeds don't require light to germinate, but as soon as they sprout, they need to be placed in a south-facing window or under grow lights that are designed for growing plants. Seeds that germinate and start to grow without adequate light will become tall and leggy—a condition that is almost impossible to correct.

Most seedlings require 14 to 16 hours of direct light to manufacture enough food to produce healthy stems and leaves.

I have put together a handy seed starting chart that is available on the Fat Dog Farms website to help you with planning your garden.  Feel free to print the guide and keep it with your seed stash.  This will help you when starting your next batch of seeds.  
Happy sowing!
 

Friday, January 17, 2014

What's Going on at Fat Dog Farms in January?


The month of January at Fat Dog Farms is anything but quiet. 

Mason Bees

There is a little buzz going on in the back of my mind as I think of all the mason bees that will be emerging in just a few months.  If you have thought about adding extra pollinators to your garden, now is the time to get prepared.  Mason bee houses come in all shapes and forms, but the best that we have found are the tray type systems.  These come apart easily for cleaning and maintaining your collection of bees when the pollinating season is over.  Last year our crops were the best they have ever been.  Berries were filling the flats daily in early summer and fruit trees overfilled baskets in September and October.  Now is a great time to start your mason bee family.  Visit www.fatdogfarms.com for more information on raising mason bees.

Sorting and Starting Seeds

Now is the time to start some of your seeds indoors (basil, cabbage, celery, cosmos, eggplant, impatiens, leeks, peppers, salvia, and tomatoes).  You can also start radish seeds and peas directly outdoors, but I would recommend using a floating row cover or cold frame to protect from cold weather in the coming weeks.

Sorting and organizing your seeds can be a great way to get your mind set for the upcoming season.  Long ago, farmers figured out when the first and last frost dates were in their region related to day length and to the year's full-moon cycles. Today, farmers are able to depend on computer weather models and most gardeners depend on seed packets. For those of us that like to collect or exchange seeds with friends, we do not have a packet to depend on to tell us when to start the germination process.
The Farmer’s Almanac website is a great starting point to figure out your last frost date for your region. I have always relied heavily on this due to the fact they have accurate and dependable information. Once you have found your last frost date, you can then calculate when to start your seeds indoors or plant directly outdoors.

I use a photo storage box with dividers labeled 0-8 weeks and file my seeds according to when they need to be started prior to the last frost date.  This makes the seed starting process less overwhelming for me.

Clean Tools

In a few short weeks, you will be venturing out into the yard and beginning the great spring clean-up!  Soon trimming roses, fruit trees, and bushes will be on your list of chores.  You will want to have clean and sharp tools at the ready for when the yard cleaning bug hits you.  Clean and sharp tools will last a lot longer for you as well. 

Using a wire brush to remove dirt from your tools is a great first step in the process.  After you have brushed all of the dirt away, you can use some fine steel wool to remove any rust that may have been left behind.  Now comes the sharpening process…this can be a bit tedious for those that have a lot of tools.  Use either a whetstone or file and lots of caution as you sharpen your items!  Lastly, you will want to condition both the blades and handles with oil.  We use linseed oil for wooden handles and olive oil for the blades.   

What to Trim Now

In the next few weeks, you will need to prune trees and shrubs. Be careful with flowering trees and shrubs–you don't want to trim off developing buds. Prune fruit trees for size, remove crossing limbs, and give the trees good air circulation, and room for the sun shine through.

Spray fruit trees with dormant oil to control mites, scale, and overwintering bugs. You can use specialty horticultural oil or make your own.

Several dormant oil recipes are available and help control pests on fruit trees. Here is one of my favorites:

Dormant Oil Recipe

2 tablespoons of vegetable or soy oil
1 tablespoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of kelp
1 tablespoon of mild dish soap
1 gallon of water

Friday, June 17, 2011

Spring Sale Round Up

We hosted our first Semi-Annual Garden & Craft sale at the farm on Saturday, June 11th and it was a smashing success!  Thanks so much to everyone who came out.

Here are some highlights and featured vendors in case you missed it:

Fat Dog Farms:
We had a huge assortment of plants, garden art, home decor, trellises, slug shacks and more








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Carissa's Creativity Space
Carissa had a variety of garden markers, chalkboard items, wood toys and easy-assemble hardwareless tents for kids. Look for Carissa in the fall with more tents and more great crafts for your home and baby.






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Cowgirl Pork & Beans

 Shawn came down from Washington to make what everyone agreed was the tastiest pulled pork and beans they'd ever had (and this is even coming from non-Pork and beans eaters!). Shawn will be back in the fall for more tasty treats for shoppers



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Cindy Remlinger
Cindy stole the show with her shovel-mounted bird houses and fabulous antique re-purposed garden stand

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Winey Willows
Marian came with her sweet dog to share curly willow starts and hand painted ladybug garden art



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Sonja Harper
Sonja had a great menagerie of soap holders of all kinds (those colored bottles are holding dish soap)

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Luan Dollens
Beautiful and tasty smelling hand crafted, cold processed natural soaps

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Lynda Register
Lynda shared country style soap pumps made from re-purposed canning jars
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Dian Goldsmith
Dian brought some great home-sewn goods including baby blankets, potato sacks and purses