Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fall Jobs in the Landscape


This is a view we will not be able to enjoy this winter.  The City of Bend has started construction of its new water intake and water line this week.  The road to the falls will be closed until early summer for construction.
Today October 2nd I will start aerating lawns.  Aerating lawns helps increase the health of the lawn.  It increases gas exchange in the root system.  The cores left on the surface are mulched my the last mowing of the season adding an additional organic layer to the soil.  The pine needles and aspen leaves are now beginning to fall.  I will be trying to keep up with this each week.  I can do this because growth in the grass blades slow down this time of the season.  As the top growth slows down this time of the year the roots continue to grow.  This new root growth helps the lawn to be thrifty in the following spring.  Depending on time and weather I will be putting down a fall fertilization in October or November. 

On a personal note.  I am scheduled to have a complete knee replacement at the end of November.  Last December I had arthroscopic surgery on the knee, the surgeon found that I had bone on bone and arthritis in the knee  By mild summer it was apparent that I would need to have a complete knee replacement.  I am not looking forward to the surgery but I am looking forward to less pain next spring. 

Fall is still in the air, enjoy each day!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Winterize irrigation systems

As cooler weather returns each fall everyone gets excited about winterizing there irrigation system. I try to schedule three periods for winterizing systems. The first starts the beginning of October or just before the first frosts occur. I generally only winterize home owner installed systems that have spray heads and pipes above soil level. The Second period is the main winterizing period. I generally start this just a week before the first hard frost (lows in low 20's).  This is generally the end of October or first part of November   Well designed and and installed systems will survive significant cold weather. The most damage I have seen with systems winterized after significant cold weather has been a few broken spray nozzles. If a spray nozzle is damaged I will replace it at no charge for customers I winterize. The third period is the late winterization season. This is generally done after Thanksgiving. This is for people who forgot to have the systems winterized earlier or for new landscapes. There are always warmer days during the winter to winterize systems. I have seen very little damage from frost in irrigation systems from cold weather, but damage can be expensive if the back flow is damaged. I generally put a bag of shipping peanuts over the back flow of my customers.

Enjoy winter, I will try.


The Best Part of the Season

  So many people feel as September arrives that the best weather of the season has pasted.  I disagree, September through November with the clear cool nights and warm days are so delightful.  The down side for me is the pines begin to lose their old needles.  Ponderosa pine keep there needles for two to seven years.  Each fall the older needles die and fall to the ground.  That keeps me quite busy raking and hauling to recycling.  Over the next few weeks I will begin to reduce the irrigation on the landscapes.  The plants do not need as much water in the fall as they needed in the heat of July & August.  I normally will drop days from the irrigation program to reduce the amount of water each week.  Most like the lower water bill.  I will also put down the last fertilization of the season in September or October.  This season I will end the season with a good application of organic fertilizer.  Organic fertilizers are easier on the plants and do not have the shot of growth often found with chemical fertilizers.  With organics I will be feeding the soil not the plants.  As the soil responds to the organic fertilizer the soil will reliece the nutrients to the plants in the landscape.  This is very important in the fall.  The reduced irrigation with the organic fertilizer help the plants to slow down growth and harden off before the hard freezes of winter arrive.   One thing most people do not understand in the fall is that plants stop top growth before the plant is completely dormant.  In turf grasses the roots continue to grow until the soil temperatures are below 40 degrees F.  I do carry a thermometer in the truck to monitor this each season.

Well it is getting late and I should spend some time with Bobbe.  Enjoy Fall one of the four great seasons here on the high desert.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Wildfire in Landscapes

As many of you know I have a forest management background and live in the forest near Tumalo Falls.   Wildfire in the landscape is a real danger in Central Oregon.   Several years ago while doing landscape maintenance for a duplex in Redmond I drove past an apartment complex that had burned.   I asked the renters in the duplex what had happened and they told me a cigarette had caused the fire.  I later called the Redmond fire marshal and confirmed the information.   The apartment had large over grown tam junipers around the foundation and someone had dropped a burning cigarette into the juniper and four families lost there homes.  The same thing happened a few years ago on Newport Ave.  A dropped cigarette in a tam juniper this time the condo units were saved but a large pine tree was lost.  The tam junipers are the worst.  I also seen the mulch we put in our landscape beds burn twice at customers homes in Broken top.  Once it was caused by a cigar dropped in the mulch and the second by an unknown cause.  Both times the fires occurred just before the irrigation came on and the irrigation put the fires out.  Burning cigarettes and cigars are not the only cause I am sure.  I have seen people dump there charcoal berquets for the barbecue in the landscape.  OK but make sure they are dead out.  Remember when we were young and Smoky said to put your hand in the fire to make sure it is DEAD out.  A third cause of wild fires in landscapes are holiday fireworks.  Several years ago in City View subdivision I had a customers hedge burn from a bottle rocket landing in the hedge.  It was quite a surprise to the 90 year young home owner and the boys across the street who sent the bottle rocket flying into her hedge. 

Everyone have a safe and great summer


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fall & Winter Gardens

Well seed catalogs are out for fall & winter gardens.  Territorial Seed & Johnny's Seed are my primary sources of seeds and information.  www.territorialseed.com  ,  www.johnnyseeds.com 
Ellie, I am learning how to do more on Blogger  :)

  Time to order garlic cloves, I am going to plant 50% hard neck and 50% soft neck this year again.  The hard neck has the scipes that are fun to harvest and enjoy this time of the year in the valley.  They do nor keep as well so they are also the first to be used in fall cooking.  I save the soft neck for late winter- summer cooking as they store better.  I am sown to 3 or 4 cloves left from last season now.  I planted two 7 X 4 beds of garlic last fall so I will have lots to cook with this summer and next winter.  I am looking forward to sowing several spinach, kale, cabbage, winter beets, winter carrots in August in the unheated greenhouse.  I will be taking out the old spinach from last season next week in my free time. 
It is interesting, I checked my soil temperature Thursday, it is only 55 degrees now.  One reason things grow so slow here. Check your soil temperature and let me know how you compare.  I have to remember that just a few weeks ago it was snowing off and on and we had 20 degree nights. 

Well time to go. 



Sunday, June 10, 2012

Spring in Central Oregon

It was a pepper
This was a tomato
  It is a hard lesson, spring comes late in Central Oregon.  I was told many years ago not to plant tender annuals until the 2nd week of June.  There are some years even that is too early.  At our elevation on this side of the mountains the temperatures can drop quickly to below freezing.  This was a June 6th with a low about 25 degrees.  That would have been hard to protect even with row covers. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Backflow tests

Well my back flow tester has finally been able to schedule back flow tests for my customers.  George caught up with me last Thursday in Broken top.  George and Pattie do back flow testing for six months and then enjoy the remainder of the year.  I want to stress it is important to have your irrigation back flow tested every year.  The back flow prevents the contaminated irrigation water from entering the house drinking water.  We do not want the bacteria from the landscape to be in your drinking water :(   The back flow device prevents this from happening.  I need to ask George but, if I remember from when I was testing back flow devices it was a 1 in 10 to 1 in 15 failure rate.  What is the health of your family worth?  I am on a private well and not obligated to have my back flow  tested, but I choose to have it tested.  The health of my family is worth the small cost of the test.  Thank you George and Pattie for great work.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Spring in Central Oregon

As much of the country suffers through unseasonably warm weather what do we get but "snow".  Last week I had two inches of snow before leaving my cabin up Skyliners to head into town.  The landscapes in town were soaked with nearly one inch of cold moisture.

  I just checked the forecast and it looks like the coming week will be more seasonable temperatures. I learned many years ago just to wait for the true spring to come by the middle of June.  At least we very seldom have killing frosts that late in the season.  Last time I checked the National Weather Service out looks, they were predicting a warmer and dryer summer than average. Most people including wild fire fighters love that out look.  Just remember if it is too cold or wet today, it will change and if it is nice now enjoy it because it will not stay that way for long.

The raccoons come to our cabin often and try to rob the squirrel feeder we have on the top of my deer fence.  They can be entertaining but also eat too much squirrel food. 

I received two Spring bulb catalogs today.  Well September is time to plant spring bulbs, then June must be time to order spring bulbs. 


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Is it Spring yet?

Winter does not give up without a fight in Central Oregon.  It is hard to believe it was 16 degrees at "Snowshoe Inn" a few days ago.  Today it reached 80 degrees.   It is important to remember that tender plants can be damaged any time before the middle of June.  I have weather records from "Snowshoe  Inn"  with shows temperature below 32 degrees every month of the year here.  The June 15th date is a good conservative date to use to out plant tender plants.  Today I transplanted onion plants.  If things go well I will have sweet and storage onions in a couple of months. I will not transplant tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash plants to the garden until the middle of June.   I am still harvesting salad greens from my grow room in the basement.  Oh, it is nice to have fresh greens all year around.  I also have a few leeks in the garden to harvest.  New leek seedlings are in the greenhouse and will be ready to transplant in the middle of June.  My goal is to have fresh leeks most of the year for our kitchen.  Well time to crash, Monday starts a new week, always to much to do


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Late Winter

Greetings from Snowshoe Inn. Winter is the time of the year I spoil my wife and refresh my sole. I never run out of things to do. Fresh snow means plow the driveway and road from our cabin to Skyliners Road. When it is not snowing I keep the cabin looking great for Bobbe. It is important to keep her happy. Last November was our 39Th anniversary. She is a keeper. I was late in getting my own gardens growing this winter. I maintain several winter gardens all winter. In the basement I have a grow room in which I grow micro greens, lettuce, and other greens for winter salads. In my cold greenhouse I have spinach & leeks. These were sowen in the early fall and I am able to harvest them all winter. Nothing better than a fresh greens harvested the day you enjoy them. My heated greenhouse has about 60 gerainiums that I overwinter for my wife.

Spring in the Central Oregon comes so slow. At my home west of Bend we do not loose the last of the snow until the end of May or the fist of June each year. In 1998/99 we had so much snow and no snow removal equipment that we could not drive to our cabin until April 1999. Now that was a great winter. I have since purchased the toys to keep the road and driveway clear no matter how much snow we receive. Got to keep the wife happy, which means no snowshoeing home at night after work. Now she can drive to he dry garage every night.

Well contracts are going out to your in boxes today. The weather forecast is still unsettled but milder weather is on the way someday in the future. As many of you know I am the primary care giver for an aging mother. Her health is not good and the demands have been stressful. It is like riding a roller coaster, lots of ups and downs. This season I have reduced my customer base by 25% to give me more time with my mom and family. My daughter had her fist child last July and we plan to spend time playing the Grand parent card. :)

Well be paceint spring and summer will come someday