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Home-Grown Tomato Tasting Festival

29 Aug

SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, September 15th @ Lake Oswego & Sunday, September 16th @ SE PowellThere’s no better way to end summer than with a beautiful harvest of fresh, juicy, colorful tomatoes. Each September our Lake Oswego garden center host an annual FREE home-grown Tomato Tasting Festival to celebrate this wonderful summer fruit and for the community to enjoy the delicious varieties available in the Northwest. We partner with our growers and a few employees pitch in to provide 50+ unique sizes, shapes, colors & flavors. For this first year we will be expanding this event to our SE Powell location.

Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 15th 10am-4pm at Lake Oswego & Sunday, September 16th 10am-4pm at our SE Powell garden center.

Tomato guru, Nicole Forbes, cooks up yummy salsas & tomato recipes for all attendees to enjoy and to inspire those with too many tomatoes to handle. For the first year ever we will not only be tasting all the wonderful fruit but will have a few select varieties for sale as well.

Attendees will have a chance to vote for their favorite variety and plan their crops for next year. Stay tuned for this years winners!

Interested in entering our Salsa contests? Call Nicole Forbes at 503.777.1421 for details!


Espalier Fruit Trees

1 Aug

By Stacie Palmer of Dennis’ 7 Dees

What could be better than growing an orchard in the city?! Given that most gardens are limited in space and consist of a small urban lot, or apartment/condominium terrace, how in the world can we grow apple or pear trees? The answer: espalier apple and pear trees!

Espalier (ehs-PAL-yay) is a method of training woody plants by tying branches to a frame so that they grow into a flat, two-dimensional plane. Most often we see espalier shrubs or trees trained against a structure such as a wall, fence, or trellis. Not only does this method of training allow for smaller plants and greater crop yield at a height accessible for harvest, it also can take advantage of maximizing radiant heat for crop maturation (i.e. a plant trained on a trellis against a fence or building).

Because dwarf fruit trees are trained by growers into espalier form, they are genetically smaller in size, and thereby more adaptable to small spaces. Once the desired shape has been created, pruning is aimed at preventing excessive foliage growth, forcing the tree to instead focus energy on fruit production.

Both apples and pears have similar cultural needs.

1) A site in a warm, sunny location where the soil is well-drained and rich with organic material.

2) Good air circulation

3) Regular deep watering to supplement rain, as needed, while fruit is developing.

4) Presence of a minimum of two differing varieties of apple or pear for cross-pollination

5) Winter chill

6) Commitment to disease and pest prevention (and treatment, should the need arise)

When we put all of this information together, we get espalier 4-in-1 or 6-in-1 apple or pear trees! Growers have grafted onto a disease-resistant root stock, either 4 or 6 different varieties of apple or pear. Viola! That takes care of the need for multiple varieties for pollination AND the trees are already trained in espalier form. We can expect grafted espalier apple and pear trees to reach approximately 15 feet in height and 8 to 10 feet in spread/width. Just think of all the functions such a plant could provide: focal point on a warm house or shed wall, screen the recycling and garbage bins, living ‘fence’ between areas of the garden, etc. Imagine harvesting 4 or 6 different types of apples or pears, full of nutritious, sweet goodness from your very own orchard in the city!

With all good things comes a caveat: there is definitely a maintenance commitment. An espalier fruit tree must have its form maintained on a regular basis; the longer you let it go, the larger job it becomes. In addition to pruning, one must maintain a regimen for pest and disease prevention (and treatment, should the need arise). Keep in mind that maintenance of a fruit tree differs from that of other woody ornamental plants. Our staff, as well as OSU Extension Services are fabulous resources available to you.

Balcony Garden of Eatin’ – Part 3

12 Jul

By Linda Kay Harrison

The weather has been warming up, staying fairly consistently in the 70’s, so our balcony garden is growing like crazy.    Koby’s  buttercrunch lettuce has grown so well it is over taking the marigolds in the center.  Koby is ready to make a salad.

The radishes Koby planted are growing well too.  She was so excited to see those first green leaves poke up through the soil.  When I had to thin them out, she was quite concerned that I should not be pulling those tiny seedlings, but look at them now!  Another two weeks and we’ll get to add radishes to our salads!

We have also added cucumbers to our ‘garden of eatin’.  Because space on our tiny balcony is limited, we’re trying them in a Topsy Turvy.   That’s a nifty little item that is usually used for growing tomatoes upside down.  (Dennis 7 Dees has these available for just $9.99.)  I’ve used them for tomatoes and they work great.  So we’re going to give it a try with cucumbers.   We’ll keep you posted on the upside down cucumber progress!


Container Gardening on a Small Balcony – Part 2

27 Jun

by Linda Kay Harrison

My granddaughter, Koby, has been so excited about the raspberries and strawberries in our little balcony garden that I decided to add to it.  She loves to eat salad, so we added some buttercrunch lettuce, with pretty marigolds in the center.  I tore two small pieces of lettuce off one leaf and Koby and I both tasted it. She approved.   

Just a few days ago, we added radishes to our little ‘Garden of Eatin’.   Koby helped me plant them, … well, actually, I helped HER plant them. She loved sprinkling the tiny seeds, and poking them down below the surface of the soil.  As we were planting, she said, ”Lala, this will be a good sau-ad.”

Yes, I think it will.


Container Gardenin’ on a Small Balcony

18 Jun

by Linda Kay Harrison – Dennis’ 7 Dees Cedar Hills Garden Center

My 3 year old granddaughter, Koby, has been fascinated by the flowers and vines I have growing on the tiny balcony of our apartment.  It dawned on me that, being a city girl, she’s never experienced gardening, or even seen a garden.  To Koby, food comes from a grocery store, and flowers are often just seen from a distance.  So when I noticed that the strawberries at work, (the Dennis 7 Dees on Butner Rd.), had some big, almost ripe berries on them, I decided to grow some on my balcony for Koby.  So I chose two Quinalts and two Tristar strawberry plants because they are everbearing and tasty.  I also bought one Hood, because they are the sweetest strawberries I’ve ever eaten.  (It’s a shame Hoods are only a June producer, but they are so yummy I had to have at least one.)

When Koby saw that I had big red strawberries growing in a planter, her eyes grew wide with excitement.  “Mommy, look!  Grandma Lala has strawberries with leaves!”  To her, strawberries have always come in a clear plastic container from Albertsons.  She was pretty impressed that Grandma Lala could make them appear on plants.   We picked those first few ripe berries and she was hooked.  Knowing that my five little strawberry plants were not going to produce enough berries to keep a 3 year old’s attention, I also added raspberries.  Now, every day, as soon as she gets home from her daycare, she runs to the balcony to check to see if any berries have ripened since the day before.

Now, my little balcony garden , no… OUR little balcony garden has flowers, vines, strawberries, raspberries, and even a bonsai’d Virginia creeper.  I can’t believe how fun it is to share gardening with a toddler.

Go Grafted!

14 Jun
Seven reasons why grafted tomatoes are greater tomatoes!

  1. Increased production: 4-5 times the fruit of standard tomatoes!
  2. Extreme vigor for improved fruit quality.
  3. Superior disease resistance
  4. Tolerance to environmental stresses.
  5. Increased yields with a prolonged harvest.
  6. Greater resistance to soilborne pathogens and nematodes.
  7. Reliable production of larger and unique heirloom tomato varieties.

With a vision to aid gardeners in reliably producing more food in less space, we are excited to provide Ezra’s Organic Tomoatoes to our customers.
What are grafted tomatoes?!
Due to limited growing space vegetable top grafting was originally developed in Japan to allow growers to produce a large amount of produce in a small space. This technique gives vegetables increased disease resistance, vitality, and productions throughout the season. Ezra’s Organics accomplishes this by grafting a robust wild rootstock (bottom of plant) to flavorful heirloom and hybrid tomatoes (top plant). The result is extremely prolific tomato production, without the diseases that plague many popular varieties. Stop by your neighborhood Dennis’ 7 Dees Garden Center to pick one (or a few) up today!
How to Plant Grafted Tomatoes
In order to enjoy all the benefits of your grafted tomato, you need to plant it slightly differently than a regular tomato. Grafted tomatoes are quite different from the average, regular tomato. Because each plant consists of two plants, fused together, they require some different care and in turn, they give different results. Ezra’s Organics grafted tomatoes have root systems that are 4-5 times larger than a regular tomato.
Be sure to Keep the graft line above the soil – This is the single most important factor in planting a grafted tomato. The superior performance a grafted tomato offers is only possible when you plant the tomato so that the graft line is always above the soil. We usually plant regular tomatoes quite deeply and that works well. However, in order to ensure the benefits of the graft, you must not bury the graft line when planting. Take a close look at your stem and find the graft line. Keep it in mind as you transplant and make sure it stays above the soil. If the graft line is buried, the scion (top part of the plant) will grow its own roots and the benefits from our superior root stock will be lost. Just keep that in mind and you are on your way to success!
Photos & info courtesy of Ezra’s Organics

Edible Landscaping

30 May

By Nicole Forbes of Dennis’ 7 Dees

So you want to grow some of your own food but don’t want to plant a vegetable garden every spring?  Edible landscaping is your solution!  A wide variety of edible trees, shrubs, vines, groundcovers, herbs and vegetables are available for you to plant once for continued enjoyment for years.

Espaliered Apple Tree

Many fruit tree varieties have been developed for our smaller yards and are available on semi-dwarf rootstock (10-15 ft. tall).  We also offer specialized ‘columnar’ apple trees and espaliered apples and pears.  A few lesser-known edible trees available are Cornelian cherry, a variety of figs and elderberries too.Edible shrubs can be used as specimen plants as well as hedges or accents.  A mixed hedgerow of blueberries, Oregon grape, currants, evergreen huckleberry and tea would provide evergreen presence plus flowers, fruits and fall color seasonally.  Grapes, kiwi and hops are all fast growing vines that can quickly cover any space or block an unsightly view.  Groundcovers such as oregano, thyme, salal and strawberry can choke-out weeds and prevent erosion. 


Chives – Great border plant!

Several culinary herbs and a few vegetables are evergreen and/or perennial.  Spice it up with some thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, lavender and chives for a kitchen garden that will last for years.  Artichokes and rhubarb are wonderful low-maintenance perennials that add drama to your landscape as they increase in size each year.



Stop in to any of our garden centers for a great selection of edible landscape plants or ask how to have your edible landscape designed for free with our Planscaper program.

Evergreen Huckleberry

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