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When squash attack!

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog spaghetti squashThe spaghetti squash that ate the garden!

It was one little spaghetti squash plant which ran wild in Olivia Walker's Finleyville garden. Her daughter Madison had planted it innocently enough, just hoping to see what this unique vegetable was all about. Peppers, cucumbers and onions were overrun by the vines as they conquered the garden. Olivia said, "It has TAKEN OVER. Is there ANY way we can prune this and not kill it, HELP!!!"

Anyone who has ever planted a vine crop like spaghetti squash knows how quickly they can carpet the garden, cover fences, homes and in rare cases the neighborhood children too.

Experienced squash growers have learned to be vine wranglers, training vines each day into paths and away from other plants. That was my advice to Olivia and Madison whose vines are filled with blossoms and fruit.

I also told them if the plant was just too much for the garden that the ends of each plant could be pruned without really negatively affecting the vine as a whole, but eventually the vines would continue to grow.

Beware the squash plant! It can devour the garden. A good lesson for planning next year's garden.

 

 

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Kimberly Gill talks gardening with Doug on Pittsburgh Today Live

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog beautiful chardaSwiss chard is one of the cool loving vegetable which can be planted right now. Photo by Doug Oster

It was my first time working with Kimberly Gill and we had a blast talking about things to plant in the vegetable garden right now. They thrive on cool weather and can be harvested in just a few weeks and will continue to grow into winter.

 

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Celebrate trees this weekend at Schenley Park, benefits Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog rose of sharon returnsThis is one of my favorite trees, and here's why. Do you have a story to tell about you're favorite tree? Photo by Doug Oster

There's a fun event happening this Sunday in Schenley Park. The certified arborists from Davey Tree will be on hand to answer questions, but also listen to your favorite stories about trees. The company will donate one dollar to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Tree Fund for every person who shares a story. I'm always telling people on the Sunday morning radio show to ask a certified arborist any tree questions, this is your chance.

Arborists from your local Davey Pittsburgh offices will also be at the park, and trees throughout the park will don a Davey tag to display the many benefits each tree provides to the area. The Every Tree Tells a Story Photography Exhibit, featuring original photography of 12 of the most magnificent trees from around the country, will also be on display.

The Cultural Landscape Foundation has partnered with American Photo to create a traveling exhibition of original photography featuring the 2010 Landslide® selections: Every Tree Tells a Story. Twelve prize-winning and renowned photographers capture these seminal trees and tree groupings in a collection of 25 images. The exhibition will be on display at the Carnegie Library from July 1, 2014 until September 1, 2014.

The exhibition has been made possible by generous support from The Davey Tree Expert Company.

Learn more about Every Tree Tells a Story.

 

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The perfect garden gift

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog glass art tightNikolaj Christensen created this beautiful piece of art out of glass for last year's Summer Flower Show at Phipps. Photos by Doug Oster

blog garden art1I met Jordyn Melino at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens many years ago as the two of us worked on promoting Red, Ripe and Roasted. It's a tomato and garlic festival I helped start in conjunction with the conservatory 10 years ago.

Since then, Jordyn has become exhibit coordinator at Phipps and she's often my source when I film segments about the seasonal shows she oversees there.

Last year, the Summer Flower Show combined glass art with the plants. In the fern room were glass sculptures by Nikolaj Christensen of Philadelphia. The glass pieces resembled obsidian rock and were covered with colorful snails. The artist even was able to duplicate the slime trail which is left behind when the snails crawl over an object.

I fell in love with the pieces and spent quite a bit of time in the room with Jordyn during one of our filmings.

A couple of weeks ago I was at Phipps teaching a photo class for interns there and Jordyn had a gift for me. It was one of the beautiful works of art created by Nikolaj.

I had forgotten all about those shiny, black glass sculptures, but Jordyn remembered. That's why it's the perfect gift. It's something I love, would never buy for myself and will enjoy for a lifetime in the garden.

I still haven't found the perfect place for the art. I've moved it around the garden several times, but eventually the planets will align and the location will be found.

Just like we remember the people who give us certain plants, I'll think of Jordyn every time I look at this work of art.

blog garden art slime trailI have no idea how the artist duplicated the slime trail on this artwork, it's really cool.

 

 

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Faux spinach is beautiful and productive all summer

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog red malabaraRed Malabar spinach is beautiful and tasty. Photos by Doug Oster

blog red malabar viningRed Malabar spinach climbs a windmill in the vegetable garden.Anyone who has tried to grow conventional spinach in our climate understands the challenge of harvesting the leaves during the summer.

Just a few consecutive hot days will force the plant to bolt and send up seed. When this happens the foliage becomes bitter and inedible.

Red Malabar spinach isn't a spinach at all. It's a tropical vine which produces heart shaped leaves which taste a lot like spinach.

Unlike "real" spinach, this plant loves hot weather, but can't take any frost.

The vines are deep red and the glossy leaves are pretty too. It's a fast climber during the heat of summer.

Malabar spinach produces mild tasting foliage which can be used in any recipe as a spinach substitute. It's wonderful to snack on in the garden too.

This is also a great time to sow some regular spinach seed as temperatures moderate to replace the Malabar when a frost kills the vines. We'll have some hot weather through August, but the cool nights should keep the spinach from bolting. I always sow some seeds now and at then again end of August. Spinach loves cold weather and can be picked through the winter.

Plants which are given a little protection can actually over winter and will thrive in the cold of March and April. It's my favorite way to grow the crop. It hits the ground running in  early spring and has a much longer harvest period before things warm up.

Malabar spinach is both beautiful and tasty. Something you might put on your seed list for next spring.

 

 

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