My friend Karen does all sorts of things that make me jealous. Lately she's launched into her new career as a landscape designer as well as working part-time at a local nursery. She gets to work with plants and people who care about plants all day long. That's pretty fantastic in my books and if that's not enough she also has the largest urban edible garden of anyone I know.
Not only is the garden amazing but Karen and her husband Chris have built a ceramic studio and sauna in the sprawling backyard portion of it. Another reason why I'm jealous of Karen is that she's a member of the Hardy Plant Society's Kitchen Gardening Group.
From the HPSO website:
The Kitchen Gardening Group is focused on edible landscaping, and sharing food and recipes from their bountiful gardens. They meet on the 4th Tuesday at 7pm at members homes, typically rotating from Eastside to Westside.
Karen goes to these monthly events and they always sound great. A while back there was one that I really wanted to go to -- how to grow and cook with Asian vegetables. Although I didn't attend that one I recently joined Karen for the March 23rd open-to-the-public grape growing Kitchen Garden event with Lon Rombough author of The Grape Grower.
The event was held at a Unitarian church in Beaverton and although I didn't count I'm guessing there were about 30 people in attendance. They asked for a donation of $5 or more at the door but I'm sure they would let you attend if you couldn't afford that. I learned a lot and I'm definitely considering joining the Hardy Plant Society and its Kitchen Gardening Group as a result.
A few highlights from Lon's talk:
100 plus varieties of table grapes grow well in the Pacific Northwest.
We can grow good wine grapes here but outstanding table grapes. Why? Most of the wine grapes grown in the PNW are European varieties so they're not perfectly suited to the climate. Most locally grown table grapes are American varieties which are disease resistant and better suited to the area.
You can bury a sprawling grape vine at any point and it will sprout anew.
Swanson Red grapes are one of Lon's favorite table grapes.
Buds that are close to old wood are usually not too fruitful.
The best time to prune grapes is in the spring or late winter.
The biggest problem with growing grapes in Oregon...birds.