Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Gardening Services I Offer

Garden Design, Garden Consultation, Garden Coaching, Gardening Workshops

Dear gardening friends,

This may be the first time you are reading my blog or you may be acquainted with me. Here is an introduction to the professional gardening services that I provide. My name is Jolie Donohue and I have 20 years gardening experience. I am an expert in edible gardening-veggie, fruit, herbs as well as ornamental gardens-perennials for sun & shade, natives, shrubs. If you are looking for an experienced creative professional gardener, not a mow & blow service, look no further! I spent 7 years in the retail nursery, garden and floral industry. My horticulture education includes master gardener certificate, modern organic farming, landscape design and floral design. I truly love helping people create their dream gardens and become more successful gardeners.

DESIGN: Small and large projects welcome! Need a plan for your parking strip, foundation bed, or entire yard? I will come for an initial consultation to observe your space and discuss your needs. I will survey your yard and take measurements. I then create a concept and finally a scaled drawing and plant list. I strive to create unique designs that capture your personality, interests and needs. My designs utilize proven plant picks for the Portland area that provide beautiful year-round interest. I can help with plant shopping and plant placement as a part of your design. You will love your new garden!

CONSULTATION: Do you have questions about your edible and/or ornamental garden? I can come to your garden for an in-person visit. We will walk through your garden, identify plants, assess the health & placement of your plants, answer all your questions and get you the tools and resources you need to succeed.

COACHING: Is there a project you need help completing? I can work side-by-side with you to assist in completing your gardening project. We can address planting, pruning, and other garden maintenance.

PERSONALIZED PLANT SHOPPING: I spent 7 years working in the nursery/garden center industry and I am a skilled in plant selection. I can accompany you on a nursery shopping trip, answer all your questions and help you make great choices for your garden. I am also available to shop for you and deliver plants.

GARDENING WORKSHOPS/GROUPS: I teach gardening workshops around the Portland area, please consult my facebook page or blog for information on upcoming events. Do you have a group of gardeners that would benefit from a workshop tailored to your interests? I can custom design a workshop and bring it to your home garden, school or business. Some workshops I teach are Veggie Gardening 101, Companion Planting for Beneficials, Edible Flowers, Culinary Herbs, Small Space Edible Gardening, and Troubleshooting the Edible Garden.

Please contact me for rates and availability. I look forward to hearing from you.
Happy gardening,
Follow me on Facebook: Jolie Ann Donohue, The Gardening Goddess

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Mid April Gardening Tips

Good morning gardening friends!

What a week of warm sunny weather Portland has had. Wow! The sunshine is good for us, our plants and our soil. However, please remember to keep your seed beds and new transplants watered in very well. New plantings don't yet have the established root structure to thrive in warm temperatures. You can assist them in reducing stress by making sure they are watered frequently until established. Also, if you've planted seeds for things like carrots, lettuce, etc. please keep your seed bed evenly moist to assist with germination. Tiny seeds find it difficult to germinate and sprout up through crusty dry soil. The seed bed doesn't need to be soaked, just evenly moist every day. Right now I'm watering my carrot seed bed once in the morning and once in the late afternoon/early evening.

In Portland our average last frost date is April 15th. This is important for gardeners because many seed packets and planting guides say things like "plant 3-4 weeks before last frost date or plant once all risk of frost is over." Could we still have a frost in Portland after April 15th? Absolutely! Is it likely this year given the nature of the warm winter and early spring? I don't think so!

Our nurseries and garden centers are filling up with sun loving summer veggies and herbs like tomatoes, cucumbers and basil. Just because retailers are selling these plants does not mean its time to plant them. Please keep also this in mind, just because our average last frost has passed does not mean the night temperatures are warm enough to plant your heat loving summer veggies and herbs. My general rule of thumb is, if you are wearing a sweater, using a blanket or your heater it is too cold outside still for summer veg. A more scientific rule is tomatoes need night temperatures consistently above 55 degrees. We have yet to reach night temperatures above 55 degrees, in fact they are averaging in the low-mid 40s. In Portland those ideal night temperatures typically arrive in mid-late May. This has been an unseasonably warm winter & spring, so perhaps they will arrive earlier.

Early planting of heat-loving summer veggies does not give you a jump start. If night temperatures are too cool it results in stunted or dead plants. Many years when there has been a warm snap in April I've planted my basil and a week later found blackened leaves and wilted plants when the weather turned cool again.

If you are interested in planting your heat-lovers with protection such a frost blanket, cloche, cold frame, greenhouse or wall of water/cozy coat, by all means go for it and have fun! I haven't invested much in season extenders, but that does not mean they aren't valuable tools in the Portland garden. Many gardeners have great success with pushing the limits on planting times with the aid of season extenders.

Friends, you know how much I love dahlias. I'm sorry to report it is also still too cool to plant your dahlia tubers. Dahlia tubers want soil that is consistently 60 degrees, often that is not until May in Portland. Take it from dahlia expert Mark Harvey of Old House Dahlias in Portland. This guy knows his dahlias!

Now that it is mid April it is a great time to plant seeds for sunflowers, runner beans, annual flowers. Sunflowers do great direct seeded into the warm mid-April soil. They are beautiful, make our bees so happy and in the fall provide a food source for our bird population. Here's some great information on growing sunflowers from our friends at Renee's Garden Seeds.

Both pole and bush beans are warm summer season veggies that we direct seed into the garden in May when temperatures are higher. However, the delightful heirloom runner bean is the earliest bean to plant in the garden. It can be direct seeded in mid April! If you haven't grown runner beans before you should, because they are awesome. They are a quick growing vine that produces edible pods and beautiful ornamental flowers typically in bright red. They can grow in sun or part shade, unlike other beans that require full sun. Hummingbirds love their flowers. This year I am growing 'sunset' variety that has pale peach flowers that I purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.

Mid April is a great time to direct seed for annual flowers. This week I planted seeds for nasturtium and 4 varieties of annual poppies. Lauren's Grape annual poppy seed is sure to wow you! Make sure to keep your seed beds evenly moist.

For the remainder of April I would continue to plant your cool-season veggie crops. Here's the link to the handy veggie planting calendar from our friends at Portland Nursery.

Brussels sprouts-for fall harvest
Collard greens
Mustard greens
Parsnips-for fall harvest
Peas-sugar snap, snow & shelling
Runner beans
Salad greens-arugula, cress, endive, escarole, mache, mesclun mix & radicchio
Swiss Chard

Herbs: Most herbs would do great now-cilantro, chamomile, chives, dill, mints, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme.

WAIT until the warmer temperatures of May to plant your warm-season veggie crops:

Beans-pole & bush
Ground Cherries
Melons & watermelon
Summer Squash
Sweet Potatoes
Winter Squash

Tender herbs need warmer temperatures: BASIL, lemongrass, shiso. Also, tarragon can be a little fickle in the cool wet spring.

Have fun and please let me know if you have any questions. I hope to see you soon in a gardening workshop or neighborhood gardening group.

Happy gardening,

Upcoming Gardening Classes

Good morning gardeners!

Please join me this Sunday April 26th at 11am for free gardening class Veggie Gardening 102: Crop Rotation & Companion Planting at Portland Nursery on Division. It will be a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing you there!

Vegetable Gardening 102: Crop Rotation & Companion Planting
with Gardening Goddess, Jolie Donohue
Take your vegetable garden to the next level. This is a great class for gardeners with a few years under their belt now wanting to dig deeper! Join Gardening Goddess, Jolie Donohue and learn the benefits of practicing crop rotation and companion planting for the healthiest, happiest plants possible. Drawing from a decade of gardening experience, Jolie will discuss tips and techniques for crop rotation, great crop combinations and methods for interplanting, and strategize about how to rotate crops in urban garden plots.

9000 SE DIVISION • Sunday • April 26 • 11:00 – 12:30pm
To register for this class please visit the Portland Nursery website

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Planting Potatoes

Good morning gardening friends!
The annual planting of potatoes in our garden is by far my husband's favorite gardening activity. Selecting the varieties, planting them, nurturing them, watching their growth, then finally counting the harvest! This year we selected 5 varieties to grow in 5 containers: german butterball, all blue, cherry red, rose finn apple fingerling and russian banana fingerling. In the past we have grown potatoes in the ground and decided containers were a better use of our small urban growing space. We use 4 potato tubs, purchased at Portland Nursery, and one large storage tub we had laying around.

Growing your own potatoes is a very thrifty thing to do. They are easy to grow, don't need a lot of care and aren't picky about the soil they are in. They are also super cheap to buy. My seed potatoes cost between .10 and .39 cents each for one seed potato. That one seed potato will then yield about 10 more potatoes. The Territorial Seed Catalog says standard potatoes will yield about 10 times the amount originally planted and fingerlings will yield from 15 to 20 times the amount originally planted. So I just spent $1.22 total for my seed potatoes which at harvest will yield about 60 delicious homegrown organic potatoes. Yes, that is correct. Quite a bargain, eh? Grow potatoes! They store well, they are nutritious & filling, and very versatile in lots of recipes.

Here are some tips for potato growing. Potatoes like loose, well-drained soil. But, really, why do I even say that because that is what MOST plants want. Here in Portland plant potatoes in the late winter and early spring, up until the average last frost date. Which for Portland is April 15th. Right now is a perfect time for planting potatoes. When planting potatoes in containers, they do well starting out in just a few inches of straight compost, just enough to cover them. At planting I water them in with liquid seaweed. As your potatoes begin to grow and sprout more leaves on taller stalks you can add another layer of compost covering a few inches of the stalk base. This layering of compost as the plant grows encourages more new root "arms" with more layers of potatoes growing underground.

To plant potatoes used certified seed potato from a reputable nursery or seed catalog. If your seed potato is small you can plant it whole. If it's large you can cut it into smaller pieces, but make sure each piece has three "eyes" sprouting. After cutting your seed potatoes dust them with powdered sulfur which will prevent fungal disease and let them air dry for a few days prior to planting. I eliminate this entire process by purchasing very small seed potatoes.

Potatoes want full sun and a weed-free growing area. Potatoes like a fertilizer high in Phosphorus (that's the "P" in your N-P-K ratio) and low in Nitrogen. I use Rock Phosphate which is a great natural source of Phosphorus. Naomi Montacre of Naomi's Organic Farm Supply in Portland describes Rock Phosphate as "soft colloidal phosphates mineralized from ancient sea fossils and shells, this is a good slow release source of phosphorous, calcium and trace minerals." You can also be thrifty and save money by purchasing your Rock Phosphate in bulk at your local nursery.

All right friends, the one other thing I know about potatoes is it's super fun to dig them up and harvest! Please let me know if you have any questions. Happy Spring! Jolie

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Organic Gardening Workshop Series at Springwater Studio

Gardening Friends,
I am happy to announce an exciting collaboration with Springwater Studio in Gresham. I will be teaching an organic gardening workshop series beginning this Sunday April 19th.

Sunday 4/19 11:30-1:30 Veggie Gardening 101: Basics for Beginners
If you are excited to grow your own food but have little to no experience, this is the class for you! Jolie will discuss the basics of organic gardening including site preparation, crop selection based on site elements, planting and care techniques. With her decades of gardening experience, Jolie will demystify growing your own food and share her tips and techniques for beginner success!

Sunday 5/3 11:30-1:30 Small Space Veggie Gardening
No space is too small to grow some of your own food! Jolie helps you determine which crops are right for you and discusses planning, planting and maintaining bountiful edible gardens in the smallest spaces. Gardening in containers, raised beds and vertical gardening will be explored.

Sunday 5/17 11:30-1:30 Companion Planting and Gardens for Bees, Butterflies and Beneficials
Join Jolie to learn the benefits of companion planting for the healthiest, happiest plants possible. She will discuss tips and techniques for great crop combinations and methods of interplanting veggies with flowers and herbs. Learn strategies to make your urban garden a year-round haven for our favorite beneficial winged creatures.

Sunday 5/31 11:30-1:30 Culinary Herb Gardening
Fragrant, delicious herbs awaken the senses and enliven culinary creations. Jolie introduces a diverse palette of culinary herbs and how to grow them successfully in your garden.

Sunday 6/14 11:30-1:30 Edible Flower Gardening
An avid kitchen-gardener cook, Jolie is passionate about beautiful delectable edible flowers! Join Jolie as she shares tips on types of edible flowers, their culture and care in the garden, harvesting and recipes.

Sunday 6/28 11:30-1:30 Trouble Shooting the Edible Garden
You have planted your veggie garden and it is not thriving or producing. What now? Jolie will help you identify the most common seasonal pest and disease issues in the Portland veggie garden as well as organic methods for happier, healthier more productive plants.

All workshops are interactive lecture style and approximately 2 hours long. Take the entire series or individual workshops. Workshops are a suggested donation of $10 each. To ensure your space please register in advance by contacting or at For detailed workshop information or further information, visit their website or Springwater Studio is a community art center located in Gresham (120 SW Towle Ave). We are dedicated to education, healing and transformation through the creative process.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Last week of March-First Week of Spring

Good morning gardening friends!

I somehow completely missed the spring equinox and first day of spring because I was housebound so sick with an upper respiratory infection I am calling the super virus from hell. It has been over 2 weeks and I am still plagued by this nagging cough. It has been such a mild warm dry winter in Portland I feel that spring started pretty early. Even so, I am still sad to have missed the official beginning of spring.

Spring is bursting everywhere in the garden. The ranunculus, primrose, cyclamen and tulips are all still a riot of color. The daffodils, crocus, hyacinth, grape hyacinth, hellebores and daphne have all begun to fade. Making way for the new blooms of tiarella, brunnera, mock orange and bleeding heart. The early foliage of clematis, peonies, hostas and lilies have burst from the warm soil and are reaching for the sky. Fern-lady, sword, autumn-fiddleheads are beginning to unfurl. Our four maple trees are leafing out in succession. I can see the wisteria blossoms beginning. The seeds I planted 3 weeks ago-peas, radish, orach and chervil have all germinated into tiny hopeful sprouts.

Today I spent a blissful 4 hours in the sunny garden. Glorious is the yellow-orange foliage of 'gold flame' spirea! Tedious is another spring of yanking out the loathsome bluebells we inherited with this yard. My muscles ache after 3 weeks of rest. It feels great to stretch, soak up the sun and sink my hands in the soil.

At one point I heard the familiar buzz of the hummingbird that hangs out year round in our garden. She buzzed right by me staying only for a few moments to happily feed on the pink blossoms of the native bleeding heart dicentra formosa. I try to plant year round nectar sources for our favorite little hummingbird.

In my perennial flower garden I grow 3 varieties of peonies, 5 varieties of dahlias, 3 varieties of lilies, bee balm, rudbeckia, echinacea, coreopsis, asclepias and clematis. I like to underplant these perennials with annuals every spring. Next month I will tuck in starts of alyssum and marigolds. Today I planted seed for dill and 4 varieties annual poppies. I am so excited for lilac pom pom, black swan, purple & blue bread seed types. Poppy seeds require light to germinate so I scattered them on the soil surface, lightly raked over and then lightly watered. The seed bed needs to stay evenly moist, not soaked, to germinate. I also planted seed for sunflowers and amaranth. Usually I plant these in April when the soil is warmer, but it's been so warm and mild I judged it safe to get started early.

By mid summer this bed will be a riot of color and provide endless cut flowers for our home. Not only is the flower garden beautiful for us to enjoy, many of these flowers provide food and habitat for bees, beneficial bugs, butterflies and hummingbirds. I don't use any chemicals, herbicide, pesticide, fungicide in our garden. That includes no organic chemicals or home remedies either because even they can harm bees. I aim for biodiversity, crop rotation and companion planting to attract beneficial bugs. By adding organic matter, organic fertilizer, cover cropping and no-till methods I nurture the health of my soil. Healthy soil=healthy plants. Following the concept of right plant right place my plants are less stressed out and therefore less susceptible to disease and pests.

Here are some tips on what cool season crops to get started planting now:

Mustard greens
Peas-sugar snap, snow & shelling
Salad greens-arugula, cress, endive, escarole, mache, mesclun mix & radicchio
Swiss Chard

Herbs-chervil, cilantro, parsley, chives, lavender, sage, rosemary, thyme, mints. I think most perennial and cool season annual herbs would succeed now. I'd just hold off on until May on your heat lovers like basil.

Perennial veggies-

I'd also go for it with your potato tubers! I feel confident it's warm enough and dry enough. If you didn't plant your garlic, onion & shallot sets in the fall you could do that now. And it's a great time to begin your onion bunches-this is the way we grow our favorite sweet onions "walla wallas" every spring for summer summer harvest.

Don't forget about your fruit. Late winter and early spring are the very best time to plant your fruit trees, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes and kiwi.

Happy planting!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gardening in Small Spaces

Gardening friends,
Several years ago I designed a curriculum and started teaching a gardening class about how to successfully garden in small spaces. This class was born out of my experience as an avid gardener for 20 years gardening in the full spectrum of living situations. Container gardening on the front stoop of my apartments, participating in 2 urban community gardens, farming every inch of an uncultivated backyard at a rental house, and my current situation. For 4 years I have joyfully lived and lovingly tended a bountiful garden at our secret garden cottage. Our yard is mostly shaded by 4 mature maple trees. We squeeze out veggies and herbs from every available spot of sunshine. As a gardening teacher, over the years, more and more students of my veggie gardening 101 class kept asking about how to garden in containers, how to garden indoors, how to garden in one raised bed. All of these experiences culminated in my popular small space gardening class.

If you think you don't have room to garden I challenge you to reexamine your space. In our current yard the only sunny garden space was along the pathway on the side of the house that had 2 existing raised beds and was storage for a composter and numerous trash and recycling bins sitting on a brick pad. This was the hottest brightest spot in the yard and it was not being utilized to it's fullest gardening potential.

In small spaces you have to really prioritize your needs & wants. It takes a good amount of organization and planning to not end up with a jumbled overcrowded mess of plants competing with each other. Every year I have tweaked and replanted this evolving garden to meet our needs. And it took some creative thinking to re-imagine the existing space into potential new gardening space.

I had dreams of an ornamental flower garden to nourish bees, butterflies and hummingbirds as well as provide me with cut flowers for my design work. I envisioned a bed overflowing with my favorite flowers: sunflowers, dahlias, lilies, poppies and peonies. So where a very old rangy 4 foot rosemary consumed all the space, it was removed 3 years ago, the gardening bed extended a few feet into unused space and lined with a river rock border. Viola! I had a new 4 foot by 6 foot flower bed.

In a very sunny spot of the side yard is a huge red flowering rhododendron. It is pretty for its few weeks of bloom in May and after that it's just evergreen leaves taking up prime sunny space. Rather than remove it, this year I pruned it from the bottom and within to open it up. This has scored me an additional 3.5 foot by 5 foot of growing space. Due to the rhododendron's mature root system I won't plant directly into the ground. Instead I am working on a series of containers to utilize this very sunny space.

We moved the composter to an unused part of the yard and this opened up space to build our 3rd raised bed for vegetables that can tolerate bright indirect light & light shade. We moved the trash & recycling bins to a new part of the yard this opened up a a very warm sunny space for our potato tubs and our 4th raised bed.

There were 3 stunted unproductive old blueberry plants surrounded by overgrown roses, ferns, ground cover and weeds. This area only receives bright indirect sunlight. Last year we removed the old blueberry plants and cleaned out everything else. After adding new compost and a brick lined border, the result was a 3 foot by 3 foot patch for our favorite 'Hood' strawberries. We had great success with Hoods at our last community garden and are excited to see how they will produce for us in this not full sun site. Right next door to this project is a 3 foot by 5 foot bed of mature raspberries that produce like crazy twice a year in the part sun/shade location.

Every one of our raised beds has a trellis along the backside for vines like peas, beans, and flowers. Utilizing vertical gardening will maximize your limited space.

3 of our raised beds are reserved for vegetables with companion plant herbs & annual flowers. One raised bed is reserved for my perennial herbs with annual herbs added each spring.

Our raised beds total 92 square feet of growing space. An additional 20 square feet is reserved for containers and 24 square feet of ground space for berries. This gives us a total of 136 square feet of growing space for edibles.

In this little amount of space, only 136 square feet we are able to grow:

Beans-pole & runner
Mesclun Mix
Potatoes-5 varieties
Summer Squash
Swiss Chard
Tomatoes-5 varieties

Lemon balm
Lemon verbena
Mints-peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, chocolate mint
Sage-bergarten, pineapple, tangerine
Scented geraniums
Thyme-english & lemon

That's a lot of variety and a lot of food!

My best tip for keeping our raised beds performing at their peak is to take care of your soil. Healthy soil=healthy plants. We utilize organic and no-till gardening methods for optimal soil health. We grow spring, summer and fall and let our beds rest during the winter season. With the exception of the perennial herbs and overwintering veggies-like garlic & shallots. Every spring we had a fresh load of organic compost to top dress our raised beds.

Every 2-3 months during the growing season I apply an organic granular fertilizer that I mix myself from alfalfa meal, bat guano, rock phosphate, kelp meal, greensand and lime. Depending on where the plants are in their growth stages I also apply a liquid organic fertilizer made from earthworm castings and manures. I like to use compost tea throughout the season as well.

I don't use chemicals of any kind-fertlizer, pesticide, herbicide or fungicide. Even organic products can kill beneficial bugs, bees and butterflies. I plant lots of companion flowers and herbs to attract beneficial bugs. I nurture my soil and don't disrupt soil life by tilling or turning over the soil.

In the late fall after crops have been harvested we plant cover crops, my favorite is crimson clover. We also attempt to rotate our crops each year, even in this limited small space.

Let me know if you have any questions or need advice on small space gardening. Your small space garden is only limited by the size of your garden dreams! Now get out there and get gardening!

Have fun,