See Doug Saturday 10:30am at Cooper Siegel Library in Fox Chapel

April 2nd, 2014

The Steel City Garden is Doug Oster's fifth title with St. Lynn's Press.

The Steel City Garden is Doug Oster’s fifth title with St. Lynn’s Press.


I’ll be at Cooper Siegel Library Saturday 4/5/14 at 10:30am. I’m talking about my favorite plants and how to grow them. I’ll be signing books afterwards and there will be a raffle for a book too. Here are all the details for registration.

Plant Pansies and Violas Now as Seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

April 2nd, 2014

'Hip Hop' violas have an interesting flower shape.

‘Hip Hop’ violas have an interesting flower shape.


Pansies and violas offer an unending myriad of colors. They love cool weather, can be planted in containers or right in the garden. They bring happiness with every blossom.

Both plants are easy to grow. Be sure they get plenty of water and some liquid organic fertilizer every other week to keep them growing strong.

In my garden I fill as many containers as I can, mixing the pansies and violas at will. The front of the house is a rainbow of colors to great visitors. Many have a subtle, but wonderful fragrance too.

Since the flowers can take anything Mother Nature has left in her, they are the perfect choice to plant now.

I’m a cheap gardener (as you know) and I prefer to buy the plants in flats, it’s the best bang for the buck. I did have to buy some of the ‘Hip Hop’ violas at Chapon’s Greenhouse. They are sold in plastic pots and are pricey in comparison to buying a flat, but I love them, so I purchased four of them.

Get some pansies in the garden and soak in the beauty, it’s guaranteed to make you smile.

Starting Seeds is Fun and Easy as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

March 26th, 2014

These are tomato seedlings which have just sprouted. I start my main crop on April 1st, but need to have something growing a little earlier. Photo by Doug Oster

These are tomato seedlings which have just sprouted. I start my main crop on April 1st, but need to have something growing a little earlier. Photo by Doug Oster


Growing from seed saves money, provides the opportunity to grow endless varieties and, most importantly, nurtures the soul.

Being able to say “I grew it from seed” just feels good.

The key is to start off with the right kind of growing medium. Use a planting mix or seed-starting mix from your favorite nursery. Don’t use garden soil or potting soil; it’s too heavy.

Moisten the mix before putting it into the container. I use plastic six-packs from last year’s flowers, but anything with drainage will do.

Lay the seed on the mix and cover it. Press down to assure good contact between the mix and the seed.

Cover the container with clear plastic and place it in a warm, bright location. You might be able to get away with a bright south-facing window, but you’re better off growing under fluorescent shop lights. Hang them from chains just inches above the plants. As soon as the seeds germinate, remove the plastic.

Start fertilizing at half strength a couple of weeks after sprouting, then continue about once a week.

When temperatures warm up, get the transplants outside to acclimate them to the weather — at first only for an hour and eventually overnight. The process takes about a week. Tender plants like tomatoes and peppers can go out into the garden around the third week of May. I usually wait until Memorial Day when the soil has really warmed up.

This year, I’m going to try a trick I learned at Janoski’s Farm and Greenhouse in Clinton. On a tour of the farm in April, I saw rows of tomatoes covered with two layers of floating row covers supported by wire hoops. A floating row cover is spun bound translucent fabric often used to extend the season. It’s really a greenhouse in the field. I’m going to try it with just a couple of plants.

Growing from seed is fulfilling, educational and fun. Give it a try.

Cool New Varieties for 2014 as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

March 19th, 2014

'Hip Hop' violas have an interesting flower shape.

‘Hip Hop’ violas have an interesting flower shape.


Every season bring with it new varieties. Here are just a few I mentioned on PTL. I bought them all at Chapon’s Nursery in Baldwin.
I fell in love with ‘Hip Hop’ violas when I first saw them. The unique flower shape is cool. I want to see how they hold up in cool weather outdoors.
Petunia ‘Glamouflage Grape’ has pretty green and white variegated foliage with purple flowers.
Gomphrena ‘Pink Zazzle’ is a showstopper. with three inch wide bright pink blooms.
Every nursery will have their own selection of new plants. Spend a Sunday with a gardening friend and search around, it’s fun. And that’s why we garden…right?

Doug’s web garden chat live at 12 noon Thursday 3/21/2014. Celebrate the first day of spring!

March 19th, 2014

This snow crocus heralds the start of spring! Photo by Doug Oster

This snow crocus heralds the start of spring! Photo by Doug Oster


Let’s celebrate the first day of spring by talking gardening. All you have to do is log in here.

I did a lot of these last year and we had fun. Ask questions, tell stories and complain about the endless winter!

I’ll be chatting live at 12 noon on Thursday 3/20/14. Just click the link above.

Hope to see you there.

Join Doug for a once and a lifetime trip to Italy

March 5th, 2014

This garden is one we'll see on my trip to Northern Italy.

This garden is one we’ll see on my trip to Northern Italy.


Response has been overwhelming for my upcoming trip to Italy. If the trip is right for you, call Alice Steel today at (724) 266-5715 to make sure you’re registered to go. Here are all the details-
Next September I’m taking gardeners on a once in a lifetime trip to northern Italy. It’s a 10 day trip starting with our overnight flight to Venice on September 6th, 2014 (my birthday). Gardeners who came to London with me last May have already started to sign up. There’s a $250 discount for travelers who sign up early. The price of the trip includes air fair, lodging, 12 meals, bus travel, admission to all venues and more. Highlights include Venice, Murano Island, Doge’s Palace, Giusti Giardino, Como, Lugano, Switzerland, Bellagio, Stresa, Lake Maggiore, Villa Cicogna Mozzoni, Isola Madre, Isola Bella.
We’ll have local professional guides at each area and I’ll be traveling with you to help them.
It’s going to be a wonderful time. There’s nothing better than traveling with other gardeners. But this trip is more than gardens, there will be lots of other things to see too.
Here are all the details.
Call me with questions, 412-779-5861.

Grow Lettuce, Spinach and Chives on the windowsill as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

February 26th, 2014

Growing things like lettuce, spinach and chives is easy.

Growing things like lettuce, spinach and chives is easy.


As the endless winter continues, here’s a great project to keep gardeners sane. I found some great looking lettuce, spinach and chive plants at Chapon’s Greenhouse in Baldwin. I also found the right sized pots to fit on the windowsill there too, but I bet you could find them at your local garden center too. If you don’t want to make one of these, they sell them already planted, but then you won’t get your hands dirty.
There’s not much to it really. Fill the container with moist planting mix and work in your plants with the tallest in the middle and smallest along the edges. Keep them watered in the windowsill until mid-April when they can go outside. Harvest as needed.
Have fun planting!

Recipe for Hope and recipe for Seafood Lasagna

February 19th, 2014

Here I am with the amazing Bonny Diver, the person behind Hair Peace Charities.

Here I am with the amazing Bonny Diver, the person behind Hair Peace Charities.

Recipe for Hope is this Saturday 2/22/14. It’s an event which helps Hair Peace Charities, a charity helping women with cancer. Here are all the details.
This is the recipe my wife Cindy came up with for the first Recipe for Hope, it’s Seafood Lasagna-

Ingredients-
sauce
1 large onion diced
1 head of garlic minced
1 pound frozen lobster pieces
3 ounces sun dried tomatoes
1 cup white wine
6 ounces fontinella cheese grated
6 ounces of gorganzola cheese crumbled
1 cup butter
5 leaves of basil chopped
2 tsp oregano chopped
1 tbs lemon juice
2 cups half and half

Filling
46 ounces riccota cheese
10 ounce box of frozen spinach
2 eggs beaten
1 cup of romano cheese grated
1 tbs parsley chopped

1 box (nine ounces) Barilla oven bake lasagna noodles

16 ounces mozerella cheese

4 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put olive oil in a fry pan on medium heat. Add onions and cook four minutes, then add garlic cook until onions are soft and trasnparent.
Keep garlic moving don’t burn. Add tomatoes, lobster, wine and bring to boil.
Reduce heat add butter, gorganzola and fontinella cheeses and half and half. Squeeze a fresh lemon. Stir and simmer until smooth.
To make filling-
In a large bowl combine spinach and riccota cheese, eggs, parsley and salt and pepper.
To assemble-
Pour enough sauce to cover the bottom of a large baking pan. Layer noodles on the sauce hen cover them with the ricotta/spinach mixture. Pour enough sauce to cover. Continue intil pan is filled with layers of noodles, sauce and ricotta/spinach mix.
On top of that add mozarella cheese.
Bake one hour at 350 degrees covered. Take out of oven and let sit for 20 minutes before serving.
Serves 8-12

Valentine’s Day Alternatives as seen on PIttsburgh Today Live

February 13th, 2014

Roses aren't the only flowers which make great gifts for Valentine's Day.

Roses aren’t the only flowers which make great gifts for Valentine’s Day.


Ok, you’ve got to buy roses, right?I think there are better choices for Valentine’s Day, but no one wants to end up in the dog house.
Keeping roses looking their best means cutting the bottoms of the stems before putting them in water and adding a drop or two of bleach to keep bacteria at bay. Change the water daily and give the roses another cut at the bottom after a few days.
For some reason a penny in the vase helps too.
There are lots of plants which will last longer than a dozen roses. Every time your significant other looks at these plants, they will think of you.
Potted miniature roses will live all winter on the windowsill and can go into the garden in April where they will last for many years.
Cyclamen is one of the only houseplants which should be kept on the moist side. When watered frequently they will bloom for months.
How about an orchid, they will bloom for months too.
I found some really cool plants at Chapon’s Greenhouse, including a heart shaped topiary.
One more tip for those roses, dry them when their time is done in the vase and they will last forever, just like your undying love for your partner.

Explore the Gardens of Italy with Doug!

February 5th, 2014

This garden is one we'll see on my trip to Northern Italy.

This garden is one we’ll see on my trip to Northern Italy.


Next September I’m taking gardeners on a once in a lifetime trip to northern Italy. It’s a 10 day trip starting with our overnight flight to Venice on September 6th, 2014 (my birthday). Gardeners who came to London with me last May have already started to sign up. There’s a $250 discount for travelers who sign up early. The price of the trip includes air fair, lodging, 12 meals, bus travel, admission to all venues and more. Highlights include Venice, Murano Island, Doge’s Palace, Giusti Giardino, Como, Lugano, Switzerland, Bellagio, Stresa, Lake Maggiore, Villa Cicogna Mozzoni, Isola Madre, Isola Bella.
We’ll have local professional guides at each area and I’ll be traveling with you to help them.
It’s going to be a wonderful time. There’s nothing better than traveling with other gardeners. But this trip is more than gardens, there will be lots of other things to see too.
Here are all the details.
Call me with questions, 412-779-5861.