Doug at Wholey’s Sunday 11am 9/28/14 for a free cooking/gardening demo

September 24th, 2014

Join me at Wholey's this Sunday. I'll cook some swordfish for you and we'll talk gardening.

Join me at Wholey’s this Sunday. I’ll cook some swordfish for you and we’ll talk gardening.


I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be appearing monthly at Wholey’s in the Strip. This Sunday 9/28/24 I’ll be there at 11 a.m. cooking swordfish with a Wholey’s family recipe and talking about fall planting. I’ll be serving you some of the swordfish too.
There’s plenty of free parking on Sundays and we’re going to have a lot of fun.

Making Mums Last as seen on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live

September 24th, 2014

Choosing mums which are just budding will make them last longer this season. Photo by Doug Oster

Choosing mums which are just budding will make them last longer this season. Photo by Doug Oster


The hazy world of “hardy mums” causes both confusion an consternation for gardeners. “Why don’t they come back,” I’m often asked.

First, lets talk hardy. Some mums sold as hardy mums aren’t, others are. That’s easy, right? I always buy mine from a good nursery where the good folks there will know the variety and if it’s actually bred to overwinter in our climate.

Bet even though a mum is tough enough to make it through the winter, there’s only a 50 percent chance it will.

Here’s how mums are forced to bloom in the fall. Growers pinch back the buds at least two times so the plant will be filled with flowers now. Since the plant has used so much energy to produce all those flowers, it’s usually just too tired to get established in the ground.

Here are a few tips to get the most out of your mums and attempt to get them to winter over.

Always buy from a place you trust. A good grower will never let the plants dry out and starting with a healthy plant makes all the difference in the world.

Pick plants that are still budded tight and not already flowering. You can usually get a good idea of what the color and flower type will be by looking and the plant tag and other blooming plants nearby.

Improve the soil with compost to make the plants happy. Buying a bag or two of good compost will go a long way to giving the mums everything they need.

Keep the plant watered and deadhead the first flush of blooms. When the mum has bloomed once, there should be more buds ready to bloom. Remove the spent flowers and the plant should bloom again.

At the end of the season, don’t cut back the dying branches. There’s research showing leaving the plant alone and cutting back in the spring is better for over wintering.

Mums are a big part of our fall gardens, enjoy the blooms now and cross your fingers for the plant to return in the spring.

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Gardens as seen on Pittsburgh Today Live

August 28th, 2014

This 'Double Hot Cherry Profusion' zinnia is one of the AAS winners growing at Schenley Plaza.

This ‘Double Hot Cherry Profusion’ zinnia is one of the AAS winners growing at Schenley Plaza.


Today on PTL I shared the stage with Angela Yuele from the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.
We talked about three of the conservancy’s gardens. The All America Selections Display Garden at Schenley Plaza, Mellon Square Park and featured the gardens at Highland Park.
You can learn all about the gardens here.
Here’s a plant list of what’s growing at Schenley Plaza.
Blanket Flower ‘Mesa Yellow’ and ‘Arizona Apricot.’
Zinnia ‘Double Zahara Fire,”Profusion Double Hot Cherry,’ ‘Zahara Starlight Rose,’ ‘Profusion Double Deep Salmon,’ ‘Double Zahara Cherry.’
Vinca ‘Jams ‘N Jellies Blackberry.’
Gaura ‘Sparkle White.’
Salvia ‘Summer Jewel Red’ and ‘Summer Jewel Pink.’
Coneflower ‘Cheyenne Spririt’ and ‘PowWow Wild Berry.’
Canna ‘South Pacific Scarlet.’
Geranium ‘Pinto Premium White to Rose.’
Marigold ‘Moonsong Deep Orange.’
Ornamental pepper ‘Black Olive’ and ‘NuMex Easter.’
African daisy ‘Alka Daisy White.’

Red Ripe and Roasted Tomato and Garlic Festival; Gardeners can help the hungry at Phipps

August 20th, 2014

I pay my daughter $25 to dress up as a tomato for Red Ripe and Roasted.

I pay my daughter $25 to dress up as a tomato for Red Ripe and Roasted.


It’s the 10th year for Red Ripe and Roasted, the tomato and garlic festival I helped start with the help of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. On Sunday August 24th, 2014 from 11-4 p.m. visitors can enjoy great food, a farmer’s market, participate in a tomato contest and more. I’ll be cooking my Extreme Garlic Pesto recipe at 12 noon for you to taste.

The idea of the festival is to get as much fresh produce for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. The festival is free, but gardeners who bring a bag of food get into the conservatory for free to see the Summer Flower Show and Butterfly Forest.

Bring your own tomatoes to be judged for the biggest, smallest and ugliest fruit.

The festival includes a farmer’s market of all certified naturally grown produce, cooking demos and fun activities for kids.

It’s also a place where gardeners can buy a wide variety of garlic for planting without paying shipping.

I’ll be signing copies of Tomato Garlic Basil too.

Please join me for a day of fun and help the hungry.

Hope to see you there!

Free Pot Luck Picnic for all gardeners with Doug Oster and Jessica Walliser

August 13th, 2014

Jessica Walliser and Doug Oster are holding a free Pot Luck Picnic this Sunday

Jessica Walliser and Doug Oster are holding a free Pot Luck Picnic this Sunday


I’ll be joined by my radio partner Jessica Walliser this Sunday 8/17/14 for a free Pot Luck Picnic from 2-4 p.m. for all gardeners at Schenley Plaza in Oakland.

It started out as a thank you for all the gardening fans who have come to see us at Giant Eagle Market District and has grown to a celebration of gardening for everyone.

Bring your favorite dish, but if you don’t have food, I’ll give you some of mine. Bring your own non-alcoholic beverage and we’ll supply the plates, napkins and utensils.

We also have lots of wonderful gardening products to give away including books, plants, seeds and some really cool stuff from Dramm.

It will be two hours of gardening fun a chance to exchange ideas, talk about the season and share some wonderful food along with great stories.

Schenley Plaza is located at Forbes Ave and Schenley Drive directly across from the Cathedral of Learning.

Hope to see you there.

Join Doug on a Tulip River Cruise of Holland and Belgium in April

July 23rd, 2014

Would you be interested in seeing seven million tulips? Join me on a tulip river cruise.

Would you be interested in seeing seven million tulips? Join me on a tulip river cruise.


First it was London, then Italy, now I’m taking gardeners to Holland and Belgium in April of 2015 to see amazing sites and spectacular fields of tulips. This trip needs to be booked soon to get the cabin you want. Both of my other trips sold out quickly, so if this one is for you get a deposit in. The next payment won’t be due until December and of course, as always there’s travel insurance. If anything prohibits you from being part of the trip, you don’t lose a dime.
This is a trip for gardeners and non-gardeners alike. We’ll be cruising on a cozy luxury boat which holds less than 200 people. The ship will be our home for the trip which takes us all over Holland and Belgium. There’s no packing or unpacking and we have wonderful local guide who know just about everything about our destinations.
The trip is nine days and includes 20 meals along with airfare and lodging on the ship.
Here are just some of the highlights-
Keukenhof is a kaleidoscope of color in bloom with SEVEN MILLION tulips.
Tour of Holland’s capital Amsterdam.
Bruges, one of Europe’s most perfectly preserved medieval cities.
Join a local expert exploring Antwerp’s historical sites including the “Liebfrauenkirche,” Belgium’s largest Gothic church; the legendary “Brabo” fountains; and Rubens’ house.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
These trips are set up to make traveling easy. I’ll be with you from beginning to end. The goal? To have fun of course!
Here are all the details and itinerary.

Summer Perennial Planting as seen on KDKA Pittsburgh Today Live

July 23rd, 2014

Lilies are a great perennial plant to add to the garden now.

Lilies are a great perennial plant to add to the garden now.


Summer is a great time to plant perennials. Nurseries are almost giving them away and they will be fine once planted.
They come back year after year and most get bigger with time.
Improve the soil with compost and plant away!
One of my favorite plants is corydalis lutea. It starts blooming in April and continues into late October. It will form a nice colony in a couple seasons. The tiny yellow flowers will bloom in full shade of full sun and the plant is deer resistant.
Conelfowers like ‘Raspberry Truffle’ are indestructible and beautiful.
Blanket flower is another winner which loves full sun.
Even though some plants have stopped blooming, they can be identified by looking at the tag. I like to buy lilies this way. I know were the hole is in my perennial bed and I know how tall the lily is. Next year, I’ll have a the hole filled with a wonderful lily.

Free gardening seminar with Doug on Saturday, Summer gardening tips as seen on KDKA’s PTL

July 16th, 2014

I’ll be presenting “Summer Gardening Tips” on Saturday 7/19/14, 11 a.m. at Plumline Nursery’s Customer Appreciation Day.

This is the fourth year I’ve appeared at the event and it’s an awesome day. The nursery is filled with unique plants and many are on sale. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will be there, there’s free food, games for the kids and more.
Blog Plum CAD

Doug in Mercer Saturday for Bicentennial Celebration.

July 9th, 2014

Come see me on Saturday from 12-2pm in Mercer.

Come see me on Saturday from 12-2pm in Mercer.


I’ll be on the town square in Mercer on Saturday July 12, 2014 from 12 noon until 2 p.m. as part of the community’s bicentennial celebration.

I’ll be answering garden questions, talking gardening, giving things away and signing books too.

I spent a lot of time in Mercer when I worked for the Youngstown Vindicator, I’m looking forward to seeing all my old friends.

The day is packed with great festivities.

On Saturday enjoy historical tours, artisans, quilt show, Civil War encampment, food, farmers’ market.

Also on Saturday, take your family to the Old-Fashioned Day in Brandy Springs Park, south of Mercer. From from noon until the Fireworks at 9:30pm.

There will be balloon animals, pizza and ice cream eating contests, car cruise-in at 4pm, entertainment, crafts, food, games and more.

Keep Tomato Plants Healthy As Seen On KDKA’s PTL

July 9th, 2014

This tomato has early blight. Photo by Doug Oster

This tomato has early blight. Photo by Doug Oster


A cool spring has morphed into a hot and muggy early summer which is providing the perfect storm for early blight to infect tomato plants.

Don’t panic, this weather has just about every gardener worried when they look down at the yellowing spotted foliage of America’s favorite home grown vegetable.

Early blight is not a death sentence for tomatoes though.

The firs step is to remove infected foliage, new sprouts will form in their place. Be careful not to spread the disease to healthy plants.

I pull by hand and only work with infected plants. The diseased foliage is not added to the compost pile. I dispose of mine in a pile of weeds and diseased discards. I’ll throw a few shovelfuls of woodland soil over them. Before I do any more work with tomatoes, I go inside and wash up.

Early blight is soil borne, so if plants have not been mulched yet, they should be. This will stop the spores from splashing up on the plant.

Some varieties are more prone to fungal issues than others, it’s always a good idea to grow lots of different tomatoes.

It’s not too late to plant either. I’ve been to nurseries who are almost giving away big, healthy plants filled with tennis ball sized tomatoes. I’m still planting as other crops are harvested. The plants will take off in this warm soil.

Fungicides can help slow the onset of early blight. Most are best applied BEFORE signs of damage appear. Serenade on the other hand is an organic fungicide which attacks the spores themselves. It’s my number one choice when dealing with most fungal issues.

Don’t let early blight worry you, the plants will rebound when things dry out and the season progresses.

Blossom end rot is always a prblem for gardeners as we get into the summer. A sunken black or brown decay will form where the blossom was on the bottom of the fruit. This is caused when the plant can’t get the calcium it needs. The nutrient is probably in the soil, but unavailable when the soil dries out. The way to beat blossom end rot is to keep the soil evenly moist. Don’t let the plant go through periods of drought then to be deluged in a summer thunderstorm. A good thick layer of mulch helps.

Some varieties of tomato are more susceptible than others, often sauce or paste tomatoes are hit hard. Tomatoes grown in containers are also prone to the problem. They need constant watering or you might consider a self watering container. This video explains how to build one.

But it’s not just tomatoes that gardeners need to be worried about, eggplant, peppers and zucchini all can fall victim to the affliction.

I’ve had countless gardeners calling me, worried that late blight has hit their tomatoes, when in actuality it’s only blossom end rot. As always, identify the problem, and then take action.

Late blight is the worst thing that can happen to tomatoes. Luckily it’s only been found in the eastern part of the state and doesn’t threaten us yet. Only time will tell if the disease will move west.
Late blight is airborne, creating millions of spores and spreading them as far as they can float. The good news is the season is almost over. The bad news is I might not be able to pick the last tomatoes and ripen them indoors as I usually do.

In the case of late blight, there’s nothing a gardener can do as far as the soil is concerned. One there’s a freeze, the spores are killed. Next season we’re not any more prone to the disease because the plant were infected this year. The most important control is to remove any plant infected with late blight. They can’t be composted and need to be either bagged, buried or burned. Even though a freeze will kill the spores above ground, the disease can survive underground.

We had a season a few years ago where late blight ran rampant mid-season and many gardeners didn’t pick tomatoes that summer.

There are preventative measures which can be taken during the season though to combat late blight. The number one thing I should have done was treat the plants with an organic fungicide like Serenade. This is only effective in the case of late blight by treating BEFORE seeing signs of damage.