Saturday, January 28, 2023

A PLANTING GUIDE FOR THE NEW YEAR

Over twenty years ago the following garden guide was presented at a meeting of the Northwest Oregon and Washington Columbia Fiber Guild.

It is a new year in many ways, yes, with perhaps new edible crops and perhaps a review of our mental garden as well.

GARDEN OF RESOLUTIONS

In my garden I have planted five rows of peas:

  • preparedness, 
  • promptness,
  • perseverance, 
  • politeness and 
  • patience.

Next to them I have planted three rows of squash:
  • squash gossip,
  • squash criticism, and 
  • squash indifference.


Then I put in five rows of lettuce:

  • let us be faithful, 
  • let us be unselfish,
  • let us be loyal, 
  • let us love one another, 
  • let us be truthful.

And, of course, no garden is complete without turnips:

      .
      • turn up for meetings,
      • turn up with a smile,
      • turn up with a new idea, and
      • turn up with determination 


Lastly, our garden must have thyme: 

  • thyme for each other, 
  • thyme for family,
  • thyme for friends.

Water freely with patience and cultivate with love.  There is much fruit in your garden because you reap what you sow.

It is an exciting time of year for gardeners and especially for Master Gardeners and the many opportunities to volunteer.  Events are in the process of being scheduled, many Community Education classes, Spring Seminar, Community Gardens opening and their need for mentors, Home & Garden Show, annual MG Plant Sale, plus the many requests from local organizations for speakers.  Every event needs volunteers, from making copies and distributing them to being a presenter. 

It is a wonderful experience to have an active part in these events and one you won't regret.  







      












Saturday, January 14, 2023

DO YOU FOLLOW TRENDS?

The first of the year always brings forecasts of what the garden trends for 2023 will be.  There are many sources with many predictions.  Over the years I am sorry I haven't kept better track as our concerns and our sense of responsibility to nature definitely has changed.

This year I noted an increased emphasis on how to manage limited garden space, or creating garden space, and using it to its best advantage.  Building lots are smaller, apartment complexes and condos are being built with deck accommodations and the gardening/outdoor living industry is making an effort fulfill those needs.  

Vertical planting is becoming of interest to those looking for garden space.  Some ideas would include an arbor, trellis system or if space is available a pergola.  Fast growing annual vines can be used as a quick screen or to create shade.  Flat sided baskets, or window boxes could be attached to a fence to grow small annuals, strawberries and other edibles.

Lawns are still a big item on the agenda list of concerns, world-wide, not just central Oregon.  Much to my surprise The Royal Horticulture Society in England is an advocate of replacing some of the green lawns and structured formal gardens with pollinator friendly plantings.

I recently read an article asking for advice on how to get rid of 'annoying, pesky plants' in gardens. The writer was referring to Calla lily, anemone or windflower, Love-in-a mist, bluebells; the list went on. It made me realize there is still a great deal of research that needs to be shared with many gardeners on the value of mixed plantings and the value of pollinators.  It is a credit to universities and organizations like the Master Gardener programs that teach the value of many so-called weeds to help keep nature in balance.

One garden subject that is often neglected is that of garden accessibility for gardeners with limited mobility issues.  I noted that this year more considerations and designs are becoming available to address those issues, especially in the establishment of public gardens.  Paths need to be flat and paved, if possible. for easy wheelchair accessibility.  Ideally the garden area designed with special planters should be close to the Handicap Parking.

A raised planting box high enough for wheelchair access was built and installed years ago in the Redmond Demo Garden.  However, it wasn't the right time and was not used.  Gardening and accessibility has changed greatly over the past ten years.  Something as simple as adding bright yellow flowers along pathways or using the small solar garden lights helps guide someone who is sight impaired feel more comfortable. 

Drought continues to be a concern for central Oregon.  The more we can improve our native soil with organic matter the sooner we will be able to increase the tilth, the water-holding capacity, of the soil, the sooner we will be able to consider planting some of the 'dry-land' vegetable varieties that are being planting in other parts of Oregon.  

There is still so much to learn and so much to share!  Happy Planning!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

WHO, WHAT, WHERE, AND WHEN

'Our first kiss was under the parasite' would probably not be a good first liner for a romantic novel. 

 There are a myriad of folktales involving mistletoe taken from the mythology of many cultures. My favorite is one I have had in my files for years which unfortunately wasn't sourced at the time, but it is worth sharing. 

 The myth is that the common name of the plant is derived from the ancient belief that mistletoe was propagated from bird droppings. This belief was related to the then accepted principle that life could spring spontaneously from dung. 

 It was observed that mistletoe would often appear on a branch or twig where birds left droppings. According to the myth, 'mistel' is the Anglo-Saxon word for 'dung' and 'tan' is the word for 'twig'. -mistletoe means 'dung-on-a-twig'.
   
By the 16th century, botanists discovered that the parasite was spread by seeds that passed through the digestive tract of birds. Botanists observed that sticky seeds tended to cling to the bills of birds. When the birds cleaned their bills by rubbing them against the branches or bark of trees the seeds were further scattered.

No winter plant carries as much mystique and folklore as the mistletoe. Eventually centuries later, mistletoe found its way into acceptance as a symbol of love, romance and good luck. Mistletoe is a parasitic green plant with yellowish flowers and waxy white berries that grows on deciduous trees, mainly oak. The roots penetrate through the tree bark into the wood robbing the host tree of water and nutrients. Lovely and mystical as it seems it can be a problem.   

To clarify, the parasitic yellow-green growth we see in the junipers in Central Oregon is NOT the same as the growth in oak trees and sometimes, apple trees.

 Holly is usually mentioned in the same breath as mistletoe so here are a few fun facts to add to holiday party conversations. In Wales, family quarrels are thought to occur if holly is brought into the house prior to Christmas Eve. If decorations are left up beyond New Year's or Twelfth night, it is said that a misfortune will occur for each leaf and branch remaining. Some observe the tradition of placing little lighted candles on holly leaves and floating them on water. If they float it is a sign that the project the person has in mind at the time will prosper, but if they sink it is as well to abandon it. 

Use your newfound knowledge as best you can and have a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Saturday, December 10, 2022

ENJOYMENT AND EDUCATION

Greg Aronoff's December 5 posting on The OSU Extension Service and Professional & Continuing
Educational site reminded me of the enjoyment and knowledge I have gained through the reading of all the postings. [https://tinyurl.com/LevelUpClasses]

The posting on December 5 extended an invitation to a free, guided webinar on Tuesday, December 13 in the evening on gathering winter greens and creating a winter arrangement.  Register at: DIY: Bringing nature in for the winter [https://extension.oregonstate.edu/mg/metro/events/diy-bringing-nature-winter-season-0]

 In the same posting, Chal Landgren, a Christmas Tree specialist with OSU Extension busts 7 myths regarding home care of your tree.  Who knew there is a myth about adding vodka in the water?  An answer was "only if you want to waste it".

If you aren't signed into the monthly postings I would urge you to sign up.  Contact pace@oregonstate.edu.  Not all postings are relevant to our side of the mountains.  An increased readership from Central Oregon, as well as other areas of the state,  would hopefully encourage a more statewide horticulture coverage.

Another on-line treasure is the OSU Garden Ecology Lab site.  In the summer of 2021 I followed and printed out the 10 week study of pollinators.  I have them all in a file folder and use the info as a guide for choosing plants [https://blogs.oregonstate.edu/gardenecologylab/]

The complete 10 week series from 2021 on Oregon Native Plants for Pollinators is available with fantastic field photos, culture notes plus an area map where you will find them growing. 

Bees were the topic in the October 2022 posting.  If that posting didn't answer your questions, you have 30 more postings on bees that you can access.  Eighteen postings can be found on Beneficial Insects.  In total there are 20 different categories to explore.  

If you have been fence-sitting over the issues of mixing native plants with your favorite perennials and annuals I suggest you read Douglas W. Tallamy's 'Nature's Best Hope'.

It is hard for many gardeners to be convinced that a shift in landscape design is necessary.  There are many reasons and we have heard them all.  BUT, have we taken them seriously?  AND, being the hopeful optimist that gardeners are, we won't feel a shift is necessary until it hits in our own landscape in some way.

Tallamy's first book, 'Bringing Nature Home' updated in 2009, certainly brought forward the importance of plantings in nature.  It was akin to a mini Horticulture course introducing many different
aspects of nature.

'Nature's Best Hope' has a much stronger impact with his choice of words and his more simplistic explanation of exactly why we should try to keep a brush pile or why we shouldn't pull every weed in sight.

The book is a wonderful read and certainly encourages us to incorporate some of his thoughts and methods into our own gardening style.

Maybe a good addition to your Christmas wish-list. 

   

 

Saturday, November 26, 2022

DINNER CONVERSATIONS

My mother was a quiet, soft-spoken woman.  EXCEPT when it came to large family holiday dinners when she issued an edict that there would be no political conversations.

Every year at the beginning of the holiday get-to-gathers I think of my mom and her ability to keep the gatherings a memorable occasion for the right reasons.  Recently I received an email with a laughable message, "The election is over: but--is it really?".   That brought to mind, maybe I should have some resources ready.  Even football game conversations can get spirited.

As gardeners, an obvious topic would be gardening.  But it's too early to start thinking about choices for the coming year. For a truly different conversation you might try a diversion of a well-known movie title that best describes your garden. 

I'm not up to date on recent movies so I would revert to some old favorites.

'Caddyshack' tops my list.  The 1980 movie featured Bill Murray as the groundskeeper at a prestigious

golf course and charged with the duty of ridding the golf course of gophers.  We were just into our second year of gardening in Central Oregon with lots to learn, especially about gophers.  The film didn't get a very high rating as a comedy but we thought it was hilarious. 

My personal 'Caddyshack' experience involved walking past a garden bed and watching a plant being pulled downwards.  I had a long handled shovel in hand and like a wild woman started slashing at the soil.  Course, all I did was slash the remaining plants to bits.  Bill Murray ended up using explosives but decided that wasn't a reasonable solution for us.  Instead, went to Big R for local advice.  

It wasn't long after that and the first Master Gardener classes were offered. We decided we had better sign up.

Several movie titles come to mind.   'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly'. 'Gunfight at the O.K. Corral', 'War of the Worlds' and with a softer touch, 'The Object of My Affection'.  

For all gardeners, 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' would be appropriate.  Will it be the deer, rabbits or rockchuck this time?

Deer are always the culprits on my property.  At this time of year, I adopt the position of observation rather than action.

Recently a deer was feasting on my honeysuckle on a trellis next to the house.  She started to move away but spied lots of greenery in the sunroom.  A feast to behold.  She walked to the sliding glass door, sniffed and sniffed some more.  Then walked around the corner and started sniffing at the large windows still trying to figure out how to get to the dinner table.

Survival is always on their mind.  There must be a high spy movie filled with lots of intrigue and drama that would fit the bill as a first class conversation diversion.

Good luck and create a memorable gathering through storytelling, if necessary.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

A JOURNEY

 As a parent, haven't we all wondered, "What life journey will my child take?"  Will the child be a doctor, a lawyer, maybe a horticulturist?

Probably not, but the clues may have been there over the years.  The child loved to play in the dirt, child interested in and not afraid of bugs, child asks lots of questions about trees and nature.

Every Christmas I think of the year my Seattle family came for the holidays.  I watched my 5 year old granddaughter in her P.J.'s trying to open the door to go outside.  When asked where she was going, the answer was to the garden to pick strawberries.  I told her Merry Sunshine was sleeping and there weren't any berries.  Her comment was, "When will she wake up?" 

When do we "wake up" to the interests that may be developing naturally in our children?  (The granddaughter's only interest was in eating strawberries.)  In the case of a potential horticulturist do we chide the child for getting too dirty or shudder when shown a prized catch of an insect?

Horticulture sounds so blissful and lucrative.  Maybe if you are the head gardener at a large estate that has an unlimited landscaping budget.  In reality, it is a world of insect-bites, near heatstroke temperatures or cold biting winds, definitely sore knees, plus the slow degeneration of the spinal column.

Over the years of exposure to glossy garden publications I have learned there is a definite difference between a garden designer and a horticulturist.  A garden designer develops plantings with structured shapes and well-laid plans for coordinating flower colors.  A horticulturist plans for the interaction of insects, plantings to attract pollinators and the development of rich soil to repair the damaged earth.  Plant choices are also considered for structural interest of seedheads, stems and flowerheads of grasses.  The end result is a meadow like effect rather than laid out garden segments.    

This can be an incredible time to get into horticulture for a number of reasons. Namely the changes we are noticing due to climate change.  Listening to the reports of the Climate Change Conference currently being held, is an eye opener to what we should be thinking about for our own backyard. How do we provide more food for our family?   How do we move away from our reliance on chemical fertilizers?

Many questions still to be answered.

Who knows, you may be sitting across the dinner table from a potential horticulturist who will rise tothe current challenges.  Maybe the child whose room was always a mess with clothes strewn on the floor, won't, as an adult. grab a high  powdered leaf blower attacking  the first fallen leaf.  Maybe as a horticulturist, he or she, will be part of the generation that leads us back to amore gentle, welcoming landscape..  The natural growth of shrubs, and  trees, not clipped into specific shapes,  fewer golf course perfect lawns, and the total acceptance of a few weeds. 

Currently reading 'Nature's Best Hope' by Douglas W. Tallamy--an excellent read.

   

Saturday, October 22, 2022

MORE OBSERVATIONS

Waking time is an automatic 5:30 am.  During this season of the year, rising time does not equate to waking time.   I call the interim time between 5:30am and 7:00 am Observation Time.

What is the final destination of the plane so high in the sky that only the slow moving contrail is evident?  Will the one dark cloud provide some long anticipated rain? 

There is no wind; why all the activity of moving branches in the two big juniper trees?  Then I realize it is birds, in a frenzy, feasting on the juniper berries.

It is not light enough to identify all the birds. I know many are robins, some are what our family refers

to as LBJ's (little brown jobs) and some appear slightly larger than robins, maybe the Townsends that I hear during the day.  What's the big attraction to the juniper berries?

Do the birds know something I don't know?  Maybe a harsh winter is around the corner.  Maybe there is a secret ingredient that increases stamina or maybe the berries are just plain tasty.  The age-old story about robins getting drunk on the berries has been disproved.  It all has to do with their digestive system.   

Beneath the waxy coating of a juniper berry, a green pulpy flesh surrounds a few seeds.  Fruit-eating birds normally quickly separates the pulp from the seed in their gut, digesting the sugary pulp and converting it to fat stores.  Then they excrete the seeds, as they fly off to forage other areas.

Seed eating birds have a different strategy.  Seed eating specialists like robins, are thought to have stronger gizzard muscles that can crush the seeds to extract their nutrients, and seeds typically have higher fat and protein content than the sugary, pulpy mass that surrounds them.  Yes, the robins do get into stress if they don't have enough water to help them pass the berries through their crop without fermenting and causing them distress.  Make a note.  If you have robins and berries, provide a water source and you will eliminate a robin slamming into your window.

There are many species of juniper, three are native to Oregon.  According to 'Trees to Know in Oregon', the chances are good that the western juniper is the one we will see at our elevation.   Junipers offer both food and protection that helps wildlife through a hard winter.  According to one FAO document, juniper berries are the only spice derived from conifers, though tar from pine trees is sometimes considered a spice as well.

Junipers have a long history with humans.  A friend who moved this spring gifted me with many of herspices.  One of which is a name brand jar of juniper berries.   Probably the most famously used are the unripe green berries used to make gin.  The powdery white coating you find on some berries is a yeast that can be used to make a sourdough starter.

The outer scales of the berries are relatively flavorless, so the berries are almost always lightly crushed before using as a spice.  The berries are used in northern European and particularly Scandinavian cuisine to 'impart a sharp, clear flavor' to meat dishes especially wild birds and game meats.  They also season pork, cabbage and sauerkraut dishes.  Other juniper-flavored beverages include the Finnish rye-and-juniper beverage known as sahti, which is flavored with both juniper berries and branches.  A caution I read several times is that juniper berries do add great
flavor, but shouldn't be eaten in excess.  They contain a powerful diuretic and eating more than a couple can cause terrible abdominal cramps and diarrhea.

Enjoy the fall days and the changing nature that surrounds us.  You may find something else to observe.