Saturday, July 24, 2021

MAYBE WE SHOULD ALL TRY A LITTLE HARDER

Wickiup Reservoir

A recent news clip on local TV stopped me in my tracks with a big "WHAT?"  The newscaster went on to explain if the Deschutes River water level reaches a certain level, perhaps in August, Parks and Recreation will have to cease irrigating major public parks.  First and most alarming would be Drake Park in downtown Bend.  Think of your favorite park and it would probably be included.  How could this be?  Bend has always had the reputation for inviting green, grassy, mind refreshing public parks.

Yucca in Bloom

 

The news clip ended with short interviews of two residents, one from California and the other from Arizona, who both said brown grass in the summer was the norm for them.  We have much to learn in how to accept changes, even in our gardening.

I'm not sure if I've gone through another "quarantine" eye-opener, but it seemed when I was out and about doing errands that I was seeing a greater number of yucca plants either in full bloom or just starting to open.  All were well kept with last years brown leaves trimmed off .  To me it indicated that the homeowner was intentional with the planting and proud to show it off. Curiosity led me to call a nursery and inquire if they had any yucca plants.  "No, all sold out" was the answer with the added comment that more were due in the next plant shipment.

Maybe we are changing our thinking and becoming more conscious of water consumption and not taking our water for granted.  Maybe we are starting to set a different criteria for our garden purchases.  Maybe instead of grabbing up what is newest, biggest and most popular we are thinking more about water-wise and fire resistant choices.

Agave
Plant developers are faced with two specific conditions and challenges.  They are on the hunt for new plants that can withstand dry conditions and that will offer interest suited to smaller gardens and landscapes.  Emphasis is leading towards finding varieties of agaves and yucca.

The noticeable difference between agave and yucca plants is the shape of the leaves.  Yucca leaves tend to be long and slender often compared to the shape of swords.  Agave leaves stand out because of the spikes that run along the edge of the leaves.  Yucca is featured in both the Water-Wise and the Fire Resistant OSU Extension Publications.

Yuccas make a great low maintenance screen or garden accent, especially when the plant flowers.  I have three and finally one bloomed last year and again this year.  The other two are alive and well but not blooming.  Unfortunately I didn't record the year they were planted but I did learn that yuccas only bloom when they reach a certain age of maturity--still have research to do on that.  Regular fertilization and trimming encourage flowering.  Adding phosphorus-rich fertilizer or bone meal encourages flowers to form.

When I drive from Bend to Redmond on Deschutes Market Rd. and see fields not being irrigated I think maybe it is time to have a second look at the Water-Wise and Fire Resistant publications to make wiser purchases.  Our agriculture community needs all the support they can get.

Mark your calendar to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It Season Extension Techniques segment on Tues. August 3 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 a.m. 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

"HI-HO, HI-HO-IT'S OFF TO WORK WE GO"

The opening of the Plant Clinic to the public on a face-to-face basis is indeed an exciting time, makes us feel we are coming alive .  However, we can't help but feel a little "rusty".  Some of the best knowledge exchanges in the past have taken place with hands in the dirt working next to someone in the demo or community gardens. We helped problem solve among the group which often led to understanding the problems that might be coming into the clinic.  But with the social distancing even those conversations were somewhat limited.

The unusual heat dome we have been experiencing will have caused damage that generally we aren't familiar with.  Perhaps a review of the problems that are created by abnormal heat, dry winds and low soil moisture would be a good scenario to review. 

Several of my tomato plants have bleached white areas on their leaves.  That is definitely an abiotic
condition caused  by the extreme heat and dry conditions. referred to as leaf scorch.   I'll remove the leaves and all will be well.  The condition of spotting on the leaves to the client could spark the thought that maybe it's a terrible fungus.  This is when all the basic questions are asked as to the culture provided-plant location, watering, fertilizing, what should the plant look like.  In the case of the leaf scorch, it is pretty straight-forward as to what it was, but if it would have had a few other problems, the answer might have been different.  You never really know until you fit all the pieces of the puzzle together, (then sometimes, you still have to call for help from Toni!)

It will be interesting to track the problems that do come into plant clinic this year.  Probably with the heat and no rain there will be concerns over the tips of evergreens turning brown or conifers suffering from needle drop.

I kept a copy of a report in response to a problem and samples that were sent to the Plant Pathology Lab in 2014.  Plant clinic number: E14-2089 to be exact.

The client who lived on Wells Acre Rd. came in with some "white worms found on her driveway next to lawn in a rain puddle on 9/26/2014".  They were a total mystery to everyone  so it was decided to send them off  to OSU.

The Faculty Research Assistant identified the worms as Enchytraeid worms, also called pot worms.  The researcher wrote, "Enchytraeid worms are small, white worms that most often live in soil with a lot of organic matter.  They feed on bacteria, fungi, and decaying organic matter and are perfectly harmless.  They may have washed or crawled out of the lawn and ended up in the rain puddle on your driveway."

So--now you know.  If we ever get any rain and these little guys decide to spend time on someone's driveway and the client comes in all panic struck, you can calmly tell them the rest of the story!!

I am planning that the subject of my next article for the Bulletin will be on utilizing the services of the OSU Master Gardeners Plant Clinic.  I plan to emphasize the importance of providing complete information and what that info should include.

We need to give the community a wake-up call that we are alive and well, and willing to solve problems!!

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Clematis" segment on Tues. July 20, on KPOV 88.9FM between 9-9:30 am


 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

EXCITMENT IN THE SUNROOM

The excitement started about June 9,  with a dogwood in a gallon container awaiting it's planting out to the landscape.  All that changed when I spotted chewed leaves and realized I had work to do finding the answer to "whodunit".

I spent time going through Cranshaw's "Garden Insects of North America" chapter on leaf eating insects.  Although it didn't look exactly right, I was leaning towards a white-lined sphinx caterpillar.

Just like Superwoman, who should stop by in times of stress, the friend to all, enemy to no-one--MG, Toni.  I shared my discovery.   Toni went home and started researching also.  She discovered that the caterpillar has variations in color ranging from black to yellow and also variations in patterns from straight stripes to complicated patterns of dots and dashes.  We agreed that it was probably a  white-lined sphinx moth.

I watched the caterpillar eat its way up, down, and all around the dogwood.  On June 17 I looked and looked through the plant and found no trace  of the critter.  I checked the surrounding area thinking maybe it fell off a branch but found nothing.  My assumption was that it decided it was time to pupate and was somewhere in the soil.  

While this was going on in the gallon size black nursery pot on the floor of the sunroom, things were happening in my hanging basket of fuchsia.  A friend was admiring how delicate and complex the fuchsia flower is and commented, "Oh look, the plant has a companion."   

Yes, wonderfully hidden under the foliage was another white-lined sphinx caterpillar--the same but different.  This one had different markings and was larger.  Both had the distinctive feature of the caudal horn on the posterior part of their body.  I tracked the critter daily.  One day it was stretched the length of the branch and I was able to measure it at over 3.75 inches.

On June 23 I couldn't find it so I assume it was time to drop down into the soil and pupate for 2 weeks.  They emerge in midsummer and begin the second generation. 
The white-lined sphinx caterpillar matures into the sphinx moth.  Also called Hawk Moth or Hummingbird Moth.

The moth, Hyles lineata is a color combination of dark olive-brown, silver-gray with streaks of creamywhite, deep pink and black.

I have had my fair share of experiences with damage to my tomato plants by the tomato hornworm.  When I saw the posterior horn on the first caterpillar, I panicked as that is one of the tell-tale signs of a tomato hornworm.  The major difference is the tomato hornworm is bright green with 7-8 V-shaped white lines on their back, plus they are much larger than either of my caterpillars could hope to be.      Their Latin name is Manduca quinquemaculata. 

Tomato Hornworm

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Small Space Gardens" segment on Tues. June 29 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am. 


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Who Has the Greater Need for CPR----


the plant or the gardener?  When the nighttime temperatures register between 32 degrees F and 43 degrees F six days into June, you can't help but think Mother Nature needs help.

The personal hands-on experience of failure and success is our most impactful teacher, although sometimes fraught with heartaches.

From the time of our arrival to Central Oregon in 1978 until early 2000, Dick and I maintained the tradition we grew up with--plant your garden on Memorial Day weekend or you might as well forget having a garden.  We rolled out black plastic in April to warm the soil which we rolled up at planting time.  Lots of unnecessary work but by the traditions we knew, no respectable gardener would plant through the plastic.

By 2000 we were running out of the steam for all the prep work and started reassessing our procedures.  We weren't ready to give up the massive vegetable garden.  We learned to start working smarter.

Instead of trying to keep up with warming the soil, etc. we bought a soil thermometer and relied on the information available at the OSU Extension and eventually the OSU "Growing Vegetables in Central Oregon" publication to do in-ground seed sowing and seedling transplanting.

This meant possibly not planting-in-ground until the second or maybe even the third week of June.  (I can hear some of you gasping).  By then the soil is a more consistent 60 degrees F.  We quickly learned that planting later gave us better, stronger results with much less work.

Fast forward to the spring of 2021 and the extremely hot days in early June that slid into the very chilly days and cold nights we have recently experienced.  I was again grateful that very few new plants were in the ground.

A frost in Central Oregon at anytime during the summer isn't uncommon.  Think ahead and plan what you can grab if the 6:00 news predicts a frost.  The best covering is the row cover available at the Extension office,  an old sheet is also acceptable, but definitely not plastic.  Plastic actually draws in the cold.

Here is what you might experience when frost is predicted.

29 to 32 degrees F:  Light freeze with damage limited to tender plants.

25 to 28 degrees F:  Moderate freeze.  Many plants experience some damage but will regain growth.

24 degrees F and colder.  Severe freeze.  Most plants experience heavy damage.

Hope you raise your hands and do a happy dance in gratitude for recent rains with hopes they will continue for a few more days.

Check out Gardening: Get Good at It "Bug Trivia" segment on Tues. June 15 on KPOV  88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

"The Marigold Man and the Ad Man"

 The Marigold Man was David Burpee, son of world-famous Burpee Seed founder, W. Atlee Burpee.  The Ad Man was David Ogilvy founder of Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency--the most famous advertising man in the world.

Gardening brought them together briefly in 1972.  Both loved gardening and both were relentless promoters.  Burpee Seed had been acquired by General Foods, Ogilvy & Mather's largest client, as part of a strategy to diversify beyond packaged food products.

In the 1920's a root disease struck Burpee's best selling sweet-pea business.  Burpee laid his hopes for a replacement on the marigold, which had many of the characteristics of the perfect flower--easy to grow, pretty, adaptable to hot summers, long flowering, lasting in bouquets, long stems for cutting.

Burpee's goal was to quickly make the marigold over into a "glamor girl" before the rose growers succeeded in their campaign to name the rose as America's national flower.  Burpee launched a campaign through the '50's and 60's by delivering oversized marigolds to the White house and named varieties 'First Lady' and 'Mamie Eisenhower'.  He named a 'Mr. Sam' marigold for Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and a 'Senator Dirksen' marigold for Everett Dirksen, for his remarks on the Senate floor on behalf of "native" marigolds: "Native in character--grows and thrives in all 50 states."

Unfortunately the marigold lost to the rose in 1985 when the US Senate anointed the rose as the national flower.  All was not lost, his promotional efforts over the years made the marigold America's most popular flower, its visibility further boosted by a national contest to develop a true white marigold. The prize money in 1954 was $10,000.  Twenty years later the company itself developed a white marigold.

Burpee died in 1980 at age 87: Ogilvy died in 1999, at age 89.  Both had built strong brands-a concept Ogilvy was first to champion in 1955.

Marigolds are probably one of the most popular and most underrated flowers we plant.  Isn't that the flower we go to for a splash of color, a border planting or the ever faithful flower for a bouquet?

Medicinally the flowers are used as an antiseptic and are even reported to cure hiccups.  The plant contains compounds which make it antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.  

The strong-scented leaves of marigolds are said to be the most valuable herbal deterrents to garden pests.  Planted with tomatoes they are said to deter tomato hornworm.

The edible marigold is the signet or gem marigold.  Rather than the puffy pom-pom flowers, the blossoms are single (just one layer of petals).  The flowery have a warm spicy taste that has often been compared to tarragon.  The leaves have a lemony fragrance rather than the acrid smell of most marigold foliage.  Butterflies favor the signet marigold.

Use the flowers as a garnish for mixed green salad, potato salad or pasta salad.  They can also be steamed with beans or zucchini.  A cooking note:  the white area at the base of the petal is very bitter tasting, cut it off before adding flower petals to your cooking.

The Tagetes now comes in many colors and scentless, but to me, a marigold has to be bright yellow.

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Making Gardening Easier: Adaptive Techniques" segment on Tues. June 1 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am .

Saturday, May 8, 2021

WHEN DID I GET LEFT BEHIND?

 In my generation, May l, May Day, was always celebrated with springtime fun activities like "dancing around the Maypole", picnics and paper baskets made at school, filled with candy or flowers and secretly hung on a neighbor's or best friend's door.

In some countries it was and still is celebrated to honor the workers.

 Mayday first came into England in 1923 as a distress signal.  There was heavy traffic between England and France.  It was decided that the international S-O-S in Morse Code was great for ships at sea, but aircraft used radio, not telegraph.  A short, easily understood word that couldn't be mistaken for something else was needed.  Henceforth, Mayday was adopted as the international distress signal.

Being familiar with the above histories I grew up with you can imagine my befuddlement when I  read a news release from the media dept. of a garden product that marked May 1 as a celebration for "Naked Gardening Day".  The company compared the 100 biggest U.S. cities across nine key metrics and came up with a list of the 10 Best Cities for Naked Gardening and the 10 Worst Cities for Naked Gardening.  On the best list Miami ranked as No.1, Seattle at No. 3, and Portland at No. 5.  The worst cities ranked Lincoln, NE as No.100 with Reno, Detroit, and Boise as being "un-bare-ably cold".

I think the pandemic has had strange effects on us in more ways than we ever dreamed of.  I can't help but wonder about the current state of gardening.

In April I also received an email to review and interview the author of "Diet for Great Sex".  The subject line was "How gardening can help your love life (and mental health), from the inside out".  

Rather than go through the formality of an interview, I will share some of the contents of the email.  Lots of good information presented in a slightly different format.

The author is Christine DeLozier, L.Ac.  De Lozier is an acupuncturist and herbalist.

The list consists of garden vegetables we can grow, as well as the berries.

Blackberries and Raspberries:  Berries are high in vitamin C, which improves prolactin release, vascular function, and increases oxytocin.

Bell Peppers:  One bell pepper has up to 169% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.  Vitamin C rapidly improves mood, according to research.  Bell peppers have lots of other vitamins and minerals, including potassium.

Cabbage:  Cabbage is high in sulphuric compounds which are shown to be anti-inflammatory, and to protect nerves.  They are also high in vitamin C and antioxidant polyhenols.  A bonus for men: The phytonutrients in cabbage have been shown in research to potentially increase virility!

Cucumbers:  Cucumbers are high in phytonutrients such as vitamin C, magnesium and potassium.

Garlic:  Garlic has been shown in research to be anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial.  It may also act as an aphrodisiac, leading many to rethink their habit of avoiding garlic on dates!

Tomatoes:   Tomatoes contain lycopene, which is an antioxidant that speeds nerve conduction.  This directly equates to more sensory pleasures.

Zucchini and Squash:  Squash and zucchini are both high in potassium, which is seriously lacking in the American diet.  Potassium luxuriates the delicate lining of blood vessels and improves nitric oxide release.  This can come in handy in the bedroom, as well as everywhere else in your life.

It's a nutritional fact that we need to eat more vegetables and less carbs, maybe this book will be the motivation to eat your veggies.

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Low Water, High Impact Perennials" segment on Tues May 18, 2021 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am.

The on-line COMGA Plant Sale details will be available May 10. (www.gocomga.com/gardening-news) Read the list, place your order and choose your pick-up time.  Much easier than standing in line!

    

Saturday, April 24, 2021

SOIL AND FINGERNAILS

 I have been following postings from the Soil Science Society of America (https://www.soils.org/), based in Madison, Wi.  The SSSA is a "progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils."  Their purpose is to provide soil information in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem, sustainability bioremediation, waste management, recycling and wise land use.

The subject posted recently, "Are there soil microbes under my fingernails?" caught my eye for more than just the thought provoking title.  It has involved the OSU Master Gardeners.

I'll start at the beginning, as I know it.  The citizen-science project was proposed by Gwynne Mhuireach in 2020 after becoming interested in the topic while studying for her Masters at the University of Oregon.  

Through a different study program with OSU, a partnership was formed with Gail Langellotto, OSU Coordinator of the statewide Master Gardener program.  In June 2020 a call out was made for gardens located in the Willamette Valley and High Desert regions.

Gardeners who volunteered were asked to collect soil samples from several different beds in their gardens and from the surface of their hands and/or forearms.  Questions were asked regarding garden management practices and daily use of anti-bacterial soap and lotion over a 2 day testing period.

A more complete explanation of the study is "An exploration of the garden microbiome and potential transferability to human skin."

Soil science is well-developed in terms of nutrients and organic matter needed to keep plants healthy.  Little is known about the interactions between farmers or gardeners and soil microorganisms.  The focus of the study was to understand how much microbial transfer from soil to skin occurs, what types of microorganisms are transferred, or how long they persist.

Gardens are interactive places.  On our way to do one thing, we spot a weed or grass that we decide to pull.  We can't resist a quick harvest on the run.  Spotting a radish we rub off the soil and enjoy, or we may plant a newly purchased seedling.  All of these may have been performed without the benefit of garden gloves.  Did we do right or wrong? 

We don't need to be too concerned because most of the microbes we might encounter in garden soil are more likely to be neutral, in terms of health effects, rather than causing illness.  In fact, there is more and more evidence that exposure to soil microorganisms can help train the immune system.  A common soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae has been found to have positive impacts on stress tolerance and mental health.

I found the posting to be very timely during this time of  heightened awareness for cleanliness.  Have we limited our children's/grand-children's play outdoors in their own backyard?  Have we gotten a little paranoid ourselves in our home life?  Masks and hand sanitizers are definitely a must for doing any activity as a Master Gardener and I know we will all be happy when that restriction is lifted.

I look forward to reading the results of the study.  In the meantime I won't panic over  not wearing gloves and getting soil under my nails--the soil may contain some good guys that will help keep me healthy.

National Gardening Day founded by Cool Springs Press  (https://www.quartoknows.com/campaigns/National-Gardening-Day/) to celebrate the hobby of gardening was noted on April 14.   I celebrated by starting the tomato seeds on heat mats.  Dr. Meyers from OSU was the breeder for a new purple color paste tomato named Midnight Roma which I am 
Midnight Roma
excited to keep track of.  Also trying a new greenhouse variety-Big Juicy, 67 days, 10-15 ounce fruit.

Earth Day (https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2021/) was celebrated on Thursday, April 22.  I celebrated that day by starting the irrigation system now that I have water.   Every year when this day appears on the calendar, I think of Rachael Carson and how I need to reread her book titled "Silent Spring".

The Environmental Center (https://envirocenter.org/) on Kansas Ave. in Bend will have a day of celebration on Sat. April 24th including their always popular parade--this year a virtual parade.  Check their website for participation and viewing details.  Also on the list of events for Sat. is a "Meet the Artist" at the Learning Center Garden on Kansas Ave from 1-4:00 pm.  Meet Bend High School art student Madeline Magana and enjoy her colorful painting.

Start saving your bucks--plans are developing for a virtual OSU Spring Plant Sale. Pre-order dates aren't available as yet, keep watching for notices on this blog, on Facebook and at www.gocomga.com.

Mark your calendar for Tuesday, May 4 to tune into Gardening: Get Good at It segment "Water-Wise Gardening" on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am.