Gardening Tips

By Judy Scott
SeedsSeeds. Photo by Lynn Ketchum.
If you saved seeds from the last growing season and wonder if they will germinate when planted this spring, you can discover the average rate of germination before the planting season begins.
"It's easy to check vegetable and flower seed viability, and it can save you time later when the gardening season begins," said Ross Penhallegon, horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service. "Some seeds remain viable for a year and others for three or more years."

By Denise Ruttan
Image of a rosePhoto by Lynn Ketchum
March is a good time to plant roses in western Oregon.

Roses have such fanciful names and alluring colors, so how do you choose which ones to plant?
"If I'm going to grow roses I tend to grow roses that have fragrance," said Barb Fick, a horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service. “Some people go for color. I also go for disease-resistance.”
Fick advises buying roses that are immune to the fungal threats of rust, powdery mildew and black spot.

HoneybeeDear EarthTalk: I’d like to have a garden that encourages bees and butterflies. What’s the best approach?                                                                                                                 --Robert Miller, Bakersfield, CA
Attracting bees and butterflies to a garden is a noble pursuit indeed, given that we all depend on these species and others (beetles, wasps, flies, hummingbirds, etc.) to pollinate the plants that provide us with so much of our food, shelter and other necessities of life. In fact, increased awareness of the essential role pollinators play in ecosystem maintenance—along with news about rapid declines in bee populations—have led to a proliferation of backyard “pollinator gardens” across the U.S. and beyond.

By Judy Scott
pH meterPhoto by Michael Allen Smith
Some meters and methods are more accurate than others.

Soil pH can make a big difference to the plants in your garden. To understand how, you must "think" like a plant.

By Denise Ruttan
LettucePhoto by OSU's EESC
Lettuce is a cool-season crop that can be planted in March in western Oregon.

Is this dry winter making you anxious to dig in the dirt again? There's some good news if you garden in western Oregon and are an optimist.
Cool-season plants can be directly seeded into the ground in March in the Willamette Valley and southern Oregon, said Bob Reynolds, the Master Gardener coordinator for the Oregon State University Extension Service in Jackson and Josephine counties.
Cool-season crops include peas, arugula, carrots, cabbage, cilantro, fava beans, kale, kohlrabi, spinach, chard, turnips and lettuce.

By Denise Ruttan

Hood River Japenese gardenTucked away in a corner of a public garden in Hood River, the Japanese Heritage Garden offers an unexpected place of quiet reflection.
The site, maintained by Master Gardeners who were trained by the Oregon State University Extension Service, incorporates the scenic vistas of hills and orchards, which were worked by the first generation of Japanese immigrants to the Hood River Valley in the early 1900s.
An old Norway spruce tree surrounded by raked gravel forms a centerpiece. A six-foot Nishinoya-style lantern sits at the entrance. Benches and stone-paved pathways guide visitors.

For mole control, go underground

By Denise Ruttan

Mole emergingHave moles or gophers attacked your yard or garden? Maybe you sympathize with Bill Murray’s travails in the movie, "Caddyshack."
But Chip Bubl, a horticulturist with the OSU Extension Service, has a soft spot for moles.
"I've caught a few moles by the tail [with traps]," Bubl said. "Because I admire them, I put them in a bucket and take them to a canyon area on my property and release them."
Moles leave a trail of destruction in the Willamette Valley, the coast and the St. Helens area where Bubl lives. But how much do you really know about them?

Oregon tree names keep people guessing

By Judy Scott

Douglas fir coneDouglas-fir cones have pitchfork-shaped bracts that are longer than the scales.

Many people are aware that despite its name, Douglas-fir is not a true fir. It's also not a pine, not a spruce and not a hemlock. Outside of the United States, it is often called Oregon pine, also a misnomer.
What is a Douglas-fir, then?
It's a unique species, in a class by itself, according to the newly revised Oregon State University publication, "Understanding Names of Oregon Trees," (EC 1502).

 

No space for vegetables?

Try vertical gardening.

By Denise Ruttan
Hankering for fresh tomatoes this summer but don’t have space for a vegetable garden?
Save room by training your veggies to grow up. Literally.  

Leaves in compostBy Denise Ruttan

Photo by Tamara Hill-Tanquist
Leaves are one material that can be used in the "brown layer" of a lasagna garden.

Unlike its name suggests, "lasagna gardening" is not about pasta.
Also known as sheet mulching, it's a no-till, no-dig gardening method that turns materials like kitchen waste, straw and newspapers into rich, healthy compost.

 

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McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.