Gardening Tips

Measuring thatchBy Denise Ruttan
Photo by Alec Kowalewski
Thatch is a common problem in Kentucky bluegrass and creeping bentgrass lawns.

May is an optimum time to aerate and dethatch your lawn.
If your lawn is made up of perennial ryegrass or tall fescue, you likely don't have to worry about thatch, said Alec Kowalewski, a turfgrass expert for the Oregon State University Extension Service.

By Tiffany Woods
CabbagesPhoto by Lynn Ketchum
Too much water can cause cabbage heads to crack.

Are the vegetables in your garden so freakishly crooked that they need a chiropractor? Or maybe they're so immature that they would make a teenager look like a centenarian?

Compost pileBy Denise Ruttan
Compost organic matter such as animal manure to feed your garden. Photo courtesy Tufts University

Don't get rid of the manure that chickens, horses or llamas leave behind.
Animal manure is rich in nutrients that make it a great organic fertilizer for your garden, said Melissa Fery, an instructor with the Oregon State University Extension Service's small farms program.
"Manure is a low-cost fertilizer and a wonderful way to utilize nutrients instead of creating a pile that is not getting used and could be harmful to water quality," she said.

By Denise Ruttan

ClochePhoto by Sam Anigma
A cloche can be built to protect raised beds in winter.

Afraid gardening and your soil are not compatible? Raised beds can come to the rescue.
"By building raised beds, you instantaneously can have good garden loam," said Ross Penhallegon, a horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service. "Raised beds answer the question of how we garden in inhospitable areas that are too sandy, too wet or have too much clay."

Be on the lookout for azalea-damaging pest this spring

By Denise Ruttan
Adult Azalea lace bugAn adult Azalea lace bug. Photo by Robin Rosetta
Gardeners and nurseries should be on the lookout this spring for a relatively new pest in Oregon that damages azaleas and rhododendrons, according to experts with the Oregon State University Extension Service.
The azalea lace bug was first confirmed in Oregon in 2009 by OSU researchers after it was found in Washington in 2008.

Life's a picnic for yellow jackets yellow jackets

By Judy Scott
Yellow jackets eating meatYellow jackets are mostly meat eaters. Photo by Flickr:randysonofrobert
Yellow jackets buzzing around pop cans, hamburgers and fruit salad can ruin barbecues. And, because their sting can be life-threatening, it might be necessary to destroy nests found near human activity.

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.

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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.