Book Review

I love books. But I don’t have an unlimited supply of bookshelves. So I have to be very selective as to what goes on my shelves. Cluttering my shelves with numerous books on one topic just will not due.

Here I hope to offer insight and help you chose some books that will compliment your bookshelves and provide information to help your gardens grow.

Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening – Louise Riotte

If you want to know if it is ok to plant onions in between your cabbage plants, then this book is for you. It’s like listening to my grandmother as she walked thru her garden planting the peas.

First published in 1975, it has served millions of gardeners, both serious and casual.   Many of us prefer to utilize pest-resistant planning over the use of chemicals. This book provides the information on what you should plant near another plant to not only resist pests and help deter them, but to help the sister plant thrive.

It also provides recipes for herbal sprays to control insects and what wild plants you should be encouraging in your gardens.

If you don’t have a lot of garden space this book will guide you thru utilizing a window box garden.

This is one of those books you will pick up year after year as you rotate your crops and want to maximize a variety of produce. For instance, did you know if you plant parsley with your carrot seeds you’ll repel carrot flies. Not only that but planting tomatoes and asparagus will give added vigor to both. Now go buy the book, I don’t want to give away the ending here.

I give it a 4 out of 5 wheelbarrows!

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Winter Gardens

Not sure what to grow this winter?

These cold-hardy vegetables may stick it out thru the winter.

Purple cold-hardy vegetables. (Photo by Jim Myers)
Purple vegetables contain a pigment called anthocyanin that helps them resist rot better. (Photo by Jim Myers)
From OSU Extension –

Not ready to hang up your gloves and spade just yet?

The fearless gardener still has a chance to plant some cold-hardy vegetables to harvest next spring, said Jim Myers, plant breeder and researcher at Oregon State University. But don’t dawdle.

“Winter gardening is a risky business,” Myers said. “It may work one year with a mild winter but not another when the weather is more severe. If you plant some cold-hardy vegetables from mid-August to early October – depending on the crop – there’s a good likelihood you will produce something on the other end in the spring. They say farming is a gamble…some years more than others.”

Cold weather doesn’t kill these hardy plants; it simply slows their growth rate. For every rise of 18 degrees, growth rate doubles, but that guideline is only applicable for an air temperature range of 40 to 98 degrees, Myers said. If you plant cold-hardy vegetables from mid-August to early October, there is a chance they can mature by next spring if they survive in a vegetative state through the winter without reproducing.

According to Myers, the hardiest vegetables that can withstand heavy frost of air temperatures below 28 include spinach, Walla Walla sweet onion, garlic, leeks, rhubarb, rutabaga, broccoli, kohlrabi, kale, cabbage, chicory, Brussels sprouts, corn salad, arugula, fava beans, radish, mustard, Austrian winter pea and turnip.

Semi-hardy vegetables that can withstand light frost of air temperatures in the range of 28 to 32 degrees include beets, spring market carrots, parsnip, lettuce, chard, pea, Chinese cabbage, endive, radicchio, cauliflower, parsley and celery. For beets, spring market carrots and parsnips, the tops will die but the roots will tolerate lower temperatures.

Vegetables that contain the pigment anthocyanin, which gives them a vibrant red or purple color, are more resistant to rots caused by winter rains, Myers said. They include purple-sprouting broccoli, Rosalind broccoli and purple kale.

If you live in an area of the state that gets prolonged snow cover, the fluffy white stuff acts as insulating mulch and warms the soil for these tough plants, Myers said.

No matter where you live in Oregon, “some of the worst problems we have in the winter are with rain rather than temperature, so protecting plants from the rain is quite helpful,” Myers said.

He recommends covering vegetables with high or low tunnels made from metal hoops and clear plastic, available from greenhouse supply companies. To protect plants, you can also use row covers or cloches. To warm the soil use mulch made from yard debris, cardboard or newspaper.

Cross your fingers and by next March you could be feasting on shelled, succulent fava beans seasoned with salt and lemon juice.

Wine Tasting

Tonight I had a wonderful time learning more about wines and what affects their flavors.

Out at the Pavilion at the Discovery garden 25+ of us gathered to be educated by our, very knowledgeable, leader Steve Renquist who plays a big role in Viticulture and marketing for wine grape growers of the Umpqua Valley.

He chose 3 whites and 3 reds. For white we had Gruner Veltliner, Muscat, and Gewürztraminer. For reds we had Grenache, Petite Syrah, and Zinfandel. And to break it down further we had 2-3 of each type. Sometimes it was the same brand but 3 different years, and others were a type from different regions.

For the Gruner we had 3 different years 2011, 2012 and 2013. The difference in flavors was very noticeable just because of how different our weather was. Where we had a mild summer in 2011 verses hotter temps for longer periods in 2012 and more extreme heat in 2013.

Everyone is listening and taking copious notes. Interestingly enough I was the only one who able to guess the alcohol level on 95% of the wines. And to clarify it was not due to the taste. 3 of the wines I could not drink. But it was due to the ‘legs’ on the glass. This is when you swirl the wine and the alcohol lingers on the sides.

This did confirm for me that I still prefer the red wines over the whites.

After about the third bottle was being sampled, folks over at another table that had been pretty quiet were now laughing on and off. Fourth bottle is complete and the fifth is being opened. Lots of talking now, no one is taking notes anymore. A lot more laughter and more are talking over Steve amongst themselves. Finally it gets back to the nuances of the wine. It was really a good thing we opted to eat at this point and boy there were some great appetizers.

From this point the last 2 wines we utterly forgotten and it was all about visiting and chatting.

Just a fun time to be had by all and a great way to visit with other MG’s other than the gardens.

 

 

Garden Destroyed by Deer

Well I must allow others to learn from my experience. This is my second year for growing a garden. I knew I had so much learn so took the Master Gardener’s class this past winter and knewI had even MORE to learn. I fully realize now, that to keep deer out you need a mega fence! Some say 6 feet, others 7 feet. I’m going for 8+. Either that, or you must rotate your ‘repellents’ weekly. They are very persistent pests. They broke thru my fence tonight and decimated my garden.  This is the damage from 2 adult females in 20 minutes. My apple trees stripped, my broccoli totaled, my beans destroyed, egg plants chewed from 2 feet to 2 inches and tomatoes nibbled like a tasty appetizer. My canning season is officially over.

Total damage –

12 Broccoli Plants
40 Bush Beans Plants
9 Eggplants Plants
5 Grafted Apple Trees
10 Tomato Plants
8 Jalapeno Plants peppers and all
8 Anaheim Chili Plants chilies and all
6 Basil Plants and they were 2′ tall
2 Winter Squash plants, I was shocked because those leaves are sharp and feel sticky.

Don’t let this happen to you. If you have home remedy deer repellents be sure to change them out every couple of weeks. Either that or you can do what I am starting this weekend. Installing a mega fence. 8+ feet tall, incredibly sturdy so they can’t knock it down, kick it in or crawl under. Yes crawl.

1 of 5 Apple Trees Destroyed by Deer

1 of 5 Apple Trees Destroyed by Deer

Bush Beans destroyed by deer.

Bush Beans destroyed by deer.

Broccoli Plants Eaten

Broccoli Plants Eaten

I will not let this get the better of me. I will learn from this…I will learn to love venison. Time to buy ammo. Hubby wanted to grab his gun, but based on is caliber didn’t want “deer confetti”.  They are now vermin.

Playing Leap Frog

I have really enjoyed growing my garden this year. It’s not perfect, I still struggle with issues like weather and seasons, neither of which I had much in S. Calif.

Right now I have 9 beautiful heads of lettuce. I decided to make a fresh summer salad for dinner so went out with my pairing knife and selected one of the heads and picked a few green onions. Back inside I filled the sink with cold water to rinse the veggies and BOING! BOING! BOING! Not one but 3 small frogs are now leaping their way over my kitchen counter. One is on the window ledge, another is plastered to the side of my espresso machine. (Now for those wondering, no I do not have a fear of frogs, I do have a problem with them hopping all over my kitchen)

Here’s the scene – after my initial shock of having these (btw they are tree frogs) leaping up out of my sink in a silly game of leap frog I realized I had to capture them quickly.

Tree Frog

Tree Frog

It’s probably a lot like having 3 small kids, the minute you focus on one the other two are going to get into something. In this case my dinner preparations. So I grab the one on the window sill, he hops out of my hand and onto the side of cupboard. These guys can move! Finally I wrangle him, being careful not to squish him. But I can’t just toss him outside, two reasons.
1 – I have a very large cement patio and that would just be cruel and painful to do to the little guy. They’re beneficial critters.
2 – I cannot leave the other 2 alone or I’ll never find them.

Solution – grab a coffee mug and place Sherm inside to wait for his buddies. Huh..they were right here…

Nothing is more fun than a great game of hide and seek in the kitchen with your opponents being about an inch long, able to climb walls and hang upside down.  Now while I don’t have a fear of frogs, I do have a horrible fear of the garbage disposal. I cannot put my hand in there, I can’t! And I have this horrible thought that one of them is in here. BOING! While contemplating my impending doom one of the other frogs has decided to make a leap on me as if to say TAG you’re it! That’s it Ricky you’re going in time out with Sherm. Now where is Octavia. Yes it’s a female, she’s more of a brownish color whereas Sherm and Ricky are a brilliant and bright green.

Oh thank goodness!! She’s not in the garbage disposal. She’s just hanging out on the cutting board. She, and her two cohorts are now heading back out to the garden. And I shall go disinfect my kitchen.

So remember folks, not only do you want to wash your fruits and veggies before you eat them, you also need to check for critters before you bring them in the house.

Such Beauty

As you know I am part of the OSU Extension Master Gardeners Program of Douglas County. And we have one of the most beautiful gardens. It’s called the Discovery Garden. And soon we will have Geocaching. But for now I wanted to share with you some of the splendor that is the Discovery Garden, located at River Forks in Roseburg Oregon.

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To Be a Master Gardener

I became interesting in becoming a Master Gardener when we first moved up here. I knew I wanted to learn more about gardening in this area, which is so different from S. Calif., and to make new friends.

What I didn’t know was how it would affect me. With each new day of involvement I find myself just listening and observing. Just recently we had our biggest fund raiser of the year. The Plant Sale Extravaganza.

Friday, the first day, many of us gathered in the early morning to begin set up. Expectations are high and there is a lot of work to be done. Sleeves are rolled up, aprons are donned and the work begins. Tables have to be set up, vendor areas measured and marked off, raffle area and items labeled and displayed, registers, holding areas, signs, kitchen, dividers and then all the plants arrive. By truck, car, trailer and vans they come one after the other for several hours. There were several times throughout the day I would stop and watch. While we were all sweating and tired, everyone smiled, joked with each and quickly came to over to help each other. After 9 hours, sore feet, tired backs and limping off, there was a sense of pride at a hard days work completed.

Saturday morning arrives all too early. Everyone moves a bit slowly till the muscles get worked out. It’s 7:30am, food is arriving for the potluck. At 8am everyone is briefed and it’s time for finishing touch ups, trimming. 8:30 am it’s time to man our stations. I am on herbs. Allow me to elaborate – We have Basil – Genovese, Mammoth Sweet, Cinnamon, Lemon, Lime, Siam, Sweet, Purple Ruffles, Spicy Globe and Crimson King. Regular chives and garlic chives. Parsley, Dill, Marjoram, Fennel, Thyme, Sage, Cilantro and Rosemary. Let’s just say I had the best smelling station. The doors will open at 9am and I am ready, at least I thought I was. Below is the picture I took just as the doors opened. Keep in mind behind that blue curtain is a whole area full of vendors, 70 of them. But did they stop there first…no! As you can see from the image on the right they swarmed us.

Before Chaos

Before Chaos

During Chaos

During Chaos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a mad house from 9am till 4pm. And I loved every minute of it!

But there is another side of being part of this organization. We have a large Discovery Garden which features numerous types of gardens. Herb, Easy Access, Xeriscape, Rock, Japanese, Rose, Butterfly, Hummingbird and Orchard gardens and more. And each of these is lovingly tended to by a team of MG’s who dedicate their time to going out every week and pruning, cleaning, replanting, mulching and all things necessary to keeping them looking beautiful.

Yesterday I was out in the easy access garden. This is designed with raised beds, wider walking paths and made for those who have a difficult time bending or walking. A group was over in the butterfly garden putting in new mulch, and a few folks down building the new rock garden. Others were putting finishing touches on the humming bird garden. It was quite outside, birds were singing and the sun was shining.  I work quietly removing weeds, removing soil from old containers, planting onions and beans. Suddenly I hear laughter from the other garden, and even though I am not over there to share in the humor, I am a part of it and smile. This is a community, my community. We are all connected through the things we grow, our gardens, our little patches of soil.

I leave you with some beautiful shots from our Discover Garden. Special thanks to Anita Yager for taking many of these pictures and sharing them with me.

Herbs and Orchards Batman!

This has been a very busy couple of weeks! After graduating as a Master Gardener I am now working on my volunteer hours so have been putting in lots of time at the plant clinic fielding calls, people bringing in “what’s this thing growing in my yard” samples and others who have some weird bug. Not too fond of the bug questions, but at least I don’t scream and jump on the desk anymore.

A couple of days ago I attended an extended education course on grafting fruit trees. The work was done on apple trees. Using good root stock, which is  just a small stump, and which already has an established, healthy root system, onto which a cutting (scion wood which is one year old) or a bud from another plant is grafted.

Once cut they will fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. So it’s very important your root stock diameter and scion wood diameter are close in size.

'V' cut grafting tool

‘V’ cut grafting tool

So now I have my mini orchard started. Five small apple grafted trees are sitting out in my garden in their tubs where they shall remain for 2 years before finding their new place out in the yard. I have 2 Spitzenberg, 1 Black Arkansas, 1 Honey Crisp and 1 Golden Delicious.

Mini Apple Orchard

Mini Apple Orchard

Not sure if you can see the green ‘goop’ midway up the trunks but that is where the graft was done. The blue tape is just the names of the trees which, now that I think of it, I should probably put something a bit more permanent in there. Two of these trees will be pretty big, 15′ or more and the other 3 are on root stock that should keep them around 8-9′.

This brings my total of garden items to 12 tomato plants, 6 cherry tomato plants, 9 broccoli, 8 heads of lettuce (more to be started next week to keep my lettuce supply going) 8 jalapeño plants, 8 Anaheim chili plants, 4 eggplants, 20 leeks, herbs – cilantro, basil, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley and marjoram, one small catnip plant for Ranch Kitty. Next month will see my squash and cucumbers started as well as bush beans.

I think this year is my most exciting year yet!

It’s Official – I’m now a Master Gardener

I am so happy that I’ve graduated as a Master Gardener! But there is still a lot to learn.

Master Gardener Badge

Master Gardener Badge

Now I think back to last year’s garden. How I had to plant it three times, well I planted once and then replanted two times due to frost and other conditions. I sure wish I had known then what I know now. And yet, after all my classes I still feel inept. They say some people have green thumbs. My Mom is one such person. You should see her yard, front and back, it’s just beautiful. She has such wonderful plants, trees and shrubs.

I have learn to stand back and look at how things grow differently. Case in point, I willingly looked into a plant because a specific spider was present and I wanted to see what he was eating. (Of course when said spider decided he had had enough and quickly came running out I promptly jumped back assuming I was his next meal.)

What I need is a dose gamma rays to ignite my green DNA. So here’s to lush tomatoes, crisp green lettuces, juicy black berries, fresh green beans and fragrant herbs. Let the growing season commence!

 

Dear Tomato how do you grow?

Spring and summer are coming so it’s time to start thinking about growing tomatoes! But what kind?

Well here is some info that might help you understand how they fruit so you will know. Tomatoes that are determinate type ripen in a concentrated period of time. So you’ll get the bulk of your crop all at once.

Indeterminate tomatoes, on the other hand, will grow vigorously to heights of up to 12 feet and produce fruit until frost kills them. Wonderful type to have that fresh tomato taste all summer long.

So if you want to make a big batch of sauce you will want determinate and if you want tomatoes for salads, sandwiches thru the summer etc., you want to grow indeterminate. For me it was one step further, what would grow well in my area but also what will grow well in containers in my greenhouse.

The Oregon State University (OSU) has actually developed several breeds of tomatoes that some of the best determinate tomatoes you can grow in the Northwest. Be sure to contact your local extension office to find out what you should be growing in your area.

Now lets get our salsa, tomato sauce, bruschetta, caprese salad and BLT’s on!