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.

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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.

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!

Trees and Seeds

Taking the Master Gardener’s course has really opened my eyes to so many different things. I am amazed at what I have learned, and saddened by what I know I have forgotten. (But thank goodness I have the text book(s). )

Today was all about trees and seed harvesting. I am so encouraged now, that I know this fall there will be new trees on the Ranch. And knowing about how to harvest my own seeds, well now I can grow what I want, from the stock I want and be guaranteed good production. Not to mention saving money in using my own seeds.

If my crop comes in good, I think I will try and put together a seed library and donate them to the schools, community centers and senior homes. This is such an exciting time.

I encourage all of you to get out in your yards, balconies, porches, ranches and farms and grow! It’s time for rich tomatoes, spicy peppers, buttery squashes, sweet carrots and fresh green beans.

Tip of Day…for this Fall –

Don’t forget your cover crops this winter to help feed nitrogen back into your soil. Check your local extension office for what cover crops are best for you. This can save you a lot of work prepping the soil come spring for your new plants!

Master Gardening – Always an Education

So I am now one month into my training towards becoming a Master Gardener. This is such an intense course of classes, labs and getting your hands dirty.

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to help pay back some of my volunteer hours by helping to clean up after a rather large Douglas fir tree was cut down. I wish I had a picture of my pants and shirt after this. Folks trees are beautiful, they even smell lovely, but they are filthy!! From picking up branches and hauling them to the chipper I was covered in dirt.

Here I am with a couple of classmates Kish Doyle and Rachelle (do not remember her last name). Yeah that’s a sledge hammer I’m wielding…but no I did not use it. I really don’t know why I’m holding it. Or why it looks like Rachelle is kicking me in the crotch. But a lot was going on that day…

Garden Gals

Garden Gals

Here’s a few pictures of the event –

Then on Monday I started my volunteer payback in earnest. It began with me working in the greenhouses transplanting various plants for 3 hours. You’d think it’d be tedious, but it was fun. I enjoyed listening to the veteran MG’s talk about the big plant sale in May, they have jokes they share and a camaraderie that comes from years of serving the community together. After getting my hands dirty I then headed over to the main office where I worked for 4.5 hours in the plant clinic. Here we field calls of all types. Today I took calls on a man who’s peach trees are suffering from Peach Curl and how to combat it. A woman with lots of Yellow Star Thistle in her yard, another man came into the office needing a soil sample done. More calls, voice mails and emails had to be addressed and BAM 4.5 hours was gone in the blink of an eye! I shudder to think of what it’s like to work the clinic when things really get hopping. But I cannot wait.

I can see that I will have great pride working with these individuals and for this organization. There is just something meaningful when you give back to the community that serves you.