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Grace Florjancic

Coordinator’s Column

By Beet 2024 02 February

 

 

Hello Gardeners,

I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season and started the year off on a good foot! We are entering a very busy time for us Master Gardeners. The 2024 training class has started, with Practicum soon to follow. Our community education classes will be kicking off this month, as well as more upcoming ways to volunteer!

 

Upcoming Classes!

Rose Pruning: February 17th from 10:00am – 12:00pm. In Person Only.

Have roses you are not sure how to prune? Join the Master Gardeners in our Rose Demonstration Garden as we teach you the ins and outs of pruning the perfect roses. Register here https://beav.es/SGR.

 

LAST MG Trivia Night:  February 21st   6:00pm – 7:00pm. Online Only.

Play trivia against MGs across the state for a chance to win a gift card to an Oregon-based gardening company. This month’s trivia will be about Oregon native plants. Trivia is fun, and also counts towards your continuing education hours! Register here https://beav.es/qkN.

 

OSU MG Training Modules: February. Self-Paced. Online Only.

The online modules used for the MG training class are available for Current MGs to review for free! If you would like to access the videos to use as continuing education credits, please email Grace at grace.florjancic@oregonstate.edu to receive the registration link.

 

Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities!

Plant a Row Food Donation

The Master Gardeners will be collecting home grown produce at SOREC to donate to ACCESS Food Pantries this summer. If you have the garden space, plan ahead of time to reserve a bed or section for produce to donate. Last year we collected over 700 pounds of fresh produce. This is one way we can help make a more food secure Jackson County!

 

Seed to Supper Instructor

Seed to Supper is a 6-week basic veggie gardening course for folks in the county facing food insecurity. Classes typically run in spring but can happen throughout the year, depending on location and instructor availability. Instructors are provided training for the course, teaching materials, and workbooks for all the program participants. Seed to Supper instructors must be current certified Master Gardeners. Reach out to Grace Florjancic if you are interested in becoming a Seed to Supper Instructor, at grace.florjancic@oregonstate.edu.

 

Plants for Gramps Volunteers

This is a new program we plan to pilot in the summer of 2024. Plants for Gramps is going to be horticultural therapy activities for rural older adults. We are hoping to offer 6-8 activities for each group of participants. We are working to team up with libraries to hold the program meetings. This means you could volunteer to help folks in your local community! Fingers crossed the grant funding to launch this program gets approved! Instructors for this program need to be currently certified Master Gardeners. Reach out to Grace Florjancic if you are interested in volunteering as an instructor in Plants for Gramps at grace.florjancic@oregonstate.edu.

 

Spring Garden Fair

This year’s Spring Garden Fair will be on May 4th and 5th here at SOREC! There will be many ways to help us prepare for this event, as well as staffing for the event. Keep an eye out and ears open this month for opportunities to get involved.

 

 

 

Coordinator’s Column

By Beet 2024 01 January

Hello Gardeners,

The cold and snowy weather is the perfect time to think about next year’s veggie garden. What do you like to eat? How much will your family eat? How much can you grow in your garden? These are the questions we think about when planning our gardens. I encourage all of you growers to also think about how you can dedicate an extra row, bed, or section of your veggie garden for food donations.

One of the Master Gardener program priorities is local food production and access in Oregon. A large component of that is food security for all Oregonians. There are lots of ways a more food secure Jackson County can be achieved.  One way we, the Jackson County Master Gardeners, help out is through produce donations to ACCESS Food Bank. Last year we donated 1,108.5 pounds of produce! Much of that donation came from our Plant a Row Campaign.

The Plant a Row Campaign encourages people to grow an additional row of veggies for the purpose of donation. This past summer we collected and weighed produce donated at SOREC on Wednesdays. Our contact with ACCESS picked up our donations with their food van. That food gets distributed throughout the county at various ACCESS sites. We are hopeful that more people will participate in this campaign next year to increase our positive impact within Jackson County. You do not have to be a Master Gardener to donate produce through our Plant a Row Campaign, so tell your neighbors!

While the Master Gardeners partner with ACCESS Food Bank, there are many other groups that offer food pantry services in the county. If you cannot make it to SOREC to drop off produce for our collection day, consider dropping off produce to your local pantry. Here is a list of food pantries in the county https://accesshelps.org/food-pantries/. Reach out to see if they will accept your homegrown produce.

 

Medford Water Commission Update

By Beet 2024 01 January

Hello Plant Clinic People,

The Medford Water Commission has decided to make a small change in the water treatment process for their water supply. They will be raising the pH of the water from about 7.1 to 7.8 by adding sodium hydroxide (NaOH). While this change is unlikely to impact garden plants, there is a chance that over time some plants could show signs of nutrient deficiency due to the higher alkalinity in the water. Plants that are acid-loving, like blueberries, may be impacted. It’s something to keep in the back of your mind when you think you have a case of nutrient deficiency on your hands in the upcoming years.

 

Medford Water Commission: https://www.medfordwater.org/Page.asp?NavID=642

Michigan State University: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/water_alkalinity_and_ph_what_they_mean_in_regards_to_water_quality

 

 

Coordinator’s Column

By Beet 2023 12 December

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Gardeners,

We are in those cold winter months where family and friends gather to celebrate. There is much for the Jackson County Master Gardeners to celebrate this year also.

  • We have completed a total of 8,981.8 volunteer hours this year!
  • Plus, an additional 1,133.4 hours of Continuing Education Credits!
  • 65,914 people in the County were reached through our efforts!
  • 1,108.5 pounds of produce were donated, largely from the Plant a Row Campaign and our Veggie Demonstration Garden!

 

Thank you to everyone who helped make this year a success. All of your hard work really demonstrates our impact as an organization. As we continue to expand what we do as an organization, these numbers will continue to grow. I am looking forward to working with you all again next year!

Speaking of next year, what’s new for the Jackson County Master Gardeners in 2024? In addition to our current volunteer opportunities, we will be expanding into a few new areas.

We are happy to announce the initiation of our Friends of the Demonstration Gardens volunteers. These volunteers are folks who are not Master Gardeners but are still interested in getting some hands-on education and practice volunteering in our Demonstration Gardens. This will expand our reach within our community and help our GEMs keep their gardens in tip top shape. If you are interested in helping coordinate this group of volunteers, reach out to me (Grace Florjancic) at grace.flroajncic@oregonstate.edu!

Seed to Supper is making a comeback! This 6-week gardening class is designed for those in our county of lower incomes to teach how to veggie garden on a budget. This program is important in helping create a more resilient and food secure Oregon. If you are interested in becoming a Seed to Supper instructor, reach out to me at grace.florjancic@oregonstate.edu!

We have a new initiative under construction and if the grant is funded, we will be charging ahead in the summer of 2024. The working title is “Plants for Gramps”, and it will take place in various Jackson County libraries. It will be a short workshop series based on horticultural therapy activities to help combat mental health challenges and loneliness in rural older adults. Our goal is to help folks be able to access the benefits of interacting with nature indoors and from home as well as connecting with new people to foster a sense of community. If you are interested in becoming a Plants for Gramps instructor, reach out to me at grace.florjancic@oregonstate.edu!

Thank you to everyone for your hard work over this past year. I know there are endless opportunities for the future, and it can be a challenge to make sure we accomplish all the exciting goals we have when taking on new initiatives and expanding old ones. I am available to discuss ideas about future endeavors. Drop me a line! By now you should all know my email: grace.florjancic@oregonstate.edu

 

Coordinator’s Column

By Beet 2023 11 November

 

Hello Gardeners,

As we move into November, the cold weather creeps up on us. We spend less time working out in our gardens, in favor of staying warm and cozy indoors. However, there are still plenty of things we can do to nourish and care for ourselves over the winter in preparation for a busy spring gardening schedule. Two important items on that list are 1) exercising and 2) assessing our tools.

Gardening is a great form of exercising from our arms down to our toes. Gardeners spend all growing season lifting, squatting, and pushing heavy objects across our gardens. We don’t want to lose any of our strength and flexibility over the wintertime. We don’t need to train like a sports star but throwing in a couple of exercises each week can have big results. Starting the morning off with an easy stretch or exercise can help awaken any joints that are stiff from lack of movement while asleep. There are many free resources for simple at-home exercises to help keep us in shape and prevent future gardening injuries.

Winter is also a great time to go through our tools and see what needs cleaning, sharpening, or replacing. Consider modifying your tools or replacing them to become more ergonomic. Many ergonomic gardening tools have either a curved handle or have the tool at a 90-degree angle to the handle. This shape reduces strain on our wrists. Ergonomic tools tend to have a wider handle for an easier grip. There are ways to add material like foam to tool handles to increase their size. Some larger tools like shovels have a round handle at the end for an easier hold.

 

Food Hero Exercises

Aerobic Activity – https://foodhero.org/magazines/older-adults-focus-aerobic-activity

Balance – https://foodhero.org/magazines/older-adults-focus-balance

Flexibility – https://foodhero.org/magazines/older-adults-focus-flexibility

Strength – https://foodhero.org/magazines/older-adult-focus-strength

 

Level Up Class

The Healthy Gardener – https://media.oregonstate.edu/media/t/1_bqwste6p

 

OSU

Walk With Ease – https://extension.oregonstate.edu/walk-ease

Better Bones and Balance – https://extension.oregonstate.edu/bbb/participant-resources

 

Ergonomic Tool Examples

Coordinator’s Column

By Beet 2023 10 October

Hello Gardeners,

As October begins, we approach the end of the Master Gardener volunteering year. I have had a great year getting to know our perennial Master Gardeners and experiencing the program for the first time with our new Master Gardener students. We had a great crew of students, many of whom will graduate on November 4th and continue on to be lasting volunteers in the Master Gardener Program. Thank you everyone for all your hard work in making this year successful and providing feedback and ideas to make next year even better!

Remember to record your volunteer hours!

Recording volunteer hours is important for every Master Gardener no matter how many or few hours you volunteered this year. Program Coordinators (like me!) track our numbers in our yearly reports to show our counties how awesome our volunteers are and all the amazing things you accomplish. The deadline for reporting hours is the end of October. The sooner you get those in the better!

OSU uses an online website to report volunteer hours called the Volunteer Reporting System. (Website Link: https://vrs.osumg.org/sec_Login/) This makes it easier to keep track of everyone’s hours to see who will remain certified to teach next year and which students have completed their hours for graduation. Here are helpful videos on how to use the VRS. (Videos: https://vrs.osumg.org/v_video_demos/)

Students need a total of 45 volunteer hours to graduate and become certified to teach others. Perennial Master Gardeners need 20 volunteer hours and 10 continuing education hours to remain or become certified to teach. Teaching can range from being a Plant Clinic Mentor educating the community on their plant problems; being a Seed to Supper instructor educating the community on veggie gardening on a budget; or a GEM leading Master Gardeners and students in the Demonstration Gardens, giving presentations to garden clubs through the Speakers Bureau, and much more!

It is not too late to complete your 2023 graduation or recertification hours!

Please reach out to me at grace.florjancic@oregonstate.edu so I can help you find ways to reach your goals!

 

Enjoy the cool fall weather,

Grace Florjancic

SOREC Plant Clinic – Plant Mystery Central

By Beet 2023 10 October

The Plant Clinic is one of the first volunteer efforts offered by the Oregon Master Gardeners. While OSU Extension researchers help the state’s commercial growers, the Master Gardener volunteers help our home growers. The Jackson County Master Gardener Association was formed in 1982 as a chapter of the OSU Master Gardener™ Program. The SOREC Plant Clinic began soon after and has grown and expanded from its humble beginnings.

Plant Clinic Mentor Liz Koester started her time as a Master Gardener before the Extension office made its home on Hanley Road. The old location had a very small Plant Clinic, only about a third of the size as our current Plant Clinic! When Liz was a student, there were only a couple active Plant Clinic Mentors. Now we have a dozen SOREC Plant Clinic Mentors and there will soon be more from our graduating 2023 class. Our office has seen many changes over the years to help our fabulous plant detectives solve the mysteries of Jackson County gardens.

Not all those changes have been great. From 2020 to 2022, the SOREC Plant Clinic went 100% virtual. Anyone who has had a friend or family member give vague descriptions or blurry photos of plants knows how difficult it is to solve plant problems without samples of the plant in hand. Our Plant Clinic Mentors made the best of a bad situation to help our community’s gardeners with their plant questions with phone calls and emails.

The SOREC Plant Clinic is happy to be back in person this year. Prior to 2020, the SOREC Plant Clinic answered over 2,000 questions from home gardeners each year. This year we are getting back into the swing of things and have answered 996 plant and insect questions from January through July. In addition to helping a larger number of people in the county, being back in person brings forth the best parts of volunteering in the Plant Clinic.

I asked a few Plant Clinic Mentors why they love working in the Plant Clinic so much. The most common answers were that you are always learning something new in the Plant Clinic and it is a great way to interact directly with our community. The satisfaction of solving a mystery through the gripping (and sometimes irritating) hunt for illusive answers keeps Mentors coming back. It is also a great way for Master Gardeners to get to know a wide range of other members and build some teamwork when tracking down clues. Students have said they are intimidated by the Plant Clinic when they first start but learn so much from our Plant Clinic Mentors.

Do you want to be a Plant Clinic Mentor?

Come to our interest meeting on Thursday October 19th at 2:00pm in the SOREC Auditorium. Snacks and tea will be served!

Requirements:

  • Certified Master Gardener
  • Winter Plant Clinic volunteer hours
  • Plant Clinic focused trainings

We hope to see you in the Plant Clinic next year!

Coordinator Column

By Beet 2023 09 September

Hello Gardeners,

The end of summer and throughout fall is a great time for collecting seeds from your favorite plants. While it is tempting to snag every seed in sight, we want to make sure we are harvesting seeds in a manner that will not harm wild plant populations.

Where can I collect seeds?

If you want seeds from plants in your yard, feel free to harvest away! If you are thinking of harvesting seeds from wild areas, be mindful of some regulations.  The first step is to know if you are on private property or not. Avoid harvesting from private land unless you have permission from the landowner.

On land owned by the BLM, it is OK to harvest small amounts of seed from healthy plant populations for recreational use. A permit is needed for commercial use. To learn more about the details of harvesting seed on BLM property click here for a resource from the BLM..

How do I collect seeds?

Before you pick up our pruners and buckets to snip some seedheads you must first assess which plant species it is and the health of the population. Seeds from endangered plants must never be harvested in the wild. Click here for a resource to determine if a plant is endangered or threatened.

Plants with low population numbers should be left to reseed the land. There is no one rule for what counts as a low plant population. It is better to err on the side of caution. Make sure there are multiple distinct groupings of the plant present before harvesting seeds. For long term sustainable harvest of wild plant seeds, it is recommended to take no more than 10% of seeds in a population. This helps ensure other animals have seed for food and future generations of the plant will germinate.

If you are on appropriate land, the plant is not endangered or threatened, and the plant has a healthy population you can collect seeds! It is easiest to snip off seedheads into a bag or bucket labelled with the plant species name so you don’t get confused about what you harvested. Cleaning and processing the seeds can be done at home.

Happy harvesting and remember to be a responsible nature enthusiast!

Coordinator’s Column

By Beet 2023 08 August

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Gardeners,

We are getting into that hot time of year when fires pop up. Many of us have heard about ways we can manage large areas of land to reduce the chances that fire could spread. What can homeowners with smaller yards do?  Here are just a few of the many tips to help.

Keep your driveway accessible to first responders.

Can a fire truck fit in your driveway? Check to see if you need to prune any low hanging, far reaching branches so fire teams will be able to park their trucks in your driveway.

Hardscape the immediate space around your home.

Create a space within the first 5 feet of your home where there are no flammable materials. This can mean mulching with gravel closer to your house instead of wood chips or removing shrubs directly against your house.

Remove ladder fuels in your yard.

Ladder fuels are flammable structures (plants included) that allow the flames to spread up. Removing the lower branches of large trees up to 6 feet, or limbing up, can reduce the chance of the fire reaching the tree’s canopy. Removing tall plants under trees and replacing them with shorter plants can also reduce the chances of fire spreading to a tree’s canopy.

Most importantly, talk to your neighbors.

When houses are close together, fire resistance is a team effort. Encouragement and education of our neighbors can help create more resistant neighborhoods.

There are many more ways to increase your home’s resistance to fire. Each neighborhood and part of the county is different. It can be overwhelming to try to change your entire yard so pick a few tasks and work towards becoming more fire resistant. Some questions to consider are:

  • How close is the nearest fire station? How long will it take them to arrive?
  • What type of land surrounds my home? Urban? Industrial? Farm? What are the potential fire risks of these lands?
  • Which plants am I OK with moving or replacing?

For more information on reducing the fire risk of your home check out these sources.

Fire resistant plants for home landscape: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pub/pnw590

Prioritizing your home hardening approach: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/video/prioritizing-your-home-hardening-approach-recorded

Oregon Defensible Space: https://oregondefensiblespace.org/

How to harden homes against wildfire: https://www.oregon.gov/bcd/Documents/fire-hardening-grant-guide.pdf

 

 

 

 

Coordinator’s Column

By Beet 2023 07 July

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Gardeners,

I am excited to announce the Jackson County Master Gardener Instagram account @jcmg_osu was launched this past month!

If you have an Instagram account, give us a follow. I will be sharing snippets of information about various gardening related topics. Anything from native plants to plant problems could pop up! I am hopeful that this will be a successful avenue for engagement with Jackson County residents interested in learning a little more about their gardens and the local nature around them.