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Jack Ivers

WE WANT YOU on the JCMGA Board!

By | Beet 2021 07 July | 106 Comments

We are looking for new and experienced Master Gardeners to serve on our JCMGA Board for 2022. Could that be you, or someone you recommend (with their permission)?

Please consider becoming a board member.

The board is the governing body of the association. It adopts the budget, sets policy, and generally oversees the present and future direction of JCMGA. Board meetings are held the second Friday of each month.

The following positions are to be elected this fall:

President

Vice-President/President-Elect

Treasurer

Assistant Treasurer

Recording Secretary

Membership Secretary

Archivist

OMGA Representative

Five Members-at-Large.

Nominees must be members of JCMGA.

Deadline for nominations is August 15, 2021!

Send nominations to Lynn Kunstman

OSU Extension Master Gardener Program Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiative

By | Beet 2021 07 July | No Comments

By Jim Buck

Master Gardener 2018

Gail Langellotto, Statewide Master Gardener Coordinator, and LeAnn Locher, Statewide Master Gardener Outreach Coordinator, are facilitating a DEI Task Force. The Task Force includes several Master Gardener (MG) staff and faculty along with 30+ volunteer Master Gardeners from across the state. Colet Allen and Jim Buck volunteered to participate for the coming year and the group will focus on ways to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion in the MG program.

Why a DEI Task Force?

Over the past ten years, small incremental changes have been made to the MG program to address inequities and to grow diversity, equity and inclusion. In 2020, the Master Gardener program made clear statements and reinforced its commitment to building a more inclusive program. All of us involved in the MG program are being asked to work on:

  • Increasing the diversity of who we serve in the community
  • Increasing the diversity of who we are in the program
  • Growing the breadth of our curriculum and events to include cultural practices and inclusion
  • Modeling inclusive practices to our peers in the MG program
  • Forming, growing, and strengthening our work with community partners

Vision

We provide accessible and equitable education programs that nurture life-long learners and volunteers who can expand the reach and impact of science-based sustainable gardening practices to benefit all Oregonians.

Guiding values

One of the guiding values is that we are connected to our local communities and that their needs drive the work of our program. We are inclusive, where everyone is welcome, valued, and supported. We know that collaboration and partnerships with our communities, community organizations, and neighbors make us stronger and that together we create positive change.

If you are like me, when I initially thought of DEI, what first came to mind were race, gender, and maybe age. DEI in the MG program has a much broader meaning. Access to land (outside a garden plot or apartment balcony); access to transportation and the internet; career; diet; education; upbringing; language; talents; abilities/disabilities; and ideas are just a few of the many parts of DEI.

To address this broader meaning, Task Force members have been divided up into one of four work groups:

  • Who becomes a MG?
  • Who do we serve in the community?
  • How can our MG curriculum and content grow to be more inclusive?
  • Events and programming (beyond curriculum)

In addition to the monthly large group Task Force meetings, each work group meets monthly to discuss ways to improve our program.

The Jackson County MG program is highly regarded throughout the state. With support of our leadership and each Master Gardener, we can enhance our DEI efforts and make our program even more welcoming. If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend viewing at least the first 15 minutes of this link: Efforts to Promote Racial Justice in Oregon’s Master Gardener Program.

Reopening and other program updates

By | Beet 2021 07 July | No Comments

Dear Gardeners,

This month, I have a few program updates to share with you, as Oregon ‘reopened’ on June 30. Read the full announcement from the governor’s office here. While we don’t have the full details of when OSU Extension will be open to the public (as of June 29), we can start to increase activity in the Demonstration Gardens and have meetings in person. There is also an update about the upcoming 2022 MG training.

Demonstration Gardens: Beginning Wednesday, June 30, our capacity and activity limits for working in the Demonstration Gardens will be lifted. So, if you have been interested in working in the Demonstration Gardens all summer, contact me (Erika) for a list of gardens with a head gardener, and we’ll find a spot for you!

Programming: Programming will be planned and executed without the need for formal approval from OSU Extension Administration. Please be sure to check in with me and fill out the appropriate project selection and activity proposal forms before organizing a new event or program.

Face coverings: Face coverings are no longer required as of June 30, except for individuals who remain unvaccinated. Individuals are encouraged to wear masks if they choose, but are not required to do so.

COVID-19 training: COVID-19 training for employees and volunteers will no longer be required.
**Additionally, OSU’s policy (current as of June 29) is that vaccination status of volunteers or the public cannot determine participation in Extension activities, which includes JCMGA events and activities.

2022 MG trainings: MG trainings will be held in 2022. Because of a reduction in available instructors, it is likely that some counties may use online MG training classes to supplement on-site classes. Hybrid trainings (part online and part in person) may thus become more common in MG trainings. In addition, we are looking at ways to make MG training classes and certification more broadly accessible. One way to do this is to reduce the service hour requirement, so long as it does not go below the national minimum standard of 40 hours of volunteer service. The hybrid training option is another option to make classes more accessible.

That’s all for now, and please reach out with any questions or comments.

Thanks!!

– Erika

Why native plants? Plant choice matters!

By | Beet 2021 07 July | No Comments

By Lynn Kunstman

Master Gardener 2012

Part One of a four-part series

You may be aware of the nationwide movement to grow native plants in urban, suburban and rural landscapes. Why is choosing and growing native plants in our gardens important? Why should we care? Because, as gardeners, we have a responsibility to care for planetary and local ecosystem health.
Most of us are aware of the list of environmental problems facing our ecosystems and planet: water and soil pollution by pesticides and petrochemical run-off from streets, lawns and roads; seasonal changes in weather and climate; invasive species encroaching into wild lands; increased risks of fire and flood; a disastrous decrease in insects worldwide – particularly pollinators; and a precipitous decline in our North American birds. Monoculture in non-native lawns in America now covers more acreage than all our National Parks combined. Nature has been driven out.

I encourage all of you to invite nature back into your landscape. Traditionally, when planning a garden, we ask, what do we want to do in the garden, and what plants do we enjoy? These are important considerations, but today we need to ask more probing and important questions as well. Before you venture into your local nursery and buy the “eye candy” you see, ask yourself these questions: “Will this plant improve biodiversity and support our local ecosystem?” “How will this plant help save nature in MY yard and neighborhood?”

For instance, if you are looking for a small landscape tree that will be a centerpiece in your front yard, you might be tempted to plant a Crepe Myrtle – a flashy, (human) eye-catching Asian plant import.

They really are lovely. But you need to look beyond just the beauty of that organism to you, and consider what it offers in the way of ECOSYSTEM SERVICES. In other words, does this plant:

  • Enrich and stabilize soil;
  • Clean and manage water;
  • Produce food, for ourselves and wildlife;
  • Sequester carbon;
  • Moderate weather;
  • Provide habitat;
  • Support pollinators.

Native plants do all of these things and are uniquely adapted to our local environmental conditions. What is eye candy to you – like the crepe myrtle – may provide none of these services. Our native insects need to feed on native vegetation and our native birds need to feed on native insects.

You might choose instead a native chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), native hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii), or native mountain ash tree (Sorbus sp.), as that specimen tree for your yard. Each of these have beautiful blooms for bees and other pollinators in spring and all produce berries in the fall as winter food for adult birds. Most importantly, each hosts a large number of caterpillar species that are the critical food for nestling and fledgling birds. No caterpillars, no birds. These three, small, yard-sized trees host 240, 80, and 42 species of moth and butterfly respectively. When you choose a NATIVE plant, you are planting a living bird feeder and growing next year’s butterflies.

Use these sites to choose native plants for your garden:

Oregon Flora

Native Plant Finder

Plant choice always matters! Garden for Life!

JCMGA WANTS YOU!

By | Beet 2021 07 July | No Comments

Greetings, gardeners! June provided us with a small, early, cool respite from the heat in late May. If July is anything like normal, we can expect lots of hot weather. Hopefully, by the time this article goes to press, we will have seen a reduction in Jackson County COVID-19 risk and will be able to have more ability to get back to normal functioning. Our GEMS gardeners are still working to keep the Demonstration Gardens in good shape on campus until that happens. Erika will keep us all apprised of developments.

Meanwhile, everyone involved with JCMGA has been working hard behind the scenes to keep everything ticking along. We are in good financial shape thanks to the efforts of our Finance Committee and our ability to sell our garden guides through local vendors. The communications team has done an outstanding job of revamping our website. Be sure to check it out.

Ronnie Budge and John Kobal presented a Vegetable Gardening class to OLLI students. John and Susan Koenig are now planning another OLLI class for fall on Ornamental Gardening. And if you have not seen the Native Plants Garden Tour videos, they are now all posted and linked on the website, and are a delight. View them – and donate – here! And, be sure to thank Sherri Morgan and her team for this amazing effort.

Also, plans are going forward for Winter Dreams, Summer Gardens to be an in-person event the first weekend in November. Once again, this is contingent on COVID-19 numbers being low enough. So do your part and get vaccinated!

We have had several of our “perennial” heads of committees and working groups resign over the past year. I encourage anyone who would like to become more involved in JCMGA, and can give of their time and expertise, to volunteer to help replace these folks. Jack Ivers, who has edited the Garden Beet, is moving on and would like folks with editing experience to help with the duties to publish our monthly newsletter. Jane Moyers and Kate Hassen have retired as Garden Education Mentors for the Wanda Hauser Garden. Marcie Katz is taking on that position, but would really like a co-chair to work with her. I need someone to apprentice as a co-chair in the Native Plants Nursery – not the native plants garden – where the focus is on propagation and sales. Jim Buck will also be resigning at year’s end as chair of our Community Outreach Working Group.

Of course, all of our committees, working groups and Demo Gardens need volunteers. Please look at pages 28 – 29 in our chapter directory and see where you might plug in, then contact the chair of that group for more details. Jackson County Master Gardeners needs each and every one of you. Remember that we are an educational organization, and we exist to educate gardeners in Jackson County. Nothing is more rewarding than empowering people through education. Many hands make light work and we have much work to do.

Garden for Life!

July and August: The gateway to fall harvest

By | Beet 2021 07 July | No Comments

July and August are the gateway months for fall vegetables. Get out your leftover seeds and order more of those you don’t have enough of. Pull out that scraggly lettuce and gone-to-seed arugula to make room for a second crop of beets, carrots, collards, endive/escarole, Florence fennel, kale, kohlrabi, peas, rutabaga, scallions, Swiss chard, and other Oriental greens. Make sure you get them in the ground this month or next to ensure a bountiful harvest starting in September for some things and on through the fall and winter for others.

Fall sprouting broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, late varieties of cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy and radicchio can be started indoors for transplanting later. If you’re like me, you will have a hard time finding room for many of these, but it is well worth it when you can have fresh vegetables much of the winter (with a little protection from the coldest weather).

July is also the month when much of what you planted earlier begins (or continues) to give you a return. A trickle of tomatoes from early varieties such as Siletz, Oregon Spring and Fourth of July starts in early July, becoming a steady stream by the end of the month and, if you’re lucky, an avalanche in August. If you planted Longkeeper, you may still have ripe, fresh tomatoes in November.

I have not yet had a ripe tomato (in mid-June) due to the 2,000-foot elevation and cool weather, but I am checking my tomatoes daily nonetheless. They have blossoms. Can tomatoes be far behind?

The kohlrabi bulbs are now big, ripe and ready for salad with carrots and various greens (tomatoes and cucumbers soon?). I have never grown kohlrabi and having tasted the fresh, crisp flesh, I wonder: why not? They are delicious and now that I know, they will be in my garden plan next year. I have never had much luck with cabbage. Kohlrabi is a good substitute and could be made into coleslaw.

Baby Nantes carrots are a delight and so tender when steamed with a little herb butter. I’ve given up on “designer carrots” in various hues. I know other people like them, and I hope you grow them if you do, but give me a good Nantes carrot any day.

The tops of onions will fall over in July, indicating that the bulbs are fully developed. The first time I grew onions, I was unaware that this would happen. I was panicked. They looked so healthy a week ago! What happened to my onions? Never fear, it’s part of their lifecycle. Withhold water so the top will begin to dry out. After the top becomes limp, gently pull out the onion bulb. Onions may be cured by laying them on racks, cloth tarps or cardboard in a shady area. Be sure to keep the bulbs in the shade, but the tops can be in the sun to dry out. Good air circulation is a must or the onions may rot.

Onions whose necks have not dried sufficiently will not last long in storage, so make sure the necks are dry. When cured, cut off the bulb leaving about 2” of neck. Store in a single layer in well-ventilated boxes or net bags at 55° to 65° F. Walla Walla onions must be eaten within three months or they will spoil. Storage onions will last up to 10 months if properly stored. I have also frozen chopped onion for use in cooking.

If you are lucky enough to have raspberries, you probably know how to take care of them. After they bear fruit in June, cut those canes to the ground in July. When fall-bearing raspberries start to bloom, fertilize them well with a heavy nitrogen fertilizer (33-0-0). July is also the time to fertilize June-bearing strawberries with a balanced fertilizer (16-16-16).

We are about to enter the hot part of the summer and today the Talent Irrigation District shut off the ditch for 14 days. It’s a good thing I bought several 55-gallon trash cans and filled them with water.

They hold all the water my garden will have for two weeks. Sorry, roses. You are way down on my list of plants to water. Unfortunately, I have a couple of new trees this year which need regular water until they are established or they will likely die. Wish me luck. I am just hoping to keep everything alive this summer!

July garden guide

Here are a few of the many things to do in July:

Direct seed: Amaranth to Swiss chard bracket the plants in this category for July.

Sow for transplanting: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, park choi, radicchio.

Don’t forget to control pests and diseases

For more, check out the Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley

Cornival!

By | Beet 2021 07 July | No Comments

There’s nothing quite like experiencing the festivities and food – especially the fragrance – of fresh popped corn. Whether buttered and salted, kettle, or as caramelized balls, popcorn is always devoured.
While you might not think of racing off to the nearest carnival, why not try growing a “cornival” in your own backyard?  No, we’re not talking ticket booths or entertaining rides, but something that’s definitely not only delightful but d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s.

It’s fun to harvest one of the most cherished comfort foods, popcorn. Watch a movie as a big bowl of your own freshly popped kernels fills the air with an intoxicating fragrance.

Archeological findings have documented traces of popcorn in Peruvian tombs dating back 1,000 years.
Despite its instant popularity, it’s likely the Iroquois started it all here in North America.

Unfortunately the story of popcorn at the first Thanksgiving feast is as fictitious and full of air as a bag of microwaved corn.

The writings of French explorers recorded that the Iroquois popped tough corn kernels in heated, sand-filled pottery jars. As the nations of the Iroquois Confederacy spread through the Great Lakes region, it is likely that settlers in Vermont, Quebec and upstate New York took up this technique.

By the mid-1800s, families popped corn at home; mass consumption began in the late 1890s after Charles Cretors built the first popping machine. Many improvements led to superior steam popping. Consumption really catapulted once this corn could be had from horse-drawn wagons.

Unfortunately, today most people get their popped corn (some million pounds per year in the US) from the microwave. We have no idea what we’re missing until we plant our own popping corn.

This sensational snack is also quite nutritious as a whole grain that’s high in fiber and natural simple carbohydrates that quickly (albeit briefly) raise serotonin levels, leaving one relaxed with a mood lift.
So, aside from the superior taste, what better reason is there to grow your own?

From snowy white, brilliant yellow, and opalescent blue, to crimson red and multicolored rainbow ears, you’ll not be able to resist the multitude of colorful offerings. Some wonderful varieties are: Glass Gem, Heirloom Strawberry, Heirloom, Carousel, Shaman’s Blue, Snow Puff, and finally, Robust Yellow Hulles Hybrid.

Propagate your own popcorn the same way you would sweet corn except allow the ears to fully mature and harvest popcorn after the husks turn fully amber and dry.

The only thing not to do is simultaneously plant sweet and popping-type corn in your garden. Readily cross-pollinating, you’ll get the worst of both varieties when you go to pop the kernels: many unpopped kernels and tough sweet corn.

With that said, why not pop out and put in some popping corn so you can soon have some popped corn to grin about from ear to ear?

Seed sources

Victory Seeds

Strawberry. Glass Gem, as well a few other heirlooms

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Glass Gem, Strawberry, Dakota Black and Mini Blue

The Heirloom Popcorn Company

Many varieties, including Carousel

 

Recipe: Perfect stovetop popcorn

Tip: To store popped corn, place in a zip-type freezer bag and put in the freezer. Since popped corn doesn’t freeze, you can eat it immediately or warm kernels in a closed paper sack on the microwave “high” setting for about 1 minute.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons cooking type olive oil

1/2 cup fresh popcorn kernels, plus 3 to 4 extra kernels

Instructions

In a large heavy-lidded pot, pour in oil and heat to medium high. Drop in extra kernels and put the lid on. When they pop, remove pot and lid (strain out popped kernels) then pour in ½ cup kernels, swishing them to get them all equally coated with oil. Replace lid and put pot back on heat. With lid slightly ajar (allows extra steam to escape), shake pot about every half- minute so kernels don’t burn and unpopped kernels cycle to the bottom to pop. When popping ceases, remove pot from heat and pour popped corn into a large bowl.

Toppings

  • Season to taste with sea salt or other toppings such as:
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Sprinkle
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon mixed with 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon matcha tea powder and sea salt to taste
  • 1 package spiced cider mix

OMGA 
Mini-College scholarships available

By | Beet 2021 06 June | No Comments

By Patrice Kaska

Master Gardener 2016

The Oregon Master Gardener Association’s (OMGA) 2021 Mini-College is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, July 16-17. It will be all- virtual and the cost of registration is $49. JCMGA has set aside funds to provide scholarships for six JCMGA members.

On Friday, Keynote Speaker Robert Michael Pyle, a writer and Yale-trained ecologist, Guggenheim Fellow, and founder of the Xerces Society, will discuss “People, Plants and Pollinators in the PNW.” Following his talk, there will be concurrent sessions including wide-ranging topics such as the Oregon Bee Atlas, mason bees, native garden plant considerations for pollinators, insect pests, microbes, and workshops on hydroponics and the OSU plant identification program. Since the Mini-College is virtual, all sessions and workshops will be recorded and posted online so that registered participants may watch any of the classes or workshops at a personally-convenient time!

On Saturday, the Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Gail Langellotto, the Oregon Master Gardener State Coordinator, who will discuss the “Oregon Master Gardener Program – Successes, Challenges and Opportunities.” The concurrent sessions will include talks on agricultural adaptations for the urban environment, organic vegetable gardening, the Japanese beetle, biochar, and year-round pollinator plants. Workshops include designing a pollinator garden with native plants and using I-Naturalist for insect identification.

Additional information and registration for Mini-College is here.

The six JCMGA scholarships will be offered on a first come, first served basis. If you would like to apply for a scholarship, please send an email to Patrice Kaska using the subject heading “Mini-College Scholarship” indicating your interest.

Summer creeping in after a scorching May

By | Beet 2021 06 June | No Comments

Greetings Master Gardeners.

Summer is almost upon us. May was quite the scorcher, and it looks like that will be the default setting for this month as well. Like me, you are probably worried about keeping your summer gardens watered during the current drought conditions we are experiencing. Hopefully you have installed drip irrigation in your vegetable gardens, and mulched everything you can to preserve the soil moisture. Master Gardener Doug Kirby has been repairing and turning on the watering systems in the Demonstration Gardens at the Extension campus so they can survive until we are able to get back to normal operations there.

As Jackson County COVID-19 numbers come down, and we can move into MODERATE, or LOW risk status, the closure on campus should ease. Erika will keep us all informed about when we can return to work in the gardens. Watch for her emails.

Meanwhile, there are steps you can take to keep your yard and gardens “waterwise.” Landscaping with native plants can help you reduce water consumption. Western native plants are adapted to our dry summer conditions. If you have not seen the fantastic, virtual NATIVE PLANTS GARDEN TOURS, put together by our awesome Master Gardener Sherri Morgan and her group of superhero volunteers, I encourage you all to follow this link to view them. Please be sure to hit the donation button when you visit the site.

The Community Garden Club has native plants for sale at 3939 Tami Lane in Central Point. Hours are from 9 am–5 pm daily. Sales are self-serve, with instructions for leaving payment in the barn. And of course, when we can return to campus, JCMGA will be selling native plants from our Native Plant Nursery weekly and at pop-up sales.

For those of you who would like to know more about what is going on with JCMGA, I encourage you to attend our monthly board meetings. Members are always welcome at our meetings, which happen on the second Friday of each month from 9:30 – 11:30 am. If you would like to attend, please email me at kunlynn52@gmail.com, so I can send you the link to our next Zoom meeting.

Stay well, and Garden for Life!

Community veggie start donations a success!

By | Beet 2021 06 June | No Comments

Dear Gardeners,

Happy June! This month, I’d like to highlight incredible work done by some members of the 2020 class, plus include some other program updates.

Community Veggie Start Donations: Over the past few months, Ann Hackett, Carolyn Gale, Debbie Connolly, and Barbara Low (all class of 2020) have been raising vegetable starts to donate locally to their local neighborhoods and communities, utilizing greenhouses and other propagation space they had available at home, and either using their own seeds, or using seeds from the Grow This! Challenge.
Debbie and Barbara are still nurturing their herb and flower starts (as of mid-May). Carolyn and Ann both had very successful donation events from their homes (which were pre-approved by OSU and followed COVID safety guidelines). Carolyn raised several hundred starts and donated about 200 over the course of a weekend from her home to her neighborhood and local community. Ann donated 808 starts to friends, neighbors, and to Almeda fire victims at the ‘New Roots Almeda Plant Gifting’ event at the Habitat for Humanity in south Medford on May 15th. Both Ann and Carolyn developed a handout for how to care for starts, with a lot of help from Ronnie Budge and Lynn Kunstman, who helped with content. Ann provided details of what she raised, which included 12 varieties of tomatoes, 17 varieties of peppers, four varieties of eggplant, and four varieties of tomatillos. She also gave away flower seeds which she had saved from previous years.

Together, Ann and Carolyn donated over 1,000 vegetable starts to their communities, plus provided folks with high-quality information on how to care for those starts. Thank you for your amazing contributions to the community and thank you to those who helped Ann, Carolyn, Debbie, and Barbara along the way.

Program Updates: If you have not yet been tuning into the ‘Growing Oregon Gardeners: Level-Up Series’, it’s not too late! Our next talk with be on June 8, titled ‘Unique Winter Vegetables to Grow’. Registration information is here.

Currently, OSU has not yet provided additional guidance on how being vaccinated affects volunteerism, but I will keep you all posted as I hear new information.

From the Statewide Office – Your Questions Answered: Please see the latest blog post from the statewide Master Gardener Program office, where you’ll find answers to your questions about 2021 recertification and 2022 Master Gardener Program Training.

Thanks for all you do, everyone!

– Erika