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Jack Ivers

June is for leftovers

By | Beet 2021 06 June | No Comments

Remember last month I wrote that I think of May as a “race to the beginning” when I try to get everything in the ground to start growing as soon as possible? Well…I never quite make it–there are always a few things I don’t get planted–so early June is when I plant the May “leftover” starts. Waiting for my winter Bloomsdale Savoy spinach to go to seed to make room, I held up planting the peppers for a few weeks. I also debated about how many eggplants and tomatoes to plant until I learned that the irrigation situation is worse than I thought. I have given away many of my starts. Hopefully, those who adopted them will have more water than I will.

This year, due to the lack of irrigation water, I have planted a much-reduced garden. I have two vegetable garden areas – 6 raised beds and a huge in-ground garden suitable for plants that require a lot of space like squash, tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, and gourds. Sadly, I will not have the water for any of these this year (except 4 tomato plants). I’m piling mulch (straw and leaves) on the “upper garden” to keep the weeds at bay until, hopefully, next year or maybe this fall when I may be able to use that area again.

I will not be making tomato soup, sauce or paste. Fortunately, I have a few jars left from previous years. No corn roast for this year and I will have to wait to try a new method of curing gourds. There is nothing so disappointing for a gardener as having to reduce the size of the garden while not growing any new varieties. Boohoo!

Two of my apple trees failed to bloom for the first time ever, so I won’t be getting any Braeburns or Golden Delicious. I asked around and a couple of friends reported no blooms on their trees, but not everyone has this problem. Hmm…Mine are mature trees which have always produced well and they appear very healthy, so I researched reasons for this failure. There seem to be two possible reasons: either they are taking the year off or we did not get enough sub-freezing days this winter for them to bloom. My other apple tree didn’t get the memo, fortunately. It bloomed well and should have lots of apples.

In June, we can still direct sow a long list of vegetables: bush or pole beans, carrots, corn, beets, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, edamame, okra, scallions, lettuce, Malabar and New Zealand spinach and parsnips. There are also many herbs than can be planted outdoors this month: dill, chervil, basil, summer savory and amaranth.

Be sure to get after the weeds while they are still small and have small root systems. With the warmer weather, weeds grow at an astonishing rate and can rob your garden plants of nutrition and water they need. Landscape cloth and a thick layer of mulch are your best defense.

In order to get a good crop of potatoes, hill the plants when they are about 8” high by raking soil, straw, leaves, grass clippings or compost to cover the stems, leaving about 4” showing. Repeat this every 2–3 weeks to protect the developing potatoes from direct sunlight and to provide more space for the tubers to develop.

One last note, be sure to label your veggies in the garden. If you are like me, you have 3-4 different varieties of some types of veggies like beans, lettuce, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, etc. If one variety does particularly well or you love one type, but don’t want to repeat another, you want to be able to tell them apart. I have found that the little white plastic stakes or seed packets on sticks don’t last all summer. The ink fades and they often get lost. I have taken to using wooden stakes with permanent marker for many things like corn, squash, pumpkins, gourds and row crops. Duct tape labeled with permanent marker doubled over the wire cages of tomato, pepper or eggplant cages also works well.

June garden guide

Here a a few of the many things to do in June:

Direct seed: There are almost two dozen things to direct seed this month, from amaranth to summer savory.

Transplant: From cantaloupe to watermelon, there’s plenty to do.

Sow for transplanting: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower

Don’t forget to control pests and diseases!

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

Watching out for the birds

By | Beet 2021 06 June | No Comments

By John Yuker

Master Gardener 2019

We’re losing birds, by the billions.

Which is why I wanted to mention a movement in which you devote 2/3 of your land to native species of plants.

You can learn more here.

The organization writes:

North America has lost close to 3 billion birds since the 1970s, almost a third of the entire bird population. It is not just rare or endangered birds that we are losing, our familiar backyard songbird populations are disappearing too. The die-off is primarily attributed to loss of habitat and the use of pesticides. 

Our yards are filled with exotic plants and empty of insects. Our birds have fewer and fewer bugs and berries to eat, no cavities for nesting, and no thickets for protection from predators.

If we could plant even half of our 40 million acres of lawn in 2/3 native plants, and keep them pesticide free, we could turn the bird losses into gains.

Also, if you can, please keep your cats inside. If they pester you to go outside, just do what I did for many years — I walked them. It’s a great way to bond with your cat, clear your head, and watch the birds.
Or, in the case of our Harlan, watching the turkeys.

Second annual JCMGA photo contest opens

By | Beet 2021 06 June | No Comments

By Patrice Kaska

Master Gardener 2016

The Jackson County Master Gardener Association Member Services Working Group (MSWG) announces its second annual photo contest.

Although the actual contest will not take place until August 2021, we would like to share this year’s information and guidelines now to give you a chance to consider what photo(s) you might like to enter:
The 2021 JCMGA Photo Contest is open to all current Jackson County Master Gardener Association members.

Photos may be submitted from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31, 2021. We are able to accept two (2) photos from each member, although there will be only one winning photo per person.

Photographs are limited to those taken in gardens of the Rogue Valley and the focus must be on a plant or planting—no people (for privacy concerns).

Please submit your photograph in portrait format, rather than landscape format.

All photographs must be at least 1500 x 1575 pixels (5”x 5-1/2” at 300 dpi) and all submitted photos become the property of JCMGA.

Like all human endeavors, we hope that those of us involved with the photo contest will improve as we gain experience and practice. For example, it was recently pointed out to us that the winning 2021 cover photo could be considered ineligible since it included fauna – which was forbidden in the rules. Although MSWG members felt strongly that we did not want to include photos of people’s pets, backyard chicken coops, and visiting wild turkeys, we didn’t consider that insects are also fauna. Therefore, we apologize to entrants who were careful to include only flora in their photographs as we had requested.

In addition, since the photograph on the cover of the directory is longer from top-to-bottom than from side-to-side, photos taken in portrait format rather than landscape format work best.

If you have questions, please email Patrice Kaska, Membership Secretary.

The winning photograph will appear on the cover of the 2022 JCMGA Chapter Directory and four runners-up will have their photographs featured in the Garden Beet. Winners will be announced in the October Garden Beet.

The root of all purple

By | Beet 2021 06 June | No Comments

Have you ever wondered what might have happened if Peter Rabbit’s pilfering Mr. McGregor’s garden had presented him not with an orange, but a purple carrot? He surely would have been quite surprised.

Although our own expectations may be similar to Peter’s experience, there’s way more to the story about today’s carrot, Daucus carota, subsp. sativus.

Some 5,000 years before the cultivation of today’s common garden carrot, Daucus carota, the wild carrot, grew abundantly in areas of the Middle East, Asia, Europe, as well as Afghanistan.

First propagated by the Egyptians, Greeks and ancient Romans, they were used for medicinal properties carried within their seeds. Although many of those first (not so tasty) roots were white, yellow, and red, those of deepest amethyst were probably the main variety in Iran and Afghanistan.

While most varieties carried some variation of orange coloration, the true orange carrot was crafted from a mutant strain of purple carrots. Although the Dutch might take credit for many of today’s orange varieties, new evidence shows that there were orange varieties before the 17th century.

Most people envision carrots being orange, and darker varieties appear dull in color when overcooked. Perhaps that is why the “root of purple” almost disappeared.

Fortunately for us, the heirloom violet-purple and darker “black” varieties are making a comeback not only in specialty seed catalogs, but in today’s garden plots. If you’re not impressed with the purple roots you’ll be astounded by deep pink flowering stems.

Why plant purple? Not only are these amethyst roots beautiful to behold, their vitamin and mineral benefits are bountiful. Along with beta carotene, purple carrots are high in terpenoids and low in sugar. They also contain an abundance of anthocyanins, as well as anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties in the blackest varieties.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, some purple carrots seeds were saved. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange reintroduced them in 1991.

With new methods to lightly cook vegetables, a multitude of purple carrot varieties show up not only on the menus of well-known chefs, but dazzle on our own dinner plates. They also make quite a statement when shredded raw in salads.

While you might find such carrots in markets carrying heirloom produce, why not plant your own pinnacles of purple?

Like their orange counterparts, they require at least a foot of loose, well-composted soil to keep their 8–9” tapered roots straight.

They can be direct sown (seedlings don’t transplant well) anytime from late spring through late summer. Thinning young seedlings to 2–3” apart will encourage larger and straighter root growth and avoid “love-knot” bundles from those clustered too close together. Lots of mulch and light fertilizing with low-nitrogen fertilizer along with regular irrigation is all you need.

From tops (yes, they’re edible too) to bottoms, put some punch in your garden palette and plant some seed for that “Root of all Purple.”


Seed sources

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

They have 3 varieties of purple carrots

Trade Winds Fruit

They have several varieties

Pinetree Garden Seeds

They have two varieties

*Note: SESE wasn’t listed since their seeds are sold out for 2021


Recipe: Carrot, mint
and lovage salad

A very tasty dish with lovage. If you haven’t any lovage, use celery leaves. This also makes a delicious relish on sandwiches.


1 pound of purple (or a mixture of carrots including orange and red) carrots, washed, peeled and shredded on the coarse side of box grater or food processor.

2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, washed and finely chopped

3 tablespoons fresh lovage (or celery leaves), minced

2 tablespoons fresh mint, washed and minced

1 celery rib, washed and cut into small diced pieces

¼ cup toasted walnuts, chopped

zest and juice from one organic Meyer lemon

1 tablespoon organic honey

3 tablespoons organic cider vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon sea salt or to taste


Toss carrots, herbs, celery, nuts and lemon zest. Mix together lemon juice, honey, oil, vinegar and salt.

Pour over carrot mixture and toss until all is coated. Refrigerate for a couple hours before serving.

Serves about 4-6.


Landscaping with native plants

By | Beet 2021 06 June | No Comments

By Lynn Kunstman

Master Gardener 2012

Landscaping with native plants has many benefits. Here are seven steps you can take to help the environment and increase our declining bird populations.

1. Remove at least half your lawn: There are 45 million acres of lawn in the US, using 2 billion gallons of gasoline, creating 41 billion pounds of CO2 and 13 billion pounds of toxic and carcinogenic air pollutants emitted from leaf blowers and mowers. We spread over 100 million pounds of pernicious lawn chemicals and fertilizers. American lawns use 9 billion gallons of water A DAY! REPEAT ALL OF THE ABOVE FOR ANNUALLY!

2. Remove invasive and non-native plants from your yard: Non-native plants are carried to wild areas by animals and wind, where they often break bud and flower earlier. They provide less, or no nutrition to our native wildlife, and crowd out or outcompete our native vegetation, thereby impoverishing our ecosystems.

3. PLANT NATIVE PLANTS! Native plants build and stabilize soil, filter water, sequester carbon, provide critical habitat and food for our declining native birds, pollinators, beneficial insects and other wildlife. They support local food webs and biodiversity.

4. Avoid or minimize the use of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. All of these compounds have detrimental effects on soil health, on insect populations that support our birds, and on local water systems that support our fish.

5. Build a pollinator garden. Pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat. They are in decline, and need our protection.

6. Leave the leaves! Hundreds of butterfly and moth species overwinter in leaf litter. They, along with other insects hiding there, provide critical winter food for birds. Gently rake your leaves up under your shrubs. Don’t send next summer’s butterflies to the landfill.

7. Turn off outdoor lights. Lights at night confuse and exhaust our nighttime pollinators, and cause our migrating birds to strike windows and die. Install motion sensor lights, or YELLOW LED lights outside.

By choosing to grow native plants and decreasing the size of your lawn, you make a commitment to help the environment and save our struggling birds and pollinators. If you are already growing native plants in your yard, then consider getting on the Homegrown National Park registry.

Here are more resources:

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard: Dr. Doug Tallamy, Timber Press

Nature’s Best Hope: YouTube video

Oregon Flora: Beautiful website to help you find the NATIVE plants to go into your landscape. Sort by size, water requirements, flower color, etc.

Rogue Native Plant Partnership: Native plants and seeds, assists with planning for native landscapes
Homegrown National Park Movement: By removing half the lawns in the U.S., we could grow more acreage in native plants than we have in all our national parks combined.

Native Plant Finder: Keystone plants by zip code.

ZZ plant: Are you up for it?

By | Beet 2021 06 June | No Comments

By Lynn Garbert

Master Gardener 2014

ZZ plant?? What is a ZZ plant?? What an odd name!?!! What’s its real name?

Well … I’m glad you asked. 😉

ZZ (short for Zamioculcas zamiifolia) – I’d love to hear you pronounce those two words – has been thriving for centuries in Africa where drought is the name of the game. Even being such a tender-looking plant, it actually loves the great outdoors.

During the mid-1990s Dutch nurseries saw that ZZ plants had easy propagating potential and thus, world-wide distribution brought ZZ plants to us all. Soon, it was realized they thrived indoors.

ZZ is in style at your office

This plant has wide, dark, glossy leaves and is low maintenance. It fits easily into your office or home décor and seems to cheerfully say “Hi” to each passerby.

Air purifier made easy

NASA research showed the ZZ is able to remove abundant amounts of toxins (including Xylene, Toluene, and Benzene).

Beware of toxicity

Keep pets and children from snacking on the ZZ – this beautiful plant is poisonous. To avoid skin irritation after handling it, it’s a good rule to wash your hands.

Ease of care

An easy – easy – easy plant for beginners, busy office staff, or black and brown thumbs.

The ZZ plant reaches 2–3 feet in width and height. However, it will NOT quickly outgrow its container, so enjoy the beautiful planter you potted it in. You can prune off branches that tend to grab you as you walk by.

Plant in well-draining potting soil and feed once a month with a balanced (e.g., 20-20-20) liquid fertilizer.

Water and light don’t concern the ZZ – it keeps growing with a minimum of each.

Remember it flourishes in low light and only water it fully when dry. (This plant pictured lived for decades in a local library.) Your ZZ can wait between watering because it has thick rhizomes that resemble potatoes – they store water – a ZZ will stay alive even when you forget to water.

ZZ may produce tiny white blooms in late summer, but it’s regarded as a foliage plant.

You can separate the rhizomes (potato-like roots) and replant them – I hear they grow faster when planted in groups. Or, what I did was to take three leaves with a bit of stem attached from my friend’s plant and put them in about ½–1 inch of water in a jar. It normally takes months for the leaves to sprout roots but it did happen.

It was fun to check every week or so for roots and finally some appeared.

Try it yourself. ZZ is up to the challenge … are you?

Hurray for May! Spring has fully arrived 
in the Rogue Valley!

By | Beet 2021 05 May | No Comments

This time of year always brings to my mind a line from Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll: “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! He chortled in his joy.” I have been chortling in the sunshine – as have the weeds in my yard.

Part of that joy is the thought of summer vegetables. It is time to start hardening off those summer sprouts for transplant into the garden. Be sure to give them limited sun for a few days if they have been under shelter, or in a greenhouse.

Our association and Master Gardener members are still working hard, despite the shutdown.
Our Master Gardener Extraordinaire, Sherri Morgan, has spearheaded a committee to put together an amazing Native Plants Garden Tour. The tour features 13 native gardens, and will be online as of May 15. Go to the Jackson County Master Gardeners Association website to register.

Our Gardens Working Group has been instrumental in working with Rich Roseburg to find a place to locate the six storage containers that are being placed near the parking lot to store all the extension programs’ materials that are currently in the “creepy old house.” Since the five-year plan calls for expanding the parking lot and we no longer have a GEM for the kitchen garden, it was decided that placement would be there. The containers will flank the wooden raised beds in that garden – three on each side. The beds will be planted with annual flowers, once we can return to campus on a regular basis and the seating area will be expanded. We will have a cozy meeting place, once all the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

While we will all miss having a Spring Garden Fair this year, there is a lot of nursery stock in both the Propagation Garden and the Native Plants nurseries. Because we were planting native seeds last fall that needed to stratify over winter, when the shutdown occurred again on campus, those seeds were sitting out under protective screens. The problem of course became that they sprouted and were beginning to outgrow their germination trays. I was given special permission to go on campus to water in the nursery, so I have been bringing the seedlings home with soil mix and repotting. The upshot is that we have in excess of 80 trays of plants that will be ready for sale in summer or fall. We are anxiously awaiting the time when we can return to having our in-person pop-up sales.

There is never enough space here to thank everyone who is working so hard for our association. I personally cannot wait until we can meet again, in person, and I can give everyone giant hugs. Having been fully vaccinated, I have to tell you that it is a great joy to be able to hug family and friends again.

In the meantime, enjoy this lovely spring weather, have a “frabjous” day, and GARDEN FOR LIFE!

Master Gardener activity updates 
and fun dates for your calendar

By | Beet 2021 05 May | No Comments

Dear Gardeners,

As many folks are probably feeling, this is such a beautiful time of year. The fresh pops of green on the trees and bright wildflowers really invigorate the soul. I am a huge fan of

Adelinia grandis

Adelinia grandis (previously known as Cynoglossum grande) and love to see them awakening across the landscape.

Demonstration gardens: Fortunately, the demonstration gardens have opened back up to maintenance work, though still on a limited basis. For all GEMs, 2020 students, and other JCMGA members who are interested in helping out, contact me for more information before coming out. Everyone needs to have a Conditions of Volunteer Service form on file for 2021 (which was sent electronically via DocuSign this year) and have taken the COVID online safety training (if you volunteered in the demo gardens in 2021, you do not have to do this training again this year). We are also limited in the number of people who can come out each day, so those who are helping are required to sign-up ahead of time.

Vaccine status: Many people are wondering if their vaccination status influences what types of Master Gardener activities they can engage in. OSU Extension administration states that regardless of an individual’s vaccine status, we are continuing to use the status at-a-glance information for activity planning, and all activities must continue to be approved by OSU beforehand.

Fun Dates to Remember: 
Visit the links for more information on these fun upcoming events!

May 22: Master Gardener Spring BioBlitz.
July 24: Master Gardener Summer BioBlitz.
Sept. 12-17: International Master Gardener Conference
Sept. 25: Master Gardener Fall BioBlitz. (Link will be accessible at a later date.)

Thanks for reading, and as always, if you have comments or questions please reach out to me.

– Erika

Native Plants Garden Tour coming this month

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

By Sherri Morgan

Master Gardener 2008

Greetings all you Master Gardeners!

Spring is here and we have a great event to celebrate it. The Jackson County Master Gardener Association is sponsoring and organizing a Native Plants Garden Tour in May.

We are all coming to understand the importance of native plants in support of our ecosystem, so this is a chance to educate folks on how these plants can fit into our gardens.

At this time, we are still unsure if we can have an in-person tour, so we have videographers filming in all 13 featured gardens. The videos will be available for viewing on our website starting on May 15. The in-person tour of 9 local gardens, fingers crossed, will take place on Saturday, May 22, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

These gardens represent a large variety of plants that are native to our Rogue Valley and Northern California. They include an eco-restoration garden, a permaculture garden, a garden full of native bulbs, lilies and irises, and several gardens that could fit into any neighborhood. Make sure you check the website under “Events” to see when registration is open.

We will need help, in the form of volunteers as garden greeters and guides, so contact Janine Salvetti if you can volunteer. (Rack up those volunteer hours!)

We are asking for donations, so please be generous.

We hope this will be a first annual event and look forward to seeing you all there!

May in the garden: A race to the beginning

By | Beet 2021 05 May | No Comments

May is the busiest month in the garden. You can run yourself ragged watering and fertilizing everything you’ve already planted, direct sowing new crops as the soil warms up, weeding, mulching and transplanting all those starts that you’ve been babying along under lights or on the window sill. I think of May as a race to the beginning – getting everything in the ground so it can begin to grow and, hopefully produce a bountiful harvest. Phew! As much as I love gardening, I’m always glad when May is over so I can kick back a little and watch everything develop.

I just heard some worrisome news for those who are, like me, on TID water (Talent Irrigation District). The irrigation ditches will not start operating until June 1 and it is likely that we will get water only every other week until mid-August when water will likely run out. This is the result of a 20% decline in precipitation so far this water year which runs from October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021.

So, I’ve been brushing up on how to collect and use “gray water” safely in the garden. Gray water is the water left over from use in dishwashing, showers, washing machines, cooking and other household uses. It is different from toilet water (black water) in that it has a lower level of pathogens and can be used for watering landscape plants and vegetable gardens, as long as you don’t let the gray water splash on the edible parts of the plants. Never use “black water” from toilets on the garden as it contains too high a level of pathogens.

I recall in the 1970s we had a 4-year drought in California. I was only 4 years old at the time…Alright, that’s a little white lie, but am I really SO OLD that I can remember a drought in the 1970s? Anyway, we collected graywater because there was a severe water rationing program in effect for a couple of years. Everyone’s lawns went brown, trees and landscapes died, and I was barely able to keep my vegetable garden and avocado trees alive. We can always hope it won’t be that bad here, but you never know.

I am going to have to buy some water storage containers and get used to carrying bath/shower water to the garden. I also have young fruit trees to keep alive. I’m tired and aching just thinking about it, but I do like garden produce, and that’s the price of a good tomato this year.

We have our last frost sometime between late April and mid-May, with the official date around May 5. Last year, those who got a jump on the season by planting tomatoes in a sunny, protected location in mid-April were rewarded with early tomatoes. Some nighttime cover is necessary if you plant tomatoes outdoors before the frost free date, but don’t bother with peppers and eggplant. I tried it last year and they just sat and did nothing until mid-May. Any time after that, the soil will be warm enough to transplant eggplants, peppers, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, leeks, oriental greens, pak choi, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and melons. Don’t forget to mulch everything very well to reduce your need for water and to keep the soil cool.

May is a good time to direct sow many herbs: basil, chervil, cilantro, parsley, dill, and summer savory, if you didn’t start them indoors already. If you will have a better water supply than I will this summer, May is the time to direct sow many veggies, including amaranth, bush and pole beans, beets, carrots, cantaloupe, cucumbers, edamame, leeks, lettuce, spinach, okra, parsnips, pumpkins, scallions, squash, sunflowers, Swiss chard, and watermelon. Our Garden Guide also recommends planting corn and melons in May, but since I’m at 2000 feet elevation, I like to wait until early June when the soil is warmer. That makes the Golden Jubilee corn that does so well for me ripen in mid-August, the perfect time for a corn roast.

I had planned to grow a selection of gourds this year, including goose neck (dipper), beetlejuice, pump-ke-mon and autumn wings, as well as pie pumpkins and larger jack-o-lantern pumpkins. May is the right time to get those in the ground; however, I may have to rethink the number of types of squash, gourds and pumpkins given the water situation. It’s hard to think of giving up Hubbard squash with its sweet, mild flavor or butternut squash that is perfect for a salad recipe I have, or baked acorn squash with a bit of brown sugar and butter. This is going to be a difficult choice.

Last year, I had a bumper crop of goose neck gourds, but unfortunately, I did not know how to dry them properly and every one grew mold. More heat and a drier environment than my root cellar has are required, I think.

It’s May – time to get to work, but take time out for a Happy Mother’s Day!


May garden guide

Here a a few of the many things to do in May:

Direct seed: Cucumbers, dill, endgame soybeans, leeks, lettuce, spinach, okra, parsley. parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, scallions, squash, summer savory, sunflowers, Swiss chard, watermelon

Transplant: Artichokes, basil, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage cantaloupe, cucumbers, eggplant, leeks, Oriental greens, pak choi, peppers, squash, sweet potatoes.
For more, check out the Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley