Skip to main content

Beet 2021 04 April

Spring brings out the gardeners in us

By Beet 2021 04 April 39 Comments

The spring equinox has passed, meaning our days are now longer than our nights. With the sunny days and longer daylight, all of us are getting out into our gardens more. The small native bees in my yard are visiting the blooming Western Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus) and the bulbs are starting to push up from under the leaf litter.

Jackson County Master Gardeners has a lot going on this month. Our Membership Services Working Group has been busy getting our membership renewals in as well as starting our two new study groups – succulents and native plants. If you have an interest in joining either of these study groups, please contact Susan Koenig.

The Membership Services Group has also been helping to locate and line up volunteers for our Native Plants Tour, which will be available virtually May 10-15 and live (we hope) on May 22. We still need some help with filming the gardens in Ashland and Medford. We need three or four more folks who feel comfortable using an iPhone to video the gardens. There are 12 gardens. We would like to have each videographer take two at a time mutually convenient for you, the garden owner, and coordinator. We will be scheduling the video visits March 22-27, and the actual visits will take place March 28-April 8. This will earn volunteer hours! This is an important task, so If you feel you could help, please email Sherri Morgan or call her at 541-326-7998. Husbands, wives, and significant others are welcome!

Hibiscus by Lynn

Our Fundraising Working Group has also been busy, selling our Garden Guides to the Rogue Valley at local nurseries and trying to organize the Spring Plant Sale. We are hoping that COVID-19 restrictions will be lowered enough so that we can host some type of fundraising event sometime in May.

While we wait for the Extension campus to reopen, we have a few gardeners who have permission to go on campus to keep the gardens alive. Hopefully, later this spring we will be able to work in small groups again to keep the gardens looking good, inventory the plants in the native plants nursery, and get all our students their volunteer hours. That is the hope.

Enjoy your time in the garden, and we hope to see you soon. And remember, Garden for Life!

Program updates regarding COVID-19, 
and a new Josephine County appointment

By Beet 2021 04 April 34 Comments

Dear Gardeners,

As I write this column in mid-March, the hellebore and daffodils have been in full bloom, the days are longer, and that spring-time quality is in the air!
Here are some quick updates regarding returning to the Demonstration Gardens at SOREC, and a request from OSU for me to serve as a part-time interim coordinator for the Josephine County Master Gardeners.

Returning to the Demonstration Gardens

I’ll get straight to the point – as long as Jackson County is in ‘High Risk’ or lower, working in the Demonstration Gardens at SOREC is an approved activity. County risk levels can change week to week, so please be sure to stay tuned in to your email, since that is where you will get the most up-to-date information about in-person activities at SOREC (for now, that means the Demo Gardens). Make sure your mailbox is set up to receive the JCMGA Mailchimp messages and messages from me ( The submission deadline for this article was March 15, at which point I had not formally opened the gardens (I’m hoping to do that in April if our risk levels stay appropriate.). Again, please refer to the OSU Risk Level and Activities Matrix to see what we might be able to do depending on our county risk status.

Interim coordinator 
in Josephine County

OSU has asked me to serve as a part-time interim coordinator for the Josephine County Master Gardeners beginning on March 15. I am spending one quarter of my time (0.25 FTE/10 hours per week) as the interim coordinator until the vacant assistant professor of practice position is filled (previously held by Sarah Runkel). While there are some promising candidates for the position so far, OSU does not anticipate a start date for the chosen candidate until June at the earliest. The position has been vacant since late November, 2020. With 0.75 FTE remaining, I will stay engaged with and supportive of the JCMGA, but please understand that my time will be a bit more limited compared to previously.

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

– Erika

Dates set for native plants garden tour

By Beet 2021 04 April 38 Comments

By Sherri Morgan

Master Gardener 2008

This first annual native plants garden tour sponsored by the Jackson County Master Gardener Association is happening in May!

The tour focuses on gardens that feature plants native to the Rogue Valley and Southern Oregon/Northern California. This COVID year, it will be a “hybrid” tour. It will include both a virtual tour of the gardens and an in-person tour if COVID restrictions allow.

The date for the virtual garden tour, which will be available on the JCMGA website under “Events” will be available May 15. The in-person tour will (hopefully) be May 22.
We are asking for donations for both tours, with a suggested donation of $20 for the in-person tour, and any amount (or none) for the virtual tour.

In addition to our website, the videos of the tour will also be uploaded on the JCMGA YouTube channel.

We also hope to feature a YouTube talk by Professor Douglas Tallamy, entomologist from the University of Delaware, on the importance of native plants in our gardens and parks.

For more information, or suggestions for future gardens, please contact Sherri Morgan.

April in the garden

By Beet 2021 04 April 39 Comments

If March was the time to “start your engines,” then April is the time to zoom away from the starting gate. There is so much do this month and so many possible vegetables to choose from.

This year, I made a garden plan because I often get over-enthusiastic about planting early crops and don’t have enough room for later ones. I like to try new varieties, but I have a hard time giving up the old favorites. Maybe that’s why my garden gets a little bigger each year.
I warned you last month that March weather could be unpredictable. As I write this in mid-March, looking forward to balmier April temperatures, there is about an inch of snow on the ground and lining the branches of my Yoshino cherry tree where the sun has not yet melted last night’s surprise snowfall. It’s pretty, but today it is getting in the way of pruning, spraying, and fertilizing my 63 rose bushes.

Yes, I’m a little late pruning roses this year, but by the time you read this in April, the job will be behind me. I have several roses that are sprouting below the graft and need careful attention. Some are now old enough to have considerable dieback that needs to be pruned out, which can be tricky. You can still do that in April, but you may sacrifice some early growth and bloom. The biggest danger for roses in Spring is that the deer love to munch on the tender new growth. Unless I protect them with netting, I lose the early bloom before the deer move on to find other emerging shoots to eat. I have tried “deer/rabbit fence” spray, but I’ve never found that it deters the hungry packs of young bucks. Deer also love the young growth of fruit trees and can damage them severely. I enclosed a new Elberta peach tree with a netting fence, and so far, it has survived several howling March storms. I plan to have peach pie in August.

April is prime time for sowing many seeds indoors for transplanting in May: basil, cabbage, cantaloupe, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, squash, celery, and watermelon. Many of these seeds require 60-70 degree soil to germinate and like warm soil when they are transplanted. Heat mats are a great investment to improve germination. Squash, melons and cucumbers only require about 2-3 weeks before they are ready to set out in the garden after danger of frost is past, so plant those late April to early May or direct sow in the garden in May-June when nighttime temperatures are above 55 degrees. Some seeds, such as cucumber, celery and squash are best started in peat pots which are later planted with the pots directly in the garden to avoid disturbing the roots. Many of the others listed here require 4-6 weeks of growth before transplanting.

Many vegetables can be direct sown in the garden during April: beets, carrots, chives, cilantro, collards, dill, Florence fennel, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, parsley, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radishes, scallions, and Swiss chard. Most of these seeds are very small and are planted shallowly, so I find it best to cover them very loosely with straw to keep them from drying out from wind or the ever-warmer sun in April.

Those cool weather vegetables you started in February and March can now be planted out when large enough: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, endive/escarole, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, lettuce, onions, oriental greens, Pak choi, parsley, and rhubarb.

Don’t forget to prune and fertilize your blackberries and established artichokes this month; divide plants such as daylilies and asters that bloom later in the summer and fall; spread snail and slug bait around; and fertilize fruit trees, if you haven’t already. Enjoy the April sun on your face after a long winter.


April garden guide

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

Sow for transplant: Basil, cabbage, cantaloupe, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers.

Direct seed: Beets, carrots, chervil, chives, cilantro, collards, corn (beet), dill.

Transplant: Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, endive, escarole, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, lettuce, onion, Oriental greens.

Fertilize and prune: Established asparagus, blackberries.
For more, check out the Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley

OMGA Recognition Awards for JCMGA

By Beet 2021 04 April 39 Comments

By Marcie Katz

Master Gardener 2019

A huge congratulations to the nine 2021 Jackson County Master Gardeners who received Recognition Awards from OMGA this February! Normally, we would have an Award Ceremony in August during our picnic, but, like everything else for the last year, COVID-19 has changed the way we can do things, and so, I will tell you a bit about our fabulous gardeners that we celebrate!

Margaret Meierhenry received her 40-year Master Gardener pin, and after chatting with her for over an hour by phone, I was impressed indeed! Margaret attended Master Gardener classes in 1980. It was only the second year of the new program and she laughs at the “volunteer hours” she put in in those days, sitting at tables in front of stores and fairs to recruit new members, and answering gardening questions on phones in a hot, dusty old room at the old fairgrounds. Active in the organization’s early years, she said that the 1980’s brought about a new passion for gardening and organics and they wanted to bring that to the community.

Although her mother was a gardener, it didn’t really rub off until she met her future husband who was a farmer in the L.A area! Together they farmed and she learned about amending the earth to make better soil and reap results. They moved their family of five to Australia to live off the land. When they returned to the states – now a family of six – they decided to buy a 15-acre farm near Shady Cove, where they raised livestock and hay.

Farming perked her interest in horticulture, so at the age of 50, she went back to college for a botany degree. At her first job with the Forest Service in Prospect, she walked the forests looking for endangered plants and animals. After years of looking at plants, she decided she wanted to learn how they grew, so she took a job at the Grange Co-op and loved helping people. While there she worked with the Shady Cove Ladies Auxiliary, picking out flowers for display, and making arrangements for the flower shows for nine years!

Then she found her new love: vegetables. To grow, harvest and process them was her new challenge! She grew so many vegetables in her 40×20 ft. garden and greenhouse that she started selling them at a roadside stand. Today, she still grows them, but is trying new techniques using containers with new and different plant varieties.
A firm believer in organic fertilizers and leaf mulch, she became involved with the Soil and Water Conservation District. They converted the 15-acre farm from hay production that used chemicals, to Pasture Conservation, and she wrote monthly articles in the district newsletter.

Her interests were many and varied. She has been active in the Native Plant Society of Oregon, North American Rock Garden Society, Upper Rogue Garden Club and even worked alongside Baldassare Mineo in his Rare Plant Nursery.

At 82 years young and now a widow, she still is active on her farm and loves growing her vegetables and African violets. She says the Master Gardener program “broadened my life,” and even had tee shirts printed with, “I Blossomed when I found Gardening!”

Becky Belau just celebrated her 30th year as a Master Gardener, receiving a 30-year pin. I had the pleasure of meeting Becky last year while working in the Demo Gardens at Extension during our limited COVID-19 garden workdays. She is one of the new co-GEMs of the Propagation Garden along with Sharon Maurin. They have taken over the reins from Peggy Corum.

Becky, a self-proclaimed farmer, grew up in the San Diego area where her father, an aeronautical engineer, was given some Valencia orange trees. That beginning led to more trees, lemons, and plums, and her mother’s garden that grew everything in the beautiful loamy soil. She has always had a farm or garden in her life, and after moving to the Applegate Valley with her contractor husband, she soon realized the soil here was quite different.

Although a nurse by profession, her life took a different path, and she went to work for her neighbor/mentor who owned the Circle G Ranch, helping with her large vegetable garden. It was there Becky learned that the Applegate has many little microclimates and that what grows well in one area may not do so well in another.

She was exposed to propagation in her early years by a friend’s father who raised flowers for the L.A. Flower Market. It is no wonder then that Peggy Corum, of Peggy’s Propagation Garden, became a great friend and mentor, and that Becky worked with her for many years in the Demonstration Gardens.

At home, she grows roses and peonies, as well as manages her large vegetable garden, where she practices her food preservation skills. In the fall she can be found pressing apples from their orchard, making juice, jams, jellies, and applesauce. In her words, “Plants will always be in my life!”

There were seven 20-year alumni to celebrate! We congratulate you!

Master Gardener Myrl Bishop was for many years the main organizer of the JCMGA table at the Ashland Growers Market and was a Member-at-Large on the Board in 2002. She also has been hands-on in a Community Garden near her home, where they grow vegetables and cut flowers. Myrl also teaches and has several PowerPoint presentations that she has used for the Speakers Bureau, WDSG and MG classes. Her topics include the Mediterranean climate, vines, and her favorite topic, clematises! She professes that in her current small yard there are over 13 of them. She also enjoys heirloom roses.

Myrl was introduced to them while on a MG field trip to Salem, where she found Wallerton Old Hall, a lovely, fragrant heirloom. In 2004, she was the co-GEM of the Kitchen Garden, when back in the day you could dig up plants like daylilies, irises, etc. to give away.

Although it is getting more challenging to get around in the garden, she still goes out daily and if there is anything you want to learn about clematis or heirloom roses, she is a wealth of information!

Sydney Jordan Brown ran the greenhouse and plant sales in 2002 and around that time started writing the Gardening Gourmet column in the Garden Beet, which featured a recipe from something you could grow in your garden. She is still writing it and to my knowledge she has never missed an issue!

Larry Carpenter, who is also a Master Food Preserver, ran a pepper booth for many years at the annual Harvest Festival that JCMGA used to run. That gave him the moniker, “Chili Man.” He was known to grow over a hundred varieties of peppers, from the mild bells to the fire- breathing Carolina reapers. He also grew so many other vegetables and tomatoes that he sold them at the Growers Market.

Larry holds a horticulture degree from Cal Poly and ran a successful landscaping business before moving to the Rogue Valley. Over the years, he has tried many things. He continues to grow vegetables for personal use, learning through trial and error how to grow several crops all year long, as well as trying recipes to make his own pickles. Oregon natives and pollinators are a favorite subject, and he is looking forward to the Native Garden Tours in May that Sherri Morgan is putting together!

Donna Smith and Sheila Gleim are also 20-year MG’s. Unfortunately, I was unable to reach them to find out what they have been up to. Sheila was active at SGF in 2000. I hope they are both well and still gardening.

Carol and David Rugg took the Master Gardener class together in 2000. They both went on to be extremely active in the association.
Carol held both the recording secretary and membership secretary positions and was a Board Member from 2001-2003 and again, 2014 –2016. She was the head gardener of the Landscape/Rock Garden in 2003 and went on to be an alternate OMGA representative in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

They now live at The Rogue Valley Manor in Medford and still enjoy gardening on their corner lot, nicknamed “The Park” by her neighbors. Carol’s favorite plants are her transplanted hibiscus, peonies and iris, which the buyer of their old house allowed them to dig up and take with them!

David’s community involvement runs in the family. David also held an assortment of positions both in JCMGA and OMGA and was involved with many different projects and issues.

Known for always having a positive word about everything and to everyone, he became known as a problem solver and a good mediator for differences of opinion. He has been the SGF education chair, JCMGA Board president and a Board member many times over the years, as well as the chair of the 2005 WDSG. He helped with the Science Works Landscaping Community Project, and from 2004-2008 he served as the OMGA representative. David then worked his way up the OMGA ladder, going from 2nd VP to 1st VP, then president-elect, and in 2012 became president!

When not in their beautiful front yard, you can find David busy working in the 20×20 ft. garden bed in the Manor Community Garden growing tomatoes, cukes, peppers and flowers. His favorite? Anaheim chilis!

Fred Meyer contributes to JCMGA when you shop

By Beet 2021 04 April 38 Comments

By Keltie Nelson
Master Gardener 2016
Great news!
If you shop at Fred Meyer, you can now reward JCMGA at the same time as yourself, at no cost to you!
Simply link your Fred Meyer Rewards card to the Jackson County Master Gardener Association and use it (or your digital number if ordering online) when you check out. Then Fred Meyer will make a donation to JCMGA based on the amount of your purchases.
If you already have a Fred Meyer Rewards card just go online to and scroll to the very bottom of the page. Click on “Fred Meyer Community Rewards” under “Community”. From there you can enter JCMGA’s account number: KV787. After the entry for Jackson County Master Gardener Association click “Save” and you’re done!
You have just benefited JCMGA’s bottom line.
If you do not have a Fred Meyer Rewards card you can create an account online (towards the bottom of their website page) or stop by a Fred Meyer customer service desk to get an actual card. Either way, go online to link your account to the Jackson County Master Gardener Association.
Questions? Contact Keltie Nelson.

Snap! Crackle! Pop!

By Beet 2021 04 April 37 Comments

No, it’s not Rice Krispies, but something way better that will never get soggy at the bottom of the bowl! We’re talking peas, please!

The French term them mangetout, meaning “eat it all.” You’ll be doing just that, plucking them directly from the vine to pop into your mouth.

Pisum sativum (sativum meaning “cultivated”) var. macrocarpon, shares characteristics of its parents, Pisum sativum (shelling pea) and Pisum sativum var. saccharatum (snow pea).

Podded peas (including sugar snap) are members of the legume family since their pods enclose fleshy, edible seeds. Shelling (or garden) peas have sweet, full-sized seeds and inedible pods. Snow peas have edible pods but immature seeds. Sugar snaps have both edible seeds and pods.

Dip into that bowl, not one of soggy cereal, but where two distinct types of peas have mingled to yield sugar snap peas, and discover something sensational.

Both shelling peas and snow peas have been cultivated and consumed for around 10,000 years. Likely originating from areas such as Thailand, Burma, the Middle East, and Ethiopia, their cultivation spread throughout Europe, China and India about 4,000 years ago.

It’s likely that the Romans took many pea varieties to Britain, where they became a most important staple. When dried, their quality in long-term storage provided food throughout the winter when little else was available. Hear! Hear! To pea protein!

After Christopher Columbus planted peas in 1492, Native Americans soon cultivated them as well. Thereafter, European colonists grew them before they were cultivated by pioneers traveling westward.

Although both snap “shelling” peas and snow peas are popular plants in home gardens, it was the disappearance of the snap shelling pea that gave us the greatest gift of all.
No snap peas were being sold commercially by the 1970s. Plant breeders Calvin Lamborn and MC Parker of Twin Falls, Idaho, hybridized the “Sugar Snap” in 1979. This modified shell pea earned recognition as an All-American Selection winner.

The sugar snap pea has irresistible sugar-sweet flesh and its seeds are easy to eat when freshly snapped off the vine. They’re also wonderful when quickly blanched for salads, sautéed, or stir fried for a sweet side dish. That is, if there’s any left for the cook!

It’s enough to stimulate your sowing appetite and early spring is the time to start your crop.

Pre-sprouting (put seeds on wet paper toweling on large dinner plate then cover with a clear-domed microwave top) is quickest. This method takes only a few days and eliminates the “duds”.

When roots and top sprouts appear, pot seeds up in six-packs filled with good potting soil, then place them under lights until the plants are 4” high. Acclimate outside for several days and then you’re ready to plant.

In no time, you’ll be snapping and savoring those crackling and popping Sugar Snaps right off the vine!


Fun facts

• The fibers in edible-podded peas grow in one direction making them easier to chew.

• Only 5% of the peas produced are sold fresh.

• Thomas Jefferson cultivated more than 30 varieties of garden peas.

• When kept at room temperature after harvesting, half the sugar content in fresh peas turns to starch – so fridge those snappers!


Recipe: Ginger snaps


3 cups sugar snap peas, washed and stems removed

1 1/2 tablespoons cooking canola oil

3 cloves of organic garlic, peeled and minced fine

1 2” long knob of fresh ginger root, peeled, cut in thin slices, then cut again in thin strips

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, washed and cut in thin strips

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed (tan or black)

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon salt


Heat the canola oil in a medium sized sauté pan. Add garlic and cook over medium heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add peas and ginger root and sauté for about 1-2 minutes until peas are bright green. Toss in mint, sesame seed, toasted sesame oil, and sea salt, stirring to mix for about 1/2 minute longer. Serve immediately as a side dish.

Serves about 4-6