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Beet 2021 08 August

Update on Extension operations for COVID Delta variant

By Beet 2021 08 August 102 Comments

Dear Master Gardeners,

I want to provide a brief update regarding COVID operations and other items, to hopefully answer the questions you are having.

There are no closures at the Extension at this time.  We recommend scheduling meetings virtually, or holding them outdoors when air quality and weather are good and when possible.  The Plant Clinic currently remains open.

As of Friday, Aug. 6, OSU is requiring that you wear masks indoors. 

Working outdoors or in the Demo Gardens: Please be cognizant of temperatures and air quality, and only work in the Demo Gardens or outdoors otherwise when you feel comfortable.  Safety first!

Lastly, bring produce donations for ACCESS to the arboretum Wednesdays between 9 am and 11:45 am.  Thank you for your donations!

Thanks all, and be well,

– Erika

Erika Szonntag, MAg (she/her/hers)

Master Gardener Program Coordinator

Why native Plants?  Plant choice Matters!

By Beet 2021 08 August 33 Comments

By Lynn Kunstman 

Master Gardener 2012 

Part Two of a four-part series

Vaccinium, Huckleberry fruit. Credit OSU

Douglas Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, Nature’s Best Hope, The Living Landscape, and The Nature of Oaks, is a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware. He has written widely about the importance of choosing native plants for our gardens and encourages us to demand more from our yards and gardens.

Instead of just planting for decorative or aesthetic reasons, we must choose plants that provide the following ecosystem services:  soil enrichment and stabilization, water filtration, food production for humans and wildlife, carbon sequestration, weather moderation, habitat, and pollinator support.

NATIVE PLANTS provide ALL these services, while non-native plants do not.

Baby birds MUST eat soft food – meaning caterpillars. Insects specialize when they lay their eggs. Caterpillars, the larvae of butterflies and moths, develop from eggs laid on plants that have co-evolved with their insect partners who use them for host plants. Specialization allows the larvae to safely eat the leaves of a plant that might be toxic to other insects.

Ceanothus. Credit OSU

When we plant non-native plants in our landscapes, we grow fewer caterpillars. Fewer caterpillars mean a reduction in the numbers of birds. Recent research indicates that there are almost 3 billion fewer breeding birds in North America compared to 45 years ago. This is a 30% decline. Our butterflies and moths MUST lay their eggs on native plants.  Their caterpillars need to feed on the NATIVE plants with which they co-evolved.  Without native plants, we have no butterflies and moths, and our birds have NO CATERPILLARS to feed their young.  Caterpillars also supply food for reptiles, amphibians and small mammals.  They are a major component of all our food webs.

Choosing native shrubs for your yard will help support our declining bird populations. Some examples of shrubs you might choose are California lilac, serviceberry, and huckleberry.  These shrubs host 93, 81, and 130 species of butterfly and moth, respectively.

California lilac (Ceanothus sp.) likes full sun, has glossy evergreen leaves and brilliant blue flowers that open in early spring.

Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) can grow to 15 feet in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. It can be pruned to a small tree or leave it to spread into a thicket. Deciduous, with fragrant flowers in May and dark blue berries, it provides important summer food and cover.

Amelanchier alnifolia, Western Serviceberry, Pacific Serviceberry. Credit OSU

Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) will need more water than the others and will tolerate more shade.  A beautiful, glossy evergreen shrub, it provides extra early blooms for bees, shiny, tasty blue-black berries for you and the birds, and makes a lovely base understory planting in a moist, shaded woodland garden.

To learn more about native plants and how to use them as foundations for your landscape, visit

Oregon Flora

Native Plant Finder

Remember, plant choice always matters.  Garden for Life!

Second Annual JCMGA Photo Contest

By Beet 2021 08 August 37 Comments

August 2021 has arrived, and it’s time for the second annual JCMGA Photo Contest.  A hot, and perhaps smoky, August afternoon is the perfect time to stay inside and consider photographs you have taken of your or others’ gardens.  The JCMGA Member Services Working Group judges would very much like to see your best one (or two) garden photos and our favorite will appear on the cover of the 2022 JCMGA Chapter Directory.

Instructions for the contest include the following:

✦ 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 (to align with the shape of the directory).

✦ All photographs must be at least 1500 x 1575 pixels (5”x5-1/2” at 300 dpi) and all submitted photos become the property of JCMGA. 

Email your entry to:  Please include your name, phone number, email address, where the photograph was taken, and a short description of the flora pictured.  A short title for the photo is also helpful.  All identifying information is removed before judging.

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

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. 

It’s a Brave New World

By Beet 2021 08 August 28 Comments

I don’t know how to interpret this summer’s weather other than to say climate change is not coming, it’s here! Since mid-June, the temperature has climbed to over 95°F every single day at my house. I’ve been without A/C since June 23, so I sympathize with my plants, which are wilting or burning up. The broccoli limped across the finish line in July, giving me one of the sparsest crops I have had in years, and so far, I have not seen any side shoots. I may as well pull it out. The peas had barely begun to produce when the vines turned to crispy critters. The poor carrots fainted and bolted in the heat. I quickly picked the lettuce and wrapped it in wet paper towels and put it in a Ziplock bags to preserve a small number of heads. Thanks to steady watering, my tomato plants are still green, but the flowers dry up without producing any signs of fruit. It’s just too hot for them to set. It is safe to say that the eggplants and the peppers are the only plants that are (relatively) happy and producing.

Although August is usually the month to direct seed many greens such arugula, collards, corn salad, Oriental greens, Swiss chard, cress, lettuce, endive, kale, kohlrabi, mustard and turnip greens, I can’t imagine how they will fare in the excessive heat once they germinate. You may want to wait to sow some of these delicate greens until late August or even early September when it often cools down substantially after Labor Day. Unfortunately, I won’t even get to try for a fall vegetable garden because TID water went off in mid-July for the season! If you are lucky to have garden irrigation the latter part of this summer into the fall, you can sow for later transplanting broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage and Pak Choi. You can also direct sow daikon radish, beets, peas, parsnips and rutabaga. If the hot weather persists, planting onions (as you usually can do for next year’s crop) would be a waste of seed as they do not geminate well in very hot weather.

If your beans are producing, be sure to pick them regularly so that they continue to produce. They may also need some fertilizer and more water to continue production. Fertilize vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers while they are in heavy production. If you planted corn, this is the month for your corn feast. Early in the month, give your corn another shot of fertilizer to get it across the finish line. You can also try hand pollinating for fuller ears. When the ears start to appear and the tassels are yellow-transparent, strip the tassels on top of the plant of their pollen and shake it onto each ear. Whenever I do this, I am pleased with the results.

August is usually when I start canning and preserving what my garden produces. Peaches usually ripen now and they can be frozen, dried or canned. For several years, I have been making what I call vegetable pasta sauce which is simply a medley of whatever vegetables are ripe at the time together with tomatoes. My very favorite canning recipe book is The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. I love their recipes! Every one I have tried has been perfect for me. 

We are in the brave new world of climate change. 

I would welcome your comments on how gardening is changing in the Rogue Valley and tips on how we can adapt to still produce the fruits and veggies we all love. I’ll include your tips in this column in the coming months.

Updates for Students and Continuing Master Gardeners 

By Beet 2021 08 August 34 Comments

Dear Gardeners,

Happy August!  I’d like to give some updates to both students and continuing Master Gardener volunteers this month. Hopefully this will answer many frequently asked questions.  If you have not already done so, bookmark the Volunteer Resources webpage, which should be your go-to for questions regarding hours requirements, forms, and more.

2020 Students:

Plant Clinic Training – I plan to hold Plant Clinic training for 2020 students in mid- to late September.  Details are being worked out, but I envision doing two mini sessions (1.5 – 2 hours max) in-person at the Extension.  There may be a small online component.  I’d like all students to have this training because solving plant and insect problems is a common Master Gardener activity.  You may then choose if you would like time in the Plant Clinic for volunteer hours (remember, the Plant Clinic hour requirement has been waived for the 2020 class due to COVID).


Graduation – details are forthcoming, but we plan to hold a graduation ceremony for students the evening of Saturday, October 9, 2021.  Please hold the date!

Hours Requirements – 40 hours of volunteer service are due by October 1, 2021.  If you need an extension, please talk to me and I will be happy to arrange one.  You can log your hours on the Volunteer Reporting System.  A link can also be found on the Volunteer Resources page. 

Current Master Gardeners:

Hours requirements – For recertification for continuing MGs, this year we are asking for 20 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education to be completed by October 1, 2021.  However, if this proves challenging or burdensome due to COVID-19, please let me know and I will accept whatever hours you can give this year, even if it’s zero (so, if someone needs the hours requirement waived again this year, I will approve that).


Badges – Badges will be ordered by late September, in time for the October graduation.  Current Master Gardeners should reach out to me if they need replacement badges.  I typically only order them before graduation, to ensure bulk pricing. 

Thank you everyone, and as always, please reach out with any questions you may have!


Happiness abounds!

By Beet 2021 08 August 34 Comments

Greetings Master Gardeners.  It is with great joy that we are able to return to the Extension campus and our Demonstration Gardens!

All of our Garden Education Mentors (GEMS) should be returning to campus on Wednesdays from 9 to noon. Our gardens need many helpers to get them back into shape for the public visitations that we encourage. If you want to volunteer in the gardens, please contact me or Marcie Katz, our GEMS coordinator, and let us know if you have a particular garden you want to work in. If you do not have a preference, we will get you lined up with a GEM who needs help. Be aware that some GEMS come in from 8 am to 11 am during the hottest part of the summer, but you can make arrangements for the hours you want. Please come and join us. I know that I personally need helpers to get nursery stock weeded, labeled, priced and transplanted for a native plant sale I hope to have in September.

There’s more exciting news too! Mark your calendars for Saturday, August 21st. We will be having an all-member meeting at 3 pm in the auditorium, followed by our annual “picnic” at 5:30 pm. Our all-member meeting was supposed to happen in June, but alas, COVID-19 again threw a wrench into the works – so August it is. I am sorry to report that also due to COVID-19 we were not even sure an in-person picnic would be possible this year. We did not budget for the normal picnic expenses. So, we are asking all members to bring their own picnic dinners. JCMGA will provide water, lemonade and iced tea, as well as ice cream sundaes for dessert. I hope all of you will attend both the meeting and the picnic. We have missed you.  We want you and we need you. We are all so ecstatic to be back on campus and hope to see you there soon!

Finally, if you are growing squash in your garden this year, please go out early in the morning and look for bees in your squash blossoms. These may be squash bees, Peponapis pruinosa, and OSU researchers want to know where they are in Oregon. Take a picture and send it with your location to the squash bee survey.

It is always fun to participate in Citizen Science and you can earn volunteer hours for doing it! 

Have fun and Garden for Life!

This rad is a dish!

By Beet 2021 08 August 34 Comments

There is definitely nothing dreary about this most distinctive vegetable, Raphanus sativus, the Red Meat radish.

Native to China (one of the first vegetables traded along the routes between Europe and Asia), Red Meat radishes, also known as Watermelon and Beauty Heart, are quite different from their daikon relations.

Likely originating in Southeast Asia or Central Asia, radishes have been cultivated for several thousand years. Its propagation for food and medicinal use by the ancient Greeks starting about 2,500 years ago, and continued by Romans, encouraged its spread across new lands.

It’s no wonder the original Chinese named them Xin Li Mei or Shinrimei, meaning “in one’s heart beautiful.” These names also denote the vibrancy of its fuchsia-colored flesh.

Unlike spring radishes, Red Meats are winter radishes that can be sown from mid-August through September.  

Tender but crisp, sweet flesh varies from mildly spicy to pungent and peppery. Though known for “watermelon-like” interiors, the exteriors are unique With shoulders of pale green fading to creamy white, Red Meats can grow anywhere from golf ball to soft ball size. 

Chefs have had a long-lived love affair with Red Meats since they pair so delightfully with many ingredients and dishes, from salads and stir-fries to sandwiches and appetizer plates. They’re delicious with fennel, tart goat cheeses, cooked eggs, and seafood or sprinkled with sea salt and cracked pepper.

Both roots and greens provide an excellent source of vitamin C, (this is particularly so when consumed raw), phenolic compounds and fiber.

Radishes contain isothiocyanate. This chemical compound serves as a natural pest repellent. When planted alongside other crops, the release of its pungent isothiocyanate compounds can repel weeds, pests and soil-born pathogens. What a deal from one tasty and unique little plant!

Although it’s a bit of a challenge in our area to sow seed successfully in August, especially during a summer of such searing summer heat, it can be done. Using shade cloth as well as a good coating of mulch on soil kept consistently moist will assist with more successful sprouting. The mulch will also retain needed moisture so watering may be kept to a minimum.

Sow presoaked seeds, (soaking in water overnight helps hard seeds sprout better), about ¼” deep in well amended soil that’s very friable. Radishes prefer lofty and light soil over heavy and hard soil for their temporary home.

Once they’ve sprouted, thin Red Meat radish seedlings to about 3” to 4” apart. This generous spacing will allow them adequate space to grow larger.

Depending on when they’re sown, you could well have your first spectacular radish root crop by summer’s end. And that’s not all.  If well protected with a good layer of mulch or straw, your radish roots will not only keep on growing, but will also bring forth even sweeter treats all winter long.

So, if you’re looking for a fiery and sweet sensational addition to your garden plot and serving plate, sow in some Red Meat seed to add some new “Rad” to your every dish.


Seed Sources:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Johnny’s Select Seeds

Pinetree Garden Seeds



Red Meat Radish Salad


3 Red Meat radishes, with roots removed and sliced thin

1 large seedless-type cucumber

4 cups arugula

4 oz herbed goat cheese

1/3 cup pistachio nuts

Lemon vinaigrette:

Lemon vinaigrette (best made 24 hours ahead)

Juice and zest from one organic lemon

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoon honey, agave nectar or real maple syrup

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons minced tarragon (fresh or dried)


Put all ingredients in a pint jar with lid and shake until well blended. Refrigerate until needed.

On individual salad plates, mound arugula, then arrange slices of radish and cucumber on top.  Sprinkle goat cheese and pistachio nuts over each salad. Drizzle with lemon vinaigrette and serve.

Makes 4 servings.