The Jackson County Master Gardener Association is back, virtually!
Dig into three days of virtual garden immersion seminars taught by 15 presenters, all designed to help you plan next year’s spectacular garden. Early November‘s Winter Dreams Summer Gardens Symposium is an ideal time to take stock while learning with experts about gardening in our Rogue Valley climate, berries, vegetables, native plants, hemp research, landscaping, soils, pruning, and more.
Dates: Friday, Nov. 5, and Saturdays, Nov. 6 and 13, 2021
Cost: $20. Pick your favorite topics or watch them all. Most recordings will be available for paid participants for a limited time.
Registration: For details, program information, and registration, visit the Master Gardener website.
Happy October! Hopefully, everyone is having a chance to enjoy the clear air and cooler temperatures we’ve been having. While there were some challenges this growing season with the hot weather we had early on, I recently enjoyed the beautiful blooms of my sunflowers in my garden (see my photo), something I look forward to each year. Next it will be watching the cover crops of Austrian winter pea and Fava bean take over my garden boxes!
I have some brief updates, resources, and a volunteer opportunity to help our pollinators to share with you:
Be sure to check out OSU Extension’s October Gardening Calendar. This is part of a 12-month calendar with gardening tips and tricks for each month. This is a great resource for your reference, or to share with family, friends, and community members.
Volunteer opportunity: 2021 Oregon Mason Bee Health Survey! The OSU Pollinator Health Lab needs your help to establish a baseline on the health of mason bee stocks, which ultimately will help track the health of these bees over time. Click here to learn more about the project and how to register!
COVID Update: Consistent with the CDC and OHA recommendations and university policy, face coverings are now required to be worn indoors at all times, unless eating or drinking. This means you must wear a mask when visiting SOREC.
2020 Student Graduation – details are forthcoming, but we are planning to hold a graduation celebration virtually on Thursday, October 14, from 5 pm – 7pm. Stay tuned!
2020 Student 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.
Updated Project Proposal Application form can be found here, on the Volunteer Resources page (link in previous paragraph). This form is required for any new MG project.
Lastly, I want to thank all of you for continuing to stick through these challenging times with COVID. Each of your contributions and participation are what make this program so great, and I am so grateful for your perseverance and positive attitudes this past 1.5 years. Thank you! -Erika
The Communications Working Group began an in-depth review of our JCMGA website in early 2020. Throughout the pandemic, fires, and smoke, CWG members continued to evaluate our online presence and make modifications. Since JCMGA members will be asked to use the website during the October/November election and for member renewal which begins in mid-November, this is a good time to spend a few minutes exploring the updated website if you haven’t visited recently. Our website is found atjacksoncountymga.org. Once you’ve arrived at the public home page, you’ll find that it consists primarily of nine tiles which represent various aspects of our organization. There is information about becoming a Master Gardener; a direct link to our online Native Plant Tour; specific directions regarding the Plant Clinic; a calendar; access to the Growing Oregon Gardeners classes, suggested readings, and (coming soon) videos and pertinent websites; access to the current and previous Garden Beet newsletters; in-depth information about the Demonstration Gardens; an explanation and listing of community gardens in the Rogue Valley; and a donation site. (Whew!)
There is additional information found in the green-lettered menu across the top of the page. The Home section provides information about what is available from Master Gardeners in Jackson County, a brief history of the overall Master Gardener program and the OSU Master Gardener Program. There is also a page that the public can use to contact JCMGA.
Events & Classes explains the various activities JCMGA provides within the community such as Master Gardener training, the Spring Garden Fair, Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens, Community Education classes, and the Native Plant Tour.
In the Community includes information about our school and community garden grants, a list of and links to our televised “In the Garden” mini-lessons, Seed to Supper Program, and Speaker’s Bureau.
Within the menu, there are also links to the calendar, Plant Clinic, Demonstration Gardens, and, within the Shop section, the ability to purchase our Garden Guides.
Articles from the current Garden Beet are also available at the bottom of the home page. And the green, horizontal band across the top of the page offers links to our Facebook and YouTube presence at the top left and the Garden Beet (no, that’s NOT a radish—it’s a beet) at the far top right .
In addition to the public face of our website, described above, the Home page of our website offers entry into our Member section, called the Greenhouse. To access the Member home page, click on the Member Portal on the top right green band (just to the left of the beet). You will be asked for your email address and password to enter. If you have forgotten your password, there is a process for obtaining a new one. Just click on Lost your Password?
Once you’ve entered the Greenhouse, you will find a list of specific member-oriented links listed vertically on the right of the page, short articles about Help Wanted, how to assist JCMGA in its fund-raising, and MG recertification is in the middle of the page.
The links provide an immense amount of information for members! They provide the opportunity to modify your member account (My Account), remind you of members who serve on the Board of Directors, provide a calendar of scheduled JCMGA meetings and events, contain the current Chapter Directory, and will offer classified ads in the future.
A new feature is called 2021 Members and Students. Since we are unable to update the directory once it is printed, the 2021 Members and Students link takes you to a spreadsheet listing the most current contact information we have for members, including member contact changes and members who have renewed since the directory was printed in the spring. This is the place to check if you want the most up-to-date information when contacting another member.
There are also links to the online member renewal form, student materials and Practicum information, and to the OSU volunteer reporting site. The most current version of the JCMGA Articles of Association, Member Bylaws, and Policies and Procedures are also located here. Although we are not currently conducting an election or survey, when election season arrives in mid-October, you will find the voting link in this list.
Although the Communications Working Group continues to upgrade the website, if you find an area of confusion or something you would like to see added or modified, please send your comments to Marcia Harris, the Chair of the Communications Working Group (firstname.lastname@example.org). We would appreciate hearing your thoughts and suggestions.
The Members Services Working Group is pleased to announce the winners of the 2nd Annual JCMGA photo contest.
Winning first place is Ann Hackett (2020). This is the second year that Ann has won and her photograph will be on the cover of the 2022 JCMGA Chapter Directory.
Three runners-up, whose photographs are presented below, are Lynn Garbert (2014), Jan Carlson (2016), and Lora West (2020). Four additional photographs tied for the next place, just one point behind.
The judges were Keltie Nelson and Marcie Katz, representing the Members Services Working Group, Marcia Harris, chair of the Communications Working Group, Jack Ivers, former Garden Beet editor, and Seán Cawley, who has had many of his own photographs included in the Garden Beet.
Several judges remarked on the difficulty of choosing among so many beautiful photos and we thank each JCMGA member who submitted such glorious entries to the contest this year. Each one is a winner!
Taken in my garden, July 1, 2021. A Ruby Slipper Daylily adopted from the Daylily Demonstration Garden in 2014.
The praying mantis was checking out a patch of Black-eyed Susans in one of our small flower beds that was converted to mostly native plants – Oregon sunshine, lupines, goldenrod, coyote mint, yarrow, buckwheat, and the like. It was taken July 14, 2021. I was actually looking for native bee activity and ground nests when I stumbled upon this little critter. We have quite a population of them and every fall our wooden fence is loaded with their egg casings for the next crop. They are voracious predators, but they don’t differentiate between the good/not so good insects. They eat everything.
The photo, taken in my home garden in Ruch on July 7, 2021, shows an artichoke flower teeming with bumble bees. I let all my artichokes go to flower this year, as I enjoyed watching the bumble bees more than I would have enjoyed the artichokes. The bumble bees, in turn, did a fabulous job pollinating my tomatoes and squash.
This time of year is always a busy one as we scramble to get all our summer produce processed for the winter. I have been canning, drying and freezing for weeks now, but the garden doesn’t seem to be done. I am running out of room in my pantry for all the jars of tomatoes, sauce, pickles, chutney, salsa and juice. As a Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver, this is one of the most satisfying aspects of a bountiful harvest.
If you have extra produce from your garden and cannot use it, please consider donating it to ACCESS Food Share (https://www.accesshelps.org/foodassistance). The center takes donations of fresh produce and is located behind Hobby Lobby in Medford.
I was so pleased to see many of you at our All Member Meeting on September 10th. It was so nice to be able to let you know what the organization is up to, to answer questions you have had, and to catch up with folks we haven’t seen for some time. Some of you were even brave enough to stick around for the board meeting that followed. I encourage all members to attend at least one board meeting to see how JCMGA operates and plans for events.
Our Jackson County Master Gardeners have been working in the gardens at Extension when the air quality allows. Some of you may not know that in early September, our irrigation pump failed and we lost water to the gardens. We are working to get the pump repaired, but the actual well may need to be deepened, as the water tables in the valley are dropping. Though most plants in the gardens can go without extra water for a while, our nursery stock in the Native Plants Nursery and the Propagation Garden began to dry and die almost immediately. We were able, through a mobilization effort with members and community groups, to save most of the plants in containers. These were either taken by members to “foster” until they could come back to the nursery areas, or planted in individual yards. Much of the native plant stock was picked up by Valley of the Rogue State Park personnel, and will be used in restoration projects along the Rogue River and surrounding creeks. We were very fortunate to have saved almost everything.
As always, I am so grateful to be part of such a dedicated and caring group of volunteers. We are doing important work. Enjoy your abundant harvests and remember to GARDEN FOR LIFE!
Although most rooted plants are stuck at the same address throughout their lifespan, not so the Egyptian walking onion. Its traveling abilities have taken it to new lands.
Allium cepa var. proliferum, formerly classified as Allium cepa var. vivparum or var. bulbiferum, is a cross between Allium cepa, cultivated onion, and Allium fistulosum, Welsh onion.
Some consider it rather a tall tale (like those magic beans of Jack’s) that a plant could move to another location on its own. However, the Egyptian walking onion – also known as tree onion, top set onion, top onion, perennial onion and winter onion – is such a miraculous plant.
These onions originated on the Indian subcontinent. Although they can “walk” themselves to their next rooting place, immigrants deliberately selected these hardy plants and carried them from Europe to the US circa 1850.
And hardy they are – down to Zone 3! Burr!!! Egyptian walking onions stay green until winter. Ground bulbs as well as the topset bulbils that fall over and replant themselves can be removed and replanted (in autumn) or be consumed on the spot.
Autumn planting provides for optimal growth, allowing bulbs to root and bulk up on provisions for overwintering. Leaves usually wither back allowing nutrients to concentrate in the bulb.
Plant bulbs with their roots down and the bottom half of bulb below ground, then cover halfway with richly amended soil. They prefer regular irrigation, a well-drained and sunny location to thrive, and a light feeding of balanced fertilizer.
Another unique feature is that bulblet production outdoes all other alliums. More bulblets can form on additional stems off of the existing bulblets making a second layer that resembles a Medusa-style hairdo on an onion plant!
Once established, bulblets at the tips of these green stems can reach an incredible 15” or more. As the top-weighted stems tip over, rooting bulblets (called bulbils) start a whole new generation, hence their “walkin’ on over” to a new location.
Concerned with invasiveness? Although you’ll have a continuous onion supply if they are left unattended, when harvested, Egyptian walking onions’ advancement is easily controlled.
Leaves reemerge in late winter to very early spring. Later in the season, new bulblets will form at leaf tips that will eventually tip over to continue the migration process.
Harvest ground bulbs as well as topsets mid-to late-summer by plucking them from dried parent stalks or from the ground where they’ve already toppled. These topset bulbils may be replanted (store in the fridge in paper sacks until replanting in autumn) or consumed.
What miraculous creations – the entire plant can be consumed! Base onions can be eaten like any onion, the hollow greens chopped like chives, and bulblets can be cooked in soups, peeled and fried, pickled, or roasted whole.
So, if you’re seeking a year-round source for alliums, try sowing some Egyptian walking onion sets. They will soon be “walkin’ on over” to be savored at your next meal.
Did You Know?
Topsets of Egyptian walking onions may fall as far as three feet away from the parent plant.
Ancient Egyptians worshipped onions and believed their spherical shapes and concentric rings represented eternal life. Onions were used in Egyptian burials for pharaohs and small onions were found in the eye sockets of Ramesses IV.
Both Baker Creek and Territorial have Egyptian onion sets but are sold out this season. However, you can get on their waiting lists.
Egyptian Onion and Pepper Relish
4 ripe sweet peppers (Bell, Corno di’ Toro, Marconi or other), washed, stems and seeds removed, then cut in strips
2 to 3 bunches of Egyptian walking onions (you can substitute 2 regular red onions), skins and roots removed and sliced. Put either type of onion in boiling water for 1 minute then remove. Skins will then slide off easily.
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
1 tablespoon each minced fresh rosemary, sage and lime thyme (can use regular thyme instead)
Zest of one organic lime
Fresh ground sea salt and pepper
In a heavy sauté pan, heat oil, then toss in peppers and onions. Stir fry until limp, about 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Slowly pour in the vinegar and honey, stirring to mix thoroughly. Sprinkle minced herbs on top. Continue cooking while stirring frequently until liquid is dissolved, about 10-12 minutes, and vegetables start to caramelize. Sprinkle over the lime zest and add salt and pepper to taste, tossing to mix in. Serve hot, warm or chilled.
Great over meats, poultry, seafood, salads, pizza and sandwiches. Store extra in fridge in covered glass or plastic container.