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Beet 2023 03 March

Vegetable Gardening for Fun and Reward as a Master Gardener

By Beet 2023 03 March

No one knows it all.  So, proceed with the understanding that you will learn more and more each year of you endeavors.  Everyone has a ‘green thumb’:  sometimes it takes peeling back a few layers of “brown” to find it.

So why would you want to grow vegetables?  Flavor, Freshness, Better Health, a Personal Sense of Success.  Hey, I grew that!  If you grow it yourself, you can choose the variety that suits your taste.  What could be better?  You can harvest at the peak of flavor and freshness.  Remember, eating healthy vegetables means a healthier you.  Doctors tell us that we can’t eat too many vegetables.

Growing your own vegetables means avoiding chemical pesticides, no plastic packaging required, no transportation costs, fresh from the garden (think: quality), personal satisfaction, and outdoor enjoyment.

Vegetable gardens can be a year-round project.  Your vegetable garden will keep you favorably occupied and participating in the learning process.  What better way to keep your brain and body healthy and challenged!  Refer to the Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley – Vegetables, Berries, Melons for appropriate tasks and times.  Following is an abbreviated monthly list:

  • January – February: Planning & ordering seeds
  • March – April: Start seeds

Check on garden

  • May:                        Purchase plants at the Spring Garden Fair
    Check irrigation system, begin watering
    Plant seedlings/starts after last frost
  • June – July: Water and check for bugs/disease
  • July – September: Enjoy bountiful harvests
    Plant fall veggie crops & cover crops
  • September: Install row covers to extend season
  • October:                  Harvest last of summer crops
  • November: Put garden to bed, winterize to protect soil
  • December: Rest, pat yourself on the back, and gather your thoughts for next year.
    Anticipate catalog arrivals.


Okay, you’re convinced that a vegetable garden is right for you.  Now what?  First you need to decide what to grow.  Will it be a victory garden (vegetables, fruit, herbs), or specialty crops (like mushrooms, ginseng, or garlic)?  Next, you’ll need to select a location.  If it’ll be fresh herbs, you will most likely put it close to the kitchen.  Determine the type of soil you have, and your physical limitations.  Perhaps a raised bed or two will fit the bill.  How many hours of sunlight will be needed; 8-10 is ideal, without the murderous summer afternoon heat (direct sun).  A good location has a water source and good drainage.  Protection from heavy winds is advised, but good air circulation is a must.


The roots of most vegetables need a minimum of 6-inches of soil.  Perennials require a deeper root structure.  The texture of the soil should be friable, moist and crumbly.  Shoot for a soil pH of about 6.5; that’s good for most vegetables.  Planting tips can be found in the “Garden Guide”, pages 58-69.

Most soils in the Rogue Valley are slightly acidic

  • Test your soil for appropriate pH
  • Most vegetables fall between 6.0 – 7.0 pH



So now that you’ve got all that down… How do you choose what to grow?  Below is one decision guide:

  • How to choose
    • What are your favorites?
    • What will your children actually eat?
    • What would give you the greatest satisfaction?
    • Do you want to experiment with different varieties?
    • What’s going to draw you into the garden?
    • Know your growing season.
  • How much to grow
    • Pace yourself, you’re not feeding an army
    • Understand plant yields over time
  • Choose varieties that fit the climate
    • Know your frost dates


Will you be starting from seeds or seedlings?  How much time do you have?  Starting from seeds is less costly but that takes more time and patience.  Remember what we teach in the Practicum – HOWL (Heat, Oxygen, Water, Light).

For both seeds and transplants: choose plants from similar growing areas as ours, read catalogs for the best growing zones, and ask your neighbors about their success with different varieties.  Seed catalogs can be immensely helpful.  The better catalogs describe resistance/tolerance to diseases.  Planting disease resistant seeds/plants is a good way to help ensure success.

Wait for the soil to warm sufficiently to accommodate your spring/summer plants (approx. 70-85 degrees °F.  Winter crops need a good start, so plant them in the ground in mid-August.

The planting seed depth will vary by seed.  Planting depth is recommended as 2-3 times the diameter of the seed.  If you’re saving seeds, save only open-pollenated (OP) seeds from healthy plants.  Avoid saving squash seeds unless you are sure they have not been cross pollenated with another variety of squash.  Saving hybrid seeds is a real ‘no-no’; they won’t produce the same plant that they came from.

Transplanting seedlings requires hardening-off, usually 7-10 days.  Plant only stocky, healthy, and disease-free plants.  Handle seedlings carefully by their leaves, not stems.  Watering is critical the first two weeks as the roots are near the soil surface and will dry out quickly.  Fertilize during the growing period, ensuring that the right soil nutrients are available:

N – Nitrogen:       vegetative growth

P – Phosphorus:  rooting, flowering, fruiting

K – Potassium:     plant metabolism and vigor

Be advised that liquid fertilizers provide faster plant access to nutrients (e.g., fish emulsion).

Consider installing row covers to keep out harmful bugs.  They help warm the soil and can shelter plants from scorching sunlight.  Remember to remove the covers if the plants need pollination.

Harvest times

  • Leafy crops – pick outer leaves at a young age and they will continue to grow (lettuce, bok choy, spinach)
  • Legumes – pick when slightly less than mature (beans and peas)
  • Sweet corn – pick when kernels pricked by fingernail exude milky juice
  • Fruiting crops – pick when
    • Fruit is slightly immature (summer squash, cucumbers)
    • Fully ripe (tomatoes, melons)
    • Cantaloupes are ready at ‘full slip’ (gentle tug will release)
    • Watermelons are ready when tendril nearest fruit browns
  • Winter squash & pumpkins – harvest when totally dry, leave 2-inches of stem
  • Dry beans
    • Remain on plant until it browns
    • Shell beans, and freeze seeds 2-weeks to kill weevils
  • Root Crops – use fresh from garden (carrots, turnips, leeks, beets, green onions)
  • Potatoes – leave in ground until plant browns, store in a cool, dark, dry location
  • Dry onions & garlic
    • harvest when 1/3 of green tops turn brown
    • Spread out bulbs in dry, shady location for 2-weeks


Do Yourself a BIG favor: KEEP RECORDS.  Even though you believe you will remember what was planted where, from year to year, write it down.  Also record the results of your activities for future reference.

Protect your soil throughout the cold season.  A good rule of thumb is to never leave soil bare.  Use cover crops and/or sheet mulching.  Build your soil in the fall.  Life continues below the soil surface.  Worms, micro-organisms, and other creatures need protection, moisture, and food.


Now that you’ve absorbed all the above, start your plan.  Happy Gardening.



Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley – Year-Round & Month by Month. This book contains a wealth of gardening information. You can purchase it at our local Grange Co-op or at the OSU Extension office for $21.00. It can also be purchased on-line at Note that a shipping fee will be applied.

Spring Garden Fair

By Beet 2023 03 March

Jackson County Master Gardener™ Association 

2023 Spring Garden Fair

Saturday, May 6th

9:00 until 3:00 p.m.


     Garden for Life



Location:  SOREC Extension

569 Hanley Road

Central Point OR 97502

Admission is Free!


By Beet 2023 03 March

Although many people still aren’t familiar with Cydonia obologna, (sole member of its genus), it’s beginning to show up again in home gardens and is truly a “quincessential” fruit to consider.

Fruiting quince, (not to be confused with flowering chaenomoles), also called the “true” quince, has a long and interesting history. 

Considered native to Iran, Turkey, the Crimean Peninsula, northern Persia and possibly Greece, its name, Cydonia oblonga, comes from an area of Crete.

Familiar in Palestine around 1000 BC, its cultivation spread to South East Europe and the Levant before the apple.  It eventually found its way around the world to Africa, Australia, South America, Mexico, the Eastern Mediterranean and, eventually, the US.

American colonists made quince jam and jelly, taking advantage of the naturally high pectin content.  Its popularity possibly fell off when commercial pectin made the process way more convenient.

High pectin content also renders most quince flesh astringent, perhaps another reason for not cultivating what one cannot consume raw.  However, some varieties have a sweet, slightly tart taste with a hint of pineapple and lemon, making them quite edible off the tree.

Astringent or not, quince has the most wonderful aromatic fragrance that will perfume any room they’re placed in.  Their skins have velvety surfaces that need to be removed (gently rub off beneath a running faucet) before using.  They’re also rich in fiber and have moderate amounts of vitamin C and potassium.

Their flesh is denser than apples.  Their exterior shape varies from oblong, lumpy to pear-shaped.  Their skin turns a vibrant yellow when mature and some can weigh nearly 16 oz.

They’re delicious cooked in both savory and sweet dishes.  Longer cooking with an acid not only richens flavor but deepens rosy color.  Stew, bake, spice them like apples, cook along side meats, make into pudding, pie or crisp, compote or try quince paste.  It’s also said they make very good wine!

Quince can be maintained as small 10 to12’ trees or left unpruned, as shrubbier plants.  Stippled leaves become platforms for delicate, pirouetting, pink solitary buds that open like miniature water lilies.

Quince is self-fertile, but another plant will increase fruiting even more.  They’re hardy in zones 4 to 9.  They prefer areas with partial shade or late afternoon sun since they do poorly in hotter, direct sunlight.

They also tolerate a wide range of soil types, as long as they’re well-drained and moderately rich in plant-based organic matter.  Use a well-balanced fertilizer annually, then top with mulch. Avoid planting in a pot as they will soon outgrow it.

Once established, quince will still need regular watering that is best provided with drip irrigation.  Don’t water lightly/frequently, but deeply (1” or about 10 gallons) once weekly or twice when very hot.

Although generally not bothered by pests, being in the Rosaceae family, they are subject to fire blight.  However, spraying with copper soap shield will keep that in check and your harvest basket full of fragrant, delicious fruit. They are subject to the same scale insects that attack apples and pears and should receive the same dormant spray treatment for the control of those pests.

Whether you perceive them as curious or peculiar, the “quincessential” quince deserves your cultivating consideration.


Mother Earth Gardener



Raintree Nursery

Specialty Produce



One Green World

They have many varieties of quince including several that are edible off the tree.  Note:  The author has Aromatnaya, delicious fresh.


Raintree Nursery

They have a number of varieties.




Quince Chutney

3 quince, fuzz removed, cored, quartered then sliced crosswise

12 oz fresh (or frozen) organic cranberries, sorted and washed

1 small organic red onion, peeled and chopped

¼ cup organic raisins (flame are tastiest)

6 dates, pitted and chopped

1 good sized knob of fresh gingerroot, peeled and finely minced

2 cups organic apple juice

½ cup port wine (or more apple juice)

½ cup balsamic vinegar

½ cup agave syrup (or honey or brown rice syrup)

1 tablespoon organic orange zest

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon each ground cloves and allspice

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon sea salt


Put all ingredients in a good-sized heavy pot and stir to mix. Bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally and watching to keep from boiling over.  Once boiling, turn heat down to low and simmer about 35-45 minutes until thickened and quince is soft.  Cool and refrigerate.  Can be used hot or cold for topping salads, in sandwiches, relish for poultry, on burgers instead of ketchup.

Keep in fridge for about 2 weeks or freeze for longer storage.

Makes about 4 cups.