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Beet February 2021

What’s in a lawn?

By Beet February 2021 34 Comments

By Sherri Morgan

Master Gardener 2008

Do you have a large, mowed green space around your home? That space is an artifact of landscape design imported from the British Isles, where rain is plentiful and large estates were set off by acres of green lawn. We need to ask ourselves if this is appropriate or useful for us in this time.

In the U.S., lawns cover a total area that is larger than New England and that area is increasing every year. Some developments and homeowners’ associations require lawns in the front of houses. In our time of climate change and ecosystem stress, we need to ask ourselves if this use of our landscape is appropriate.

Douglas Tallamy, Professor of Entomology from the University of Delaware, has long been concerned about the widespread use of non-native plant species, of which lawn grasses are one. Non-native trees, shrubs and grasses provide little in terms of food for native insects and the birds who feed on them. Dr. Tallamy’s current project is Homegrown National Park, in which he asks private homeowners to choose plantings that support their local ecosystems. He asks that folks with lawns consider removing half of the lawn area and replacing that with native trees, shrubs and perennials. He explains that we cannot depend on parks or natural areas to fulfill all ecosystem services. As homeowners, we can participate by providing food, shelter, and nesting sites using plants with which native insects have co-evolved.

Bird and insect species are in decline worldwide due to loss of habitat and food sources. In his latest book, Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard, Dr. Tallamy explains the importance of native plants, especially as hosts for insects whose caterpillars are the main food source for baby birds.

If you have a lawn and would like to reduce its size and replant that area with natives, there are many resources you can use. Google “sheet mulching” to discover how to begin to reduce the lawn area. Check out the National Wildlife Federation website and look through their plant finder section. You will find complete lists of trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses native to your zip code. Local nurseries and the Siskiyou County Native Plant Society are also resources. Another great website is where you will find lots of information about plants native to our area.

To enjoy gardens in our area that feature native plants, plan on attending the Jackson County Master Gardeners Native Plant Garden Tour. The virtual tour is coming in mid-April and an in-person tour in mid-May. Check out our website at

Grow a living landscape

By Beet February 2021 36 Comments

By Lynn Kunstman

Master Gardener 2012

Want more birds and butterflies in your life? Want to support pollinators and wildlife? Here’s some information for small and large property owners to help them make wise plant choices for their properties.

For those of us who do not own acreage, but want to increase our yard’s biodiversity and ecosystem services, please download “Enhancing Urban and Suburban Landscapes to Protect Pollinators.” This impressively thorough and well-researched booklet by nine OSU professors in the Horticulture Department provides practical information for gardeners to improve and maintain gardens that support pollinators and beneficial insects and birds. It will help you make decisions to turn your yard into more than the typically sterile landscapes of lawns and exotic plants, clipped into balls and boxes.

If, however, you are one of the lucky folks who own acreage, please consider planting a multi-species hedgerow. Hedgerows are diversified plantings of multi-layered vegetation. Wildly different from the clipped, exotic, and sterile hedges grown in most yards and gardens, hedgerows provide multiple ecological services. Among these biodiversity benefits are; food for wildlife, livestock and humans; habitat for pollinating and beneficial insects; shelter and nesting sites for birds and other wildlife; carbon sequestration; soil and water protection; noise, wind and chemical drift protection; and year-round beauty. What’s not to love here?

Oregon State University Extension Service has an excellent article in their catalog entitled, “A Guide to Hedgerows.” It is available, as are all publications, for free download.

While this article includes both native and non-native plants, I highly recommend you choose native plants to provide maximum biodiversity services. To do this, cross reference the plants listed in the article with the Oregon Flora. The Oregon Flora is a powerful new tool for gardeners and landscapers to utilize to incorporate more of our native vegetation into our landscapes. Be sure to check it out right away.

In future editions of the Garden Beet, I hope to feature the top native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants that best support biodiversity in the Rogue Valley. In the meantime, I hope all Master Gardeners will fully utilize the great science based-resources available through Oregon Flora and your OSU state extension service catalog. Save the planet – Garden for Life!

It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovage

By Beet February 2021 34 Comments

It’s finally February – when gardening hearts are struck by Cupid’s trowel. Once Cupid smiles upon you, it’s time for a new romance – falling in and for lovage.

You’re likely to love lovage for its aromatic celery flavor that’s more intense and sweeter – with a hint of anise – when used instead of celery in salad, soup and stew recipes. Seeds flavor pickles and vinegars and can be crushed to sprinkle atop breads. It also goes well with seafood and tomato-based sauces.

Its name, lovage, resulted in its reputation as a love potion. Who knows? This may challenge Cupid’s customary arrow.

Whatever your desire, Levisticum officinale is sure to attract you, as well your avian visitors, with its perennial flowering. As a member of the Apiaceae family along with carrots, dill, and parsley, it has a


multitude of culinary herbal attractions given that its leaves, seeds, and roots are all edible.

Just as with true love, lovage has captured the hearts of many for millennia. The Romans used it as a spice and it’s mentioned in the Apicius collection of their recipes. The ancient Greeks chewed its leaves to improve digestion.

Native to western Asia, parts of the Middle East, and the Mediterranean, it was cultivated around the globe and brought to the US by British settlers as both food and medicine. Although you can domestically cultivate this lovely plant, it’s naturalized itself in New England, the Great Lakes states, Colorado, New Mexico, and most of Europe.

You will also love that a 100g serving of lovage contains 84% of your daily requirement of vitamin A, half your needed vitamin C intake, and has significant amounts of calcium, iron and potassium. What a lovage way to get your daily vitamins and a significant source of antioxidants!

Fuss free, lovage’s frilly leaves make a lovely showing with the mature stalks sometimes standing six feet tall. In early summer, brilliant canary-yellow flowers will splash across the garden, perfuming the air with their splendid fragrance.

Lovage may be propagated by either seed (start 5-6 weeks prior to last frost) or root division. Once seedlings have 2 sets of true leaves, and the last frost has passed, you can transplant them in an area with partial shade. Use generously-composted and well-drained soil. Maintaining even moisture will encourage vigorous growth and more lovage for you to love.

Although lovage dies back to the ground and goes dormant in the winter, don’t fret, as it will reemerge in spring. So, don’t fall out of flavor settling for celery when you can cultivate the delightful, delicious and everlasting lovage instead!


Seed and plant sources


Nichols Nursery

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Seed Savers Exchange

West Coast Seeds


The Growers Exchange


Recipe: Lovage potato soup


1 yellow organic onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon virgin olive oil (not extra virgin)

3 medium organic Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut in cubes

2 cups no salt organic chicken or vegetable stock

2 cups milk (or alternative soy, nut, coconut or oat milk)

½ cup chopped lovage leaves

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese, freshly grated from a wedge

Lovage leaves for garnish


In large heavy pot, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until limp and translucent. Add potatoes, stock, cumin and milk to pot. Heat on medium to a simmer (do not allow to boil). Cook until potatoes are tender.

Remove from heat. Ladle about half the soup in a deep bowl. Add chopped lovage and purée with hand blender or in food processor. Return to pot and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir on low to reheat for a few minutes.

Ladle soup into serving bowls, sprinkling grated parmesan cheese and some lovage leaves over each.

Serves about 4-6.

New for 2021 from JCMGA: Horticultural Study Groups

By Beet February 2021, Uncategorized 31 Comments

By Susan Koenig

Master Gardener 2016

Have you ever wanted to take a deep dive into a gardening topic such as growing tomatoes, succulents, native plants, mushrooms, house plants, herbs or the hundreds of other possible subjects? Do you need educational or volunteer hours toward graduation or certification? Now is your chance to join with other Master Gardeners to form a “study group” to delve into a topic of particular interest to you.
The purpose of a study group is to enable a small group of Master Gardener veteran members and students to explore in depth a horticultural topic of their choosing. An example would be “growing tomatoes” or “raising succulents”. Study groups may not choose topics such as marijuana or herbal medicine, which are topics prohibited by OSU.

The study groups are being sponsored by the JCMGA Member Services Working Group. As it’s the first year, we consider this a pilot project and are looking to form 3-4 groups on different topics suggested by members. We envision small, self-directed groups organized by a facilitator. The volunteer “facilitator(s)” of each group will recruit other members for the group, organize meetings, ensure that minutes are kept, facilitate the meetings and promote communication among members.
Each group will determine how it goes about studying the subject it has chosen and how often it meets. Any member of the group may research topics, conduct experiments, develop handouts and lead group discussions. Until we can meet in person, groups will meet via Zoom, using the JCMGA Zoom license. When we are able to, the groups may meet in person, visit each other’s gardens, take field trips, have taste testings, create and share recipes, invite speakers or other activities. Groups are expected to use scientifically-based information sources when developing self-study materials.

So many possibilities!

We ask that each study group write a short article for the Garden Beet describing their findings which will pass on information and suggested reading to the larger Master Gardener community. Groups may also want to prepare an outline or PowerPoint presentation on their topic that could be given as a Community Education talk or through the Speakers Bureau. Students who help to produce educational materials for the public may earn volunteer hours toward graduation, with approval of the MG Coordinator.

Now Recruiting Facilitators

We are currently recruiting facilitators who want to devote a few hours a month to organizing a study group and helping it to function. There is no expectation that a facilitator will have to “teach” the group or be an “expert” in the subject. The role of the facilitator is to have a keen interest in the topic, keep the group organized, participate in discussions and moderate the Zoom sessions. If you have a topic you would like to facilitate, please contact Susan Koenig 541-897-4238 or for more information. In a few weeks, we’ll let members know what groups are forming so they can join.

Now Recruiting Members for the Tomato Study Group

A Tomato Study Group is now forming. Students and veteran Master Gardeners interested in studying how to raise better tomatoes, contact Susan Koenig at 541-897-4238 or for more information.

Now Recruiting Members for the Succulent Study Group

A Succulents Study Group is now forming. Students and veteran Master Gardeners interested in studying how to raise succulents and use them in decorating, contact Marcie Katz at for more information.

Enhancing Urban and Suburban Landscapes to Support Pollinators and Wildlife Study Group

A Study Group on Enhancing Urban and Suburban Landscapes to Support Pollinators and Wildlife is now forming. Students and veteran Master Gardeners interested in joining this Study Group should contact Cassandra Toews at 530-925-0310 or for more information.

2021 resolutions of a Master Gardener

By Beet February 2021 28 Comments

I’m not much on resolutions…but this year I cogitated through January and there are a few things I really want to do:

1. I have a few plants that have just never been happy where they are located. I also have a few plants that require too much labor. This year I will edit those out and replace them with less needy native plants appropriate for those areas.

2. Because I did not update my garden journal last year (due to COVID-19 funk), I don’t remember where my bare spots are. I will plant annuals this year but will fight against my lusty tendency to buy plants without a plan!

3. I promise myself to plant whatever plants I purchase right away! I will not let them languish or dwindle from neglect in their trays.

4. I want to be kinder and gentler to my seeds! Dig out the seed packets stashed in my closet. Plant them or share them with gardening friends.

5. Document my MG volunteer hours as I go; don’t wait until next September and scramble to do it all at once!

6. Take some of the interesting online MG classes offered this year.

7. Help support JCMGA a bit by collecting my soda cans in the blue recycle bags and taking them to the recycling center. Also registering JCMGA as a “giving” partner for all my Amazon purchases.

8. Stay connected with 2020 students. Support their interest and participation in MG programs. Encourage them to come out for work parties at the Extension to make and solidify friendships with existing Master Gardeners.

The days are longer – spring is coming. I’m so ready! I’m looking forward to coming back out to the Demo Gardens and working in my own garden.

Looking for the Plant Clinic? It’s gone virtual

By Beet February 2021 26 Comments

By Maxine Cass

Master Gardener 2015

When the SOREC Plant Clinic closed last March 12 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, four volunteer mentors, supported by Master Gardener Program Coordinator Erika Szonntag, took up the

The pre-pandemic Plant Clinic with Katy Mallams, left, and Peggy Carson.

challenge to provide plant and insect identification.

Chatting face-to-face with over-the-counter clients or with Growers Market shoppers suddenly wasn’t possible. Physical samples of plant material or insects weren’t available for 3D inspection or to put under a microscope.

How have Dolly Travers (MG 2011), Viki Ashford (MG 2005), Katy Mallams (MG 2012), and Jan Carlson (MG 2016) responded to clients’ email-only contacts?

The Jackson County Master Gardener (Virtual) Plant Clinic was born. The team of Master Gardener volunteers work remotely, responding to email questions sent to a central email account. Clients ask a question or fill out a form similar to the one filled out for any Plant Clinic client contact.
The OSU Extension Service website outlines the process.

Questions and forms are submitted; each mentor has an assigned day of the week and spends several hours actively researching identification, diagnosis, and suggested problem or pest management. Sounds like the regular Plant Clinic – almost.

Without in-person contact, photos of the object or critter have become crucial, says Jan. “We are now exclusively tied to emails for the initial contact which also means that we are reliant on photos rather than physical specimens.” Which may mean more back and forth client contact to get additional descriptions and better photos.

Erika set up a resource base with publications and other references that the mentors praise for its extent and ease of use. Once identification or diagnosis is made, the mentor provides online publication links to clients, or may suggest OSU Extension catalog publications.

Mentor expertise plays a part – Katy Mallams, who knows a lot about trees [see her Garden Beet article last month on White Pine Blister Rust] recently fielded a question passed to her by Dolly that dealt with oak tree removal, replacement trees, armillaria root disease, mistletoe in oaks, and choosing trees with leaves, that when dry, don’t create a fire hazard.

Viki, whose Plant Clinic experience had been the at a Growers Market, says that she’s enjoyed being able to take the time to answer the questions. The mentors can see the issues as they arrive and can see any of the other mentors’ resolutions on a spreadsheet that Erika set up. Dolly noted that she likes the flexibility of being able to pick up a question any time it suits her on her volunteer day.

As with the physical Plant Clinic, client questions run in seasonal cycles. In spring, questions trend to insects, says Viki, while in summer, it’s vegetable gardening and fruit trees. In fall, it’s what should I do to put my garden to bed?

The four heroic Virtual Plant Clinic mentors, guided and advised by Erika, answered between 500 to 600 questions in 2020 – compared to approximately 2,000 handled by a full roster of Plant Clinic volunteers in a “normal” year. Kudos!


My friend, Kate Hassan

By Beet February 2021 33 Comments

By Jane Moyer

Master Gardener 2005

My friend, Kate! How lucky am I to have Kate Hassen as a good friend! I first met Kate when she took the Master Gardener class in 2013. On the first day, she was sitting in the back of the class. After

Kate Hassan

lunch, I was extolling the virtues of reducing waste, demonstrating how little waste over 100 people had produced from our group lunch and using my own home waste management as an example. A hand shot up in the back of the room. “Well, how many people live in your house? The amount of waste would depend on the number of people!” I knew right away I was going to have to be on my toes with this one!

Kate had recently retired after teaching in the Medford School District. She realized that most of her friends were work friends who were still working. She hoped that new friends with a common interest could be found by becoming a Master Gardener and she jumped in with both feet!

After graduating, Kate volunteered to be a mentor in the Practicum, a position she holds to this day. She also volunteered to join the Board of Directors as the Membership Secretary for 2014 and 2015. In 2015, she was chosen to be the 2016 President-Elect. She turned out to be the President-Elect Extraordinaire! She wanted to know about every aspect of JCMGA, so she attended the meetings of every committee, learned about every garden and got to know the leaders of every group. When she became President in 2017, she knew JCMGA inside and out! She had studied Roberts Rules of Order thoroughly to become an effective meeting chair. And, at the same time, she was co-chairing Spring Garden Fair.

After a stellar year as president, just as she was about to say, “WHEW! That’s over!” the 2018 president was forced to resign due to a family illness. So, what did Kate do? Well, of course, she let herself be persuaded to remain president for a second year! And, of course, she remained a SGF co-chair, participated in all those committee meetings, oversaw the restructuring of the board and creation of the first working groups, and helped tremendously with the construction of Greenhouse #2.

2019 saw Kate assuming the role of past president who is also the parliamentarian for the board. Once again, she was co-chair of the Spring Garden Fair, a Practicum mentor (where she led the Seeds Team), helped organize the GEMs (Garden Education Mentors) while co-chairing the Wanda Hauser Garden and worked on the yard sale and the Holiday Gala as part of the Fundraising Working Group. As if that wasn’t enough, she took on the chairmanship of the Communications Working Group where she united the various communication venues into one cohesive entity. Volunteers who work on The Garden Beet, Facebook, PSAs (Public Service Announcements), the JCMGA website, Mailchimp, technology, documentation storage, membership storage, technical support and training came together to form one working group that is becoming ever more effective in keeping association members and the general public informed about Master Gardener happenings.

Then the infamous year 2020 hit! Kate, through her involvement in the Practicum, GEMs, Fundraising, and the Communications Working Group has been instrumental in keeping JCMGA membership informed, encouraging members to maintain their status in the association, and doing everything allowed by Oregon State University to financially support JCMGA.

As the pandemic overlapped into 2021, though, Kate realized she was enjoying her time at home. Her own gardens had produced abundantly; the cupboards and freezer were full of the fruits of her and her husband Steve’s labor. She’s had time to read voraciously and her beautifully-knitted garments are flying off those needles. She has, therefore, decided to cut back on her Master Gardener duties. She wants to come to the Extension to garden and to enjoy her friends. She will be working in the Practicum and in the Wanda Hauser Garden.

We all owe a huge THANK YOU to Kate for all she has done to move JCMGA into the twenty-second century! If you would like to thank Kate for all she has done over the last seven years, please send her an email of gratitude: How lucky am I to have Kate Hassen as a good friend!

Updates on learning online

By Beet February 2021 27 Comments

Updates on the Oregon Flora Project, volunteer resources, and 2021 Level-Up and Elevated Skills Training

Dear Gardeners,

If you’re already familiar with the Oregon Flora Project, or if you haven’t checked them out yet, be sure to visit their new website: they have launched a redesigned website and Volume 2 of the Flora of Oregon. The Oregon Flora Project aims “to increase knowledge and awareness of the plants of Oregon through publication of technically sound, accessible information for diverse audiences.” They catalog roughly 4,700 plants of Oregon that “grow in the wild without cultivation” – including native, naturalized, and exotic species. Features of the new website include plant identification tools, a section on gardening with native species, and fact sheets for every Oregon plant. Be sure to also check out the various inventory projects, each of which “has a theme and contains numerous species lists from places [in Oregon] reflecting that theme.”

Next, be sure to bookmark and become familiar with the new Volunteer Resources page for current volunteers and students. Here you will find requirements for graduation (2020 class) or recertification (current MGs). You’ll also find copies of required forms, and an explanation of different volunteer hour categories.

Finally, the online public horticulture class series is here! The 2021 Growing Oregon Gardeners: Level-Up Series schedule of webinars is posted, along with links for more information and registration. It’s also where a recording of the webinars will be available afterwards.

Registration info for the 2021 Elevated Skills Training for current Master Gardener Volunteers (including the 2020 class) will also be available on this website in February. Here is the current schedule (may be subject to change):

Jan. 22: Overview of Thinkific and the 2021 Elevated MG Skills Training

Jan. 29: Zoom Basics

Jan. 29: Advanced Zoom

Feb. 5: iNaturalist for Master Gardener Volunteers

Feb. 5: Garden Plant ID with the OSU Landscape Plants Database

Feb. 12: Best Practices for Online Plant Clinic

Feb. 12: Using the Extension Client Contact Database to Improve Plant Clinic Responses

Feb. 19: Taking Your Master Gardener Social Media to the Next Level

Feb. 26: Best Practices in Youth Gardening Programs

Feb. 26: Superpower Your Educational Garden

March 5: Community Science and the Master Gardener Program

March 12: Showcase Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Efforts in Other States

March 12: OSU Extension’s Diversity Training for Volunteers

March 19: Building Community Partnerships to Broaden Outreach

March 25: Recipes for a Collaborative Community

Looking forward to seeing you all at these webinars and training sessions!

– Erika

Reaching out in a pandemic

By Beet February 2021 34 Comments

In the darker days of winter, spring can sometimes seem far away. But I have kale, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, mixed greens, peas and cilantro started in my greenhouse: a sign of hope. Gardeners, always planning ahead, are by nature a hopeful lot. Master Gardeners especially embody this, as we strive to share our knowledge and love of all things “garden” with our community. To that end, this month I would like to discuss how our JCMGA chapter is reaching out in the Rogue Valley, as we wait to be reunited post-shutdown.

Jackson County Master Gardeners mission statement is, “We Learn, Practice and Teach the Art and Science of Gardening in the Rogue Valley.” This has not been easy since last March. So much of what we do involves direct contact with the public and each other. However, what we have done ups our game with virtual learning and teaching. Our association disseminates information though Working Groups that focus the diverse programs we support. I will try to introduce one a month to you.

The Communications Working Group is responsible for the Garden Beet, our website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, Mailchimps, PSAs, a phone for gardening questions, and all things technology. Of particular focus right now are those first four communication “vehicles”. You are already reading and aware of the Garden Beet, but did you know that we encourage members, especially students, to write articles for the publication? Students can earn direct instructional hours (you need 10) for this. Hours include the time you take researching a topic. Students, if you want to do this, send your draft to Erika before submitting it to the Beet.

The JCMGA website is an excellent resource for members. It is currently getting a beautiful, updated look. If you visit the website and click on the tiny beet icon next to member login, you will link to the Garden Beet. I encourage you look at both the public and member sides. On the member side, you can link to the Volunteer Reporting System (VRS) to report your hours. It’s so important to do that every month! You can also place a classified ad for gardening-related items, get board information, view the JCMGA calendar, access the member directory, find student materials, and renew your membership. The public side has information about the Plant Clinic, Community Education classes, the community calendar, upcoming events, and links to other local organizations.

If you are a Facebook user, please visit our FB page. Be sure to like and follow it. Janice Alderman does a wonderful job posting important and timely garden information. One of the best ways to get information out to the public is to hit the share button, and share those posts either with the public or with your friends and gardening groups. I have several groups I am a member of, and I use the option “share to a group” to push JCMGA information to local garden clubs and others. This is a quick and easy way for us to encourage good science-based gardening practices near and far! Please make a habit of sharing this well-researched information.
Finally, we are in the process of building a YouTube channel. We will begin posting any virtual Community Education classes, as well as Zoom and Webinar presentations given by our local Master Gardeners. Currently, there are two videos from our “virtual Winter Dreams, Summer Gardens” event last November – a tour of Ronnie’s Vegetable Garden, and a tour of my (Lynn’s) Pollinator Garden. The channel will also link to other Master Gardener organizations around the state that are doing the same thing. You can help us immensely and get notifications of new content by visiting the site and clicking the subscribe button. I hope ALL members and students will subscribe as soon as possible.

Whew, well that was a lot! In keeping with my call to action, I hope each of you will help us reach local gardeners by utilizing and sharing these virtual vehicles with your friends, family and neighbors.

Garden for Life!