Skip to main content

Beet January 2021

Homage to JCMGA Demonstration Garden gardeners

By Beet January 2021 39 Comments

By Janine Salvatti

Master Gardener 2019

Autumn crocus

Autumn crocus

Our JCMGA gardeners are amazing in their dedication to seeing the Demonstration Gardens not just survive but thrive. Looking back on 2020, we were unable to work in our beloved gardens until late June.

At first glance, we literally could not see the gardens for the weeds. These babies were healthy, standing up to 6 or 7 feet tall and they were everywhere. Our gardeners came, they saw, and they conquered. By the final days in autumn, most gardens were looking well cared for. Our gardeners weeded, tussled with blackberries, organized new gardens, and came back week after week armed with tools, masks, and positivity. The Rose Garden was smothered in scent and beautiful flowers.

Here is a tiny pictorial sample of the bright spots:

  • Doug put a lovely pathway through the Herb Garden.
  • Gorgeous autumn crocus in the Entry Garden.
  • A color facelift for Kitchen Garden seating.

A call to action

By Beet January 2021 36 Comments

Happy New Year, Master Gardeners. I hope everyone is well and staying safe while we await an end to the COVID-19 crisis.

I am a bit nervous about taking the reins for JCMGA, both because of the difficulties we face due to the virus, but also because our last several presidents have left me big shoes to fill. I promise to do my best, despite the fact that most of our business will have to continue virtually.

This past year has been extremely hard on everyone. It is difficult to cope with all that has happened – to lose hope, as well as our tempers. So many among us have lost so much. I personally lost one of my closest friends in November to cancer and have had to isolate from my children and grandchildren. But we must persevere. What I want our organization to do in the coming year is unite around the common goals of community building, community education, member training and involvement, student retention, and a focused commitment by everyone to the success and survival of JCMGA.

My motto has always been, “Do one good thing a day to make a better world.” So, I am now making it my call to action for you. During my tenure as president, I would like to encourage all members of our Jackson County Master Gardeners Association to rally around and become more involved in our association.

If you have the time and willingness to be involved, we want you! Our board committees meet regularly, via Zoom, and are looking for volunteers for Member Services, Community Outreach, Fundraising, Communications, Garden Working Group and Program Support. These six committees are outlined in your 2020 JCMGA phone directory, on pages 34 and 35. If there is something of interest to you, please contact the person in charge. You can choose one, or many jobs. Jobs range from large to small.

An example from the Communications Working Group is someone willing to write a monthly column for the Garden Beet. Entitled “Get to Know Your Master Gardeners,” this column will feature one member gardener per month. The interview is conducted via email and the template of questions is already in place. Easy peasy. And, as always, we are looking for writers and members who have some experience with WordPress to help with our website.

Students in the 2020-2021 class, you can earn volunteer hours toward graduation through involvement in committee and board work. And, as the county, OSU and our Central Point campus begin to open up again, there will be opportunities to work in the Demonstration Gardens, and eventually, the Plant Clinic. Erika will keep us apprised of those opportunities.

This is my call to action for every member and student. Interest in gardening and growing food has skyrocketed in the past year and we know that gardening is a great way to improve lives. Now, more than ever, it is our mission to reach out and educate our community about gardening and it’s many benefits in the Rogue Valley. I hope you will join us in the important work we do. Help us make a better world.

Thank you notes to Ronnie

By Beet January 2021 39 Comments

When Ronnie Budge took over the reins of JCMGA as President in January, 2020, she could not have foreseen what a topsy-turvy time we would experience this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our signature in-person events, such as the Spring Garden Fair and Graduation, had to be cancelled. Just as we were beginning to get to know the new Master Gardener Class of 2020, we had to call a halt to in-person Practicum sessions, the newly minted Garden Buds Program floundered and in-person classes were diverted to online lessons. Reopening dates for the Extension Grounds fluctuated and the fate of the Demonstration Gardens was uncertain. Confusion about what JCMGA would be able to do this year reigned and we all began to miss having in-person contact with our fellow Master Gardeners.

This is the unfortunate state of affairs that Ronnie had to deal with as President most of this year. We are very, very fortunate that Ronnie was up to the task of leading us through this trying time. Her leadership style features a calm, steady personality, great judgment, and an understanding of how to work through the issues. As Ronnie told me, there is something for the President to do most days, even if it is just answering a question. Most of the time, the issues she has had to deal with have been much more complicated. Whatever was on her plate as President, she handled it with intelligence and grace. Ronnie quickly mastered the Zoom platform for Board meetings and kept us moving forward. Looking back, it is amazing how much we accomplished this year. Ronnie deserves a lot of the credit for that.
Ronnie, I can’t tell you how glad I was when you approached me to volunteer to run for President Elect in 2019, which would then make you President in 2020. You were the perfect candidate! I have so enjoyed working closely with you the last two years on the Board and getting to know you as a friend. I also learned a great deal from you when we co-taught Practicum a few years back. Thank you for all you have done for JCMGA over the years.

– Susan Koenig


As incoming president, I would like to thank you, Ronnie, for being an outstanding mentor and role model.  Your patience, diligence, thoroughness and sense of diplomacy have been inspiring and instructive.  It has been a joy to work with you and I hope we will have many more opportunities to spend time together in the future.

With much respect and love,

– Lynn Kunstman


Thank you, Ronnie, for taking on the hidden challenge of the pandemic President this year.  You have been our strong leader, helping us keep positive thoughts about our association and what we can accomplish together.  I appreciate you and all you do.

– Pam Hillers


Thank you, Ronnie, for your expert, thoughtful, and respectful leadership.  I know you worked hard behind the scenes to make sure the needs of members were met and that the Board had all the information needed to make good decisions. It goes without saying that this has been a difficult year for us all, but especially for those in leadership positions. You were superb!

– Kathy Apple


Ronnie, thank you for your patience, thoughtful listening, and graceful leadership. Your attitude and example of accepting and embracing change kept us moving forward during a crazy year.

Big hug,

– Rebecca Jurta


Ronnie, thank you for your amazing leadership during this tumultuous year. Your calming presence and straightforward guidance were a welcome relief to a year turned upside down. You have made a difference and I deeply appreciate your dedication.

– Jim Buck


Ronnie, is it really that time already to pay our respects to yet another wonderful leader of the JCMGA Board? When Ronnie was given the gavel, I am sure she expected (as we all did) that she was going to have a clear path leading to resounding success. Unfortunately, there was a kink in the works with the “Coronavirus” that sat everyone on their heels. Ronnie accomplished her goal by being a strong leader with grace and humor, plus a good deal of patience. I appreciated her making sure all voices were heard and every idea was brought to the table. I will always remember her mantra that seemed to be part of every meeting, “You have to unmute yourself.” Thank you, Ronnie, for being a fantastic leader.

– Sandy Hansen


Ronnie can’t possibly have foreseen what was ahead for us in 2020 when she agreed to be the JCMGA President this year. Yet she consistently steered us on a steady course forward, consistently guiding us around each problem put in our way. I am so impressed by Ronnie’s laser-like mind that notices every detail, that questions, and that almost always has a solution to offer when faced with a messy issue. And who knows Robert’s Rules of Order better than Ronnie?! Nevertheless, I found her to be a collegial presence who listens to and is quick to accept the suggestions of others. Thank you, Ronnie, for the strength and steadiness of your leadership in 2020.

– Patrice Kaska


Our organization was so lucky and privileged to have Ronnie Budge as our esteemed President this year. She had no idea what a can of worms 2020 would end up being, yet she handled everything with calm and professionalism.  She is so instrumental in this organization, not only as president, but as a Practicum Mentor with an exceptional ability to teach the Master Gardener science of gardening. I am so honored to call her a fellow Master Gardener and friend.

– Sandy Hammond


Ronnie, thank you so much for maintaining a positive attitude and open mind during this challenging year. I am very grateful for the optimistic leadership you bring to the JCMGA; it is a pleasure to work with you!

– Erika Szonntag

Lynn Kunstman: A teacher finds her tribe

By Beet January 2021 39 Comments

By Maxine Cass

Master Gardener 2015

“Keep ’em flying!” Lynn Kunstman, Jackson County Master Gardener™ Association President, signs her emails. Cheering on Monarch butterflies mirrors her ardent approach to gardening.

Raised in Lafayette, California, Lynn has a B.S. in Wildlife Management from Humboldt State University and a Science Education M.S. from SOU. As a special education and science teacher for Talent and Ashland Middle Schools, she “launched a new generation of scientists.”

Now, she says, “In Master Gardeners, I have found my tribe! There is nothing more satisfying than working with a group of like-minded people toward a common goal. Because we teachers cannot turn that teaching ‘thing’ off, it is a perfect match for me. I love instructing new Master Gardeners in class and in the Practicum. It feels like I am having a positive impact on people’s lives.”

The gardener who loved to teach future scientists started early. “One of my earliest memories is of covering Indian corn ears with paper bags to do pollination experiments with my father and then my mother teaching me how to prune roses. My roses remind me of my mother’s rose garden when I was a child; my Meyer lemon tree of my father’s lemon tree.”

Lynn’s virtual guided tour of her Medford corner lot garden was featured in November’s Winter Dreams Summer Gardens abbreviated program.

She told the Garden Beet. “My front yard is certified as a Monarch Way Station, Pollinator Garden, and Wildlife Habitat. I have 35 species of birds visiting this small area. I have put up signs for each of these certifications, so neighbors passing by and seeing my ‘messy yard’ can read and learn about the reasons it looks like it does.  I do not do fall clean-up, but wait until early spring, when the native bees emerge from the stalks, and the birds have cleaned the seeds from the flower heads.”

“The entire back yard is a food garden where we grow vegetables year-round and orchard, grape and berry crops in summer.”

“I’m a lazy gardener,” Lynn muses. “If it wants to grow there, let it; the leaves can wait until I need to move them in spring to plant; dandelions look pretty in the lawn to me. My garden looks like nature. There is nothing formal or controlled looking about it. My gardening style is no style at all. I am pretty haphazard and am constantly removing and planting plants. Currently, I have been removing non-natives and replacing them with natives, or allowing the natives to fill in the open spaces. I do NOT coddle my plants!”

Lynn became a Master Gardener in 2012. By 2014, she was a Practicum Mentor and later, appeared on the Master Gardener “In the Garden” television series. The Practicum Native Plants Nursery, with Lynn’s supervision, has contributed to popular native plant “pop-up” sales and she’s a regular gardening expert on JPR’s Jefferson Exchange.

In her spare time, JCMGA’s president gardens, preserves food, cooks, crochets, enjoys watercolor painting, reading, hiking and singing in her band, Ur Mom.

Watch JCMGA on YouTube

By Beet January 2021 43 Comments

By John Yunker

Master Gardener 2019

If you missed the recent virtual Winter Dreams Summer Gardens event, you’re still in luck – the presentations have been recorded and are live on our JCMGA YouTube channel. Simply go to the JCMGA home page and click on the YouTube icon at the top left corner of the web page.

You’ll be able to tour the gardens of Ronnie Budge and Lynn Kunstman. You’ll also find presentations from years past, including TV interviews and Spring Garden Fairs. We expect to add more videos in the months ahead.

If you haven’t already, please click the “Subscribe” button. This way, you’ll be alerted as new videos are added.

Training and volunteer opportunities for 2021

By Beet January 2021 36 Comments

Community Science Projects (adapted from the OSU Master Gardener Coordinators’ blog, December 2020):

Community science projects, such as climate or invasive species tracking, are reliant on observant volunteers on the ground who are able to report back findings. In 2016, we developed guidelines to encourage OSU Master Gardener Volunteers to engage in community science projects and to have those hours count towards volunteer hours. These guidelines require that community science projects must:

  • Align with the Master Gardener educational mission of discovering and disseminating research-based gardening information,
  • Advance one or both of the flagship programs of the OSU Extension Master Gardener program: sustainable gardening and/or home and community food production,
  • Involve participation on one or more levels of the community science typology. These levels are (from least to most involvement): crowdsourcing, distributed intelligence, participatory science, collaborative science.

Here are Oregon and national community science projects which are approved for indirect volunteer hours with the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program as of December 2020. Hours which you spent collecting and submitting data can count as hours. When reporting volunteer hours associated with participation in approved community science projects, volunteers should report in the category of ‘Citizen Science’ (indirect volunteer hours).

Want to know if another community science project qualifies for Master Gardener volunteer hours?

Contact Erika.


Get ready for 2021!

Our 2021 Elevated Master Gardener Training is coming up soon! Keep an eye on your email for registration dates and information for the skills-building courses (January – March), the Culture of Gardening Series (May – June), and the Statewide Horticulture Series (second Tuesday of each month via Zoom, 3 – 4 pm PST).

Click here for dates and other information for the Elevated Master Gardener Training, public horticulture class series, and more.

January: The ‘ready, set – wait’ month

By Beet January 2021 39 Comments

“Plant so your own heart will grow.” – Hafiz


We are greeting 2021 with more hope than we’ve had in nearly a year.

Although Gardeners have not been spared from the myriad hardships of COVID-19, we can feel gratitude that our love for gardening has given us some measure of respite and comfort. Our hearts and community grow when we plant and when we dream of planting.

The garden checklist for January is scant. It’s kind of the “Ready, Get Set” month as days start to lengthen.

The nagging but prudent routine items continue to be pest and weed control. Better to address these early than letting them gain a bigger foothold in the garden. You may need to water ornamentals under the eaves if they do not get reliable rainwater.

Catalogs are rolling in. I hear your brain thinking, “I’d just like to try this or that.” Our eyes are greedy. Can you really use 200 seeds of any one plant? Although they will keep for next year, you might want to work out a sharing scheme with your gardening friends. Oh, and don’t let your seed stash from last year (or the year before that) languish!

Assess your gardening experience from last year. Consider removing pest and disease prone plants and replace with resistant varieties. Does mulch need to be replenished?

The big thing for January is planning…

Your veggie plot. Crop rotation. Is this the year you go for raised beds or container gardening? Are you going to germinate seeds or buy starts? What needs to be pruned this spring? Is it time to test your soil? Are you planting a few native perennials and annuals? Get your row covers organized, clean the greenhouse and then drag yourself to a hot shower or the hot tub!

Wishing you a 2021 filled with promise and health.

The pine connection: Currants, gooseberries and white pine blister rust

By Beet January 2021 36 Comments

By Katy Mallams

Master Gardener 2012

Currants and gooseberries, members of the genus Ribes, are all hosts of the non-native and virulent fungal pathogen Cronartium ribicola, cause of white pine blister rust. It is called white pine blister rust because it causes lethal cankers on young five-needled pines (also known as white pines due to the light color of the wood) and severely weakens the larger trees by killing tops and branches. This makes them susceptible to later attack by bark beetles.

The fungus was introduced from Europe to North America in the early 1900s when five-needled pine seeds were sent to Europe, grown in nurseries and sent back as seedlings. It appeared on the West Coast in 1910 and spread through forests in the West wherever both five-needled pines and Ribes grew. The disease has contributed to major declines in the population of five-needled pines and has made successful planting of these trees very difficult.

Bole canker

During the 1930s to 1950s there was a great effort made to control the spread of the fungus by eradicating wild gooseberry and currant plants from the forest. The effort failed in the western U.S. largely due to the rough, remote terrain and ability of Ribes to sprout after cutting. Today there are programs in several federal agencies to develop disease-resistant five-needled pines for restoration planting.

In our part of Oregon, there are three native species of five-needled pines, all very susceptible to the fungus. Sugar pines (Pinus lambertiana) are found in mixed conifer forests at middle elevations. A good place to see magnificent large sugar pines is along Highway 62 between Prospect and Union Creek. Western white pines (P. monticola) are found on higher and moister sites, mainly in the Cascades and in the Siskiyous on ultramafic soils. Whitebark pines (P. albicaulis) are found at the highest elevations, most noticeably around the rim of Crater Lake, and in scattered locations near Mt. Ashland and Mt. McLoughlin. We also have several native species of Ribes in our forests including stink currant (Ribes bracteosum), spreading gooseberry (R. divaricatum), prickly currant (R. lacustre), Sierra gooseberry (R. roezlii), red-flowering currant (R. sanguineum) (a popular choice in local gardens for attracting hummingbirds), and sticky currant (R. viscosissimum). All can be hosts of the fungus but stink currant, red-flowering currant, and Sierra gooseberry are particularly susceptible.

The life cycle of Cronartium ribicola is complex and requires both Ribes and five-needled pines to complete. Spores of the fungus spread from five-needled pines to Ribes in spring and back to pines in the fall. Although the spores can travel a long distance when conditions are right, most successful infections occur when Ribes and pines are within one-half mile of one another. On currant and gooseberry plants, both wild native and cultivated varieties, infection by the fungus causes small raised yellow-orange spots containing spores on the underside of the leaves in early to mid-summer. Later in the summer, brownish hair-like spore structures develop in the same area. Severely infected plants may lose all or most of their leaves.

White pine blister rust is not an issue for most gardeners because most of the five-needled pines growing in our local forests are not near where the majority of people are gardening unless you live near Prospect, Butte Falls, the upper elevations of the Applegate Valley or unless you have a five-needled pine in your landscape such as eastern white pine (P. strobus), Swiss stone pine (P. cembra) or Vanderwolf’s Pyramid (P. flexilis). In these situations, blister rust-resistant species or varieties of currants and gooseberries should be chosen. Black currants grown for home gardens are varieties of R. nigrum or R. odoratum. They are more susceptible to infection than red or white currants (R. sativum). However, rust-resistant varieties of black currants are available, including Prince Consort, Minaj Smyriou, Blackdown, and Titiana. Red currant cultivars Viking and Red Dutch are practically immune. Jostaberry is a blister rust-resistant cross between black currant and gooseberry species developed at Oregon State University that has qualities of both species.


Managing Insects and Diseases of Oregon Conifers by David C. Shaw, P.T. Oester and G.M. Filip. Oregon State University Extension Service EM 8980. 2009.

Pacific Northwest Plant Disease Management Handbook, Gooseberry and Currant.

Pacific Northwest Plant Disease Management Handbook, Pine, White – White Pine Blister Rust. Pine, White-White Pine Blister Rust | Pacific Northwest Pest Management Handbooks

Shrubs to Know in Pacific Northwest Forests by Edward C. Jensen. Oregon State University Extension Service. EC 1640. 2013.

Status of Sugar and Western White Pines on Federal Forest Lands in Southwest Oregon: Inventory Query and Natural Stand Sur vey Results by Ellen M. Goheen and D.J. Goheen. United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region SWOFIDSC-14-01. 2014.
Sunset Western Garden Book, edited by Kathleen N. Brenzel. 2001.

Devyn Schneck appointed to board

By Beet January 2021 34 Comments

Devyn Schneck is a current student in the Master Gardener class of 2020.

We were fortunate to have Devyn qualify, with completed hours, to run as a member at large

Devyn Schneck

candidate for the Board of Directors. Although not initially elected from the six candidates, we were

fortunate to appoint Devyn when Marcie Katz resigned her member at large position to become the Board representative of the Gardens and Grounds Working Group. We are so happy to welcome her to the board.


Devyn has been active on campus between COVID-19 shutdowns, working with Lynn in the Native Plants Nursery. She is an avid cook and gardener. As the owner of a freeze-dried food business, she is required to grow all the food she processes and sells, so her garden is mammoth! She is also a long-time member of the Ashland Rowing Club, which means she is extremely buff!

Welcome, Devyn!

Membership renewals due this month

By Beet January 2021 39 Comments

By Patrice Kaska

Master Gardner 2016

JCMGA membership renewal for 2021 is now in progress. Although members can renew at any time during the year, please renew by Jan. 31, 2021 if you would like to be listed in and receive the 2021 Chapter Directory.

Three methods of renewal are available this year. You can renew online; by printing out the form and mailing it and your $25 check for dues to PO Box 401, Ashland, OR, 97520; or by requesting a paper renewal form be mailed to you. The occasional renewal Mailchimps contain a variety of buttons that lead directly to the various renewal methods to make renewing as easy as possible for each member.

If you have questions about the renewal process, please contact Patrice Kaska, JCMGA Membership Secretary.

In a change from previous years, Erika Szonntag, the Jackson County OSU Master Gardener Coordinator, will contact JCMGA members about the online completion of the two required OSU volunteer forms (Conditions of Volunteer Service and Code of Conduct). This process will begin in early 2021.

As everyone during this pandemic, JCMGA has had to make many changes to its usual activities in 2020. Yet the Board and other committees are working diligently to plan and schedule various classes and other activities so that we can remain the wonderful association we’ve all valued over the years. We hope you will join us in 2021.