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Beet October 2020

Photo contest winners

By Beet October 2020 74 Comments

By Patrice Kaska

Master Gardener 2016

Borage by John Yuker

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos for our first annual photo contest! The JCMGA Member Services Working Group is pleased to announce the winners.

The winner, whose photograph will be on the cover of the 2021 JCMGA Chapter Directory, is Ann Hackett (2020).

Runners-up, whose photographs will appear in the Garden Beet, are John Yunker (2019), Lynn Garbert (2014), Susan Koenig (2016), and Ronnie Budge (2011).

The photographs were originally emailed to the Membership Secretary who removed identifying

‘Crocodile Smile’ daylily, by Lynn Gabbert

information and then sent the entries with their explanations to the four judges. Due to a few unexpected personal situations of the original judges, final judges included: Keltie Nelson and Barbara Davidson representing the Member Services Working Group; Kate Hassen representing the Communications Working Group; and Regina Boykins, who is responsible for the technological production of the directory.

Congratulations to all and again many thanks to the JCMGA members who submitted photo contest entries. It was a pleasure to see your beautiful gardens and photographs!

Morning glory with pollen 

waiting for bees, by Susan Koenig.

Daffodils blooming in March, by Ronnie Budge

Reaching out to underserved communities

By Beet October 2020 40 Comments

We were delighted to have Gail Langellotto, Master Gardener Coordinator for the state of Oregon, join us for the JCMGA Board of Directors meeting on Sept. 11. Gail updated us on two initiatives for 2021: 1) expanding diversity within the Master Gardener program; 2) online training for current volunteers and 2020 students.

People need gardens more than ever for recreation, physical and emotional therapy, and better control of their food and nutrition, she noted. But the demographics of those who are currently involved with the Master Gardener program are out of step with those of the state as a whole, being overwhelmingly older, white, affluent, and female. We have a collective responsibility to “open the doors wider and build a longer table.”

But there are systemic barriers to participation: time, cost, and language. Those who are employed, or caring for children or the elderly, or with limited incomes, or whose first language is not English, usually cannot participate in the ways we’ve expected in the past: by paying tuition, sitting in classes at Extension taught in English, and volunteering during daytime and weekday hours.

In Jackson County, the biggest demographic disparity is with our Hispanic population. How to get them involved? Gail suggests finding partners who are already working with them. She mentioned “Food Heroes,” new to me. It’s offered online by OSU Extension, in both English and Spanish, to help low-income Oregonians improve their health by eating more fruits and vegetables. (The recipes look yummy!)
One of our members said that not only should our educational programs be translated into Spanish, but should feature persons who look like those we want to reach. I noticed that “Food Heroes” does this.

Other options to reduce barriers are lowering the number of hours required for certification (Oregon’s standards exceed nationwide minimums), and offering more classes online or evenings and Saturdays. Plant Clinics likewise may be offered virtually by small groups with a mentor, at hours that fit their individual schedules.
But we recognize that for many Master Gardeners the opportunity to work in person with others towards a common goal, e.g. in the Demonstration Gardens, is a big draw, and a reason to volunteer year after year. Gail said there is “no silver bullet solution.” We will want to adapt to the needs and desires of each individual, rather than expecting everyone to conform to a single model.

Another suggestion was to “cross-fertilize” with other Extension programs, most obviously with Master Food Preservers (so we learn how to can what we grow and vice versa).

There will be no new MG class in 2021. Instead, the focus from January – March will be on reengaging with both our 2020 trainees (“short-changed” due to COVID-19 restrictions) and long-time Master Gardeners, via a new online training program. Gail calls it “Build Your Own Adventure.”

Classes will aim to build skills in teaching and technologies; best practices in adult, informal education; growing leadership; and broadening outreach to underserved communities. Gail hopes that these short online courses will lead to capstone projects that demonstrate the skills learned. Expect to receive surveys asking what specific classes you’d like to see.

2021 Volunteer Training Program announced

By Beet October 2020 39 Comments

Dear Gardeners,

I hope this finds all of you well. As I write this, it has been almost 3 weeks since the devastating fires began. I hope that you, your family, and your friends are all safe and well. If you lost your home or have otherwise suffered due to the fires, I send my deepest condolences. I also extend my deepest gratitude to all firefighters and emergency personnel who work so hard to keep our community safe. Additionally, a big thanks to the many folks who are volunteering their time towards fire relief efforts.

October is upon us, which usually means the announcement of the 2021 Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program schedule. While 2020 has delivered many challenges, Oregon Extension Master Gardeners have risen to meet them. Activities, from identifying pest problems to recommending plant options, have all gone from in-person discussions to virtual workshops, email, and web-based interactions. This has been a tremendous pivot, all while Oregonians’ interests in gardening, along with beginner gardeners, have skyrocketed in numbers.

In order to meet the needs of the community and to support our 3,000 active Master Gardeners, we are excited to begin announcing our approach to training in 2021.

Current Master Gardeners (including the Class of 2020 Master Gardener Trainees) statewide will be offered a free, innovative new curriculum, online, via a combination of self-paced learning, live webinars, and online conversations with OSU experts. Online discussion boards and meeting rooms will be used to foster connection, networking, and the exchange of ideas among Master Gardeners across the state. This curriculum will be delivered January-March, 2021, so that Master Gardener volunteers can launch the 2021 gardening season empowered to serve Oregon’s experienced and novice gardeners.

Training for volunteers new to the Master Gardener Program will occur again in 2022.

What this means for current Master Gardeners (including Class of 2020 Trainees):

• access to top level university training opportunities to connect, learn and grow with others in your local community as well as across the state

• learn how to take the deep well of horticulture knowledge you have and bring it to more people, friends, and neighbors through learning new online tools .

What this means for Oregonians:

• increased accessibility to OSU Extension Master Gardeners, questions and advice

• a whole wave of new regionally relevant resources to support Oregon’s gardeners

• increased topics of knowledge for growing plants for food, health and wellness

We will continue to offer our core services to gardeners in local communities, including answering your gardening questions, teaching and demonstrating locally-relevant gardening methods, and supporting local garden education opportunities. We are also expanding and strengthening our ability to develop and disseminate gardening advice and information in ways that are easily accessible to gardeners of all levels, on their own time, at their own pace, and at no cost.

Stay tuned for more information as we continue to develop the syllabus and registration materials!

– Erika

October garden checklist

By Beet October 2020 39 Comments

This is still a busy month for gardeners with some harvesting to do and lots of readying the garden for winter. The garden never sleeps. The leaves may be falling and the foliage may have died back, but there is crazy activity going on under the soil surface. Rejuvenation and creation are in full swing.

Alas, it is an especially dicey time of year for plant-a-holics. Oh, the sweet guilty pleasure of hitting the “send” button on the computer for those naughty impulse purchases! I can rationalize a lot when I think about spring blooms.
The average frost date falls somewhere between Sept. 14 and Oct. 15. It’s time to protect your cold-sensitive plants, do some planting, and do selective garden clean up.

Sanitation is important. Clean up debris in spent veggie beds that is vital to reducing potential for over-wintering pests and diseases, then plant a cover crop to nourish the soil and discourage weeds.

A neat ornamental garden bed might be encoded into your genes but fight the inclination. If your sanity depends on autumn tidying, “Leave some litters for the critters.” Leaves and piles of sticks provide essential cover for the life above and below the soil, especially under oak trees. Check out Doug Tallamy’s books or YouTube videos.

Weed, weed, weed. The health of your back and landscape will thank you in the spring.

Mulch is best applied after planting bulbs and for planting trees or shrubs after a thorough watering.
Fertilize and water roses, but do not prune until the forsythia bloom.

Plant trees, shrubs, pansies, violas, bulbs, and perennials. Direct seed fava beans and cool weather vegetable transplants. Have row covers ready to protect producing vegetables.

Lift tender perennials, dry, and store them in a cool protected place. Climate change has tricked some cold-sensitive perennials into surviving the winter. A surprising example of this in my own garden has been the elephant ears that resurfaced this summer!

Maintain garden tools. Sharpen, clean, and oil wooden handles (sand if needed). Don’t forget to sharpen your mower blade.

Clean ponds. Too much debris will “sour” the water and set it up for failure. Remove tropical pond plants.

Clean bird houses, fountains, birdbaths, and feeders. Don’t forget the bug houses.
Restrict pruning to dead, damaged, or rubbing/crossing branches.

It’s a great time to edit out the plants that don’t harmonize with your garden scheme or available time/inclination to maintain the landscape. Garden friends will love you for sharing!

It’s also the time to plan next year’s garden so you can optimize bed space. Plan crop rotation. We know “no-dig” is the way to go. The worms are tirelessly bringing the organic matter down into the soil. Make notes about what was and was not successful this year so you can repeat what works.

As always, check the Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley, for garden guidance this month. Also, the OSU website in invaluable.

Lastly, Covid will require us to be creative and determined to maintain our gardener friends for our own well-being and theirs during the gray months of winter. Be safe. Be well.

Not just a Jack … O’Lantern

By Beet October 2020 97 Comments

By Sydney Jordan Brown

Master Gardener 2000

Even if it’s unlikely that you won’t find any little tricksters tempting you to toss them treats this Halloween, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still protect your porch with a glowing, carved pumpkin.

Given all we’ve been through this year, especially the recent losses from fires, it seems we could use a little light of hope even if there’s no longer a porch on which to put it.
Although the decorative carving and consequent transformation of pumpkins into Jack O’Lanterns has been around a long while in our country, did you know that that tradition originated in Ireland?

The name, Jack O’Lantern, as well the practice of decorating such luminaries (originally turnips and potatoes), came about from an old Irish folktale, “The Legend of Stingy Jack.”

The story goes that Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. As his name implies, Stingy Jack convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin to pay for their drinks but instead kept the coin in his pocket next to a silver cross to keep the Devil from returning to his usual form.

Eventually Jack freed the Devil when he agreed to not bother Jack for a year, or if he should die, that the Devil would not claim his soul. Tricking the Devil again the following year by having him climb a tree to pick a fruit, Jack carved a cross in the tree’s bark to keep the Devil trapped there until he promised not to bother him for ten years.

As the legend goes, after Jack died, and because he was such an unsavory figure, he wasn’t welcomed into heaven by God or into hell by the Devil. So Jack was sent out into the dark night to wander with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal in a carved-out turnip and he’s been roaming the Earth ever since.

The Irish began referring to this figure as “Jack of the Lantern” and eventually, “Jack O’Lantern.”

So, illuminate (preferably with battery or electric light as it seems we’ve had quite enough flames already) a carved-out pumpkin, turnip or potato this Halloween to bring a glow of hope to what’s been a rather dark year.

October is also an election month

By Beet October 2020 33 Comments

October has arrived and that means that the election to choose the 2021 JCMGA Board of Directors begins this month.

Similar to last year, the election will be held online in the Member section of the JCMGA website. Paper ballots will be mailed to members who do not have computer access.

The slate of candidates is scheduled to be approved at the October 9 Board meeting, and the actual election is tentatively scheduled to take place over a two-week period from October 23 to November 6. Specific directions and additional information will be mailed to JCMGA members shortly before October 23rd.

Please be sure to VOTE!

Art in the garden

By Beet October 2020 73 Comments

By Janine Salvatti

Master Gardener 2019

Our creative muse has time in the Winter months to create garden art, be it sublime or whimsical. I’m planning a November Beet article on Garden Art that might inspire us to enhance our green spaces with made or found objects. I would love to feature a few of your photos of your garden art. Please email them to Janine.

Joan Long steps back from Member Services Working Group

By Beet October 2020 31 Comments

By Ronnie Budge
Master Gardener 2011

If you’ve ever received a note of thanks or condolence from JCMGA, it probably was sent to you by Joan Long of the Member Services Working Group. In earlier years, Joan was also the coordinator of the Speaker’s Bureau and the person responsible for originating the webpage showing which of our members could give a talk on what subjects.

Joan has decided it’s time to pass her note-writing responsibilities on to someone else. We are very grateful to Joan for her dedication over the years, and we extend our sincerest THANKS to her for doing such a fine job!

Patrice Kaska is assuming the responsibility of sending cards of kindness to Master Gardeners. So if you are aware of a birth, marriage, or passing of a Master Gardener, if a JCMGA member has done something especially deserving of thanks, or if you know of a JCMGA member who is moving out of the area, please contact Patrice.

Mulch ado about something

By Beet October 2020 35 Comments

By Janine Salvatti
Master Gardener 2019

Mulching is a perfect task for October and November. You’d think that’s enough said but not so quick! There is a lot of discussion about preferred mulching options. The only thing that is universally agreed upon is that no bare ground should be exposed. Foil those weed seeds, protect plant roots and crowns from freezing, and feed soil and soil critters.

The Dont’s:

You might have noticed that mulches are subject to trends. In recent years, dark colored mulches and rubber mulches have been popular. The former strictly for aesthetics and the latter for eternal life.

Dark colored mulches have been dyed and this chemical treatment leaches into the soil. It is toxic.

Mulches made from wood waste such as treated lumber are toxic. Fencing lumber is an example. Know the source.

Mulches of rubber products…well, old tires are toxic.

The Do’s:

Living Mulch: The best alternative is living plant material to protect bare ground. Cover crops for veggie patches and ground cover or lower growing plants to shade out weed seed germination in our ornamental beds. Living mulch may not be feasible for some situations and can be costly to buy sufficient plants to do the job. You up for a little propagation? Your existing plants could be the answer and the price is right!

Also, think about swapping with neighbors.

Bark, leaves, straw, aged manure (from a chemical free sources): So many good choices! Bark by the bag or in bulk. Leaves, size matters. Large leaves are good homes for slugs. Shredded are best so get out your mower and run over them a couple of times or pick-up a relatively inexpensive shredder. Leaves are generally chemical-free, plentiful, free, and coming to a yard near you this month!

Gravel, tumbled glass, or limited use of permeable landscape fabric. Inert, long-lasting, and a broad range of sizes and colors. Something for every garden style and budget.

Okay, repeat with me, “no bare ground”!

Arugulably the best

By Beet October 2020 36 Comments

Gardening Gourmet
By Sydney Jordan Brown
Master Gardener 2000

While maybe not the top green, it’s “arugulably” the best leafy green.

An annual herb in the mustard family (Brassicaceae), arugula is also known as salad rocket, roquette, and garden rocket.

Consumed since the times of ancient Rome and Egypt, leaves and seeds were associated with aphrodisiac properties. It’s also mentioned in several texts in the Bible as well in Jewish texts during the first through fifth century AD.

Native to the Mediterranean, for a long-time arugula has been an ingredient in Italian, Moroccan, Portuguese, and Turkish cuisines. In India, seeds are used to produce oil for medicinal and cosmetic uses.

Although brought here by British colonists, sadly enough, it wasn’t a popular culinary ingredient in the U.S. until the 1990s. Arugula, (Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa), is esteemed for its pungent edible leaves and flowers.

With its peppery-nutty taste and nutritional content, (a good source of calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, and K), it’s no wonder it’s grown in popularity around the world in recent years.

Unlike other lettuces and salad greens wilting beneath dressings, arugula leaves remain crisp and spicy when dressed with vinaigrette.  It’s also wonderful in sandwiches, piled atop Neapolitan pizza and packs pizzazz as pesto.

Of course, there’s nothing like arugula from your own garden. Not only can you clip the tenderest baby leaflets, but indulge this green for a while in autumn and spring. Its short appearances make it all the sweeter.

Fortunately for us, the pungent aroma we find so appealing is quite offensive to insects. This rarity of being naturally resistant to such undesirable insect diners is yet another plus for propagating this plant.

Although arugula prefers well-drained soil rich in humus, it will willingly thrive in open soil, raised beds, or wonderfully in pots. Put it in a spot with a bit of afternoon shade and you’ll soon be savoring your first spicy salad greens.

Arugula may be sown late summer-autumn or late-winter to early-spring. However, it’s best when planted in autumn since cooler weather discourages bolting.

Spring sowing is possible, but when it warms quickly, bolting plants become bitterly unpalatable.

So, to indulge this short-season savory even more, why not do both? Whether autumn or spring sown, you’ll appreciate your own arugula each time it sprouts from the earth.

Sow seed (autumn or spring) about ¼ inch deep and an inch apart in rows 8 to 10 inches apart. Or, broadcast arugula by itself or mix seeds with those of other salad greens. Cover with a thin amount of fine compost and pat down. Water thoroughly and keep moist until seedlings sprout.

Germination can happen in a few days, so you can plant successively for a more continuous harvest. As plants form basal rosettes of smooth or lobed leaves, you can clip as you please for “cut and come again,” and again, and again.

If left to go to seed, arugula easily reproduces itself, so you’ll probably not need to purchase or sow seed again. How great is that?

Whatever the season, you’ll be delightfully enjoying your first leaves in no time. Leaves of autumn-potted plants may be harvested even longer if protected with a winter frost blanket.

So, rocket yourself to the nearest plot and put in some arugulably the best greens you’ll ever grow!

Recipe: Arugula and figs with honey vinaigrette

6 dried figs, stem removed and each cut in 6 wedges
1/3 cup water
8 cups Arugula, washed and drained
½ cup pistachios or toasted pine nuts
1 large gold beet, cooked, peeled and cut in julienne strips
3 oz goat cheese

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
zest and 1 tablespoon juice from an organic lemon
pinch of each sea salt and ground chipotle powder

Put dried fig wedges and water in microwavable bowl. Cover and cook on high for 1 minute, then set aside to plump.
Put arugula in large salad bowl. In a jar with tight fitting lid, mix together vinegar, honey, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, sea salt and chipotle powder. With lid tightly on jar, shake until all ingredients are well blended.
Very gently toss arugula with vinaigrette. Add drained figs and beet strips, then gently mix again. Distribute between four bowls, then top with nuts and goat cheese.

Serves 4


Seed sources

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Pinetree Garden Seeds
They have several varieties as well the wild variety that has a nuttier-spicier taste as well as even more self-sowing capabilities.

Territorial Seed