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Beet September 2020

Thursday workers putting gardens back into shape

By Beet September 2020 39 Comments

Although Monday mornings are my usual time to be at Extension where I help out in the native plants nursery, I stopped by on a Thursday to see what the folks who work that day of the week have been up to. Quite a lot, as it turned out.

Peggy Corum was there getting her first look at the Propagation Garden since Extension shut down last March. She was saddened that many of the plants she’d nurtured had died. However, her able assistants Becky Belau and Sharon Maurin had been able to save most of them and were busy putting that Demonstration Garden back into good shape.

You may recall that Peggy received a “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2019 for her long service and many contributions to JCMGA. She established Grandma and Grandpa’s Garden back in 1989 as a way to encourage those who’d just completed their Master Gardener classes to stay involved at Extension. (That garden is still there next to Greenhouse 1, but is now called the Birds, Bees and Butterflies Garden.)

Peggy has decided it’s time for a break and will be concentrating on developing the garden at her new home in Ruch, where she says two bucks and a doe serve as lawn ornaments every afternoon. She’s also entertained by seven young chickens that she raised this past winter.

The Garden Enhancements Group (Janine Salvatti, Marcie Katz, and Candy Steely, all Class of 2019) were weeding the fence line behind the Kitchen Garden. Plans are to replace the weeds with something far more attractive, perhaps a hedge of native plants. The previous week, they’d pulled up the fabric covering a path in the Children’s Garden because it was a safety hazard.

And the week before that, they painted the tables and chairs in the Kitchen Garden which had rusted. They are now a brilliant “coral” and “sea glass” and can be seen from a mile away.

Kari Gies, chair of the Gardens Working Group, and Kate Hassen, who helps coordinate the work of the GEMS (Garden Education Mentors), were having an informal discussion about the Demonstration Gardens. When I asked what they’d been doing in their home lives, I learned that Kari’s family has a small foundation that gives grants to non-profits specializing in the environment, healthy life styles, community history, and justice and equality. The foundation is prioritizing that last effort at this time.

Kate said she and her husband Steve have had more time to concentrate on their vegetable garden this summer. They have been doing successive plantings of potatoes and greens and will be putting in a good-sized fall garden. She’s canning, drying, pickling, and fermenting their produce, and of course donating some to ACCESS by dropping it off at Extension on Wednesday mornings.

Kate’s special interest is succulents. Over the spring and summer, she fostered a large number that had been given to the Practicum, plus some beautiful arrangements created by the students. Many of these will be turned over to a community plant sale whose organizers have pledged to use the proceeds in support of gardening education in the Rogue Valley.

Help researchers track Oregon’s seasons

By Beet September 2020 39 Comments

Dear Gardeners,

Happy September! Fall is just around the corner. I want to give a big “thank you” to all those who have been working so hard in the demonstration gardens at SOREC. They are thriving thanks to your dedication! A big “thank you” to our virtual Plant Clinic mentors as well, who continue to serve the public’s home horticulture needs remotely. I also want to thank those who are participating in the Citizen Science gypsy moth monitoring project in partnership with the ODA and OSU Extension. Max Bennett, our Forester at SOREC, is very grateful for all of the Master Gardeners who stepped up to help with the project; the contribution from volunteers is significant and has made the monitoring project possible.

Here is another fantastic, COVID-safe citizen science opportunity with OSU:
Join Oregon Season Tracker: Contributing to 
Community-based Science
Do you like being outdoors and the idea of contributing to scientific research? If so, become a community-based citizen scientist volunteer with the OSU Extension Oregon Season Tracker Program that connects local community volunteers with state and national researchers studying weather and the effects on native plant vegetation.
We train volunteers to collect and report local data on precipitation and seasonal plant changes using simple protocols and low cost equipment.

Volunteers collect data from their home, farm, ranch, woodland or in schoolyards.
Data are reported online to be archived and shared with researchers at OSU and across the country.

Fall is the start of the new water year and a great time to join.

Take a free on-line training at home at your own pace (approx. 2 hours)

Order a CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network)-approved rain gauge (approx. $35)

Participate in an optional Zoom meeting to build skills and get your questions answered
Start reporting data online from your computer or using free apps on your smartphone
Oregon Season Tracker Training:

Online self-paced training: Fall 2020 (self-paced open September through November)
Optional Zoom Sessions (attend one):

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, 6-7 pm OR Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, 2-3 pm

To register go to the OSU Extension Oregon Season Tracker website,

For more information contact Jody at or call 541-713-5014

Take care and be well,


Giving our finances a boost, Chapter 2

By Beet September 2020 39 Comments

By Jane Moyer

Master Gardener 2005

In the August Garden Beet, the need for finding ways to replace JCMGA’s usual fundraising efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic was explained along with details on how the funds are spent. The first suggestion for raising funds was to ask that Grange purchases be credited to the “Jackson County Master Gardeners account” (account #15333).

The questions of the month for September are “Are you storing items in good repair that you no longer use or need? Unwilling to have a yard sale because of the health risks but want to get rid of those items?” How about checking out the classified section of the JCMGA website ( Sign in to the members section. On the right side of the screen, scroll down to “Classifieds.”

Gardening tools, equipment, and supplies are, of course, natural items to advertise to fellow gardeners. However, any item you want to be rid of can be advertised on this site. At least one Master Gardener who is downsizing is advertising furniture and household items as well as gardening supplies and tools.

So, how does this help JCMGA? If you sell items on the JCMGA site, consider donating a portion or all of the proceeds from the sale of your item(s) to JCMGA. This would be a voluntary donation, not a requirement. Some of us would be so grateful to have a simple way to clear out our unused and no longer needed or wanted items and a donation to JCMGA would be a good way to say “Thank you!”

Got Questions!??

By Beet September 2020 39 Comments

By Sandy Hansen

Master Gardener 2017

We have just launched a new program to help you navigate all of those questions and help you, although get the answers you are looking for. The program is designed for new students and volunteers, even if you are a veteran the program can assist you as well.

Sample questions:

How do I sign up to volunteer in the Demonstration Gardens?

What time is the meeting?

How do I access the Garden Beet?


Sandy Hansen has volunteered to man (or woman) the information telephone to assist you with all of those questions. You can call 541-227-1358, she will point you in the right direction or answer the question directly.

Our honored long-term members

By Beet September 2020 98 Comments

By Lynn Kunstman

Master Gardener 2012

As many of you know, at our Annual August picnic, we always honor our “decades” members – those members who have been with JCMGA for 10, 20, 30 and 40 years.

Due to COVID-19, our annual picnic had to be cancelled along with so much more that we do. This small article is our attempt to recognize and thank the following members for their continued participation in JCMGA:

Forty years 
as a member of JCMGA!

Margaret Meierhenry

Thirty year member

Becky Belau

Twenty year members

Myrl Bishop

Sydney Jordan Brown

Larry Carpenter

Sheila Gleim

Carol Rugg

David Rugg

Donna Smith

Ten year members

Honey Brown

Carola Brucker

Erin Coke

Cean D’Amore

Marylee Ferranti

Janet Marie Johnson

Sally Jones

Glenn Risley

Herbert Rothschild Jr.

Dean TerBest

Mary Lou TerBest

Mary Toney

Lucretia S. Weems

Cindy D. Williams

JCMGA thanks these wonderful individuals for their continued commitment to gardening and gardening education in Jackson County. When you next see these members, please congratulate them. Or, write a note! Your mother would be so proud!

A guide to creating a healthy ecosystem in your yard

By Beet September 2020 42 Comments

Book review

By Lynn Kunstman

Master Gardener 2012

The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden

By Rick Darke

and Doug Tallamy

Timber Press, 2016

Gardening with native plants is gaining momentum around the country and the world.
Gardeners are seeking a home landscape that supports wildlife and biodiversity, but we also want beauty, a space for the kids to play, privacy, and maybe even a vegetable patch.

How to accomplish this?

The Living Landscape can be your guide. Learn strategies for making and maintaining a diverse, layered landscape – for a yard that offers beauty, provides outdoor rooms and turf areas for children and pets, provides cover, shelter, and sustenance for wildlife, and incorporates fragrant and edible plants.

The Living Landscape is beautifully illustrated and incorporates both a keen eye for design and an understanding of how healthy ecosystems work. It will help you to create a garden that satisfies both human and wildlife community needs.

Chinese mystery seeds: marigolds, weeds and a bug larva

By Beet September 2020 39 Comments

By Jack Ivers

Master Gardener 2019

Noxious weeds and a bug larva have been found in the mystery seed packets from China that were sent unsolicited to thousands of residents across the United States in the last few months, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

Most of the seeds examined were common garden seeds, like marigolds and herbs. The weeds were a variety of water spinach and dodder, a stringy vine that can choke out large native plants and even large areas of native woodland, the USDA said. The bug larva was a type of leaf beetle that consumes and destroys leaves of native plants, agriculture officials said.

The weeds and the bug are already found around the U.S.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture said it was aware of the reports. They advise that you do not open the package. If you have already opened the package, place the entire package in a plastic bag, seal it, and send it to Oregon Department of Agriculture, Plant Protection and Conservation Area, 635 Capitol Street NE, Suite 100, Salem, Oregon 97301

If you have questions, contact Helmuth Rogg at 503-986-4662

September is the gateway to autumn

By Beet September 2020 37 Comments

About now you may be questioning why you love gardening so much. The heat, the weeding, the bugs, the inexorable growth of plants now hiding your garden pathways… Oh! Enough about my garden!

September is the gate to autumn. We think about planting trees, perennials, and cooler weather crops. The soil is still warm and invites the newly planted to expand their roots so they’ll be rarin’ to go for next year.

Cool weather annuals shine as they welcome autumn and fill the holes left by the spent beauties of the summer. There is still time to enjoy mums, pansies, kale, dusty miller, asters, black-eyed Susans, dahlias, and others.

Climate change has tricked traditional planting times so they may need a bit of finessing. An eye to the various weather apps helps our temperature/rain divinations. At least we can count on knowing the length of days as seasons progress.

It’s time to harvest. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Tomato plants should be de-flowered and the smallest fruits removed to redirect energy to ripening the existing fruits before frost, though it wouldn’t hurt to have a green tomato recipe or two on hand! A ripe tomato will detach from the plant with the slightest tug. Nearly mature green tomatoes will ripen after harvest.

Summer squash should be picked smaller rather than larger for the best flavor and to avoid production of excessive seeds.

Winter squash is ready to harvest when the stem is brown and shriveled. Store at room temperature for about a week to give skins time to cure and then at about 55 degrees F. Cull the smallest fruits so the larger ones can continue to develop.

Melons have been wonderful this year. I was surprised to learn that melons do not ripen after harvest. They’re as sweet as they are going get when you pick them.

Potatoes are ready to harvest when the tops die down. Store them in a dark place.

Divide peonies and iris. Transplant woody ornamentals and mature herbaceous perennials. Plant bulbs for spring bloom. Daffodils, tulips, crocus, alliums–all are spirit boosters after a long winter. These bulbs thrive in pots, too, as long as the pots are fair-sized to defend against freeze damage.

Lawn refurbishing is perfect at the beginning of September. Rake thatch if needed, even out low spots with compost, over-seed, fertilize, then finish with a thin topping of compost. Finally, avoid any traffic over this area until the grass is established. Water two or three times a day, every day, for successful germination. Never let new grass seed dry out.

Repatriate house plants from their outside summer homes if low temperatures threaten. Top up potting soil and lightly fertilize. Check for spiders and other unwanted house guests that might like a longer lease on their living space.

As gardeners, we know this list is woefully incomplete. There’s so much more to talk about! Here are two great local references: The JCMGA Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley give a lot of advise for the Rogue Valley climate, and the OSU Extension has a great September Garden Calendar.

We are living in tumultuous times. Uncertainty is the daily fare. Our unfailing defense is nature, in our own gardens, walking our neighborhoods, or out in open wild places. Breathe the smells of nature, the scent of pine trees, the tangy scent of tomato plants, the anise smell of hyssop, and the salty ocean. Breathe, release, repeat.

Geraniums give way to pansies

By Beet September 2020 39 Comments

By Lynn Garbert
Master Gardener 2014
Summer and fall of 2019 were grand as three bright red flowering common geranium (Pelargonium spp.) plants and two poignant deep blue Lobelias filled the 8’x20’ planter. Their show stopper colors caught the eyes of all who walked on the main patio.

Winter followed with a harsh cold snap that brought the five plants to a withered halt. But this year, something new happened because growing did not end there. Pansies (Viola tricolor var. hortensis) were put in to draw our eyes to yet a new texture and eye candy color scheme in this planter that lasted through winter’s dark days well into early summer.

The 2020 make-over was simple:

More potting soil was brought in to fill the planter to the top. Then a good granular fertilizer mix (not a time-release) was shoveled in with a hand trowel. Last, I enjoyed arranging the three separate color varieties I bought – purples, lavenders and pure white – in patterns. In previous years, the bare dirt had just waited until spring for planting. This time, I had eight other planters, so three flats of pansies were purchased for color experimentation. Here’s the schedule I followed:

Mid-February: Planted pansies as described above.

A week later: Applied ¼-½” worm castings mulch

Mid-April: Watered in ½-¾ cup Epsom salt

Mid-May & Mid-July: Added more well-balanced fertilizer

I was surprised I found healthy pansy plants (being it was so late in pansy planting recommendation time). A local nursery ordered them for me when they ordered their own late winter supply, so I brought home 72 pansies in pony-packs.

Other care given:

Many days I over-watered and discovered if I let them dry out a little between watering it made for stronger plants overall.

3 to 4 times a month I deadheaded most of the spent blooms into early summer. I pinched them off right at the base where blossom stems attach to the branch. (They were in partial shade under a dogwood tree.)

I was completely amazed at how vibrant these plants were: Some stems were over five inches long – perfect for using for bouquets in the house.

Whether for indoor bouquets or outdoors in the planter, the colors are intoxicating for conversation starters. Pansy faces are fun and I can even see an eagle in flight.

Pansies are a simple color boost for winter gray days. What have you got to lose?

Nothing! In fact, the nursery I worked with in February is gearing up for pansies right now. Autumn is around the corner…

A rose by any other name: Western Rose Garlic

By Beet September 2020 37 Comments

Gardening Gourmet

by Sydney Jordan Brown
Master Gardener 2000

A rose by any other name would smell like … Mama Mia! Now, “That’s Italian!”

Even if you’re not a resident of Italy or of Italian descent, you still can savor tastes and aromas of the most classic element of Italian cuisine, as well as of other countries’ famous cookery: garlic.

While this rose may not always be appreciated as a replacement for its classic tea rose counterpart, some people will be delighted to receive it as a gift. Garlic heads (bulbs) are quite appealing despite their distinctive pungent, but lovely, fragrance. Allium sativum, the binomial (botanical) name, means “pungent cultivated.”

Although Western Rose, a softneck subspecies (Allium sativum var. sativum), may not have petals, its fat cloves form a sizable bulb head larger than its relative, Silver Rose. Anyone who loves garlic should be proud to procure this wonderful bulb.

Even if you’re not a fan of this pungent vegetable that’s often considered an herb, your appreciation might change knowing the benefits this bulb offers.

Garlic has been widely used, medicinally and in food, since around 400 BC. Although debatable as to its exact origin, its wild form most likely originated in mountainous Central Asia and in some areas of China, India, Egypt and Ukraine.

Still not sold on including garlic either in your garden plot or on your menu? You might want to reconsider, given that garlic contains large amounts of sulfur compounds – such as alliin, and allicin – and amino acids, minerals, vitamins and more.

This powerhouse plant protects human bodies from free radicals and diseases including respiratory ailments.

Western Rose, like all softnecks, is a garlic variety with floppy stems. It was derived from hardneck garlic which have a rigid central stem.

Softnecks are not only more pungent, but don’t usually develop scapes (stems and buds formed on the central stalks of hardnecks). And, softnecks store longer.

Of the two softneck families, Artichoke and Silverskin, Western Rose belongs to the latter. It’s one of the longest-storing garlics, good to use up to 10 – or more – months. The head’s silvery covering reveals pink and rose-striped wrappers protecting 10 to 14 large, sharp-flavored cloves that surround a circle of smaller central cloves.

The last to mature of all garlic, Western Rose is a prolific grower here in the Northwest. They’re also a wonderful addition to lengthen your garlic harvest. Don’t love them yet? Your roses surely will.

Plant garlic 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes to maximize sizable root growth and little or no top growth. Tops that freeze will regrow in spring.

In well-drained soil with generous organic compost and full sun, plant one clove per hole 5” apart (pointy-tips up please!), 3-4” deep, in rows 8-10” apart. Hand water cloves until rain resumes in autumn until first frost.

Encourage rapid bulb growth by fertilizing twice (2:1 kelp and fish emulsion) and watering regularly. Stop watering in June.

Harvest in late spring-early summer when there are 5-6 leaves (each leaf means a layer of protective skin on heads) as one or two turn yellow.

So why not let this rose of another name find space in your garden’s heart and stake its claim?

Recipe: Roasted garlic on the grill

4-6 heads garlic, brushed free of dirt

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon chili lime sprinkle (Available at Trader Joe’s)

Mesh grill sheet or heavy aluminum foil (about a 12”-long piece of regular length heavy foil)

Heat grill to medium, about 350°. Spray grill sheet or aluminum foil with pan release.

Cut tops off garlic just enough to expose tips of cloves. Brush all with oil then sprinkle with rosemary and chili lime seasoning.

Place garlic, bottoms down, on grill. Cook for about 12-15 minutes depending on whether you want a clove that’s cooked but still whole or a softer one for paste to spread.
Squeeze heads with tongs to test for preferred doneness. When cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves from head and enjoy on anything where you use garlic. Keeps about a month refrigerated or longer frozen.

Seed sources: Territorial Seed
, Dave’s Garden