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JCMGA Membership Renewal!

By Beet 2022 01 January

Remember that if you would like to be included in the 2022 JCMGA Chapter Directory, you need to have completed your member renewal by January 31, 2022

You may renew in the Member section of the website (https://jacksoncountymga.org/) and specific renewal directions and links are being sent to potential members every two weeks.  

If you have already renewed for 2022–THANK YOU!

Happy New Year, Gardeners!

By Beet 2022 01 January

  I hope that the slower days of winter have been relaxing and cozy and that plenty of time was spent with family and loved ones over the holidays. 

With my family, I have recently enjoyed the first outings into the snowy winter wonderlands of southwestern Oregon and with the solstice, I got to thinking about which plants have been historically significant around the time of solstice.  Some of this information was featured in my column for the January 2019 Garden Beet column.

The spruce and fir forests are some of my favorite places in southwestern Oregon.  Sacred trees of the winter solstice to cultures in the northern hemisphere include oak, yew, silver fir, birch, and pine.   

Yew

Silver fir

Yew represents death of the old year, while silver fir represents the new year and rebirth.  Birch also symbolizes new beginnings.  Pines are for peace, healing, and joy; conifers in general were a symbol of the continuity of life and prosperity.  Oak symbolizes eternal life, protection, and strength, and was the traditional type of tree used as a yule log.  Yule logs were burned for 12 days, and their ashes were scattered afterwards over fields for health and a bountiful harvest.     

Perhaps the most interesting botanical story around the winter solstice (in my opinion) and Christmas is that of the fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) mushroom.  This Old World mushroom is thought to be the foundation of the story of Santa Claus and his flying reindeer.

In northern Europe and Asia, this fungi typically appears underneath firs and spruce in the days leading up to the winter solstice.  Shamans from these regions would dress in special red garments trimmed with white fur and black boots (sound familiar?) to collect these mushrooms.  Upon returning to the village, they would enter their yurts through the smoke hole, as this was the portal to the spirit world.  When the mushrooms were ingested, one’s face would flush (think rosy cheeks and noses) and gave a sense of well-being, visions, and even the feeling of flying, as the Sami (Laplander) people would say when riding on their sleighs with reindeer.  The reindeer from these northern regions even have a documented taste for the fungi.  In addition to being shared as gifts, dried fly agaric mushrooms were historically strung with popcorn and cranberries as mid-winter decorations. Depending on how these mushrooms are cooked, they can impart some hallucinogenic side effects. 

With the winter solstice past, enjoy the coming longer days and continued beauty of winter!   

Luck Favors Go-getters in 2022!

By Beet 2022 01 January

 

Hi JCMGA members, this is your message for January from your President Elect. 

I was told an article for the Garden Beet was due by December 17 and during this transition period from one president to another, I am trying to do as I am told.  Hopefully there was no miscommunication and you won’t get two presidential messages.  If so, enjoy!

Lynn Kunstman was “reelin’ in the year” in her December article, so I am going to stick with the fishing metaphor and am “casting out the bait,” attempting to catch some lucky breaks for us in 2022.  We all know that luck favors the busy go-getters and since we all fall into that category, we can be hopeful and look forward to great things in 2022. 

To get the ball rolling:  Please don’t neglect to renew your membership. Please go to the JCMGA website, membership renewal page. 

A New Year’s Radolution

By Beet 2022 01 January

This year, why not resolve to try and bear your cross by sowing seed for Raphanus sativus?  Even if you fall short, the heirloom Long Scarlet radish that grows 5 to 7 inches long on a thin root will bear one for you.

Radishes belong to the family Brassicaceae, along with mustards and cabbages. Cruciferae is another name for this important family and means “cross-bearing.” All maturing plants in the cabbage family have flowers composed of four petals that are reminiscent of a lovely white cross when blooming.

 

Radishes have been doing their part by providing sustenance for thousands of years since originating in China. Gradually spreading westward, they became important foodstuff for the Greeks and Romans.  They were extensively cultivated in Egypt during the Pharaohs’ reigns and were consumed there before the pyramids were constructed.

 

Radishes were first documented in Europe in Germany in the 13th century.  They were cultivated in England by 1548, Mexico in 1565, and finally made their way to Massachusetts in 1629.

 

Today, radishes are readily propagated just about anywhere and in nearly every US state.  The Brassicaceae family (including cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, mustard and radishes) is of great economic importance, providing much of the world’s winter vegetables.

 

Fresh radishes contain rich sources of ascorbic and folic acids, potassium, vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper and calcium.  

Their compact, pungent leaves can also be consumed (bet you hadn’t thought of that) by adding them to soups, sautéing them with olive oil and garlic, steaming them as a side dish or snipping some directly into your salad.  Delicious!  Move over arugula!

 

As for our featured star, the Long Scarlet radish, its tapered shape is similar to a carrot with a curved shoulder and distinct pointy tip.

 

The root’s vibrant, scarlet-pink skin is very thin.  The interior flesh is brilliant white, crisp and slightly sweet with a milder, peppery bite than most other radishes.

 

Unfortunately, for quite a long time, heirloom radishes were nearly replaced by the more familiar common round red radish. Seed for the Long Scarlet radish can again be found in select specialty seed catalogs.  Fortunately, someone reintroduced these seeds so we might again sow them in our own backyard gardens.

 

When those early birds get their worms, you’ll soon have your first Long Scarlet radishes if you sowed them in early spring.  When well-fertilized and provided with plenty of moisture, you could have your first taste in as little as three weeks!

 

Sowing directly in a fully sunny spot that’s loamy (add sand if compact) and well-composted is definitely the key for exceptional radish roots.  They’ll be sweeter and most tender the more rapidly they grow.

 

So, plan for that New Year’s cross-bearing with a Long Scarlet radish radolution!

Seed sources:

Long Scarlet radishes may be named Cincinnati Market radishes in some seed catalogs.

Pine Tree Garden Seeds

http://www.superseeds.com 

Listed under the name Cincinnati Market radish. 

Urban Farmer

http://www.ufseeds.com

Has both Cincinnati Market and Long Scarlet Cincinnati Organic seeds.

Recipe:

Long Scarlet Radish Slaw

Slaw:

2 cups coarsely shredded radishes

3 cups shredded cabbage

1 cup tart apple cut in fine julienne strips

½ cup chopped toasted almonds or walnuts

Vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons organic honey or agave nectar

¼ cup organic apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix slaw ingredients in a large bowl or 2-gallon zip type bag.  Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until mixed.  Pour over slaw and gently toss, or if using bag, close zip and gently flip bag over several times with hands until everything is mixed. 

Serve immediately.  About 6-8 servings

Time to Renew Your JCMGA Membership

By Beet 2021 12 December

 

JCMGA membership renewal for 2022 is now in progress.  Periodic Mailchimps are being sent to remind you how to renew and to provide you with links to your chosen renewal process.  Annual dues remain at $25 and if you want to be included in the 2022 Chapter Directory, please be sure to complete your renewal by January 31, 2022.

Similar to last year, there are three different ways to renew:

1) Complete the renewal form and pay your dues online

The online form is available on the member side of our website. Go to jacksoncountymga.org and click on the Member Portal at the top right of the homepage. Enter your username and password to access the Green House (the members-only portion of the website). On the Green House home page, scroll down through the Member Links on the right and click on Membership Renewal. There you can complete the form, make your dues payment of $25, and even make a donation to JCMGA if you would like.

2) Mail in your renewal form and dues

Print the one-page renewal form (no need to return the information/direction page) and send it and your $25 check for dues to:

JCMGA Member Renewal

569 Hanley Road

Central Point, OR, 97502

There is a link to a printable renewal form on the Mailchimps that are being sent out periodically throughout the renewal period. Click on the link and print the one-page renewal form.  Complete the form and mail it and your $25 dues to the address above.

3) Request that a paper copy of the renewal form be mailed to you

There is also a link on the renewal Mailchimps that you can use to request that a paper renewal form be mailed to you.

Potential JCMGA members who do not have email addresses listed with JCMGA have been sent a paper renewal form by mail.

 

If you have questions about the renewal process, please contact Patrice Kaska, JCMGA Membership Secretary, at forpatricek@icloud.com.

Britt Festival Demonstration Garden – planting day success!

By Beet 2021 12 December

                                                                        

Dear Master Gardeners,

This month, I want to highlight the big success of installing the new demonstration garden at the Britt Festival, which features a variety of native, pollinator, and waterwise plants.  This garden is located at the main entrance of the Britt Festival pavilion, next to the ticket booth.

The Britt approached me last winter and asked if the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program would be interested in partnering on a gardening project which would showcase native plants, pollinator plants, and waterwise plants.  This was a great opportunity to partner with a local organization outside of our normal wheelhouse.  The project was first opened to 2020 students to give them the opportunity to have ownership in a project (after all the challenges of COVID!).

Sharon Bryson, Cassandra Toews, and Lora West were our leaders in this project and did an amazing job designing the space.  We were grateful to have the expertise from some experienced Master Gardeners, along with Christie Mackison of Shooting Start Nursery (Central Point) to give the final design the green light.

On November 18, nine MGs – Teresina Christy, Louise Parker, Lynn Kunstman, Cassandra Toews, Barb Steely, Ruth Alexander, Sharon Bryson, Romina Ramos, and Lora West – came together to plant over 100 plants donated by Shooting Star Nursery, Forest Farm and Plant Oregon (thanks to Lora West for the rocks she donated!).  The JCMGA also generously donated 45 Camassia bulbs and compost (thank you!). Thanks also to Sherri Morgan who donated native iris plants.

We will create signage over the winter describing the various plants, highlighting our donors, and other relevant information.  The signs will be installed in time for the Britt’s 2022 season.

Thanks again to everyone who came out on planting day, and thanks to Cassandra, Lora, and Sharon for all of your hard work and dedication!

                                                         

Reelin’ in the Year

By Beet 2021 12 December

 

Fall has arrived with its gray mornings and rainy days.  As I struggle to get my “Dawn of the Dead” vegetable garden vines and shrubs into the compost pile, I am heartened by all the bird activity amongst the standing stalks and stems.  Even looking its worst, my garden is providing important food for birds and insects.  I have raked the leaves up off of sidewalks and paths and placed them gently under the shrubs and trees to provide overwintering sites for moths, butterflies and other insects.  The juncos, thrushes, robins and other birds will utilize this resource for winter sustenance.

Things are winding down on campus as well.  The gardens have been tucked in and are enjoying the rain after the long summer dry spell.  The gardens and grounds crew continues to place signs, and remove debris from paths — a year-round job.

In the Native Plants Nursery, volunteers working in Greenhouse 2 meet each Wednesday from 9 to noon to start seeds in stratification trays and pots.  Beginning in December, we will start planting our milkweed seeds in special pots for sale in the spring.  As always, I am looking for a crew to help with that.

The failure of the well is being addressed.  Our hope is that the winter rains will recharge the shallow well used to irrigate the orchards and gardens.  However, we are going forward with research on a rainwater catchment system to use as supplementary water.  Also, an old well site is being evaluated as another possible source of water for next summer’s irrigation needs.

Our JCMGA association election is complete and we are pleased that all positions have been filled.  I am thankful that we had members willing to step up and take on positions of responsibility to assure that the association could continue.

It has been both a challenge and a great honor to have served as president this past year, and I sincerely thank all those who guided and supported me in that effort.  If you are interested in becoming more involved with Master Gardeners, we welcome your attendance at our monthly meetings on the second Friday of each month.

Finally, we are looking forward with great hope to the coming year and the start of a new Master Gardener class.  Having students on campus is always such a joy.  And teaching new skills to gardeners is pretty much what we do this for.

Hope you will all come out, as the weather and your interests permit.  And remember to Garden for Life. 

A Very Merry Winter Berry

By Beet 2021 12 December

 

A Very Merry Winter Berry

While you’ll likely savor Alpine strawberries until late autumn, on occasion you might snatch the last few stragglers in December.  However long they last, you’ll be glad to have Fragaria vesca in your edible landscape.

Commonly known as Alpine strawberries, they’re not only native to the USA and Canada as well Asia and Europe, they’re also true heirloom berries. Because they are so tender, they are not usually a commercial crop.

Although petite in size, these hardy little perennial beauties that will survive to minus 0°F pack a surprising punch with super sweet fruitiness.  Their fragrance and flavor will scent your plate like no other garden strawberry.

Alpine strawberries are also commonly called wild strawberry, woodland strawberry, European strawberry and fraisier de bois. The woodland strawberry variety (Fragaria vesca var. vesca) bears fruit in June, while Alpine strawberries produce fruit all summer long (according to The Strawberry Store).

Like all woodland berries, Alpines aren’t hybrids as with most of the usual strawberries we grow in our gardens.  So, Alpines are one of the only types that will grow true-to-seed, if you collect their seed to sow the next year.

They’re very well-behaved in the garden scape given their lack of runners.  However, they will self-sow but usually remain within reasonable space. Excess plants can easily be potted to share or enjoy the larger yield.

Requiring little attention, Alpines flourish in most garden soil as long as it’s not soggy. Growing to 1 to 2 feet tall, they make excellent border plantings beneath taller plants or trees that provide them with their preferred filtered light.

Alpines also make wonderful container plants if kept in the shadier side of the garden. Unlike hybrid strawberries, they don’t need bright sun to enrich their crimson blush-colored and creamy-skinned fruits as do hybrid strawberries.

There are creamy-white Alpines, too.  If the red ones don’t get you, then the whites surely will with the pronounced fragrance and flavor of intense pineapple. No kidding!  You certainly won’t taste that with hybrid strawberries!

Flowering from early spring through summer and well into autumn, you can have a readily- available supply of these delicious, petite berries on hand.  They bear fruit the first year they’re planted.

If you plan on starting Alpines from seed, be patient as it can take up to a month for their first green sprouts to pop.  Plants are an option if you’re not one to wait.  Whichever way you choose, once started, your plants will self-sow so you won’t need to plant them again.

You can divide the crowns of mature, established plants for more plants and thinning brings new life to existing plants.

Alpine strawberries are best enjoyed fresh when fully ripe.  When mature, they easily slip from their stems.

So, if you’re craving some of these intensely fragrant strawberry and pineapple-flavored berries, put in some Merry Alpine berries of your own.

 

Sources for Alpine Strawberry Plants and Seeds:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

http://rareseeds.com

They have seed for Alexandria (scarlet) and White Soul varieties.

 

The Strawberry Store

http://thestrawberrystore.com

They have the most varieties, including: Yellow Wonder and Pineapple Crush, the best-flavored white varieties as well many red types, both seed and plants.

 

Raintree Nursery

http://raintreenursery.com

They have five varieties of Alpine plants.

 

 

Recipe:

Alpine Strawberry Napoleons

1 package frozen puff pastry (17 ¼ oz) thawed

½ cup organic confectioners’ sugar

1 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup 2% vanilla Greek yogurt (Tillamook was used here)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

zest from one organic lemon

2 pints of Alpine strawberries (red, white or both)

2 tablespoons organic sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Open pastry and with a serrated knife cut into eighteen 2×3-inch rectangles.  Place strips on parchment-covered baking sheets. Bake for about 7-10 minutes until puffed.  Remove strips from oven and gently press them to about 1/8” thick with a wire rack. Bake another 8-10 minutes until light brown.

Increase oven to 475°F.

Dust all the strips evenly with confectioners’ sugar (a small shaker works best or a fine sieve) and return to oven for about 10 minutes until browned.

In medium bowl, combine cream and organic sugar.  Whip until soft peaks form.  Add vanilla and almond extracts, yogurt and lemon zest.  Whip until stiff peaks form.

To assemble six pastries:

Spread or pipe ¼” layer of whipped cream on 12 of the pastry rectangles, then top with a single layer of berries.  Stack six filled pastries atop the other six filled pastries. Place a plain pastry rectangle on top of each of the six filled pastries “towers”.  Pipe a rosette of cream atop and pop on a berry.

Six servings.

Why Natives Part 4

By Beet 2021 11 Nov

Why Native Plants?  Plant Choice Matters!

Part 4 of a four-part series

In past articles, I discussed the importance that native plants play in providing ecosystem services.  Part three of this series focused on their benefits in cleaning and managing water, providing food, and supporting pollinators.  The final two ecosystem services that native plants provide are addressed in this article.

Enriching and stabilizing soil: Long roots and drought tolerance allow native plants to penetrate the soil substrate much farther than non-natives. Natives demand much less water, and pull carbon deep into the soil, making plant tissues available to soil microorganisms and macroorganisms to feed upon. As the life forms in the soil grow, die and decompose, the soil becomes richer and more friable.  Native plants save you money on your water bills!

Sequestering carbon – Plants build their bodies from carbon that they take from the atmosphere. Using chlorophyll, plants harness energy from sunlight to combine carbon dioxide and water into long sugar chains. Oxygen is also made and released into the atmosphere.  

Yes, that is photosynthesis (photo=light, synthesis=building).  Plants are literally building their bodies using sunlight. Roots, stems, trunks, leaves – all plant parts rely on photosynthesis to combine CO2 with water to create the building blocks for plant life. Native plants can store carbon in the ground for a longer time than non-native plants! 

Quercus garryana – Oregon White Oak

One last important concept for folks wanting to grow the most beneficial native plants – use those that increase the ability of our birds to breed and increase their populations; that’s the idea of KEYSTONE PLANTS.  These are the plants that grow the most species of caterpillar.  In other words, keystone plants are the best bird feeders you can grow.  In Southern Oregon, the top three keystone plants are native willow, native cherry and native oak.  If you can plant any or all of these in your landscape, please do so.

Native plants are not always easy to find in local nurseries. Specialist nurseries and native plant societies are local sources. As more gardeners ask their garden to support insect and bird species, they can in turn ask nurseries to stock more native trees, shrubs and perennials. 

Prunus virginiana – Native Chokecherry

Down here in Southern Oregon, the Jackson County Master Gardener Association has undertaken a project to propagate native plants from cuttings and seeds. We’re fortunate to have native shrubs and perennials in our Demonstration Gardens which can serve as sources for the cuttings. We sell these at pop-up sales at our Extension site. To help folks envision how natives might fit into their own landscapes, we have a Native Plant Demonstration Garden and are expanding our use of native trees, an important contributor to insect support.

Home gardeners with the time and interest can propagate natives themselves. A great source for propagation how-to is Geoff Bryant’s book, Plant Propagation A to Z. Just be sure you are propagating an Oregon native plant.  Use the sources below to find plants suited to your location.

Oregon Flora

https://oregonflora.org/

Native Plant Finder

https://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder/plants

Plant choice matters!  Garden for Life!

Congratulations Class of 2020!

By Beet 2021 11 Nov

Greetings and congratulations, Graduates!  We have celebrated a momentous occasion, honoring your perseverance and determination to complete the Master Gardener Program. I welcome you all as fully certified Master Gardeners to our incredible organization:  Jackson County Master Gardener Association.  We hope you will remain with us, and continue to work, learn and teach with us as the years progress.  The best way to hone your gardening skills and help your community is to learn from the amazing group of volunteers who make up our association.

If you read the Garden Beet, you have seen me use our slogan GARDEN FOR LIFE at the end of all my articles.  This really is what we believe in.

In JCMGA, you will find community, friendship, support and a joy in learning and sharing knowledge that is unsurpassed.  We want all of you to stay involved and welcome you and the talents you bring.  Each of you has unique expertise and gifts and yours are needed now, more than ever.  

We are looking to the future with hope and need your help.  Come spring, we will need volunteers in our gardens on campus and in the Native Plant Nursery.   Our Board of Directors is always looking for new talent.  If you have experience in communications, fundraising, business, member services, community outreach, education or administration, please refer to the organizational chart in your directory and see where you might plug in.  Contact a board member or a Working Group chair and ask how you can get involved.   

Once we can meet in person without restrictions, we will need volunteers to help with the social events we hold on campus as well – picnics, meetings, banquets, work days.

Our Working Groups meet monthly and are happy to welcome new members.  Communications WG is responsible for our JCMGA website, Facebook, YouTube channel, the Garden Beet, document storage, membership database, and marketing and publicity. If you are a techie, we could certainly use your help. 

Membership Services WG is for you if you love planning and staging social events, field trips, the Garden Buds program and all things people related. 

Community Gardens WG oversees our community garden and school garden grants, scholarships, and runs our Speakers Bureau.  

Fundraising WG is in charge of making money to run our programs through fundraising, corporate and private donations, sales and grants.  

Program Support WG runs the MG class and the Plant Clinic and oversees Practicum and Seed to Supper. 

The Gardens and Grounds WG coordinates the demonstration Gardens, along with irrigation and garden enhancement projects.

Our two major educational events each year are Winter Dreams, Summer Gardens – coming to you virtually this November 5, 6 and 13, and Spring Garden Fair, hopefully live, the first weekend in May. Sign up for Winter Dreams, Summer Gardens now on our website.  https://jacksoncountymga.org/

As we go forward into 2022 and beyond, I want to reassure you that learning about gardening is not just a matter of taking a class or a course of instruction.  Gardening is a PRACTICE, and just as teachers and doctors get better in their “practices,” so will you.  JCMGA sees you as the newly-planted Master Gardeners here in the Rogue Valley.  We know you will need care, and food, and encouragement to grow, just like any young plant.  We are here to provide that for you so that you can grow and thrive and become the best gardener you can be.  If you want to attend this year’s Practicum, please let me and Erika know so we can get an idea of numbers.  And of course, you are always welcome to sit in on Master Gardener classes starting in January.  

Gardening, helping, learning and teaching about gardening is a great gift that we give to ourselves and others.  JCMGA pledges to support you.  We hope you will support us as we all GARDEN FOR LIFE.