Are you hoping to be a winner? Then Allium cepa var. ascalonicum, is the ticket!
Of course, this particular “ticket,” rarely to be had at any market, is the classic shallot.
Why bother with this rather small prize of a bulb when you can have a heftier onion trophy? Because, shallots are the real treasure among alliums, which include regular drying onions, ramps, garlic (and their scapes), scallions, leeks and bunching onions.
Ever heard of good things coming in small packages? It’s definitely true here since shallots trump the onion in many ways. To start with, they’re more delicately mild and sweet-flavored, with a hint of caramel and a touch of garlicky piquancy.
Shallots are also winners with their richness in fiber, vitamins A, B6, and C, potassium, folate, manganese and antioxidants (which are released when bulbs are sliced or crushed).
Although cultivated for thousands of years, today they’ve become a rather unknown treasure just waiting to be rediscovered.
Most likely originating in Southeast Asia, they spread throughout India and the Mediterranean region. Noted in Greek history and literature, they were further transported through trading and general crop movements.
So why are shallots such a treasure? If you’ve never had the pleasure of sampling one, you’re in for a real treat.
Although on the outside shallots may appear like an onion, if you cut one open, you’ll discover that instead of rings like onions, they’re composed of several cloves similar to garlic.
Aside from milder flavor, its texture, form and unique aroma make it a “favorites” winner for a diverse number of dishes. You can use the bulbs, cook the leaves as a vegetable, add it to salads, pickle it, shave it raw, or even top your presentation with some shallot flowers.
Similar to garlic, shallots should be planted in autumn in our area. Bulbs, not seeds, are the only way to receive your “prize” of cloves. Order bulbs as early as possible this month.
Shallots prefer a rich, moist soil that’s somewhat sandy, but they will grow in many soil types as long as they’re fertile and well-drained.
Break bulbs apart into individual cloves (like garlic) planting each one 6-8” apart with the root end down (points up, please!), then cover with more composted soil. Leave about one-third of bulb tops exposed. Sprinkle the soil surface generously with fine ashes so any fungus thieves won’t steal away your prize.
Keep lightly moistened by watering until rain (pray it comes this autumn) arrives.
Similar to garlic, shallots’ early leaves will die back in winter only to resprout in early spring when bulbs start forming.
Adding nitrogen-rich fertilizer will enhance your growing treasure, as will frequent watering.
In about 90-120 days when leaves have dried, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing jackpot. After curing in a shaded, well-ventilated area for a couple weeks, they’ll be ready for you to savor. Your very own shallottery!
Did you know?
It takes 18 pounds of fresh shallots to make one pound dried?
In the US, shallots are also referred to as scallions, bunching, or spring onions, but of course they are all very different bulbs.
Some Asian cultures deep fry shallots as a condiment.
Hudson Valley Seed Co
French gray shallot
Golden Caramelized Shallots
2 pounds whole shallots peeled (place in boiling water for 1 minute for skins to slip easily off)
2 tablespoons cooking-type olive oil
3 tablespoons honey, good maple syrup or agave nectar
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (black may be used but is stronger)
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary finely minced
Zest of one organic lemon
Preheat oven to 400°.
In heavy ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil until hot. Add shallots and honey, stirring until shallots begin to brown. Add in vinegar, salt and pepper, then stir until shallots are well coated.
Sprinkle the rosemary over the shallots and roast in oven about 20-30 minutes until caramelized.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with lemon zest and serve as a side dish, a topping for meats, poultry, or seafood, or serve warm or chilled for salad. Also great on a sandwich as a gourmet relish.
I never realized how much water I used on my yard and garden until I had to haul it myself. Ordinarily, I use TID water, which is pumped to my property by our community
water district. In past years, I took
for granted that come early May, I could turn on the valve and an unlimited amount of irrigation water would be available 24 hours a day until late September or early October. I had an inground watering system installed in the front yard which is difficult to water any other way and laid miles of soaker hoses everywhere else. The irrigation water was not metered, so I used what I needed without much thought as to how much that was.
In mid-July, TID abruptly shut off the water for this year. What to do? Unlike those of you with city water, I am unable to use domestic water which comes from community wells that are not producing enough for normal use this year, due to the continuing drought. That leaves water delivery or haul-it-yourself. Since the water delivery services are over-subscribed this year, I had little choice but to make the trek out to the Medford Water Department and drop quarters in the meter. There is only so much gray water I can capture from showers and washing.
I must admit I was unprepared for the magnitude of the problem this water shortage would cause, despite the fact I knew it was coming. Mostly, I’m concerned about my trees, which are young and still getting established. So, I have become a member of the bucket brigade, hand watering my extensive landscape.
More recently, I have added an electric ½ HP pump to distribute the water. I spent the past week hauling water using my neighbor’s truck and now I know it will take about 800-1,000 gallons of water per week to keep my trees, landscape plants and vegetable garden alive. That’s not to say they will thrive on that, and it is, I am chagrinned to say, much less than what I used in previous years. With the smoke, excessive heat, fire danger and lack of water this year, (I can’t believe I’m saying this…) winter cannot come soon enough!
But, I also know that this drought is not a one-time thing. It has actually been with us for many years, and we are now feeling the effects of long-term drought. According to NOAA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, most of Oregon has been in a more or less severe drought for the past 20 years (at least), with only a few exceptional years of normal rainfall and snow pack. This summer, we have had the most severe, prolonged drought conditions of the past 20 years. I don’t have a crystal ball, but it probably doesn’t require one to see the future.
While it is true that I need a more permanent, reliable source of summer water than TID, I also need to use less water. I am seriously considering how to “edit” my plantings to fit the conditions. This year I pared back my vegetable garden, but it, too, could use some further reduction. Although I am reluctant to eliminate roses, I do have 63, and well, I guess, maybe, possibly I could do without so many. I love them, but they really love water. Sigh…
What gives me hope is that there are many lovely waterwise alternatives, including the natives in JCMGA’s own native plant nursery. Recently, I stopped at Chipotle in Medford and as I passed through the parking lot, the xeriscape caught my attention. They have some of the nicest grass landscape plantings I have seen. If you’re curious about how low-water grasses can be artfully used in a landscape, also check out the plantings around the new Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on Garfield Street in South Medford.
Turning to September in the vegetable garden, this is the month to get your fall garden in the ground if you haven’t already. With the unusually hot summer, you may have delayed planting some vegetables. Hopefully, early September will bring some respite and enable you to get good germination from direct sowing leafy greens such as arugula, corn salad, garden cress, lettuce, kale, mustard and turnip greens and spinach. Use shade cloth overtop if temperatures are still high and keep the soil moist. Lettuce requires light to germinate, so don’t cover seeds with more than a light dusting of soil. If you are going to plant a cover crop of fava beans, now until mid-October is the time to do it.
If you sowed seeds for transplanting, it’s time to get broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage and Pak Choi in the ground. Ditto for shallots, garlic, and onions (both to use as green onions and for harvesting next June or July).
Cooler weather is coming and eventually rain and snow. But how much? Probably not as much as we need. This fall and winter are the time to prepare for our “new normal” – hotter temperatures and less water. What changes will you need to make in your garden? Although the cities in the Rogue Valley have not yet rationed water, that could happen. Having lived in California for 42 years, I remember water rationing. Get ready. Be ready for next year by editing your garden and trying something new like xeriscaping, natives, ground covers in place of your lawn, and who knows what else. Doing nothing is probably not an option for most people. I’d like to hear what you decide to do.
Greetings Jackson County Master Gardeners.
As we approach fall and cooler weather, I hope you are all staying well. This has been a crazy summer as we joyfully reopened at Extension, then watched with dismay as COVID-19 raged through the county, causing us to slow and delay our many planned activities once again.
Despite all this, we were still able to accomplish much: a quick yard sale and plant sale in late July which netted us over $3,000 in much needed income, installation of shelving units in our storage containers in the parking lot, and of course, garden clean-ups and maintenance, which is ongoing.
There is much more to share with you and to do this, we are inviting all of you to our SEPTEMBER ALL MEMBER MEETING. This will take place via Zoom on September 10th, from 9:00 – 9:30 am, followed immediately by our regular board meeting. Please plan to attend! As always, all members are welcome to attend all board meetings, so you might consider staying with us after 9:30 to get a feel for how the association works. From 9:00 – 9:30 am, we will be reviewing our accomplishments over the past year and recruiting members for our various committees and working groups. If you have an interest in becoming more involved with Jackson County Master Gardeners, please plan to attend the membership meeting. The Zoom link to the meeting is below. Just click on this link on September 10, between 8:45 – 9:00 am, and join us. Hope to see you all there!
And remember: GARDEN FOR LIFE!
Join JCMGA Membership Zoom Meeting
Friday, Sept. 10, 2021 at 9:00 am PDT
Meeting ID: 815 4833 6872
Dear Master Gardeners,
I want to provide a brief update regarding COVID operations and other items, to hopefully answer the questions you are having.
There are no closures at the Extension at this time. We recommend scheduling meetings virtually, or holding them outdoors when air quality and weather are good and when possible. The Plant Clinic currently remains open.
As of Friday, Aug. 6, OSU is requiring that you wear masks indoors.
Working outdoors or in the Demo Gardens: Please be cognizant of temperatures and air quality, and only work in the Demo Gardens or outdoors otherwise when you feel comfortable. Safety first!
Lastly, bring produce donations for ACCESS to the arboretum Wednesdays between 9 am and 11:45 am. Thank you for your donations!
Thanks all, and be well,
Erika Szonntag, MAg (she/her/hers)
Master Gardener Program Coordinator
By Lynn Kunstman
Master Gardener 2012
Part Two of a four-part series
Douglas Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, Nature’s Best Hope, The Living Landscape, and The Nature of Oaks, is a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware. He has written widely about the importance of choosing native plants for our gardens and encourages us to demand more from our yards and gardens.
Instead of just planting for decorative or aesthetic reasons, we must choose plants that provide the following ecosystem services: soil enrichment and stabilization, water filtration, food production for humans and wildlife, carbon sequestration, weather moderation, habitat, and pollinator support.
NATIVE PLANTS provide ALL these services, while non-native plants do not.
Baby birds MUST eat soft food – meaning caterpillars. Insects specialize when they lay their eggs. Caterpillars, the larvae of butterflies and moths, develop from eggs laid on plants that have co-evolved with their insect partners who use them for host plants. Specialization allows the larvae to safely eat the leaves of a plant that might be toxic to other insects.
When we plant non-native plants in our landscapes, we grow fewer caterpillars. Fewer caterpillars mean a reduction in the numbers of birds. Recent research indicates that there are almost 3 billion fewer breeding birds in North America compared to 45 years ago. This is a 30% decline. Our butterflies and moths MUST lay their eggs on native plants. Their caterpillars need to feed on the NATIVE plants with which they co-evolved. Without native plants, we have no butterflies and moths, and our birds have NO CATERPILLARS to feed their young. Caterpillars also supply food for reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. They are a major component of all our food webs.
Choosing native shrubs for your yard will help support our declining bird populations. Some examples of shrubs you might choose are California lilac, serviceberry, and huckleberry. These shrubs host 93, 81, and 130 species of butterfly and moth, respectively.
California lilac (Ceanothus sp.) likes full sun, has glossy evergreen leaves and brilliant blue flowers that open in early spring.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) can grow to 15 feet in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. It can be pruned to a small tree or leave it to spread into a thicket. Deciduous, with fragrant flowers in May and dark blue berries, it provides important summer food and cover.
Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) will need more water than the others and will tolerate more shade. A beautiful, glossy evergreen shrub, it provides extra early blooms for bees, shiny, tasty blue-black berries for you and the birds, and makes a lovely base understory planting in a moist, shaded woodland garden.
To learn more about native plants and how to use them as foundations for your landscape, visit
Native Plant Finder
Remember, plant choice always matters. Garden for Life!
August 2021 has arrived, and it’s time for the second annual JCMGA Photo Contest. A hot, and perhaps smoky, August afternoon is the perfect time to stay inside and consider photographs you have taken of your or others’ gardens. The JCMGA Member Services Working Group judges would very much like to see your best one (or two) garden photos and our favorite will appear on the cover of the 2022 JCMGA Chapter Directory.
Instructions for the contest include the following:
✦ The 2021 JCMGA Photo Contest is open to all current Jackson County Master Gardener Association members.
✦ Photos may be submitted from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31, 2021. We are able to accept two (2) photos from each member, although there will be only one winning photo per person.
✦ Photographs are limited to those taken in gardens of the Rogue Valley and the focus must be on a plant or planting—no people (for privacy concerns).
✦ Please submit your photograph in portrait format, rather than landscape format (to align with the shape of the directory).
✦ All photographs must be at least 1500 x 1575 pixels (5”x5-1/2” at 300 dpi) and all submitted photos become the property of JCMGA.
Email your entry to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, phone number, email address, where the photograph was taken, and a short description of the flora pictured. A short title for the photo is also helpful. All identifying information is removed before judging.
If you have questions, please email Patrice Kaska, Membership Secretary, at email@example.com.
The winning photograph will appear on the cover of the 2022 JCMGA Chapter Directory, and four runners-up will have their photographs featured in the Garden Beet. Winners will be announced in the October Garden Beet.
I don’t know how to interpret this summer’s weather other than to say climate change is not coming, it’s here! Since mid-June, the temperature has climbed to over 95°F every single day at my house. I’ve been without A/C since June 23, so I sympathize with my plants, which are wilting or burning up. The broccoli limped across the finish line in July, giving me one of the sparsest crops I have had in years, and so far, I have not seen any side shoots. I may as well pull it out. The peas had barely begun to produce when the vines turned to crispy critters. The poor carrots fainted and bolted in the heat. I quickly picked the lettuce and wrapped it in wet paper towels and put it in a Ziplock bags to preserve a small number of heads. Thanks to steady watering, my tomato plants are still green, but the flowers dry up without producing any signs of fruit. It’s just too hot for them to set. It is safe to say that the eggplants and the peppers are the only plants that are (relatively) happy and producing.
Although August is usually the month to direct seed many greens such arugula, collards, corn salad, Oriental greens, Swiss chard, cress, lettuce, endive, kale, kohlrabi, mustard and turnip greens, I can’t imagine how they will fare in the excessive heat once they germinate. You may want to wait to sow some of these delicate greens until late August or even early September when it often cools down substantially after Labor Day. Unfortunately, I won’t even get to try for a fall vegetable garden because TID water went off in mid-July for the season! If you are lucky to have garden irrigation the latter part of this summer into the fall, you can sow for later transplanting broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage and Pak Choi. You can also direct sow daikon radish, beets, peas, parsnips and rutabaga. If the hot weather persists, planting onions (as you usually can do for next year’s crop) would be a waste of seed as they do not geminate well in very hot weather.
If your beans are producing, be sure to pick them regularly so that they continue to produce. They may also need some fertilizer and more water to continue production. Fertilize vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers while they are in heavy production. If you planted corn, this is the month for your corn feast. Early in the month, give your corn another shot of fertilizer to get it across the finish line. You can also try hand pollinating for fuller ears. When the ears start to appear and the tassels are yellow-transparent, strip the tassels on top of the plant of their pollen and shake it onto each ear. Whenever I do this, I am pleased with the results.
August is usually when I start canning and preserving what my garden produces. Peaches usually ripen now and they can be frozen, dried or canned. For several years, I have been making what I call vegetable pasta sauce which is simply a medley of whatever vegetables are ripe at the time together with tomatoes. My very favorite canning recipe book is The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. I love their recipes! Every one I have tried has been perfect for me.
We are in the brave new world of climate change.
I would welcome your comments on how gardening is changing in the Rogue Valley and tips on how we can adapt to still produce the fruits and veggies we all love. I’ll include your tips in this column in the coming months.
Happy August! I’d like to give some updates to both students and continuing Master Gardener volunteers this month. Hopefully this will answer many frequently asked questions. If you have not already done so, bookmark the Volunteer Resources webpage, which should be your go-to for questions regarding hours requirements, forms, and more.
Plant Clinic Training – I plan to hold Plant Clinic training for 2020 students in mid- to late September. Details are being worked out, but I envision doing two mini sessions (1.5 – 2 hours max) in-person at the Extension. There may be a small online component. I’d like all students to have this training because solving plant and insect problems is a common Master Gardener activity. You may then choose if you would like time in the Plant Clinic for volunteer hours (remember, the Plant Clinic hour requirement has been waived for the 2020 class due to COVID).
Graduation – details are forthcoming, but we plan to hold a graduation ceremony for students the evening of Saturday, October 9, 2021. Please hold the date!
Hours Requirements – 40 hours of volunteer service are due by October 1, 2021. If you need an extension, please talk to me and I will be happy to arrange one. You can log your hours on the Volunteer Reporting System. A link can also be found on the Volunteer Resources page.
Current Master Gardeners:
Hours requirements – For recertification for continuing MGs, this year we are asking for 20 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education to be completed by October 1, 2021. However, if this proves challenging or burdensome due to COVID-19, please let me know and I will accept whatever hours you can give this year, even if it’s zero (so, if someone needs the hours requirement waived again this year, I will approve that).
Badges – Badges will be ordered by late September, in time for the October graduation. Current Master Gardeners should reach out to me if they need replacement badges. I typically only order them before graduation, to ensure bulk pricing.
Thank you everyone, and as always, please reach out with any questions you may have!
Greetings Master Gardeners. It is with great joy that we are able to return to the Extension campus and our Demonstration Gardens!
All of our Garden Education Mentors (GEMS) should be returning to campus on Wednesdays from 9 to noon. Our gardens need many helpers to get them back into shape for the public visitations that we encourage. If you want to volunteer in the gardens, please contact me or Marcie Katz, our GEMS coordinator, and let us know if you have a particular garden you want to work in. If you do not have a preference, we will get you lined up with a GEM who needs help. Be aware that some GEMS come in from 8 am to 11 am during the hottest part of the summer, but you can make arrangements for the hours you want. Please come and join us. I know that I personally need helpers to get nursery stock weeded, labeled, priced and transplanted for a native plant sale I hope to have in September.
There’s more exciting news too! Mark your calendars for Saturday, August 21st. We will be having an all-member meeting at 3 pm in the auditorium, followed by our annual “picnic” at 5:30 pm. Our all-member meeting was supposed to happen in June, but alas, COVID-19 again threw a wrench into the works – so August it is. I am sorry to report that also due to COVID-19 we were not even sure an in-person picnic would be possible this year. We did not budget for the normal picnic expenses. So, we are asking all members to bring their own picnic dinners. JCMGA will provide water, lemonade and iced tea, as well as ice cream sundaes for dessert. I hope all of you will attend both the meeting and the picnic. We have missed you. We want you and we need you. We are all so ecstatic to be back on campus and hope to see you there soon!
Finally, if you are growing squash in your garden this year, please go out early in the morning and look for bees in your squash blossoms. These may be squash bees, Peponapis pruinosa, and OSU researchers want to know where they are in Oregon. Take a picture and send it with your location to the squash bee survey.
It is always fun to participate in Citizen Science and you can earn volunteer hours for doing it!
Have fun and Garden for Life!