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Bottle Drive Reminder

By Beet 2022 06 June

Looking for a quick and easy way to help Jackson County Master Gardeners? Consider donating your redeemable beverage bottles and cans. 

It’s easy! Pick up a BLUE BAG or two (no more than two please) from the table in the lobby of the Extension office and fill it with clean, empty, beer, soda, water, tea, or juice container–ANY bottle or can that has the OR 10 cents redemption value listed on the label. Once your bag is full, you can drop it off at any of the following bottle redemption sites: 

  • 1179 Stowe Ave, Medford, OR 97501
  • 2727 Ave G, White City, OR 97503
  • 1040 Rogue River Hwy, Grants Pass, OR 97527 

Then pick up another blue bag and start again. Every little bit helps!

Speakers Bureau: Red Wigglers Are Very Prolific in Home Worm Bins

By Beet 2022 06 June

Eisenia fetida, known under various common names such as manure worm,[2] redwormbrandling wormpanfish wormtrout wormtiger wormred wiggler worm, etc., is a species of earthworm adapted to decaying organic material. These worms thrive in rotting vegetationcompost, and manure. They are epigean, rarely found in soil. 

—Wikipedia® text; used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0

John Kobal’s fun, creative and educational presentation on Worm Composting at the Medford Library on Saturday, May 14, did not disappoint. John pointed out that the red wiggler works at the surface and is prolific. With just a few Red Wigglers to start, you can rapidly end up with a bin-full. 

John cautioned the audience to not confuse these surface dwellers with the earthworms who create tunnels and networks several feet down into the soil, taking nutrients and oxygen down with them. Other earthworms are not suitable for worm bins.

Those present could purchase the few items needed to make a worm bin and start raising red wigglers tomorrow. 

He brought several books, but mentioned one in particular as his personal go-to book: Worms Eat My Garbage, by Mary Applehof.

I am sure he had at least one convert in the room. After sharing his container full of red wigglers, John put them on a paper and demonstrated that they do not like light. We all went up to the table and looked at the pile of worms as they dove into the interior of the soil pile to get away from the light. He also had a container of worm castings which looked a bit like dried coffee grounds. He put the pile of worms and their soil back in the container and offered them to the participants. One young lady raised her hand and smiled brightly when John gave her the container of worms.

John was a brave soul to take on the first-time hybrid Zoom/in-person platform for a garden presentation. I am sure he made some last-minute adjustment to accommodate that this was new and being worked out. Originally, the presentation was to be in one of the library’s garden areas where soil and worms on the ground would not be an issue. The hybrid class was moved indoors to a room with new carpeting. Thanks, John, for flexibility and a pioneering spirit to take on new technology and for being neat and clean about relocation! This hybrid model will probably become the norm as we move away from COVID-19 and back to normal. After all, what gardener has not learned the lesson of flexibility? There will be changes as new techniques are explored and new equipment becomes available. 

There were six people on Zoom and seven in person. The in-person people did have the advantage of handling the worms and seeing what castings look like. One happy person left with her new “pets.”

Thanks again, John, for a very enjoyable and instructive hour.

“Catch the Rain” Reminder

By Beet 2022 06 June

In September of 2021, the irrigation wells on the OSU Southern Oregon Research and Education Center campus, at 569 Hanley Road, in Central Point ran dry.  Watering of all campus demonstration gardens stopped, and plants in the native plant nursery began to die.  Through a massive emergency effort, the nursery stock was donated to local restoration projects or taken to members homes to be maintained until we coulda install a watering system.  

JCMGA, in conjunction with Small Farms, Land Stewards and other programs housed at SOREC, are fundraising to be able to install a large Rainwater Catchment System.  The system is a 5,000-gallon system that will capture water off the roof of greenhouse #2.  Master Gardeners will use the water to maintain the native plants in the nursery on campus.  The system will also be demonstration teaching tool for Master Gardeners, Small Farms, Land Stewards, 4-H programs, and any community association that would like to bring members on campus to see what a large capacity capture system looks like.  Interpretive signs and brochures will be placed with the system for the public’s information.

The Rainwater Catchment System is a $15,000 project, so we need to raise considerable funds.  Please consider donating.  No donation is too small.  Give through this link,, or on our website:

Thank you for supporting Master Gardeners in Jackson County in our ongoing efforts to educate and serve the citizens of Jackson County!

Hover fly on asters

Garden for Life!

Somewhere Growing Over the Rainbow

By Beet 2022 06 June


Somewhere over the rainbow

Skies are blue

And the dreams that you dare to dream

Really do come true



This is especially true if you sow, Beta vulgaris subsp, cicla, Swiss chard, in all its vibrant range of colors.

Swiss chard Beta vulgaris subsp, cicla

From bright yellow, blood red, white, crimson, peppermint stripe and fuchsia to lime green and coral stems, Swiss chard can bring a rainbow right from your own garden bed.


Also known as Silverbeet, leaf beet, and spinach beet, to name a few, Swiss chard is surprisingly way more familiar to the other side of the Atlantic than to our own American soils.


A member of the same family as spinach, Amaranthaceae, Swiss chard originated in Sicily then later was cultivated in England.  It was listed among beets in 1848 when colonists brought it to America. (Swiss was added to its name to distinguish it from French spinach, 19th century).


Cultivated both as vegetable and ornamental, this hardy biennial plant provides not only succulent-ruffled-leaves but thick-sweet stems. It’s a wonderful substitute for spinach since, unlike spinach, it contains no oxalic acid.


While Swiss chard is low in calories, it’s high in magnesium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K.  One cup of cooked greens has 700 times the RDA of vitamin K and 200 times that of A, all without the oxalic acid found in spinach.


You can indulge in this delicious nutritious green both raw and cooked.  Have it as a salad, tossed in stir fries, used instead of spinach in lasagna or a frittata, made into pesto, have wraps with the steamed leaves, and more.

Swiss chard can be directly sown early in spring as soon as soil can be worked, or sown in late summer for fall crops.  You can also start it inside, about a month before the last frost date.


Sow seeds outside in rows 14”-18” apart (inside in sterile seed mix in 5” squares covered with ½” seed mix), then thinly cover and gently pat down with a 1/2” of compost mix.  Water thoroughly.


Once sprouted, thin direct sown seedlings to 8-12” apart, or similarly, plant out (after acclimating for several days) seedlings started indoors.


Keeping Swiss chard mulched, free of weeds, side dressed with rich compost, and watered thoroughly (once weekly unless very hot, then twice weekly), will give you a great rainbow to enjoy all season.


Unlike spinach, it will grow in both cool and summer heat, and survive mild frosts as well.  Although as a biennial Swiss chard wants to set seed its second year, one can clip young leaves and stems in early spring until starting a new crop.


Why not sow your dreams with rainbow rows of Swiss chard?  Not only will it bring a vibrant splash of color to your garden, but your menu as well.


Some Fun Facts:


Despite the “Swiss” reference, chard isn’t Swiss at all but a native of the Mediterranean.


It’s believed the name “chard” derived from the French word “cardoon” which is carde furthering the confusion with the thistle cardoon that’s not a leafy green at all.


Swiss chard’s age is unclear, but Aristotle mentioned using red-stalked chard around 350 BCE as a medicinal plant.

Seed Sources:

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.

Pinetree Garden Seeds

Harris Seeds


Spicy Sautéed Toasted Coconut Chard

1 lb chard, washed, with stems cut in small crosswise slices, leaves chopped

1 red organic onion, washed, peeled and cut in half vertically then cut in thin slices

4 large cloves of garlic, skinned and minced fine

1 2” piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced

zest and juice of one organic lime

3 tablespoons sesame cooking oil (canola is good substitute)

½ cup unsweetened organic coconut flakes, toasted (toast in 350° oven about 8-10 minutes until light brown)

1/3 cup unsalted dry roasted almonds, (Trader Joes) chopped coarse

2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar

¼ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon spicy sweet chili paste (Amy Chungs)

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Heat cooking oil in heavy pot then toss in garlic, onion and chard stems.  Sauté for about 3 minutes until limp.  Add chard leaves and sauté until limp.  Add in ginger, lime zest and juice, coconut milk, honey, chili paste and salt.  Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes until all is tender and juices have been reduced.  Toss in toasted coconut and almonds and toasted sesame oil.  Stir until well blended and serve hot.  Makes about 4 servings as a side dish or atop rice as a base for grilled poultry or fish.

Pyrethrum – A Very Incomplete History……or how the Dalmatian Daisy helped build the Panama Canal

By Beet 2022 06 June

Dalmatian Daisy – Chrysanthemum cinerarifolium

Gardeners are all familiar with one of the oldest insecticides still in frequent use, the extract of the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium or a powder produced from the dried flowers. The plant has had other names such as the common one, “dalmatian daisy,” and the scientific names Tanacetum cinerariifolium or Pyrethrum cinerariifolium.

What has that daisy got to do with such a heroic construction project as the Panama Canal? In the right hands, it could keep the construction workers alive! The right hands in this case were those of military sanitation officer William Gorgas. He was transferred to the Panama Canal Zone from Cuba, where he had cleared the island of yellow fever and malaria during the Spanish-American War. With the then-new knowledge that mosquitos were the carriers of those diseases,  he started a systematic program of killing mosquitos with pyrethrum, sulfur, and the elimination of standing water.

The United States had acquired control of a 10-mile-wide strip across Panama through gunboat diplomacy in 1903, while also buying the remnants of a failed French attempt to construct a canal. 

Work on the Panama Canal started in 1904 with sanitation officer Gorgas present until the canal’s completion in 1914. With about 4,100 sanitation workers, he made war on the mosquito. The workers’ housing was improved with screens on windows, a city drinking water plant, and apparently with sulfur fumigation. There were quinine dispensaries along the construction zone for treatment of malaria. The pyrethrum was mixed with kerosine oil to make it stickier and it was applied liberally to mosquito habitat. Workers ceaselessly drained any standing water as much as was possible. Within 2 years, yellow fever had completely disappeared and malaria cases had fallen by 90%. Less than 10% of the workforce died through disease or accident during construction, compared to a 25% death rate during the French attempt, which was only 40% completed. 

Pyrethrum is still the first insecticide I think of when needed in the garden, as it is comparatively less toxic to humans than alternatives and breaks down quickly from sun, air, and water. If you use it, read the label and use precisely according to instructions. It still is a poison, after all. 

Winter Dreams Summer Gardens 2022

By Beet 2022 05 May

~~~~~ Exciting News! ~~~~~

The Jackson County Master Gardener Association is back, virtually!

Dates: Fridays, October 28 and November 4 and

Saturdays, October 29 and November 5, 2022

In the comfort of your own home via Zoom

Dig into four days of virtual garden immersion seminars taught by 16 presenters, all designed to help you plan next year’s spectacular garden. 2022 Winter Dreams Summer Gardens Symposium is an ideal time to take stock while learning with experts about gardening in our Rogue Valley climate.

Cost: $30. Pick your favorite topics or watch them all. Most sessions will be recorded and available for a limited time for paid participants.

Make it a family reunion & invite friends, family,

and all your far-flung Gardening Enthusiasts!


Stay tuned — Details to follow


Par-Tea in the Gardens

By Beet 2022 05 May


Spring is in the air, calling us into our gardens to enjoy the rebirth of the land! Just like at home, the Demonstration Gardens at the Extension are in bloom, and they long for visitors to view them and enjoy their beauty.

In the past two years, we have sheltered in place, obliged to wear masks, and stand six feet apart when in public. Through that process, we lost the connections that we previously had to people and places and the Jackson County Master Gardener Association has been especially hard hit. In those two years, we lost over half of our membership!

Well, we are inviting you back! Back to view the beautiful gardens, back to see, meet, and reconnect with other Master Gardeners, have tea, stroll, and see what changes have evolved on the Extension grounds. The Member Services Working Group, along with the Fundraising Working Group, Garden Enhancement Committee, and GEMS, would like to invite you, the Members and past Members of JCMGA to an afternoon “Par-Tea in the Gardens” taking place in the Arboretum on Saturday, June 18, from 1-4 pm. This is an “open house” event, so come and go when you please, tour the grounds, and then finish off with iced beverages, hot tea, and an assortment of tea sandwiches and desserts. Sit in the shade of the Arboretum to renew old friendships, make new ones, and catch up with what’s happening. So, come one and all, join in the fun and hopefully become involved again in our wonderful association!

Look for the JCMGA Mailchimp to arrive in your mailbox coming soon. A RSVP is encouraged!

For any inquiries, please contact Carol Bogedain at or Marcie Katz at 

Why Natives

By Beet 2022 05 May


Elle Anderson of the Ashland Library contacted JCMGA and asked if we would consider participating in the Jackson County Library System’s career development day. She was looking for a recommendation for a gardening topic that would have wide appeal to a broad range of interest. Lynn Kunstman responded immediately with her subject, “Why Native Plants.” Thank you, Lynn.

Based on my personal experience with Lynn’s enthusiasm, knowledge, and especially her power of persuasion about the use of native plants, I thought this was the perfect presentation for this event. It is scheduled for late April and will have JCLS staff from all branches as attendees.

Early in the pandemic, I went to Lynn’s driveway to purchase some plants that she was selling to keep some funds rolling in for JCMGA during these challenging times. This pop-up sale was an honor system arrangement and I did not expect to see her. However, she and her hubby drove up as I was looking over the offerings. Being new to the Rogue Valley, I was only slightly familiar with most of the plants. I was looking for milkweed as I did want to attract Monarchs. So, masked and at least six feet apart, we had a lively conversation. Like busy bees pollinating a large garden, we conversationally buzzed among many native plant topics. During the 30 to 40 minutes in Lynn’s driveway, along with her recommendation of watching Doug Tallamy on YouTube, I became a convert.

I am wondering how many converts she will create who would join me in their own gardens, bottoms up, and heads down, moving plants and making room for new natives such as those that I am now aware of and on the lookout for.

We can become a movement that finds ways to improve our environment and makes way for more birds and insects that can help move our planet back toward a healthier place for all life to thrive.


Susan Koenig and John Kobal were off to a grand start with OLLI class, “Vegetable Gardening in the Rogue Valley.” Their first class of the eight-week session had 39 participants and covered a deep dive into soils. John and Susan provided detailed information from testing to what it takes to create good gardening soils to how to keep it that way. Susan and John have created their own fan club in the OLLI World and I expect that their followers will continue to sign up for many more interesting gardening classes in the future.


Don’t Be Gloomy! Get Yourself a Sweet Goumi!

By Beet 2022 05 May



Elaeagnus multiflora, Goumi berry, also known as Cherry Silverberry, Cherry Elaeagnus Cibie, Longpipe Bush, and Daio-Gumi has many names and many benefits. Not so well known in the USA, the Goumi berry (not to be confused with the Goji berry) has been rising on the garden scene.

It originated in China, Korea, and Japan. It’s one of three edible species of Elaeagnus including Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) and Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia). Although both Autumn and Russian Olive are invasive, the Goumi is considered the least invasive of the three but has not shown itself to be a problem in Oregon.


How is the Goumi good for us as well for our gardens? As a perennial, the Goumi (unlike annuals whose short life span takes nutrients from soils to mature rapidly) has better roots for absorbing minerals from soils.

In the Elaeagnaceae (oleaster) family, it’s a nitrogen fixer. So instead of taking from the soil, the Goumi actually renews it with nitrogen, benefiting nearby plants as well. So, planting more than one is even better. Note that it grows to 6’-10’ tall, so plan accordingly.

The Goumi berry also requires little fussing over and generally prefers poor soil. Once established, it’s also drought tolerant. It’s long-lived and doesn’t need replanting.

Along with improving soil for neighboring plants, the Goumi berry is bee friendly. It provides us with edible fruit! Note that each berry contains a single large seed. If you’re gardening following permaculture principles, you couldn’t ask for a more perfect species.

This super-powered plant beautifies the garden. Its emerald-colored oval leaves have a shimmering silver underside.

Early in spring, creamy bell-shaped flowers fill the air with a delicious fragrance. Following on are bright scarlet silvery-speckled drupes that resemble cherries.

Whether part of an edible hedge or an orchard tree neighbor, both you and your other plants will benefit from its plant-based nutrition, garden beautification and what appears on your dinner plate.

Goumi berries taste great when completely ripe. Immature berries are astringent like unripe persimmons. When ripe, their tart sweetness resembles pie cherries or sweet rhubarb.

They’re great in many recipes, whether consumed fresh out-of-hand (when ripe), cooked, made into jams, jellies, desserts, or more.

They can grow in USDA hardiness zones 4-9, and roots have been known to survive to -20 F. Established shrubs tolerate drought and air pollution. Growing in shade though a half day of sun is preferred. They are pest and disease resistant and partially self-fertile.

So, get rid of the gloomy. Bee friendly and plant and treat your garden to a sweet Goumi!

Seed Sources:

For this season, it may be a challenge to acquire a Goumi. But don’t despair, it’s worth waiting for them to come back in stock.

One Green World

They have a wait list that’s definitely worth getting on!

Rain Tree Nursery



Shooting Star Nursery

3223 Taylor Rd, Central Point




Very Berry Goat Cheese and Greens Salad

About 4 servings


2/3 cup Goumi berries

¼ cup white wine vinegar

2-3 tablespoons honey or Agave nectar

2 tablespoons fresh French tarragon, minced fine

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

juice and zest from one organic lime

1/8 teaspoon sea salt



6-8 cups mixed fresh salad greens, like arugula, red and green lettuces, baby beet, kale, or chard (from the garden or market)

½ cup each strawberries (quartered), blackberries, and raspberries

4 oz of goat cheese, crumbled

¼ cup lightly salted pistachio nuts


Pit Goumi berries then purée in food processor. Add wine vinegar, honey, tarragon, garlic, mustard, oil, lime juice, zest, and sea salt. Pulse until well blended. Put excess vinaigrette in glass jar to store for up to 2 weeks.

Mix together greens and pile on 4 individual salad plates or in shallow bowls. Divide among plates and sprinkle the berries, goat cheese and pistachio nuts over the greens. Pour vinaigrette over as desired and serve.




The Winter Dreams Summer Gardens Symposium Is Coming This Fall

By Beet 2022 05 May



The leadership team for the 2022 WDSG is in place and busy. Barbara Low, Colet Allen and Susan Koenig are this year’s team leaders and will endeavor to keep you up to date with a monthly short report in The Garden Beet as we move forward.

So far, we have chosen Zoom as the format. The dates are Friday, October 28, and Saturday 29, and in November, Friday the 4th, and Saturday the 5th. There will be 4 sessions each day for a total of 16, each an hour and one-half long with 30 minutes between sessions. The cost will be $30 for all or as many sessions as you chose to watch.

We have created the Save the Day flyer and will need some volunteers to help distribute them in early May once we have finalized the locations where they will be posted and the number of flyers needed. Flyers will also go out to the JCMGA membership via Mailchimp, and we ask that each of you share them broadly with friends and family. Using Zoom makes location irrelevant with no barriers and requires only the Internet and a device on which to watch presentations on in the privacy of your own home.

Other volunteers are needed to help with this event. Its successful outcome is dependent on those volunteers that give so generously of their time and skills. We thank you in advance for helping bring about this achievement.

As we get the presentations and presenters on board, we will send out another flyer with the schedule, speakers, their subjects, and how to register. So, get the dates on your calendar and stay tuned.