Seed Library Coming to Corvallis 

A person holds a selection of seed packets. Credit: urbancow, Getty Images

The Public Seed Library is a new collaborative project of the Benton County Master Gardeners and the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, with the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library serving as the host partner. The free, volunteer-run Public Seed Library is expected to open at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library downtown by March ’23. 

“This is a natural opportunity to collaborate to benefit so many, so easily!” said Jill Farrow, who is a member of both organizations. “The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s Food Action Team puts on the free Edible Garden Tour each year to increase local food consumption and support home gardening. The Benton County Master Gardeners provide popular seasonal ‘Seed to Supper’ courses. The new Public Seed Library leverages the strengths of these two community volunteer organizations.”  

This will be a seed-sharing library to share sustenance: Give what you can, and receive seeds and garden knowledge on how to plan a garden, grow vegetables, and companion herbs and flowers too for pollinators and other beneficial insects. 

The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition is looking for volunteers to collect donated seeds, then help organize and inventory seed packets to stock the new Public Seed Library. If you’re an individual interested in volunteering, or a company interested in making a tax-deductible donation of commercial seed packets, reach out to connect with the Food Action Team now here

As the educational partner, Benton County Master Gardeners will offer vegetable garden planning and growing lectures, as well as staff pop-up Plant Clinic help desks at the Corvallis Public Library next spring and summer. The Public Seed Library will be available to everyone who visits the Corvallis Public Library, for their personal use, regardless of whether they have a library card. It’s intended to support new and experienced home gardeners too.  

These local organizations already partner with others to provide the free Corvallis Garden Resource Guide and gardening educational outreach through the Neighborhood Planters Kiosks project. Corvallis has an active gardening community and three family-owned retail nurseries that support local school gardens, community gardening, and natural area conservation groups. There’s a lot of programming support for people who are looking to start gardening or grow more of their own food. “The Public Seed Library will benefit all: current gardeners who will have free access to a broader variety of seeds, new gardeners, and the environment too,” Farrow says. 

The Public Seed Library will be stocked exclusively with donated vegetable, herb, and flower commercial seed packets “Packed for 2022.” Please consider donating new or open and partially used seed packets if you’re a home gardener who has left over commercial seed packets “Packed for 2022”. Donations from the general public will be collected from mid-December through January ’23 at two drop-off donation sites: 

  • Benton County Master Gardener’s OSU Extension Office at 4077 SW Research Way 
  • Corvallis Public Library downtown at 645 NW Monroe Ave inside at the Librarian’s Desk 

Look for future updates on the Public Seed Library project on the Benton County Master Gardener and Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s Food Action Team websites, also a new Instagram account, coming soon. For questions about the project, contact the Food Action Team here. 

Houseplants for everyone

Resource list curated by Carrie Falotico (Master Gardener Trainee), Leo Sherry (Master Gardener Trainee), and Elizabeth Records (Education Program Assistant, OSU Extension Service)

A variety of small houseplants in a sunny window. Credit: Getty Images

Why this list?

The internet is full of tips for houseplant care. But not all of them are based on science or proven to be safe and effective. So Master Gardener Trainees Leo and Carrie researched these suggestions just for you! Whether you are new to houseplants or are familiar with growing them, we hope this list of research-based resources will support your success.

Which houseplants are right for me?

If you have pets or children, consider non-toxic houseplant options. Credit: Getty Images

How much light your dwelling gets, how much time you have, and the people and pets in your home, are things to consider when picking houseplants.

How do I start houseplants from cuttings?

Many types of houseplants can be rooted from cuttings. Credit: Getty Images

You got a cutting of a houseplant! How do you grow it into a full-grown plant?

How do I care for houseplants?

Some plants need to be misted with water. Credit: Getty Images

Different plants have different needs. Keep your plants happy with these resources.

How do I fix houseplant pests or diseases?

A sticky card is used to trap insects on a plant. Credit: Getty Images

Your houseplant looks sick or has bugs. These resources can help.

What kind of houseplant is this?

A small collection of varied houseplants. Credit: Getty Images

Knowing the types of plants you have is key to successfully growing them. Find your plants in this list, or contact your local Extension office.



Specific plants:


African Violets

Air Plants

Small Aloes – Interesting, Colorful, and Easy Succulents

Amaryllis, Hippeastrum

Asparagus fern, Asparagus densiflorus

Boston Fern, Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’ 


Burro’s Tail, Sedum morganianum

Indoor Cacti

Chinese Evergreen

Croton, Codiaeum variegatum

Crown of Thorns, Euphorbia milii 




Elephant Bush, Portulacaria afra

Ficus benjamina

Fiddle Leaf Fig Houseplant – Proper Care 

Haworthias – Super Succulents for Small Spaces 

Holiday Cactus

Jade Plant, Crassula ovata 


Living Stones: Lithops


Indoor Palms

PoinsettiasPolka Dot Plant, Hypoestes phyllostachya 

Ponytail Palm, Beaucarnea recurvata

Pothos, Epipremmum aureum 

Rubber Plant


Shamrocks, Oxalis spp. 

Snake Plant: A Forgiving, Low-maintenance Houseplant

Spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum

Split-leaf philodendron, Monstera deliciosa 

Staghorn Fern, Platycerium bifurcatum

String of Hearts, Ceropegia woodii

String of Pearls, Senecio rowleyanus

Stromanthe sanguinea “Tricolor”

Tradescantia zebrina

Zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ plant)

Native plants invite themselves into the garden

By Carrie Falotico, Master Gardener trainee

There is a growing interest amongst gardeners in the Willamette valley to add more native plants to their gardens and landscapes. What if I told you that some of them might just invite themselves into your garden? This has been my experience in my own garden. I wanted to share these four native flowers with you so that you might be able to recognize them if they pop up where you garden.

Pearly Everlasting  – Scientific Name: Anaphalis margaritacea

I first discovered pearly everlasting growing in a crack in my walkway. I was about to pluck it, thinking it was a weed. But its soft, silvery leaves gave me pause and I decided to leave it alone to see what might develop. After its sweet little white flowers bloomed, I was able to identify it as pearly everlasting. I learned that it is an incredibly drought-tolerant perennial that is native to most of the United States except for the southwest. It’s also very attractive to pollinators like mining bees, American Lady butterflies, Painted Lady butterflies, the Everlasting Tebenna moth, and sweat bees.

When the flowers dry out, they make attractive additions to floral arrangements.

Fun Fact: “Pearly Everlasting is one of the first plants to colonize recently burned forests. When the rain comes after a fire season, Pearly Everlasting sends out rhizomes that allow the plant to spread rapidly across nutrient-rich areas.” 

Find out more about Pearly Everlasting

Douglas Aster Scientific Name: Aster subspicatus or Symphyotrichum subspicatum

Douglas aster Volunteering in my native flower bed with Rose Checkermallow and with Nootka Rose. Credit: Carrie Falotico

I first spied Douglas aster popping up in an area of my yard between a flowering quince and a lavender-bloomed rhododendron. I almost missed it amongst the Nootka rose, (which I will get to presently). It’s probably because the Nootka rose was so dense that I couldn’t really see the Douglas aster until the delicate light purple flowers began to open. I was smitten! 

Much like Pearly everlasting, Douglas aster is quite hardy and will tolerate a variety of light and soil conditions. It is drought and is deer resistant. It’s native along the west coast from Alaska to California, also in Idaho and Montana.

Douglas aster provides nectar and pollen to its insect visitors, which include native bees, syrphid flies, and northern checkerspot and woodland skipper butterflies. It may also be a larval host to several different month species.

It can get tall and leggy and can be considered “weedy” by some. It can also be an aggressive spreader, which I personally welcome. It can also be grown in a container, if preferred.

Fun fact from the Garden Ecology Lab: “Douglas aster is a pollinator plant superstar. It is particularly valuable as a late-season pollinator plant, able to provide both nectar and pollen to its visitors when these resources may otherwise be scarce in the landscape.”

Find out more about Douglas aster

Nootka Rose Scientific Name: Rosa nutkana

It’s easy to forgive Nootka rose for almost choking out my favorite lavender flowered rhododendron because the Nootka rose blooms are just so pretty and their red rose hips add a lovely pop of color in the fall and winter. 

Nootka Rose is a Northwest native extending from northern California into Alaska and east into Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. It tolerates a variety of soil, light and drought conditions, and is not affected by pests.

Nootka rose blooms from May through July. The flowers are pink, about 2” across and have a delicate sweet fragrance.

Here are some interesting facts I learned about Nootka rose, as presented in this entry from the Ray Howard Library of the Shoreline Community College, near Seattle, WA:  

“Nootka rose produces extensive rhizomes and grows rapidly, making it an ideal plant for revegetation projects. It is used to control soil erosion on hillsides, road cuts and streambanks. Nootka rose has successfully been used for rehabilitating disturbed sites at Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.

“Nootka rose is an important wildlife browse. Mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, caribou, bighorn sheep, bears, coyotes, and various rodents eat the fruits. Squirrels, mice, beavers, and porcupines eat the twigs and leaves. Nootka rose fruits are preferred by deer, elk, and squirrels. Nootka rose thickets are used for nesting and escape cover by birds and small mammals. Nootka rose provides good cover for waterfowl in Wyoming.”

Find out more about Nootka rose

Common/Western Yarrow – Scientific name: Achillea millefolium

Yarrow in my lawn. Credit: Carrie Falotico.

When we first moved to this property eight years ago, I noticed a small patch of yarrow in our lawn. I was already familiar with this plant, so I was pretty happy to see it. I’ve allowed it to flourish and grow, and now it is quite an impressive patch.

Yarrow is native to most of North America and is a valuable plant for native landscapes and restoration projects because of its ability to quickly grow in disturbed areas, its wide range of soil tolerance (can grow in moist soils except for constantly saturated soils), its ability to compete with exotic weeds and invasive species, its long flowering time, and its value to numerous pollinators.

Fun Fact from the US Forest Service:
“Numerous tribes in North America used yarrow for a variety of ailments. The crushed plant was applied to wounds and burns. The dried leaves were used as a tea to soothe colds, fever, and headache. Yarrow beer has been brewed in Europe since the middle ages. The Chinese considered yarrow plants to be good luck. Even Lewis and Clark were acquainted with yarrow. It was collected during the Lewis and Clark Expedition while they were camped near Kamiah, Idaho in May 1806.”

Find out more about yarrow 

Natives volunteering at your site?

I hope this inspires you to look for natives that might be volunteering in your yard and maybe give something that, at first sight, might seem like a weed a little time to prove itself. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Pollinator Benefits of a Messy Yard 

by Janet Morlan, Master Gardener Volunteer

This post is part of the Neighborhood Planter Kiosk project.

Credit: Getty Images collaged by OSU Extension

Beyond Flowers 

While flowering plants provide pollinators with food, insects also require shelter for nesting and overwintering. Most bees and wasps create nests in the soil or within dead plant stems or in cavities in wood. Many butterflies, wasps, moths, and lady beetles seek shelter in leaf litter and brush piles. Here are 3 things you can do to provide nesting & winter habitat. 

Save the Stems 

  • Rather than cutting dead stems to the ground, leave stalks for insects 
  • Provide hollow and pithy stems from perennial flowers and shrubs 
  • Provide variety of stem heights (8 to 24 inches) and diameters 
  • Cut stems in spring and leave stems through summer, winter and at least first half of second summer.  

Leave the Leaves 

Insects, worms, beetles, spiders, and many other small creatures use leaves for winter shelter. 

  • Leave a thin layer on lawns; a thin layer won’t damage it 
  • Spread over flower and veggie beds 
  • Pile around trees & shrubs as mulch 
  • Rake or blow to move, don’t shred with mower, as that harms the critters 

Build Rock Piles and Place Logs 

  • Rock piles or rock walls (dry wall construction) provide protected crevices for critters 
  • Keep it messy and loose, with access to bare ground 
  • Logs with loose bark and beetle holes provide habitat for insects, frogs, lizards, and more 

Rotting log with holes and cracks 

Trap Crops: what are they and how can they help control pests?

By Carrie Falotico, Master Gardener Trainee

Crucifer flea beetles (Phyllotreta cruciferae) and Brassica juncea, a trap crop that attracts these pests.

Plant pests can certainly be one of the most frustrating parts of growing your own food garden. Trap crops are part of an Integrated Pest Management plan. Here’s how they work. 

A TRAP CROP can be defined as a sacrificial plant that draws away damaging insects from the desirable crop.

Essentially, a trap crop works as an alternative host that draws away invading insects, giving the main vegetable crop an added layer of protection. In some cases, insects have a preference for these alternative hosts, and when given the choice, will go to the trap crop first.  After trap crops are infested with target insects, they can be controlled with timely insecticidal applications or mechanical removal. While trap cropping can be extremely beneficial, it is often not a complete solution. Trap crops will not control all insects and the use of integrated pest management (IPM) is necessary. IPM practices include rotating crops, attracting beneficial insects, and prudently using organic and synthetic chemicals.

This article gives a great explanation of trap cropping for small commercial growers. Many of these practices are also very useful in the home garden and can be done on a smaller scale.

Another great resource that details trap crops as well as intercropping and companion planting, that, when combined with trap crops, can make an even bigger impact when controlling pests.

Identification is key

You will definitely want to make sure you have correctly identified the pests causing damage to your plants. Different pests may prefer different trap crops and may require different integrative pest management (IPM) techniques. This resource is a helpful guide to identifying common pests as well as insects that are beneficial and helpful to gardeners.

Example: Flea beetles 

Flea beetles (including Epitrix spp. and Phyllotreta cruciferae) are a well-known garden pest on crops like kale and broccoli. For flea beetle control, Chinese southern giant mustard (Brassica juncea var. crispifolia) is an example of a trap crop that has been used effectively in the United States to protect crucifer crops from flea beetle damage. In studies conducted at Washington State University (WSU), a diverse trap crop containing Pacific Gold mustard (B. juncea), Dwarf Essex rape (B. napus), and pac choi (B. campestris L. var. chinensis) successfully protected broccoli from the flea beetle. Diverse trap crop plantings combine plants that have different phenologies (life cycles which can be influenced by the environment, weather conditions, and nutrition), chemical profiles, and physical structures that make them more attractive to flea beetles. 

It is important to note, however, that trap crops may not provide complete protection, especially during heavy pest infestations. You also have to manage the pests on the trap crop by removing them by hand and killing them, or using insecticide. Trap crops will be even more effective if several integrated pest management strategies are used together, like 

  • Control weeds in and around planting sites to limit food sources for flea beetles.
  • Remove old crop debris so that beetles will not be able to get protection in the winter.
  • Plant crops as late as possible. Plants grow faster in warmer temperatures and are more stable to resist damage from flea beetles.
  • Use row covers or other screening to keep beetles out when the seedlings are growing.
  • Remove row covers before the flowers come up so pollinating insects can reach the plants.

These articles give excellent detail on managing flea beetles:

Explore more

If you are interested in reading more about Integrated Pest Management and how it can help your garden thrive, this is a great resource

I hope you find this information helpful and that these methods help you have a more enjoyable gardening experience!

Using and Storing Squash and Pumpkin Seeds

by H. Chris Smith, Master Gardener volunteer

Now that the days are shorter, the air crisper and the windows have a sprinkle of mist in the morning, it’s time to think about how to store and use squash and pumpkin seeds. (text on image of pumpkin and pumpkin seeds)
Save them to plant, eat them… the choice is yours.

Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbita, or gourd, family that includes other types of squash. “Pumpkins are considered to be drier, coarser, and strong-flavored compared to squash and are therefore used differently in cooking.” (see Reference #1)

In addition to the great taste of roasted pumpkin seeds, there are many health benefits to entice you to bring pumpkin seeds into your kitchen. “Pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium, a mineral that’s important for keeping blood pressure in check. They’re also a good source of several other minerals, unsaturated fats, and fiber.” (see Reference #2)

Along with being high in nutrients, they’re also rich in antioxidants which aid in reducing a lot of harmful diseases our body tries to defend against. . . .” (see Reference #3)

This is one of the ways to prepare raw pumpkin seeds

  • Clean and wash the seeds
  • Dry the seeds in the oven at 150 degrees F. for 1-2 hours, stirring frequently
  • Roast seeds by:
    • Mixing thoroughly 2 cups dry seeds, ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1½ tablespoons melted butter, and 1 teaspoon salt
    • Place in a shallow baking pan and roast (1 hour at 250 degrees F.; 30 minutes at 275 degrees F.; or 10-15 minutes at 300 degrees F.
    • Stir the seeds frequently as they roast
    • Store cooled seeds in a plastic bag. Seeds can be kept in the refrigerator or freezer.
    • Seeds will become rancid if stored at room temperature for long periods of time. (see Reference #4)
There are many simple ways to add pumpkin seeds to your diet
  • Use them as toppings on dishes such as yogurt and granola;
  • Sprinkle them in a salad; or
  • Add them to your pumpkin bread recipe.
  • “You may also buy pumpkin seed extracts which can be especially helpful if you are someone who isn’t a fan of seeds or nuts (or if you are allergic).” (see Reference #3)
Saving seeds

If you decide to collect squash and pumpkin seeds to plant in your garden in the spring, keep in mind that, “[s]eeds from hybrid varieties produce a mixture of plant types, most of which are inferior to the parent. Many varieties could be hybrids but may not be designated as such.” (see Reference #5)

Squash and pumpkin seeds can be inadvertently cross-pollinated in the garden, thereby creating plants with hybrid seeds. But, by taking the time to control pollination you can have confidence that the seeds you store will not be hybrid. “You can control pollination in your garden, but it requires careful attention. First, you need to distinguish between male and female flowers. Male blossoms are on a longer stalk and do not have a miniature fruit at the base as do female blossoms.

  1. With careful observation, note the blossoms that will open the following day. They have a light yellow color and a distinctly pointed tip.
  2. In the evening, select male and female flowers on the same plant. With a paper clip for small flowers or a rubber band for larger flowers, prevent the flower from opening. Flowers open only early in the day.
  3. In the morning, pluck the male blossom and touch the cluster of pollen (called anthers) to the center of the female flower (called the stigma).
  4. Close the female flower again so bees can’t get in.
  5. Tag the blossom.
  6. Grow the fruit to maturity for the desired seed.” (see Reference #5)

Since pumpkin and squash seeds can live up to 4-5 years, it can be worth the time to manage pollination and then carefully store the seeds from your garden. A recommended storage method is to, “[p]lace seed packets in a jar, seal the jar tightly and place it in a refrigerator or freezer. To help absorb moisture, place a small, cloth bag filled with dry, powdered milk beneath the seed packets in the bottom of the jar. Use about 1⁄2 cup of dry milk from a recently opened package. (see Reference #5)

Planting a new crop

Next spring you will need to test your stored seeds for germination before planting. This is one method:

  1. “Moisten two or three layers of paper towels.
  2. Place 25 to 50 seeds on the towels and roll the towels loosely. Place them in a plastic bag.
  3. Keep the towels in a warm place such as on a kitchen counter or on top of a water heater. . . .
  4. Observe the seeds at 2-day intervals to determine the degree of germination.” (see Reference #5)

For more information, you can read this publication, Propagating Plants from Seeds (see Reference #6).

Most of all, enjoy your fall seeds, savor their flavor, and the good memories of tending squash and pumpkin plants in your garden.


  1. Squash and Pumpkin Varieties
  2. Seed of the Month
  3. Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
  4. Preserving Foods: Pumpkins & Winter Squash
  5. Collecting and storing seeds from your garden
  6. Propagating Plants from Seed
  7. Give Seeds a Test for A+ Performance

Also see: Storing Pumpkin and Winter Squash at Home

How to Grow Cane Berries and Blueberries in Containers

by Chris Smith, Master Gardener volunteer

Container gardening is popular for a lot of good reasons.  You can grow plants in spaces that have limited sun.  If your containers are movable, the plants can be moved to follow the sunlight.  You can locate your container garden in handy spots, such as just outside your kitchen door where the fruit is easy to harvest, or on a patio or balcony.   If you rent your dwelling, you can take your plants along when you move.

For many, the idea of using containers to grow blueberries and cane berries hasn’t seemed like a good bet as these plants are typically found in backyard gardens.  And, cane berries have been considered problem plants because of their rambling roots.  But, given a bit of careful planning, you can extend your container garden to include berries.

Here are some things to consider when planning a berry container garden

  • Pick plants that are dwarf or limited to about three feet tall
  • Pick plants that are self-pollinating, that don’t require pollen from two or more bushes of different varieties to produce berries.
  • Pick the right size for a container and consider placing it on a tray with wheels.  That way you will be able to move the container to follow the available sunlight, and to overwinter in a protected area if your location is subject to hard freezes.
  • “Raspberries should be grown in 3 to 5-gallon plastic containers. Tie or fasten the growing canes to thin stakes or a trellis to support the growing canes as they grow through the summer. Only fall-bearing raspberries should be used. Heritage is the most popular fall-bearing variety, but others are available. In August flowers will form at the ends of the canes and harvestable fruit will be ready by the end of August.  These raspberries will continue to produce fruit until frost.” (see Reference #1)
  • For blueberries, “[s]elect a well-draining, large weather-proof container like a wooden barrel planter.  Containers for mature blueberries will need to be at least 24 inches deep and about 24-30 inches wide.” (see Reference #2)
  • For blueberries, “[u]se a 50-50 mix of potting soil and peat moss as your planting media. Wet it thoroughly before placing it in the container. If the shrub is pot bound gently tease the roots to encourage root expansion into the potting media. Place the blueberry into the potting media and plant it at the same depth as it was in its container. Then water well.” (see Reference #2)
  • For other berries, use a 50-50 mix of potting soil and compost.
  • Container soil can dry out quickly, so plan to keep the soil in your containers moist.
  • While not making commercial recommendations, there are a number of suppliers that specialize in dwarf, self-pollinating plants such as Direct Gardening, and Bushel and Berry.


#1:  Container Gardening with Fruit, from Univ. of Mass

#2:  Growing Blueberries in Containers, from Univ. of Maryland Extension

#3:  Container Gardening, from Oregon State University Extension Service

#4: Growing Blueberries in your Home Garden – EC 1304, from Oregon State University Extension Service.

Linn Master Gardeners win award for pollinator newsletter

 Congratulations to Linn County Master Gardener Association for winning the Marje Luce Search for Excellence from Oregon Master Gardener Association, for their publication Bee Notes.

Bee Notes raises awareness about stewarding native pollinators, including timely tips for care of blue orchard mason bees. Bee Notes is a key component of the outstanding pollinator education initiatives of Linn Master Gardeners, including the BEEvent Pollinator Conference which won this same award in 2019.

Search for Excellence is the recognition program of Master Gardener volunteer work, both throughout the United States and Canada (at the International level), and across the State of Oregon within the OMGA.

In Memory of Marti Olsen

We were sad to learn that onetime Master Gardener volunteer Marti Olsen passed away in July 2022. Fellow volunteers recall that Marti truly loved gardening especially roses. Marti, we miss you.

In 2005 no one stepped forward to take over Through the Garden Gate tour and the board had decided not to have it that year.  Marti didn’t want to see that happen so she started trying to recruit folks.  I was a new trainee that year.   Marti convinced me my garden was worthy to be on tour.  It was March with only a few months to go till the tour.  Not much time to get my garden ready for the tour but I agreed.  The problem was we were still 2 gardens short. Marti asked if I had any ideas. We ended up recruiting two of my wonderful neighbors with beautiful gardens. Had it not been for Marti stepping up the garden could have just been a memory. ”

– Nancy Messman, Linn County Master Gardener Association. 

Read an obituary for Marti Olsen HERE.

7 Steps to Maximize Your Harvest’s Nutrients

Written by: Karen Mills, Master Gardener Trainee

Credit: cottonbro

Eat more fruit and vegetables! We have all heard this command from many sources. And for good reason! Produce is the main source of many vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other nutrients in our diet. Did you know that if your garden includes fruit and vegetables, you may eat more produce than people who do not garden? This warms the hearts of your parents, dietitians, and doctors.

Any produce you eat is a good thing and includes all of those nutrients your doctor is hoping you will eat. But it does beg the question, is one tomato the same as another? Does a tomato have the same amount of nutrients in it regardless of where that tomato comes from, how it was grown, and how it is processed? Not necessarily. The condition of your soil, how you manage your garden, and how you harvest, store, and process your bounty can all impact the nutrient content of your produce. Whether you grow cucumbers in a container on your patio or have a large garden in your yard, how can you make sure that the produce you grow has the most nutrition possible? Follow these 7 steps to get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck

Test Your Soil pH

  • The nutrient content of produce begins with healthy soil. If your garden soil pH is off, nutrients that might be in the soil may not be available to your plants. For example, if your soil is too acidic, your plants may not get enough calcium leading to blossom end rot in your zucchini and tomatoes. Adjust your soil pH in accordance with test results.
  • More information on soil pH

Test Your Soil Nutrients

  •  If your soil lacks nutrients, your produce will also lack nutrients. A soil test can tell you the amount of phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and micronutrients you have to work with. Fertilize and amend your soil in accordance with the soil test, plant needs, and package instructions. Proper use of fertilizer and soil amendments can optimize produce flavor, texture, color, size, nutrient composition, and shelf life. Be careful – too much fertilizer can be just as bad as too little!
  • More information on fertilizing your garden.

Manage Your Garden Watering

Time Your Harvest

  • Know when your vegetables are at their peak and harvest as close to that time as you can. Every fruit and vegetable has its unique indicators of when to harvest. While many vegetables are at their highest deliciousness when allowed to fully ripen on the plant, allowing some vegetables to remain unharvested past the peak ripeness can result in inedible produce. For example, okra becomes woody and inedible when left to grow after peak maturity is achieved. Some produce can continue to ripen after harvest. While harvesting prior to maturity may prevent the neighborhood deer and squirrels from snacking on your tomatoes, early harvest means tomatoes lower in vitamin C than tomatoes left to ripen on the plant.
  • More information on harvesting, handling, and storing popular home garden crops.

Eat or Process as Quickly as You Can

  • Reduce the time between harvest and eating or processing as much as you can. As soon as you harvest fruit and vegetables, they start to lose nutrients. After all, you have removed the produce from the plant that provides nutrients and water. 

Store Your Harvest Appropriately

  •  If you do need to store your harvest, make sure that you are doing so correctly. Each type of produce prefers a specific type of storage environment. Storing your harvest correctly not only keeps it fresh longer but also helps retain nutrients. Some produce, such as snap beans, prefers cold, moist storage. Some produce, such as winter squash, prefers warm, dry storage.
  • More information on the particulars of storage

Pick a Preservation Method That Retains Nutrients

Nothing beats the taste of freshly picked, home-grown produce. Using these tips will help you get the most nutrition you can from all of your hard work, patience, and perseverance. Happy gardening!