Spring has sprung and our metro-area Master Gardener season is on its way as we welcome a new class of Master Gardeners.

After completing their in-class training, required modules, and final exam, 140 Intern Master Gardeners are joining the ranks and will be volunteering alongside Veteran MGs to venture into the community as garden educators!

2018 Trainees Jerry, Carrie and Ellen - give the thumbs up with Veteran Jack (second from left) at the final in-class training.
2018 Trainees Jerry, Carrie and Ellen – give the thumbs up with Veteran Jack (second from left) at the final in-class training. Photo courtesy of Eddie Rosen

Congrats and Welcome, Class of 2018!

We congratulate and welcome our 2018 class of Master Gardener Interns.  We look forward to seeing you at Metro Master Gardener workshops, OSU Master Gardener clinics, and Chapter events.  You have learned so much in the past couple months – but that is just the start!

Your volunteer service offers even greater opportunities to learn in active, hands-on format.  Dig-in!  Branch-out!  Try something new and discover the wealth of knowledge you will acquire as an OSU Master Gardener educator!


Intern MG Volunteer opportunities

We encourage you to try an array of volunteer activities with the goal of maximizing your learning. Please volunteer at least 28 hours in OSU MG Program Activities and 28 hours in Partner Activities. You can sign up for OSU MG Program Activities in CERVIS and watch for special email and newsletter notifications. Please submit your volunteer hour log sheet by September 30, 2018.

In addition, our local Master Gardener volunteer groups (known as chapters) in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties provide monthly educational seminars on a wide range of topics. Check out a lecture of interest, meet other like-minded gardeners, enjoy!

Please note: these events are FREE of charge and open to the public. Bring your friends and family!

See our educational events calendar for details or visit the individual Chapter websites.

A message to Veteran MGs:
It’s time to brush-off your Sustainable Gardening Handbooks and sign-up for a MG Clinic or MG event!  Take the time in the next few months to welcome Intern MGs and offer your experience and knowledge.  You can find a wide-range of volunteer shifts to sign-up for on CERVIS. If you want to refresh your knowledge, remember that the online modules are available for you to take through September 30, 2018.

The “Volunteer Portal”

The portal leads metro-area Master Gardeners to valuable information. Once there you can read the monthly Metro MG newsletter; review how to maintain your active MG status, sign-up for volunteer shifts on CERVIS, check out the events calendar and more!  You can also find the links to volunteer log sheets and other formsBe sure to check it out!

Workshop series
Our training Workshops Series is a wonderful opportunity for enriched, applied learning with our fantastic slate of instructors.  It meets a training requirement for Interns and helps to fulfill the continuing education requirement for Veteran MGs.  We want to be sure that this opportunity is available to all interested Master Gardeners.  So we ask that you adhere to the following guidelines…

  • Master Gardener Volunteer Educator Interns (Options 1 and 3), you can enroll in up to two workshops, which are included in your tuition.  You must participate in one workshop to successfully complete your training.
  • Certificate of Home Horticulture students (Option 2), you can enroll in up to three workshops, which are included in your tuition.
  • Veteran MGs can enroll for one workshop.

IMPORTANT: If you have registered for more than your allotted number of workshops (see paragraph above) please unregister for any workshops above the allowed maximum.  This will allow those who were unable to register for any workshops to have the opportunity to sign-up..

If you are signed up for a workshop be sure to fulfill your commitment to attend.  If you are unable to attend please unregister yourself as soon as you know you can’t attend – thereby giving another MG the opportunity.

For those who have not be able to sign-up for a workshop…new workshops will be added to the schedule in the next few weeks.

Look for an email announcement once the workshops are open for enrollment.

Chip Bubl teaching his ever popular GMO Noon-time chat. Photo courtesy of Eddie Rosen

Thanks to our Inspiring Instructors!
With a fruitful and informative MG training behind us – we want to express our utmost thanks to our instructors and class coordinators.  The MG training would not have happened without your generosity!  Thanks for sharing your time, knowledge and inspiration!

  • Jen Aron
  • Margaret Bayne
  • Chip Bubl
  • Jane Collier
  • Jen Gorski
  • Claudia Groth
  • Monica Maggio
  • Jean Natter

Oregon City training Class Coordinators led by Cindy Manselle

Class coordinators, Thank you!
Our immense thanks to the 3 Master Gardener training class coordinators and their stellar crew of assistants.  Our MG training classes happen thanks to the dedication, warm hospitality, organization, and trouble-shooting chops of Trina Studebaker (Beaverton), Cindy Manselle (Oregon City), and Beven Peters (Portland) and their steadfast team of Veteran volunteers.  We are grateful to them all!

We also would like to give an extra shout-out to Trina Studebaker for her years of service coordinating at the Beaverton training class.  Trina has been organizing, guiding and brightening MG training in Beaverton for the past 7 years and is now stepping aside to pursue other Master Gardener adventures.

Trina, thank you for your many years of dedication and service.

We look forward to seeing you at other MG activities!

A Big Shout Out to the Chapters!
We would like to extend a big shout out of thanks to the Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington County Chapters for their financial support of the Metro MG training classes.  The facility, hospitality and parking fees would prohibit training happening in such great venues.  Thank you for your constant, generous, dedicated support of the OSU Metro Master Gardener training program.  Your contributions make a such positive and vital difference to the Master Gardener program!

MGs at the Milwaukie Farmers’ Market

Master Gardeners Make an Impact!

The Clackamas Co. Extension Service’s annual community report is hot off the press.  Take a look inside to see the valuable impact Master Gardeners make to the county, plus learn about the amazing community service being provided via 4-H Youth Development, Family and Community Health, Forestry and Natural Resources, and Agriculture.


It’s Plant Sale Season!  Don’t Miss Out!

All 3 of our supporting Chapters are rolling out fantastic fundraising plant sales.  Mark your calendars and save the dates.  With a bit of judicious planning you can volunteer and shop-till-you-drop at all 3!  These are extremely fun events to attend and most especially fun to serve as a volunteer.  Don’t miss out!

Washington County MGs Plant Sale – April 28th

Clackamas County MGs Spring Garden Fair – May 5th and 6th
Volunteer opportunities, see…
For Spring Garden Fair details, see…

Multnomah MGs Incredible Edibles Sale – May 5
To volunteer email multmastergardeners@gmail.com
Event details http://www.multnomahmastergardeners.org/edibles

Great Gardening Tips for the Edible Gardening Season

Fertilize your currant, raspberry and blueberry shrubs!  Slug patrol!  Get your veggie garden started!

Natter’s Notes:
Carpenter Ants

Jean R. Natter, OSU Master Gardener

Fig 1: Relative size of carpenter ants: Top row: Winged queen (L) and winged male (R); 3 sizes of workers in bottom row: minor (L); media (center); and major (R). (http://faculty.spokanefalls.edu/LHansen/SummaryCarpenterArtBiology.htm)

Carpenter ants, sometimes referred to as “termites of the northwest,” can be important structural pests which typically nest in moisture-damaged wood. In our region, swarms of flying reproductives (males and females) often leave the nest during January. After mating, the surviving queens will shed their wings and search for a new nest site.

Once a thriving colony is established, it has 10,000 to 50,000 or more individuals. The main nest is in dead wood, perhaps a tree, stump, or landscape timbers.

But that’s only part of the story.

The pupae and some workers are in a secondary nest, one that’s in a relatively warm, dry structure such as a house, garage, or shed. When a colony is about 6 to 10 years old, it produces its first winged swarmers (reproductive males and females). The females, at 16- to 18-mm (about 5/8-inch), are larger than the males, the latter a scant 1/2-inch long.

It doesn’t matter which Camponotus species is in an infestation. In western Oregon, C. modoc (black with red legs) is more common than C. vicinus (black with red thorax and legs). A mature colony has 3 sizes of workers: minors (the smallest); media; and majors. They may invade households, just as nuisance ants will, but are unaffected by over-the-counter ant bait.

Fig 2: Characteristics of carpenter ant workers are elbowed antennae; evenly rounded thoracic profile; and a large node on the narrow connection between thorax and abdomen. (https://bugguide.net/node/view/779340)

All ants have elbowed antennae, and a petiole (a slender connection between thorax and abdomen) with a noticeable node (a bump).  Carpenter ant workers are recognized by their particularly large node and an evenly convex thoracic profile. The additional musculature for the swarmers’ wings creates a beefier profile changing the thoracic outline to somewhat flattened and table-like. After females drop their wings, close examination of the lateral thorax with a hand lens will reveal small indentations – the places where the wings were attached.

Key points

  • Secondary nests in structures begin in moisture-damaged wood.
  • Buildings near a wooded area are more liable to attack than others.
  • Carpenter ants don’t eat wood; instead, they excavate wood for housing.
  • Carpenter ants feed on honeydew and captured insects.
  • If winged ants emerge indoors from underneath the baseboard, the nest is probably in the wall; if via a ceiling light fixture, in the space above, in either the attic or ceiling void.

More often than not, clients don’t know if they are infested or where the main nest is.  These activities can provide answers:

  • Look for piles of fresh sawdust in the attic and crawl space.
  • To determine where the ants are entering the structure, look for 2-way trails outdoors. The best time is from 10 PM to 2 AM during April through October. Inspect along the foundation and other architectural lines, in the crawl space, and where utilities (pipes and wiring) enter the structure.
  • If a trail is found, follow it to the main nest which, to limit structural re-infestations, must be treated by a pest control company.
Fig 3: Queen carpenter ants shed their wings after mating. Additional muscles for the wings change the thoracic profile to somewhat table-like. (https://bugguide.net/node/view/837730/bgimag

Thwart the likelihood of a carpenter ant infestation with several ongoing practices:

  • Create an airy clear zone around structures by trimming, or removing, any plant material within 12 to 18 inches.
  • Maintain mulch at least 8 inches below the siding.
  • Ensure roofing is intact.
  • Inspect the perimeter of the structure periodically, to check for a 2-way trail which warns of an infestation.

Management practices for an infestation

  • Hire a pest control company to treat the structure and, whenever possible, the main nest.
  • Correct the moisture problem and replace damaged wood
  • Over-the-counter ant baits available in the northwest are ineffective against carpenter ants.


– PNW Insect Management Handbook, the section titled Structural and Health Pests.

– “Identification and Habits of Key Ant Pests of Washington” (EB0671) has identification details for common ants.

“Carpenter Ants: Their Biology and Control” (EB0818; WSU)

– “The Technician’s Handbook” (Richard Kramer; PCT Handbooks) is a handy source of brief summaries about key pests. Each entry includes the pest’s description, a clear line drawing, life cycles, foods, habitats, and cultural management.  Still more details about ants are in “Structure-infesting Ants” (Stoy Hedges; PCT Handbooks). These professional handbooks offer insights as to the services pest control companies may offer. For one thing, pest control companies have effective ant baits not otherwise available to the public.

(Click the link below for PDF containing the above text and all the images.)

Carpenter Ants PDF


By Margaret Bayne, OSU Extension Staff-retired, OSU Master Gardener

April 2018

Photo: Hannepin County Master Gardener

What’s the truth behind 6 gardening myths? (Kym Pokorny, OSU) http://bit.ly/2ImsOOO

“In glyphosate review, WHO cancer agency edited out ‘non-carcinogenic’findings.  The World Health Organization’s cancer agency dismissed and edited findings from a draft of its review of the weedkiller glyphosate that were at odds with its final conclusion that the chemical probably causes cancer.” ( Kate KIelland, Reauters)http://reut.rs/2FyT5LG

What do you do when twenty six thousand stinkbugs invade your home.  “These uniquely versatile bugs are decimating crops and infiltrating houses all across the country.”  The author explores, will we ever be able to get rid of them? (Kathryn Schulz, New Yorker) http://bit.ly/2FLlZYg

“The best tool to fight crime may be a lawnmower. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which shows that sprucing up vacant lots by doing as little as picking up trash and cutting the grass curbed gun violence in poor neighborhoods in a major U.S. metropolis by nearly 30%.” (Roni Dengler, ScienceMag.org) http://bit.ly/2FytLlL

What does a mosquito brain look like?  Researchers at Howard Hughes Medical Institute have mapped the neuroanatomical regions of the brain of a female mosquito (Aedes aegypti). (The Scientist Staff, mobilethesicentist.com)

If you’ve enjoyed some spicy food lately, you might have a bird to thank. New research, at Iowa State University, illustrates how birds help to produce rare wild chili peppers (Iowa State University) http://bit.ly/2p5ailJ

Curious Wasp Specimen Leads Entomologist to Find a First for North America. (Entomology Today) http://bit.ly/2GkPAG6

Want an instant hedge? “Millennial gardening is not like 20th-century gardening. Patiently waiting for a seed to grow into a flower or tree is out. Instead, instant gratification is in. Everyone wants results … and yesterday is not soon enough!(Laidbackgardener.blog) http://bit.ly/2tFrUJR

Photo: OSU

No room for vegetables?  Pot up your plants! Learn how from an OSU expert. (Kym Pokorny, OSU) http://bit.ly/2Io34Bp

Are you a garden photographer? Check out this beautiful botanical photographs from the international garden photographers of the year awards. http://bit.ly/2DkrBnl

Jigsaw puzzle configuration helps plant epidermal cells withstand high pressure. “Plant cells are under tremendous pressure. To prevent themselves from bursting, plants had to come up with something unique: According to scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, epidermal cells with an irregular shape can withstand their internal pressure better than round and other  uniformly shaped cells.” (Max Planck Society, Physorg) http://bit.ly/2Il5u3P

Researchers study flower that catapults pollen. “Flowers are just about the last thing in nature you’d list as fast, but the mountain laurels’ filaments are an exception.” (Harvard, Physorg) http://bit.ly/2InLpda

Are we loving Monarch Butterflies to death? “…the efforts of a well-meaning public to bring monarch eggs and larvae indoors to raise to maturity, or to purchase large numbers of farmed monarchs for release into the wild, may be making life even more difficult for the beleaguered butterfly.” (Susan Brackney, Discover Magazine) http://bit.ly/2p8CHXn

More on Monarchs-Plan to save Monarchs’ backfires?  A new paper shows that well-meaning gardeners might actually be endangering the butterflies’ iconic migration to Mexico. That’s because people have been planting the wrong species of milkweed, thereby increasing the odds of monarchs becoming infected with a crippling parasite. (Lizzie Wade, Science Magazine) http://bit.ly/24LtENr

As pollinating insects, bees get all the credit – but they don’t do all the work. A researcher from WSU, discovered that “about a third of the insects visiting and potentially helping pollinate these crops’ flowers were non-bee species, primarily flies. Of those, most were syrphid flies, also known as hover flies, many of which are bee mimics and do more than pollinate plants.” (Western IPM Center) http://bit.ly/2tIVpKK

Photo: Lynn Ketchum, OSU

Got weeds? Roll up your sleeves: Invasive weeds need persistence to control.  Learn more from an OSU weed expert. (Kym Pokorny, OSU) http://bit.ly/2tJFR9A

Pictures Capture the Invisible Glow of Flowers. Ultraviolet light reveals alien-like colors and fairy sparkles in seemingly normal plants.(Austa Somvichian-Clausen, NationalGeographic.com) http://on.natgeo.com/2GVIOWk

Winter Gardening Activities for Children. “Indoor gardening activities can help children learn basic plant science while having fun.” (Pamela T. Hubbard, Master Gardener, Penn State University Extension) http://bit.ly/2HuLjiL

Hairy potatoes, a trait found in a wild potato, may make growing garden potatoes a lot easier. (Laidback gardener blog) http://bit.ly/2tHaa0E

Got mosquitoes? A new study conducted near Tucson, AZ, reports that, in particular, flower pots and saucers underneath them hosted disproportionately more larval mosquitoes than other types of containers. (John P. Roche, Entomology.today.org) http://bit.ly/2HsfRl1 

Land plants arose earlier than thought—and may have had a bigger impact on the evolution of animals. (Elizabeth Pennisi, Sciencemag.org) http://bit.ly/2oA6Ezi

GMOs in the news: According to a study looking at 21 years of data on genetically modified crops (GMOs) in the US has found that not only can they increase crop yields, but they can also be good for you. (Iflscience.com) http://bit.ly/2p3c3zY

Are algae plants? (Indefenseofplants.com) http://bit.ly/2EIzCbb

Are you interested in planting natives?  Here is an informative read (Becca Rodomsky-Bish, Yardmap.org) http://bit.ly/2p5Er4B

Plants are given a new family tree- “A new genealogy of plant evolution, led by researchers at the University of Bristol, shows that the first plants to conquer land were a complex species, challenging long-held assumptions about plant evolution.”(University of Bristol, Phys.org) http://bit.ly/2FD6LBH

Do you like caterpillars?  Check out these great photos and videos of caterpillars up-close and personal! (Samuel Jaffe, Biographic.com) http://bit.ly/2E0TGRk

EPA settles with Amazon for distributions of illegal pesticides. (Hortidaily.com) http://bit.ly/2FzNXTO

Scientists suggest way to predict the behavior of invasive weeds. “Is it possible to predict which nonnative plant species will become invasive weeds and when? According to research featured in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management, the answer is “hopefully yes.” And those predictions can lead to more effective and cost-efficient weed management.” (Cambridge University Press, Sciencedaily.com) http://bit.ly/2BYnvow

Starting Seeds with Success: Best Practices. (John.com) http://bit.ly/2p4ZdBd

The Not-So-Puzzling History of the Monkey Puzzle Tree (The treeographer.com) http://bit.ly/2IkUfID

Have you found bugs in your paprika? (Kristen Alken, Huffingtonpost.com) http://bit.ly/2IjKN8k

Where have all the entomologists gone? Fewer Scientists Are Studying Insects. Learn how this will impact you. (Alexandria Sifferlin, Timinc.net) http://bit.ly/2p9pOwf

Watch this interesting broadcast about the Oregon Silverspot Butterlfy and the Western Bog Lilly.  The Lloyd brothers have spent the last 70 years exploring the overlooked giant of the Washington Cascades-the Oregon Silverspot.   Also learn about their search for a rare, but beautiful Western Bog Lily in the bogs of southern Oregon. (OPB.org)

Learn about the status of Spring! The USA-NPN is tracking the start of the spring season across the country using models called the Spring Leaf and Bloom Indices. (National Phenology Network) http://bit.ly/199srno

Did you ever wonder how ‘Air plants’ drink? (Indefenseofplants.com) http://bit.ly/2tK63kC

When Hummingbirds visit, this flower pops open like a Jack-in-the-Box. (Elizabeth Preston, DIscovermagazine.com) http://bit.ly/2FM0836