I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose, I would always greet it in a garden. – Ruth Stout

We know spring is near, despite the wintry precipitation and biting cold, as we welcome a new class of 2019 OSU Master Gardener Interns and gear up for an exciting season educating the home gardener in successful gardening practices! So polish up your OSU Master Gardener badge and get ready for a new slate of MG activities and volunteer opportunities.

It’s time to reach out and engage in the myriad of clinics, projects and special events.  Return to your favorite Master Gardener activity or try something new! Look for opportunities on CERVIS and in upcoming newsletters and emails.

Welcome Class of 2019 Master Gardeners!

A hearty welcome to our 2019 class of Master Gardener Interns!  We are excited to have you joining our program of committed garden educators.  You are over halfway through your training and soon you will be out in the community actively practicing and sharing your newfound knowledge.

Possibilities will abound with a wide-range of volunteer opportunities.  You will hear about the many OSU approved offerings during week #6 of class.  We hope you will dig in, have fun, and share your passion for gardening with fellow MGs and the gardening public.  This is an opportunity to further your garden education and to gain confidence in teaching others how to sustainably and successfully garden.

Key points for 2019 MG Interns:

  • Complete the four required training modules plus the corresponding quizzes, and an additional module of your choice, along with the quiz, by March 31, 2019.
  • Complete the online final exam by March 31, 2019. The exam will be available starting the evening of March 15th. Please, allocate three to five hours to complete this online learning experience.  You can stop and start the exam, and you can complete the exam in multiple sessions (be sure to save your work).  A score of 70 percent or more is required on the test in order to start volunteering at Master Gardener clinic activities (answering the public’s garden questions). You will receive a grade on the exam upon submission via Canvas.  The exam is open book.  Feel free to refer to your online modules, Sustainable Gardening Handbook, and in-class handouts.
  • For best selection, be sure to sign-up for your required Workshop before March 31st. Soon after that date, the Workshop schedule will open to all Master Gardeners and the offerings will fill quickly.
  • Hear about the many volunteer opportunities during Week #6. This will be your opportunity to meet the volunteer coordinators and learn how to sign-up for volunteer activities via CERVIS (our online volunteer system).

Special message to our “Perennial Master Gardeners”

Perennial Master Gardeners, please join-in welcoming and guiding our new class of eager Master Gardener Interns by signing up for shifts at the Master Gardener phone clinics, area farmers markets, and other remote clinics.  We hope to have one Perennial MG per shift scheduled before March 10th – so when trainees sign-up for shifts at the MG training Resource Fair they will have a Perennial MG to be there to support and guide them in their new role as a garden educator.

To sign up for phone, farmer’s markets, and remote clinic shifts go to CERVIS or contact the coordinator.

When signing up for CERVIS be sure to only sign-up for slots labeled “Perennial” or “Perennial/Intern”.  Please do not sign-up in slots labeled “Intern only”

All ‘current’ certified 2019 Perennial Master Gardeners have access to CERVIS.  If you are unable to access CERVIS, please contact Marcia McIntyre marcia.mcintyre@oregonstate.edu   2019 Interns, you will have access to CERVIS on Saturday, March 16th, after the week #6 Resource Fair.

Photo credit: Sterling College

Demystifying Grafted Tomatoes: The Why & How for Gardeners

If you have been curious about grafting tomatoes then catch the next OSU Master Gardener Advanced Training Webinars!  You can take part in this informative webinar, presented by Dr. Cary Rivard, of Kansas State University, on Friday, March 15th, at 11AM.  To register, go to:  https://learn.extension.org/events/3604

If you can’t view the live webinar, a recording will be available a week or so after the live event.

‘Demystifying Grafted Tomatoes’ is just one of many webinars produced by OSU Extension to supplement your OSU Master Gardener continuing education.  If you missed any previous webinars from 2017 or 2018 – please take the time to view the recordings.

Each webinar viewed counts as 1-hour continuing education credit for Perennial Master Gardeners.

2018 Webinar Series http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/ediblegardens/2018/09/24/the-complete-2018-mg-webinar-series/

2017 Webinar Series https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLIelD7ZO8N55rvyA6Q-y–4l3B4VCJPvw

2019 Master Gardener Training Begins!

Our annual OSU Master Gardener training has commenced!  We welcome over 190 eager Interns, extend sincere gratitude to our inspiring instructors, and express our utmost thanks to 3 committed teams of Perennial MG volunteer coordinators!

Our supporting associations the Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington County Chapters of the Oregon Master Gardener Association are serving up a grand, trifecta with 3 fundraising plant sales.  Be sure to mark your calendars for 3 weekends filled with plants for every gardeners heart!

Washington County Master Gardener’s

Gardenfest Plant Sale

Clackamas County Master Gardener’s

Spring Garden Fair

Multnomah County Master Gardener’s

Incredible Edibles Plant Sale

Natter’s Notes

Fertilizing Garden Plants

Jean R. Natter, OSU Master Gardener

As we discussed last month, the cue to start fertilizing seedlings of seasonal flowers and vegetables is by using a commercial trick: Apply a liquid fertilizer at half, or quarter, strength as soon as the cotyledons (seedling leaves) change position from vertical to horizontal. An early fertilization such as this will give your seasonal flowers and vegetables a running start toward the abundant harvests you expect. (Fertilizing Seasonal Vegetables and Flowers; Metro MG Newsletter; February 2019: http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/mgmetro/?cat=1179565)

A brief overview

Fertilizer deficiencies in landscape plants are uncommon in our region’s clay-based soils. Typically, potassium (K), phosphorus (P), and magnesium (Mg) are present in sufficient quantities for most plants.  Even so, it’s worth knowing that nitrogen is the element most often in short supply because it is water-soluble.

Nitrogen deficiency is characterized by pale and/or stunted growth; oldest leaves that turn yellow and may also dry and shrivel; along with dark green tip growth. (That’s true only if the plants received appropriate amounts of light and water for their kind.)

Growing in containers may complicate things. The soilless planting mixes used in containers, combined with a severely restricted root space, offer plenty of opportunities for plant problems. Here’s where a commercial potting mix premixed with a bit of fertilizer will come in handy for at least the first season to maintain woodies.

Eventually, though, container gardeners must periodically add fertilizer elements needed for growth, more often than in a ground bed. Even so, nitrogen will be the most common nutrient deficiency. The frequent watering required to maintain container-grown plants readily washes out nitrogen because of its high solubility.

Then, too, long-lived container plants become rootbound after a number of years in the same container. Roots have filled all the cracks and crevices in the potting mix such that nothing gets through, not roots nor water, or even fertilizer. Roots aren’t able to function. Sometimes it’s too late to re-pot.

Samples of effective fertilizer programs

Seasonal flowers or vegetables in pots: Mix a slow-release fertilizer into the potting mix, then sidedress about 4 weeks later. If needed during the season, use a dissolve-in-water product to perk up the annuals. Don’t bother adding a high phosphorus fertilizer in the hopes it will encourage flowering. Seasonal plants must absorb the required phosphorus very early in their brief lifetime.

Seasonal flowers or vegetables in the garden: Rake a starter dose of granular fertilizer into the conditioned soil. Immediately after setting the transplants, settle the soil around their roots with a diluted fertilizer solution. Sidedress about 4 weeks later. (Again, high phosphorus isn’t needed for bloom.)

Herbaceous perennials in the garden: Proceed as for seasonal flowers the first year. If needed, sidedress in each successive year. (With ornamental grasses, consider skipping the starter fertilizer because the plants may grow too soft and flop; also consider minimizing, or skipping, any sidedressings.) With experience, you’ll learn how to “read” your plants.

Lawns: Choose from fertilizing programs for high-, moderate-, or low-input lawns. Complete details for planting and maintaining lawns are in “Practical lawn care for western Oregon” https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/ec1521.pdf.

Shrubs and trees in the landscape:

Contrary to popular opinion, established landscape shrubs and trees seldom need fertilizer, especially if they are supplied with an organic mulch such as bark dust or wood chips out to the dripline. Bark chips, 3 to 4 inches deep, are recommended for trees or use bark dust, but to only 2 inches deep. That sort of program is similar to following nature’s lead: Maintain an organic mulch around the base, both to slowly fertilize the trees and shrubs as the mulch degrades in place, also to conserve soil moisture and to minimize fluctuations of soil temperatures. (Yes, you’ll still have to weed now and then.) The main undesirable effect of fertilizing long-lived landscape trees and shrubs is that doing so increases the frequency for pruning.

If you think that you absolutely must fertilize woodies, apply granular nitrogen after the new leaves have fully expanded. Then, they’re able to put fertilizer to good use while they photosynthesize. (Broadcast it underneath the canopy, out to the dripline.) Fertilizing at other times of year may produce new growth but the tree must use its own reserves, not the fertilizer, to do so.

This, by the way, brings an important caution to mind: Never fertilize a stressed tree because it needs all its reserves to survive the stress.

Blueberries would be notable exceptions to the take-it-easy guidelines for landscape woodies, simply because you want them to fruit well. See Growing Blueberries in Your Own Gardenhttps://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/ec1304.pdf.

Roses are another exception to laid-back fertilizing because, this time, the desired yield is abundant flowers for outdoor display and probably also as indoor cut flowers. Obtain a “rose fertilizer” from a large garden center or use one of the formulations available from the Portland Rose Society, then apply according to directions. (http://www.portlandrosesociety.org/fertilizer.html) Don’t bother with homemade concoctions.


Soils and Fertilizers (chapter 2 in Sustainable Gardening, the MG handbook)

Fertilizing Shade and Ornamental Trees https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/fs103.pdf

The PDF Version:
Fertilizing Garden Plants

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

March 2019

A gardener’s primer to cold hardiness, Part 1. (Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, Garden Professors Blog, https://bit.ly/2GkDhMT

Arborists have cloned ancient Redwoods from their massive stumps. (Yale Environment 360) https://bit.ly/2E4KspQ

Balance, hearing, and more: Why some wasps have fat lower legs. (Entomology Today) https://bit.ly/2TaLaHt

Handwritten 19th-Century color guide poetically describes where shades are found in nature.(Kelly Richman-Abdou, My Modern Met) https://bit.ly/2TBPzmY

Cicada-killer wasp, Ronald F. Billings, Texas Forest Service

When Cicada-Killer wasps become cicada-stealer wasps. (Edward Ricciuti (Entomology Today) https://bit.ly/2MQanV2

Guttation-just a curious plant thing? (Tony Koski, Cohorts Blog, Colorado State U) https://bit.ly/2GAG1Vz

Culprit found for honeybee deaths in almond groves.(Misti Crane, Ohio State U) https://bit.ly/2Gmy9YG

The plant that farms other plants for food.  “It’s not just animals that the ladderwort, Utricularia, eats. Two new papers are finding out how bladderworts also digest microscopic plants.” (Alun Salt, Botany One)

Great selection of gardening videos! (Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener) https://bit.ly/2UUm2VS

Flowers can hear buzzing bees—and it makes their nectar sweeter. (Michelle Z. Donahue, National Geographic) https://on.natgeo.com/2GDgQlg

300-Year-Old botanical illustrations and the art they inspire today. (Emma Taggart , MyModern.com) https://bit.ly/2SIIpA2

Overcoming the challenges of farming on Mars.  “Scientists are trying to perfect a technique for growing crops in space so that astronauts have enough food to get to Mars and back.” (Benjamin Plackett , Inside Science) https://bit.ly/2SwYklW

Extreme temperatures burn stone fruit from inside out, causing severe loss. (Jessica Schremmer, ABC.net) https://ab.co/2GEYzUD

Aussie plants facing extinction. (The University of Queensland) https://bit.ly/2BtzpFa

Life in a cubic feet of a lawn. (Charley Eiseman, Bug Tracks) https://bit.ly/2SDmJp2

Spray film helps stem water loss in fruit crops. (Ourimpact, OSU) https://bit.ly/2WYRCn1

Tomato plant aroma to protect crops. (R & I World) https://bit.ly/2Iga0EW

Should I worry about heavy metals in my garden Soil? (OSU) https://bit.ly/2USc9rG

Plants can smell, now researchers know how. (U of Tokyo) https://bit.ly/2SsAcAz

Watch these stink bugs hatch in unison. (Heather Murphy, NY Times) https://nyti.ms/2E4eV7I

This unbelievably rare opal has a fossilized bug trapped inside. (Tom Hale, Iflscience) https://bit.ly/2Spn9QH

The Cotton plant that sprouted on the far side of the moon has died.  “China, which is manning the first probe to land on the lunar far side, was hoping to find out how plants fare in outer space.” (Brigit Katz, Smithonianmag.com) https://bit.ly/2CtNfXV

Spider dances for his life- Watch the video. (Lifestory, BBC via youtube.com) https://bit.ly/2GmYVQy

Hops, Lynn Ketchum, OSU

Brewing beer? Go a step further and grow your own hops. (OSU) https://bit.ly/2DFwytd

6 easiest orchids to grow. (A Way to Garden.com) https://bit.ly/2E4pyY1

How ants sniff out the right path.   “They may seem like automatons, but ants are surprisingly sophisticated in their navigational strategies.” (James Gorman, NY Times) https://nyti.ms/2WWyq9B

Microbiological safety of chicken litter or chicken litter-based organic fertilizers: A review. (Zhao Chen & Xiuping Jiang, Clemson U, via mdpi.com) https://bit.ly/2UTCMMR

Float like a Dragontail Butterfly-beautiful video! (Center for Biological Diversity, via Youtube.com) https://bit.ly/2SqD9Sh

Moths muffle bat Sonar with sound-absorbing wings- To shield themselves from bat echolocation, moths don an acoustic cloak of invisibility—using the sound-absorbing scales on their wings.” (Katherine J. Wu, PBS.org) https://to.pbs.org/2GmZzgZ

Horticultural Oils – What a gardener needs to know. (JoAnne Skelly, U of Nevada Extension)

Compost in seed starting mix: Recipe for success….or failure? (John Porter, gardenprofessors.com) https://bit.ly/2E3SShb

Plant hardiness zones: Why are they important? (Buncombe County Master Gardeners. NC Extension) https://bit.ly/2E39rd9

Your view of bugs may never be the same- “…after seeing these endearing photo stories of how bugs are cute, how bugs provide value, and how bugs are a lot more like us than many think.”
(Danae Wolfe, Ted Talk, via Youtube.com) https://bit.ly/2DvCwwB

What do opponents of genetically modified foods really know about the science?  “The study, published in Nature Human Behaviour, found that the strongest critics actually know less—a pattern similar for gene therapy, but not for climate change.” (Michele W. Berger, Penn Today, U of Penn) https://bit.ly/2Hf3RIj

Why do Rhododendron leaves droop and curl in the winter? (In Defense of Plants) https://bit.ly/2DyaDE7

Cool video shows spiders “raining” from the sky in Brazil. (Iflscience.com) https://bit.ly/2SJKxrl

Kalanchoe, Colorado State University

Learn about different houseplants from the experts. (Plant Talk, Colorado State University) https://bit.ly/2BuwoEu

Find out how long your seed packs will last. (Amateur gardening.com) https://bit.ly/2UZsdIn

How Poppy flowers get those vibrant colors that entice insects. (U of Groningen) https://bit.ly/2TJ87lh

PDF 2019 March Horticultural Update