One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.

W.E. Johns

These are hope filled times as we eagerly anticipate better days ahead. Gardening certainly gives us solace during such challenging times, and until we are able to resume in-person volunteer activities, the OSU Master Gardener program has a rich variety of continuing education opportunities to engage a wide-array of interests. We hope you will partake and enjoy!


Our state-wide ‘Elevated Skills’ Master Gardener training has launched, but you still have time to take advantage of this wide range of skills building classes which aim to enrich and support Master Gardeners.  This focused training, being taught by OSU Extension staff, has been created to inspire current OSU Master Gardeners (including the class of 2020).

‘OSU Landscape Plant Database’, ‘Superpower Your Education Garden’, ‘Community Science and the Master Gardener Program’, and ‘iNaturalist for Master Gardener Volunteers’ are just a few of the many offerings created to empower and elevate Master Gardeners as community educators. See the entire course line-up, and register HERE.

Note: The metro area MG program is using a different online tool for our MG Helpline clinic and is not using the ECCO tool being highlighted in the “Learning How to Use the Extension Client Contact Online (ECCO) Tool in Plant Clinic” course.

Level Up

OSU Master Gardeners and the gardening public can ‘Level Up’ in a new series for experienced gardeners, with presentations by OSU horticulture experts. Take your gardening knowledge to a new level with timely topics from gardening in a changing climate to techniques to extend your season.

Sessions are filling fast, so if you are interested in the class, be sure to sign-up when the class opens for registration. It will be a rolling registration for the classes throughout the year.

This month’s presentation Tuesday, February 9, 3pm, which focuses on ‘Multifunctional Hedgerows’ has filled – however the presentation will be live streamed on the OSU Master Gardener Facebook page and a recording of the presentation will be posted on the Level Up Series website a few days after the presentation.

Preview and register for the Level Up Series classes, and view recordings of past presentations HERE.

The Culture of Gardening

Come spring, Master Gardeners can participate in ‘The Culture of Gardening’. Explore what gardening means to different people and groups, and how to grow and use plants from a variety of cultures. This new series of blog posts and talks will debut in late spring 2021, with a keynote address by horticulturist Abra Lee on the history of African American gardens and gardeners. The series kicks off on May 18th. Details to come.

Grow Your Own Microgreens – Grow Along

Many Master Gardeners delighted in taking part in the Grow Your Own Microgreens – Grow Along Workshop, at the beginning of the year. During these ‘physically distant’ times it was great to connect with fellow gardeners online and to concentrate on a project that nurtured our gardener’s spirits and added a nutritious boost to our plates.

For those who missed growing along for the first session or had such great fun and want others to share in the adventure, Grow Your Own Microgreens – Grow Along Workshop will reprise February 15 through March 1.

See the details and register HERE. This 15 day workshop is free and everyone is welcome. Please share with fellow gardeners or someone who is wanting to grow something for the first time. Grab some friends to sign-up together and share the excitement as your greens sprout and grow. This is a great first time gardening project for families with kiddos too!

Grow this! Master Gardener Challenge

Food Hero and Master Gardeners are collaborating on the 2021 Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge. The second year of the Grow This! Oregon Garden Challenge, is much bigger than last year’s Challenge! This year we are looking to sign up 8,000 gardeners to grow vegetable and flowers and need your help!

We need your help to grow along and share your expert advice with these gardeners. Please consider signing up to participate as a Grow This! Champion. Your growing tips, comments, challenges and stories will be shared on our social media platforms and in monthly update emails to beginning gardeners as a way to build a growing community across the state.

Master Gardener volunteers are invited to participate, and apply to be a Grow This! Champion. Note: we are looking to include Master Gardeners from across the state and may need to limit participation if demand exceeds seed supply.

A Grow This! Champion:

  1. Must be a current Oregon Master Gardener volunteer (includes class of 2020) or Master Gardeners representing a county demonstration/educational garden.
  2. Will need to apply for the Grow This! Champion program by midnight February 19 (we are looking to include Master Gardeners from across the state and may need to limit participation if demand exceeds the seed supply).
  3. Will receive one crop seed packet and one flower seed packet.
    (Type and variety will be selected at random.) Specifics about obtaining your seeds will be sent by email.
  4. Must agree to give feedback on your growing process and results
    at least once—but as often as you want—during the Challenge.
    Feedback could include suggestions, comments, challenges and
    solutions, stories, photos, drawings or videos that we can share
    with others (with or without your name). These can be emailed to or shared on social media adding the
    following text to any post: @BeAFoodHero and #mastergardener.
    All feedback is WELCOME.
  5. Can count your active time spent on this project as Master Gardener
    ‘Program’ volunteer hours.

Email or or leave a voice message at 541-737-1017.

Learn more about the challenge here:

Mini-college goes online!

Save the date! as the Oregon Master Gardener Association takes it’s annual ‘Mini College’, garden-education focused, conference online, July 16 and 17, 2021. This is an opportunity to learn from a wide-range of horticultural experts from the comfort of home. Registration opens in March. Watch for details when the website goes live at

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

Caterpillars mimic leaves or offer rewards for protection by ants.  “Study reveals different forms of interaction between insect groups: some caterpillar species have bodies covered with molecules identical to those of the plants they inhabit and are ‘invisible’ to ants.” (

Clod of soil
Clod of soil. Photo: Rachel Werling

Soil: The dirty secrets of a living landscape. (Gordon Jones, Scott Goode, OSU; EM 9304)

What food and gardens trends are predicted for 2021? (Samantha Murray, US/IFAS)

Move over murder hornets:  There’s a new bug in town- at it’s coming for your lawn. (Sandi Doughton, Seattle Times)

Catching hope: Possible ally in fight against harmful fruit fly discovered in Asian giant hornet trap (Karla Salp,WSDA)

Extremely rare, one-of-a-kind flower found in Maui’s rugged mountains. (Mark Price, Sacramento Bee)

This drone sniffs out odors with a real moth antenna. “Researchers slap a living antenna on a drone to give the machine an insanely keen sense of smell. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the ‘Smellicopter.’” (Matt Simon, Wired)

Trips on salal leaves
Trips on salal. Photo: Jay Pscheidt, OSU

Thrips on Salal.  The following is OSU Plant Pathologist Jay Pscheidt’s response to a client regarding damage on Salal: “We have heard about this in the south west part of the state near the coast. The cause is not azalea lace bug (although the damage is surprisingly similar) but the greenhouse thrips, Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis. As the common name suggests, this pest is predominantly associated with greenhouses in temperate climates as it is supposedly not cold hardy. It can be a significant pest in warmer climates, such as California in the avocado areas and in Florida. It predominantly attacks shrubs or trees. We’ve seen it in greenhouses for years but found it in outside samples from Hoyt Arboretum several years ago. Many years ago, it was causing substantial landscape damage in the Seattle area to viburnum and salal among other shrubs.” (Jay Pscheidt Facebook 1-4-21) PNW Disease Management Handbook:

Meet the World’s Least-Charismatic Orchid. “This newly described species has been dubbed “the ugliest.” (Jessica Leigh Hester, Atlas Obscura)

WSU Extension publications has a wealth of peer reviewed gardening information.  Check out a sampling:

Do Black Walnut Trees Have Allelopathic Effects on Other Plants? (Home Garden Series) (Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, WSU)

Epsom Salt Use in Home Gardens and Landscapes. (Dr. Linda Chalker- Scott, Rich Guggenheim, WSU)

Gypsum Use in Home Gardens and Landscapes. (Dr. Linda-Chalker-Scott, Rich Guggenheim WSU

Home Pruning: Reasons to Prune Trees and Shrubs (Home Gardening Series.) Tim Kohlhauff, WSU; et al.

Hugelkultur: What is it, and should it be used in home gardens?  “Hügelkultur is an increasingly popular way of using organic material to create mounded home gardens and landscapes.” (Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, WSU)

Convergens lady beetle
Convergens lady beetle. Photo: OSU

Lady Beetles: Should We Buy Them For Our Gardens? (Home Garden Series.)  “Lady beetles are a popular biocontrol method for aphids in home gardens and landscapes. Many gardeners purchase these insects at nurseries, garden centers, and online.” (Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, Michael R. Bush, WSU)

Vegetables: Growing Peppers in Home Gardens (Home Garden Series.)   “Looking for a way to spice up your home garden? There are few vegetables more colorful or easier to grow than peppers.” (Michael R. Bush, WSU; et al)

Natter’s Notes

Jean R. Natter, OSU Master Gardener

In case you haven’t been outdoors recently, you need to know weeds are growing in spite of the soggy soil from all the recent abundant, rainfall. So, let’s review a few strategic management strategies for successful weed control in gardens and landscapes. As you may know, the PNW Weed Management Handbook (see resource list) has a thorough overview of the subject.

Annual weeds are classified as warm-season or cool-season plants, with each kind genetically destined to germinate (sprout) in the appropriate season, then survive for a year or somewhat less. The same categories are assigned to perennial weeds but these are considerably more long-lived, persisting for 3 or more years.

As a result, gardeners must be vigilant year-round.  

Several key principles limit weed populations in gardens and landscapes, among them these:

– Kill weeds when they’re young; ten fingers are always at hand.

– Don’t allow weeds to set seed.

– Annual weeds will die when cut just below the crown.  Use a knife, or any one of various hoes – standard garden hoe, diamond hoe, or a scuffle hoe.

– Perennials will re-grow when cut off, even if covered with mulch  Vigorous kinds will make it through a lasagna garden; and may lift landscape fabric and/or polyethylene sheeting. 

– To kill perennial weeds, you must starve the roots; to do so, remove all green growth every week for as long as it takes, very likely several years.

– Herbicides are rarely a “once-and-done” remedy.

Gardeners can make good use of creating a “stale seedbed” before planting a flower or vegetable bed, or even a lawn. The reason?  Hundreds of dormant seeds — termed the “Soil seed bank” – have been deposited in the soil during years and years of poorly managed, or unmanaged, weeds. Whenever soil is disturbed, some of those seeds are brought near the surface where they germinate because they are exposed to light, also appropriate temperatures and moisture.  

Start a stale seedbed a month or so prior to the desired planting date, thereby allowing for a cycle or two removing weed seedlings.  Do everything needed to prepare the planting bed: dig; remove obstructions and weeds; amend the bed; level the soil; then moisten the soil to settle it and allow for germination.  As soon as a good stand of young weeds about inch tall is present, destroy them using your preferred method: hand, hoe, flamer or, if you must, herbicide. 

The earlier a stale seedbed is started, the more germination cycles possible, the fewer weeds will be present to steal water and light from the desired crop.  Next, seed or transplant your veggies or flowers with minimal disruption of the soil, and deal with any seedling weeds promptly.

With perennial weeds, choose among these destructive techniques:

1. Dig it out; repeat as needed.

2. Cut it off; repeat as needed.

3. Herbicides are effective if the right kind is used according to label directions; repeat as needed for re-growth and/or use #1 and #2, above.

Tools to help limit weeds:

– Hands

– Hoes

– Herbicides, organic or synthetic: Contact products kill only top growth (fine for annual and seedling weeds); systemic products translocate (move) into other plant parts, sometimes into roots.

– Mulch, with the understanding that new weeds, in the form of seeds, will continue to arrive via clothing; muddy boots; new plants; birds; hitchhikers on mowers; or may be blown in.

– Flamer

Some trees are known to put up root suckers after they are cut down, among them are such broadleaf trees as ash, aspen, cottonwood, flowering cherry and poplar.  Conifers won’t re-sprout, even if the roots remain in the ground.

To limit root sprouting after a broadleaf tree is removed:

– Cut down the tree as soon as the new leaves have fully expanded in spring. 

(Principle: The tree used most of its reserves for new foliage, thus the stump/roots will put up fewer sprouts than if the tree is removed later in the season.)

– Immediately after the tree is cut off, paint a 2-inch-wide band of the other edge of the cut surface with an herbicide such as triclopyr or 2,4-D, following label directions.

– Remove new shoots as soon as they’re seen:

       – The more often new greenery is removed, the better the chances of decreasing the roots’ reserves; once a week is a good plan.

       – The longer new growth remains, the more reserves it sends to the roots, thereby extending the battle. 

– Be persistent and you will win; pause for a season and you lose.


– Sustainable Gardening (your MG Handbook)

– Weeds and Your Garden:;sequence=1

– PNW Weed Management Handbook: Online at  

– PNW Weed image gallery (from the 2010 Weed Handbook): Organized by common name, each weed with 1 to 3 images: seedling, flower and/or mature.

– Weeds and other unwanted plants (text and images)