PCC Landscape Technology Grounds Support Technician. Casual, Part-time.


The Portland Community College (PCC) Landscape Technology Program is seeking someone with experience performing a range of landscape maintenance duties to join the PCC Landscape Technology Program as a part-time, casual, Grounds Support Technician.

The position will start as soon as possible and work at least through the summer months. The work days will be M-F with work hours to be determined. Work will be at the PCC Rock Creek Campus. Casual positions at PCC are temporary, non-benefited roles and the pay range for this role is $16.50-$20 / hour.

You will be joining a dedicated group of Landscape Technology staff, committed to preparing students for quality jobs in the Landscape industry. You will work independently to perform a range of landscape maintenance duties. You will work safely with gas and diesel-powered equipment, attend to the health of the plants, trees, and lawns that make up the Landscape
Technology facilities at Rock Creek Campus. Your work will also include routine maintenance and minor repairs to equipment, fencing and grounds features as needed. It will be essential for you to be able to safely operate motor vehicles.

If you are interested or know someone who is interested pass this information along! To express interest in the position, please send a completed PCC Employment application and your resume to Jennifer Peters, Department Chair for Landscape Technology at jennifer.peters@pcc.edu as
soon as possible. Thank you!

More about the range of duties for this role:

  1. Performs a range of landscape maintenance duties including leaf removal, pruning shrubs and trees, fertilizing, lawn care and watering.
  2. Removes litter and empties trash cans.
  3. Cleans roads, parking lots and walks to ensure safety of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
  4. Provides full care for designated indoor and greenhouse plants.
  5. Uses and makes repairs on manual and automatic watering systems to ensure adequate moisture for plantings.
  6. Performs vector control including trapping and disposing of small animals and insects
  7. Works in a safe manner leaving work areas safe during and after work projects.
  8. Cleans spills as needed.
  9. Performs other related duties as assigned. Portland Community College is committed to hiring and retaining a diverse workforce. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer, making decisions without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or any other protected class.
Pink and apricot colored rose.
Photo: Marcia McIntyre

“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment”

Georgia O’Keefe


Rosy news…

As we near the start of summer there is promising news! COVID risk levels are lowering in the metro counties and we are receiving encouraging OSU updates with guidelines for resuming some of our Master Gardener activities. We will gradually resume activities as the guidelines and our capacity allows, in the coming months. Watch for updates via email and this newsletter, as we are able to open our program activities.

Help with MG Community Needs Assessment

Help the OSU Master Gardener program in learning the needs of our community.  The program has launched a survey to guide the work of the MG program and to learn the types of gardening information Oregonians want/need to support them in successfully growing plants.  The goal is to hear from 5,000 Oregonians across the state, especially those not currently involved in the Master Gardener Program.

You can help to distribute the survey and earn volunteer hours by sharing the text and accompanying images below, with your own networks! 

Share the survey with 3 of your networks and earn 30 minutes of volunteer service. If you have additional networks on which to spread the word, please count an additional 10 minutes of volunteer service for each share/post.  Keep note of your volunteer time sharing the survey and include those minutes/hours when you report your volunteer service in the fall.

Please share on local metro area networks or those limited to Oregon. Share the survey with any communities who might have an interest in gardening. Here are some suggested networks in which to share the survey…

  • Share to your personal and/or professional social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Others
  • If you use ‘NextDoor.com’, consider inviting your neighbors to participate in the survey
  • If you are part of your area PTA/PTO, ask the organization if you can share the survey link with school parents
  • If you are part of a church, club, fraternal organization, or other social group that is not generally associated with gardening, but you know that the members are interested in gardening, please consider sharing the survey with them
  • If you volunteer with other organizations that serve clients that may be interested in gardening, please ask them if they can share the survey link with their clients
  • Gardening Groups and Clubs: If you are a member of a gardening group or club (online, or in person), please consider sharing with those groups. Before posting on another group’s page or website, make sure that you have permission to post the invitation and survey link.
  • Facebook gardening groups (focus on those that are local or limited to Oregon, rather than out of state or national groups)
  • Email listserv of gardening groups or clubs (once again, focusing on local groups or limited to Oregon)

Below is the text and graphic promoting the survey, in both English and Spanish.

What do you want to learn more about growing plants? What information and support do you need for gardening? 

Oregon State University Extension wants to support you getting the kind of information you want and need for growing plants in a home, community garden and landscape setting. Help us craft our future offerings: take a moment to participate in our survey.  https://oregonstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1RH4CHIopoHN9XM

Below is a jpeg of the graphic in English, to use when posting to social media or sending out emails.


¿Qué desea saber sobre el cultivo de plantas? 

¿Qué información y apoyo necesita para la jardinería?  

¡Queremos escuchar su opinión! 

El Servicio de Extensión de Oregon State University desea apoyarlo para que obtenga el tipo de información que desea y necesita para cultivar plantas en su hogar, jardín comunitario y paisaje. Ayúdenos a planificar nuestras ofertas futuras: tómese un momento para participar en nuestra encuesta. https://oregonstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1RH4CHIopoHN9XM

Below is the link to a jpeg of the graphic in Spanish, to use when posting to social media or sending out emails.


Growing Oregon Gardeners: Level Up Series

Although summer has yet to have it’s official start, now’s the time to plan and start winter vegetable crops. This month’s Growing Oregon Gardeners Level Up Series presentation, ‘Winter Vegetables to Grow‘, with Lane Selman, OSU, will offer you a plethora of inspiration to assist your game plan. Lane will take a deep dive into some of the more under appreciated, yet super delicious and nutritious winter vegetables! The webinar will be broadcast on Tuesday, June 8, 3pm

Registration opens on a rolling basis for upcoming webinars throughout the year.

If you find that registration has filled for a class, please check out the presentation live streamed on the OSU Master Gardener Facebook page or look for a recording of the presentation to be posted on the Level Up Series website a few days following.

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


Metro Master Gardener Media Channel

Would you like to review a presentation from our Metro Master Gardener Webinar Series? Or perhaps catch a Chapter Lecture or Speaker Series that you missed? You can access our catalog of inspiring webinars via our metro area Master Gardener Media Channel.

In addition, you can view a great series of mini-videos produced by fellow Master Gardener, Dennis Brown. Dennis created the videos to incorporate into his speaking presentations for the metro MG program. The videos cover: DIY seed tape, DIY seed starting containers, cutting back a cover crop, how to prune a blueberry bush, setting-up seed starting indoors and how to collect a soil sample. Check back later this week for 3 new videos Dennis created: controlling leafminer, planting sweet corn seedlings and planting tomatoes. Thank you Dennis for creating and sharing these informative videos!


Oregon Master Gardener Mini College – Goes Virtual!

You still have time to catch a great line-up of garden-focused classes from the comfort of your home, by registering for the 2021 Oregon Master Gardener Mini College.  This virtual conference will be held online, July 16 & 17.  Mini College is a great continuing education opportunity, with an outstanding slate of horticulture experts presenting a range of topic.s

Photo: www.pixabay.com

Robert Michael Pyle, author, educator and scientist will kick-off the event as the keynote speaker.  In addition, there will be a great array of interactive classes and workshops from leading horticulture experts and educators. Our very own Weston Miller, will be sharing the keys to success for organic vegetable gardening. Other presentations will focus on native plants to consider for attracting pollinators, the promise and pitfalls of biochar, plus a presentation all about mason bees – to name just a few of the topics being presented.

Cost for the two-day event is $49 and is open to Master Gardeners and the public.  So grab a friend, and join-in an enriching garden education opportunity.

OMGA 2021 Mini College (mastergardenerminicollege.org)


More virtual opportunities with the International Master Gardener Conference!

Every two years Master Gardeners have the opportunity to participate in the International Master Gardeners Conference, which is hosted by a rotation of Extension Master Gardener Programs.  This year the event is being sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension and you have the opportunity to participate from the comfort of your own home!  The Conference is going virtual for 2021!

This educational confluence of horticultural experts and Master Gardeners from the US, Canada and South Korea is taking place September 12 – 17, 2021. Virginia Cooperative Extension is planning “a unique and creative virtual conference that will offer not only the chance to attend live webinars and workshops, but also opportunities to socialize with and learn from EMGs from around the nation, to learn about gardening in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and to participate in interactive activities such as virtual tours of Virginia and small group sessions.” 

Learn more about this exciting educational opportunity and register NOW!


Elevated Skills Training Remains Open

Two sets of hands holding together a terracotto bowl of red cherry tomatoes.  On set of hands is bare, the other set of hands is wearing garden gloves.
Photo: Pixabay

Did you miss the ‘Elevated Skills’ Master Gardener training classes? Don’t despair the training is still open. Although in-person sessions of the training have passed, you can still take part and explore a subject of interest. Whether that be ‘Community Science’, how to ‘Superpower Your Education Garden’, ‘Garden Woody Plant ID with the OSU Landscape Plant Database’ or the other ‘Elevated Skills’ class offerings.

For Perennial Master Gardeners this training counts as ‘Continuing Education’ hours.

2020 Master Gardeners Trainees, the Elevate training can be counted towards your service hours to meet the requirements to complete the Master Gardener training.

See the entire Elevate 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.


Inquiries from Ask Extension

Jean R. Natter, OSU Master Gardener

Houdini fly in Multnomah County? (Multnomah County; 2021-04)

Q: We noticed these flies in our mason bee tubes. After some googling we think it might be a Houdini fly. Is this something that needs to be reported? Are there steps we need to take to help the bees?

Houdini fly.
The Houdini Fly, Cacoxenus indagator, was recently identified as an invasive pest in Oregon; it is a kleptoparasite from Europe which lays its eggs on the pollen cake meant for a Mason Bee, thereby starving the bee. (Client image; 2021-04)

A: Thank you for the excellent images of the Houdini Fly, Cacoxenus indagator, recently identified as a serious, exotic insect pest of Mason Bees.

Here’s a pest alert about the Houdini Fly with good images, plus suggestions for people who keep mason bees. See “Houdini Fly Found in Washington” – https://agr.wa.gov/departments/insects-pests-and-weeds/insects/apiary-pollinators/pollinator-health/houdini-fly

This website provides additional details about protecting your Mason Bees: https://crownbees.com/houdinifly.

Because the flies move slowly, you’ll be able to collect several samples to submit for ID. Refrigerate them in a small covered container until submitted. (Feel free to crush any extra flies you may discover later.) 

I suggest you report the flies to the Invasive Species Hotline; call 1-888-468-2337 or use their online form at https://oregoninvasiveshotline.org/reports/create.

Overrun by little moths! (Lane County; 2021-05)

Q: The east-facing side of my Coburg, OR, home has hundreds of little moth-like bugs lighted on it. They started to appear in early April, when the weather started warming up. Can you tell me what they are, and how I can control their population?

A: The small insects are called Drain Flies, a Psychoda species. Other common names for them are Moth Flies and Filter Flies.

Drain Flies are most commonly found indoors near moist areas, such as sinks, wet-mops that have been wet for several days, or in damp basements. These flies are poor fliers and are often found near their source.

Potential sources outdoors include a nearby area that remains moist for an extended period. Places to investigate as a source include roof gutters clogged with debris, at the base of downspouts, a wet spot near a leaking spigot, moist compost, and/or dirty garbage cans.

Drain flies are considered to be nuisance pests because they don’t cause damage to people, their pets or belongings. The remedy is to locate and eliminate their source. No pesticides needed. A wet-dry shop-vac could help decrease the number of the adults but will do little as long as the moist breeding site remains.

White Egg Like Spots (Clackamas County; 2021-05)

Q: What are these white egg-like spots on my bush?

Azalea Bark Scale on branch of shrub.
Azalea Bark Scale are small white, sedentary, sucking pests which slowly drain the vitality of several shrubs, especially Azalea, Pieris (Andromeda), and Rhododendron. (Client image; 2021-05)

A: Azalea Bark Scale are small sucking insects which can cause their most common victims — Azalea, Pieris (Andromeda), and Rhododendron — to slowly decline over an extended period of time. (Certain other shrubs may also be affected, but far less often.)

You can physically attack those small beasts by rubbing them off with a toothbrush.

Then, because you’re very likely to miss the small, newly hatched larvae (youngsters), follow-up with a commercial Insecticidal Soap Spray, diluted according to label directions. Coat all surfaces of the stems and branches thoroughly, front and back, top and bottom. Then repeat the spray, as needed, through the following months.

Woolly aphids on Old Apple Tree (Multnomah County; 2021-05)

Q: Our old apple tree has wooly aphids, how can this be treated!

A: Woolly apple aphids, Eriosoma lanigerum, are impossible for home gardeners to eradicate. The reason? The main colony of woolly apple aphids are on the tree’s roots whereas only some move to the top growth every spring. The result of an infestation is a gradual decline in tree vigor. In spite of that, fruit yields are often large enough for a family’s use.

Our official Insect Management Handbook says “This aphid is considered a minor pest in the PNW. If colonies are found on trees, they can be physically removed. Many Geneva and Malling-Merton rootstocks are resistant.”

You can limit the damage somewhat by spraying commercial insecticidal soap, prepared according to label directions, directly on the woolly aphids you find on the bark, then repeat as need through the growing season. Other pesticides that might be considered are rated as “highly toxic to bees.”

No pesticides are available for soil treatment.

In commercial apple orchards, woolly apple aphids would be avoided by not planting susceptible kinds of apples. You might consider planting a new apple with one of the resistant rootstocks mentioned above.

2nd Q: We’ve just tried some Safer Insecticidal soap and will reapply again tomorrow.
Last year the tree produced lots of apples, this year we see very few coming. Will these aphids harm surrounding plants?

2nd A: Woolly apple aphids are specific to apple trees. They won’t damage other plants.

It’s unlikely you’ll need to use insecticidal soap daily. Limit its use to when you see new aphids, then spray only the fresh white specks.

This year’s small crop may be a normal event because apple trees tend to “alternate bear.” That is, after they produce a huge crop, the following year they’ll produce a small crop.

But, there’s a simple trick to even out production one year to the next. It’s called thinning.

To thin, when the fruit is thumbnail-sized, remove the excess to a reasonable number. In general, the goal is to keep only one fruit per cluster. However, if what remains may be too heavy a load for the branch at harvest, remove even more of the as yet undeveloped fruits.

The result of thinning? Even though you’ll have fewer apples at harvest, they will be large for their kind and high quality.

ID what ate my dahlia? (Multnomah County; 2021-05)

My dahlia was about 8 inches tall and had a quick death, did some digging and found these little white worms around the stem looks like they ate it. What are they? What’s the best way to get rid of them?

A: Thank you for attaching the images. The 1st image (white larvae and wet soil) and the 3rd (rotted stem) are the most telling.

It’s very likely the stem rotted from excessively wet soil, then the larvae came in to clean up the debris. It’s also likely that the tuber is also rotted.

After dahlias begin growing in the spring, they do well with moderately moist soil.

See Dahlia Culture — https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/fs95.pdf 


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

An Unusual Tree Company- Bartlett Tree Experts.  “In addition to providing tree services, this company also maintains the Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories and Arboretum. The latter includes over 300 acres of tree collections and ongoing research trials.  Here’s a sampling of the tree research…” (Linda Chalker-Scott, Gardenprofessors.com) https://bit.ly/3hg35LG

Field bindweed, Oregon State University

Bidding goodbye to the dreaded Bindweed-The white, trumpet-shaped flowers called bindweed that seem to bloom everywhere can be one of the most frustrating weeds for home gardeners.” (Andy Hulting, OSU) https://bit.ly/2ResDyb

Millipede Swarms Once Stopped Japanese Trains in Their Tracks.  “A team of scientists say they have figured out the cicada-like life cycles of the many-legged arthropods.” (Veronique Greenwood, Nytimes.com) https://nyti.ms/3bk7jOs

Leave Your Lawn Alone! (Linda Chalker-Scott, WSU) https://bit.ly/3y4fOHj

My Soil is Crap-Part II. (Jim Downer, gardenprofessors.com) https://bit.ly/3ff6Tu3

Lilac bloom.


Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?
– Neltje Blanchan

Spring greetings Master Gardeners!  Although our in-person volunteer activities remain on hold, there is a plethora of informative and inspiring virtual presentations being offered to Master Gardeners in the following weeks and months.  We encourage all Master Gardeners to take advantage of these valuable continuing education opportunities.

The Culture of Gardening Series

The OSU Master Gardener Program’s ‘Culture of Gardening’ Series kicks off with a special presentation with Abra Lee, “The Work is in Our Hands”, on Tuesday, May 18, 12noon.

Through determination, enthusiasm, and willpower Black women overcame ugliness in America to cultivate beauty in the landscape. This is a discussion of how their self-expression and activism through gardening led to a lasting legacy of community pride throughout generations. 

Abra Lee is a national speaker, writer, and owner of Conquer the Soil,a platform that combines Black garden history and current events to raise awareness of horticulture. She has spent a whole lotta time in the dirt as a municipal arborist, extension agent, airport landscape manager, and more. Lee is a graduate of Auburn University and alumna of the Longwood Gardens Society of Fellows, a global network of public horticulture professionals. 

This presentation is free and open to all OSU Master Gardeners and the public.  Register in advance here: https://beav.es/JCF


Join-in the OSU Master Gardener Bio Blitz

Grab your camera and join the OSU Master Gardener Program on our iNaturalist project page to capture the insects, birds, wild plants, and other wild organisms in your garden or a nearby community or public garden space. Your efforts will help to document garden biodiversity in Oregon! Learn all the details and register here: https://beav.es/Jyg


Elevated Skills Training Remains Open

2 pair of hands holding a clay bowl of cherry tomatoes.  One pair of hand is bare.  The other pair of hands is wearing garden gloves.
Photo: Elaine Casap, on Unsplash

Thank you to all who participated in the state-wide ‘Elevated Skills’ Master Gardener training earlier in the year.  We have received lots of positive feedback from MGs who appreciated the opportunity to focus on skills that can be used in their roles as a garden educator; whether it was learning more about ‘Community Science’, how to ‘Superpower Your Education Garden’, ‘Recipes for a Collaborative Community’, ‘Garden Woody Plant ID with the OSU Landscape Plant Database’ or the other ‘Elevated Skills’ class offerings. 

Did you miss the training?  Don’t despair ‘Elevated Skills’ training is still open for your learning adventure!  Although in-person sessions of the training have passed, you can still take part and dig deep into a subject of interest.

For Perennial Master Gardeners this training counts as ‘Continuing Education’ hours.

2020 Master Gardeners Trainees, the Elevate training can be counted towards your service hours to meet the requirements to complete the Master Gardener training.

See the entire Elevate 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.


Metro Master Gardener Media Channel

Would you like to review a presentation from our Metro Master Gardener Webinar Series? Or perhaps catch a Chaper Lecture or Speaker Series that you missed? You can access our catalog of inspiring webinars via the area Master Gardener Media Channel.


In addition, you can view a great series of mini-videos produced by fellow Master Gardener, Dennis Brown. Dennis created the videos to incorporate into his speaking presentations for the metro MG program. The videos cover: DIY seed tape, DIY seed starting containers, cutting back a cover crop, how to prune a blueberry bush, setting-up seed starting indoors and how to collect a soil sample. Thank you Dennis for creating and sharing these informative videos!


Growing Oregon Gardeners: Level Up Series

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is copy-growing-o-gardeners-general2.gif

The state-wide Level Up series continues with a wealth of timely gardening topics.  After a month that set a record for the lowest rain fall in over 60 years – water conservation is in the forefront of many gardener’s minds. May’s Level Up presentation, ‘Waterwise Gardening‘, with Erika Szonntag, OSU Extension, will cover xeriscape principals and tips for conserving water, while maintaining a beautiful landscape. The webinar will be broadcast on Tuesday, May 11, 3pm

Registration opens on a rolling basis for upcoming webinars throughout the year.

If you find that registration has filled for a class, please check out the presentation live streamed on the OSU Master Gardener Facebook page or look for a recording of the presentation to be posted on the Level Up Series website a few days following.

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


Oregon Master Gardener Mini College – Goes Virtual!

Registration is now open for 2021 Oregon Master Gardener Mini College.  This virtual conference will be held online, July 16 & 17.  With an outstanding slate of horticulture experts presenting, Mini College is a great continuing education opportunity. 

Bumblebee on sedum.
Photo: Pixabay

Robert Michael Pyle, author, educator and scientist will kick-off the event as the keynote speaker.  In addition, there will be a great array of interactive classes and workshops from leading horticulture experts and educators. Cost for the two-day event is $49 and is open to Master Gardeners and the public.  So grab a friend, and join-in an enriching garden education opportunity.

OMGA 2021 Mini College (mastergardenerminicollege.org)


More virtual opportunities with the International Master Gardener Conference!

Every two years Master Gardeners have the opportunity to participate in the International Master Gardeners Conference, which is hosted by a rotation of Extension Master Gardener Programs.  This year the event is being sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension and you have the opportunity to participate from the comfort of your own home!  The Conference is going virtual for 2021!

This educational confluence of horticultural experts and Master Gardeners from the US, Canada and South Korea is taking place September 12 – 17, 2021. Virginia Cooperative Extension is planning “a unique and creative virtual conference that will offer not only the chance to attend live webinars and workshops, but also opportunities to socialize with and learn from EMGs from around the nation, to learn about gardening in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and to participate in interactive activities such as virtual tours of Virginia and small group sessions.” 

Learn more about this exciting educational opportunity and register NOW!


Washington County Community Garden Survey

Woman on her knees, harvesting in a vegetable garden.
Photo: Pixaby

Portland Community College is creating a map of current community gardens for Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District (within Washington County), and then creating a site analysis for possible future gardens.

Their working definition of a community garden is a place where “multiple
families can grow food for the table, not for sale.” Developments that
restrict to their residents or a business that have plots or planters for
their employees all would count (CSAs will not).

If you know of community gardens that meet this definition in Washington County, please complete this survey by May 20: https://forms.gle/gXGvC7sFMBHvUuzf


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

Revised publication: How to Control Slugs in Your Garden.  Practical tips on how to deal with slugs in your garden, given in both English and Spanish. (EM 9155-Neil Bell, Amy J. Dreves, OSU) https://bit.ly/3t32tfr

“Can we just quit with the vinegar-epsom salts weed-killer nonsense?  It doesn’t matter how safe it sounds if it doesn’t work.”n(Ohio State University Extension) https://bit.ly/3dbXuUp

Soil bacteria could improve crop yields, via fungi (Michael J. Hass, Cornell University) https://bit.ly/3uFaTtN

Rose leaves with viruses. Leaves are speckled with pale yellow spots.
Rose virus. Photo: Jay Pscheidt, OSU

NEW SECTION IN THE PNW HANDBOOK: Plant Viruses: Dead or Alive? (Jay Pschdeidt, OSU) https://bit.ly/2PKMnsF

Dirty Dozen? Not so fast… Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) issues a list of foods – the so-called ‘Dirty Dozen’ – which it considers to have the highest pesticide residues.  (Cornell University) https://bit.ly/3tc7qCH

This robot uses AI to pollinate greenhouse tomatoes. (Agrotectire.com) https://bit.ly/3mCGBVZ

Handful of soil.
Soil. Photo: OSU

My soil is crap. Or is it? (Jim Downer, Garden Professors.com) https://bit.ly/3g1MYk3

Bizarre ‘worm tornado’ in New Jersey has scientists baffled. (Mindy Weisberger, livescience.com) https://bit.ly/3wOksJ0

The AAS (All-America Selections) judges pick their favorite plants. (All-America selections.org_ https://bit.ly/3g6xb3P

To mulch or not to mulch? It shouldn’t even be a question. (Linda Chalker-Scott, WSU) https://bit.ly/3t7r0A9

Understanding mysteries of plant diseases: Diagnosis and Detection (Part 2 of 3 in this blog series)- Something is wrong? (Jim Dower, Garden Professors.com) https://bit.ly/3t7TucX

Strawberry plant with ripe strawberries.
Strawberries. Photo: Bernadine Strik, OSU

Watch the Video! -The Uncommon Berry Patch.  A presentation that covers some less-commonly grown berries for the home garden as well as some native fruits found in western Oregon. (Neil Bell, Dr. Bernadine Strik, OSU) https://bit.ly/3fZCNwH

Spring’s Earliest Pests: Aphids

Jean R. Natter, OSU Extension Service Master Gardener

After all we’ve been through this past year, what with the COVID pandemic and quarantine, gardeners are getting itchy about planting. I was, too, until the middle of March when night time temperatures dropped into the 20s in mid-March. I imagine it was even colder for many of you.

Even though my dreams of planting soon were dashed – tomatoes, peppers and eggplants need consistent night temps of 50 to 55F – my thoughts soon drifted to insect pests, then to their natural enemies.

The leaders of the potential pest parade will be various species of aphids, also several kinds of caterpillars, the latter specializing on crucifers (cabbage and kale crops), among them cabbage whites (Pieris rapae) and several species of cabbage worms. Unfortunately, various species of both kinds may be present throughout the growing season.

Oh, and let’s remember that slugs and snails are ever-present through the season.

So, let’s review a few things, including safe management.

We should begin with the preferred pest remedy: An alert gardener, ready to spring into action, who knows which natural enemies (NEs) are allies, and who acts promptly. Prompt action, aided by the numerous beneficial insects already present, means pesticides are often unnecessary.

Aphids are small, soft-bodied, pear-shaped pests that tend to cluster on new growth which they sometimes distort as they remove plant sap from plant parts. (If you have roses, you’ll likely see them there first.) Aphids may be almost any color, perhaps even spotted, banded, or striped. Most infest buds, flowers and new leaves, often distorting them which sometimes mimics disease.

Caterpillars, also called chewing worms, are the plant-munching larvae of various moths and butterflies. (More about caterpillars next month.)

Recall that pest control is a lot like mowing the grass; it requires repetition. You get to do it over, and over, and over, again. (sigh)
Always start with the safest methods
, namely search-and-destroy missions throughout the garden or ornamental planting. Reserve pesticides for those instances when the pests get out of hand. Always identify the pests and apply the appropriate product only to the hot spots of pest insurrections. Then, too, use pesticides strictly according to label directions.

As you likely know, aphids of one kind or another are present year-round locally. They’re perhaps the most common plant pest you’ll encounter. Aphids pierce plants with their hollow mouthparts to withdraw sugary fluids. Often, they’re undetected until leaves curl or the plant is coated with sticky honeydew (aphid excretions). Repeated sharp water sprays are often sufficient against aphids. Or increase your fire-power with a commercial insecticidal soap such as Safer’s, mixed according to label directions. For soap sprays to be effective, they must contact the pests. No home remedies, please; they may damage plant tissue.

Fortunately, you have lots of free help readily available among insects. Your skilled assistants (the NEs) are typically most active during the morning and late afternoon but hide during the heat of the day.

Four photos show life cycle of Lady Beetle (Hippodamia convergens). Egg stage, larva stage, pupa stage, adult stage.
– Life cycle of Lady Beetle (Hippodamia convergens) (Source: A Pocket Guide to Common Natural Enemies [revised 2021] https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/ec1613)
 

Ladybugs (aka lady beetles) are the most colorful aphid killers. Most of these ¼-inch, glossy, hemispherical adults are red, often dotted with black. The ladybug’s elongated ¼-inch youngsters are quite different, resembling the tiniest of alligators. Their soft bodies are slate-gray or black with tufts of dull orange hairs. Both adult and child chomp on aphids. In time, even the aphids’ toes will be gone.

In spite of advertising hype promoting sales of ladybugs, realize that they typically leave for other bug-filled garden. But, if you are determined to purchase natural enemies, know that lacewings are more valuable

because their diet is more diverse. After lacewings decimate the aphids, they’ll switch to other small, soft-bodied pests including young caterpillars, various insect eggs, or even mites.

– Green Lacewing adult (Chrysoperla species) compared to fingertip. (Source: A Pocket Guide to Common Natural Enemies [revised 2021] https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/ec1613)

Hereabouts, lacewings are naturally present year-round. You’re most likely to see the fragile, 5/8-inch, filmy-green adults fluttering from shrubs at dusk. The larvae are the aphid eaters, though. Look for 3/16-inch tan or gray, soft-bodied creatures similar to ladybug larvae but with Jaws that resemble old-fashioned ice-tongs. Eggs are easy to recognize, they’re small, greenish-white, and mounted on hairlike stalks.

Worm-like larvae of certain flies also kill aphids. The largest larvae (Syrphid flies, aka flower flies) are about 1/4 inch long but are difficult to spot because of their greenish or grayish color whereas the tiny, almost dot-sized, orange fellows (Midges) are easy to spot because of their color. All such larvae search for lunch by blindly groping. Just as do lacewing larvae, fly larvae pierce aphids, drain them, then abandon the empty carcasses.

Tiny, non-stinging wasps kill aphids, too. After they insert an egg into an aphid, their larva dines inside the aphid as it gradually transforms into a bloated, papery shell. Some weeks later, an adult wasp exits through a circular hole created in the aphid’s empty exoskeleton.

Impatient folks who would rather fight than wait for NEs to break into action need to understand that water,plain, or doctored with insecticidal soap, kills aphids but is safe for most helpful insects. Commercial pesticides are useful for uncontrolled hotspots but most kill more NEs than pests. When a pesticide is needed, consult with a garden center, then always follow label directions precisely. Because sprays rely on contacting the aphids, act before the pests are protected within crinkled and distorted leaves.

Power-assisted blasts can help you gain control quickly.Forceful water sprays are appropriate for sturdy plants whereas gentler handling is better for plants with rather soft tissue, among them such as violas and leafy lettuces. Aphids are so soft and squishy that harsh water sprays will injure them such that they’re unlikely to return to the plant. But, because healthy, intact aphids can give live birth to an aphid every 20-30 minutes, you’ll need to repeat the spray anyway. With more potent products, the goal is to only spray enough to coat the pests.

Realize that plant damage is possible with all pesticides, including soaps.That’s especially true if the spray is applied on a sunny day or was inadvertently – or not — mixed at too strong a rate. It’s always wise to test the spray on a few plants, then check for damage several days later. Browned or burned plant tissue is obviously serious whereas soap smudges are merely unsightly.

Resources:

  • Sustainable Gardening: The Oregon Master Gardener Handbook
  • Book: Pests of the Garden and Small Farm (ANR #3332; University of California)- Available at booksellers.
  • Book: Natural Enemies Handbook {ANR #3386; University of California)- Available at booksellers.

Coming next month: Cabbage Worms and Other Chewers

Fern frond just beginning to unfurl.
Photo: Pixabay

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.


— Gertrude Jekyll

The patience we have learned as gardeners has certainly been a reservoir to draw on in the past year. Even with hope on the horizon, for when we can once again gather in-person with our Master Gardener community, we continue to cultivate patience and glean lessons from the garden. As we patiently wait to resume in-person volunteer service, we hope you will take part in the various Master Gardener online educational opportunities from the kick-off of the OSU Master Gardener ‘Culture of Gardening Series’ to three upcoming ‘BioBlitz’ dates.


An important message from State-wide Master Gardener Program Coordinator, Gail Langellotto

With the recent resignation of OSU President F. King Alexander, Gail Langellotto, our State-wide Master Gardener Coordinator addresses Master Gardener volunteers and staff, and offers reflection on the guiding principles of the Master Gardener program. Read Gail’s message HERE


Elevated Skills Training Remains Open

Two sets of hands holding together a terracotto bowl of red cherry tomatoes.  On set of hands is bare, the other set of hands is wearing garden gloves.
Photo: Pixabay

Thank you to all who participated in the state-wide ‘Elevated Skills’ Master Gardener training classes the past two months.  We have received lots of positive feedback from MGs who appreciated the opportunity to focus on skills that can be used in their roles as a garden educator; whether it was learning more about ‘Community Science’, how to ‘Superpower Your Education Garden’, ‘Garden Woody Plant ID with the OSU Landscape Plant Database’ or the other ‘Elevated Skills’ class offerings. 

Did you miss the training?  Don’t despair ‘Elevated Skills’ training is still open for your learning adventure!  Although in-person sessions of the training have passed, can still take part and dive deep into a subject to interest.

For Perennial Master Gardeners this training counts as ‘Continuing Education’ hours.

2020 Master Gardeners Trainees, the Elevate training can be counted towards your service hours to meet the requirements to complete the Master Gardener training.

See the entire Elevate 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

Time lapsed video of dahlia blooming in promotional graphic for Growing Oregon Gardeners Level Up Series. Also includes Oregon State University Extension Service logo.

The state-wide Level Up series continues with a wealth of timely gardening topics.  This month’s presentation,  ‘Dazzling Dahlias’ with Julie Huynh, owner of Julie’s Dahlias, will be broadcast on Tuesday, April 13, 3pm

Take your gardening knowledge to a new level and check out the details for ‘Dazzling Dahlias’ and future presentations.  Registration opens on a rolling basis for upcoming webinars throughout the year.

If you find that registration has filled for a class, please check out the presentation live streamed on the OSU Master Gardener Facebook page or look for a recording of the presentation to be posted on the Level Up Series website a few days following.

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


Dirt Gone Bad: When your soil amendment has been contaminated

Screen shot of webinar presentation. Large machine moving steaming pile of compost. Dirt Gone Bad: When Your Soil Amendment Has Been Contaminated.

If you missed Weston presenting for the March ‘Level Up’ series, here is a link to view a recording of his informative presentation: ‘Dirt Gone Bad: When your soil amendment has been contaminated’

Referenced in Weston’s presentation are two valuable publications:


The Culture of Gardening Series

Promotional graphic for The Culture of Gardening Series. The work is in our hands. Abra Lee.  With photo of Abra Lee and decorative elements of hands, flowers, leaves, hearts.

The OSU Master Gardener Program’s ‘Culture of Gardening’ Series kicks off with a special presentation with Abra Lee, “The Work is in Our Hands”, on Tuesday, May 18, 12noon.

Through determination, enthusiasm, and willpower Black women overcame ugliness in America to cultivate beauty in the landscape. This is a discussion of how their self-expression and activism through gardening led to a lasting legacy of community pride throughout generations. 

Abra Lee is a national speaker, writer, and owner of Conquer the Soil,a platform that combines Black garden history and current events to raise awareness of horticulture. She has spent a whole lotta time in the dirt as a municipal arborist, extension agent, airport landscape manager, and more. Lee is a graduate of Auburn University and alumna of the Longwood Gardens Society of Fellows, a global network of public horticulture professionals. 

This presentation is free and open to all OSU Master Gardeners and the public.  Register in advance here: https://beav.es/JCF


Join-in the OSU Master Gardener Bio Blitz

Promotional graphic for OSU Master Gardener Bio Blitz May 22, July 24, September 25. with flowers, butterflies, leaves.

Grab your camera and join the OSU Master Gardener Program on our iNaturalist project page to capture the insects, birds, wild plants, and other wild organisms in your garden or a nearby community or public garden space. Your efforts will help to document garden biodiversity in Oregon! Learn all the details and register here: https://beav.es/Jyg


In reflection of a ‘Year Like No Other’

Screen shot of Zoom presentation with three smiling faces of presenters.
‘Ask a Master Gardener’ webinar with Eric Butler, Dennis Brown and Claudia Groth

Although we are well on our way in 2021, we pause one more time to look back at 2020, when Master Gardeners rose to the challenge, embraced patience, stepped up and reached out during a year like no other!  We are grateful to our Master Gardener community and want to share the 2020 Impact Reports for the OSU Master Gardener Program and our metro area Master Gardener Program.

2020 Impact Report of the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program

2020 Metro area Master Gardener Impact Report and Volunteer Recognition


Pest Alert!  Zebra Mussels and Moss Balls

Hand holding a green moss ball that has a small zebra mussel embedded in the ball.
Moss ball with Zebra Mussel. Photo: US Geographical Survey

Although not specifically related to gardening, we as Master Gardeners, have the opportunity to educate ourselves and share the information with others, regarding an important pest alert about Zebra Mussels.  Recently this highly invasive pest was discovered in products sold at aquarium and pet supply stores.  Specifically, the mussels were found in aquatic ‘moss balls’.

Currently, the Columbia River basin is the only area in the US that has not been infested with Zebra Mussels.  If established, the mussels will have a devastating impact on the health of our waters, including water recreation and critical water infrastructure.

Each of us can help by educating ourselves and others and making sure to take all precautions for preventing the establishment of this highly invasive pest to Oregon.

For details about this pest and preventive actions check out these links:


Upcoming Virtual Garden Education Opportunities

Oregon Master Gardener Mini College – Goes Virtual!

Promotional image for Mini College. Connect. Collaborate. Cultivate. July 16-17, 2021

Registration is now open for 2021 Oregon Master Gardener Mini College.  The conference will be held online, July 16 & 17.  With an outstanding slate of horticulture experts presenting, Mini College is a great continuing education opportunity. 

Robert Michael Pyle, author, educator and scientist will kick-off the event as the keynote speaker.  In addition, there will be a great array of interactive classes and workshops from leading horticulture experts and educators. Cost for the two-day event is $49 and is open to Master Gardeners and the public.  So grab a friend, and join-in an enriching garden education opportunity.

OMGA 2021 Mini College (mastergardenerminicollege.org)

More virtual opportunities with the International Master Gardener Conference!

Promotional poster for International Master Gardener Conference. Humming bird landing on flower. Beak inserted in flower blossom. Virtually September 12-17, 2021. Registration opens April 5.

Every two years Master Gardeners have the opportunity to participate in the International Master Gardeners Conference, that is hosted by a rotation of Extension Master Gardener Programs.  This year the event is being sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension and you have the opportunity to participate from the comfort of your own home!  The Conference is going virtual for 2021!

This educational confluence of horticultural experts and Master Gardeners from the US, Canada and South Korea is taking place September 12 – 17, 2021. Virginia Cooperative Extension is planning “a unique and creative virtual conference that will offer not only the chance to attend live webinars and workshops, but also opportunities to socialize with and learn from EMGs from around the nation, to learn about gardening in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and to participate in interactive activities such as virtual tours of Virginia and small group sessions.” 

Learn more about this exciting educational opportunity and register NOW!


Our April Garden Checklist

Spring is in the air with lots to attend to in the garden.  Our garden checklist highlights fertilizing your berries, planting early spring vegetables, and going on slug patrol!