OSU Master Naturalist Program

How to become an Oregon Master Naturalist

Designed for those interested in Oregon’s natural history and how the state’s natural resources are sustainably managed. Approximately 40 hours of online coursework
and 40 hours of volunteering
Learn about it here…


DIY: Weed Killer

The Jackson County Master Gardeners’ recipe for making your own vinegar based weed killer:

  • 1 gallon 10 per cent vinegar
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 2 tsp Dawn dish soap or vegetable oil (to make it adhere to the plant)

Also, read some pros and cons of using vinegar (Acetic Acid) as a herbicide here:

Growing & Showing Ferns

Ferns are plants that do not produce seeds. They reproduce by spores. They are made of fronds (leaves), which unfurl from fiddleheads. The dominant use of ferns is for interesting foliage in the garden and in the house. Some of the more common indoor ferns are: Mother, Maidenhair, Bird’s Nest, Boston, and Staghorn. While the more common outdoor ferns are: Sword, Painted Lady, Ostrich, Rabbit’s Foot and Tree Fern. The Boston fern is actually an outside fern and suffers from insufficient light when brought inside for the winter. There are also seed plants that are called ferns like, asparagus fern, sweet fern, and air fern.

Optimum temperature is 65-75F.
Plants will tolerate cooler temps, but most are frost sensitive.
Provide several hours of strong filtered light, by not direct sunlight; it will burn the foliage.
To get even growth rotate plants a ¼ turn every few weeks.
Most ferns like an acidic soil high in organic matter, but Maidenhair ferns prefer an alkaline soil.
Good drainage is imperative. A non-porous pot is preferable to a clay pot. Wire baskets lined with coir are also common. Most ferns are shallow rooted and do not need a deep pot. Ferns flourish in a humid environment, so it is important to increase the humidity around the plant by misting, or sitting the pot on pebbles in a saucer which holds water. Water the soil so that is stays moist, but not dripping wet. Frond yellowing is caused by too much water, and wilting is from lack of water.

Since lush foliage is the goal, use a fertilizer high in nitrogen, but feed at half strength, as too much nitrogen causes root burn in many ferns. Feed once a month.
Ferns never stop growing, but they need a rest period. In the winter when the light is minimal, slowly decrease watering, and feeding schedule, let the fern dry somewhat between watering and stop fertilizing.

To Divide a Fern: Remove from the pot, shake potting soil from roots, and cut the root-ball or rhizome into pieces, each having a frond or two, then plant in small pots. Place pot in a plastic bag, keep the soil moist and keep in a warm shady location. After a month or so, uncover young fern gradually and water very sparingly over the next 3 or four weeks. This gives it time to become accustomed to a less humid atmosphere, or an open room.

Ferns are susceptible to the common indoor insect pests . Using pesticides is generally not advised for most ferns. The best solution is prevention. Use a sterile potting soil.

There are evergreen ferns like the sword fern, and deciduous ferns. Do not cut back dead foliage until after the new growth has emerged. The dead foliage protects the new shoots.

Show as cut or container grown foliage plants.
Remove dead leaves and exposed roots, Rhizomes should be unbroken. Cut fronds can be placed in a plastic bag to maintain a humid environment. It is best to experiment with conditioning beforehand.
Fronds should be bilaterally symmetrical down the rachis and the pinnae (leaflets) should be filled in uniformly, with no gaps.

Container grown plants (Boston fern, Bird’s nest) should have radial symmetry. New growth is beneficial. The plant should be centered in the pot and and should evenly fill the pot without being over crowded.
Spores indicate full maturity but need not be present to have a frond to be at the peak of perfection. Spores should not be dried or shedding.

Gena Goddard
Oregon State Flower Judge
Ashland Garden Club Member

Reuse-Reduce-Recycle: Kitchen Scraps

Waste Not! Here are some helpful hints on how to reduce kitchen waste. Even if you are composting you’ll want to try these healthy kitchen tips, to help stretch your grocery budget.  Remember, organic is always the best choice.  


Carrot Top

Vegetable Stock:   Take  vegetable trimmings, such as, celery root ends, zucchini ends, carrot peels, onion ends, potato peels, garlic husk,  turnip peels,  cabbage core, carrot tops, etc.  Place trimmings  in a large stockpot, cover with water and simmer for 4–6 hours. Strain out veggies. Freeze vegetable stock in ice cubes. Use to flavor soups, pasta, & casseroles.

NOTE: You can collect and freeze trimmings by placing them in large freezer bag. You can add more trimmings as you generate them, then process stock when you have a full bag.

Apple peels: Freeze peels, blend what you need and add blended apple peels to your morning oatmeal.
 Make Apple Peel Jelly: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=275484.0
 Make Apple Peel Tea: http://joyinmykitchen.blogspot.com/2009/10/apple-honey-tea.html#.WIJbMbmweYw
Apple Peel Chips:  Toss with a little sugar & cinnamon.  Spread on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 400˚ oven for 10 minutes.

Citrus peels: Peel the outer skin of citrus, avoid as much white pith as possible.  Dry in a 200˚ oven for 2–3 hours,  or  place peels on dehydrator trays and dry at 135˚ until completely dry. Add peels to herbal teas, black teas or just steep them in water to make an infused citrus drink. Add to baked goods.

Candied Orange/Citrus  peel:  http://www.brighteyedbaker.com/confessions101/diy-candied-orange-peel/

Bananas: For slightly aging bananas, you can make banana bread,  freeze them for smoothies and milkshakes, make ice cream or blend them with avocado and nut better for a satisfying pudding .      http://minimalistbaker.com/chocolate-peanut-butter-avocado-pudding/

Stems:  Parsley, Basil or Kale: Use stems with the leaves in batches of pesto. http://www.theintentionalminimalist.com/2016/10/kale-stem-pesto.html

Kale Stems:  Chopped stems fine and cook with kale leaves.
Broccoli Stems: Peel stems, chop and cook.
Cauliflower: Cook stems and all.
Romaine lettuce: Sliver stems, sauté in olive oil with garlic and salt.
Potato peels: Buy organic potatoes and cook with skins on for more nutrition. If you must peel your potatoes, then you can make chips by tossing organic potato peels with a bit of olive oil and salt. Bake for 10 minutes in a  400˚  oven. (preheat oven)

Parmesan rinds: Collect and freeze Parmesan rinds, then add a rind or two into soups, sauces, and broth to enhance flavor.

Stale bread: Stale bread has lots of uses. Do it yourself breadcrumbs are super easy to make and useful to have on hand. Toast bread and crumble, or toss toasted bread into food processor. Use bread crumbs right away or store them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. Other uses: make croutons, use in Panzanella Salad, French Onion Soup, Fondue, Bread Pudding, French Toast, Panade (bread soup). http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/bread_soup_panade_with_onions_chard_and_mushrooms/

Carrot tops:  They are not poisonous! You can substitute these leafy greens for basil in a favorite pesto recipe.  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/velvety-carrot-soup-pesto
5 ways to eat Carrot Tops: http://www.thekitchn.com/5-ways-to-eat-carrot-tops-183415

Vanilla beans: Cover scraped vanilla beans completely in sugar in an airtight container. Store for 1–2 weeks; then use vanilla-scented sugar in baked goods or stirred into tea.

Bones:  Make stock
Bone Brothhttp://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/common-mistakes/article/common-mistakes-bone-broth

Chicken Broth: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_chicken_stock/