April in the garden

In Ashland, Oregon the last frost date is approximately May 15th.

Sow seeds in your greenhouse, or indoors,  for transplanting  after May 15th.
Basil, Cabbage, Peppers, Summer Squash, Winter Squash, Pumpkin, Tomato, etc.
Flowers;  Sunflowers, Cosmos, Marigolds , Zinnia, etc.

If the soil is not too wet, you can sow the following vegetables seeds directly into the garden. Once seedlings emerge protect them from spring frost.  Lettuces, Cauliflower, Spinach, Chinese Cabbage, Broccoli, Peas, Chard, Carrots, Turnips, Parsnips, Leeks, Kohlrabi, Beets, Radishes.

You can plant onion sets up until 4/15. And, you can still plant raspberries and strawberries plants.
Fertile flowerbeds, shrubs, trees and grass.
Start baiting for slugs, snails and earwigs.
Watch out for spittle bugs and aphids on your existing strawberry plants.
Watch out for aphids on all plants in the landscape.

  • Home remedy for Aphid Control: Mix a teaspoon of vegetable oil, a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and a cup of water. Or, mix three tablespoons of liquid soap and a gallon of water. Spray to wet the entire plant thoroughly, particularly the undersides of leaves, because aphids must come into contact with the soap solution to be affected. After a few hours, wash off the oil and soap with a garden hose to protect sensitive plants. Repeat the application every few days as necessary.
  • Control spittle bugs by blasting spittle bug foam off plants with water. Repeat as necessary.

Pruning shrubs & trees should be completed by now!

Composting Dos & Don’ts

Alternate layers of nitrogen-rich greens & carbon-rich browns.

Greens:

• Vegetable peelings
• Rotten fruit & Fruit Peelings
• Leaves & Grass ( green & dry)
• Coffee grounds &  Tea leaves
• Manure from vegetarian pets: rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, sheep, horses,cows, llamas, etc.

Browns:

• Dry leaves, grass and plant stalks
• Shredded newsprint (non-toxic inks only),
• Shredded Brown Paper bags,
• Unbleached paper towels, napkins, wet is okay, greasy no!
• Cardboard ( small pieces)
• Corncobs
• Straw
 
You can also add:
• Rinsed, crushed eggshells
• Pet hair, to help discourage rodents
• Dryer lint
• Wood ash

Tips:

• Select a level, partially-shaded spot for your bin with good water drainage. Be sure it is at least 8 in – 12 in away from walls, fences, bushes, doors and windows.
• Cut kitchen scraps up into smaller pieces – faster decomposition.
• Whenever you add any food layer, top it off with brown material. Keep a pile of dry browns near the bin to sprinkle on top each time you add kitchen scraps.
• The beneficial microorganisms in your pile need oxygen. If too compacted (like in a landfill), they produce methane as they decompose, which is a greenhouse gas. Leave lots of air space in your bin and mix the contents every week or two with an aerator tool, or an old broom handle.
• Collect dry leaves and grass in a separate, dry container. Then you can use them year-round.
• Compost is generally ready to use after two or three months but aging the pile another one to two months before putting it on lawns or garden will improve it.
 

DON’Ts:

WHY? They attract rodents & other pests and cause odor problems.
 
AVOID ADDING THESE TO YOUR COMPOST:
    • Grease, oils or fats.
    • Bread or bread products
    • Rice
    • Pastas
    • Salad dressings or sauces
    • Dairy products
    • Nuts or nut butters
    • Fish
    • Meat
    • Bones
    • Dog or cat feces, kitty litter, human waste – Meat-eating animals, including humans,  carry diseases, and kitty litter may contain chemicals.
    • Ash from barbecues or coal Contains harmful chemicals.
   • Weeds with mature seeds. When you spread the compost, you’ll spread those weeds, to your garden.
    • Treated wood products May contain harmful chemicals.
 

Troubleshooting:

SYMPTOM DIAGNOSIS TREATMENT
Compost is attracting pests: dogs, rodents, raccoons. Improper materials added. Use a pest-resistant bin.
Put kitchen scraps in the center of the pile and cover with soil.
 
Compost pile is wet and stinky, too much green material. Add brown material. Turn pile. Insufficient covering.
Put scraps at the center of the pile.
 
Pile is dry too much brown material. Not enough water.
Add fresh kitchen scraps. Moisten with water.
Cover pile to reduce evaporation.
 
Pile is cold Lack of nitrogen. Add green materials such as
grass clippings, kitchen scraps.
 
Compost is attracting flies. Food scraps are exposed. Cover green material with browns. Avoid adding grease, oils, meats, breads, etc (see checklist above). Cover food scraps with soil or brown material. Put kitchen scraps in the center of the pile.

DIY: Aphid Spray

Make your own insecticidal soap: Aphids attacking a rode bud and stopping it from opening

Mix 5 tablespoons of all-natural liquid soap with 1 gallon water. 

Using a hand sprayer apply soap mixture directly on the aphids. Wait an hour then spray the roses with a garden hose to remove any soap residue and the dead aphids.

Repeat as needed.

5 W’s for Fertilizing

                                                                    Article by Kelly Brainard, Owner Ashland Greenhouse

“There are always so many questions about fertilizing.  I would like to go over some of the basics, especially since early spring can be a key time for taking care of fertilizing needs. Always ask yourself:
The type of plant you are focusing on (perennials, annuals, vegetables, ect).
What type of fertilizer to use based on season and the plant(s) you’re fertilizing.
When do you apply fertilizer?  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter?
Where is the best place to apply fertilizers?  Topically or to the root zone?
Why is this necessary?  What are the benefits of fertilizing?

Since we could write a book on everything mentioned above let’s keep it brief and relevant to what we should focus on in early spring.  This is a great time of year to focus on perennials.  Most perennials prefer a well-balanced or all-purpose fertilizer (all three numbers on the packaging are identical, i.e. 3-3-3 or 16-16-16).  Perennials fed in early spring develop strong root systems which in turn produces larger, healthier plants.  Apply granular fertilizers to the soil around the root zone.

For annuals that are tough enough to be outside early and continue blooming throughout the summer, like petunias and verbena, apply well balanced or slightly higher nitrogen fertilizers. This gives them an extra boost, encouraging growth.  You can successfully use either a granular or foliar fertilizer.  Foliar fertilizers tend to react faster than granules since they are taken up by the plant through the leaves but need re-application more often.  For annuals I like to use granular fertilizer applications in the spring and start using weekly or biweekly applications of liquid fertilizer in the summer. Remember as a rule of thumb – ALWAYS apply fertilizers in the morning. It is less stressful for the plants.

Vegetables are a completely different beast when it comes to fertilizing.  There are numerous techniques when it comes to fertilizing your vegetables.  If it’s grown for leafy greens then apply fertilizers heavier in nitrogen. If it’s grown for the fruit apply fertilizers heavier in phosphorous.  Nitrogen promotes healthy, green foliage and too much of it can discourage fruit development while phosphorous promotes bud and flower growth which encourages more fruit.

When in doubt about fertilizing don’t hesitate to ask a fellow gardener. Some of the best advice is the advice that we share with each other!”

Source: http://AshlandGreenhouses_April2014Newsletter

Cool-Season Crops

Get a head start gardening in western Oregon with cool-season crops:

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Is this dry winter making you anxious to dig in the dirt again? There’s some good news if you garden in western Oregon and are an optimist.

Cool-season plants can be directly seeded into the ground in March in the Willamette Valley and southern Oregon , said Bob Reynolds, the Master Gardener coordinator for the Oregon State University Extension Service in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Cool-season crops include peas, arugula, carrots, cabbage, cilantro, fava beans, kale, kohlrabi, spinach, chard, turnips and lettuce.

Reynolds said he’s getting questions from the public already about when to start planting and how to tell when soil is ready.

“It depends on how experienced they are and how long they’ve lived here,” Reynolds said. “If they’ve lived here long, then they know a week of 60-degree days doesn’t mean spring is here. You may be anxious, but you hold yourself back.”

Reynolds recommends using a soil thermometer to check your soil temperature to decide whether to dig in. Soil rather than air temperature is the bellwether of whether to plant, he said. Seeds such as peas will germinate at an average soil temperature of about 50 degrees. Each species has different temperature requirements for germination. Generally, cool-season plants can survive air temperatures as cold as 28 degrees, Reynolds said.

Cover the new plantings with clear plastic to protect the soil from getting too saturated by rain.

Snow provides a nice incubator for new plants, acting as a blanket to keep the coldest air from penetrating, Reynolds said.

You can start hand weeding any time. Wait until plants have established themselves before fertilizing them.

As for gardeners in central and eastern Oregon , they’re going to have to be patient. Direct seeding for cool-season crops is not possible until late April or May, said Amy Jo Detweiler, an Extension horticulturist in Redmond . Seedlings can be transplanted in May and June.

“We tell people that March is a good time to clean and sharpen your garden tools and take care of your houseplants,” Detweiler said.

March is also a good time for high-desert gardeners to study seed catalogs and prepare seed tapes. Seed tapes are good for plants that require thinning, such as radishes. To make a seed tape, cut a 2- to 3- inch strip the length of a newspaper or use tissue paper strips, 2-3 inches wide and however long you need it, Detweiler said.

When it’s time to plant, bury the seed tapes in the soil at the seed appropriate depth and the tissue paper or newspaper will break down into the soil, Detweiler said.

By Denise Ruttan, Oregon State Extension
Source: Bob Reynolds, OSU & Amy Jo Detweiler, OSU
This article is online at http://bit.ly/OSU_Gardening2236