The Gardeners Pen

The Gardeners Pen, Oregon Master Gardener Association newsletter is available: http://www.oregonmastergardeners.org/docs/GardenersPen/2014April.pdf

“I would particularly like to draw your attention to the information in the Gardeners Pen, about the annual OMGA Gardeners MiniCollege which will be held on July 12th-13th at the LaSell’s Stewart Center on the Oregon State University Campus. Details about the MiniCollege are at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/mg/minicollege.”

Bob Reynolds, Master Gardener Coordinator
Oregon State University Extension Service Jackson County
541-776-7371
robert.reynolds@oregonstate.edu
extension.oregonstate.edu/sorec/mg

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Winter Gardening: Cold-Hardy Vegetables

CORVALLIS, Ore. –  Not ready to hang up your gloves and spade just yet?

The fearless gardener still has a chance to plant some cold-hardy vegetables to harvest next spring, said Jim Myers, plant breeder and researcher at Oregon State University. But don’t dawdle.

“Winter gardening is a risky business,” Myers said. “It may work one year with a mild winter but not another when the weather is more severe. If you plant some cold-hardy vegetables from mid-August to early October – depending on the crop – there’s a good likelihood you will produce something on the other end in the spring. They say farming is a gamble…some years more than others.”

Cold weather doesn’t kill these hardy plants; it simply slows their growth rate. For every rise of 18 degrees, growth rate doubles, but that guideline is only applicable for an air temperature range of 40 to 98 degrees, Myers said. If you plant cold-hardy vegetables from mid-August to early October, there is a chance they can mature by next spring if they survive in a vegetative state through the winter without reproducing.

According to Myers, the hardiest vegetables that can withstand heavy frost of air temperatures below 28 include: spinach, Walla Walla sweet onion, garlic, leeks, rhubarb, rutabaga, broccoli, kohlrabi, kale, cabbage, chicory, Brussels sprouts, corn salad, arugula, fava beans, radish, mustard, Austrian winter pea and turnip.

Semi-hardy vegetables that can withstand light frost of air temperatures in the range of 28 to 32 degrees include: beets, spring market carrots, parsnip, lettuce, chard, pea, Chinese cabbage, endive, radicchio, cauliflower, parsley and celery. For beets, spring market carrots and parsnips, the tops will die but the roots will tolerate lower temperatures.

Vegetables that contain the pigment anthocyanin, which gives them a vibrant red or purple color, are more resistant to rots caused by winter rains, Myers said. They include: purple-sprouting broccoli, Rosalind broccoli and purple kale.

If you live in an area of the state that gets prolonged snow cover, the fluffy white stuff acts as insulating mulch and warms the soil for these tough plants, Myers said.

No matter where you live in Oregon, “some of the worst problems we have in the winter are with rain rather than temperature, so protecting plants from the rain is quite helpful,” Myers said.

He recommends covering vegetables with high or low tunnels made from metal hoops and clear plastic, available from greenhouse supply companies. To protect plants, you can also use row covers or cloches. To warm the soil use mulch made from yard debris, cardboard or newspaper.

Cross your fingers and by next March you could be feasting on shelled, succulent fava beans seasoned with salt and lemon juice.

For more information on extending the gardening season, see the OSU Extension guides “Fall and Winter Vegetable Gardening in the Pacific Northwest” at http://bit.ly/OSU_FallGarden, “How to build your own raised bed cloche” at http://bit.ly/OSU_Cloche and “Garlic for the Home Garden” at http://bit.ly/OSU_Garlic. For an interactive map of Oregon’s first frost dates, go to the United States Department of Agriculture’s website at http://bit.ly/USDA_FirstFrostOR.

By Denise Ruttan denise.ruttan@oregonstate.edu

Source: Jim Myers  myersja@hort.oregonstate.edu

This story is online at http://bit.ly/OSU_Gardening2293

Bird Feeders

Don’t let disease foul your bird feeder…

CORVALLIS, Ore. – As you’re welcoming wild birds into your yard this winter, be sure to keep your bird feeder clean and keep an eye on the health of your feathered diners.

“Sick birds will either be found dead or perched, often with feathers in disarray, eyes squinted or wings held out,” said Dana Sanchez, a wildlife specialist with the Oregon State University Extension Service. “Healthy birds are alert and mobile, whereas sick birds stand out because they are neither of those.”

Birds can get salmonella from bird feeders. Other diseases can spread when birds congregate or land on infected perches, Sanchez said.

“If the sick bird is associated with your feeders, take down the feeders and clean them,” she said. “It is probably a good idea to keep the feeders down for two to three weeks, until the disease has had a chance to run its course in the local population. Allow the bird to recover on its own. Make sure children, pets and free-ranging cats cannot get to the bird.”

Sanchez offered these tips to make sure your feeders are clean and free of mold for backyard visitors.

  • Clean your feeders once a month during low-use times and up to once a week during high-use periods.
  • Scrape off bird droppings and rinse or wipe clean the perches with a solution of 1 part vinegar to 20 parts water.
  • Hang your feeders where the feed won’t get wet. If seed in a feeder has gotten wet and compacted, remove the feed and discard it. Then clean the feeder with warm water and a brush.
  • Dry the feeder before refilling with the fresh seed.
  • If your feeder’s location is likely to get wet often, only fill it with a one- to two-day supply of seed at a time.
  • Clean up under feeders regularly and prevent accumulation of feed beneath the feeders by moving them occasionally. Seed on the ground can attract other animals, such as rodents, that you would prefer to not have near your home.

For more information about feeds and feeder placement, check out the following publication from the OSU Extension Service:  http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/19664/ec1554.pdf

Author Denise Ruttan, OSU Extension Service
Source: Dana Sanchez, Wild Life Specialist OSU Extension Service