News from Columbia County Master Gardener's

Dates:

January 24, 2013 - Master Gardener Graduation and Chapter Meeting, Loo Witt Room, St. Helens High School, 6:30-7:30 speaker (Kym Pokorny-Low Maintenance Plants), graduation and chapter meeting to follow after a short break.

February 16, 2013 - Grafting Workshop - 9am to Noon - Extension Classroom, must RSVP, class size limited.

February 28, 2013 - Master Gardener Chapter Meeting, 6:30pm, Extension Classroom, Speaker will be Glen Andresen - Care of the Home Orchard.

March 9, 2013 - Pruning Demonstration, 10am to Noon, Demo Garden, Columbia County Fairgrounds, open to the public.

March 28, 2013 - Master Gardener Chapter Meeting, 6:30pm, Extension Classroom, Speaker will be Rich Hatfield - Conserving Bumble Bees.

April 1, 2013 - Demo Garden work to begin on Mondays, 10 am to Noon.

April 25, 2013 - Master Gardener Chapter Meeting, 6:30pm, Extension Classroom, Speaker will be James Cassidy - Soil.

April 27, 2013 - Spring Fair, 9am to 3pm, St. Helens High School.

May 23, 2013 - Master Gardener Chapter Meeting, 6:30pm, Extension Classroom, Speaker will be Kristin VanHoose - Hydrangas Plus.

June 27, 2013 - Master Gardener Chapter Meeting, 6:30pm, Extension Classroom, Speaker will be Chef Dan Brophy - Herbs.

July 17-21, 2013 - County Fair open, Plant Clinics at Demo Garden.

August 7-9, 2013 - OSU Master Gardener Mini College, Corvallis.

August 25, 2013 - Columbia County Master Gardener's Annual Potluck Picnic, 1pm, Scappoose Bay Marina.

September 14, 2013 - Scappose Sauerkraut Festival, Plant Clinic.

September 26, 2013 - Master Gardener Chapter Meeting, 6:30pm, Extension Classroom, Speaker will be Jen Aron - Year Round Vegetable Bounty: Planning for a Fall and Winter Havest.

October 24, 2013 - Master Gardener Chapter Meeting, 6:30pm, Extension Classroom, Speaker will be Claudia Groth - Slugs.

December 7, 2013 - Wreath Making & Potluck, 11:30am, Yankton Grange.

 

Grafting Tomatoes

-December 14, 2012

I was encouraged, after listening to Elizabeth Howley in MG training last year, to try my hand at tomato grafting. She directed us to the WSU Mt Vernon website on Vegetable Research. The site is loaded with grafting information. This fall, soon after I had everything harvested, I set a flat of left over tomato seeds out to sprout in the greenhouse and I've been practicing on the unsuspecting little plants. Much to my surprise, it isn't as scary as I had imagined. Now I'm heartened and ready to try the more expensive grafts, that of my heirlooms to grafting stock. I've decided to try a grafting stock seed that is only 34 cents per seed, however I have to buy 50 seeds and I don't really have any reason to produce so many tomato plants. If anyone else is curious let me know and maybe we can share an order. I've selected Rootstock RST-04-106-T sold by Neseeds but I might be convinced to try other rootstocks if someone wants to make the argument for a “better” choice.

- Debra Brimacombe

 

Yep That’s Peanuts Charlie Brown!

-December 13, 2012

   I attempted to grow peanuts for many years but was never successful. I couldn’t even get them to come up in my garden. I suppose Gurney's Seeds was happy but I was very disappointed.

   Several years ago another Master Gardener, Robert Hammond, planted peanut starts in the Demo Garden. A brilliant light went off in my head. They needed help getting started. So the next year I tried the same thing in my garden. I  started the plants early and got some nice plants but only harvested a half a dozen peanuts off of 14 plants. I also discovered that because I had been planting directly into the garden I was supplying a seed feast for birds and mice.

   That Winter I read an article in Mother Earth News on how to raise sweet potatoes in cooler climates. The idea was to lay clear plastic on the ground and plant your sweet potatoes under the plastic by cutting holes in the plastic after the ground had warmed sufficiently. Sweet potatoes grow well when the ground temperature is over 80 degrees and better if it is closer to 100 degrees. I tried it. I inserted the plants under the plastic by cutting an X in the plastic, planting the start and then covering the X with sand to allow water to drain into the ground. By inhibiting water from evaporating, less water was required. If the plant is in a slight depression, the plastic will channel the water to the plant so that very little water is required.

I decided that maybe if I combined the two ideas, to start the peanuts early and warm the ground with clear plastic, I might be more successful. Once my peanuts sprouted and were well established in my greenhouse I took the tray covers off. Two days later the mice got in and ate or killed them all. I restarted the starts and finally was able to plant them in the warm bed waiting for them at the Demo Garden.

   By late August the plants were looking good. Normally they should be harvested in September but because of the late start I let them go until mid-October before harvesting. After picking and drying overnight in a food drier at 95 degrees I had just over 4 ounces of peanuts from nine plants. If I could have used the first starts there would have been an extra six to eight weeks of warm weather and the crop would have been much better. After being so close to a successful harvest, I have to try again next year. I plan to add a bit more protection from the mice and see what a full season can produce.

- Chuck Petersen