Tip of the hat to top gardening stories of 2015

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Planting drought-tolerant perennials like pineapple sage saves water, time and money. Photo by Lotus Johnson, CC BY-NC 2.0.
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December 21, 2015

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The end of the year snuck up on us and now come the perennial lists – best movies, top albums and most-watched TV shows. Not to be outdone, we present the five most popular Oregon State University Extension Service stories of 2015.

How this list was compiled is a bit unscientific. We looked at which stories got the most hits on the website; how they panned out on Facebook; and what experience tells us. Some articles like renovating lawns, making compost and harvesting pears and apples regularly make their way into the top 10.

A rundown of trees with beautiful fall color grabbed readers’ attention this year, as did a wrap-up of ceanothus (aka California lilac) that perform best in western Oregon. Not surprisingly, people always want to learn about aggravating and sometimes devastating pest and disease problems, edging stories on those matters into top slots. In that category, ash whiteflies and boxwood blight were the biggies for 2015.

But while all those topics ranked near the top, five others rose above. Here’s the chance to take another look.

HOW TO GROW HOPS: It was inevitable in beer-thirsty, hop-growing Oregon that home brewers would start raising their own. They’re hungry for information on how to get to the point of harvesting precious hops – or cones -- from fast-growing vines that can easily get out of control. Shaun Townsend, OSU hops breeder, shares his wisdom for growing, controlling and enjoying. (http://bit.ly/1QUYyJZ)

MASON BEES: In spring, industrious mason bees are busy pollinating the season’s earliest-blooming plants. Brooke Edmunds, a horticulturist with OSU’s Extension, makes a case for the important place mason bees have in the cool, wet shoulder season before honeybees wake from their winter naps and tells you how to get and keep them. (http://bit.ly/1Ysjzlo)

DROUGHT-TOLERANT PERENNIALS: It’s not exactly the Sahara in western Oregon, but summers are hot and dry and setting records for getting hotter and drier. Even if that wasn’t the case, saving water only makes sense and many gardeners want all the information they can get on this red-hot topic. Gail Langellotto, an Extension horticulturist, shares 10 suggestions of water-wise perennials that thrive with a minimum of moisture. (http://bit.ly/1S67hdi)

MOLES, VOLES AND GOPHERS: Nothing seems to get to gardeners more than these mound-making rodents. Some eat roots and bulbs, some rotor through the lawn leaving long runways where they’ve been dining on grass. Others are underground just eating bugs, but still leaving trip-worthy holes and mounded soil. How you deal with them depends on identifying them correctly. Dana Sanchez, an Extension wildlife specialist, gives the scoop. (http://bit.ly/1mwLnny)

SWEET POTATOES: Who knew Oregonians would be so excited about growing sweet potatoes? It must be a case of “I want what I can’t have.” At least, that’s what most people thought until Gary Jordan, a master gardener with OSU’s Extension, set out to bust the myth. And bust it he did. All it took was one successful crop and people wanted his secrets. Only they’re not secrets. Jordan will tell anyone listening – or reading. (http://bit.ly/1S67qxe)

 

Author: Kym Pokorny
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