Top 10 gardening stories for 2016 from OSU Extension

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Gardeners want to know how to run deer away from their plants. Photo by Hannah O'Leary.
Last Updated: 
December 30, 2016

CORVALLIS, Ore. – As the new year arrives, lists of favorites abound – 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 2016.

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. Articles like any to do with edible plants regularly make their way to near the top. This year, growing onions, artichokes, figs and cool-weather vegetables fell into that category.

An introduction to a new Extension app about the selection, planting and maintenance of trees grabbed readers’ attention, as did a surprising piece on a new study showing cities are not the biological deserts once thought. Not surprisingly, people always want to learn about how to deal with aggravating pest and disease problems, edging stories on those matters into top slots. In that category, how to use IPM to deal with pests was a biggie for 2016.

But while all those topics ranked near the top, five others rose above.

SLUGS AND DEER: The damage done by slugs and deer drive gardeners crazy – really crazy. Coming out to the garden to see plants munched by these voracious pests can bring a grown gardener to tears. Though Master Gardener Claudia Groth loves her slugs (really), she understands the frustrations of others and offers suggestions for controlling the slimy mollusks  Dana Sanchez, an Extension wildlife specialist, takes a stand against deer.

GARDENING WITH KIDS: Dirt attracts children like roses attract aphids. Taking that instinct and turning it into a love of gardening is something Joy Jones, a master gardener coordinator with OSU Extension, is passionate about. She teaches kids about gardening and sees an increase in their self-confidence, interest in nature and an appreciation for healthy food. She was thrilled to share a list of tips for gardening with kids of all ages.

IPM AND FRUIT TREES: Persistent pests and diseases plague fruit trees, a problem that’s led to a tradition of complicated and sometimes scary spraying regimes that can turn off gardeners. With the boom in interest in edible gardening, more people are discovering the rewards of growing fruit trees but want alternatives to spraying. Steve Renquist, an Extension horticulturist, has a positive response when he teaches Integrated Pest Management, an approach that uses the most effective, low-toxic methods to battle pests and diseases.

PRUNING SHRUBS: Step back and take a look at your shrubs. Are they gangly, congested or full of weak, upright wood? If you answered one or more of those questions in the affirmative, they need some help. But pruning can be intimidating so Extension’s Neil Bell takes some of the mystery out of how to clip and how definitely not to.

CHOOSING ORGANIC PRODUCTS: A trip to the garden center to buy organic products can be like a trip to outer space. What do all those labels mean anyway? The first thing to look for is the OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) seal of approval. What else can you do or use to maintain an organic garden? Weston Miller, horticulturist for Extension, runs it down.

Author: Kym Pokorny
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