13 - September - Wrapping up the 2020 Garden Season


*Transcript was autogenerated*

Thanks for joining us for another OSU Extension Garden Q&A. This session focuses on vegetable gardening in the Willamette Valley and features Benton County Master Gardeners and special guests Sue Domingues, Judith Kenner, Emily Herb, and Elizabeth Records. This session was recorded live online on September 22 2020.

Emily Herb  0:00  
I'll give you a little history about our veggie queue. And as this was something that we started back at the beginning of the pandemic, beginning of COVID-19, when we had our community garden Education team, which is a committee that we have with the Benton County master gardeners, and that team was meeting together and trying to figure out how you know, what we were going to do with ourselves being that all of the gardening classes that we had planned were canceled, and all of the live events that we had were canceled. And it was really important to us at that point, especially because even at that point, we saw that more people were taking up gardening and there was more interest in gardening out there. But we needed to figure out a way to still be able to answer questions and be relevant to the gardeners of the world and or more specifically, the gardeners of Linn and Benton counties. And so we came up with this idea of just kind of doing this impromptu question and answer session. And so how this works is, you can ask us any questions, we don't promise to know the answers to the questions, but we will do our very best to answer them from our experience. And then Elizabeth is great at knowing lots of other resources that are out there. So she might put some links of resources in the chat as well, if she can find something, to answer a question that we're not able to answer right off the top of our heads. And then if she can't do that, we promise that we will get back to you because since you had to register to join this zoom, question answer, we have your email addresses. And so we will follow up with you and get the answers back to you. So that's kind of how it works. And this is all just kind of improv with gardening and are what we're best at is vegetable gardening. We have some fruit knowledge, that sort of thing. But trying to keep it to the edibles here in this conversation would be the best for the for the master gardeners that you have on the line. So are there any questions? If not, I'm here, I have a kitty, if not, Su Su made a presentation for us about compost. And we might kind of lead out with that. Oh, and also our our topic for the night is supposed to be about getting your garden ready for fall in winter. But I think our last topic is still kind of appropriate, which is harvesting and preserving. I'm still harvesting and preserving lots of stuff from the garden. And so that there might be some questions about that. And yeah, so I'll stop talking. It looks like we've got some questions.

Sue Domingues  3:03  
Do you want to go? Do you want to go with questions first? Or do you want me to pull up those slides? 

Emily Herb  3:09  
What do

you think Judith? Where should we go? 

Judith Kenner  3:11  
Let's go with these first few questions, because then we can go into the slides after that. Okay, so the first one, you already answered Emily, because it's some says is this about falling winter prep? And you said yes, it is. This one is about pulling the beds planted peas, beans, radishes, lettuce, kale, squash and carrots just a couple of weeks ago. They're coming up nicely, but we were trying to figure out how much extra we could plant to help with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to have fresh veggies and where would where would we be willing to take them? So besides peas, beans, radishes, lettuce, kale, squash and carrots, what would you recommend that she could plant that Ursula could plant for Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Emily Herb  4:08  
Sue, do you want to take this one?

Sue Domingues  4:12  
Yeah, yeah, um, you know, I'm like, unless you cover a lot of those things, you're probably not going to produce much. If you only planted them two weeks ago, usually you plant your fall and winter crops, you know, back in July and August, you know, for harvest in the fall, you know, so especially if you went Thanksgiving harvests, you probably wanted to plant it, you know, a couple months back to actually get things to grow. But if you cover them, some of the stuff will do all right. Some of it won't really grow over the winter months, very much. But if you have some kind of cold frame, you know, plastic covers something over them. It might be You know, increase the growing and you know, for sure you can grow lettuce, you know, covered, you know from the rain mostly, you know, in the next you know, so things that grow like leafy things will grow faster. And especially if you protect them from the rain. You'll probably have some harvests for the fall. Like I plant a lot of mesclun mixes and mustards and things like corn salad, and those sorts of things, those, those do really well and grow fast to harvest, you know, early, and stuff. So, yeah, so I have carrots and Bill overwinter in the ground, and I'll pull them as I need them. But they're like, you know, pretty mature carrots now. But if I just planted the seed, you know, it'll just sit there and won't really do much if it lives through the winter. So

Judith Kenner  6:03  
I'll add to that. So that Yeah, my second wife, Sue said about the greens, the kale and the lettuce should be fine through the winter. But it kind of depends on how harsh our winter is. It's probably too late to plant a bunch of the brassicas like cauliflower and broccoli and cabbage and Brussels sprouts, unless you have a greenhouse or something to keep them warm over the winter. But yeah, given that get saying that your your squash might not produce squash, but if the things if we have a mild winter, and your plants survive over the winter, they might just burst forth in the spring in March and all of a sudden start producing.

Emily Herb  6:55  
I wonder if this would be a good moment for that question. And the one that I see that's following up about it in terms of asking how do I know what to plan to my area, if I could share my screen real quick and show you my favorite resource for that, which is the Portland nursery planting guide. And so I'm going to try to share my screen real quick. And because this is what I go by, can everybody see that right there. So a few Elizabeth can put this link in the chat so that everybody can have access to it. But if you see over here in September, um, we have a pretty limited number of things that we can plant and here that we're getting to the end of September, we might even need to look over in October to look at what it is we could plant. But in September, you can still

Sue Domingues  7:53  
plant some

Emily Herb  7:54  
lettuce, it says some kale, some radishes, those things like Sue was saying that, that mature pretty quickly. beets are still on the list and Asian greens. But at this point being that we're almost in October, I would look over here in October. And you can see over here we have fava beans, and garlic from the cloves. This is the best time to plant your garlic and it will come up and then overwinter and start planting again, growing again in the spring to be harvested in early summer. So this is our garlic time. And then they have sets of onions and shallots. And so yeah, that's why I'll stop sharing now. Oh, but also to answer that second question about what it is that when we plant in our area, this is a great place to go to just to start getting an idea about what it is we can plant here in the Pacific Northwest and when it is that we plant those things. And one thing that I really like about this calendar is that, um, it just repeats it, you know, you can pretty much plant beats the whole year and beets will show up in all of those different columns. So that you can see what it is you can plant and when and they also indicate when you need to plant them and put covering on them. So, um yeah, that's why in this at this conversation, we're mostly going to be talking about how to get your beds ready for fall and winter is because we're really coming to the end of our planting season.

Judith Kenner  9:29  
Okay, the next question is about from Stacey, I still have a lot of green tomatoes on my plants. How long should I leave them or is there a way to get them to ripen more quickly and I've had success with picking them and just letting them ripen on my counter in the kitchen. But at this time of year, especially if you can find some way to cover them. They will probably still ripen for a little while longer. I know that we're supposed to have some warm days next week. But we are also going to have rain and rain can split them. So you have to be kind of careful with your tomatoes. But if you bring them inside, they will ripen. Or you can make pickle tomatoes or other relishes and other things from them. Anybody else want to chime in?

Emily Herb  10:22  
You're muted to.

Judith Kenner  10:26  
So you're muted.

Elizabeth Records  10:31  
Sue, can you please start over?

Sue Domingues  10:34  
Yeah, I'm sorry about that. It's good. If those are split tomatoes, it's good not to try to write in them. If there have any blemish at all, it's good not to try to ripen them. It's just the perfect ones that you want to ripen.

Elizabeth Records  10:54  
And share some recipes for green tomatoes from extension. And yeah, they're acidified, similar to how red tomatoes would be. But all the directions are in there for you.

Emily Herb  11:07  
Yeah, I really like making

the green salsa with green tomatoes. I don't grow tomatoes, just because I always count on having green tomatoes and I use them as a substitute for tomatoes. And there's a really good recipes out there having to do with that too. So enjoy our green tomatoes.

Judith Kenner  11:30  
Okay, I think that's all the questions for now. So maybe we should move on to Sue's presentation. Okay.

Sue Domingues  11:47  
Um, so I was going to talk a little bit about making compost because now the end of the garden season coming up quickly here, once it freezes anyway in about a month or so. And then when you what you have to do with all that those plants, those spent plants that you have in your garden, what you have to do with them. And the best thing that a vegetable gardener should do with them is to make compost. And another thing that you can do this time of year spread compost on your garden, you know, especially as you pull those plants you know it's a good time to add some compost to your garden helps keeps weeds down and stuff. But these are some options of compost. The PRC compost is that stuff that with you pull up your plants or you know, cut your fruit trees back or whatever and put it in your yard debris container and send it off to the Pacific Resource Center, they actually make it into compost and sell it back to you. So that's a sample of the PRC compost over there. And I use it because they can never make enough compost and it's decent but it's not the best compost that you can get. Or you know, it's it's not a high quality has a lot of wood in it. As you can see those rough pieces in there. And then that middle compost that's there is stuff that I made in my backyard. So that's when I pull up all those plants and put them in my compost and add you know, those are called greens when it's you know, high carbon, I mean high nitrogen plants like the actual green plants that you're pulling up from your garden and all those tomatoes that didn't ripen or whatever you want to put in there or your squash that rotted instead of you know, turned into a nice giant zucchini or something. So those are those are all the nitrogen sources you so you put them in your compost and you mix them with a Browns which are carbon sources like leaves and straw and those sorts of things. And then so I make compost in my backyard and that's what it turns into. And it's really good for your garden. And it's way better than the PRC compost, you know, it's just better quality compost. And then the worm compost I also have a worm bin and it's a lot less work on my part to actually have the worms do all the work instead of turning compost in my compost bin. And that's probably the best compost that you could use for for your garden. Now, I thought that I would be able to just screen through these but my not going to be able to do that. Yeah, so I I guess I can't do that. Can I?

Elizabeth Records  14:55  
Hmm. Hey Soos port moment Do you have this one? Oh, you found it, you found it. Okay.

Sue Domingues  15:02  
Yeah. Okay. So what you do basically is you pull up that the matter from your garden, all that green batter from your garden, and do. So that's the in that chart there, it's the green letters. And you know, it says garden ways. You could also add your kitchen scraps and coffee grounds, grass clippings, pet hair, composted manure to that green layer. And then the brown layer would be the high end carbon, like I said, so leaves straw stop sawdust and the rest of those, and you take those, and you put them in your compost pile, and you put a layer of Browns layer of greens, and you keep alternated and water it as you go, especially if it's really dry. And it's still even dry, even though it rained a little bit that there. It's still pretty dry. So you border as you go. And then you continue building your pile until it's three feet high. And it's really easy to build a pile that high if you're have any, you know, both to your garden anyway. And you let it sit for a couple weeks, and then you turn it. So that is basically posted, here's a sample of some cover crop that I actually pulled up last spring and put in the compost bin. And so there's a lot of grasses in there. And there's some other things. And there's layers of Browns that you could kind of see but the greens are kind of overtaking it there. And then here's that layer of straw that goes on top of those greens, so you could still see some of the green in there. And then you you put that in a bin like this, I mean, this could be a sample of a bin. And you don't have to make a bin it could just be a pile on your backyard. But this these are made from pallets. And then those What are those called those t posts, you know, pounded into the ground and then pallets and pallets you could usually get for free. So that's that's what that's made out of. And those are that size is three by three by three. So those pallets are perfect to make that size and that's the size you want your compost, the minimum size you want in your compost. And then at the garden that I managed that's really large, we have a lot of those bins all in a row because we make compost and then we flip it into the turn it into the next bin and into the next bin and then to the next thing. So that's what that picture is. And then when your compost looks all decomposed like soil, then you know it's ready to to use in your garden and this is when we spread some compost in the garden. So So that's kind of basically the what you do with compost. If you add something like a bag of like say chicken manure, it could speed up the process, and you should turn it about every week or two weeks and you can you know, mixed it all together and watered if it needs watered, or if the rain start thin cover it with maybe a piece of plastic and you'll have nice compost to add to your garden. So that's my compost.


Judith Kenner  18:33  
Okay, we had a question back of ways from Leah about. She's new to Oregon, and she was asking about cover herbs. And we're not sure what you mean, Leah? Whether you mean cover crops, or whether you can plant herbs in the winter, or what you wanted us to answer for you.

Emily Herb  19:02  
I think it's probably a good idea to talk about cover crops. Yes, that's what what was being asked or not. And I'm, I'm a I'm a believer in planting cover crops and so you're too young and so I can explain my process a little bit about how I get a bed ready for the winter. And I have I have two pretty big gardens and my garden beds are about four feet wide and they're about 30 feet long. And and what I do is that when when a bed is done like soon my pepper bed will be done and I'll be pulling out all the peppers and I'll be taking out all of the irrigation that I had there. And then I I have a broad fork which is kind of like a really big garden fork and I go through I, I broadfork my my bed up again but you could just like get the weeds out and loosen up the soil again and I kind of tried to get the bed back together, you know, like it like during the course of the summer with the weeds and all of that, you know, the, my bed, my nice four foot bed my evening kind of flattened out a little bit. And so I tried to, I tried to get that, that that bed back together. And then once I feel like I have it back together, sometimes I will go and get some compost and put the compost on that can be one of the things that I do. If I feel like a bed really has like gotten really flat and the soil has gotten really chunky, I might go get a load of compost and put compost on. But another thing that I usually always do is plant a cover crop. And I have planted in my time I've planted fava beans as a cover crop. And I have planted Austrian Australian Austrian field peas as a cover crop. And I've planted batch as a cover crop. And in my experience, it's a great thing to do, because it feeds the soil. And maybe even more importantly, it um, it keeps the weeds out, it keeps the weeds down because there's something growing in there and something covering it for the wintertime. And so it kind of they kind of shove the weeds out and then come spring, I will usually pull my cover crop and I have chickens. So I pull my cover crop and I give it to the chickens used to be I would bring the chickens onto the bed to eat the cover crop. But even those little chickens can compress my nice fluffy bed. And so I stopped doing that I now like cut and carry the cover crop to the chickens and pull all of that out. And then my bed is ready to go for the spring for the springtime. And I really I mean, I really recommend this method of putting some work into it in the fall time. It used to be even before then that I would just be done with my growing season. And I would just tell it and walk away or I would even just tell it and plant some cover crop and walk away. And then it was really hard for me to get into my beds early in the springtime because my beds weren't ready. And so now I find that if I do all the work and in the fall time to get those beds kind of how I want to be, then it's much easier for me to start out in the spring. So that's what I do now.

Anybody else about their cover crop life?

Judith Kenner  22:48  
We do have a question, a question for Sue about turning your compost, how do you turn it with a deep spade, a deep Apple rack tine or something else.

Sue Domingues  23:02  
You know, I use something called a garden fork. So it's not really a pitch fork, because they're kind of little flimsy. They they're good for straw or hay. But I use a garden fork that's a little stronger. And I use that to turn it and that's that's usually sometimes they use the shovel if I can't find one of those but usually it's it and turning it in making sure that outsides in the top get like turned into the center of it, you know really helps decompose it. And if you really keep the water near the moisture level right and you turn it about once a week, you can have compost, you know this time of year you can have compost in about six weeks. As the air gets colder and colder it takes longer than that and sometimes you just kind of have to wait until spring for it to really decompose but but you can make compost pretty fast if you turn it a lot and keep the moisture right and then the air temperatures warm enough but yeah, um, those cover crops I like to use a mixture of grains and legumes like a mixture of things and so I usually buy a mix and a lot of times it has like crimson clover in it it has oats or wheat or something and the the greens actually the roots go down into the soil and help break it up and that legumes fix the nitrogen so add nitrogen to your soil so kind of good.

Elizabeth Records  24:50  
I'm just going to make a fun little comment about thing that you can do with cover crops. In the past I've gotten really nasty clay soil and I planted this cover crop of daikon radishes of a really robust kind that break up the clay hardpan. But it's like it's kind of like the broad fork tool that Emily and Sue are describing, right, this giant garden fork that you step on and lean on to break up soil. But the daikon just kind of did that on its own. And then you shave off the top and it kills the daikon, it rots out and then the soil is aerated. So that was kind of a unique and different thing that I've tried when I had a really intense clay soil.

Emily Herb  25:36  
That sounds like a lot of fun. One

problem that I've had, I think, because of doing just legumes as a cover crop is that then when I, when I grow my peas in February, March, I have the pea weevil. And that's that, that's when you plant your peas. And then you see they've got those cookie cutter edges. And I think that's because I don't have a break from the labels or i've you know, kind of cultivated My Own Pest situation of having the pee weevil. And so I maybe I should try doing some grains this year. And I bet my chickens would like the grains even better.

Sue Domingues  26:29  
And notice somebody in that one of those questions asked where to donate extra produce to was part of the question of, you know, Thanksgiving. There. There are a couple places in town that do soup kitchens. And there's also Lisa least to three food banks in a food pantries in Corvallis. And there's also like, well, different places that handout food like community outreach, but there's Yes, so there's a lot of places in town that you can donate food. And if you want to actually donate it for a meal like a Thanksgiving dinner, probably the soup kitchens would be a good choice. For you know, community. I'm not sure what they're doing it. With the soup kitchen these days, you're probably sending meals home with people instead of they sit there and eat them together.

Elizabeth Records  27:33  
I know that we have some folks on this call that are from outside of Benton County, Oregon, right. So all of us here that are leading Miss are based in Benton County, Oregon. But we know that we have participants from elsewhere in the Willamette Valley, the Portland metro area and at least one person in California. And so the answer may vary depending on what services there are near you. But I would really encourage you to reach out to whatever services there are in your community to help folks that are in need. And the need is great. One thing I do know is that some larger food banks just don't have capacity to accept lots of fresh produce and small garden sized donations. But oftentimes there are are smaller nonprofits or organizations that still have a way to to use it. So just keep making those calls and call those smaller organizations that might have just recently sprung up to meet the needs of the current moment.

Judith Kenner  28:38  
Yeah, I am a regular volunteer for stone soup, which is one of the soup kitchens here in Corvallis that provides a hot meal every single day. And we haven't been able to work there since March, of course. But what we've heard is that yes, they are distributing the food in little and takeout containers. And so people are still able to come and take the food home with them.

Elizabeth Records  29:10  
I'll just make one additional comment, which is that in our area, and I think in many others, there are social media groups that are devoted to sharing garden produce, and people hang out on there and ask for garden produce that they may need or offer stuff that they have too much of. So that might also be a good way. I personally had some tomatoes that were going to go bad and somebody came and took them off my porch to make salsa with so it's a nice way to build community.

Emily Herb  29:42  
Yeah, and I've seen more and more like little stands pop up around the neighborhoods and some of those are free for the taking stands and some of those are pay something stands and I know that in my time I live on a fairly busy street have good traffic and So I know that pretty much anything that I set out, that somebody is going to take off, and they're on the way to the grocery store that's down the street and find something for free instead. So I think that there are ways of getting stuff out into our community even, even during these times when we're more isolated from each other. And when the bigger organizations have, you know, for good reason, more strict rules in place about accepting donations, and they might have at other times.

Judith Kenner  30:29  
And also, I live a couple blocks from a community garden, and there are tables where people just put out their excess produce on the table, and anybody can come by and pick them up. So if you just check with a community garden, if you have excess produce, you can probably leave it there for people to take. And

Emily Herb  30:52  
so any other putting one's garden to bed for the winter sort of tips that we should put out there anybody else want to share about their routines?

Elizabeth Records  31:06  
I'll just make a comment that harkens back to the folks who were talking about wanting to host family for the holidays, and what could they grow now that would be available for eating during the holidays. in the chat, I shared a link to publication about how to build your own raised bed close. And that's just one way that you can kind of extend the season on growing greens and vegetables. But there's really nothing like a wonderful salad made out of fresh greens at a time when it's cold out. And those are hard to get locally. that anything that you're going to purchase at a grocery store is probably either grown in a greenhouse local your else ship from far away, probably somewhere in California. And so yeah, this can be a really special treat to share with your loved ones. There's different ways to make a covered garden and Sue Emily, Judith, if any of you have tried this, I'd be interested to hear your methods. I got some electrical conduit that I was able to bend into hoops, and then use special clips and plastic sheeting to make that into sort of a row cover. And last winter, I grew all the salad that I could eat all winter long. Ah controlling slugs in there ended up being kind of a project. I weaned pretty hard on my sluggo and iron phosphate and just going out to catch slugs by hand. But I am somebody who really enjoys fresh green so it was worth it for me.

Emily Herb  32:45  
And what was the latest that you were able to germinate like from seed in that situation? Under the

Elizabeth Records  32:54  
Yeah, I mean, I think we're getting pretty close to the to the end of the really warm days here. And I would want to be germinating them pretty early on some things like especially a rucola is a crop that does better in cold weather. And in my mind, this is a fantastic time to plant a regal and that makes a really wonderful salad for things that grow slower like those beautiful purple chicories and radicchio, which my friends now is kind of my signature winter crop. Ah, those are started considerably earlier. But if you're just thinking about it now I would really recommend putting in some Margiela.

Judith Kenner  33:33  
Yeah, I have the same success last winter with lettuce enteric a lot and I planted my lettuce on September 9 13th. And it germinated and but it didn't really take off until the spring and then it took off so much that I was buried in lettuce in March. But the original I was able to eat all winter and now I have a huge bed of a regolith that's just loving this weather and lettuce as well. So we have a few more questions from Ursula. She's talking about leaf mulch, dry grass, clipping shredded paper, to let it sit and be covered and keep moisture in and mulch and small cold weather things like you suggested with the leafy greens and cover crops. I'm not quite sure what she's asking but I think you're asking about what are the best things to put in your compost for the carbon items. And we just talked about the leafy greens in the cover crops. So let me know if you can clarify that a little bit.

Emily Herb  34:55  
I um

last year instead of doing cover crops.  I took on a new adventure of getting a big dump of leaves from the what is the Allied waste folks, so you can ask for they will come and dump and give you some free leaves if you go into their office and put your name on a list. And I was really I was, I thought I wanted a bunch of leaves. So I can't say and they had they had dumped this huge is like a great big, great big, the whole thing that they pick up the leaves, and there it was sitting on my front drive. And it took my husband and I probably, I don't know, three quarters of a month to move all of that. And we did end up moving it all and putting it on the garden beds instead of using a cover crop. And I don't think I'll do that again. Mostly because it was a huge amount of work to transport all of those leaves to the backyard, we have to haul everything back with a wheelbarrows because we don't have an entrance that's big enough to do something that is more efficient. And and, you know, definitely cut the weeds down. But I don't feel like it, they didn't end up deteriorating very much on my garden, they didn't end up composting in place like I was hoping for, even though I went out and flung some chicken poo on them to try to add some nitrogen to the situation and try to get them to deteriorate. And so at the end, I ended up having to move them twice because I moved to mom, and then I did. And we ended up using all of them because then I use the leaves as mulch in our chicken run and that kind of thing. But, um, I guess I don't know here in the Pacific Northwest, what I ended up reading was that the leaves and the sorts of leaves that they have back east on the east side of the United States that they have better luck with that kind of composting in place than we tend to have here in the Pacific Northwest. So that was my experiment last year, I don't think I'm going to be asking for a humongous dump of leaves again.

Elizabeth Records  37:08  
I'll share my experience with instead of putting straw around my overwintering garlic plants, we have a giant maple tree that dropped a bunch of leaves and we put the leaves around the garlic and we're kind of patting ourselves on the back. And then we had a windstorm and all the leaves were right off the garlic. But I do also feel like leaves are pretty good slug habitat. And many mulches that sort of form sheets, anything that's like cardboard. Um, in particular, those things tend to be a hiding place for slugs, which is a great approach if you want to lift up that cardboard and scoop the slugs off otherwise might not be desirable.

Sue Domingues  37:55  
Well, yeah, I had wanted to stress stress is that it's really good to overwinter your garden with something covering the soil and not to leave it exposed to either have a winter fall crop growing, or cover crop growing or cover it with compost or some kind of mulch or you know something and not leave it there for the winter. And I will talk about what we do with leaves, we have the beds, you know, kind of determined beds and what we do in the fall is filled up the paths with leaves really, really deep, like two feet deep, fill the paths with leaves. And then in the spring, I mean now I'm sorry, do that in the spring, I mean do that when you get the leaves, spread them in the the path. And then the next year when you're done with the garden, dig out those paths that you know you stepped on those leaves all winter and for all summer. And that water, you know came down from your garden beds and the you know, nutrients came down and help decompose them and then dig that out down to the clay and put those in your beds. So you're building up your beds with that leaf mulch, and it's decomposed like that and it works really good, especially a large garden and you have a lot of leaves

Emily Herb  39:27  
I still do have those leaves in the past. So I think that's I remember you saying that about having them in the past and then it works because the fertilizer you know, whatever kind of fertilizers you use, tends to run down and so then you've got some pretty nutrient filled stuff to fling black back on top. So I'm glad you mentioned that because I've done half of the job but I've forgotten about the other half so fine.

Elizabeth Records  39:56  
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that a bunch of gardeners have contacted the Master Gardener program in recent weeks. with questions about gardening in the aftermath of fire and smoke, we know that some of our friends have lost property or even loved ones. And it's just a really difficult situation added to everything else that's happened this year. For gardeners that are wondering about the safety of their produce, in the aftermath of fire, I'm going to share some resources in the chat from our home horticulture faculty member. And the gist of this is when it comes to produce that may have ash still cola clinging to it, even though we've had some rain. Now fortunately, most of us in here in the Midwest valley of Oregon have have had rain that washed away the ash that's stuck to many of our gardens. for things that are leafy or have a lot of nooks and crannies, you probably still want to take some extra precautions with with cleaning that produce. We've heard from folks that had a garden that was close to a structure that burned or really big, intense fire. And there's extra precautions to consider. structures can have toxins in them that are different from just the the ashes that would be in a forest that burned for instance. And so if in doubt, throw it out. But if like me, you're in an area that wasn't super close to anything that was actively burning, but that the air quality was still really gross. And there was a thick layer of surfset on things. Washing those that produce really well with a solution that's 10%. Vinegar is something that's recommended by extension. Also anything that has appeal, removing that peel, or things like a lettuce or cabbage removing the outer layers of leaves up. But I know many folks have been wondering about this. So I thought I would mention what we're able to find out here at extension and share with communities that are recovering from fire. I'm also going to share some recommendations for safely cleaning up a Yard and Garden. Again, many of us have had some rain. But in the early days, folks were contemplating getting out there with their leaf blower. And basically any activity that stirs up ashes in set is going to be pretty bad for your lungs. And so it's recommended to not use a leaf blower or anything that really kicks up ashes and insert. Ah, but yeah, I've got these resources, and I'm going to share them in the chat.

Emily Herb  42:40  
Yeah, I

i've been impressed when I brought in my tomatoes and my produce and stuff here, post our, our wildfire and smoke situation. And then you know, like brought in a bunch of tomatoes, and then I'm going to preserve them how much how much dirt, how much of that ash and stuff is on the bottom of the sink. So, I mean, I think we really did get a somewhat significant amount. And it might not, you know, you might not be able to tell too much on an individual tomato. But for me when I was putting 25 pounds of tomatoes in the sink and washing them off and getting them ready to preserve, I was impressed with how much of that ash I was finding in the bottom of the sink. The other thing that I found is because we had that combination, the wonderful combination of being able to get the rain to come in and clear stuff out. But then that did crack many of my tomatoes. And I noticed on some of the tomatoes, where they were cracked, then there was ash in there. And that was ash that because it had kind of gotten into the real, you know, juicy, fleshy part of the tomato, I was unable to watch that out. And I had to do some cutting out of parts of my tomatoes that were just too ashy, to be able to get it out. So other stuff has come fairly well clean. I've just been impressed that

quite a bit on there.

Elizabeth Records  44:16  
For folks that would like to learn a little bit more, I did share some links into the chat. And for those that may be watching on Facebook, I've also shared some links there that you can access. This is stuff that at extension we take really seriously. We're here to support the community when times get tough, and that's what we've been doing for over 100 years at OSU Extension. And yeah, this is what we do. We're here for you.

Sue Domingues  44:50  
Another thing that you could think about for with ash and stuff is sometimes people put ash in the garden beds and it's actually Good for the soil. And you know, it's the forest fire ash that's good for your soil that that toxic things that are from burning buildings or cars burning or things like that. But the ash is actually good for the soil and it increases the pH if you put ash in your garden, so I'm kind of curious of how much ash we actually got and how much that would increase our pH in our soil. So if anybody is interested in doing a soil pH test, you can bring it to the Benton County Extension office and Elizabeth will do soil test a Ph.

Elizabeth Records  45:46  
Three, oh ad that Linn County Extension is now able to offer soil pH test as well. We are working out of the office. So it may take take several days to get back to you. But we can test your soil pH and make recommendations based on what you're trying to grow. If you're joining us from another county, I recommend that you contact the extension Master Gardener program nearest you and find out what resources they may have available to help you test your soil pH, many are able to do that free of charge. If there's not a service with extension that can do it, I am going to share a link that has laboratories where you can send off your soil for a fee to get your soil pH and other nutrients in your soil tested.

Sue Domingues  46:35  
And if you do want to change the pH of your soil, the Fall is the best time to do it. So it's good to do it now.

Elizabeth Records  46:56  
During the chat, I'm putting a publication called analytical laboratory serving Oregon. And whatever you want to get tested soil or water for folks that perhaps have their garden that was near major fires, where there's a concern about toxins in the soil that are a result of that fire. These might be places to contact if you want to have a test for for things that could be problematic in your soil as time goes on.

Unknown Speaker  47:37  

Emily Herb  47:41  
I'm thinking about about more food preservation stuff because I also think about that question related to Thanksgiving. And that puts me in mind of the winter squashes. And that might be another way that you can take something of this time of harvest and keep it around until Thanksgiving time. I harvested some of my winter squash and I harvested my little pie pumpkins. And so just thinking about that this might be a good time to be out there to the farmers markets and other places that are selling the winter squash and those you can usually keep around for a while and might even be there to to put something on your Thanksgiving Day table. I'm I started in that July time period when we do start the the crops for the fall. I started a bunch of January King cabbage and I don't know if anybody has any experience with the January King cabbage but I like them a lot. And they really can't hold on all the way through the winter in the spring. And so I used the the floating the floating row covers to get my January King through this time period where there's lots of cabbage moths and pests and other things which have traditionally taken out my fallen winter crops. And I'm really happy with the size of my January King cabbage. And so that will be a couple of my beds. And maybe, you know like Elizabeth said that she had enough greens to get her through the winter and spring last year. I'm hoping that I have enough cabbage to get myself because I we eat a lot of cabbage at my house. So I'm excited about that.

Elizabeth Records  49:42  
I just heard in the chat, a publication about storing pumpkin and winter squash at home. And some of these really can last last over a year. I think last time we did this I commented that I had a large sweet meat squash that lasted more than one year. But as I'm thinking about things that I'm harvesting from the garden, I'm wondering if any of you are saving your own seeds for use next year. And that's a topic that I don't know if we've ever touched on, in any of these q&a sessions. Has anyone saved seeds? And what can you say about it?

Sue Domingues  50:22  
I, I've saved some seeds, I don't save that many seeds. And I know there's different processes for different kinds of seed, it's really easy to save things like bean seeds and squash seeds to, and I've done both where, you know, you just wait for the plant to get mature. And with the beans, they could start even drying on the vine, and then you pick up and you know, just continue drying them. And then, you know, and then peel them out of their, their pods and keep them in a dry place, I usually use, you know, kind of like the little packages of desiccants that you get in, you know, maybe a pair of shoes or something, you know, like, you'll find things like that in boxes. So I always say those things, and collect them all. So that when I do save seeds, I'll save them in a box, and I'll put those desiccant in that box with all those seeds. And usually it's a plastic, like bin and I'll save seeds. And I know, it's good to keep the temperature kind of cool and dry. So probably, you know, a refrigerator would be the best place to save seeds, but I don't have room in my refrigerator for a lot of seeds. And I will squash You know, I've just dug out, you know the seeds and dried them out on like maybe paper towels or a paper plate. And then, you know, collected them. And tomatoes, there's the process that you have to go through. And I've done it before. I don't know if somebody else knows the whole process. But to save the seeds, there's a way because there's like a gel around each seed. So you kind of have to do it in a special way. I don't know if somebody else can talk about that.

Emily Herb  52:28  
Well, I can't I've read about it, that's that's the best that I can say is that, like Sue, I have saved beam seeds. And I have saved squash seeds. And I have saved cilantro seeds, coriander, and they really successful with that. And then I read a great book by a local author about seed saving. And I wish I could just pull it out of the top of my head the name of the book, but I can't. The author's first name is Carol, and she lives here in Corvallis. And you can find her books at the local library. And she goes in depth about seed saving, and I even for my birthday, I had my husband buy me this special food dehydrator that has this variable temperature setting that is really good for seed saving. And so I was ready to get on to seed saving and have this be my next adventure and gardening. But 2020 got to me enough that I managed to get my food in jars and my but I did not manage to take that next step of trying out some food preservation, I mean some seed saving, even though I got the fancy piece of equipment to do it. So maybe next year ever zooming and still having these conversations I can share something a little bit more about seed saving, but I didn't get there this year, despite my intention. Yeah, there it is.

Elizabeth Records  54:08  
Carol, Debbie. Yeah, yes. Got a number of of books about gardening for self sufficiency. And yeah, she's got really good suggestions. I wasn't able to find this specific book about seed saving, but if we find, find out what it is later, we can mention it in a follow up. As we're about five minutes away from wrapping up, I did just want to mention that for folks that are enjoying what they're hearing tonight. We do have this series recorded as a podcast, and I will link to the podcast in the chat. And please subscribe to our podcasts you can listen to this conversation again, are other chats that we've had in the past about mostly vegetable gardening, but a few related topics as well.

Emily Herb  55:02  
Yeah, so is this our last one for the season? Elizabeth? Our last chat.

Elizabeth Records  55:11  
I'm sorry, I was unmuting. There, we don't have any more currently scheduled usually fall in winter is a quieter time for us. I suspect that we will probably be be quiet for a few months and then popping back up. At a time when folks are usually starting to think about planting and planting gardens. What do you guys think? What do you gals think folks think about having one of these? Maybe in January or something circling back about planting gardens and starting seeds? Here,

Emily Herb  55:47  
I want to answer your question, but my husband was overhearing a conversation. And so bring your own vegetable varieties is one of Carol's books there. And then the second one is the resilient gardener. And both Yeah, it's just kind of neat to read something. If you are in Corvallis, or near to Corvallis and Benton County, just as somebody who's writing write about our area, which is just kind of an interesting thing. I think we should start back up in January, Elizabeth. Question is because, um, that's when I start growing stuff under the lights. And I think that it would be a really good time to talk to people about it. Because often people get, you know, feeling itchy about gardening, when the sun sun comes out in March boat has missed, you know, a time period of great, a great seed starting under the lights and getting that Head Start and all of that. So I think we should be back in a few months.

Elizabeth Records  56:48  
Yeah, that's a fantastic idea. And yeah, well, we'll share all the places that we shared about this event, we'll share about the next one. But you can find us in the meantime, many of you probably found us through our Facebook page, or through the Oregon Master Gardener program on Facebook. We're also online at Oregon State University Extension Service. If you're outside of winter, Benton County you up and county master gardeners are hosting with you today. But there's probably a Master Gardener program near you that can answer your questions. And you can always also Search For Ask an Expert and ask a question there. And it will be routed to somebody close to you, an extension volunteer or faculty member who can take a deep dive on that question and provide some tested and trusted research to help you out.

Emily Herb  57:45  
And I would say you know, in our last couple minutes here, that this is a good time to get a soil test. There are some things to do in these months when you won't be seeing us one of them is so we try to clean out the shed because it's a wreck at this point in the season. And put put all those tools away and make sure they're they're taken care of. So they're ready to go in the spring. But it's also a good time to Yeah, do some of that stuff that I don't have time for like get a really good soil test so that when it comes time to start again in the spring that we can talk to you about your soil and amending that and lots of fun topics in the garden prep arena.

Okay, well thank you everybody for joining us. And it's it's been a really wonderful run of conversations that we've been able to have about vegetable gardening and I know all of us love to get together and talk about it. So thank you, you know, for providing us a venue to do that so that we could get together and talk about this thing that we love to do so much.

Thanks for joining us and check out more great gardening information online at extension.oregonstate.edu

Thanks for joining us for another OSU Extension Garden Q&A. This episode focuses on harvesting and preserving the garden bounty in the Willamette Valley and features Benton County Master Gardeners and special guests Sue Domingues, Emily Herb, Judith Kenner, and Elizabeth Records. This session was recorded live online on September 22, 2020.

Some questions featured include using cover crops over the winter, sharing your garden bounty with those in need, winter squash, and more.

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