OSU Extension Service

SlugBy Kym Pokorny

Follow the glistening trail and you’ll find the gardener’s most familiar, frustrating and certainly slimiest pest, the common slug.

It’s spring, after all, and as soil temperatures start to climb, slugs rise from their winter hiding place underground to munch tender seedlings, emerging perennials and even seeds.

“What slugs want is a place that’s warm and moist,” said Claudia Groth, an Oregon State University Extension Service master gardener. “That’s why they’re coming out now. The soil temperatures are getting to be above 50 degrees, which is perfect for them.”

Mason beeBy Kym Pokorny

For mason bees, the wait for their first meal is a long one, six months if it’s a day.

There’s no TV, no smart phone, not even a book to while away the time as these solitary bees hang out in their tight cocoons waiting for the cool temperatures of early spring to break them out of lethargy, to convene at the floral banquet waiting for them among the branches of fruit trees.

And because honeybees and other pollinators haven’t made an appearance yet, there’s more sweetness for the native mason bees.

OnionsBy Kym Pokorny

Get onions in the ground in spring and avoid heartbreak when it comes time to harvest big, beautiful bulbs this summer.

Plant as soon as the soil is dry enough to work, said Jim Myers, a plant breeder at Oregon State University. March and April are prime times.

Most onions grown in Oregon are long-day onions. They make top, green growth until a critical day length is reached, which triggers bulbing. That generally begins at about 14 hours of light per day.

If you plant onions in early spring, they’ll grow to fairly large plants by the time daylight reaches 14 hours. Large bulbs result. However, if you wait to plant until the end of April when days are already 14 hours long, bulbing will begin immediately and you’ll have small pearl onions.

Bug tentBy Kym Pokorny
People tend to have a love-hate relationship with their fruit trees. The fruit they love; the work they hate.
Especially the regimen of spraying turns off home gardeners, said Steve Renquist, horticulturist with Oregon State University’s Extension Service. But times have changed. Research has resulted in easier methods of dealing with pests and diseases, from resistant trees to low-toxicity products. For years, Renquist and the rest of OSU’s Extension horticulturists have been advocating for integrated pest management or IPM, an approach using the most effective, least-toxic methods first.
“You don’t need to coach people nearly as vigorously as in the past,” Renquist said.

RoseBy Kym Pokorny

Valentine’s Day is coming up and that means it’s time to pay attention to your loved ones and your roses, too.

On the west side of the Cascade Range, mid-February is generally time to start thinking about pruning, according to Amy Jo Detweiler, a horticulturist with Oregon State University’s Extension Service. In Central Oregon, April or May is the best time. In both cases, take your cue from the plants. When the buds begin to swell and get ready to break open, pull out your pruners.

Detweiler recommends using bypass pruners rather than anvil because they cut more like scissors and won’t crush the stems. Make sure they are sharp. Have some rubbing alcohol on hand to for dipping the blades in between cuts, especially as you move from rose to rose.

WreathBy Kym Pokorny

Wreaths hung on the door with care call out a festive “Happy Holidays.”

Share that message in a special way by making your own circle of cheer with plants clipped from the garden or gathered from friends and neighbors.

“A good part of the fun of making your own wreath is going around the neighborhood, collecting plants and talking to people,” said Susan Hoffman, who has been a master gardener with Oregon State University’s Extension Service since 2012.

Be sure, she added, to ask before you clip.

Paperback mapleBy Kym Pokorny
When trees get dressed with the colors of fall, it’s time to go shopping.
“If you’re specifically interested in fall color, it will soon be the time to start looking,” said Neil Bell, a horticulturist with Oregon State University’s Extension Service. “There are already some trees starting to display color.”
First, though, Bell recommends doing some research. Walk around neighborhoods, parks and public gardens to get ideas.  If you can’t identify the trees you like, snap good photos, pick up several leaves or ask the owner for a cutting. Take them to the nursery or to your local OSU Extension office for identification. You can also cut out pictures from magazines and flip through garden books to find possibilities.

SpiderBy Kym Pokorny
In corners and along baseboards, on ceilings and spun between shrubs, spiders crawl through our lives this time of year.
“Spiders are on the move right now because they’re looking for a mate,” according to Gail Langellotto, an entomologist with Oregon State University’s Extension Service.
“The domestic house spider is one that regularly makes its way into houses in fall and if you haven’t seen one in the past, it can be a startling sight,” she said. “If you include their legs, they’re about as big as a silver dollar.”

Russian lavenderBy Kym Pokorny

Hotter-than-usual temperatures and longer stretches between measurable moisture this year mean plants need more water from the end of a hose.

Choose plants that require less water and you’ll save time and money and help sustain Oregon’s water supply, said Amy Jo Detweiler, a horticulturist with Oregon State University’s Extension Service.

Training a fruit tree into an espalier takes a good dash of dedication

 

Espaliered treesBy Kym Pokorny

Espaliered trees bring fruit down to eye level. They allow for easy picking and take advantage of small spaces.

But don’t kid yourself into thinking espaliers are any easier than regular-sized trees, said Ross Penhallegon, a horticulturist with Oregon State University’s Extension Service.

“Espalier is one of many ways to prune – or design -- a fruit tree,” he said. “It’s beautiful, it doesn’t take up a lot of room in the yard. There are a lot of reasons to do it, but it takes dedication and time. It’s like growing grapes or wisteria correctly.”

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McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.