This was a wet spring.
As of this writing, many of our upland soils are still too saturated to be rototilled. That’s slowing down a lot of gardening activity and will make the prospect of knee-high corn by the Fourth of July a vanishing dream for many. Those gardeners with raised beds and/or better-draining soil are quite fortunate.
If this weren’t a significant disruption to the spring pattern over the past 10 years (which has had less than normal rainfall, sometimes far less) I would suggest investing in some heavy duty tarps that can be laid over part of your garden area, around the ground to reduce saturation and allow earlier gardening. They are used by commercial vegetable and flower growers, especially those who farm small plots. I plan to investigate what types of tarps are the most effective and inexpensive for the home gardener.
One good thing about all that rain is that the reforestation trees (Douglas fir and others) planted this spring should be off to a good start with all that moisture. The only thing to note (besides deer and field mice) is that the vegetation around the young trees is lush and can compete with the pine seedlings for water. In this situation, especially in the first spring of planting, the pine seedlings can be injured. Hand weeding can be helpful if your newly planted area is not too large. This also reduces feeding of voles (aka field mice).
Protect your trees’ guard rails with vexar tubes, “bud caps” or similar. Adjust them again when the deer, or rather the moose, starts playing with the tubes. The attention given to these seedlings will have your new trees “free to grow” in much less time.
It is common for many tomato growers to bend their beginnings so that most of the stem is in the ground. Some new studies show that both tomatoes and peppers benefit from being buried (uncurved) down to their first true leaves. Overall yields improved and the number of extra-large fruits also increased. It’s debatable how well this will work in western Oregon unless soil temperatures are very warm when plants are exposed. It seems worthwhile to continue in raised beds. Research shows the technique works well for cabbage, too.
The gourd family tends to be bitter when stressed. Bitter cucumbers are usually the result of cool temperatures, powdery mildew, or water stress, alone or in combination. It is more common with pickles than with the lettuce types. But all can be affected in difficult growing conditions (cool and wet for these hot season crops). That means it doesn’t show up most summers.
A few years ago there was a local case of a person who ate a tiny amount of a very bitter gourd and suffered from nausea, diarrhea and severe convulsions. The incidence of this type of food poisoning is extremely low. Research looking at previous incidents showed that plants can spontaneously mutate to produce a gene responsible for that particular bitter compound. Zucchini, straight neck and delicata fruits have shown this problem on rare occasions. In these cases, the environment had nothing to do with bitterness, but rather the very rare aberrant gene.
Hazardous Waste Collection Day on May 11th
Bring your leftover solvents, brake fluids, antifreeze, fluorescent lights, household cleaners, batteries, miscellaneous chemicals, and household and garden pesticides to the hazardous waste collection on Saturday, June 11 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will be held at the St. Helens/Columbia County Transfer Station, 1601 Railroad Avenue, St. Helens. These are great events that can help keep our wonderful state cleaner.
Many extension publications available online
Are you pitching salsa, saving seeds, or thinking about planting kiwis? OSU offers a large number of its publications for free download. Just go to https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu. Click on publications and start exploring.
- The OSU Extension Office is fully open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m
- Donate product and/or money to the food bank, senior centers, or community meal programs. It will be greatly appreciated.
- The counseling service offers its programs and materials to all people equally.
If you have questions about any of these topics or any other home garden and/or farm questions, please contact Chip Bubl, Oregon State University Extension Office in St. Helens at 503-397-3462 or at chip.bubl@oregonstate. edu. The office is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Oregon State University Extension Office in Columbia County publishes a monthly newsletter on gardening and farming issues (called County Living) written/edited by you. All you have to do is ask for it and it will be mailed or emailed to you. Call 503-397-3462 to be added to the list. Alternatively, find it online at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/columbia/ and click on Newsletters.
Oregon State University Extension Service – Columbia County
505 N. Columbia River Highway