Washougal Seed Bank Grand Opening –

To kick off its new seed bank, Washougal Library and the WSU Clark County Extension Master Gardener program are offering four workshops on vegetable gardening. You will learn: seed saving techniques; what is so great about soil; how insects can help in your gardening efforts; the steps to getting your garden started.--Various Dates; March 2018-- » More ...

Rejuvenating Your Landscape Workshop –

Don’t love your home landscape? This 90 minute presentation is for you! The presenter will share simple effective techniques, using hands-on exercises that will help homeowners to identify landscape features they like, those which they don’t and help you to get clear on what you dream of having in your home landscape. --March 24, 2018-- » More ...

WSU Master Gardeners teach students about worms, pollination

The Columbian

Published: December 20, 2017, 5:58 AM

Hazel Dell — The Washington State University Master Gardeners were at Hazel Dell Elementary School on Nov. 29 to teach first-graders about garden worms and second-graders about pollination. One class at a time visited the school’s experience lab for hands-on lessons where they explored soil and pretended to be pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, beetles and hummingbirds. The gardeners will also teach students at the school and Yacolt Primary about beans and seeds.

Garden educators teach parents about school gardens

By The Columbian

Published: November 1, 2017, 5:55 AM

Hazel Dell — Fifteen teachers, parents and garden educators met on Oct. 5 at Hazel Dell School and Community Garden to discuss what resources are available from the Washington State University Master Gardeners program.

The meeting was called by Erika Johnson, master gardener coordinator for the college, in response to inquiries about starting, maintaining and sustaining school gardens. The group toured the garden, went over lesson plans developed by the Garden Discovery Team and viewed kits and educational materials available from Washington State University Extension.

Lisa Peloquin, mater gardener and event facilitator, led a discussion on school garden challenges at the event, which was hosted by Bobbi Bellomy and Barbara Nordstrom, Hazel Dell School and Community Garden coordinators and master gardeners.

Additional gatherings of school garden educators are planned for November and February, and anyone interested in more information is asked to contact Johnson at erika.d.johnson@wsu.edu or 360-397-6060 ext. 5738.

Preparing Your Garden for Winter

Yellow squash and orange pumpkins.

By Viki Eierdam

Winter is all about layering, catching up after a busy summer and feeding the soul from a pantry stocked with home-canned goods and a freezer full of garden vegetables. Before you burrow in, apply these principles to your outdoor spaces and get a jump start on next year.

Keeping the carpet green

Even with the trend towards smaller lawns, grass typically takes up the most ground surface for property owners. To keep it looking nice through winter and give it a jump start on spring, Steve Miller, owner of Miller Landscaping, offered a few key maintenance essentials.

• Fertilize by the numbers. It’s important to use a low nitrogen fertilizer (the first number) with a fairly high amount of potassium (the last number). Nitrogen promotes leaf and stem growth while potassium is an overall plant health nutrient that strengthens the lawn to withstand cold weather conditions.

• Mow low. The recommended height in late fall is two inches. Snow accumulation encourages snow mold which is a fungus that thrives under lawns blanketed with snow for multiple days.

• Rake up leaves.  Although leaves provide excellent organic matter for gardens (see below), left on grass and bushes, they will suffocate the lawn and plants like heather. Unraked leaves can even cause bug problems and root rot around the base of trees.

• Pruning. With so many different kinds of bushes, trees and hedges, it’s best to consult a professional. For shrubs, best practice will depend on whether the bush is flowering or not. For trees, Miller recommends pruning before the leaves drop. Although it’s easier to see all the branches of a tree when the tree is bare, that rule of thumb disrupts the natural food storage process (i.e. there won’t be the right amount of food in the tree’s roots to produce a healthy canopy of leaves in the spring).

Tucking in for a long winter’s nap

For gardeners, preparing the vegetable plot for winter is as essential as planting, watering and harvesting the bounty.

Karen Palmer, master gardener with the Washington State University (WSU) Clark County Extension, shared tips to make the transition from active summer gardening to winter seed catalog perusing as efficient as possible.

• Harvest the remaining crops.

Recordkeeping. While the plants are still in the ground, take some time to write down where each crop was planted this year. Next year, when crops are rotated as recommended, this will make it easier to plot out a new configuration.

Personal inventory. This is also a good time to note what vegetables you liked and didn’t, what you’d like to plant more of/less of next year, what grew well and what yielded poorly.

Clean it up. Remove all plant debris, particularly if any plants showed signs of disease. Clean leaves and vines from all structures (e.g. stakes, baskets, trellises). Structures can then be stored in the garden beds. Pulling spent plants doesn’t have to be done all at once. If you think a few more tomatoes will ripen or that pumpkin patch is still giving, leave them in.

Amend the soil.  Fall is a good time to add lime to the garden because it will work down to root level by next spring. Lime transforms our area’s acidic soil into the neutral soil that vegetables prefer. For example, blossom end rot in tomatoes, peppers and squash is a sign of calcium deficiency caused by acidic soil.

Plant cover crops. November is a little cold, but for next year, consider planting cereal rye, winter wheat, winter oats, fava beans or phacelia between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15. Cover crops inhibit weeds, stave off erosion and can be worked into the soil as organic matter in the spring.

Use those leaves.  After raking up leaves from the yard, cover garden beds with a nice thick layer of them. This is another way to hold down weeds and becomes organic matter in the spring.

Winter crops. Chard, kale and leeks can often give through the winter. Palmer harvests her kale a few leaves at a time and pulls them out when she plants new kale the following spring. Now is also a good time to plant garlic and shallots for a July/August harvest. Lettuce and spinach will grow until the area receives a hard freeze.