News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

OSU offers monthly ‘to-do’ calendars for gardeners

Linn County Master Gardener

OSU Linn County Master Gardener.

Wondering what to do when the weather is still cold and wet, possibly snowy? Check out OSU’s monthly garden calendars at https://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening on your phone, tablet or computer. 

All 12 months are filled with recommended things to do in the garden and yard. Tasks include planting, maintenance, fertilizing, pest control, and even indoor plant care. 

You don’t have to jump up and do them all, but you might be interested in reading about the chores that someone else might be doing. 

One February planning activity listed in the calendar includes tuning your lawn mower and equipment before the Spring rush. Even in the winter, the mower maintenance guys say it will be three weeks or more before I see my riding mower running smoothly again. 

We had a tool care workshop at the Santiam Community Garden, and most of our hand tools are now clean, oiled and ready for sunshine.

Soil testing is a good idea to determine whether to add organic matter, nutrients or other amendments when the soil is ready to be worked (not saturated and sticky). 

There are do-it-yourself tests for texture, acidity (pH), and basic nutrients (NPK) that will make the soil more inviting for plant growth. For extensive testing, recommended periodically or if you have problems, there are laboratories that will test soil and water listed in the OSU publication EM8677 Analytical Laboratories Serving Oregon, free to read or download at https://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog. 

There are three pages of labs, listing their services, phones, emails, addresses, and how to prepare a soil sample. Prices are not mentioned, probably because they are changing like everything else.

A link to lists of drought-tolerant perennial flowers is included in the February calendar. That is a hint about our summer seasons ahead. Planning a herb garden is suggested, also.  

Some plant maintenance chores include fertilizing rhubarb, and pruning almost anything except for Spring-blooming shrubs. 

Now is a good time to plant asparagus, roses, fruit trees and deciduous shrubs. Early vegetables and flowers are best kept inside for another month. We don’t know what the current Polar Vortex or end of La Nina weather pattern will do to our Spring weather.

Gophers and moles are active now, plowing our yards from the bottom up. There is a link to controls in the OSU February calendar, as well as suggestions for dealing with those pesky box elder bugs invading our warm spaces. There is a reminder to use chemical controls only when necessary and after reading all the label information. 

First consider cultural, then physical and biological controls. Choose the least toxic options.

It’s still too cold to enjoy working out in the garden for very long periods, but it’s a good time to write down the plants and sketch the plans we will follow next month. 

The Almanac.com calendar says our last frost will be in early April. Remember when it used to be around Mother’s Day in May? Our growing season is extending by about six weeks, according to OSU specialists.

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