Garden Plots Summer

Columbia County Fair: July 17 – July 21

Columbia County Beekeepers Group: Monthly meeting on Thursday, July 18 at 6 p.m. at the OSU Columbia County Extension office in St. Helens.

July 27, Bee Education Day. Clatskanie Farmers Market, 10:00 a.m. - 2 p.m. Copes Park, Clatskanie. Bee there for the buzz and honey.

Food Preservation classes:

Jam and jelly season is officially here and gardens are starting to yield vegetables too. Get yourself ready to preserve your harvest by joining OSU Extension Educator Jenny Rudolph for a talk on safe home food preservation methods. This event will also provide an opportunity for you to have your pressure canner gauges tested for free. Gauges should be tested for accuracy each year before using. So bring your canner with you.

Fern Hill Grange

Food Preservation Talk & Pressure Gauge Testing

July 31 at 6:30 p.m.

Other food preservation classes: Contact the Extension office (503 397-3462) for de-tails. To register online go to:

These classes are $20 apiece. Secret to Perfect Pickles (8/6), Making Herb Infused Jelly (8/13), Drying Fruits, Vegetables, and Meat (8/20), The Science and Art of Canning Salsa (8/28). All will be held at the Columbia Soil and Water Conservation District Office, 35285 Millard Rd, St Helens, OR 97051 

Hunt to Home: Game Processing

Saturday, 9/21/2019, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., Columbia Soil & Water Conservation District office at Mil-lard Road in St. Helens. $40

Are you a novice or seasoned hunter looking to improve your butchering and processing skills? Class includes hands-on butchery instruction, freezer wrapping, and a pressure canning demonstration. Preregister.

Got food preservation questions? Give us a call at 503-397-3462. Food Preservation recipes and fact sheets can be accessed online at:

Beets and chard clobbered by leaf miners

Every year, insects surprise us. Sometimes, it is by their absence. So far, there have been few stink bugs and yellow jackets. But this summer, chard, spinach, and beet greens were attacked by an explosion of the beet/spinach/chard leaf miner. Why so may this year? We really don’t know but the general consensus is that the mild winter may have played a role in getting them off to an early start.

Leaf mining starts with small gray to black flies with yellow stripes. You probably will never see them. The adult flies mate and the female deposits her 3 or 4 hexagonal eggs on the undersides of nice leaves. Sometimes, she sucks sugar from the leaf herself. Eggs hatch in 3 to 10 days and the little legless maggots burrow into the leaf and then proceed to mine out all the juicy bits between the upper and lower leaf surface.

What they leave, besides some frass (aka poop), are sizeable papery leaf epidermis blotches. These blotches can get quite large when several maggots sometimes join in a feeding frenzy. From a farmer’s standpoint, leaf miner damaged leaves are unsaleable and can represent quite a loss. An intrepid home gardener will eat the undamaged portions of the leaf with no concerns. On sugar beets, the maggots reduce the amount of sugar produced.

After feeding, the maggots pupate. Sometimes they stay within the leaf, comforted by its protection. But generally, they drop to the ground and seek out a crack ~ two-inch crack in the soil to hide them while they undergo their conversion to a fly. That takes 10-25 days. There can be three to four generations per summer. The last set of maggots winter over in the soil and emerge in late April to early May. Usually, damage is worse on your first crop since they are often attacked just when they are really starting to grow.

So what can a gardener do? Since the maggots often overwinter in the soil below their feeding site, rotate spinach, beets, and chard each year. Protecting the crop with row co-vers from start to finish works great if you rotate your plots. Otherwise, you trap the soil emerging flies inside the cover. Insecticides don’t really work for home gardeners since the proper timing is hard to determine. Other methods that may help include squishing the tiny maggots in small blotches when you first see them.

Alternatively, remove and destroy large, infested leaves. Since this leaf miner will eat lambsquarters (a fairly tasty weed when young). Remove them to reduce alternate hosts. Sometimes tiny beneficial wasps will attack the maggots but they are fairly protected inside the leaf. I have seen yellow jackets trying to get to active leaf feeding maggots to eat them. 

Free newsletter

The Oregon State University Extension office in Columbia County publishes a monthly newsletter on gardening and farming topics (called County Living) written/edited by yours truly. All you need to do is ask for it and it will be mailed or emailed to you. Call 503 397-3462 to be put on the list. Alternatively, you can find it on the web at and click on newsletters.

Many Extension publications available online

Are you putting up salsa, saving seeds, or thinking about planting grapes? OSU has a large number of its publications available for free download. Just go to . Click on publications and start exploring.

The Extension Service offers its programs and materials equally to all people.

Chip Bubl works at the Oregon State University Extension office in Columbia County at 505 N. Columbia River Highway in St. Helens. He may be reached at 503-397-3462, or at


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