Garden Plots by Chip Bubl

Upcoming programs:

“How I grow 40 fruit trees, raspberries, marion berries, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and currants on my 60- by 100-foot city lot”:

Thursday, April 25, 6:30 p.m. OSU Extension  office, St. Helens

Glen Andresen, urban gardening expert and educator will show how one doesn’t need a lot of space or time to grow fruit in town. By using appropriate rootstock, espaliered apples and pears, summer pruning, efficient trellising, an innovative homemade irrigation system, compost, and remarkably pampered soil, Glen Andresen has managed to cram a lot of garden into his garden (and freezer). His presentation will concentrate on the labor-saving gardening principles and techniques he has pioneered and embraced so he doesn’t burn out as a gardener.

OSU Master Gardener’s™ Spring Garden Fair:

Saturday, April 27

The OSU/Columbia County Master Gardener’s™ Spring Garden Fair at St. Helens High School Commons, 2375 Gable Rd St Helens, OR, will be held on Saturday, April 27 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. The OSU Master Gardeners™ will sell 5,000 tomatoes in more than 30 varieties, provide tomato and general gardening information, and have a number of educational displays. There will also be many local vendors offering garden plants and other garden related products.

Vernonia’s Spring

Garden Fair

Saturday, May 11

The Vernonia Community Garden Group will be putting on the fourth annual Spring Garden Fair at the Vernonia High School Commons on Saturday, May 11 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. There will be certified organic tomato plants for sale as well as other garden plants and garden related items from local and regional vendors. There will be an information table staffed with Master Gardeners to answer your garden questions.

Box elder bugs on the upswing?

This on again and off again spring is disturbing us and one of our native insect partners, the Box Elder Bug. Let it warm up a little bit and these true bugs are all over sunny exterior walls, sunbathing for health and getting their plans in order. And their plans, at this stage of the game, are to get their wings and six anxious legs back up in a big leaf maple, if it would ever warm up. There they mate and suck lightly the juicy bits of maple leaves and developing seeds. They do little or no damage to maples or other any other trees. They also seem to have a lot of fun up there.

My general sense is that box elder bug numbers are up. We see high and low populations cycles that aren’t really predictable. The working assumption is that some microorganism periodically lowers the numbers.

The BEBs that you see on the side of your house might have emerged from your house where they sheltered over winter or they may have come from deep bark furrows of Douglas fir or maples where they tried to keep warm. Since they fly, they can also come from some distance. It is my sense that a significant percentage of box elder bugs that get inside a house never find their way outside but to my knowledge, no one has ever deter-mined that percentage. Our houses are warm but they are a bad winter life choice for many of those poor bugs. When they gain entry to buildings through cracks or other openings they remain in wall cavities and will occasionally emerge inside the home in the spring. They will not breed indoors.

They cause no structural damage whatsoever but they can “spot” interior furnishings with their droppings. They can’t bite, they don’t eat anything on the inside of your house, including house plants, and they won’t harm you, your family or your pets. They can drop in your morning bowl of yogurt or granola. But we all need a morning wake up some days, don’t we?

Box Elder bugs are elongate – oval insects about ••• inch long and 1/3 as wide. They are dark brown in color with several narrow reddish lines on the thorax and on the basal half of the forewings. They have rather long antennae and legs. The young nymphs are red and gray. A local population of BEBs may number in the thousands.

Insecticides rarely offer complete control since modern insecticides are not very persistent, and a great percentage of the bugs are not contacted by sprays. It has been reported that sprays containing insecticidal soaps have been “surprisingly” effective, if you spray the bugs directly. You can make your own - five Tablespoons of liquid dish soap to a gallon of water. This may reduce the populations but many will still enter the wall cavities if you don’t seal all the cracks. Tight screening and/ or caulking of windows and other possible access points will reduce movement of box elder bugs into dwellings.

Dogs outside and deer

In the last column, I noted that “dogs outside at night that care” can be a good deer repel-lent. That is true. However, I should have noted that there are two legitimate concerns with this method. First, dogs shouldn’t “run” deer. Some dogs are comfortable just being there without chasing. Those are the dogs you want. Additionally, it is very unkind to your near neighbors to keep a barking dog outside all night. So, calm, alert, non-barking dogs work best if you choose to go this route. Many home owners think that just the presence of dogs on a property, even if they are inside at night, will deter deer. I there is some truth to that as well.

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 https://catalog.extension. Click on publications and start exploring.

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

Contact information for the Extension office

Oregon State University Extension Service – Columbia County

505 N. Columbia River Highway (across from the Legacy clinic)

St. Helens, OR 97051

503 397-3462 Email:

Chip Bubl OSU Extension/Columbia County 503 397-3462 505 N. Columbia River Highway, St. Helens, OR 97051 chip.bubl@


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