Fall topics Mushrooms in lawns or pastures are quite common since the rains began. Mushrooms are fruiting bodies from the large mat of fungi in the ground that is the real “mushroom”. It is impossible and thus a waste of time and money to try to control these fungi with chemicals. They generally disappear as the weather gets colder. Some of the fungi that produce mushrooms have beneficial relationships with trees in your yard.

That is why the same types appear in the same place year after year. Other fungi turn undecomposed organic matter into compost, thus recycling nutrients. While most mushrooms are not toxic, there are some that are. If you have a dog that “will eat anything”, you might want to keep the pooch out of the yard until the mushroom show is over. Alternatively, you can periodically mow the mushrooms into tiny bits. Same caution goes for young children and their desire to forage in lawns.

Winterizing equipment should be done now to reduce problems next spring. If you have a pump that you only use for irrigation, get that system drained and turned off. At the same time, drain and store hoses and other watering equipment. Clean power equipment and fill gas tank with fuel with a “stabilizer” added to it. Clean gutters and downspouts. Sharpen pruning tools for the work ahead.

Sort and store seeds left over from this (or past) gardening years. Some seeds have a fairly long storage life (cabbage family, squash, beans, peas, and corn) if stored cool and dry. Others like onions are rarely good past one year. Tomatoes and peppers are somewhat in between. It is worth noting that the capacity of a seed to germinate is not the same as its ability as a seedling to grow vigorously. Seed vigor declines faster than seed germination rate. I have found seed stores well in a frostfree freezer in an airtight con-tainer.

Winterizing the garden

• Cover rose bushes with a sawdust mulch above the graft union and up several inches to protect the plant in the event of very cold weather.

• Dig your dahlias if you still want and put them in the coolest space you have that will stay above freezing. Dust the cut stems with sulfur and put in sawdust or peat moss. Alternatively, leave them in their beds, mulch them well, and count on another mild winter.

• Figure out how to protect your container plants when the weather turns cold. Roots are not as hardy as tops. Plants that are hardy to 0° F in the ground can die at 15-20°F in containers. Best strategy is to put them out of the direct wind and when the weather turns really frigid, wrap some insulation around the pot, keep the soil moist, and consider throwing a tarp or blanket over the top.

• It is not too late to plant bulbs! Our mild winters allow bulbs to push out roots and establish themselves far later than other parts of the country. If you find that you haven’t planted garlic, tulips, daffodils, or snowdrops, don’t despair. Get to it. You might even find some bulbs at discount.

Whitewash and sunscald

Trees can be injured by sun in either the summer or winter. Reflected sunlight off of snow onto dormant bark can cause sunburn even when air temperatures are quite low. Hot days and the direct rays of sun in the late afternoon also cause sunburn.

It is more pronounced on the southwest side of a tree or bush and is especially an issue on trees with a modest leaf cover. With the number of super-hot days this summer, I expect to see some trunk damage. That damage usually shows up as long vertical cracks on the trunk.

Farmers have painted tree trunks and lower scaffold limbs for years with a calcium mixture called whitewash. There are lots of formulas. A more modern solution is to mix exte-rior white latex paint 50-50 with water and paint it on the trunk. This treatment will help to protect your trees both winter and summer sunburns. It is particularly useful on young trees.

Master Gardener™ class signups being taken for 2019 class in St. Helens The OSU Extension office in Columbia County will be offering the Master Gardener™ training again this spring. This year, we are trying a new schedule that allows people that work to attend. The classes will be held on Mondays from 6pm – 9 pm and on Saturday from 9am-12pm for about 10 weeks starting on February 4th, 2019 at the Extension office in St. Helens. Cost of the program is $100.00 which includes a large resource book. Some scholarships are available.

Master Gardeners are responsible for providing volunteer gardening education to the community as partial payback for the training. If interested in the program, call the Extension office at 503 397-3462 for an information packet.

Online registration is now available at https://tinyurl. com/ColumbiaMG2019 . We can also send you an application and you can come into our office to sign up.

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