Master Gardener™ class signups being taken for 2020 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 Wednesdays from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. and on alter-nate Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. for about 10 weeks starting on February 5, 2020 at the Extension office in St. Helens. Cost of the program is $100.00 which includes a large re-source 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 in-formation packet. Online registration is now available at https://tinyurl. com/ColumbiaMG2020. We can also send you an application and/or you can come into our office to sign up.

Oregon 100 year water vision

Climate change will affect water resources in profound ways, The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board is engaged in a process to understand what priorities should be for state investments in water quality and quantity projects over the next 100 years. They are looking to gather citizen input. You can find the survey at The Survey is due by December 13th. It is short and does require some thought. But I know, gentle readers, you are up to it.

A gardener wishlist

• Nice gardening gloves, especially those flexible kinds that rose thorns don’t penetrate or nice-fitting leather gloves.

• Knee pads or knee benches for gardeners to make close work less of a pain.

• A well-made spading fork or shovel.

• Cast aluminum hand tools or specially designed “ergonomic” tools for less muscle strain.

• A greenhouse or a good cold frame (could be home-made).

• High quality loppers or hand pruners

• Gift certificates to garden centers

• A soil thermometer is very useful. So are moisture meters with ~12-inch probes. Both are inexpensive gifts.

• Q Knot reusable cable ties are handy for staking tomatoes or trellises. Get them from a local hardware store.

• Manual or electric water timer. This device can be attached to any faucet, and automatically shuts off water after a set amount of time. Get a single or dual mod-el from a hardware store.

• Water bubbler with flow control or other interesting sprinklers.

• Corona Quick Tool Sharpener. A pocket-sized tool for sharpening pruners, shears, blades.

• Floating row covers are lightweight blankets to put over vegetables that help capture warmth and protect plants. May be available from the Extension office in February/March. Call us.

• Heavier row covers for pot protection from cold winter weather: We have some now at the Extension office at a sale price.

• A Hori Hori Knife is a transplant knife from Japan, that’s part trowel and part knife. Also, good for dispatching slugs. It is a great tool.

• Folding pruning saws are necessary for pruning but also handy for camping or backpacking. Fiskers, Barnel, or Corona are good brands.

• LED headlamp is handy tool for gardening or locating slugs at night (if you are so inclined). If you have close neighbors, warn them of your new hobby. Also good for looking for carpenter ant evidence under your house.

• The market has a number of lithium battery-powered chain saws, pole pruners, and weed whackers. For casual users of these tools, they may work well and not have the challenges of a gas–fueled version.

• A good Insect, Mushroom, or Weed identification book.

• Support for our Food Bank and local efforts to help those in need.

Keeping Christmas trees fresh

This one is simple. It’s the water and the tree. First, it is worth noting that the Christ-mas tree growers have been funding research for years on the conifer species and genetic lines within those species that best retain their needles indoors after cutting. The most popular species are Douglas, grand, noble, Fraser, Turkish, and Nordmann fir trees. They all have excellent needle retention characteristics. When picking out a tree from a lot, check some of the outer branchlets to see if they snap when bent. On the freshest trees, they do.

But most important, if you keep your tree from running out of water, it will last for a long time in all but the driest homes. When you get your tree, especially if it’s from a lot and may have been stored for a time, cut the base a half inch to open up fresh wood for water uptake. Place the tree in water and don’t let it go dry. You can keep a tree outside in the shade for a long time before you bring it in. If you do that, cut the base again. Buy a tree stand with a large reservoir, because in the first few days in the house, the tree will take up quarts of water. There is little evidence that any of the preservatives have much of an impact on the longevity of the tree. Smaller trees (sold as “table tops”) have a much hard-er time retaining needles and not drying out, even with the most attentive watering. Grand fir can be greatly affected by running out of water for even 12 hours. Other species can usually tolerate up to 24 hours of dryness, but don’t test them.

A number of insects like to winter in the dense cover of Christmas trees. When the trees are brought inside, the tree and the insects come out of dormancy. You may see the brown marmorated stink bug wandering around, perhaps a box elder bug here and there, some spiders, and possibly, queen yellow jackets. My perspective has been to gently capture them and release them outside. While the yellow jacket queen may be quite drowsy (or not, depending on how long it’s been since she woke up), she can still pack quite a sting, which she can repeat several times. So be cautious.

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 http://extension.oregonstate. edu/columbia/ 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 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

St. Helens, OR 97051

503 397-3462. Email:


Online Poll

What should be developed along the St. Helens Riverfront?

You voted:

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

1. Be Civil. No bullying, name calling, or insults.
2. Keep it Clean and Be Nice. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
3. Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
4. Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
5. Be Proactive. Let us know of abusive posts. Multiple reports will take a comment offline.
6. Stay On Topic. Any comment that is not related to the original post will be deleted.
7. Abuse of these rules will result in the thread being disabled, comments denied, and/or user blocked.