Garden Plots by Chip Bubl

Big-Leaf Maple Syrup in Oregon – Class for Beginners

There will be a maple syrup-making class on Saturday, October 13th. The doors will open at 9am and the class will start at 9:30 at the Extension office in St. Helens. The class will be led by Joe McGilvra, who has been tapping big leaf maples for their sap for several years. He has a lot to share. The class is free and open to all. Please call 503 397-3462 to register.

Bee class scheduled

There will be another in a series of bee classes at the OSU Extension office on Monday, October 15th at 6pm. It will cover beekeeper carpentry for those that want to make some of their own bee houses. In addition, there will be a demonstration on how to use oxalic acid to control Varroa mites. Call the Extension office for more details or to get on the beekeeper announcement list. The class is free and open to all.

All About Fruit Show in Canby

This is the premier show about fruit growing and tasting. The show will be Saturday, October 20th and Sunday the 21st from 10am-4pm both days at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby. Admission charge is $5. It is put on by the Home Orchard Society, a collective effort by people who love to grow fruit. There are lots of classes and demonstrations. Go to their website for more information.

Mycology (Mushrooms) 101 in Columbia County

This free class will be held at the Extension office in St. Helens on Wednesday, October 24th at 6:30pm. The class will cover local mushroom ecology, the basics of mushroom taxonomy (identification), mushroom muses, and low-tech cultivation of some local mushrooms. The class will be taught by Jordan Weiss. Space is limited so please call to pre-register 503 397-3462.

Oregon Mycological Society Fall Mushroom Show in Portland

At the annual fall mushroom show on Sunday, October 28th, from noon-5pm you can view beautifully displayed specimens from around the region and talk to mushroom experts. There will be vendors, books for sale, mushroom cooking samples, speakers, and much more. At is at the World Forestry Center across the parking lot from the Oregon Zoo. Admission, $5 adults, $3 seniors/students.

Storing winter squash

As this is written, rain is falling. The forecast is for a succession of storms for the next two weeks. Many gardeners have winter squash like Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Hubbard and Kabocha in various stages of ripeness. Excess moisture does create decay, so it would be wise to bring in all squash that seem to be of normal harvest size and color. The best way to cure them is to wash off any dirt and let them dry in a warm place in the house. Curing can take several weeks and if all goes well, the squash should have a nice hard rind. Once the squash is well-cured, it can be stored in a dry garage on a shelf. Generally, squash will last in good condition for at least three months. Squash roasted with other winter vegetables is great! Any squash showing signs of decay should be cut free of decay and the remainder eaten or cooked and frozen as soon as possible.

Normally, I would leave the remaining somewhat unripe squash in the garden to ripen further. However, with rain, not much ripening will take place. My best guess would be to leave them for at least two more weeks and then assess where the fall weather is going and hope that decay is delayed.

Blackberry control

There is still time to control blackberries. Mowing is an option, but the clumps will return with a vengeance. That said, persistent mowing (3-4 times a year), can wear blackberries out. The most common herbicides used are the glyphosate-based products like Roundup™ and triclopyr-mixes like Crossbow™ or Brush-B-Gone. Good leaf coverage is essential. You need at least six hours of dry weather after spraying to ensure absorption. This time of year, the leaves might not show any sign of damage but when spring returns, the plant will not leaf out. You will have a lot of dried up stickery canes to cut but that should be a pleasure. Inevitably, there will be some re-growth. Treat that with an herbicide or mow several times and you will eliminate it from the area. Follow all label instructions and restrictions. Don’t spray in the wind.

Raccoons behaving badly

Raccoons are notorious for rolling freshly placed lawn sod. They think they are looking for insect larvae, and just often enough, they find them. The main species they seek are the crane fly and sod webworm larvae. I believe that they also feed on earthworms if they can find them. At this stage, there are no soft crane fly larva but there may be some “capsuled” ones (also attractive) that are changing into the adults which will be emerging to mate shortly. There could be some sod webworms, though those aren’t all that common. However, new sod shouldn’t have either. I think it is often entertainment for these very bright animals. All this begs the questions about how to control the damage. Some homeowners have placed temporary netting or chicken wire tightly over a newly sodded area. Others have used the motion detector sprinklers, readily available from garden centers and large hardware stores, which raccoons don’t seem to like. Since most of the damage is done in the night, people often aren’t aware of what is happening until they have pushed down the lawn many times. Once the lawn really roots, it can’t be pulled up like that. Then raccoons and also skunks, roam across the lawn pulling up little divots, looking for their meal. But that is far less destructive than sod rolling. Removing food sources for raccoons (especially pet food) will lower their interest in your yard.


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(1) comment


I've tried spraying blackberries but really - the best way to remove them is to dig them out. There's nothing more satisfying than digging out a big gnarly head of blackberry! It's work, and I've dug thousands over the years but imagine all the $ and chemicals I've saved doing so. The glyphosate is so much worse than they tell us (remember DDT? they let people spray it all over their children!)

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