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The Observer paper 12/24/14

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Falls colors bring work and benefit to gardeners

The beautiful fall colors we have been enjoying will soon turn into free materials for composting and mulch. 

If you have wondered what to do with the accumulation of leaves don’t be intimidated by the seemingly endless amount of expensive composters or tumblers available. Once again, the folks at the Oregon State University Extension have a tremendous wealth of information on their website.

Recently I printed off a 24-page booklet, for free, titled “Propagating Plants from Seed” that included information I haven’t found elsewhere. I am putting some of the information to use almost immediately as I have saved seed from the crab apple tree where the memory stone is located from a beloved family member we lost this year. Now I will have the tools necessary to ensure the greatest success at germination, including how to stratify apple seeds! 

The booklet also describes what stratification is, why plants have seeds that need it, and how to get seeds to break dormancy and grow when the seed needs to be stratified first. This 24-page booklet was located under the Small Farms tab on their website.

Included with other free downloads I printed off was the title “Gardening with Composts, Mulches, and Row Covers.” This little four-page gem is just what many of us can use time and again as we expand our gardening areas to include bins for composting. 

And while the tumbling or rotating composters are highly effective, this simple bin systems that are suggested and plans drawn in this article show just how easily, and inexpensively, composting can be done.

The inclusion of mulch, or composted organic materials, around the base of your shrubs and flowers when applied next spring will give them a nutrient- rich boost to get their growing season off to a good start. Composted mulch is also beneficial when applied around the bases of plants in your vegetable garden, your berry patch, and newlyplanted trees. This fall is the perfect time to start your own composting system.

Another article I printed off, “Managing Manure,” is a two-page bullet of information that addresses the most beneficial aspects of storing and using manure. It also contains an excellent guide for composting manures, how to do so, and what to do when the pile gets too high!

Type http://extension.oregonstate.edu into your browser and discover for yourself the incredible amount of useful information the agriculturally-minded people at Oregon State have given us online.

The site has grown extensively since its first inception years ago and has even expanded its knowledge base considerably in just the past year. Included are links to information for those interested in growing for Farmer’s Markets, taking a Master Gardener course and subscribing to the Master Gardener free newsletter. 

If you have an interest in taking some of the Master Gardener classes, but don’t want to commit or have the time to commit to the hourly requirement of assisting other gardeners, an option is available to take most of the courses online at a self-paced method of learning. The first course, Basic Botany, is free. The other courses are $20 each. The amount of information you will glean is tremendous.

Until next time, enjoy raking all those leaves!


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