The independent. (Vernonia, Or.) 1986-current, April 21, 2005, Page Page 8, Image 8

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    Page 8
The INDEPENDENT, April 21, 2005
Can You Dig It?
By Schann Nelson
OSU Master Gardener
that the hellebore was too close to one of the hostas and one of them would have
to be moved. Something to ponder over the summer, fall and winter. Imagine my
delight when I discovered a whole bunch of baby hellebores coming up. Now I get
to move the hosta and pot-up or transplant a bunch of baby hellebores. Since I only
have the one, I should get a good color mix. Hellebores (common name Lenten
Rose) have a color range from almost chocolate through pink to white, and bloom
beginning in February. Unfortunately, the bloom stalks are only about a foot high
and the blooms face downward AND they’re poisonous. Not a plant for every gar-
den or gardener, but I like mine.
A confession. I lied last month. Even though the weather was still beautiful when
I was writing and I said I was going out to plant the peas, I didn’t get to it. Was I
lucky and glad! The weather almost immediately became winter and seeds would
surely have rotted in the ground. I did, however, get them in the ground yesterday,
just in time for a nice rain. Hopefully, the sun, when it does peek out, now has
enough warmth to keep the soil temperature. I plant only shelling peas to eat fresh
and freeze. This year I planted in a sunny part of the garden and hope to pull it
together to plant a fall crop after the peas are done. It just works best for me to be
able to get in there and harvest the whole bed and be done with it.
Oops! I may have just let out one of my big gardening secrets. I really don’t much
enjoy the vegetable harvest part. Anytime I can talk somebody else into going out
there and picking the fill-in the-blanks, I’m a happy camper.
One other garden job accomplished for the first time this year. With the weather
so wintery, this is a great time to look at your tools. I’ve sorely neglected
many of mine, but this year I bought a can of linseed oil, collected them
all (even the ones from the barn) and oiled the handles. I sharpened some
and intend to sharpen the remainder (which will
require a flat file and a vise – so the flaky factor may
interfere with accomplishing this goal). I invested some
fairly serious bucks in good tools early on, a practice I
highly recommend. My spading fork and shovel will last a life-
time. If I had taken good care of them for the first fifteen years,
they would be in much better shape than they are now. The rec-
ommendations are to sharpen as needed (shovels, hoes, clip-
pers, etc.), oil wooden parts, and keep rust controlled. I want to
try the five-gallon-bucket filled with sand and used motor oil.
You’re supposed to be able to clean, oil and polish those nasty
shovel and trowel blades (after scraping off the clay) easily and quickly by
just sort of jabbing them into the bucket. Sounds good to me!
PS. Don’t forget the Master Gardener’s Plant Sale! It’s not on ‘Make Vernonia
Shine Day’ this year. See you at St. Helens High School, April 30, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00
The last two years, when I’ve written my anniversary arti-
cle (Can it really be three entire years of garden articles?!)
I’ve talked about the burgeoning spring. This year it seems
we’re finally having winter, following the way-too-early spring
weather we had in January and February. At least we (hope-
fully) did get adequate chilling when we had all those beauti-
ful warm days and COLD nights. Apparently, the valley floor
was not so lucky. Last week somebody reminded me “to
enjoy the lilacs! They’re rare this year because it didn’t get
cold enough.” Well, my lilacs, while nowhere near blooming
yet, appear to have plenty of flower buds.
It’s the fruit trees that need the chilling hours. I’m sure there is a chart some-
where on the OSU Extension website that will tell you exactly how many hours of
chilling each fruit (and probably each named variety of each fruit) requires. I’m of
the opinion that it will not be a great apple year, since last year was a bumper crop
on every tree. This is based on years of experience and me pretending to be the
Farmer’s Almanac, not any scientific source. I sort of remember that apples were
mentioned at some talk or other as being an alternate year crop. I hope this is true
because I pruned my trees with this thought in mind, making more structural
change and using a saw more than I might have otherwise.
Last year’s experiment covering the pluot yielded only three (YUMMY) fruits. Not
nearly enough. This year, though the tree was covered during most of the really
cold nights, I did pull off the remay in late February. I stood, with
my nose inches away, from a humble bumblebee working his
way up the blossom-covered stem getting to each and every
flower. When he reached the top, he laboriously took ‘flight’ (or
hopped) to the next stem and started again. The remay cover
never got put back on, so the poor tree has been subjected to
all of the nasty weather of the last few weeks. I also pruned the
strongest growing of the remaining grafted varieties way back
in an effort to balance the growth. I started with a four-variety
grafted tree and I might have three varieties remaining. This is typ-
ical of the multiple graft fruit trees, it’s unusual for all varieties to
survive. Having discovered the value of spraying in the fall for the
prevalent fungal diseases, I’m hoping to save the tree. It has a huge lesion, where
half of the trunk is dead. But this year, I don’t see any new dead spots and the
edges of previous years’ damage look healthy.
A brief myth buster: Trees (and plants in general) do NOT heal. At least not in
the same way that the phase is applied to humans or other ani-
mals. Plants do not replace damaged tissue with new tissue.
Once killed by accident, on purpose or by disease, the plant will
grow AROUND the wound and eventually over the wound, but the
damaged tissue will remain in the tree. In the same way, the
height of a branch (relative to the ground) will remain the same
throughout the life of the tree. The tree will make new branches
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higher up, and maybe even lower down, but a specific branch that
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you decide to leave at say 4-feet off the ground, will still be four-
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feet off the ground on the mature tree. The lesson: Be thoughtful
about what and where you cut!
The lawn experiment is still not progressing very well. I have
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greatly increased the diversity of plants in my lawn but the clovers
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are just not taking off. Also, I’ve noticed that the areas of the lawn
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that I seeded a couple of years ago with a grass and flower blend
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(some kind of eco-lawn mixture that included English daisies and
*B.L.A.S.T. w/Nursery 10:00 a.m.
yarrow) have much thicker, greener, more uniform grass than the
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rest of the lawn. So, I finally caved and bought some shade toler-
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ant grass seed to spread in the barest areas. Understand that my
‘lawn’ is just the part of the yard that has been mowed. It’s very
uneven, full of mole hills (and their counterpart – similarly sized
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depressions that I think are places where underground caverns
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have collapsed over the years) and a wide variety of plants com-
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monly known as weeds.
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I’ve written in the past about my hellebore. These slow to
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bloom plants are great for shady areas and mine is both beautiful
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(a delicate combination of pink and green blooms) and really likes
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its home. The second year it bloomed, I let it go to seed. The first
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year I always try to keep perennials from setting seed because I
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want their energy to go to the roots. Last year it became apparent
Church Directory
Jeff Cheney, Branch President
1350 E. Knott Street
Vernonia, 503 429-7151
Sacrament Meeting, Sunday 10 a.m.
Sunday School & Primary 11:20 a.m.
Relief Society, Priesthood and
Young Women, Sunday 12:10 p.m.
Pastoral Associate Juanita Dennis
960 Missouri Avenue
Vernonia, 503 429-8841
Mass Schedule
Sunday 12:00 Noon
Religious Education
Sunday 10:30 a.m.
John Cahill, Pastor
359 “A” Street
Vernonia, 503 429-1161
Sunday School 9:45 a.m.
Morning Worship 11:00 a.m.
Evening Worship
Saturday, 6:00 p.m.
Gary Taylor, Pastor
Grant & North Streets
Vernonia, 503 429-5378
Sunday School 10:00 a.m.
Morning Worship 11:00 a.m.
Nursery available
Wednesday Service 7:00 p.m.
850 Madison Avenue
Vernonia, 503 429-1103
Sunday Worship Service: 10:30 a.m.
Children’s Sunday School
662 Jefferson Ave., Vernonia,
503 556-1961 for Information
Sunday School 9:45 a.m.
Morning Worship 11:00 a.m.
John Aitken II, Pastor, 396-1856
2nd Ave. and Nehalem St.
Vernonia, 503 429-8301
Morning Worship, 9:15 a.m.
Bible Study 10:30 a.m.