WSU Extension Clark County Master Gardener Program and the Master Gardener Foundation of Clark County
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A Bountiful Basket of Garden News -

What you will find in this quarter's newsletter
  • MGFCC President's Message
  • Coordinator's Corner
  • Master Gardener's On the Road Tour
  • Fair Article
  • Book Review - The Soil Will Save Us
  • RCS Article
  • Summer in Hazel Dell School
  • Recipe - Yummy Apple Cake
  • Wildlife Arbitrators
  • Camas Farmer's Market
  • Master Food Preservers
  • Bug Art for Kids
  • What is 37,275? Years of Service Recognition
  • 2014 MG Trainee Schedule
  • Garden Bloggers in Portland
  • Master Gardener Conference
  • In The Garden - Kid's Activity
  • Compost Article
  • Wrap This Around Your Garden-  Garden Tool of the Month
  • Fred Meyer Awards For MGFCC
  • Jack in the Bean Stalk or NeoMexicana Agave?
  • Youth Workday at the Farm
  • Permaculture Training
  • In Memoriam
  • Master Gardeners and Foundation - Key Contact Information

MGFCC President's Message

Judy Hargreaves - MG Class of 2008

We finally h
ave lots of sunshine! The tomatoes, plums and pears are finally ripening and raspberries are pretty well done. The dahlias are bright with color and large enough to require staking and tying. The regular crews are watering the greenhouses daily and can always use volunteers to help. Contact Julie Carlsen or Nancy Funk.

A small group of weeders for the I-5 Welcome to Washington sign have come out to weed a couple of times during the summer--their help is greatly appreciated.

The compost that was spread before planting makes the begonias, dichondra and the weeds grow like crazy. In driving by, there are often cars stopped on the strip to take pictures-- our work is receiving lots of compliments.

We hope you are taking cuttings of your geraniums and succulents and dividing prolific perennials and potting them up to contribute to the greenhouses for the 2015 Plant Sale. Hopefully, you are roasting your zucchinis, potatoes and onions on your BBQ's!!!
MGFCC Facebook

Coordinator's Corner - News from Erika

Erika Johnson, Master Gardener Coordinator,
WSU Extension Clark County - MG Class of 2012

Wow, is it autumn already? It doesn’t feel like it (maybe that has something to do with the fact that this piece is due to our editor by August 1 and it’s actually mid-July!) I’ve mentioned it before, but this is my favorite time of year. I think it has to do with the change in the angle of the light, the cooling days and memories of “back to school.”

Speaking of “back to school,” Sept. 3 is the first day of Master Gardener training this year. As usual, classes are every Wednesday, through November 19 at the American Legion Hall on St. John’s. We start at 8:45 and most afternoons include a field trip; each session ends at 3pm. All current certified Master Gardeners are welcome to attend any classes they like. See the full schedule further along in this publication. Be sure to record those hours under “continuing education.”

We also have some other great fall happenings coming up, including a Learn and Serve workshop at the Pacific Park Nature Garden demonstration site. William McClenathan from the television show Garden Time will present on Putting your Garden to Bed, Saturday, Sept. 6th from 10 am to noon.

September’s On the Road Tour is to Broadacres Farm, Little Prince Nursery and Bountiful Nursery, all near Aurora, Oregon.  Scheduled for Sept. 18, details will be available soon.

Our final Natural Gardening workshop will be held on October 11th starting at 11 am at the Battle Ground Community Library. Our very own Karen Palmer will be presenting “Grow Your Own Apples.”

A big event also in September is Harvest Fun Day, put on by the Clark County Historical Society. Held at the Heritage Farm on September 27th from 10 am to 3 pm, it’s a family event with lots of hands-on activities - in past years tractor tours, draft horse demonstrations, a petting zoo, working dog demonstrations, arts and crafts, face painting, pumpkin decorating, corn shucking, pie eating, and farm costume contests, and live music and square dancing. Master Gardeners will be there as a part of the 100th anniversary celebration of Extension, and the Master Gardener Foundation of Clark County will be selling plants and fall vegetable starts.

As always, please check our website’s calendar to stay current on our program’s happenings. You can see all of our activities as well as those of other Clark County Extension programs at

MG of CC Facebook

Special Recognition

The Master Gardener Foundation of Clark County was recognized as a Heritage Donor at the June Master Gardener Foundation monthly meeting. The designation was made in honor of the foundation's contributions totaling over $50,000. As of the latest endowment campaign, foundation donations to the endowment totaled $56,320.

Master Gardener's - On The Road Tour

Joyce Anderson - MG Class of 2013

WSU Master Gardeners Tour group hit the road July 15th and headed to Sauvie Island and Scappoose.

First Stop: Sauvie Island Lavender Farm owned by Julie Cleveland and Pat Willis. The farm currently has 1,800 plants and more than 10 varieties to choose from. They have fresh lavender to “u-cut” and dried bundles. They make everything from sachets to massage oils, bubble bath to lotions and teas to lavender sugar. We all had fun shopping.

Next stop: Joy Creek Nursery where co-owner Maurice Horn led a tour of the nursery. Featured were clematis and hydrangeas. Maurice was eager to teach us how to “amend” soil with gravel to lower water bills and provide better drainage.

Last stop: Lost Lagoon farm on Sauvie Island where Jane Hartline has used her passion and energy to turn 3 of her acres into a native plant and wildlife retreat. The farm has a quarter-acre pond where wildlife creatures can abound. The grounds have native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, sedges, rushes and ferns to provide habitat for songbirds, amphibians and other critters. There were native plants for our group to purchase.

Fun at the Fabulous Fair

Tracy Sand - MG Class of 2013

I’ll admit it-I was nervous about my very first fair shift as a Master Gardener. Sure, I’ve handed out many a flyer and answered barrels of questions as a Watershed Steward, but this was different.  People were going to expect me to know stuff about gardening…everything about gardening. I was a trainee in the headlights. Luckily, my shift was 10-2 on the last Sunday of the event. This meant that it was hotter than Satan’s spatula and traffic was pretty light at first. Gave me a chance to get settled and gain confidence.

Mary, my shift mate, was wonderful to work with. Possibly to ease my mind, she showed me the article that had run in the Columbian about how the Master Gardeners would be present at the fair to answer any garden questions readers might have. Yikes!  Our first hour was mostly packed with kids and parents looking to get the highly sought after “stamp” on their special stamp fan. (They turn these in as part of a drawing for cool prizes. We used them to avoid wilting.) Now, to get a stamp at our booth, we made the kids work for it. None of this silly walking-up-and-just-getting-a-stamp thing for our booth, no sir. Kids had to match little velcro-backed words for the parts of a plant to the description of that plant part. It was fun, and we weren’t totally heartless-little diggers got plenty of help, and for larger groups we told them it was a team effort. It was all entertaining to watch, that’s for sure.

After the first hour, we discovered the electric fan and this did great things for the overall mood of the booth. Our first question came from a tall, pensive young man. He walked up to the booth with purpose and asked us if we were the “Garden People.” We said yes, and he then proceeded to drop a thorny stalk with leaves, and rolled a single dark berry out onto the table. “What is this, and can I eat it?”  I was so relieved to get an easy question! It was a Himalayan blackberry. I grew up around these and have the scars to prove it. He was so relieved to hear that he could eat the berries, he silently gathered up his samples, grunted at us, and strode away.

Our next question came in the form of a bunch of green stuff in a baggie.  No…not that kind of green stuff-which is legal here anyway, right? A couple came up and asked us what was in the baggie and what they should do about it because it was all over their yard.  It was a baggie of crab grass. We spent about 20 minutes discussing all the ways to eradicate crab grass-including just giving up and learning to like fuzzy grass. 

Traffic slowed way down as the day got hotter. I imagine anyone who worked the booth in past years enjoyed the lovely air conditioned commercial building, but even as I was reminded of what the inside of an Easy-Bake oven must be like, working the fair booth was a lot of fun. Mary was a lovely partner and I learned quite a bit from her. It will be fun to get more information stored away in my brain so I can successfully answer any question (or direct people to the right resource).  I can’t wait to work more answer clinics in the future.

The Soil Will Save Us -

Book Review written by Martha Minnich - MG Class of 2012

The Soil Will Save Us by Kristin Ohlson published in 2014 by Rodale is a provocative take on the
global carbon balance. Ohlson has interviewed scientists, farmers, radical ranchers, free thinkers and visionaries. Her presentation on what has gone wrong in the global carbon cycle and how to fix it is an engaging read. She believes we can reduce atmospheric CO2 by increasing soil carbon and it certainly seems possible.

The basic premise is that human agricultural activity, historically through the present, has drastically reduced the level of organic matter (carbon) in soil. By grazing animals on small plots of land, burning or cutting down the forests, tilling the soil year after year, then tilling ever deeper when the yields decline, we have inadvertently reduced the total amount of soil organic matter (soil carbon) ever since humans started farming.

But the soil is capable of absorbing the carbon that has been lost for thousands of years if farming and ranching practices are changed. As in the natural environment, we need to maintain living plant roots in soil year round. Live plants remove CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Roots leak carbohydrates (carbon) into the soil, feeding soil microbes. The increased microbial activity, if sustained, rebuilds soil organic matter levels. Soil microbes return a portion of that carbon back to the atmosphere as CO2, but the net effect is to retain more carbon in the soil than is lost.

To me, the most interesting section in the book was the piece about a ranch in North Dakota. Adjacent to Bismarck suburbs, ranchers are growing no-till corn without irrigation (also 90% less fertilizer and 75% less herbicide) in an area that receives an average of only 17 inches of precipitation a year. Since 1993, they have been building up their “healthy soil” by growing a mixture of cool and warm season grasses and legumes during the October to May interval (yes, winter in North Dakota). In May, the winter “crop” is knocked down in place, creating a thick mat of organic debris on the soil surface. By planting corn directly into the mat, the soil stays cooler, contains more soil moisture and nutrients, and grows corn that has become the envy of nearby farmers. Also, the soil is oh-so-healthy, high in carbon, earthworms, and the area is lush with pollinators.

After reading this book, I’m constantly thinking about how to incorporate denser plantings, more diversity, and yes, even crazy mixed cover crops during the “off season” into my garden. Crops lands represent far more acreage, but perhaps all of us can be part of the solution by encouraging our small plots of land to absorb more carbon.

4-H RCS Garden Journal

Jodee Nickel

Orchards Elementary School Garden - June 14
5 Youth Participants; 3 Adult Participants

Saturday the 4-H RCS weekend reporting group volunteered to work in the Orchards Elementary School Garden. Our job was to move 6 yards of wood chips/Mulch in to the main garden area. The youth took turns rotating through the jobs of shoveling, hauling and spreading the mulch in the walk ways and where extra careful when spreading around the vegetable and flower plants. The group was always moving we took one break together to hydrate and got right back to work. One of the youth commented that we wouldn't have gotten as much completed if we didn't work as a team, everyone pulled their own weight and the garden looks a lot better because of it. As we were working people in the neighborhood would drive-by and give us thumbs-up and wave. We want so send a special thanks out to ARBORSCAPE LTD INC, for donating the mulch!!

Summer in Hazel Dell and Community Garden - Where Learning Grows

Barbara Nordstrom - MG Class of 2005

In this summer’s weekly program with the Boys & Girls Club, we’ve explored the garden with a scavenger hunt, planted mini-greenhouses, and learned about spiders, the water cycle, parts of plants, worms, and garden beneficials. In addition, harvest has been shared with the nearby homeless shelter and the Community Gardeners have enjoyed a bountiful harvest.
In the photos you can see that Erika visited the Boys and Girls Club program at the Hazel Dell School and Community Garden. We put her to work helping the kids shovel and spread bark on the paths. During the lesson on spiders, Boys & Girls Club members made spiders from grapes, celery stick legs, and sunflower seed eyes. Also, Boys & Girls Club kids planted Mickey Mouse mini-greenhouses donated by Scotts with the assistance of Master Gardeners, Laura Heldreth, Barbara Nordstrom, Bobbi Bellomy, and WSU 4-H Coordinator Jodee Nickel (in the photo, center back, left to right).

Yummy Apple Cake

Roberta Doster - MG Class of 2008
photo by Anita Jinks - MG Class of 2013

Ingredients for cake:
1 stick plus 2 teaspoons butter
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour (or gluten free: cocoa nut, almond, oat, etc.
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples
Ingredients for Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour of your choice (see above)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup finely chopped pecan nuts
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Light grease and flour a 9 by 13- inch glass baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. 
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla.  Fold in the apples.  Pour into the prepared baking dish, spreading out to the edges.
Topping:  To make the topping combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, rolled oats, and butter.  Mix until it resembles a coarse crumbs.  Add the nuts.  sprinkle the topping over the cake and bake until golden brown and set, 35 to 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

Wildlife Arbitrators

Roberta Doster - MG Class of 2008

When someone asks you where you live, you give an address.  The address is your claim on a piece of property.  However, it's only an arbitrary human designation.  The wild critters in your neighborhood neither read addresses nor understand fenced boundaries.  That's when ownership problems may arise.

As human population becomes denser and wild habitat shrinks, the collision of people and wild critters is fated, often with angry results.  What to do when a silver fox invades your free ranging flock and begins dining on your favorite laying hens?  How to share space with a skunk?  How best to discourage a black bear from destroying fences?  Need I go on?  We've all had visitations we'd rather not have had.  So, what to do?

When the fox came a visiting, I contacted two friends who've formed an organization called Animal Arbitrators.  They've taken on the task of advocating on the side of the wild animals whose territory has been stolen without permission.  Linda Jo Hunter, creator of this duo, got her idea from an organization in Southern California called Orange County Trackers.  Linda enlisted Kim Antieau to assist her.   The  two ladies came to our home and made several good suggestions to discourage our wily visitor.  It's worked.  They also trekked to Mill A to discuss the Black Bear problem.  The solution was to pick the apples, as they ripen, and dump them over the fence for the bear.  Problem solved.  I'm going to use this strategy for my excess plums - share some with the bear.

What is their fee?  At this time, there is no charge for their services.  However, they are extremely happy to barter for a payment.  I supplied a lunch plus fresh beans, cucumbers, and garlic.  Their advice was well worth the price.  For unwanted critter assistance contact Linda Jo Hunter at

Master Food Preservers Extend The Harvest

Laura Heldreth - MG Class of 2012

Did you know that canning your own salsa recipe could kill you with botulism poisoning?  Master Food Preservers save lives.  I’m one of the lucky survivors of that mistake. 
I love everything about salsa including growing all of the ingredients.  So, we kicked off planting my salsa garden at Pacific Park with a Salsa Garden Workshop. The WSU Master Food Preserver and WSU Master Gardener programs teamed up to teach the public about growing and canning your own salsa.  Judi Seifert, certified Master Food Preserver, ended the workshop by sharing her safe and delicious canned salsa. 
Thank you for saving lives, Judi!  
(photo of Judi Seifert,left, and Laura Heldreth, right taken by Anita Jinks)

Bug Art for Kids

Anita Jinks - MG Class of 2013

The workshop series at Pacific Parks Natural Demonstration Gardens continued on Saturday, August 9 with an opportunity for youth to learn about the beneficial insects in our environment.  Laura Heldreth led the preschoolers and elementary students in exploratory activities.  She explained that 99% of all insects are considered beneficial and should be encouraged in our gardens.  Using lady bugs as examples, she discussed the stages of the insects' growth and encouraged participants to examine each insect's anatomy to learn how they survive.

Workshop attendees were then set loose with magnifying glasses, paint brushes and containers to capture sample insects in the garden.  Returning with a variety of specimens, they were instructed by Anita Jinks to capture theirs in original art.  The resulting chalk pastels demonstrated greater awareness of the individual insect being studied as well as creativity that will surely appear in a place of honor at home.

The final activity of the workshop was an enthusiastic weeding session led by Erika Johnson.  Once the kids received their directions, they wasted no time in pulling weeds both small and large.  It took a team of three to uproot a cottonwood sprout.  Landing in a pile of arms and legs, a whoop of victory could be heard throughout the park.

Pacific Parks is located at NE 18th Street and NE 172nd Avenue in Vancouver.  This workshop was sponsored by Clark County Environmental Services.

What is 37,275?

That is the number of hours given to the Master Gardeners program by this year's honorees over their many years of service.  When you really think about it, that is a lot of dirt moving, seed planting, tree pruning, yard weeding, and all around hard work and sweat.  Even though many could not attend, Master Gardener Years of Service Recognitions were presented at the July Master Gardener Foundation meeting.  It is incredible that many dedicated volunteers have given far more than the minimum 35 hours a year.  Thank you for your years of green-thumb and back-breaking work which make Clark County an even greener place!

Pictured Here
5 years - Suzanne Michalik, Robert Bacon, Gary Gragg, Vi Calvert, Laura Stephens, Sue Farnsworth, Kathy Sperry, Judy Parke, Kay MacKay.  Receiving awards but not pictured: Loretta Freidel-Wilson, Paula Reynolds.
10 years -  Stephania Potter, Sheri Moore-Smith, Wayne Chandler and Phyllis Yager, with Erika Johnson.
15 Years - Sue Sutton with Erika Johnson. 

2014 Master Gardener Trainee Schedule

Erika Johnson has put together another year of amazing topics and field trips for a full class of new trainees.  All Master Gardeners are invited to attend a class, volunteer to support the activities of the day, and get continuing education credits.  Alumni can sit in the back of the class to hear the latest information then mingle with Trainees on their breaks.  Please call Erika if you have any questions about this year's classes. 

Garden Bloggers in Portland

Laura Heldreth - MG Class of 2012

Eighty garden bloggers from around the continent and Europe descended on Portland for the fourteenth annual Garden Blogger Fling, over the second weekend of July. Over three days, we toured 14 gardens, three nurseries, and visited Timber Press.  Plus, Mike Darcy hosted a small Plant Nerd Night for us complete with three nurseries.
Over the weekend, I toured the Japanese Garden with the world famous curator Sadafumi Uchiyama, sampled pineapple guava flower petals with Plantsman Sean Hogan, toured Timber Press with Tom Fischer, and enjoyed the company of my fellow garden bloggers.  It was a complete thrill.
For a whole weekend, I was able to completely geek out about gardening.  No one rolled their eyes at me or changed the subject.  And I slowly realized that I’ve always been part of this garden party, a wallflower, but a participant nonetheless.
Next year, the Garden Blogger Fling is going to be in Toronto, Canada on June 5,6,and 7th.  And the England bloggers have mentioned an interest in hosting in 2016.  The only requirement to attend the fling is to post one garden blog post.  Who wants to join me next year?

(photo: Florimagoria Garden)

WSU Master Gardener Advanced Education Conference

Karen Palmer - MG Class of 2000

Time is running out to register for the WSU Master Gardener Advanced-Education Conference this year in Tacoma September 18-20, 2014. Go to without delay. Any Master Gardener can attend the annual conference, whether you just graduated from training and have only logged a few hours or whether you are a 15-year veteran. There are seminars offered on many different subjects and you always learn something new. 
Next year's WSU Advanced-Education Conference will be held right here at the Vancouver Hilton September 16-19, 2015. The organizing committee (Dean Sutera, Fran Hammond, Karen Palmer) has been working since early this year to make sure we have an excellent array of speakers. We have almost finalized 29 seminars, 3 panels, and 3 general sessions. Seminar topics range from “An Objective Look at GMO Foods” to “Conserving Butterflies” to “Getting and Keeping the Media’s Attention”, just to name a few. We are excited to announce Art Wolfe, worldwide photographer and host of “Travels to the Edge” on PBS, as our banquet speaker. Registration will open by next March so stay tuned. We will be looking for many volunteers to help us put this conference together. Volunteers will be needed in the MG Marketplace (conference store), running the Silent Auction and Raffle, the Registration Check-in Desk, and Hosts to introduce speakers and monitor each seminar room. We will soon be putting out a call for general help and special skills so start thinking about where you might fit in. We guarantee you will have a lot of fun!

In the Garden - Word Find for Kids

by Katie Wolf - MG Class of 2013
Can you find:

The Master Gardeners are always looking for way to teach and engage children in the interest and knowledge of the garden.  What better way to reinforce hands on activities with fun activities! 

Compost Revisited

Katie Wolf - MG Class of 2013
As the days grow shorter and the temperatures start to cool, it is time to begin thinking about preparing your compost pile for the Fall.  Although composting is a naturally occurring process, there is much the home gardener can do to harness the power of decomposition to create their own compost supply.  By controlling the composting process, it can be accelerated and result in a higher quality, nutrient-balanced product. As summer begins to wind down, consider what sources of carbon (browns) and nitrogen rich materials (greens) are available in your yard and the quantities of each that will be needed to maintain the correct balance for optimal composting. By keeping browns and greens in balance, you are more likely to maintain the proper temperatures for killing seeds and undesirable organisms.
Consider the following:  
Why place bags of grass clippings and fall leaves on the curb, when these greens and browns can naturally be composted?  And to simplify the process even further, once grass growth has slowed, stop cutting it for a few weeks and let the fall leaves pile up.  Then attach the grass bag to your lawn mower and do a final mow for the season, collecting both the grass clippings and fall leaves into the bag, resulting in instantly mixed ingredients for your compost pile.  Grinding or shredding compost ingredients into smaller pieces encourages speedy decomposition.
In addition to grass and leaves, consider other great sources of browns and greens.  Great browns include wood chips, straw, dead and dried out plants, and cardboard.  Great greens can include kitchen scraps such as coffee grounds and fruit and vegetable scraps (the average household produces hundreds of pounds of kitchen scraps, annually) and manure. Strive to keep a balanced mix of browns and greens, so that noxious odors are avoided (too much greens) and composting times aren't delayed (too many browns).  Pine needles should be chopped before inclusion in a compost pile as they decompose slowly. In large quantities, they can be acidic. Manure is considered hot when fresh and needs to be aged before inclusion in a compost pile.
Although most yard waste can be composted, avoid placing diseased plant tissues into the compost in order to avoid further spreading the problem.  Also, try to limit the inclusion of weeds that have persistent root systems, as well as weed seeds. Also avoid inclusion of fats, pet droppings, and animal products, as these items will attract pests.
Earthworms are a gardeners friend and they thrive in soil environments enriched with compost.  Creating your own and using it in your yard not only reduces materials headed to landfills, but also attracts beneficial worms to your garden.
And perhaps most importantly, don't forget to turn your pile to avoid developing a heap of stinky anaerobic bacteria.  And if it starts to smell, add more brown ingredients. 

Wrap This Around Your Garden -

Featured Tool

Roberta Doster - MG Class of 2008

"So what's your favorite garden tool?" I was asked today at the newsletter meeting.  If I guessed correctly, the question was leading up to an article.  Right? 
I pondered this question for quite a while and I requested a day or so to respond.
Dashing home, I 'Googled' gardening tools to refresh my memory.  Oh, I could have forced my tired, aging body out to the garage, shed, tool shed, garden, and lean-too and looked up my tools, but why do that when I can sit and look at shiny, new, innovative equipment on my computer screen.  Besides, I'm never sure where any of my garden tools might be lurking at any given moment.  Unwatched, the tools have a tendency to wander.
Who could have guessed what a plethora of hoes or rakes or spades or clippers you could order!  Not only were they a whole lot different from anything I'd ever owned, but some sets were color coordinated.  Imagine trying to not only keep track of gardens tools but make sure the set matched the bulk of your gardening outfits.  La Te Da!   Whoa, I didn't even begin to feel a bond of friendship, let alone favoritism with any of these new, sterile implements.  What to do?
Rising slowly from my comfortable recliner, carefully placing my sleeping cat on the seat, I decided to do a tool round up.  I won't bore you with all the unusual locations my tools had drifted off to, but suffice to say it took me several hours to corral them in the garage in somewhat orderly heaps. 
Just like the Google site demonstrated, I placed them in family piles: shovels, rakes, hoes, sprinklers, hose attachments, zip ties, garden stakes not in use, etc.  I fondly looked at the assorted mess, smiled, shook my head, and declared, "No, my favorite tools aren't here!  I believe they're all in use!"         
Are you waiting with bated breath?  I certainly hope that's true.  Yep, I do have a favorite tool and it's the lowly bungee cord!  You see, I live in an area that requires high deer fences around ALL my vegetable & flowers beds.  Bungee cords make excellent gate fasteners.  Even with an armload of produce, you can close and fasten a gate easily.  The cords are wonderful for tying up drooping hollyhocks, bending roses, and holding young fruit trees upright to stakes.  I use the large ones to keep my grape vines in place.  Last year I would have used zip ties to bundle my harvested and cleaned garlic, only to have to cut them off when I was ready to store the dried garlic heads.  Now, I use a bungee cord to tie together the different garlic types and can even include the marked planting stakes.  When I'm ready to either store or replant, the name is readily at hand. 
Now, dear readers, I have a challenge for you.  We'd like to hear about your favorite gardening tool and why.  The deadline for writing for the newsletter is Nov. 1, 2014.  Send your article to :  One of the entries will be published in our next newsletter.  I'm even willing to share several of my prized bungee cords with the next tool reviewer.  Who knows you may have even earned a new Master Gardner position, Master Tool Author.

Fred Meyer Community Rewards

Judy Chamberlain - MG Class of 2010
Thanks to everyone who have already linked their FM Rewards card to the Master Gardener Foundation of Clark Co. So far 49 folks have done so and because of you the Foundation received $272 in donations from Fred Meyers for the quarter from April through June. These donations will be used to help fund horticulture education grants and the Master Gardener Program. Please pass this information on to your neighbors, friends, and family... even strangers on the sidewalk - the more Rewards cards we can link to our Foundation the more donations we will receive to further horticulture education. All information is on the attached photo.  Let's get to at least 100 by October 1st! 

Jack in the Beanstalk or NeoMexicana Agave?

Karen Palmer, MG Class of 2000

About 15 years ago, we planted a small (probably 2 gallon plant) NeoMexicana Agave that we bought in Arizona and drove home. We were pleasantly surprised that even in the most severe winters, it flew through with flying colors and no sign of damage. We were happy it just looked like a nice healthy agave all year long and had no dreams of a bloom. Much to our surprise, it shot up a bloom stalk this spring.  We first noticed it in early May and it did not finish blooming until early August. While in full bloom, the hummingbirds were all over it so obviously agaves have a lot of nectar. The chickadees were also finding something delectable within the blossoms. Hope they don’t get too used to this food source, because I’m afraid it will be a rare occurrence around here. Alas, agaves only bloom once in their lifetime and then they die. Given the size of the stalk versus the size of the plant, it is not surprising.

Youth Workday at the Farm

Erika Johnson - MG Class of 2012

On Tuesday and Wednesday, June 24th and 25th yellow school buses pulled into the parking lot of the Heritage Farm, from which poured 50 youth each day - Tuesday's in orange t-shirts and Wednesday's all in green. The kids were part of the New Heights Middle School Group, a summer camp for middle schoolers, which included a service component in their curriculum. Each day's group was split in half, with 25 taken to the forest garden up the hill and the other 25 taken to the fruit tree orchard. Accompanied by high school counselors and led by Master Gardener crew leaders, the kids worked hard for just over an hour, sheet mulching the fruit orchard with cardboard and wood chips, and pulling weeds from the forest garden. All told we accomplished a lot of much-needed manual labor and we also used the opportunity to teach the kids about two types of food production carried out here on site. Everyone had fun and they were all smiles as the buses pulled back out of the parking lot. But maybe that's because a game of slip n' slide kickball awaited the hot campers when they returned! Thanks to Barbara Hedges, Tracy Sand, Glenn Bishop-Smith, Betty Stolz, Cindy Withrow, and Trish Somsel for your work with these groups!

Permaculture Training

Donna Wieder - MG Class of 2007

On July 18, master gardeners enjoyed an interesting and entertaining program about permaculture.  The program was conducted at the Heritage Farm by Joseph Leyda, MA, a certified ecologist, professional wetland scientist and certified permaculture designer.   The concept behind “permaculture” is to create a permanent landscape in which the elements support each other, thereby minimizing required maintenance while maximizing beauty and productivity.  Mr. Leyda described his approach to permaculture as “the harmonious integration of landscape and people.”

We learned how to design and create a permaculture of our own.  That includes the elements needed to design planting zones based on themes, functions and how much attention/maintenance is required.  We have all heard about companion plants which like to grow together.  Permaculture carries that concept further and focuses on the development of “guild” plantings, in which each element supports and protects each other element, resulting in a harmonious and sustainable whole.  A guild will have edibles or ornamentals, insectary plants, which encourage beneficial insects, and “dynamic accelerators”, which return nutrients to the soil.

We also learned about forest gardens, which are low-maintenance, sustainable areas where food crops are planted in woodland ecosystems.  Examples of possible food crops are fruit and nut trees, berries and vines.  The food crops are planted to fit into appropriate spots in the forest ecosystem and to fit into a succession plan as the woodland ecosystem changes. 

Mr. Leyda provided examples of permaculture designs and suggestions for plant combinations that would work well in our gardens, yards and woodland areas.  He also provided resources for further study.  Master gardeners left the program eager to find ways to implement in our own yards the concepts that we learned from Mr. Leyda’s presentation. 

Photo by Bill Roberts - Trish Somsel prunes in the Permaculture garden earlier this year.

In Memoriam - Bill Link - Class of 1993

Fall is the time of year for harvesting the bounty, putting gardens to bed, and preparing for the colder season. Fortunately we Clark County Master Gardeners can grow winter vegetables, plan for spring, and continue to devote time to the amazing Master Gardener program. The Garden News is just one way to communicate all that you do that makes our community a wonderful place to live.  Take a moment to read the Fall Edition.  You can also  find the current newsletter on the Foundation's website at

Please continue to give us ideas, author timely and informative articles, and share your feedback.  Feel free to drop me an email at  Thank you.  Susan Lehr, Garden News Editor.
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In cooperation with Clark County and Washington State University, the Master Gardener Foundation of Clark County is dedicated to promoting research-based horticultural practices at the 78th Street Heritage Farm and other venues across Clark County through education, consultative programs and experiences with preserve or enhance our environment.
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