Tip of the month
If your soil lacks organic matter, mulch with high-quality planting compost instead of wood chips. Then, every time you disturb the soil, say by pulling a nasty weed, you're also incorporating organic matter. Soil organisms will also transport the matter into the soil over time.
- Garden cover-ups help maximize production. In beds with new plants, use floating row covers or planting compost between the rows to retain soil moisture. Shade cloth can protect the whole planting bed from sun. Use this with young starts when root systems are small or for leafy greens like lettuce and chard.
- Fertilize fruiting plants such as tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and peppers with low-nitrogen fertilizer so bud production and root development is enhanced. Lettuce and other leafy plants need additional nitrogen.
- Time to begin planting vegetable starts for your fall garden: Cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Plants to seed now: Beans, beets, carrots, peas and kale.
- If you want a shot at homegrown Brussels sprouts with your Thanksgiving meal, now's the time to get them in the garden. August is too late to start them from seed, but starts are usually widely available in August. Plant them early. We had a really cold snap in October last year, and the weather usually chills in September in the valley, which slows growth.
- Can food with your friends, just like in the old days. Check with the Oregon State University master food preservers for canning-recipe questions at 776-7371.
- When not to compost: When the plant material is from a diseased plant, especially one with a fungal disease like blackspot, late blight or powdery mildew. Pick diseased leaves off the plant and ground and throw them into the trash.
- If you notice flower or leaf size decreasing in ornamentals or annuals, fertilizer may be necessary. Use a flower-production formula to feed these plants.
- Make sure you are watering trees and shrubs deeply at least once a month. Try putting a soaker hose at the drip line for half a day or overnight. Replacing grass with mulch is another water-savvy action.
- Keep grass 2-1/2 inches high. Lawns need about 2 inches of water per week in August. No fertilizing in hot weather. Water before sunrise or early in the day.
Nature Sketching with Watercolor Pencils
Learn from Irene Brady, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Aug. 1 and 2 at North Mountain Park in Ashland. Fee is $80.
Collecting Native Plant Seeds
Jim Duncan will lead a driving tour from 9 a.m. to noon on Aug. 15. It'll start at North Mountain Park in Ashland and head up Dead Indian Memorial Road. The fee is only $10.
Making Blackberry Wine
Those age 21 and up can learn to make blackberry wine at North Mountain Park for a fee of $21. The class runs from 6 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 13.
You can enjoy two free tours of the butterfly, amphibian-reptile, native plant, herb and heirloom gardens at North Mountain Park in August. The tours are scheduled for 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., Aug. 12 and 22.
For more information and to register for any of the above classes go to the Web site at http://ashlandparks.recware.com or call 488-6606.
Native Wildflowers in the Home Garden
Learn how to treat native flowers in your gardens with advice from master gardener Lillian Maksymowicz from 7 to 9 p.m., Aug. 6. She'll help you select plants for optimum bloom in a variety of local soil types and weather conditions. Master gardener classes are held at the Oregon State University Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road, Central Point. Cost is $5. 541-776-7371.
Soil Fertility and Sustainable Agriculture
Ajit Singh, an agronomist with Phoenix Organics, will discuss how integrated management of the nutrients needed for proper plant growth, along with effective crop, water, soil and land management, can sustain agriculture over the long term. The free class is Aug. 10, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Ashland Co-op Community Classroom, 195 A. St., Ashland.
Siskiyou Koi and Pond Club
The club's Aug. 10 meeting will be held at a member's home in Phoenix. For location or details, call 779-3644 or 245-9357 or go to www.siskiyoukoiclub.com. Meetings are held the second Monday of each month. The club will sponsor a tour of koi ponds Sept. 12.