Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mystery Plant, Revisited

I'm beginning to feel like I'm in some kind of garden time warp.
It's still here. And it looks exactly the same.

Last summer I posted about a strange, cool plant that had showed up in my garden.

It was a wide, flat rosette, maybe 24 inches across, with broad, crinkly leaves set with little hooks along each leaf half. I expected to see it eventually mature, send up a flower spike, show its true weedy style, or something.

No one could identify it at the time, and it's showing no new identifying characteristics to help me out now.

Same lush, hooked and amazingly green leaves.

Same flat, unrevealing center rosette of new leaves.

Aside from a little winter wear-and-tear, exactly the way it looked in mid-July.

Maybe it's a biennial and spring will produce some different growth that will help me decide whether to keep it or haul it out. But for now I keep wondering ... just what IS this plant?

Monday, January 24, 2011

More MG goodness

Two Fridays ago, our OSU Master Gardener units were on soils, compost and fertilizers. As I have in each unit presented, I learned an unbelievable amount about components, properties, benefits, problems and ways they can be addressed. The sessions were taught by Claudia Groth, (a.k.a. Doctor Dirt on KEX radio), a Master Gardener and a consultant to the horticulture industry. She was dynamic, humorous and a wealth of information (Did you know there was an Oregon State Soil? It's Jory, and it's found in the foothills around the Willamette Valley.)

Claudia brought examples of many soil components and amendments to share. She talked about soil biology, the relatively new field of soil microbes and the way microbes work to nourish plants and fight pathogens.

I always knew I shouldn't walk on wet garden beds, but now I really understand what happens when soil is compacted. I learned how soils hold water, about soil pH, and what loam really is.

In the fertilizer unit, Claudia taught us how they work, the differences between organic and synthetic fertilizers, and why you might want to use one vs. the other. She taught us to read and understand fertilizer labels, application instructions, and explained what agencies regulate fertilizer ingredients. True to form, I took seven pages of notes to supplement the day's PowerPoint handouts.

This could all be tedious, difficult stuff to absorb, but with instructors of the caliber of Claudia Groth in the MG program, each unit becomes accessible and fascinating. I'm loving my Science Fridays!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Popweed be gone

My garden nemesis.
They drift in from my neighbor's garden ... I must have pulled up 687 of them today.

Addendum: Thanks to Grace of Gardening with Grace for her ID of this as Little Bitter Cress (Cardamine oligosperma.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Master Gardener classes begin

Wow! A room full of 80 passionate gardeners! I'm pumped, yet slightly sobered by what I've taken on.

Yesterday, I attended the first in my series of eleven OSU Master Gardener classes. I've been looking forward to this for years, and it didn't disappoint: I took eleven pages of notes.

And just look at the vast binder of reading assignments provided.

They even gave us a snazzy zippered tote bag in Gardener Green to carry the notebook.

I love botanical nomenclature, but science is not my strong suite. So after sitting through the Botany for Gardeners unit, I began to realize this would be work - fascinating, of course, but definitely work. With class only once a week, I'll have time to read the chapters ahead, listen to the presenter, then review again after class. After all, I want to get the maximum value from this experience.

Time to hit the books!