A Great Open House

I know this newsletter is about what’s ABOUT to happen at the Demonstration Garden, but I’ve got to say that some of you missed a great open house a week ago. It was designed for folks who had never been to the Demo Garden, or felt they could use a better understanding of what we do and how we do it. Everyone I’ve talked to said it worked a treat! On top of that we had a huge group of folks helping with the work for a good hour. It is amazing how much can be done with a crew of 25+ folks in each garden!

The next event worth note at the Demo Garden will be a pair of workshops on Propagation. Attendees will learn how to make more of their favorite plants without visiting (and paying) a nursery. Last I heard the slots were full, but there was no one on the waiting list. If you’re an MG and interested, check with the Master Gardener program office about getting on the waiting list.

The many raised beds at both gardens are being planted every work day (Monday and Thursday mornings), but there will be a major planting right after the Incredible Edible sale on May 11th. We buy many of our starts from there - good quality plants at good prices! That will fit well with our 1st Saturday workday on May 18th, the usual 9am-noon. Its a chance for those of you with that nasty work habit to come out and play. We’ll be open every third Saturday through the rest of the season. If it works out well (translation: if folks show up!), we may do two Saturdays a month next year.

We’ve got another gig planned on July 20th. Mt. Scott Fuel is celebrating 100 years in business, and asked us to (wo)man a booth there. We’ll probably do a clinic as MGs do at Farmers Markets - come stump the MGs with your gardening questions. I’m not sure what all they have planned, but you might want to stop by.

Finally, I wanted you all to know that we’ve discovered a use for Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus). First you cut them down! Then you wait. The following spring, you may be surprised!

Cropped ailanthus w shrooms.jpg

Learn about the Demo Garden

DG sign at gate.jpg

An opportunity is coming for those of you who are wondering about the Demonstration Garden, but haven’t visited. On Saturday, April 6th, there will be an Open House, or maybe an "Orientation and Hands-On Project Day" at the Demo Garden. It starts at 10am, with introductions and tours, at 11am you’ll be able to do a little work and, if your an MG, count this as a “Chapter Event”, and after that is a free lunch! Yeah, we’re trying to draw you in, but only because we think it’s a great place to garden and make friends. You know I wouldn’t lie to you! If you think you’ll come, send and email to 6895.bennett@gmail.com so we’ll know how many lunches to prepare, then show up at 6801 SE 60th Avenue at 10am, April 6th.

There are “issues” with having two gardens, even if only a 5 minute walk apart. The wagon, when needed, always seems to be at the other garden. Likewise the broadfork, the weed whip, and other tools. The hoop house, for hardening off seedlings, is not exactly satisfying, and is only at the original garden. We’re considering buying a couple micro greenhouses (cloth over a metal frame) to put beside the Annex shed for storing plants until ready for the ground. Come by and help assemble a test unit loaned by an MG, and cast your vote for its usefulness.

Discussions are beginning regarding signage for the Annex. When we designed the sign for the original garden, it only took 2 or 3 years, or maybe it only seemed that long. Lots of opinions. Send your thoughts to DemoGardenNews@gmail.com to keep the conversation going! We’ve put up an existing banner as a temporary sign (see below)

Finally Down to Real Gardening!

Alright, we’ve fooled around in the cold and the snow for a month of Thursdays, but now it’s time to get down to real gardening! First, though, a problem: We have a visitor in the old greenhouse, and s/he is destroying our seedlings. Probably a rat, but thus far only seen as the result of damage done. This Monday, some of us are going to postpone getting our fingers in the dirt to build some hardware cloth covers to go over the seedling trays. This will require cutting and assembling PVC frames, and using zip ties to attach hardware cloth to them. Help is requested!

Once we are past the emergency, we need to start getting the many raised beds (40 between the two gardens!) ready for planting. For some it just means removing the burlap bags (and their weights). For others with a cover crop, it means turning the crop under so it can decay a bit before planting time.

In the Annex, we still have some hardscape to complete. The paths at the East end need finishing, and the newly build raised beds need weed cloth covered with fir chips between them to smother the weeds and improve their appearance. Many of the perennial beds will need planting for the first time - a big job needing a crew of helpers.

From now through October, we’ll be working both Mondays and Thursdays from 9am until noon. In addition, we’re going to be working on the 3rd Saturday of every month starting May 18th and running through October. Hopefully some of you with weekday obligations (hmmm. work?) can join us then. Also, if you’re a new gardener to the Demonstration Garden, we’re having an open house on April 6th.  Show up (6801 SE 60th Ave) at 10am. We’ll spend an hour introducing you to what we do, an hour getting some real work done, and then we’ll feed you! A couple hours of partner time and free food! How bad can that be?

Spring 2019 Is Coming!

Just wanted to let everyone know that we will start the new year in the Demo Garden and Annex on Monday, February 4, from 9am to about noon.  There are seedlings to sow, seed tapes to make, and newspaper pots to make in the greenhouse as well as paths to work on in the Annex, blueberries to prune and beds to weed and mulch at the original DG.  The demonstration garden crew will be planting seeds (indoors, in greenhouse 5) to start veggies for our gardens and to start flowers for sale at the Incredible Edible sale in May. A few of us will venture outdoors to continue the work at the new, one acre garden known as the Annex.

Between the two gardens we have 40 raised beds! In addition, there are about a dozen perennial beds at the Annex, many of which will be planted this spring for the first time. The hardscape of the Annex is nearly complete, but there are a number of tasks remaining. 

We heard a rumor that the weatherman is predicting possible snow for Monday, but we're going to pretend he didn’t say that.  Unless the roads are really treacherous and we can’t get out at all, we’ll be there by 9am.  Hope you can make it too.  These garden spaces belong to everyone in the Chapter and they are definitely worth a big smile of pride. Do come and join us.  It's worth the trip just to see all the progress that has been made in the Annex.  The garden address is 6801 SE 60th Avenue.  Access to the Annex is through the gate across from 6615 SE 57th Avenue.  Just park on the street on 57th.  

            The Demo Garden Crew

Fixing the path borders at the Annex

The recycled plastic board we used as borders for the major Annex paths has worked well, but it was difficult to make smooth curves before the gravel was on the inside and more dirt on the outside. With the paths now complete and compacted, there are many places where the paths bow outward. The fix is easy, and is illustrated below.

The first image shows a bow on the left side of the path. Not exactly pretty. The first thing we do, if necessary, is to put soil on the outside of the path at that point.

The next step is to use a narrow blade (here a pry bar), push it into the ground against the border on the outside, and pry the border into alignment. With a long handled tool this is an easy operation. While holding the border in its new position, step firmly on the newly placed soil dot compact it against the border in this new location.

The result may not be perfect, but it is a considerable improvement! When you’re at the Annex, have a try at fixing a few wobbles. It is easy work, and amazingly satisfying!

Food Glorious Food!

The demo garden is cranking out food! We’ve made deliveries to Loaves and Fishes twice weekly for several weeks already this spring. We can use help on our regular Monday and Thursday work mornings to harvest this food, and to continue to weed and feed the other plants coming along. Volunteer for a few hours if you can.

With the help of Jennifer’s husband Merrill, who the Awards committee should make an Honorary MG, we’ve got our rototiller fixed, a couple weed whackers running, and are close to having a riding lawn mower available for the demo garden. Now we just have to find a volunteer willing to sit in the seat and steer! Anybody think they can handle that?

Trees are nice, unless they are shading your vegies!

There are a number of large trees at the new Annex, and they do cast a shadow. We were interested in just where those shadows were. Our little project starts from the premise that most vegies can be successful with 8 hours of sun for four months. Some need a little less. We figured that the shadows on April 21st - two months before the summer solstice - would only get shorter until June 21st, then lengthen to the same spot on August 21st, four months later.

If we could map how the shadows moved on April 21st (approximately), we could say that the sections that had eight hours of sun then, would definitely have it for all four months (baring rain). We started Friday, April 20th, at 9am, and got a great shot of the garden (above). As you can see, the two largest areas planned for raised beds are in full sun, but the central planting area is in shadow.

Alas the sky clouded over by afternoon, but later shots will give us a good approximation for the sun’s path. It appears the area where we plan the major two rows of raised beds will get plenty of sun. The middle section, just west of the outdoor classroom, will get 7 hours for about one month, and 8 hours for the other three months. We have yet to work out the approximate times for the various perennial beds.


Working at the Demo Garden is getting easier. My hands aren’t quite so cold. Some days I don’t even get wet! The soil temperature crossed an important threshold, which has allowed planting out of starts in their final growing space. Any Monday or Thursday morning for the next few weeks, please consider joining our effort to get these plants in the ground.


Interested in Saturday work?

If you’d like to work on a Saturday morning, 9am-noon, send an email to DemoGardenNews@gmail.com by Thursday noon and we’ll find an Annex Guru to open the gates and suggest tasks that need doing.  We have to admit some worries over this. In past years we’ve heard request for Saturday hours, but when we opened the garden, very few (sometimes zero) people came. The difference this time is that someone needs to request a specific Saturday. If its requested and we have a guru, we’ll send a note via the DemoGardenNews listserv.  The power of the internet at work!

You may have noticed that the weather has been chilly. When the seedlings we plant in the greenhouse are chilly, they refuse to grow. This really plays havoc with our schedules. Over the next few workdays, we hope many of these seedlings will be ready to transplant to larger pots, and in some cases, those already in larger pots will be ready to go out in the garden. We’ve had a couple warm days, and are hoping for more. The soil temperature has to be right, or the transplanted seedlings will just sit there and rot. We want those plants in the ground! Come on, sun!

2018 work begins in the Demo Garden

This next week marks the start of Monday and Thursday workdays at the Demo Garden. We’ll be working our usual 9am until noon, and hope you’ll join us when you have time. We are working to improve the way we welcome new folks, so test us out! We’re getting the beds ready for planting now (mixing in new compost, reinstalling the irrigation lines, setting up trellises where needed), and indoors we continue to plant new seeds and care for those coming along nicely.

A reminder that our first “class” offered at the Annex will be on Building Raised Beds, offered Saturday, March 10th from 10am until noon. The current weather report (I know, a long way off) is for 57 degrees and cloudy, and about the same for the day before and after. Hoping… If you’d like to come, send a note to DemoGardenNews@gmail.com - its open to the public.

The work begins

Are you considering building raised beds for your garden? Could you use a few tips on construction? The Demo Garden will hold a hands-on class on building raised beds Saturday, March 10th, from 10am until noon. We’ll concentrate on wooden beds, but will talk about other techniques as well. As part of the process, we’ll build the first few raised beds for the new Annex garden. Use the 57th or 58th Avenue entrances, or the original entrance at 6801 SE 60th (a longer walk back to the Annex). Gloves might be handy, but otherwise just bring your hands and your brain. The general public is welcome. Send a note to DemoGardenNews@gmail.com if you plan to come.

Work in the original garden continues. By next Monday, some of the seedlings will probably be ready to be moved into larger pots, and there are more new seeds to be started. We’ll be putting up trellises, cleaning up beds, and soon there will be actual plants in the ground!

Things are still looking good for moving our new greenhouse from Vancouver to the Annex in April. There are still a few hurdles to jump through with the city permit folks, and as part of that process, we really need a structural engineer. If you are one, or know one, especially one who owes you a favor, you could earn many pats on the back from your fellow Master Gardener friends!

The Demonstration Garden Awakens!

After what seems only like a short nap, volunteers will be at the demo garden again next Monday morning, and every Monday morning after until next November. Starting in March, we’ll be there on Thursday mornings as well. There is lots to do - maybe this is your season to join the crew.

On Monday, February 5th, we’ll be working in the greenhouse, building seed pots, filling them with Seedling Mix, and planting a variety of vegie seeds. Lettuce,  collards, chard, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, dill, kale, and scallions will be planted, and that’s just the first day!

Bed Designers have their schedules submitted so that the Master Schedule will be ready at that time.  The seed coordinator has seed requests and will be purchase seeds we need before that date.  Progress continues on the Annex.  Plants have been ordered from one of the SWCDs.  Pete is still working on the commitment from the nursing home to donate the greenhouse they own to the Annex.  Some of the Demo Garden regulars will conduct one of the Trainee Workshops on Propagation on Tuesday, April 17 from 10am-3pm. 

The next week we’ll build more newspaper pots, plant more seeds, put up trellises and the hoop house. We’ll concentrate on the main garden for a few workdays, partly to make sure it is started well, and partly because the Annex is still a bit muddy. Soon, however, construction work on paths and then raised beds will start at the Annex, as well ask tasks supporting the perennial bed designers.

If you’re interested in learning to build rugged, long-lasting wooden raised beds, watch DemoGardenNews for an announcement of a hands-on class where you can learn the simple techniques that make these nice beds so popular.


Winter is for Planning

The Demonstration Garden finally gets a rest. The garden right off 60th avenue, which we’ve worked in for many years (2008?) has been asleep since early November, but some dedicated (foolhardy?) folks kept working in the new Annex until mid-December. Finally we’ve given it a rest as well.

Believe it or not - and probably a lot of volunteers would vote “not” - our first planning meeting for the new year is only weeks away on January 18th. If you’d like to get in on the ground floor (no basement available) of planning for the new year, come to the Woodstock Wine and Deli at noon that day. If you’re not on the planning listserv (DemoGardenPlanning), send a note to DemoGardenNews@gmail.com, asking to be added. Actual work at the garden will probably start at the beginning of February with the planting of seeds in the greenhouse for later transplanting when the outdoor soil warms.

Two of the beds, M & N, at the original garden will be allowed to go fallow this year. The year before last we discovered Symphylans in those beds. We attempted to grow potatoes in the beds last year, but did not have a very good crop. Our research indicated potatoes were the least affected of the vegies we usually grow, but no one is excited about trying to get a crop from those beds this year.

Have a great winter break

Today we said good night to the garden for the Winter.  This was the last scheduled work day until we start planning again in January. All the bed are covered either with mulch or cover crops and they are ready for our cooler temperatures.

We have a final wrap up meeting at the Woodstock Wine and Deli on November 16th, at 12:30. Bed designers will give an overview of what they had hoped to accomplish in their beds and whether they met their goals. 

Come join us, it is always fun and informative.  The Deli is located at 4030 SE Woodstock.

Gloria Bennett, Garden Guru, 10/06/17

Winter Prep

Hi Demo Garden followers,

Monday was a very busy day at the garden.  We had a total crew of 15 MGs and 2 guests who decided they really wanted to know what the Demo Garden was all about.  Another group of gardeners in the original garden area finished up the winterizing of beds, and continued the daunting task of putting the greenhouse and shed in order for the winter.  Do you know just how filthy a refrigerator can get over the course of a season?

Work at the Demo Garden is winding down for the year.  It’s been a very productive year with our total harvest reaching 2116 pounds of which 2036 pounds was donated to local food banks.  Master Gardeners donated 289 pounds from their own gardens to add to that total.  At least 68 MGs have volunteered over 2668 hours of their time to make this possible.  We had 133 visitors, including a wonderful class of kids from an alternative high school who had a great time learning about the garden and harvesting produce to make a yummy salsa for an afternoon treat.

Monday, November 6 will be our last day in the garden for 2017.  We’ll start up again in February and hope to see you then.

Happy gardening,
Heidi Nichols for Gloria Bennett, guru for Monday, October 30, 2017

A beautiful day in the garden

Thursday turned out to be another beautiful, sunny fall day. As the temperature rose from a bit chilly to pleasantly warm, 18 gardeners (17 MGs and one visitor) accomplished many tasks in the Demo Garden, greenhouse, and Annex. For our donation to Meals on Wheels, ripened tomatoes harvested and weighed earlier and a generous donation of parsnips supplemented our tiny one-pound harvest of figs, beets and sage.

 Gardeners continued winterizing beds with leaves and burlap and sowed more Austrian peas and Morida oats in bare spots in beds with cover crops. Most beds now are winterized. Gardeners continued cleaning and organizing the shed and locker, inventorying seeds, washing watering cans and pots, and pulling weeds.

Special note to Fred Meyer shoppers:

For those MGs who have a Fred Meyer Rewards card that is linked to Multnomah County Master Gardeners, please check to be sure the link is still in force. Some time ago, Fred Meyer cleared all its links and asked people to re-enroll. If you didn't do this, your purchases may no longer be benefitting the chapter. To check, please go to https://www.fredmeyer.com/topic/community-rewards-4 . In the section headed 'Are you a Fred Meyer Customer?' there is a link that says 'Re-enroll or link your rewards card now.'  Click on this link and follow the directions for linking your card. The number for Multnomah County Master Gardeners is 89982. If you don't currently have a FM Rewards card, please consider getting one. Linking your card to the Chapter does not in any way affect the other benefits you receive from having it. Many thanks for sharing with the Chapter.

Monday, November 6, will be our last official work day in the demo garden this year. On November 16 we will have our annual end-of-gardening-season gathering at the Deli to re-cap the season, share what we've learned, and celebrate our successes.

Come join our final work days to help the Annex take shape and put the Demo Garden to bed, Oct. 30, Nov. 2, and Nov. 6, from 9:00 until about noon, 6801 SE 60th Avenue, Portland, across from Brentwood Park.


June Davidek, garden guru for October 26, 2017


A Soggy Day


Wow!  What a gorgeous day at the garden.  After such a soggy weekend, 11 MGs came out to enjoy the sunshine.  Since we had only a tiny harvest, we saved it to deliver on Thursday.  Almost all the beds in the original Demo Garden are ready for winter.  A group of MGs got Bed L ready for sowing a cover crop by removing the top layer of soil which has had a perpetual moss cover all season, adding lime and ‘Stinky Bull’ (composted dairy manure.)  Then they sowed both Austrian peas and crimson clover and covered the bed with row cover to help keep our friendly crows from eating all the seeds.  We’re waiting for a load of leaves with which we can mulch the remaining beds.

The cane berries were pruned during a rather soggy, but very effective pruning class on Saturday, October 21.  


A very nice pair of secateurs turned up during the cane berry pruning on Saturday.    If these belong to you, please come get them.  Otherwise, we will happily add them to the collection of Demo Garden tools.


Enjoy this week of lovely weather.

Hardy Souls

So first we cancelled, then we un-cancelled.  In spite of all the confusion, 12 MGs showed up and had a productive morning at the garden.  The weather was the pits complete with thunder and lightning, but we kept ourselves busy conferring about the next steps in the Annex and beginning indoor clean-up for winter.  Not much produce was harvested, but we cleaned the glue off the metal plant labels, began an inventory of our seed stock and generally tidied things up.  We have a couple of beds in which to sow cover crops on Monday and continuing clean-up in the greenhouse.  Do join us if you have the time.  We welcome all volunteers.

A Mystery Solved

Work report for 10/16/17

Eighteen Master Gardeners worked in the garden and the Annex today.  We were taking advantage of this warm sunny weather while it lasts. Harvest is winding down and we are concentrating on clean up and getting all the beds ready for winter.  There are a variety of methods being used to winterize, including leaf mulch, burlap bags, cover crops and bark mulch. If you would like to take a look, come by, we would love to show off all our hard work.

One discovery today were two mystery pods attached to the raised bed boards under the alyssum and oregano.  I am attaching two pictures. If you have an idea of what these are, let us know.  One of our Master Gardeners will be taking it to Interest Group so we will let you know what we find out.

We have some master insect identifiers out there. Linda Trujillo, Sally Campbell,   Xuan Sibell and David Oberstein all identified the mystery pods as praying mantis egg sacks.  Thank your response and your expertise. ~ Gloria

We have some master insect identifiers out there. Linda Trujillo, Sally Campbell, Xuan Sibell and David Oberstein all identified the mystery pods as praying mantis egg sacks.  Thank your response and your expertise. ~ Gloria