Spring weather in the Willamette Valley is unpredictable. It can be warm enough to fool you into planting tomato starts in the morning and cold enough for snow by the afternoon. A well placed garden cloche can be the difference between life and death for tender transplants. Even people with the good fortune to have their own greenhouse can benefit from cloches.
Gardening in the city requires some ingenuity. Space is at a minimum. Potato Towers are easy to build garden beds that can house baking potatoes, new potatoes, sweet potatoes, or yams. The taller your potato tower is, the more tubers you can grow.
November and December are the time to gather organic slug and snail deterrent for next summer's garden. Autumn winds will have rattled the sweetgum trees and loosened their spiky seed pods to the ground. Homeowners are obliged to rake them up from walkways and lawns as they can trip up pedestrians. Why not save them to protect tender seedlings? Sweetgum trees are native to the southeastern states but are planted in Oregon as an ornamental landscape tree. The lovely five-pointed leaves turn red, orange, and burgundy in autumn. The seed pods, given unpleasant names such as "ankle turners" and "porcupine eggs," are problems for landowners. They cause lumps in the lawn as they don't decay quickly. These troublesome sticklers are treasures for organic gardens.
Preparing new beds for spring planting is a lot of work on your own. Chickens are great helpers in the garden if you let them. Their little feet are built in rakes for clotted soil. The beds I didn't let the chickens work last year were plagued by cutworms and cabbage moths, but the chicken-tended ones were pest-free. Chickens close the loop in our artificial gardening cycle. They make organic gardening much easier since they eliminate the bugs that are vectors for plant diseases.
Deer are graceful creatures to observe in natural settings. The romance wears off when you see the damage they've raked through your flower beds. As human habitation spreads more thickly, the deer's natural predators are being forced out, leaving our vegetarian garden predators in paradise--no enemies and plenty of well tended delicacies lovingly arranged for optimum dining. Deer particularly appreciate expensive, pampered plants like roses, turning the joys of gardening into an unpleasant war for the gardener.
Oregon Grape offers an array of health benefits to the wise gardener. Those who aren't interested in harvesting the root still love Oregon grape for it's durability and drought tolerance. The first step in using Oregon Grape wisely is to…