Anne Jaeger Column
No more bells to answer….
Who you gonna call? That was the old ghost busters call to arms, but it could just as easily apply to callers looking for answers to perplexing gardening questions, too. In May, the Master Gardener Volunteer Hotline in Multnomah County will be silent. And due to the difficult cuts the county is forced to make it may not be coming back. Many people might find that understandable, but the Master Gardener’s are not quite ready to hang it up yet. Volunteers have answered thousands, er, millions of your questions and hope to continue doing so. Everyone involved wants to see the program continue. But without money, there’s no office, no phones or phone lines for volunteers to do their jobs. Most of the programs success can be traced back to Ray and Jan McNeilan. With 40 years of experience between them, Ray and Jan have taught solid research based gardening practices to zillions of people. Jan spearheaded tonight’s fundraiser as a grass roots effort to keep parts of the program online. And you don’t have to be a Master Gardener to enjoy the festivities. Over the years, the MG’s (short for Master Gardener’s) have answered questions on the spot and didn’t even snicker when the queries came out alittle differently than you intended. For example, let’s peruse the call log and take a listen to the actual phone calls taken by volunteers, courtesy of Jan McNeilan, OSU Consumer Horticulture Agent. Keep in mind, some of these questions might seem funny to you, but “who you gonna call” to get impartial answers, huh?
“Is it too late to prune my roses?”
“No, but it is best to do it soon…pruning needs to be done during the dormant season.”
“Should I prune if the plant is already sprouting new leaves?”
“Yes, just cut them down…and the plant will generate new wood for blooms.”
“Can I plant a lawn now?”
“No, wait until late March or April.”
“What seed can I use for a lawn in the shade?”
“No seed mix will work if the lawn is really in the shade ALL day. If the area gets
some sun during the day, you might try a combination of fine fescue (60%) and
perennial rye (30%).
“Is there any way to keep frogs from croaking in a pond?”
“No, there’s no (humane) way to stop them”(Mating frogs can be pretty loud in
“What do I do about the bugs inside my house (black bugs with red outlines on back)?”
The first warm days bring out the Box-elder bugs, en masse. It doesn’t do much
damage to Box-elder, Maple or Ash trees, but it is a nuisance when they get inside your
home. “The best answer is: Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum and caulk any openings the bugs
use to get inside.”
Alright, so these answers aren’t going to solve world hunger or stop war, but they are earnest questions from home gardeners trying to do the right thing. Quite simply, the Master Gardener program statewide is a wonderful community service for those of us who believe gardening makes the world a better place.