Winter Sowing

I recently learned about winter sowing from one of our Advanced Master Gardener volunteers, Ann. It’s a method of seeding cool season crops out of doors in recycled milk jug “greenhouses” and is perfect for starting those seeds that need stratification, or a period of cold temperatures, to germinate.

The supplies are simple: a clean gallon plastic jug, a knife, duct tape, potting soil, water and seeds!

Drill or punch hWinter sowing, preparationoles in the bottom of the container, then cut almost in half, leaving the handle. Fill the bottom of the container with moist potting soil, seed at the recommended depth, and then close the jug with the duct tape. Leave the cap off so rain and snow can reach the seedlings. Place outside, and wait…

What a great idea for those of us with cabin fever! Seeds can be started as early as December using this method, which can be used for perennials, cool season annuals, vegetables and herbs. Learn more about these techniques at Image

I started Monarda (Beebalm) and Echiniacea (coneflower) seeds. I’ll let you all know when they germinate!



Celebrating University of Idaho’s 125th Anniversary with Seeds


Extension offices are sharing a very special selection of free seeds celebrating the University of Idaho’s 125th anniversary and agriculture’s role in our heritage. These are intended as goodwill gifts and incentives for our citizens and friends to add produce for their meals and beauty to their gardens.

More than 3,000 individual packets have already been distributed through Idaho Master Gardener programs and other events.

In Canyon County, we’ve been giving the seeds away to our volunteers, and at several of our classes and workshops.

Here’s a bit about the seeds that are available:  Red Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata) a showy perennial that is a native wildflower. Collected near Salmon, Idaho, by University of Idaho Extension horticulturist Stephen Love, red blanket flower is being tested for home garden and commercial nursery use. Blanket flowers are hardy, drought-resistant plants up to 30-inches tall, producing showy displays from late summer to frost, attracting pollinators to your garden.

Idelight snap beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) are stringless with dark seeds. The variety resulted from a cross made in 1951 by University of Idaho researcher Leslie L. “Bill” Dean at the Bean Research Laboratory near Twin Falls.  The sturdy, upright plant bears a high yield of 5-inch long, slender pods. The plant is resistant to curly top and seed-born mosaic virus strains.

Ida Gold tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) produce large numbers of 1- to 2-inch round, smooth fruits with rich, gold color even in cool summer areas. The ultra-early variety can produce fruits in 58 days on semi-determinate plants. Ida Gold tomatoes were developed at Moscow by University of Idaho researchers Arthur A. Boe and Margaret I. Luckman and released in 1982.


Love Perennial Gardening? Join us this Saturday to learn more…

This Saturday, October 20, join me and the Master Gardener Volunteers for “Perennial Magic,” offered through the Nampa Recreation Department. Class will run from 9 am to 12 noon.

The class will be held at our Demonstration Garden-In-Progress at Westpark in Nampa. This Park is located near Midland Blvd. on Lonestar Rd.

It’s only $10 to attend, and you’ll want to bring a box or bag, because you’ll be taking home plants!

We’ll cover choosing perennial plants, planting, care and maintenance, and also discuss what plants bring which kinds of pollinators and birds to the garden!

Sign up now at

Growing great garlic!

Fall is the best time to plant garlic, so here are a few tips to help you be successful!

 ImageGarlic is propagated by planting the cloves or bulblets that make up the large bulbs. Plant the separated cloves in the fall for a large bulb; planting in the spring is possible but results in a smaller bulb. A slow release fertilizer, composted manure or compost may be added at planting. Cover cloves with 2 inches of soil and a layer of mulch, especially in areas with heavy freeze/thaw cycles. Bulbs are considered mature when the stems turn yellow or brown, usually in mid-summer. Dig them up and hang them to cure in a dry well ventilated place for a week or two. Then store in a  cool, dry, and dark place.

Just remember, however, that garlic is just one of many crops in Idaho that is under strict quarantines from the Idaho Department of Agriculture to prevent the introduction and spread of the disease White Rot!

White rot is a fungal disease of onions and related crops that occurs throughout the world. It can live in the soil for up to 30 years and is spread by water, wind, farm machinery, and infected onion plants or garlic cloves. Seeds do not carry the disease, just the growing and edible parts. The only truly successful method of control is prevention. With over 20,000 acres of commercial onions planted annually in the Snake River Valley, it’s a disease we absolutely want to avoid!

 According to Idaho rules, farmers and gardeners living in 21 quarantined counties (including Ada, Canyon, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington in Idaho, and Malheur County in Oregon) can only plant garlic bulbs or cloves that have been grown, inspected, and cleared for planting inside these same counties. That’s why we can’t order garlic from most catalogs and why we shouldn’t plant garlic produced in other parts of the state (or country).

 While you may freely order and grow onions, shallots and leeks from seed, cultivated garlic plants do not produce true seed naturally, so you are limited to bulbs produced for planting within the quarantine areas. The good news is that more Southwest Idaho growers are getting involved and producing certified stock. Look for new varieties this time of year at locally owned nurseries and farm/garden stores.

For more on Idaho quarantines that may affect home gardeners, download our free publication, Idaho Plant Quarantines and the Home Garden: Understanding the Laws

Freeze predicted tonight, October 3, for the Treasure Valley…are you ready?

Freezing temperatures are predicted for tonight. This would be the time to pick any of your tender produce, or to protect the annuals you want to keep. Plants most sensitive to frost will include basil, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, melons, and many annual flowers and bedding plants.

Cover plants with sheets, floating row cover, burlap, whatever you have that will keep the frost from settling on the leaves!

Here is a great article on season extenders from the University of Maine Extension…you have to believe that they know a thing or two about short season gardening and plant protection!

How do you know if it’s organic?

Our friends Jamie Grey, Brandon Lamb and Mike Medes have contributed to a very well done piece on choosing organic produce. Watch for a brief glimpse of Extension Educator Ariel Agenbroad, as well!

Idaho Farm to School Conference coming in July!

The first Idaho Farm to School State Conference will take place July 23-24, 2012 in Boise, Idaho. Farmers, school foodservice directors, educators and others interested in working collaboratively to bring more local foods to schools cafeterias, increase nutrition and agriculture literacy, and establish school gardens will come together in this 2 day conference to learn, share and plan.
To register, print and fill out the registration form, then mail it in with the registration fee.
Conference Forms:

Link to the page for the Idaho Farm to School Conference

Western Cherry Fruit Fly

ISDA traps confirmed that western cherry fruit fly have emerged in Gem county. As of last Friday they caught 12 flies. If your Cherries are turning Yellow control this pest before they lay their eggs in the fruit. Use Carbaryl, malathion, Spinosad, delegate, Imidan, or Asana according to label recommendations.

Pacific Northwest Pest Alert Network – – Alerts.

Where does our Canyon County Irrigation Water Come From? Find out here…

Great recent article that all of us water users should read!

Lifeblood of the Treasure Valley – Idaho Press-Tribune: Local.

Local Plant Sales are “Blooming” all over this Weekend!

Getting ready to plant your garden this coming weekend in Middleton…Marsing…Nampa…Boise…? Check out these local plant sales…proceeds go to good causes, you’ll find great plants at great prices! And please, share or post any sales you know about in your community!

The Boy Scout Troop 255 Plant Sale will be held on May 12 from 8-4 in front of the Middleton United Methodist Church, right on Highway 44 in Middleton. Master Gardener Mary will have a huge variety of vegetables, and lots of annual and perennial flowers and herbs. Contact Mary Van De Bogart, 585-2741 for more information.

The Nampa FFA Greenhouse will be open weekdays from 1 to 5 and Saturdays 10 to 1 through the month of May. It is located in the back of Columbia High School, next to the Pro Tech Building. Plant lists are available at

Notus FFA has color bowls, hanging baskets and other lovely offerings. For hours and more information call instructor Jason Tindall @ 208-989-3659

The Owyhee Garden Club will also be selling plants May 11-12, 9 am to 2 pm. Marsing High School Greenhouse, Marsing.

Ada County Master Gardeners, May 12, 10 am to 1 pm. University of Idaho Extension in Ada County, Glenwood Ave., Boise.

And don’t forget about the incredible selection of starts at all our area Farmers’ Markets, farmstands, and local garden centers and greenhouses! We are truly lucky to have such choices!