We are so lucky to live in an area that gives us four distinct seasons, and we as gardeners love the current one so much.
We embrace the colors, the coolness and the fragrance of so much being harvested in our Valley, including apples, mint and hops.
We hope we get typical fall weather this year after the shock of those very low temps and bitter winds at the end of September. Our Valley often has an early frost; we hope you covered your tomatoes and peppers, and that October will be lovely.
We Master Gardeners have seasons as well. We take care of two gardens, our demonstration garden at the Ahtanum Youth Park and our Heirloom Garden by the greenhouse. Like the fall chores you face, we face the same. At the demo garden, we do not do so much cleanup, but leave spent perennial seed heads for the birds. We do the major part of pruning in the spring to encourage more dense shrubs for birds to take cover. We are registered with the state as part of the backyard habitat program, so we try to help birds get through winter.
We do not prune our roses nor deadhead them late in the season, which gives us the beauty of rose hips for winter interest. We have planted other things to help make the winter garden inviting.
We do plant bulbs, and you still have time to do the same. Include tulips and daffodils and be sure to look at the array of alliums available. They add so much interest in the garden.
It’s different at the Heirloom Garden. We do a lot of cleanup, spread mulch on the raised beds and make our final harvests. We donate the food to the Union Gospel Mission, but save the seeds, which we offer free to the public. We plant only open pollinated seeds. Many of them are rare, but you can get some of these seeds by attending our class to guide you; it’s held in February. Watch for details in our newspaper column.
It is also the season for our clinics to be closing shop. We staff a walk-in clinic Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Extension Office, are at the downtown farmers market all through its season, and were at the Central Washington State Fair. At all these locations you can get help on any garden question, from how-tos to “What is happening to my tomatoes?” to “What is this insect I found on my corn?” We have brochures that we bring to each of the sites. If you missed us this year, make sure to find us next growing season.
Although we are not at the extension office after Oct. 31, you can still get an answer year-round from us. We have dedicated volunteers who check for messages and will call you back. Just call 509-574-1604.
Though this season signals the end of much of the outdoor gardening that we do, it is the beginning of other venues where we continue our mission. Our youth department takes part in many activities throughout the year, but we also have programs at many area schools, so when school starts, we, too, start teaching children gardening practices.
Another very important venue starting for us is our greenhouse. We will soon be doing some cuttings and seeding for next year’s plant sale. This is a great spot for us to learn and also to teach new trainees who are taking our classes.
This time of the year also reminds us to invite you to become a part of our gardening family. Phone 509-574-1604, email firstname.lastname@example.org or download an application and information sheet from our website at http://tinyurl.com/yakimamg.
• WSU Extension Master Gardener Program is an organization of trained volunteers dedicated to horticulture and community service. The Master Gardener Walk-In Diagnostic Clinic operates from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Direct questions about gardening, landscaping or this program to the Master Gardener Clinic at 509-574-1604, or leave samples for identification at the WSU Extension office. Leave a message with your name, phone number, email address and the nature of your problem or question. You can also email your questions to email@example.com and include pictures if you have them. A member of the Master Gardener Clinic team will check voicemails and emails, and reply as soon as possible. The WSU Extension office is at 2403 S. 18th St., Suite 100, in Union Gap. Call 509-574-1600. New volunteers are welcome.