Soil and water

Garden plots: After the snowstorm | News

The Oregon State University – Columbia County Extension Service can be reached by calling 503-397-3462.

The snow last week really shook the trees. It’s scary to think of what would have happened if the wind had hit when the trees were covered in all that semi-frozen snow.

Small overturned trees (less than 20 feet in height) can sometimes be saved. First, remove the soil from the uprooted side so that the root mass can fit into the hole. Straighten the tree using electrical equipment, a winch or a “go along” being careful not to break any additional roots. Do not tie your cable directly to your truck – you can fold the frame !! Protect the bark where the cables are attached. Tie the guy lines one-third of the way up the tree. Firm the surrounding soil and water as needed.

Any damaged branches or branches must be pruned. In many cases, you may want to remove the limbs opposite the damaged limbs both for aesthetics and to maintain a good center of gravity.

When pruning, do not cut completely flush with the trunk but rather cut just outside the neck of the branch.

Shafts that have split can sometimes be wired or bolted together. I wouldn’t do this for a marginal tree. But if you had one of great landscaping value and it looked like it had a pretty neat break, it may be worth considering. There are several trees around town that underwent this treatment about 35 years ago and are doing very well now.

Sunk trees can be cut down for firewood.

Build a cold frame this month

Cold frames can do a lot of the greenhouse work at a fraction of the cost. A cold frame is a four-sided structure, lower in the front, with a clear glass or plastic coating on top. The top can be opened or lowered according to temperature changes.

Cold frames are best used for starting seeds and growing small grafts. They are less useful for growing taller plants, unless they are large structures.

Cold requirement satisfied, some buds swell

You will soon notice how many woody plants are showing signs of active bud swelling. We had enough cold to meet their cold needs (a time of exposure to temperatures below 42 °). With warmer weather (55 ° +), they might be really excited to grow taller. Then, if we get a severe cold snap (15 ° or less), there could be a lot of plants in trouble. There is not much we can do about it.

As a reminder, winter is not over. Plants in pots are less hardy than plants in the ground. Protect them with blankets or a place in an unheated garage until the super cold weather passes.

Root pruning of indoor plants

Most houseplants evolved in the rainforest understory and therefore can withstand the lower light intensities of a house. And many of these plants can survive for years without repotting. We have several clivias that thrive in pots. But if you have a plant that seems determined to exceed its pot and / or its assigned place in the indoor landscape, judicious root and stem pruning may be necessary. The two best times to prune are in the fall (well, we missed it) or late winter (say March).

The process is straightforward. Slide the root ball out of the pot. Then, using a sharp knife, remove about 15% (in width) of the roots on the sides and bottom. You may also want to remove some of the larger circular roots. Loosen the remaining roots as best you can. Then, after adding the new potting soil to the pot, return the plant to the pot and water. Thinning the foliage can reduce the size of the plant if necessary. Start watering with diluted fertilizer for the next month.

The OSU extension office is fully reopened. Masks are always mandatory indoors.

Donate products and / or money to the food bank, senior centers, or community meal programs. It’s very appreciated.

The Extension Service offers its programs and materials equally to everyone.

If you have any questions on any of these topics or other questions about the home garden and / or the farm, please contact Chip Bubl, Oregon State University Extension Office in St. Helens at 503-397- 3462 or at [email protected] The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

The Oregon State University Extension Office in Columbia County publishes a monthly newsletter on gardening and farming topics (called County Living) written / edited by yours truly. All you have to do is request it and it will be mailed or emailed to you. Dial 503-397-3462 to be added to the list. You can also find it on the web at and click on newsletters.

Numerous popularization publications available online

Are you putting on salsa, saving seeds, or thinking about planting grapes? OSU has many of its publications available for free download. Just go to Click on the posts and start exploring.

Oregon State University Extension Service – Columbia County

505 N. Columbia River Highway