The past few years seem to be setting a challenging trend for gardeners in our region and across the country. Each year from 2013 to the present seems to be getting warmer and drier, and our state has been the unfortunate recipient of a few new invasive insects that challenge gardeners.

To understand how to successfully garden in a hotter climate with longer dry spells, often less snow pack melt recharging our rivers during summer, and troublesome pests, it is important to find educational classes from a trusted source like Oregon State University Extension. Our Extension agents and Master Gardeners are trained to keep you ahead of serious new challenges.

If you don’t have time to take our in-depth 11-week Master Gardener program, it would be helpful for you to attend our “Spring Into Gardening Seminar” held at Umpqua Community College, Wayne Crooch Hall, Saturday, Feb. 25.

The seminar is a series of gardening classes for a total fee of $30. This seminar is broken into four sections: 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., 10:30 to noon, 1 to 2:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m. During each section, you can select one of three classes offered.

Our classes will help you understand how to modify your landscape to adapt to longer, drier summers. I have helped people go from landscapes requiring a $400 two-month water bill to a more sustainable $100 two-month bill.

Xeric landscaping will teach you what plants can tolerate a minimum of water for 4 to 5 months. The traditional lawn can be modified to an attractive landscape that includes a great variety of plants that provide color and food sources for native beneficial insects and birds.

If you are set on producing more of your own fruits and vegetables and want to do it in a low input sustainable way, we have the classes to coach you. Producing healthy food starts with great soil. Creating great garden soil is something anyone can do with the right information.

Our classes will talk about the steps needed to produce and maintain productive soil. You will hear about cover crops, biochar, soil tests, nutrient management, soil additives and if or when you should till your soil. Worm and regular composting will also be discussed as part of great soil fertility program.

If you struggle to control insect pests in your vegetable or fruit crops, we will help you understand what low-input programs work for controlling the new invasive pests, and what doesn’t. You may be thinking that you don’t have a large yard and really don’t need to understand these issues of high water use, building great soil and invasive insect pests. We want to help educate container gardeners, too.

We will have a class that will teach you how to make hypertufa troughs (lightweight cement). These containers hold up for years, look great and are light and easy to move around your deck or porch. We’ll also talk about small space gardening in all kinds of containers. How to create beautiful flower containers or fresh food in a limited space.

This is our second year for including a series of classes on food preservation brought to you by the OSU Master Food Preservers. They will be teaching introduction to canning, dehydrating, fermenting foods and food storage for emergencies.

There will be one food preservation class in each of the four class sections. Bring your food preservation questions to understand the safest way to preserve your fresh produce and learn the best way to preserve food quality, flavor and nutrition.

For complete details, check the web page at (Scroll down page to Upcoming Events and find the date.) Or, visit the OSU Extension office to register for this program and make your class selections. Registrations are due by Feb. 23.

Steve Renquist is the Horticulture Extension Agent for OSU Extension Service of Douglas County. Steve can be reached by e-mail at

or phone at 541-672-4461.

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Another article that is helpful and informative. Way to go NR.

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