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Questions about food preservation? OSU Extension Service Has Answers

Are you planning to save food from your garden or bought from the farm this summer? If so, call or visit the OSU Extension Service office before starting canning, freezing, or drying.

Costly and potentially dangerous mistakes can be made using outdated recipes and canning instructions. You can find free publications and pressure gauge tests (available 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Mondays and Wednesdays) at the Columbia County Extension office located at 505 N. Columbia River Highway in St. Helens. If you have any questions, call the office at 503-397-3462. You can download all of our food preservation publications free of charge at A great additional resource is the National Center for Home Food Preservation at

The OSU Statewide Food Preservation Hotline (1-800-354-7319) is open Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. starting on the 13 July and ends October 11.

Garden and landscape themes

Slugs hide when it’s hot.

They pile up in cracks in the ground or under planks or rocks. But with cooler weather in the forecast for a week or two, they may resume foraging (and mating.) Get up at night with a flashlight and be ready to bait or chop if they do. threaten your tender crops or your peace of mind. The slugs that we have in our gardens are not native to this continent but came with the European colonization of North America.

Tomatoes have blossom end rot this time of year. It appears as a blackened and leathery spot on the bottom of the fruit. It is not a disease (at least initially) but rather the death of the skin and fruit cells in this part of the fruit. The reason they die is that they lack calcium.

Calcium shortage can be reduced by liming your soils once every three years with agricultural lime at the rate of about 10 pounds per 100 square feet. It should be worked into the ground in the fall (better) or spring before planting. But that’s not the whole story. Calcium is collected in plants by the roots. Once in plants, it is derived to fruits (your tomatoes) or tomato sprouts. The shoots win the competition for calcium if it is scarce. Your fruits are short and show symptoms of blossom end rot. Proper pruning of shoots can reduce competition, but don’t prune too many shoots or you won’t have leaves to make sugars for making tomatoes. It’s complicated isn’t it?

To stretch your brain further, if you water too sporadically and your soil becomes quite dry before watering again, when the roots start to take in water again, they pick up a lot of minerals but, at first, not much calcium. It is a fairly difficult mineral for the roots to capture. Even watering throughout the growing season can prevent the interruption of calcium flow and thus reduce blossom end rot. Some varieties are more prone to blossom end rot than others. The first harvest of San Marzano tomatoes often has a BER, but subsequent harvests do not.

In summary, to reduce blossom end rot:

  • Lime every three years
  • Water evenly
  • Prune excess shoots to reduce competition for calcium
  • Note which varieties are more prone to the problem in your garden from year to year

Fall and winter vegetables should be planted this month or mid-August. Good candidates are leeks (if planted right away), snow peas, kale, Swiss chard, lettuce in planting waves, similarly radishes, spinach and overwintering onions. .

OSU Master Gardeners ™ demonstration garden at Columbia County Fair

The Columbia County Fair begins Wednesday July 14 and ends Sunday July 18. For 33 years, participants in the

The Master Gardener program managed a demonstration garden on the exhibition grounds. This year is no exception. Flower beds, fruit areas, pollinator displays, and other special areas like shade and succulent beds are wonderful. This has been a challenge with the heat and pandemic restrictions until recently. As always, there will be Master Gardeners to answer your questions or guide you in various areas. Plan to take a trip to the fair this year and stop by the garden. It will be well worth your time.

Plant an extra row for the food bank, senior centers, or community meal programs. Cash donations to purchase food are also greatly 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 allotment garden and / or the farm, please contact Chip Bubl, University of Oregon St. Helens Extension Office at 503 397 -3462 or at The office is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and will be fully open in August.

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 need to do is request it and it will be sent to you by mail or email. 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 St. Helens, OR 97051

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