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Gardening Answers

Do you have a gardening question that is not listed here? Send an email to Or, Master Gardeners can help!

If you are in Oregon visit this Ask Master Gardeners page.

If you are outside of Oregon, contact your local Extension office, or you can submit your question online.

Winter Garden Tips

Blog Promo Winter Garden Tips

Winter Garden Tips

Winter is the perfect time to bring the garden indoors! Grow herbs like cilantro and oregano near a window for fresh flavors all season long.

Before it gets too cold or wet, tidy up your outdoor garden. Cover the soil with leaves to protect against the rain and suppress those pesky weeds. Don't forget to clean up dead plants and tools to keep pests and diseases away.  For more gardening tips, make sure to check out our garden calendar.

Get Ready for the New Year

As you gear up for the next garden season, why not learn some new techniques?  Succession planting is a method of planting that helps ensure you have a steady harvest over time. You can learn about various methods on this Succession Planting Tip Sheet.  Another cool trick is companion planting: put two different crops close together for a staggered harvest. This not only saves space but keeps your plants healthy. You can read more about companion planting here.

Food Hero Update from Philomath Elementary School
Wondering what the Food Hero team is up to at the Philomath School Garden?  We have another monthly update from garden coordinator, Tyler Sato Spofford. “It’s almost winter! The sunflowers and zinnias are no longer blooming, and we are starting to clean up and prepare. Before it starts raining nonstop or even snowing, it’s good to get in the garden and do some last-minute cleanup. At the Philomath Elementary School Garden, we are leaving the woody plants for pollinators like bees and removing everything else. Sunflower stalks make great homes for pollinators over the winter.

What’s in Season in December?

Head to your local farmers market and stock up on seasonal items. Onions, garlic, potatoes, winter squash and kale are great December choices!  

From the Garden to the Table: Delicious Winter Recipes

Wondering what to make with your seasonal produce?  Here are some yummy? recipes to try this winter:


Kale and White Bean Soup served in bowl

•    Kale and White Bean Soup: A warm soup with beans, greens and Italian flavors.  Perfect for those cold days and nights! 

Glazed Squash served on plate



•    Glazed Squash: A simple, three-ingredient recipe to make with any type of winter squash. A lovely side dish for winter celebrations. 
•    Butternut Squash and Chile Pan-Fry: A tasty recipe that’s great as a side or for quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas or tamales.
•    Ham and Vegetable Chowder: A hearty soup with potatoes that’s perfect for cold weather and a great way to use up leftovers!

Looking forward to sharing more gardening tips and tasty recipes with you in 2024!


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Fall Gardening: How to Grow, Harvest and Enjoy Carrots!

Promo for october garden blog on carrots

Fall Gardening: How to Grow, Harvest and Enjoy Carrots!

It's fall, but that doesn't mean we should forget about gardening. To learn about what can be done in the garden in October, check out our gardening calendar. It’s full of so many great gardening tips, like this one: before the rains begin, it's the perfect time to save seeds from the plants in your garden. This way, you won't have to buy those seeds next spring! Also, did you know some veggies can be planted in October? We’re focusing on a fall favorite root vegetable:

Food Hero Update from Philomath Elementary School

Image of flower from school garden


Let's start with some inspiration from Philomath, Oregon! Food Hero Garden Coordinator, Tyler Sato Spofford, has been busy with the school garden at Philomath Elementary School in Benton County.  He tells us, “Hello from Philomath, Oregon! Our school garden is flourishing! There are pollinators on every flower, tomatoes and peppers are ripening, and our kale is starting to bounce back after the heat. We are just about to start planting fall radishes, lettuce, turnips, carrots and spinach. These quick growing veggies can be harvested during the fall and early winter and are great to show students how gardening can be done year-round. I am also excited to grow overwintering garlic and onions. Covering the plants with straw will insulate them over the winter for harvesting in May.

Growing Carrots in Fall – The Basics

Unless you live in a high elevation area, fall is an excellent time to plant quick-growing veggies like carrots. Here's what you need to know:

  • Carrots thrive in loose, well-drained soil, raised beds or even in a clean food-safe bucket.
  • Plant carrot seeds at a depth of about ¼ to ½ inch; they don't like to be transplanted.
  • Cover the seeds with light, fluffy soil to allow young plants to push through easily.
  • Thin seedlings to leave at least 2 inches between them.
  • Keep the seedbed consistently moist.
  • If you have limited space, consider growing shorter carrot varieties like Chantenay, Nantes, or Thumbelina in a container at least 12 inches deep.

When and How to Harvest Carrots

Carrots are unique in that they can be one of the first and last vegetables to be harvested. Here's how to know when and how to harvest them:

  • Most carrot types are ready when the "shoulder" (the top of the carrot) is about ½ inch in diameter (wideness) or larger.
  • Use a trowel or fork to gently dig up your carrots, which is easier when the soil is damp.

Storing Carrots

To enjoy your freshly harvested carrots for an extended period, follow these storage tips:

  • Cut off the green tops and wash and dry the carrots.
  • Store them in a cool spot, and they'll stay fresh for a long time.

From the Garden to the Table: Delicious Carrot Recipes

Now that you have an abundance of carrots, here are some delightful recipes to try:

Baked Meatball Promo Photo

With these tips, you're all set to grow, harvest and enjoy carrots. Happy gardening!

For more information about growing carrots in Oregon, check out the Food Hero Growing in Oregon Carrots tip sheet!


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Growing Radishes in the Garden

Promo for Growing Radishes Garden Blog

Growing Radishes in the Garden

It’s late summer, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to put your garden to bed! If you live in eastern or coastal Oregon or the Willamette Valley, it’s not too late to grow radishes. They thrive in cooler temperatures and can even tolerate frost. Planted now, they’ll add a boost of flavor and crunch to your fall meals.

Growing Radishes: Quick and Easy

Radishes are easy and quick to grow from seed.  This makes them a great option for beginning gardeners. What’s more, you can grow them in the ground, raised beds or containers.

If you're using containers, make sure they're at least 6 inches deep and have holes for drainage. Radishes like moist soil, so keep it evenly damp but not soaking wet.  For tastier radishes, move containers to cooler spots on hot days.

Plant radish seeds by sprinkling them over damp soil and covering them with at least half an inch of soil. If it’s early in your growing season, don’t plant all your seeds at once. Keep some to plant every 10 days for ongoing harvest. After the seeds sprout and the seedlings grow a second set of leaves, thin them out, leaving 1 or 2 inches between each. Thin radishes by snipping the extra seedlings with small scissors at the base of the soil.

Insider Tip from an OSU Extension Master Gardener:

Master gardener grow along update on radishes


Let’s get an insider tip from Val, an experienced gardener participating in Food Hero's Grow This! gardening challenge. Val is from the Harvest Moon Garden in Coquille: *

“Radishes sprout very quickly, making them good candidates for children to grow and for beginning gardeners . . . They take 25 to 45 days to mature unless you’re growing Daikon radishes, which take much more time. As they grow, water regularly, keeping the soil moist. Radishes can be forgiving if you miss a watering.” 

Val suggests checking your radishes’ growth regularly: “Radishes left in the ground too long sometimes sort of explode, as if the insides were bigger than the skin. They will get hotter or spicier the longer they’re in the soil, sometimes to a point where they’re inedible. They also get woody or pithy. The center gets tough or mealy and hollows out.”

Harvesting Radishes: When and How

Radishes are ready to pick 3 to 6 weeks after planting. Look at the seed packet for the estimated days to harvest for your variety. If the right number of days have passed try harvesting one radish to check the size. Gently pull on the base of the green leaves near the soil. If it’s a usable size, try harvesting more. As Val mentioned, leaving radishes in the ground too long can make them crack or get spongy or too hot to eat.

How to Store

After picking, rinse and dry the radish roots and greens. Cut the greens from the roots and refrigerate them in separate containers. You can eat the greens raw or cooked. It’s best to eat them within 3 days. The radish roots last longer, up to 2 weeks.

From the Garden to the Table: Delicious Radish Recipes to Try

Pozole with Chicken Dish served on table

Get creative with radishes! Top salads, sandwiches, tacos or stews with sliced radishes for an extra punch of flavor and crunch.  You can also roast radishes or add them to a stir-fry for a mellow and sweet flavor. Here are some fun recipes to try:

Braised Radishes: Enjoy warm and tender radishes with a mellow flavor and a hint of sweetness.

Pozole with Chicken: Dive into a flavorful stew made with hominy, red chile sauce and shredded chicken. Topped with your choice of lime juice, shredded lettuce or cabbage, sliced radishes, chopped onion, cilantro, or avocado.  This recipe was developed by the OSU Extension Latin Heritage Workgroup.

Radish and Cucumber Salad: Combine crisp cucumbers, earthy radishes, creamy yogurt and flavorful garlic for a refreshing side dish.

With these tips you're all set to grow, harvest and enjoy radishes. Happy gardening!


For more information about growing radishes in Oregon, check out the Food Hero Growing in Oregon Radishes Tip Sheet

* This is an update from Val at the Harvest Moon Garden in Coquille. Master Gardeners are growing along for the 2023 Food Hero Grow This! Gardening challenge. Thousands of Oregonians have received their seeds from Food Hero, and OSU Master Gardener volunteers are growing along right beside you to share updates and growing tips. You can visit the Harvest Moon Garden on Saturdays from 12pm-2pm at 180 N. Baxter Street in Coquille.

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What is bolting?

Cilantro Bolting

What is bolting?

Bolting happens when a plant reaches the end of its growth cycle. It changes from making leaves and roots to making flowers and seeds for the next season of plants. That is why bolting is often called "running to seed" or "going to seed." 

Bolting is normal, but can be a problem for gardeners when it happens before they get a full harvest of vegetables. When the plant is stressed, often by heat or amount of sunlight, it is more likely to bolt. While the plant is rushing to make seeds, it is also making tough and bitter leaves as a way to protect itself until the seeds are ready.

Plants that are more likely to bolt are lettuce, other leafy greens, basil and cilantro. To slow down bolting and enjoy more tasty leaves, the gardener can do a few things:

  • Plant cool-weather plants in the spring (or early fall for some) when days are cooler and shorter.
  • Protect plants from too much sun and heat with shade cloth or by planting in shady areas or near larger plants that provide shade. If you are growing in containers, move plants to a shady area if you can. Light-colored and large containers will help keep roots from overheating.
  • Look for slow-to-bolt varieties when buying seeds or plants.
  • Put a layer of mulch around plants to cool the soil.
  • Trim back growing leaf stalks or flower buds as soon as you see them.

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What are some bee friendly plants I can add to my garden?

Sunflowers offer bees lots of pollen and nectar

What are some bee friendly plants I can add to my garden?

Plant flowers and flowering trees. If possible, choose types that produce lots of pollen and nectar.

Here are some easier-to-grow plants that bees love:

  • Flowering plants: clover, sunflowers, phacelia, purple aster, oregano, thyme, cilantro, mint, and California lilac
  • Flowering trees: big leaf maple trees, apple, cherry and willow trees

Besides planting bee-friendly plants, read about three other things you can do for bees here:


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Is there a “challenging” plant I can try to grow?

Asparagus Growing

Is there a “challenging” plant I can try to grow?

It is great to try and grow a “challenging plant,” as that is one of the best ways to learn about gardening.  Even if the plant doesn't thrive or produce a harvest, you'll learn a lot and become a better gardener!

Different plants can be challenging for different people. For instance, the challenge for some people might be not having a lot of space in which to grow a spreading plant like pumpkins. The challenge for others might be living in a place that has colder nights throughout the summer--tomatoes, for example, don't like cold nights!

Here are two plant characteristics that many people might find challenging. 

1. A long germination time. (Germination time is how long it takes a seed to sprout and begin to grow.) Asparagus, lavender and rosemary take more than two weeks to germinate.

2. Plants that "bolt", or bolt quicker than other plants. Bolting is something most plants do as a result of hot weather; it is when a plant goes from providing something to harvest to instead producing flowers and seeds.  Leafy greens and cilantro are two examples for which you can try and a shade cloth over them in the summer to lower the sun and heat they receive. Or grow them in a container and move then into a shaded, cooler areas in the summer, or heat of the day.

Other plants the Food Hero Garden team has heard can be challenging from Grow This! participants include artichokes, carrots, celery, and onions.

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What is a great plant to grow with kids?

Grow Lettuce with Kids

What is a great plant to grow with kids?

Lettuce is a great option:

  • Many different types with different colors and flavors
  • Can grow in cool, shaded areas with low light (great for classrooms)
  • Can grow in containers that don’t have to be deep (4 to 6 inches works well)
  • Grows more quickly than many other plants
  • Does not need a lot of attention while growing

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What are some ways that roots help plants?

How roots help plants

What are some ways that roots help plants?

Roots help plants by:

  • holding the plants into the ground.
  • helping the plant take up water and nutrients from the soil.
  • storing energy and nutrients for the plant.

Root vegetables taste great too!

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Am I watering my seeds the right amount?

Water from below

Am I watering my seeds the right amount?

Try using a spray bottle, just a few sprays to get the soil moist and you are good to go! When your plant is much bigger try watering it from below!! Fill a bowl or deep dish up with water and place your tray or pot in the water. Depending on the size of the plant and pot you till need to leave your plant in the water until is absorbs water to the roots. 

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Should I use my full seed packet at one time?

Radish Seed Packet

Should I use my full seed packet at one time?

A full packet of seeds might be too much for planting at one time in a home garden.

Seed packets vary in the number of seeds they contain. A packet of watermelon seeds might contain only 4 to 6 seeds, whereas a packet of carrot seeds might have 200.  

There are many different ways to extend the whole packet and make it useful in one or two seasons.

  • If you have a type of seed that ages well, such as leafy greens, or is currently not past its expiration date you can store it for the next year.
  • Space out the packet and use it throughout the year through succession planting. Succession planting is spreading out (staggering) the start date of your plants. For example, starting in spring, plant carrot seeds every two weeks. That way, once your first crop matures, you’ll have new carrots ready to harvest every two weeks.
  • Another option is to harvest your first batch of carrots, then right away plant the next batch in that spot.
  • Once you’ve planted all you want in your garden bed, take the left over seeds and try growing microgreens indoors. It’s a great way to keep a little fresh produce growing year round. Learn how to grow microgreens at this link:  

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