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Master Gardeners: It's not too early to start growing; get help on Saturday, March 7

Master Gardeners are planning to pack a free event next month in Milwaukie with essential gardening tips to help jump-start this year's gardening season.

Learn what OSU research shows about the best flowers for bees, with the help of Aaron Anderson, a doctorate student with the OSU Garden Ecology Lab."Enthusiasts of edible gardening will benefit from six classes, including growing blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes and early-season vegetables," said event organizer Sherry COURTESY PHOTOS - Henry Jennings gardens with his grandmother, Priscilla Robinson, an OSU Master Gardener who encourages people to plan now for a successful harvest. Sheng, who is among the Master Gardener volunteers trained by Oregon State University to serve Clackamas County.

Each of the following classes will cover how to select plant varieties, soil preparation, planting techniques, proper watering, fertilizing and disease and pest management:

Growing Pretty & Delicious Containers: Learn to incorporate decorative vegetables, herbs and edible flowers in an edible container through numerous plant-species candidates that may play the role "thriller, filler, spiller" in a popular design formula. The class will cover practical considerations such as pot selection and preparation, and container media, watering and fertilizing.

Growing Great Vegetables with Less Water: A timely topic after recent hot and dry summers, this class draws lessons from OSU research on reducing water use while producing quality vegetables. Whether you want to reduce your utility bill or care about water conservation, get inspiration for new actions in the vegetable patch this year.

Spring Ornamental Gardening: This class will review spring gardening tasks such as planting or transplanting plants, pruning, weeding and pest control and the proper timing for each. 

Making a Shade Garden: This new class aims to help spruce up a shady backyard patio, add color to a shaded border or bring life to a woodland path. Through a well-thought-out design and carefully selected plants, Master Gardeners say both foliage and flower lovers will be impressed by the wide variety of shade-loving plants available.

Attracting and Hosting Mason Bees: Gardeners who grow fruit trees and shrubs have long known Steve Sanborn grew lots of vegetables, including these sunchokes, with little or no irrigation. Upcoming workshops in Milwaukie offer tips for dry summer gardening.mason bees can increase orchard and blueberry yield. But ornamental gardeners also can host them with early flowering shrubs and perennials. This class will share the plants, conditions and care that will provide the best environment for these hardworking pollinators.

Growing Blueberries: Which types of blueberries are best suited for our climate? Also learn about proper blueberry soil requirements, fertilizing, mulching, watering and pruning necessary to revive plants and keep them productive.

Best Bee Flowers: Recent studies showed that most pollinator-plant lists were not developed based on science. You can dump those lists of pollinator plants and rely on your brain instead by learning the traits (color, shape and arrangement) in flowers that make them attractive to bees.

Gardening in Clay Soil: While it presents a challenge to gardeners, clay soil can be turned into a gardener's friend, experts say. Specific instructions for making a new planting bed, improving clay soil in established gardens, and how to plant in clay soil are part of the class.

n Raised Bed Gardening: This class will review the pros and cons of gardening in a raised bed, material choices, how to make a bed without frames, and tips for construction and maintenance.  

 Throughout the morning, a clinic staffed by veteran Master Gardeners will offer one-on-one advice on any and all gardening questions. Bring plant specimens and/or photos that best illustrate the problem. Another free service that morning is soil pH testing.

"Winter rain tends to wash out soil minerals and turns it acidic," Sheng said. "Soil pH affects the availability of nutrients to plants and is especially important to success in growing blueberries, rhododendrons, azaleas and vegetables."

To get accurate readings of your soil, collect separate samples from lawns, vegetable gardens, rose gardens, and perennial beds. This free service will test up to four samples per client and give advice on whether amendments are needed. 

Garden Discovery Day

What: Classes and demonstrations by Oregon State University Extension Master Gardeners

When: 8:30 a.m.-noon Saturday, March 7

Where: Milwaukie Center, 5440 S.E. Kellogg Creek Drive

More: Visit

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