Winter is here, but we’re still getting plenty of gardening questions to Ask an Expert, an online question-and-answer tool from Oregon State University’s Extension Service. OSU Extension faculty and Master Gardeners reply to queries within two business days, usually less. To ask a question, simply go to the OSU Extension website and type in a question and the county where you live. Here are some questions asked by other gardeners. What’s yours?
Q: I am interested in keeping honey bees in an attempt to increase their numbers. I live in Florence and in the Siuslaw National Forest. I have a flourishing vegetable garden and giant hedges of blackberries near where I would put my hives. My question is this: Is it worth it keeping bees in my coastal weather? I am big into researching as much as possible before I begin anything, and this is my first step. I am beginning the online Master Gardener course, and this is my first assignment. – Lane County
A: I think you will find the Master Gardener program very interesting and well worth your time and effort. You will learn that part of the plight of pollinators is diminishing habitat and forage. The first step for you to take is to increase the amount of pollinator plantings on your property. The Oregon Bee Project has multiple resources that will guide your efforts. You also might explore the website of the OSU Garden Ecology Lab. They have a listing of native plants that are attractive to pollinators.
Is it worth keeping bees on the coast? It is more difficult location for honey bees since they are fair-weather flyers and they do need more nectar and pollen than just blackberries. A good source of information for you will be in a local bee club. Here’s the link to the regional bee clubs that are members of the Oregon Beekeepers Association. Contact the club nearest you and/or attend some meetings and talk to people there about how they overcome the challenges of coastal beekeeping.
Beekeeping in general is difficult. There is a very steep learning curve. It is a big undertaking that should not be approached lightly. For more information, you might investigate the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program. They have a great program in place that is centered on research-based information and an assigned mentor for your first year.
But first, you need to finish the program that you are about to embark upon, namely the Master Gardener program. It will serve as a good grounding for potential future projects involving bees. – Anna Ashby, OSU Extension Master Gardener
Q: I am looking to plant a very fragrant lilac that blooms more than once. I was thinking of ‘Bloomarang.’ When I entered my zip code it mentioned that this would not be hardy here. I always thought pretty much all lilacs loved a sunny spot around here. I am looking for something for outside my bedroom window that will get about 6 to 8 feet tall, very fragrant and multiple blooms. Do you have any recommendations? – Multnomah County
A: The reblooming ‘Bloomerang’ lilac is one of the Syringa pubescens. It is listed as hardy in Zones 3-7. Portland is listed as Zone 8, which means in a fully sunny location here the plant may not do well. I find references online suggesting a light shearing after the spring bloom to maximize later flowers. The reblooming lilacs don’t have the same scent as traditional lilacs, so consider buying when in bloom.
Visit with staff at local nurseries who have experience growing this lilac and how it will grow in the light conditions you have.
I will refer your question back to our experts and if someone has experience with ‘Bloomerang’ they may send you an additional response. – Jacki Dougan, OSU Extension Master Gardener
From Neil Bell, OSU Extension horticulturist: I think Jacki provided some good advice. I checked with my colleague Ryan Contreras for you and he points out that ‘Bloomerang’ is terribly susceptible to Pseudomonas bacterial blight. ‘Bloomerang Dark Purple’ is better. ‘Josee’ also is a rebloomer but not terribly strong. For best results with any of them as Jacki points out, a shearing after first flowering will induce better blooms.
Q: For the last two years the cherries on my four trees have been ruined by fruit flies. Can you recommend something to spray them with that will not harm bees? – Jackson County
A: This is likely caused by the spotted wing drosophila or the cherry fruit fly. The following controls are all recommended by OSU. Check out this publication and this one.
Management-chemical control, home use:
- Acetamiprid: In field tests, this product has provided inconsistent control of SWD.
- Kaolin clay (Surround at Home): Repels some insect pests when applied as a spray to leaves, stems, and fruit. OMRI-listed for organic use.
- Permethrin: In field tests, this product has provided inconsistent control of SWD.
- Pyrethrins: These products provide about 80% control of SWD but have no residual activity. Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
- Spinosad: This product generally provides 100% control and five to seven days residual activity. Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
– Chris Rusch, OSU Extension Master Gardener
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