Page 2 — 2014 Spring Home and Garden, The Chronicle, Omak, Wash.
As bears come out of hibernation, they look for a place to dine By Dee Camp The Chronicle OKANOGAN – Spring can signal the emergence of hungry bears looking for readily available food to replace the calories lost during winter hibernation. Feeding bears and other large carnivores, either intentionally or unintentionally, is illegal in Washington. A 2012 law addresses “negligently feeding, Rogers attempting to feed, or attracting large wild carnivores to land or a building” and another addresses intentionally feeding or attempting to Christensen feed such animals. “This law was established mostly for the cases of intentional feedings, which are common,” said Rich Beausoleil, bear and cougar specialist for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We never intended this law to be used as a hammer, but after being warned on more than one occasion, unintentional feeding can also result in a fine.” “What I have learned over the last few years is that inadvertent and intentional feeding of bears leads to problem bears,” Okanogan County-based Department of Wildlife Sgt. Dan Christensen said. “Illegal baiting activity and failure to maintain home garbage in a manner that does not attract large animal scavenging creates attractants for calorie-hungry bears coming out of hibernation. Until those native plants and berries develop, the bears will seek out a high-calorie diet that we throw out,” he said. State and county rules governing garbage storage have been in place since the 1940s and “maintaining a trailer filled to the top with garbage and living in bear
Bear necessities ...........................................................................................2 Small critters can be a concern....................................................................3 Dry climate makes for thirsty plants .............................................................4 Upgrading curb appeal can add value to home ...........................................5 Drippy faucets waste water, cost extra.........................................................6 Garlic takes extra care .................................................................................7 As temperatures rise, so do vehicles’ numbers............................................8 Down and dirty: Creating your own compost at home .................................9 New to gardening? Interest is key..............................................................10
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Animal Hospital of Omak The Chronicle
A bear saunters through the undergrowth off state Highway 155 south of Omak. country just do not mix,” he said. “We have found that once those attractants are gone, our call load for problem bears also reduces.” He said remotely developed areas that don’t enforce garbage collection measures have created those artificial food sources. “Outside of illegal bear-baiting activity, those two areas have often been found to be the source of problem bears,” Christensen said. Beausoleil said he sees three attractants that cause 95 percent of the human-bear conflicts, and if people would eliminate them, most issues would be eliminated. Those attractants are garbage, bird seed and fruit trees. “Be part of the solution, not part of the problem this spring,”
Spring Home and Garden © 2014 The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle Owned and operated by Eagle Newspapers Inc. Roger Harnack, editor and publisher Teresa Myers, advertising manager P.O. Box 553, Omak, WA 98841 618 Okoma Drive, Omak, Wash. 98841 509-826-1110 voice 800-572-3446 toll free 509-826-5819 fax www.omakchronicle.com
said Lorna Smith, Western Wildlife Outreach executive director. “Don’t let your inattention lead to a bear becoming habituated to humanprovided food and losing its natural fear of humans. A bear that doesn’t leave when humans approach is likely doomed to be destroyed.” Okanogan County Sheriff Frank
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2014 Spring Home and Garden, The Chronicle, Omak, Wash. — Page 3
Smaller critters can be a concern Rabbits, deer and other animals enjoy garden goodies, too The Chronicle OMAK – Smaller wild critters don’t always menace your garbage can, but they can wreak havoc with your garden or landscaping. Rabbits, deer, groundhogs and other wildlife often see green gardens and yards as a smorgasbord of good things to eat. Anyone who has battled wildlife knows the frustration and difficulty involved in controlling them.
Bears from 2 Rogers said his office doesn’t get many calls about problem bears. There’s been a smattering of calls about cabins being entered and ransacked by bears. “It’s just part of living here,” he said of large animals. “Just take precautions.” At times, cities have had more of a problem with bears than rural areas. Omak has had several over the years, and last year Coulee Dam had problems with bears coming into town and getting into garbage. Rogers said people should take precautions to avoid being visited by bears. Garbage cans are one of the biggest attractants. Western Wildlife Outreach suggests not feeding wild birds until mid-November, when their natural food sources diminish and bears are safely back in hibernation. Garbage should be stored indoors until pickup day or stored in a bearresistant garbage can. The outreach suggests picking up fallen orchard fruit and trimming low branches, but Rogers said that’s impractical in Okanogan County, where fruit production is a major industry. State law specifically exempts farming from the list of conditions that can bring a ticket. The outreach suggests storing barbecue equipment and pet food indoors, and not feeding pets outside. The organization also suggests people be careful when they’re out hiking or camping. It suggests traveling in groups, keeping dogs leashed, make noise in areas of limited visibility or where bears have been detected, and storing food in bear-resistant containers or hanging it out of reach of bears. Bear spray also can be effective, the group said.
The best defense oftentimes is a fence. A four-foot-high fence anchored tightly to the ground will keep out rabbits. Five-foot fences around small garden areas usually will keep out deer, since they seem to avoid small, confined spaces. With a larger area, all bets are off when deer are concerned. Groundhogs and other burrowing animals, such as moles, pose more difficult containment problems since they will dig under a fence and sometimes climb over it. Burying the fence at least a foot below the soil surface and extending the top four or five feet above the ground should do the trick.
Remember to secure the gate, too. Scare tactics have been used for many years. Motion-sensitive sprinklers, inflatable owls, clanging pans and rubber snakes strategically placed around a garden may help scare away unwanted critters. It’s a good idea to move and alternate the various scare tactics for more effective control. The animals won’t be afraid of an owl that hasn’t moved in two weeks. Homemade and commercial repellents can be used, but they should be safe to use on food crops. You’ll have the best results if applied before the animals start feeding.
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Page 4 — 2014 Spring Home and Garden, The Chronicle, Omak, Wash.
Dry climate makes for thirsty plants Xeriscaping, wind breaks and other techniques can help Ferry County Extension REPUBLIC – Here in the Inland Northwest, we have a dry climate. After the short growing season, providing enough water for a vegetable garden or flowers is the top problem with which gardeners struggle. Xeriscaping, wind breaks, mulch and drip irrigation are all methods that can help get water where we need it and keep it there. Xeriscaping is landscaping with plants that require little water once established. All plants require regular water when they are first planted. Some, like cactus or succulents such as hens-n-chicks, may need watering only for a few weeks. Shrubs and trees or perennial plants may need regular water for a few months or even through the first year to get them established. After that, they may need water
only in times of prolonged heat, wind or drought. Xeriscaping can also include collecting rain water, using gray water from your sink or shower, rock gardens and lawn alternatives. It all depends on the gardener. Wind breaks and mulch help keep the water where the plants can use it — the root zone. Wind does as much to evaporate water as heat, so planting a wind break of trees or shrubs, a low fence or even putting a tall plant on the windy side of one that dries out faster can help keep the moisture where you want it. Mulch acts as an insulator to keep the soil surface a consistent temperature and prevents evaporation (and weeds). It also improves the soil and looks nice. Drip irrigation is one way to get the most water into the root zone with the least amount of evaporation. The root zone is about 6 to 8 inches deep for annuals and vegetables and some small shrubs. For a large shrub, perennial flower or tree, it can be up to 18 inches deep. How wide the root zone
Dee Camp/The Chronicle
A low-maintenance xeriscaped yard in Omak requires less water than its grassy neighbors. extends depends on the type of plant. The rule of thumb is they need water up to and slightly beyond the span of their leaves. Other benefits from drip irrigation are fewer diseases such
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as mold and blossom end rot, as well as larger harvests. Some cautions: Setting up a drip irrigation system can be timeand money-consuming initially, and the hose may clog or be cut by
an enthusiastic weeder. Washington State University Extension for Ferry County can be reached at 509-7755225 Ext. 1116. The office is in the basement of the courthouse, 350 E. Delaware Ave., Republic.
2014 Spring Home and Garden, The Chronicle, Omak, Wash. — Page 5
Upgrading curb appeal can add value to home The Chronicle OMAK – This month, designated as National Home Improvement Month, is a good time to make improvements to the exterior of your home. By upgrading your home’s curb appeal, you increase the value of your house and make a positive impact on visitors. Research from Remodeling magazine shows that in a midrange priced home, up to 67.8 percent of the cost of a roof replacement can be recouped when selling the home. Replacing a fiberglass entry door can bring up to 70.8 percent and replacing windows can bring a 78.8 percent return on the cost. Curb appeal improvements add value to the home overall and can be considered extremely smart investments for homeowners, the magazine’s research shows. Okanogan County Assessor Scott Furman agreed. “Taking care of your home has a direct relationship to the value of the home,” he said. “It is like anything else, if you take care of it, it will retain more of its value.” He said he hesitates to generalize about what improvements will bring the best return, since some don’t materially add to the value, while others may add value to the home but not in the same amount as the total cost of repair. “They say bathroom and kitchen remodels get the most bang for the buck,” he said. “Any repair to y our home that needs to be done can be looked at by a potential buyer as a ‘cost to cure,’ so they would try and deduct the cost of that repair, say a new roof, from the purchase price of the home.” According to Remodeling, some areas to check include: • Roofing condition. Using either a ladder or binoculars from across the street, look for problem areas, such as missing or broken shingles, along with roofing tiles that may be flapping in the wind. These are all indications that a new roof may be needed. • Siding. Environmentally friendly detergents, scrubbing and/or pressure-washing all work well to remove dirt and algae that can grow on siding. Don’t pressure-wash trim pieces, doors, windows or screens. The extreme high pressure could
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the roof doesn’t cause damage to the building structure, landscaping or property below the roof. • Windows. If the windows in your home don’t operate easily, there’s air leaking in or out, or there’s condensation between the glass panes, it may be time to consider replacement windows, caulking or repairs. • Doors. If you can see light around a door from the inside, your door is hard to close or lock, or the door itself is warped, it’s time to consider repairs or a replacement. Even if you can’t see light, air may be moving through gaps in the weather stripping. A new roll of weather stripping is inexpensive and easy to install. Think about the weather conditions that your home’s doors face, along with your energy bills. • Accessories. Spend time with your shutters, trim and louvers to see if they’re rotting, cracked or need replacing. Check the bottoms and tops of columns and near the joints in crown and other moldings for water spots, decay or peeling paint to see if they’re deteriorating in any way. Check for bug damage, too.
If you take care of it, it will retain more of its value. Assessor Scott Furman
” crack or destroy the caulking around the units. While cleaning the siding, make sure to check for changes in the exterior from the previous year and be alert to buckling, rotting, peeling paint or insect damage that may need to be fixed. • Gutters. Don’t underestimate the importance of the gutter system on the home. Each year, homeowners should check to make sure their gutters are clean, unclogged, securely attached to the home and remain sloped for proper drainage. Make sure the water running off
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Page 6 — 2014 Spring Home and Garden, The Chronicle, Omak, Wash.
Drippy faucets waste water, cost extra Many repairs can be tackled by average do-it-yourselfer
Drops turn into gallons
By Dee Camp The Chronicle OMAK – That drip-drip-drip from a leaky kitchen faucet can translate to thousands of gallons of water down the drain and extra utility costs to boot. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates easyto-fix household leaks account for more than one trillion gallons of water wasted each year. That’s equal to the annual household water use of more than 11 million homes. On a more personal level, water leaking from dripping faucets, showerheads and faulty toilet flappers in an average American home can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, or the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry. “The culprit is the toilet a lot of times,” Omak Public Works Director Todd McDaniel said. A leak of a gallon per minute translates to 1,440 gallons per day. That can send a customer’s bill through the roof if left unattended. In Omak, a McDaniel customer gets 1,000 cubic feet per month – 7,480 gallons – for a base fee. After that, overage fees are charged. For a commercial customer, a water leak also can translate into a higher sewage bill since the latter is based on water use. McDaniel advises people to keep an eye on their bills, which show usage. If there’s a sudden spike in water consumption from one month to the next, that can signal a leak. A water line break usually shows itself with a wet spot in the yard, but the city also tries to monitor customers’ water use and warn them about abnormal use, he said. The state requires cities to outline water use efficiency goals and write plans to address them. Meter calibration, fire hydrant leakage detection and supply leak detection all are components of
10 drops 15 drops 20 drops 25 drops 30 drops
Count the number of drips in 30 seconds to see how many gallons of water are wasted from a leaky faucet. Amount one day one year 5 drops 0.8 gallon 292 gallons
1.6 gallons 584 gallons 1.4 gallons 876 gallons 3.2 gallons 1,168 gallons 4 gallons 1,460 gallons 4.8 gallons 1,752 gallons
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A drippy faucet, left unattended, can waste thousands of gallons of water in a year. meeting the state goal of 10 percent water leakage or less for the system. In 2012, Omak had 9 percent leakage, which is the difference between what’s pumped and what’s metered when delivered to customers, McDaniel said. The three-year average was 6.2 percent. Okanogan Davisson had an identical three-year average, at 6.2 percent. The 2012 leakage rate was 9.4 percent, Public Works Director
Shawn Davisson said. In both cities, people can petition for forgiveness of part of the bill on a one-time basis if the problem is caught and corrected quickly. Each has its own policy outlining conditions for getting a refund. Faucet, showerhead and simple toilet leaks often can be fixed easily by the average do-ityourselfer, with just a few tools and hardware needed. Many replacement parts come with instructions, and help also is available from hardware store personnel and online. Repairs can quickly pay for
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2014 Spring Home and Garden, The Chronicle, Omak, Wash. — Page 7
Drip from 6 themselves in savings — fixing household water leaks can save a homeowner up to 10 percent on water bills, the EPA said. Both cities offer information to customers on leak prevention, including a chart showing leak hole sizes and how much water can be lost in a day. For example, a hole the diameter of a standard pencil eraser leaking water at a rate of 50 pounds per square inch would result in a 3,096-gallon loss per day, 92,880 gallons per month or 1.1 million gallons per year. An easy way of figuring water loss is to count the number of drips in 30 seconds, the state Department of Health said. Twenty drips in a 30-second span converts to 3.2 gallons in a day or 1,168 in a year. EPA officials said finding and fixing leaks is simple to do: • Check for leaks. Look for dripping faucets, showerheads and fixture connections. Check irrigation systems and spigots, too. • Twist and tighten pipe connections. Make sure there is a tight connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem. It may just need a twist to tighten or some pipe tape to secure it. • Replace worn-out fixtures. If it’s time for an upgrade, look for models bearing the WaterSense label, which are independently certified to use 20 percent less water and perform as well as or better than standard models. “Something as simple as twisting on a WaterSense-labeled
aerator and upgrading to a WaterSense-labeled faucet could save a household 11,000 gallons over the life of the faucet,” the EPA said on its WaterSense website.
Water-saving ideas • Collect rainwater to irrigate indoor and outdoor plants. • Shorten showers by two to three minutes and save up to 10 gallons per shower. • If you don’t like mowing, consider replacing your grass with native or drought-resistant landscaping (xeriscaping). • Install WaterSense-labeled low-flow fixtures or aerators on faucets and low-flow showerheads. • Water outdoors just two or three times a week. • To reduce evaporation, water the lawn in early morning or evening. Watering during the heat of the day or when it’s windy wastes water and is less effective. • Place two to four inches of mulch around plants and trees to avoid excess evaporation. • Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water, or wash your car on your lawn. • Sell your lawnmower and use the money as a down payment to replace your lawn with a flower or vegetable garden. • Protect water quality by limiting or eliminating the use of fertilizers, weed killers and pesticides. • Install micro/drop irrigation or use soaker hoses to water outdoors. —The Chronicle
Garlic takes extra care It’s not hard, but it’s not as simple as just sticking it in the soil
REPUBLIC — When I first planted garlic, I thought if I left it in the ground longer it would be bigger and nicer. So I planted in late spring, waited until September, went to dig where the garlic had been — and saw nothing. Digging yielded a few small, dingy brown cloves. It had been in the ground too long. The tops had died down, leaving me no clue where to find the garlic. It hadn’t had enough cool weather to get big, and I hadn’t monitored the moisture, but let it get saturated with fall rains before harvesting, which gave me dingy brown garlic that didn’t peel well or keep well. Other gardeners had such nice garlic. There are two main types of garlic: soft neck, which is what is made into those lovely garlic braids you sometimes see, and hard neck, which does well in our climate and is what I have experience growing. For optimum growth, both types require a deep, well-drained soil in a sunny location, a long, cool stretch, and even moisture.
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successfully in spring or fall. Fall planting, ideally during early to mid-October, gives the roots a head start on developing
By Twinflower Wilkie Ferry County Master Gardener
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Mulch the soil to keep it cool. Rotate your garlic each year to prevent soil-borne disease, and plant about three inches deep and four to six inches apart. You can plant a garlic crop
Page 8 — 2014 Spring Home and Garden, The Chronicle, Omak, Wash.
As temperatures rise, so do vehicles’ numbers The Chronicle OMAK — The temperatures are rising, and so are the numbers of vehicles on the road. Whether you’re hitting the road for a day trip or a vacation, avoid putting a damper on your travel plans by following these vehicle maintenance tips: • An annual full-vehicle inspection may help avoid costly repairs. Joe Cirame, owner of Joe’s Automotive, 204 N. Main St. in Omak, suggested a visual inspection of your vehicle, including fluid levels, tires, belts and hoses under the hood, windshield wiper blades and lighting outside the vehicle. “First of all, you’d want to start off with some basic maintenance like lubrication,” he said. That includes engine oil and filters, coolant, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid. Oil and coolant should be checked when the engine is cold, and transmission fluid and power steering fluid can be checked when your vehicle is warmed up.
“When it gets hot out there, if something is going to happen it’s going to happen then,” he said. • Check your air conditioning system. “To help maintain a good air conditioning system, you would want to make sure the cooling system is working properly,” Cirame said. “A cooling system that is not working properly will affect the performance of the air conditioning.” To prevent overheating, Cirame advised using a 50/50 fill of antifreeze and water. If you’re traveling with an RV # !&*!
or trailer, it’s important to make sure they’re in good working order, too. Before taking any trips, people should check the brakes and lights, and re-pack the wheel bearings, said Mike Roberts, owner of Choice Automotive and RV, 610 Okoma Drive in Omak. “We change a lot of axles every year that are really expensive because people don’t pack their wheel bearings,” Roberts said. Propane systems and appliances should also be inspected and tested for safety. “They can be dangerous if something is wrong,” he said.
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Cody Jones of Choice Automotive and RV in Omak checks fluids. As for tires, Cirame said checking the pressure and tread will help ensure safety. Abnormal
tire wear can signal other problems, such as worn front end or suspension parts, he said.
Garlic from 7 without sending up shoots. Mulch heavily and pull the mulch away in the spring. This will give you bigger heads of garlic than a spring planting, but if you want to increase your yield, you can put in a spring planting, too. Plant as early in spring as you can work the soil. The cool weather will help the bulb to form before the tops mature. Garlic produces allicin, a complex mixture of sulfides. This makes it a beneficial companion for most crops, helping keep pests at bay. By the same token, it can be blended with water and a little dish soap to make it stick, and then sprayed on plants that are under attack. Some pests are repelled by the smell. Hard neck varieties produce flower stalks that curl around artistically into a pointed tip called a scape. If the scape is left to mature, it will form small bulbils, which if planted, would make extremely small heads of garlic. You could separate them, replant and repeat year after year until you got full size garlic heads. However, if you want a good garlic crop from your present planting and don’t care about producing bulbils, snap those scapes off when they first appear. They will taste great in a stir fry, and the energy will go into forming bigger underground bulbs. After you remove the scapes, wait until the greens of your garlic plant begin to brown. If they don’t fall over naturally, bend them over and wait for about a third of the foliage to die back. Loosen the garlic with a garden fork, lift it, and shake off the loose soil. Place the whole plants in a cool, shaded place and let the tops dry before removing them. Gently brush off any remaining dirt before storing your crop in a cool dry place at about 45-50 degrees. Ferry County Master Gardeners offer information about gardening
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Garlic braids are displayed during the Tonasket Garlic Festival in August 2013. Vendors from all over the region offered garlic and other products. practices, and can answer questions and help solve gardening dilemmas. Information is available at 509-775-5225 Ext. 1116 or from the Washington State University Extension office in the basement of the courthouse, 350 E. Delaware Ave., Republic.
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2014 Spring Home and Garden, The Chronicle, Omak, Wash. — Page 9
Down and dirty: Creating your own compost at home By Jennifer Marshall The Chronicle Creating your own compost, in addition to being environmentally sustainable, can be a cheap and easy way to fertilize your garden. “There are all kinds of methods – you can do it above ground, in a hole, in a pile,” Okanogan County Community Action Executive Director Lael Duncan said. “We actually have plans so that people can construct their own composter if they want to, and it can be just as simple as digging a hole and adding your compostable kitchen products.” Composters can also be purchased in stores. To make your own compost, combine items such as vegetable and fruit peels and stems, coffee grounds, eggshells, yard waste, dead flowers and leaves, even shredded newspaper. Compost needs a balance of oxygen, water and carbon, the latter of which is found in dry materials such as leaves, corn stalks, straw, sawdust and fireplace ashes, according to Methow Valley School District’s Classroom in Bloom. It also needs nitrogen, which is included in food, coffee grounds, grass clippings, manure, green weeds and more. Cover the waste with dirt “so microorganisms can take hold and break it down,” Duncan said. “Keep it turned and keep it moist.” If you have a composter with a handle, “I don’t think you can turn it too often,” she said. If you’re using a shovel, turn the pile about once a week and add more dirt. In the summer, turn the pile as often as possible and water it to keep it from drying out. Classroom in Bloom notes temperature also plays an important part. “Decomposition occurs most rapidly between 110 (degrees) to 160 (degrees) Fahrenheit,” according to the classroom brochure on composting. And if you’re worried about the smell, that all depends on the materials you use. Compost made without manure, dairy and meat may produce fewer odors. “If you have too much nitrogen in your pile in proportion to carbon, it will start to smell,” according to Classroom in Bloom. “If you do it right … there’s
The beginnings of a new compost heap, housed in a bin made from pallets, includes food scraps and greens. Food for All Okanogan
Methow Valley sixth-graders tend compost bins in mid-April as part of Classroom in Bloom. really very little issue with smell,” Duncan said. “Adding that layer of dirt on top does help. The items
Methow Valley School District
that you’re adding are typically the items that don’t produce smells in the kitchen.”
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Page 10 — 2014 Spring Home and Garden, The Chronicle, Omak, Wash.
New to gardening? Interest is key Pick plants and fertilizer, then get busy planting By Jennifer Marshall The Chronicle OMAK — If you’re new to gardening, the first and most important thing you need to have is a strong interest in it. “I think it’s more of a hobby and an outlet,” Okanogan County Master Gardener Jim Bone said. “It’s more of a relaxing time for most of us, so you’ve got to be able to enjoy it or you won’t stay with it for very long.” Gardens take time to cultivate and maintain, and depending on what you want to plant, take some patience as well. First, you have to consider what type of flowers, plants or vegetables you want, and then select a fertilizer – Bone suggested compost or manure. Plants referred to as “annuals” complete their life cycle in one year, Bone said. Biennials take two years, and perennials, such as trees and shrubs, take longer than
that. “When determining what kind of things you want, everything is different,” he said, noting that some shrubs can grow to 10-15 feet tall, while others stay low to the ground. Some plants thrive in direct sunlight, but those that need shade should be planted on the north side of the house or under the shade of trees, Bone said. The Master Gardeners have accumulated a list of native plants on the Washington State University Extension for Okanogan County website, county.wsu.edu/okanogan/gard ening/Pages/Master_Gardeners. aspx. The list includes hundreds of varieties of perennials, deciduous trees and shrubs, vines, ground covers, edible plants, bulbs, annuals, conifer trees and shrubs, and evergreen shrubs. “Then you have to consider, ‘Where do I live?’” Bone said. In a region such as Okanogan County, geography is diverse, from riverfronts to dry, sandy hills. “You need to pay attention to climate zones,” he said. “Our zone here is between 4 and 5 – most
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plants you look to buy will tell you which zone they’re best for.” Mid-May is about the right time to begin planting in the
valley, after the last frost of the season, Bone said. The average first frost is around early October, giving residents about 150 days for
an outdoor growing season. “There’s an old wives’ tale –
See Garden 12
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“Come taste the Fruits of Our Labors”
• Cherries • Peaches • Apples • Nectarines • Pluots July 1 - November 1 • 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hwy. 97 located at milepost 275, Malott 509-422-3145
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2014 Spring Home and Garden, The Chronicle, Omak, Wash. â€” Page 11
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Page 12 — 2014 Spring Home and Garden, The Chronicle, Omak, Wash.
Garden from 10 don’t plant if there’s still snow on top of Omak Mountain,” Bone said. In more mountainous areas, such as Chesaw and the Methow Valley, growing season is about 120 days with the final frost around June 1 and the first frost in mid-September. However, some things, such as cabbage, peas and potatoes, can be planted sooner. For those who can’t plant outdoors or want to start with something simple, try hanging plant baskets or growing vegetables in smaller containers inside your home. “The thing that we have found is it’s important to empower people to grow a certain percentage of their own food… even if they just have a coffee can with a couple of holes punched in it,” said Lael Duncan, executive director of the Okanogan County Community Action Council. “There are all kinds of things you can use as containers.” Duncan said one of the most important factors in successful gardening is good soil. She recommends that those with land try composting, but potting soil can be purchased from garden centers or hardware stores.
“Buying dirt seems counterintuitive, but the result is well worth it,” she said, noting that plants need soil that is “healthy and pest-free, and contains a certain amount of food.” She also suggested using aged manure, which means seeds from whatever weeds the animals ate have had a chance to be killed. “Chicken manure tends to be really strong and not have a lot of seeds in it, so it’s good but you want to mix it at a higher ratio of less manure to more dirt,” Duncan said. “Goat and sheep manure typically doesn’t have seeds in it.” Another aspect of gardening that takes some consideration is when to water, and how often. Bone said grass should be watered about once a week in the spring, then every two or three days in the summer, depending on how hot and windy it is. As for plants in general, “the water has to go to where the roots are,” he said. “Roots need to have some oxygen and they need to have some water, but not be totally underwater. You want to get the water to the plant, but then you want the top surface to dry out slightly,” which signals that it’s not being overwatered. “You want to soak seedlings when you first plant them, then keep them moist,” Duncan said.
Okanogan County Community Action Council
Square-foot gardens flourish outside in downtown Okanogan, an example of easily-manageable gardening. “Moist is the key word, not drowning.” Several years ago, the Community Action Council helped some local families start their own square-foot gardens through the Food for All program. There hasn’t been any funding to continue the program since about 2012, but Duncan said the council still offers
brochures and advice for anyone wanting to grow their own food. When determining what types of vegetables to plant, she said to think about the foods you’re already eating and “grow what you will consume or preserve for the winter.” But above all, patience is the key to perseverance.
“There is a certain element of trial and error. I’d say one of the keys is to not be discouraged,” Duncan said. “There are a million different ways to garden, and it’s important to really find one that makes you happy. There’s a real satisfaction in producing your own food and having that degree of self-reliance.”
Live locally. Shop locally. Play locally.
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Locally owned and operated • Rodger and Dawna Nicholas 317 S. Main Omak 509-826-1730
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