Greetings, Fellow Gardeners!

Welcome to The Perennial Post, the blog of the Master Gardeners of San Juan County, Washington. We hope you’ll find plenty of useful information as you peruse the site. Along with the posts on the main page here, check out all the news and info on other pages, and catch up on topics most popular with PNW gardeners (just click the photo for that topic’s page):



Tent Caterpillars

Tent Caterpillars

Monthly Gardening Tips

Monthly Tips &
4-Season Gardening

Plans for Your Garden

Plans for Your Garden

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Noxious Weeds

Noxious Weeds





Click on the vertical orange bar on the left for more links & pages — and while you’re there, don’t forget to click on the “Sign Me Up!” button to subscribe, and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Recipe File: Super Simple Turkey Stock

Finally finishing up all of your Thanksgiving leftovers? Well, don’t toss that carcass – you’re not done yet! Emily Cavanaugh-Spain, San Juan Islander and doyenne of The Wanderlust Whisk shares one of the easiest recipes for turkey stock we’ve seen.

Emily Turkey Stock 1

So I woke up this morning with congestion, a headache and a barely there voice. It seems that my son bestowed his cold onto me via coughing… into my mouth. Motherhood!

With the weather at barely 30º I needed to share something simple and delicious with you that isn’t labor intensive because frankly my body just isn’t capable of doing much of anything else today.

We happened to save our turkey carcass and with the majority of the leftovers having already been devoured, I figured today would be a good day to make some turkey stock. The most intensive part is roughly chopping vegetables and peeling that funky paper-like skin off of the garlic.
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Pear Trellis Rust

With the seasons slowing, there’s time to review the pests of this year, and make some mental notes for spring. Julia Turney, MG Class of 2004 and one of our Diagnostic Clinic coordinators, tells us about one annoying visitor to her garden.

Rust on upper leaf.

Rust on upper leaf.

A plant problem that didn’t come into the Diagnostic Clinic this year but did show up on my Orcas pear is Pear Trellis Rust or Pacific Coast Pear Rust. It was first noticeable as orange spots on the upper leaf surface. Later in the summer the opposite lower leaf surface grew raised bumps called aecia. The sides of the aecia are finely divided, giving a trellis-like appearance. There were 20 or so leaves on the the tree with spots and the fruit didn’t seem to be affected.

The Pacific Northwest Disease Handbook identified junipers as the alternate host for the disease. This fungus first appeared in Bellingham in 1997 and has since been found in many areas of Western Washington. Coincidentally, my neighbors new landscaping includes junipers.
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November Happenings

Vintage fall bulb catalog
You thought your work in the garden ceased with the advent of fall? No way, man! This month is packed full of enough workshops and lectures to keep you busy until the next equinox.

On Tuesday, November 4, Colleen Howe-Gregory, of Mitchell Bay Farm and Nursery, will be the featured speaker at the San Juan Island Garden Club. Colleen will present a visual program highlighting Pollinator Issues and will give a talk on Using Color in the Landscape Environment. Learn why we make poor choices and how to evaluate the color spectrum in planning the landscape. All are welcome. Starts at 1 p.m. at Mullis Center on San Juan Island. Visit the San Juan Island Garden Club for details.
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2014 Master Gardener Advanced Training, October 31

MGAT2014 (1)There’s still time to register online for WSU-Whatcom County’s 2014 Advanced Training on Friday, October 31st. This full-day training brings local and regional experts to teach topics such as:

  • Honey Bees- Health & Habitat
  • Keeping it Clean: Food Safety Practices in Fruit & Vegetable Gardening
  • Rain Gardens for Beauty, Stormwater Management & Water Conservation
  • Optimal Composting
  • Beans, Kids, & Farmers — WSU Horticulture grad student Kelly Atterberry shares her research.
  • Gardening with Native Plants
  • Bats, Rats and other Scary Stuff
  • Watershed Study of Lake Padden – a backyard perspective

Plus Diagnostic Clinic Lab hands-on sessions led by Skagit & Whatcom County Master Gardeners!

Training is open to the public. The full-day training counts for five hours of Continuing Education credits for Master Gardeners.

The day begins at 8 a.m., at St. Luke’s Community Health Education Center, 3333 Squalicum Parkway in Bellingham. For more info and to register, visit Brown Paper Tickets.

The Joy of Composting (with Worms)

by Diana Brooks, MG Class of 2013

cartoon-wormsI know that many of you Master Gardeners compost in various ways. Yard waste, for sure. Many of you probably already have worm bins. But for those of you who have not tried vermicomposting yet and might like to know more, this article is for you.

I won’t preach. You already know the benefits of composting food: keeps the methane-producing decomposing food out of the landfill; produces black-gold for your garden; saves you money; and you get to have a clear conscience when you find spoiled food in the fridge: it gets re-purposed as worm food.

Right now is a good time to experiment with your first worm bin! It’s super-easy. All you need is get started is 1) a container with a tight-fitting lid; 2) some worms; 3) some shredded newspaper or sawdust for bedding. Easy 10-step directions follow:

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Garden Club Talk: Greenhouses, Simple to Complex

Charlet in his greenhouse!

Charley’s in the (green)house!

Do you wish your tomatoes would ripen sooner and last longer, through the fall rains?

For over 38 years, Charley Yaw, the foremost expert on greenhouses in the United States, has helped thousands of gardeners across the country select, build, equip and enjoy their greenhouses. Fortunately for us, he is located in Mt Vernon, WA and will be here to tell us everything we need to know about greenhouses. Don’t miss this one!

That’s Wednesday, October 15, beginning at 10 a.m. at Orcas Center, 917 Mt. Baker Road on Orcas Island. Free to Garden Club members, $5 admission for guests. Following the program, members and guests are invited to a social hour with coffee, tea, and appetizers.

For more info, visit the Orcas Island Garden Club.

Diagnostic Clinics 2014 Year End Wrap-up

by Julia Turney, MG Class of 2004, and Kate Yturri, MG Class of 2013

Vintage Microscope 2Another successful Diagnostic Clinic season has drawn to a close. A big thank-you to all of the Master Gardeners who participated in the Diagnostic Clinic this year! Ervine Munroe, Kate Yturri and Julia Turney coordinated the clinic; Sandy Johnson and Diana Brooks logged in samples and made sure our records were in good order. Special thanks to Kris Bayas for clinic support. New tasks we completed to help the clinic work efficiently were setting up the book reference list, creating written procedures for equipment set-up, and a schedule of educational talks. The written procedures have made clinic setup run smoothly and allow anyone to step in and help.
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October Workshop: What’s Wrong With My Plant?

What's wrong with my plant 1
The Master Gardeners of Skagit County present “What’s Wrong With My Plant?”, an advanced training workshop on plant diagnostics with David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth. Friday, October 10, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Sakuma Auditorium in Mount Vernon. Reserve your tickets at Brown Paper Tickets.

This workshop includes hands-on exercises identifying plants, plant disorders, pests, and diseases. Attendees are welcome to bring samples for hands-on identification. See the Skagit MG Clinics page for information on packing any samples you might like to bring for diagnosis.

David Deardorff earned his PhD in Botany from the University of Washington, and coordinated plant pathology research when on the faculty at the University of Hawaii. He also co-founded Plants of the Southwest in Santa Fe, New Mexico, one of the first native plant nurseries in the U.S. David has 15 years’ experience training Master Gardeners in plant diagnostics. His book, What’s Wrong With My Plant? with co-author Kathryn Wadsworth, was designed to help Master Gardeners diagnose plant problems.

Kathryn Wadsworth is a writer, film-maker, photographer, and naturalist. She co-owned and operated a tissue culture laboratory and orchid nursery in Hawaii, and has managed ecotours around the world.

Books will be available for purchase at the workshop.

This training counts for six hours of Master Gardener Continuing Education credits. The event is designed primarily for Master Gardeners, but you do not need to be a Master Gardener to attend. Tickets are nonrefundable.

Sakuma Auditorium is located at the WSU-Mount Vernon Research Center, 16650 Washington 536, in Mount Vernon. Snacks will be provided, but please bring your own lunch. Reasonable accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities and special needs who contact the Skagit Master Gardener Coordinator at 360-428-4270, or plantdiagnostics2014 @

Green Manures: Let’s Look at Legumes

by D.A. Salazar, MG Class of 2009

Young faba beans.

Young faba beans.

We’ve all heard that legumes are “nitrogen fixers”, and can do great things for poor, tired soil. It being the season for planting cover crops (a.k.a. green manures), and as legumes figure large in that capacity, let’s take a look at how legumes work their magic.

First a refresher: Legumes are of the family Fabaceae, also called Leguminosae, and their fruit takes the form of a dry seed or pulse that grows in a pod. Grain legumes include chickpeas, faba beans, lentils, field peas and winter or Austrian field peas. Forage legumes include alfalfa, clovers like red and sweetclover, and the vetches. Legumes are plants high in protein — and proteins are full of nitrogenous amino acids, which means legumes require a high intake of nitrogen.

Also known as “N.”

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September Garden Club Events

The San Juan County Garden Clubs invite you to join them for two talks and a tour this month!Gardeners know all the dirt 3

On Thursday, September 11, the Lopez Island club welcomes Judy Jackson, Field Coordinator for the San Juan County Noxious Weed Control Board, for “Noxious Weeds – Identification, Methods of Control, Prevention, and Removal”. Join the fight against noxious invasives! The talk begins at 10 a.m. at Woodmen Hall on Fisherman Bay Road, Lopez Island.

Next, head on over to Orcas Island for “Spectacular Peonies” with Elisabeth Marshall of Full Bloom Farm on Lummi Island, where she organically raises 80 varieties of peonies and fruits and vegetables. Learn the secret to growing these beautiful blooms. That’s Wednesday, September 17 at 10 a.m., at Orcas Center.

Complete your month of garden club-hopping with an all-day field trip to the WSU-Skagit Valley Display Gardens in Mount Vernon on Saturday, September 20. These gorgeous gardens span 10 acres, and are maintained entirely by volunteers. For details and reservations, visit the San Juan Island Garden Club’s “Excursions” page.