CORVALLIS, Ore. – The faltering economy combined with interest in healthy food choices has led to an increase in calls to Oregon State University Extension Service county offices with questions about growing food in home gardens – and more calls are expected as spring approaches.

One of the most compelling phone calls came in late fall of last year, according to Gail Langellotto, statewide coordinator of the Master Gardeners program.

"It was a difficult time as gas prices and subsequently the cost of food surpassed the means of many people," she said. “The man on the phone asked, ‘What can I grow that will produce food for my family right now?’"

The worried caller's options for starting a garden late in the fall were limited. But Langellotto had an answer: A container garden would be easiest, she told him, and leafy greens could survive the winter if the containers were placed in the sun, out of the wind, and wrapped with plastic to keep the soil warm.

People who want to start gardening are concerned not only about the price of food, but growing fresh produce that they know is safe. Many also want to know what grows well in their area and how to participate in community gardens, according to reports from county Extension staff members.

Gardening seminars also have seen increasing numbers. A Benton County lecture in January on planning a garden in the Willamette Valley drew a standing-room-only crowd of 220. The number of names on a waiting list to rent plots in the Portland area's 30 community gardens has grown to 1,000, according to Extension's Clackamas County horticulturist Weston Miller, and landowners are offering to donate land for more community gardens.

Gardening help is available at most county Extension offices from home horticulture experts and Master Gardeners, who are trained to answer questions. More than 3,500 Master Gardeners are active in 28 of Oregon's 36 counties as volunteers and last year donated more than 173,000 hours to helping home gardeners.

"When the Master Gardener program began in 1976, its focus was on diagnosing plant problems and offering solutions," Langellotto said. "While still a major focus, Master Gardener volunteers also provide educational programs on topics such as pest management, composting and sustainable landscaping, as well as getting a garden started.”

OSU Extension's, "Growing Your Own," a practical guide to gardening for first-time gardeners, is available online at: Copies of a printed version are available at county Extension offices.

Most Extension offices offer gardening classes on a variety of topics. Check with your local Extension county office for details (listed below). Websites for each county are at:

Oregon State University Extension Service county offices:

OSU Extension Service, Baker County
2610 Grove Street
Baker City, OR 97814

OSU Extension Service, Benton County
1849 NW 9th Street
Corvallis, OR 97330-2144

OSU Extension Service, Clackamas County
200 Warner Milne Road
Oregon City, OR 97045

OSU Extension Service, Clatsop County
2001 Marine Drive, Room 210
Astoria, OR 97103

OSU Extension Service, Columbia County
505 N. Columbia River Highway
St. Helens, OR 97051

OSU Extension Service, Coos County
Ohlsen Baxter Building, 631 Alder St.
Myrtle Point, OR 97458
541-572-5263, 1-800-730-4978

OSU Extension Service, Crook County
498 SE Lynn Blvd
Prineville, OR 97754

OSU Extension Service, Curry County Fair Grounds
29390 Ellensburg (Hwy 101)
Gold Beach, OR 97444
541-247-6672, 1-800-356-3986

OSU Extension Service, Deschutes County
3893 SW Airport Way
Redmond, OR 97756-8697

OSU Extension Service, Douglas County
1134 S.E. Douglas
Roseburg, OR 97470
541-672-4461, 1-800-883-7568 (in Douglas County)

OSU Extension Service, Gilliam County
333 S. Main
Condon, OR 97823

OSU Extension Service, Grant County
Courthouse, 201 S. Humboldt, Suite 190
Canyon City, OR 97820

OSU Extension Service, Harney County
450 N. Buena Vista #10
Burns, OR 97720

OSU Extension Service, Hood River County
2990 Experiment Station Drive
Hood River, OR 97031

OSU Extension Service, Southern Oregon Research/Jackson County Extension
569 Hanley Road
Central Point, OR 97502-1251
541-776-7371, 541-772-5165

OSU Extension Service, Jefferson County
34 SE D Street
Madras, OR 97741

OSU Extension Service, Josephine County
215 Ringuette St
Grants Pass, OR 97527

Klamath Basin Research and OSU Extension Service
3328 Vandenberg Road
Klamath Falls, OR 97603

OSU Extension Service, Lake County
103 South E Street
Lakeview OR 97630

OSU Extension Service, Lane County
950 West 13th Avenue
Eugene, OR 97402-3913

OSU Extension Service, Lincoln County
29 SE 2nd Street
Newport, OR 97365-4496

OSU Extension Service, Linn County
Old Armory Building Room 102
104 4th Ave SW
Albany, OR 97321

OSU Extension Service, Malheur County
710 SW Fifth Ave
Ontario, OR 97914

OSU Extension Service, Marion County
3180 Center St NE RM 1361
Salem, OR 97301
503-588-5301, Gardening Questions: 503-373-3770

Morrow County
54173 Hwy 74
Heppner, OR 97836

OSU Extension Service, Polk County
182 SW Academy, Suite 102
Dallas OR 97338

Sherman County
409 Hood St.
Moro OR 97039

OSU Extension Service, Tillamook County
2204 Fourth Street
Tillamook, OR 97141

OSU Extension Service, Umatilla County
Blue Mountain Community College Campus
2411 NW Carden, Ave. Umatilla Hall
Pendleton, Oregon 97801

OSU Extension Service, Umatilla Milton-Freewater
418 N. Main St
Milton-Freewater, OR 97862

OSU Extension Service, Union County
10507 N McAlister Rd, Rm 9
La Grande, OR 97850

Wallowa County
668 NW 1st
Enterprise, OR 97828

Warm Springs Reservation
1110 Wasco St.
Warm Springs, OR 97761

OSU Extension Service, Wasco County
400 E. Scenic Drive, Suite 2.278
The Dalles, OR 97058

OSU Extension Service, Washington County
18640 NW Walker Rd. #1400
Beaverton, OR 97006-8927

Wheeler County
701 Adams St., Room 102
Fossil, OR 97830

OSU Extension Service, Yamhill County
2050 NE Lafayette Avenue
McMinnville, OR 97128
Master Gardeners: 503-434-8918

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.


Gail Langellotto,