The gardening season is in full swing and if you’ve got questions, turn 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, type it in and include the county where you live. Here are some questions asked by other gardeners. What’s yours?
Q: I was gathering lettuce, kale and bok choy from the garden and a couple of the leaves had splats of bird poop on them. I didn’t think about it before putting everything in a salad spinner and filling it with water to soak. After googling, I realized I may have contaminated all the leaves and may need to throw everything out. Is there a way to clean these? Or should I just compost them.
Someone suggested hydrogen peroxide or vinegar. – Multnomah County
A: The following is from Cornell University Extension. I am also including some produce washing resources for your review:
Handling fresh fruits and vegetables safely
Guide to washing fresh produce.
Although most people know animal products must be handled carefully to prevent spoilage, many don’t realize that fruits and veggies can also be the culprits in outbreaks of foodborne illness. Because cooking food kills harmful bacteria, raw veggies and fruits carry the biggest risk of contamination.
In recent years, the United States had several large outbreaks of illness caused by contaminated fruits and vegetables, including spinach, tomatoes and peppers.
Safely preparing produce before eating is an important way to prevent foodborne illness. Choose produce that isn’t bruised or damaged, and make sure that pre-cut items – such as bags of lettuce or watermelon slices – are either refrigerated or on ice both in the store and at home. In addition, follow these recommendations:
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
- Cutaway any damaged or bruised areas before preparing and eating.
- Gently rub produce while holding under plain running water. There’s no need to use soap or a produce wash.
- Wash produce BEFORE you peel it so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the fruit or veggie.
- Use a vegetable brush to scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers.
- Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
- Throw away the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.
You should also store perishable produce in the refrigerator at 40 degrees F or below. – Teagan Moran, OSU Extension horticulturist
Q: I have some type of infestation on my cherry tree. Can you identify it and tell me how to treat it? – Josephine County
A: From your photos it looks like your tree is infested with aphids. The aphids will start damage on one limb or part of a limb and as they multiple they will spread to other limbs. If you closely inspect the deformed/damaged leaves you should be able to see the tiny aphids, or the sticky residue that they deposit on the leaves.
The damaged limb will probably not produce fruit this year. But if you control the aphids as recommended in the provided publication your trees should produce next year. The sooner you treat your tree the less damage you will have this year. Here is a publication you may find useful. – Chris Rusch, OSU Extension Master Gardener
Q: Should I use compression fittings or barbed fittings for a flower pot watering system? – Benton County
A: You can use either barbed or compression fittings for your potted plants. There are some advantages and disadvantages to both.
Barbed fittings are less expensive and easier to put on and can be found in most hardware stores. They create a slight flow restriction at the pipe joint since they decrease the inside diameter of the pipe. In high-pressure systems, however, cost savings may be neutralized by the additional expense of clamps required for the barbed fittings.
Compression fittings fit tightly to the outside of drip lines and do not require clamps. Compression fittings do not restrict water flow, but they are not as readily available as barbed fittings and they are more difficult to disassemble once installed.
I’ve attached a link to a nice article from Penn State about building a container garden irrigation system. – Deborah Kern, OSU Extension Master Gardener