Bend gardening: Tricky but thriving – The Oregonian

People new to both Bend and gardening east of the Cascades can find friendship and information by renting a community garden plot.

Ready to jump in? Participants in the NorthWest Crossing Community Garden will be preparing 59 raised beds for the growing season starting at 9:30 a.m. on April 26. Any of the organic plots that have not been rented for the season by returning gardeners will be available to Bend residents ($30 a year) on a first come, first served basis.

Gardeners perplexed by shorter growing seasons can succeed here, thanks to onsite advice from master gardener volunteers from the Deschutes County OSU Extension Service.

Garden coordinators and master gardeners Louise Gaston and John Coltman teach classes, from fighting aphids and composting to organic soil amendments and growing season extenders.

At 3,800 feet, gardening here is unlike growing in the Willamette Valley. Temperatures can reach 85 degrees in the day and drop to 35 degrees at night, says Gaston. There was snow on the Fourth of July. Cloches or other covers need to be installed at night.

But, as Coltman says, “those are the challenges that make gardening fun.”

That kind of attitude results in an active gardening community here, where tomatoes to fava beans thrive. Last year, the group donated 120 pounds of surplus produce to local food groups.

Gaston says almost anything can grow here if it can do it in 75 days as a starter plant.

The four-year-old garden is on land provided by West Bend Property Co.

For more information, call Louise Gaston at 541-318-5759 or John Coltman at 541-678-5949.

— Janet Eastman

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