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Shelton Mason County Journal
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Mason County Journal
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January 2, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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January 2, 2014

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Master Gardener Master Gardeners will miss retiring specialist ashington State Uni- versity bid a fond farewell last week to Donald D. Tapio, WSU Extension regional specialist, Grays Harbor/Pacific counties, who will be retiring. We were lucky to have Don as a con- sultant for agriculture-related questions in Mason County for many years. His career with WSU Extension began in the summer of 1969 when he was hired as a summer work-study student in the Pierce County Extension of- fice in Tacoma. He was By JEANNE assigned to work with a horticulture agent REHWALDT who was very pleased to have him in the office to take the hundreds of calls that came each week from home gardeners. WSU was well aware of the demand for home gardening information and soon installed a Dial a Garden Tip service with daily messages on seasonal pest problems and options for their control. After graduating from WSU, he was hired by WSU Extension as a horticulture program assistant in Seattle. Home gardening calls coming into the King County office averaged more than 100 per day. Most days he never got off the phone for more than a short lunch break. In addition to the incoming calls, dozens of letters and plant samples were delivered to the of- fice daily. A year later, he was asked to work in the Pierce County office in the mornings and the King County office in the afternoons. He says that WSU made it clear he would never receive agent status without an advanced degree. After completing his graduate degree, he was hired as the horticulture agent in Snohom- ish County. Soon after that was when WSU developed the Master Gardener program to help answer home gardening questions. They could never have imagined what this pro- gram would grow into and how many people would be educated and assisted with Master Gardener's help. I first met Don when I at- tended Master Gardener's training in 1997. He was.a favorite speaker and well- respected by the volunteers and staff. He has contributed many times to the informa- tion in this column. He will be truly missed, but we wish him well in retirement. The tips provided below are from Don Tapio: Most blooming plants will keep their blossoms lon- ger in cooler temperatures. Keep the plant in a well-lit location away from drafts, heat, vets, fireplaces, or other heat sources. Well-drained soil is a must for Christmas cactus. Use a commercially packaged potting mix for suc- culent plants or mix your own by combining two parts pot- ting soil with one part clean sand or vermiculite. Watering seems to be the source of most problems with the Christmas cactus. The plant is a tropical type cactus and is not quite as drought- tolerant as the name implies. It can, however, store a rea- sonable amount of water in the leaves. Water it thorough- ly when the top half of the soil in the pot feels dry. Discard the excess water, and then do not water again until the top half becomes dry. The time between waterings will vary with air temperature, amount of light, rate of growth and relative humidity. More abundant blossoms are produced on plants that have been exposed to high- light intensity. Keep them in a sunny location indoors. After blossoms fade, the plant isn't much to look at. A little extra care will bring it back to full bloom next year. Prun- ing your Christmas cactus after blooming will encour- age the plant to branch out. Remove a few sections of each stem by pinching them off with your fingers or cut- ting them with a sharp knife. These sections can be rooted in moist vermiculite to propa- gate new plants. I would like to wish all the readers a very happy New Year. I look forward to con- tinuing to provide relevant gardening information to you in 2014. HARSTINE Continued from page A-11 In May and June, our theater and choral groups get geared up for their performances. "A Bad Year for Toma- toes" and "Songs of the Sea" were two big productions that brought family and visitors from far away. Of course the outdoor farmers market will be reopen- ing in May. Somehow, last yeaFs mar- ket seemed to really blossom with more vendors than ever. Last August's Kid's Carnival was another success. This annual women's club activity has been a great tradi- tion. They always need volunteers, so if you are looking at a job where you can clown around and get silly, you might want to contact the women's club and volunteer. Also in August, Karla Lortz sponsored the High Tea fundraiser for the food bank. What a great event. Just one more mention about the Harstine Island Choir -- it starts getting ready for fall performances in September and they are always looking for voices to add to their group. If you have any inter- est, give Elizabeth Berndt a call. This yeas Oktoberfest was another success and the annual awards were handed out. The three Honored Citizens of the Year were April Hansen, Jeff Roberge and Jan Irving. The Citizen of the Year was Sandy Murphy. This fine group continues to provide outstanding leadership for the island. I think the months of November and December are still pretty fresh in our minds, but here's one reminder to think about for next year: Every year the theater club puts on a free play at Christmas time. This yeaFs play, "It's a Wonderful Life," brought tears to many an eye. What a great thing to have a group of talented thespians on the is- land who like to donate so much of their time to our entertainment. Oh, and what about those two great holiday din- ners: Thanksgiving dinner spearheaded by Mike and Linda Bensen, and Jim and Ruth Irish, and then the Christmas dinner organized by Barbara LaJune. May 2014 be a very prosperous and wonderful new year to all. Read the Journal It's not just about where we live, it's about how we live & what we do in Mason County/ SheltoiiMason County 1l To Subscribe, call (360) 426-4412 Page A-16 - Mason County Journal- Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014