Academic Wage Appt - Salaried
neil.bell [at] oregonstate.edu 503-373-3765 Office:
I oversee the Master Gardener program in Marion County and Polk County and work with my volunteers to assist homeowners with their garden problems.
My research interests involve evaluating evergreen shrubs for un-irrigated landscape applications in western Oregon. Since 2001, I have done evaluations of
Ceanothus, Cistus and Halimium at the Oregon Garden in Silverton and at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora. Currently, I am evaluating Grevillea and Arctostaphylos for hardiness, growth and flowering at NWREC. We have used the results from these evaluations to design low-input landscapes for the region that emphasize year-round ornamental appeal.
Together with Dr. Jay Pscheidt, I developed and deliver an online course on plant problem diagnosis which was offered for the first time through E-campus in spring term 2012. The course is HORT 349, Diagnosis of plant problems-an introduction.
I was raised in Victoria B.C. and earned my B.S. degree from the University of British Columbia in Plant Science in 1990. I came to OSU to study Horticulture and received an M.S. in 1992. The research area for my Masters degree was berry crops, and the thesis looked at yield components of 'Marion' trailing blackberry.
Outreach and Extension
Extension Service Site Publications
(2021) How to Control Slugs in Your Garden / Cómo Controlar a las Babosas en su Jardín Consejos prácticos sobre como tratar las babosas en su jardín, dados en inglés y español.
(2021) Are fresh avocados possible here?
(2021) Can I save my split maple?
(2018) Extension Forestry in Marion County How Extension teaches best practices that enhance the soil, air and water quality, and how the program is important to family and community success.
(2018) Community Horticulture in Marion County See how Extension's research and education services help develop plant varieties that are successfully adapted for use in the mid-Willamette Valley and help residents raise their own food and plants to beautify their landscape.
(2020) Black slime in my barkdust, is this a concern?
(2020) Buzzing and Beautiful: Designing Pollinator Gardens with OSU Extension A recording of a webinar touring through two new OSU guides to help you garden for pollinators and then ask questions of all the authors. We covered everything from what shrubs to plant, how to use mason bees, shrubs and trees that bloom in winter and some garden designs that look great, attract a wide array of pollinators, but use plants that are readily available in local nurseries.
(2020) Trees and Shrubs for Fall and Winter Bloom Fall and winter flowers add cheer in the Pacific Northwest's rainy season. Flowering shrubs are also a boost to pollinators, providing nectar and pollen when little is available. Learn what shrubs and trees to plant now to brighten your garden in the months to come.
(2020) Enhancing Urban and Suburban Landscapes to Protect Pollinators The way we garden can help promote the health of bees and other insects. This guide offers detailed plant lists, garden designs and advice on creating pollinator habitat.
(2019) Pokeweed identification?
(2019) Pruning Ornamental Shrubs What is pruning?, Pruning principles, Identifying flowering and growth habit, Directing growth, Principal pruning cuts
(2019) Diagnosing plant problems
(2018) Is a strawberry tree a good choice?
(2021) How to Control Slugs in Your Garden / Cómo Controlar a las Babosas en su Jardín Practical tips on how to deal with slugs in your garden, given in both English and Spanish.
(2022) Winter Vegetable Production on Small Farms and Gardens West of the Cascades The mild climate west of the Cascades allows farmers and gardeners to grow many winter-hardy crops in the field for winter and spring harvest. A wide range of alliums, leafy greens, brassicas and root crops do well. For gardeners, these winter vegetables provide fresh, nutritious, homegrown produce from November to April. For farmers, winter vegetable production can provide cash flow outside the normal summer cropping season, more consistent work for employees and year-round relationships with direct-market customers.
(2009) Mulching Woody Ornamentals with Organic Materials Discusses mulching woody ornamentals (trees and shrubs) with organic materials. Covers the reasons for mulching, how to apply mulch, and how to maintain its beneficial effects over time. General principles described also apply to a wide range of other organic materials. Includes a table to help compare characteristics of materials used as mulches in western Oregon.
(2003) Improving Garden Soils with Organic Matter Soil organic matter is important to good plant performance. Adding organic matter can improve any soil, no matter how compacted. Learn how to check your soil for organic matter and improve its quality with amendments.
(2003) Acidifying Soil for Blueberries and Ornamental Plants in the Yard and Garden: West of the Cascade Mountain Range in Oregon and Washington This publication explains the importance of soil acidity to plant growth and discusses how to modify it to ensure that rhododendrons, blueberries, and other acid-loving plants thrive in your garden.
(2018) Grow Your Own Tomatoes and Tomatillos This publication is an extended revision of the previous edition. It describes how to grow tomatoes and tomatillos in the home garden. Topics include site and soil preparation, cultivar selection, propagation, planting and plant care, techniques for extending the growing season, pruning and training systems, and harvest and storage.
Want to learn more? Take our online class!
Have you ever wanted to start growing fruits and vegetables in your yard but didn’t know where to start? Are you interested in urban gardening? Do you want to start your own urban farm? By the end of OSU Extension's Urban Agriculture online program, you’ll have a detailed plan outlined and ready to put into action with the crop and site of your choice!
(2014) Cultive sus Propios Tomates y Tomatillos Da ejemplos de variedades de tomates y tomatillos (jitomates y tomates) que rinden bien en los huertos del Noroeste. Describe las condiciones de suelo idóneas y cuándo y cómo de debe fertilizar. Trata los principios básicos de la propagación, la plantación, la cultivación, el riego y el control de insectos y enfermedades. Explica los beneficios del uso de mantillos de plástico, cubiertas y soportes o estacas de plantas, y sugiere métodos de usarlos y construirlos.
I oversee Master Gardener programs in Marion County and Polk County. The MG chapter in Marion County has approximately 225 members and the Polk County Chapter has approximately 160 members. The main role of the MG's in each county is assisting home gardeners with their garden problems, and the volunteers collectively field about 4,000 inquiries from homeowners annually. They also sponsor an array of other programs within each county, including clinics at community events, presentations to community groups and on local radio, seminars and workshops for the public, educational presentations to elementary schools, assisting community gardeners as technical advisors. Activities of both Marion County and Polk County Master Gardeners are self-funded by means of an annual plant sale.
I also personally assist homeowners with their garden problem, typically about 300 inquiries per year. I have authored OSU Extension publications on water-efficient landscape plants, soil amendment and mulch use. I also revise the home garden sections of the PNW Insect Management Handbook yearly and write a weekly column entitled the "Master Gardener Question of the Week" for the Salem Statesman-Journal. I make presentations to local gardening groups throughout the year. As an extension of my research activities, I am available to help community groups with design and install of drought-tolerant landscapes anywhere in the Willamette Valley.