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Somerset County March Master Gardener Newsletter.

Master Gardener March Newsletter 2012

Marching into spring! Well here we go, March 20th is, by the calendar, the official start of spring. We’ll have to wait to see what Mother Nature has to say about that! Mother Nature always seems to be the deciding factor in what and when we gardeners do. Hopefully, we will have one of those rare springs where the weather is ideal and we can get into the garden to implement all those long awaited plans.

  • March is also a time when most gardeners begin starting their seedlings inside. Be sure to check the seed package if you’re unsure of the timing of when to start a particular variety. There’s nothing worse then winding up with a leggy, spindly plant.
  • This month is also a time when home gardeners begin to prune their fruit trees and check their trunks for insects and borers. You may also want to do some early spring pruning on some flowering shrubs that are in your landscape. Just be sure you know when they set their flower buds so that you don’t prune off this years spring flowers.
  • It’s also time to prune and clean up raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, if you didn’t get to it in the fall.

You can find more information on all of the above topics and more by visiting the UMaine Extension gardening website and selecting the Publications or Videos tab on the right hand menu.

Items of Interest:

Kennebec County Tree & Shrub Sale!

  • The Kennebec County Soil & Water District is now accepting orders for their annual Tree & Shrub Sale. Orders can be placed online or mailed in. For more information on this and a list of the plant materials available please visit their website and follow the link to the sale.

Increase in number of rabies cases in Maine

  • The Maine Center for Disease Control wants to remind people about the spread of this disease. Go to the following website for occurrence of rabies in the state. Also, WCSH6 (NEWS CENTER) has a video on their website on this subject.

The MOFGA Calendar

  • Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association have posted their 2012 calendar of events. For more information on this and other MOFGA information, please visit their website.

The Maine Department of Conservation

Upcoming Events:

Apple Tree Field Day

  • Master Gardener Alumni Mark Sherriff and Family, in collaboration with UMaine Cooperative Extension, will be hosting an Apple Tree Pruning and Grafting Field Day at their Avalon Acres Orchard & Farm in St. Albans, ME on Saturday April 14 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  Homeowners who are growing apple trees or who are planning on planting apple trees this spring are strongly encouraged to attend.  The day will start with information about general planting and management practices for apple trees and then move into the orchard for a pruning and grafting demonstration.  To register for this event, please call Tom Goodspeed at the UMaine Extension Somerset County Office at 474-9622 or toll free in Maine at 1-800-287-1495. There is no cost to attend this event.

Directions to Avalon Acres Farm: From Newport, takes Rt. 7 West toward Nokomis High School. Turn left on Williams Road. Go past the High School, follow to end (5 miles).  Turn left on Rt. 43 toward St. Albans.  Go 3 miles, turn right onto Dexter Road. The farm is 1 1/2 miles on the left.

From Skowhegan, take Rt. 2 east to Rt.150 (Hartland Road) into Hartland. Take right onto Rt. 23 to Dexter Road. Turn left onto Dexter Road. Farm is about 1 1/2 miles on the left.

Maine Garden Day

  • The 19th Annual Maine Garden Day is slated for Saturday April 14 at Lewiston High School, 156 East Avenue, Lewiston, ME. For more information, please check out the website.

So You Want to Farm in Maine: 

  • A farm business course for those already farming, who would like to brush up their business skills, or for those thinking about becoming farmers. This course will be offered in five evening meetings, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., starting Tuesday, March 20. Classes will be held in two locations: the UMaine Extension Penobscot County Office in Bangor and the UMaine Extension Aroostook County Office in Presque Isle.

Topics will include selecting and evaluating a farm enterprise, writing a business plan, record keeping, market research, and much more. Cost is $50.00 per farm, with a limited number of partial scholarships available. Sponsored by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Risk Management Agency.

Last year 63 people attended this program and all who attended felt more confident in their ability to create a viable farm business. Also, they rated the series 8.4 on a 10 point scale. 94% would recommend others to attend.

One comment: “Before this workshop I felt I would succeed in farming, but through trial and error. Now I feel I will succeed based on my new knowledge of farming.”

For more information, contact Donna Coffin at 1-800-287-1491 (in Maine) or Andrew Plant 1-800-287-1469 (in Maine). To pre-register, contact Theresa Tilton at 207-942-7396 or 1-800-287-1485 (in Maine) or e-mail or visit the UMaine Extension Penobscot County website.

 Learn, grow, eat, give! Blueberry plant sale to benefit UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteers program.

  • UMaine Extension and its Master Gardener Development Board are now conducting an online high bush blueberry plant sale to raise funds for the Master Gardener Volunteers program. For more information please visit their website or call your local UMaine Extension county office at 1-800-287-1495 (in Maine).

Maine Maple Sunday: March 25, Statewide

  • Join Maine’s maple producers to celebrate Maine Maple Sunday on March 25, 2012. It’s the day when sugar makers around the state open the doors of their sugarhouses for the public to join them in their rites of spring-making maple syrup.

Most sugarhouses offer free tasting and live demonstrations of how syrup is produced from tap to table. Many offer a variety of other treats and activities, including syrup on pancakes or ice cream, sugar bush tours, sleigh or wagon rides, live music, and lots more. For more information, visit the Maine Maple  Producers Association website.

Transferring the Farm:

  • An introductory workshop to help farm families minimize farm business succession risks will be held on Thursday, March 15, 2012 at the Governor’s Restaurant in Waterville, ME. “Transferring the Farm” is a day-long workshop offered in Houlton or Waterville, Maine. We have offered this program across New England over the past several years. The workshop will help farmers and farm families make informed decisions about transferring the farm to the next generation. Each workshop will address details on retirement and estate planning, legal approaches to protect assets from taxes, tools you can use to transfer farm assets, and determining your goals to address transfer planning. For more information and registration, please contact Gary Anderson at (800) 287-1770 or (207) 581-3240

Saving the seeds of biennials: why it matters

  • Rutabagas, turnips and Brussels sprouts: While seed catalogues offer at least twenty varieties of tomatoes, they only offer at best two to three varieties of these biennials. Ever wonder why, why it matters, and what you can do about it? How to save the seeds of biennial vegetables (including carrots, beets, and onions) – it’s not easy; they take their time producing their seeds, taking more than one growing season to do so – and why it is important is the subject of a talk by Maine’s premier seed saver Will Bonsall on Thursday, March 15 at the Farmington Grange Hall from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Farmington Seed Savers, as part of their winter education program.

As a curator for the national Seed Savers Exchange, Bonsall has been growing and saving the seeds of biennials on his farm in Industry for more than 30 years. And he is worried about the future genetic diversity of some of the lesser grown biennials, like leeks, turnips, rutabagas, and kohlrabies. Saving rare, heirloom, and native seeds has been, and is, an important part of food security.

Toward that end of the presentation, Bonsall will share his experience of carrying stock plants through the winter and isolating varieties for purity in the spring. For more information, contact Rosalie Deri at 778-6399

Volunteer Projects:

  • The Pittsfield Garden Club is looking for someone to present a gardening topic (such as seed starting) or other topic of gardening interest for approximately 1 hour on March 17 at 1:00 .pm. The meeting will be held at the Pittsfield Public Library.
  • Detroit Community Garden is looking for volunteers to put on educational programs for the group and assist in the development of the gardens. If you are interested in this project, please contact Tom at 1-800-287-1495 (in Maine) or e-mail or Deborah at 207-581-3874 or e-mail
  • Pittsfield Community Garden: The community of Pittsfield is interested in starting a community garden and holding forum for ideas in early March. For more information, please contact Tom at 1-800-287-1495 (in Maine) or e-mail
  • Hammond Tractor Company would like to have Master Gardener & Cooperative Extension display at their open house on March 31 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at their Fairfield location. If you are interested in the above topic, please contact Tom at 1-800-287-1495 (in Maine) or e-mail
  • Bloomfield Elementary School Garden: The BloomfieldElementary schoolwould like Master Gardeners to work with them in support of their three year plan to do raised bed vegetable gardening. Anyone interested in this volunteer project should contact Tom at 1-800-287-1495 (in Maine) or e-mail This would be a great oppertunity for someone wanting to help young people learn to garden and give back to the community.
  • Master Gardener Workshops: In our efforts to bring gardening information to our community we are looking for Master Gardeners to do workshops here at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office in Skowhegan on gardening topics for the home gardener and general public. If you are interested in any of the above topics, please contact Tom at 1-800-287-1495 (in Maine) or e-mail

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