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Somerset County Master Gardeners Newsletter May 2012

Well, where does the time go? Things are starting to get very busy here with questions coming in on a wide array of topics from vegetable gardening to lawn care to questions about trees and ticks. With all the things going on and everyone wanting to get out and enjoy the outdoors, here are some things you may be interested in:

May is the month to…

  • Start hardening off those seedlings you started earlier inside and begin directing crops into the garden. In early May, if you haven’t already put in your peas, now is a good time to get them in, along with most greens (such as spinach, lettuce, swiss chard) and more. One major factor to early planting is soil temperature and moisture in the soil. Too cold or wet soil may invite problems. See Soil Temperature as a Guide to Spring Planting in the May issue of Maine Home Garden News. Or visit our Gardening website to view our latest publications or videos.
  • Repair those dead spots in your lawn. Once your soil temperature has warmed to at least 55/60 degrees you may go out and prepare your area by first raking out the dead grass and roughing up the soil. Then you are ready to fertilize and replant the effected area. Be sure to cover the area afterward with a thin layer of straw to protect the new seed from washing away in a heavy rain or to make it hard for the birds to find the seed. Once planted, be sure that the area does not dry out. The ground should be kept moist until the grass is up through the straw. For more information, see the Seeding a Lawn section of Bulletin #2367, Establishing a Home Lawn in Maine, by Lois Berg Stack, UMaine Cooperative Extension ornamental horticulture specialist.
  • May is a great time to plant new trees and shrubs. With all the interest in non-invasive plants and planting native plants in the Maine landscape, Lois Stack has compiled information on Gardening to Conserve Maine’s Native Plants.

Items of interest:

The Strange Case of Barberry, Ticks, and Earthworms

  • We’ve all probably heard about the problems caused by invasive plant species crowding out native vegetation and altering the ecosystem. But new research has shown that at least one invasive species is affecting the natural environment in unexpected ways and some of those changes may even be having an impact on human health.

The Somerset County Soil & Water District

  • Now taking orders for their annual Trout Sale! The 2012 order form is available on their Trout Sale web page,  or call 474-8324 x 3  for more information. Deadline for orders is May 18. Pickup day is May 24. See the order form for prices and more details.

The Maine Forest Service

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Maine.

Gary Fish, Manager of the Pesticide Programs for the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, has sent along the following information:

Know Ticks, No Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in Maine. May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Maine, so remember to do your tick checks! With the mild winter, it is never too early to start thinking about tick prevention. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is carried by Ixodes scapular (the deer tick). Maine had a record high number of cases in 2011, with positives occurring in all 16 counties. Lyme disease is most common among school aged children and middle aged adults. As the weather begins to get warmer, more ticks will be out in the open. Most Lyme disease infections in Maine occur during the summer months. The most common early symptom of Lyme disease is an expanding red rash that occurs 3 – 30 days after being bitten. Fever and joint and muscle pains may also occur. Lyme disease is treatable, and the majority of patients recover after receiving appropriate therapy. Lyme disease is a preventable illness. Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends following the “No Ticks 4 ME” approach which includes:

  1. Wear protective clothing.
  2. Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered repellent.
  3. Perform daily tick checks.
  4. Use caution in tick habitats.

Ticks must be attached for at least 24 hours for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease to be transmitted, so prompt removal of ticks is extremely important. Anyone with a known tick bite, or who spends time in a tick habitat, should watch for symptoms for at least 30 days after exposure. If symptoms develop, call your healthcare provider.

Additional information: Maine CDC has numerous educational materials available on their website.

Upcoming Events

UMaine Extension in Somerset County is happy to announce gardening with raised beds and container gardening series.    

This year’s Master Gardener Volunteers will teach you how to go from start to finish, or more appropriately, from boards to harvest. In this series you will learn, hands-on, how to build, plant, maintain, and harvest from raise bed, square-foot gardens, and containers.

  • Session 1 – Building a Raised Bed
    Thursday May 10, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.
    Rain Date: Friday May 11 at 3:00 p.m.
  • Session 2 – Starting your Garden
    Thursday June 7, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.
    Rain Date: Friday June 8 at 3:00 p.m.
  • Session 3 – Caring for your Garden
    Thursday July 12, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.
    Rain Date: Friday July 13 at 3:00 p.m.
  • Session 4 – Using your Harvest
    Thursday August 9, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.
    Rain Date: Friday August 10 at 3:00 p.m.
    With special guest Gail Cardarelli, Nutrition Associate
  • Session 5 – Putting your garden to bed
    Thursday September 13, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.
    Rain Date: Friday September 14 at 3:00 p.m.

To register for sessions, please call the office at 207.474.9622 or 1.800.287.1495 (in Maine). There is no charge for this program. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.

National Public Gardens Day

  • If you enjoy visiting great public gardens and the great Maine coast, then this may be an opportunity to do both in the same day. National Public Gardens Day is May 11 and one of Maine’s premier gardens, Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, is on the Better Homes & Gardens list of free gardens to visit on that day. For free tickets for the event and more information on this event, visit the Better Homes & Gardens website; for information on the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, visit their website.

Preconditioned Feeder Calf Sale

  • Grass has started to grow and backyard beef producers looking for beef calves to turn out on pasture this spring have an opportunity to buy healthy calves. The Maine Beef Producers Association (MBPA) is sponsoring a preconditioned feeder calf sale at the Northeast Livestock Expo on Saturday, May 19 at 11:00 a.m. at the Windsor Fair Grounds, just off Route 32 in Windsor.

Cow Calf producers have taken the time to pre-condition their calves for this sale. Pre-conditioning reduces the incidence of respiratory disease, enteritis, and pinkeye by increasing the immunity of the calf in preparation of the stress of weaning and shipping. De-horning and castrations are healed. “This is a great opportunity to purchase high quality calves for your summer pasture,” says Dick Brown, MBPA Director and auctioneer for the sale.

Some cow calf producers consigning animals to the sale have also signed affidavits attesting that their animals have been raised under the MBPA Natural Meats program protocol of never having received hormones, antibiotics, or feeds or feed supplements containing animal-by-products. And/or their animals are 100% grass (forage) fed, no grains, grain-by-products, grain crops, grain crop silages, or other prohibited feeds under the USDA grass fed guidelines have been fed.

The MBPA are expecting about 100 calves weighing from 400 to 900 pounds to be sold at the May 19th sale at 11 a.m. If you are interested in buying a few or a lot of animals or have questions, contact Sale Manager Pete Dusoe at 207.948.3233, 207.416.5441 or Or Bob Dusoe at 207.322.5609

UMaine Extension and Maine Highlands Farmers Offering a Weed Identification Walk

  • SANGERVILLE, ME—University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Highlands Farmers have announced that a Weed Identification Walk will be held on June 27 at 7:00 p.m. at the Stutzman’s Farm, 891 Douty Hill Rd, Sangerville. The Maine Highlands Farmers are having a short business meeting following the walk. Registration is free. Two hours of pesticide recertification credit are available for private pesticide applicators. For more information, contact Donna Coffin at 207.564.3301 or 1.800.287.1491 (in Maine), or e-mail . You can also visit the UMaine Extension events calendar.

UMaine Extension programs are open and accessible to all in accordance with program goals. Farmers will benefit from the weed identification walk by learning common weeds that can invade their vegetable, fruit, and other cultivated crops. Donna Coffin, Extension Educator, will lead the walk and have a number of references available for farmers to learn how to identify weeds and how to manage them in their crops. Farmers with weeds to identify from their home farm are encouraged to bring a digital picture of their problem weed.

Save the Dates: 4-H Shooting Sports Training Weekend Workshop

  • The Annual 4-H Shooting Sports training weekend workshop has been scheduled for June 8 – 10 at University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond. Visit their website for more information.

Thank you!

  • To Mark & Wendy Sheriff  at Avalon Acres Orchard & Farm for being such great hosts and for once again putting on the Apple Tree Pruning & Grafting Field Day held at their orchard on Saturday, April 14. This year we also got to see how Mark trains and cares for grapes, along with all the fruit tree information. If you missed this year’s event, be sure to join us next spring. If you get the chance, visit them at the farm or on their website or on their Facebook page.
Apple field day clinic

Apple Pruning Clinic: Mark Sheriff explains proper pruning, training, and care of young apple trees.

More thank yous!

  • Thank you to Howard Daigle and Laurie Magee for volunteering to represent the Master Gardeners at Demo Days, held at the Skowhegan Tractor Supply Store on April 28. They presented information on worm composting & items to make for seed starting.
  • Thank you to Shelia Farrin, June Williams, and Laurie Magee for volunteering to do a container gardening planting and demonstration at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office in Skowhegan for the Senior Companion Group in Somerset County.

Volunteer Projects:

  • Detroit Community Garden is looking for volunteers to put on educational programs for the group and to 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
  • Bloomfield Elementary School Garden: The Bloomfield Elementary school would like Master Gardeners to work with them in support of their 3-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 opportunity for someone wanting to help young people learn to garden and give back to the community.

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