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Cooperative Extension in Somerset County

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January 2013, Somerset County Master Gardener Newsletter

Hi, Everyone, and Happy New Year! The year 2013 holds tons of promise for those of us who are to thumbing through the stacks of new seed catalogs that have found their way into our mailboxes. At this time of year my garden always looks the best with the least amount of effort, as I look at the pictures in the seed catalog and decide where on my garden plan I can put my new selections for my 2013 garden. It is only after having my better half check out the plan that I am brought back to reality and the fact that we don’t really have the space to grow an extra 20 tomato plants or another 30 feet for the latest onions. Oh! Where am I going to put another variety of sweet corn? It’s fun to dream. But after the dreaming is done, the real planning begins. If this is going to be your first garden, you may be wondering where to start. The following items may hold some answers to your questions.

Items of Interest

Choosing the right varieties of vegetables to grow is an important part of successful gardening. Decide on vegetables that you enjoy eating and then on how much space you can devote to each. For information on which vegetables grow in Maine, check out Vegetable Varieties for Maine Gardens.

If you’re having trouble understanding the soil test you received back from your sample you sent in, then visit the Maine Soil Testing Service website and check out “Interpreting Soil Test Results for Gardens & Grounds.”

If you haven’t done a soil test yet, Bulletin #2286 Testing Your Soil will explain the benefits of testing your soil. Now through March 31, 2013 you can have your soil tested at a reduced price of $12.00 for the basic test!

Learn what to do in Bulletin #2751, Starting Seeds at Home.

If you recently decided to scale back your garden or just want to try something new, raised beds may be an option you should look into. You may also want to try making a square foot garden. In combination, both methods have many advantages and more information can be found in Bulletin #2761, Gardening in Small Spaces.

The Maine Forest Service has posted their latest conditions report. They have issued an alert on the invasive geometrid winter moth (Operophtera brumata), which has been found in the two coastal Maine communities of Harpswell and Vinalhaven. In addition, reports have come in of moths in flight in Cape Elizabeth on December 2-3. Please send reports of moths flying: in unusual numbers, in other communities, in December or January. If you can also catch some of the moths, put them in a zip-lock bag and mail them to:

Charlene Donahue Forest Entomologist
Insect & Disease Laboratory
168 State House Station -50 Hospital St.
FAX (207)287-2432

David T. Handley, UMaine Extension Vegetable and Small Fruit Specialist, and the folks at Highmoor Farm have released the Spotted Wing Drosophila 2012 Season Summary for Maine Berry Growers. This pest should be of concern to all who grow soft fruits in Maine.

From Maine to Mumbai, Kitchen Gardeners International (KGI) works with a wide variety of partner groups that share an interest in and commitment to helping more people grow more of their own healthy food. These groups include school gardens, community gardens, garden clubs, organic farming associations, food pantries, churches, and other groups interested in achieving greater levels of health and food security in their communities via kitchen gardens. A message from KGI:

Thanks to a windfall of generosity on the part of garden companies, we find ourselves up to our ears in seeds and supplies looking for a good home. We are currently accepting grant applications via a new program called “Sow it forward!” to insure that they fall into worthy hands. As part of this program, we’re offering grants of seeds, supplies, online garden planners, books, small grants, and solidarity to nonprofit causes launching new garden projects or scaling up existing programs. At KGI, we see seeds and kitchen gardens as the gifts that keep giving and as part of the partnership; grantees will be asked to “sow forward” their grants within their communities so that others might share the benefits of healthy, homegrown foods. For more information or to apply, please go to the Kitchen Gardeners International.

If you’re handy, like watching wildlife, and would like something relaxing to do this winter while at the same time providing a home for wildlife, then the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife website has some very easy plans for the homeowner to build items to entice birds and such to their yards. For the plans, visit Living with Wildlife.

Upcoming Events

UMaine Extension and the Maine Poultry Growers Association are inviting Maine poultry keepers to submit photos and descriptions of their poultry coops for consideration in the contest. For details on the contest, see Statewide Photo Contest Will Highlight the Finest Poultry Coops.

 The 72nd Agricultural Trade Show will be held at the Augusta Civic Center on January 8-10, 2013.  Admission is FREE! This show provides an atmosphere to walk through, observe, and educate the public about different areas of agriculture.

Show hours:

Tuesday, January 8, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, January 9, 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Thursday, January 10, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

For more information, visit the 2013 Maine Agricultural Trade Show website.

If you’re always interested in learning about gardening, but can’t get out to take a class or course, this webinar series may be just what you’re looking for. The USDA promotes growing healthy food, people, and communities. It encourages USDA employees and communities to plant gardens because the simple act of planting a garden can make a neighborhood a healthier place to live, work, and play, while addressing issues such as hunger and the environment. USDA is excited to offer their Fall Webinar Series for a second time. This year’s sessions will provide practical gardening advice on such topics as seed saving, gardening with native plants, composting, volunteers, and school gardens. For more information, please visit The Peoples Garden Initiative.

If you’ve thought about how much fun it would be to raise your own bees for their honey or to pollinate your flower garden, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens, but just didn’t know how to get started, then this event is for you!

Tuesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (registration will take place between 6:00 and 6:30 on February 19), starting February 19 to March 19 with a (snow date of March 26).

Where: Somerset County Extension Office, 7 County Drive, Skowhegan, ME 04976

Cost: The course fee is $40 per person/couple and includes a 1 year membership with the Somerset Beekeepers, as well as the course manual, Beekeeping Basics.

Preregistration is preferred so that adequate course materials may be provided. A postponement notice will be announced by 3:00 p.m. on the day of the session if needed.

Instructor: Samantha Burns

Contact: Questions about the course may be addressed to Samantha Burns, or 207-696-4906.


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University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Contact Information

Cooperative Extension in Somerset County
7 County Drive
Skowhegan, Maine 04976-4209
Phone: 207.474.9622 or 1.800.287.1495 (in Maine)E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System