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Somerset County Master Gardener September 2013 Newsletter

Wow! Where did August go? It seems like fair season just got started and already we’re talking about fall! Be sure to take advantage of the remaining agricultural fairs in Maine during September and early October. After the Labor Day weekend when the kids are back in school, you may find you have more time to turn your attention to taking care of what’s left in the garden and look ahead to gardening in spring 2014. By preparing your garden area now, you can get that head start we all look forward to! For information on fall garden cleanup, check out our short video Putting the Garden to Bed. For information on how to preserve your late season garden vegetables, visit the food preservation section of the UMaine Extension Food & Health website. I hope you have had a great summer and are looking forward to enjoying the crisp clean air and the beautiful colors of fall in our great state!

Gardening in September

  • If you’re looking for that extra bit of color for your flower garden or just want to insert more color into your fall display garden, MUMS the word. In greenhouses and nurseries, fall mums abound in all sorts of colors and sizes. Also, while you’re looking around don’t forget to check out selections of fall asters and flowering kale and cabbage. You may even be able to find some great deals on ornamental grasses, along with other nursery stock left over from spring.
  • Now is a good time to take a soil test to get your garden or lawn area ready for next spring by adding the amendments now to allow time for them to break down in the soil. For information, see Bulletin #2286, Testing Your Soil or stop by your local UMaine Extension county office.
  • Once you have your soil tested, you may decide to plant a cover crop to help build up the nutrients and protect your soil from the harsh winter winds that would like to carry it into your neighbor’s yard. Learn more about cover crops or see Cover Crops for Home Gardeners from Cornell University.
  • Divide summer blooming perennials. Dividing perennials helps rejuvenate and control the size of the plants, as well as increases the number of plants you have (which is great if you need more plants to fill in an empty space, establish a new garden bed or share with others). Keep in mind that once perennials are divided, the new transplants take 4-6 weeks to become established. Be sure to give the plants enough time to settle in before the ground freezes. See the fact sheet Dividing Perennials published by Clemson University Cooperative Extension for detailed information and instructions.
  • Plant spring bulbs. Now is the time to get in those fall bulbs that give you so much color in the spring (crocus, hyacinth, tulips, daffodils, and muscari) or something new in the way of bulbs. The time is now to visit a local nursery or greenhouse to check out their selection of fall bulbs. When selecting bulbs, make sure they are hardy and disease free. Bulbs should be planted in a well-drained soil with a temperature below 60°. Adding organic matter to the soil when planting will provide an added benefit to the bulbs.
  • Are you thinking about getting your lawn ready for next spring or just reseeding areas after the skunks, moles, voles, and raccoons have stuffed themselves full of the grubs living in your lawn and have “aerated” it in the process? If you have plans to do lawn work, UMaine Extension has information on lawn care to help you out. Bulletin #2367, Establishing a Home Lawn in Maine and Bulletin #2243, Maintaining a Home Lawn in Maine may be just what you need to help answer your questions.
  • If you are thinking of how much fun it would be to grow your own garlic, now is the time to try and find bulbs to plant. Look for hardneck varieties, as they grow best in our climate. See Bulletin #2063, Growing Hardneck Garlic in Your Maine Garden for great growing tips, as well as a video on growing garlic.
  • Looking for information on pest management? The UMaine Extension Insect Pests, Ticks & Plant Diseases website provides pest management information useful for Mainers. The goal is to help you understand pest issues and make informed choices. Knowledge and communication are the keys to minimizing pest damage and pesticide risk.

Items of Interest

  • Mainers urged to sign up for free disposal of banned, unusable pesticides

AUGUSTA—Mainers are urged to take advantage of a free opportunity to dispose of banned or unusable pesticides that they may have in their homes or elsewhere on their properties. This October, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) will team up with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to dispose of banned pesticides or pesticides that have become caked, frozen, or otherwise rendered unusable.

This free disposal program is open to homeowners, family owned farms, and greenhouses. All people need to do is register by September 27, 2013. It’s not unusual for homes and farms to have unintentional hazardous waste—old or unusable pesticides sitting around in basements, garages, or barns. Old chemicals like DDT, lead arsenate, 2,4,5-T, and chlordane, can be difficult and expensive to dispose of properly.

While removal of these pesticides can seem daunting, it’s important for the protection of public, wildlife, and environmental health that they are dealt with properly and not thrown in the trash or down the drain, where they can contaminate land and water resources, including drinking water.

“We urge people holding these chemicals to contact us immediately to register,” said BPC Director, Henry Jennings. “There will be four sites throughout the state where participants will be able to bring their obsolete pesticides and dispose of them conveniently and at no cost.”

The collected chemicals go to out-of-state disposal facilities licensed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency where they are incinerated or reprocessed.

Registration by September 27, 2013, is mandatory. Drop-ins are not permitted. To register, get details, and learn important information about the temporary storage and transportation of obsolete pesticides, go to the Maine Board of Pesticides Control website or call 207.287.2731.

The Maine Obsolete Pesticides Collection Program, jointly sponsored by the BPC and DEP, and paid for entirely through pesticide product registration fees, has kept more than 90 tons of pesticides out of the waste stream since its start in 1982.

For more information on the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, please visit their website.

  • New Agricultural Basic Pesticide Applicator License is needed. A new Maine Law requires farmers to obtain a pesticide applicators license by spring of 2015. If you sell more than $1000.00 worth of plants or plant products for human consumption and use any pesticides you may need to obtain a license. In the spring of 2011 the Maine Legislature passed a law which requires many growers to be licensed by the Maine Board of Pesticide Control. For more information on who is affected by this change, please visit their website or visit your local UMaine Extension county office.
  • Maine Home Garden News: Current and past issues, and sign-up: Maine Home Garden News includes timely and seasonal tips, as well as research-based articles on all aspects of gardening. Articles are written by UMaine Extension specialists, educators, and horticulture professionals, as well as Master Gardener Volunteers from around the state, with Professor Richard Brzozowski serving as editor. You can access the most current issue as well as past issues online at Maine Home Garden News. You may also subscribe via RSS feed or fill out our online form to receive e-mail notifications that will let you know when new issues are posted online.
  • Spotted Wing Drosophila: If you’re growing small fruits, grapes, peaches or other soft fruits, this information from the University of Maine’s Highmoor Farm will be of interest to you. See the latest news and information about the Spotted Wing Drosophila.

Upcoming Events

  • The Maine Organic Farmers Common Ground Fair: If you’ve ever been to the Fair, you know — and if you haven’t been, anyone who has will tell you — it’s an event like no other, which brings together many people from many walks of life, all in the spirit of celebrating the rural and agricultural traditions of Maine. If you have never been to the fair before, why not make this year the time to visit? The fair runs from September 20-22 in Unity, Maine. For more information, visit the Common Ground Fair website. For a list of other agricultural fairs in Maine, visit the Get Real, Get Maine website.
  • Come on over to our barn! Valley Grange becomes a barn (sorta) to help UMaine Extension Piscataquis County celebrate their annual meeting and raise some money to help Piscataquis Santa! This year the Piscataquis County Executive Committee and Staff are “pulling out all the stops” and that includes a very special event to celebrate their successes and you are invited! For more information and a list of what’s on the menu, along with activities that are planed for the evening, visit Piscataquis & Penobscot Farming Newsletter.
  • University of Maine Cooperative Extension Eat Well Nutrition Workshops: This four-part series starts October 3, 2013, at 5:00 p.m. and will be held at the UMaine Extension Piscataquis County office, 165 Main Street, Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. Participants will learn how to prepare healthy meals and snacks, save money on groceries, improve cooking skills, and keep foods safe to eat. Participants in the Eat Well Nutrition Workshops will also receive recipes and a cookbook, tips to help keep families active, and small incentives to help live a healthy lifestyle. Registration is free to eligible individuals. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Amanda at 207.564.3301 or 800.287.1491 (in Maine), TDD: 1.800.287.8957 or e-mail

Volunteer Opportunity

  • The Bloomfield Garden Club: The Bloomfield Garden Club in Skowhegan is looking for Master Gardener Volunteers to be guest speakers at some of their meetings in 2014. Some of the topics they would be interested in range from growing and pruning fruit trees, growing and care of small fruits, along with all topics centered around vegetable flower gardening. You may choose the topic of your interest to speak about. They would like the length of presentations to be between 45 minutes to 1 hour. For more information or to schedule a date for your presentation, please call Deb Burnham at 207.474.2162.

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