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Somerset County Master Gardener October 2013 Newsletter

A chill is in the air — oops! When I began to write this it was the middle of September, and we were in the throws of a thunderstorm after two days of heat and humidity. I wondered when that chill in the air and the colors of autumn would get here. And now, they’ve arrived! For most of us the chore of cleaning up the garden has begun, with the possible exception of planting some garlic for harvest next July. Also, if you haven’t done so already, you may want to plant a cover crop in the garden area to protect the soil for next season. Those of us with flower gardens might want to plant a selection of flower bulbs for early color next spring. Here are things to do in October:

Things to Do in October

  • Plant a late season cover crop. This time of year your choices for cover crops are limited. Perhaps a planting of annual or winter rye will provide the soil protection. For information on cover crop in the northeast, see the University of Vermont’s publication Cover Crops and Green Manures.
  • There’s still time to plant fall bulbs. When it comes to producing color early in the season, you can’t beat spring-flowering perennial bulbs. If cared for properly, they’ll come back year after year from a single fall planting, providing many blooms for your investment. For information on planting fall bulbs, see Introduction to Bulbs from Cornell University.
  • Get your strawberry patch ready for winter. Looking for advice on winter strawberry protection? Learn steps on how to protect your strawberry plants during the winter and what kind of mulch to use in Bulletin #2067, Growing Strawberries.

Items of Interest

  • Maine Foliage Report: Visit The Maine Foliage Report for up-to-the-minute autumn color updates throughout the state, along with great photos, and much, much more.
  • Proper Mulching Techniques: Mulches are materials placed over the soil surface to maintain moisture and improve soil conditions. Mulching is one of the most beneficial things a homeowner can do for the health of a tree. Mulch can reduce water loss from the soil, minimize weed competition, and improve soil structure. Properly applied, mulch can give landscapes a handsome, well-groomed appearance. Mulch must be applied properly; if it is too deep or if the wrong material is used, it can actually cause significant harm to trees and other landscape plants. For more information on mulching, check out the Trees Are Good website.
Master Gardener Volunteers

Participants in the 2013 Master Gardener Volunteer Class

  • Master Gardener Class of 2013 Draws to a Close: We are bidding a fond farewell to our Great Master Gardener Class of 2013. This was our first try at a split-session course and the response was fantastic. This year’s Master Gardener Class has already had three participants reach their 40 hours of volunteer time before the second session started, with many more close to having their hours done. Participants came from two counties — Somerset and Franklin — and volunteered in both, along with one volunteering in Kennebec as well. They went into schools, helped in their communities and neighborhoods, giving gardening tips and advise along the way.

Upcoming Events 

  • The Great Maine Apple Day: Hosted by the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association along with Fedco Seed Company and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Great Maine Apple Day will take place on October 27 from 10:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. ( rain or shine) at the Common Ground Education Center, 294 Crosby Brook Road, in Unity, Maine. For more information, visit the Great Maine Apple Day.
  • Check out Visit Maine for information about events going on each month all around the state. The site also includes a trip planner, maps, and other useful features.
  • “You Can” Program Series: Growing Hops in the Backyard! Learn how to grow hops in your home garden from Donna Coffin, Extension educator, in the next workshop of the “You Can” series, to be repeated at three locations: October 21 at the Penquis Valley High School in Milo; October 22 at the Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford; and October 23 at the UMaine Extension Piscataquis County office in Dover-Foxcroft, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Even though times are tough, you can sustain your family! The Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension have put together this series of workshops to give you the skills to get started in self-sufficiency. Hops can be grown successfully in PiscataquisCounty. Many home brewers are interested in taking their hobby to the next level by growing their own hops to produce their own beer. Hops can be used for other purposes, too. At this program you will learn about the history of hops production in New England, what hops needs to thrive in our area, basics of planting and care, pests that can affect hops, and harvest. Donna Coffin has been a UMaine Extension Educator in Piscataquis County for over 30 years. Her area of expertise includes sustainable agriculture and home horticulture. She received her Master of Science degree from the University of Maine in Animal Science in the area of animal nutrition. The cost of this workshop is $5 and you can register through PVAEC, 48 Morton Ave., Suite M, Dover-Foxcroft, ME04426 or call 207.564.6525 or register online.
  • SARE Farmer / Grower Grants – How Can I Get One? One of the most common questions about farming that comes into the UMaine Extension Piscataquis County office is “How can I get a grant to help me farm?” Tom Malloy, Outreach Coordinator at the University of Maine for Northeast SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education), will be coming to the next Maine Highlands Farmers Meeting on Thursday, October 10t at 7:00 p.m. at the UMaine Extension Piscataquis County office to talk about how farmers can get a grant from the SARE program to help with their farm. Malloy will discuss some successful grants that farmers in Maine have received and what they have been able to do with the extra funds. Some recent projects include pasturing hogs on field peas and barley, sunflowers for oil and feed, as well as winter-hardy bees. Many times the farmer/grower grant is about researching a new and different way of doing something on the farm. SARE provides some funding and the farmer provides the sweat equity.
  • The Fryeburg Fair: Have you been looking ahead to the fall foliage and perhaps one last visit to an agricultural fair? Well, you’re in luck! Now you can combine “leaf peeping” with a trip to the Fryeburg Fair for a day-long excursion or make a weekend of it. This year the fair opened on September 26 and runs through October 6. For more information, visit The Fryeburg Fair.

Thank You All!

It is with a hopeful look to the future that I am announcing my plans to retire from my position as Home Horticultural Aid here at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Somerset County, effective October 18, 2013. While I have truly enjoyed working with the Master Gardener program, the Master Gardeners, and the people of Somerset County, it is time to move on to spending more time with family and friends, and enjoying my other interests in the great outdoors.

Over the past two and a half years I have been blessed to work along side a great group of people both in Somerset and Piscataquis Counties, as well as throughout the UMaine Extension family. I will always be thankful for the opportunity Kathy Hopkins, Donna Coffin, and UMaine Extension gave me in December 2010.

I also would like to thank all of the wonderful people in UMaine Extension for making me feel like part of a huge family right from the beginning. I will always hold the UMaine Extension family in the highest regard and wish you all the BEST in the future.

If you have volunteer hours to be recorded, please send them in now or, starting October 11 , e-mail them to Kathy Hopkins at



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