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Somerset County Master Gardener November 2012 Newsletter

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Really, it’s November already? The older I get, each year seems to fly by faster than the previous one. I have just finished putting my garden to bed and am already starting to receive online garden catalogs for 2013. No wonder things seem to be moving along faster than we would like. I hope this newsletter finds you well and looking forward to spending time with friends and family as the holiday season approaches.

Things to do in the garden

  • The garden season is almost over for 2012 even if the weather seems to encourage you to Plant Now! Stop and think before taking the chance on losing something you may really want for spring. There are some things that you can still plant and they should be okay. If you find a good deal on spring blooming bulbs or possibly your favorite garlic, those should be alright to set out (as long as your ground isn’t frozen), and you may possibly find a deal on some small trees and shrubs that you can put in now. The key to planting small trees and shrubs this late in the fall is not to stimulate a plant into sending out new growth! Most plants that have been outside in the nursery are already preparing themselves for the winter, so the key here is not to encourage new growth now that will surely die later when the real weather hits. Plant as usual, but do not fertilize, and be sure to water and mulch heavily. For information on planting trees and shrubs, see Bulletin #2366, Selecting, Planting, and Caring for Trees and Shrubs.
  • Cut back any remaining dead plants in the perennial bed or dead blossoms off from shrubs such as hydrangea if you don’t care for the winter interest that they will bring when covered with frost or snow.
  • Add any amendments to your soil as recommended in the soil test you sent in earlier in the year. By adding them now they will have time to work into your soil and be readily available to your plants in the spring.
  • If you haven’t already done so now is the time to mulch and do whatever maintenance on your roses that you have been putting off.
  • One last item that you can do now is mulch and put tree wrap on any young new trees that you planted this year, to protect them from rodent damage.

Upcoming Events

Longfellow’s Greenhouse 2012 Art & Artisan Show & Sale

  • If you’re looking for another excuse to go and visit a nursery and greenhouse, this may be the event for you. Longfellow’s Greenhouse located on 81 Puddledock Road in Manchester, Maine, is holding their annual Art & Artisan Show & Sale on November 3 and 4. For information on this event, please visit Longfellow’s Greenhouse website or call them at (207) 622-5965.

Horse Health Education Conference being held in New Gloucester, ME

  • Horse owners, caretakers, and pre-veterinary students will learn about the most serious infectious diseases that can affect their animals, and what can be done to improve bio-security and prevent disease outbreaks on the farm, at the Horse Health Education Conference on Saturday, November 17 at the Pineland Equestrian Center in New Gloucester. This program is for horse owners, prospective pre-veterinary students, 4-H and Pony Club leaders and older youth, boarding farm owners and operators, horse business owners, horse trainers, farriers, auction houses, fair superintendents, and others from New England who are interested in learning more about infectious diseases of horses.

Cost for the event is $15 for adults and $10 for students for early registrations received by November 9 (a limited number of scholarships are available; please contact us.) Late and walk-in registrations are $25 for adults and $20 for students.

To register, send check for registration (made out to UMaine Extension) and your name, address, phone, and e-mail to Melissa Libby, 134 Hitchner Hall, UMaine Extension, Orono, ME 04469-5735, 207-581-2788 or 1-800-287-7170 (in Maine) or or Melissa.Libby1@maine.edu. Or register online at umaine.edu/livestock/equine/horse-conf. Bring your own lunch or purchase a lunch ticket at registration desk.

For more information you can also visit the UMaine Events Calendar.

The Maine Harvest Festival

  • Will be held on November 10 – 11 at the Bangor Auditorium and Civic Center in Bangor, Maine, from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on both days. General admission tickets are $5.00 each, with children 10 and under free. For more information, see the Maine Harvest Festival website.

Items of Interest

  • One of the most popular holiday house plants at this time of year is the Poinsettia. This popular plant now comes in a wide range of colors and can be found in many different sizes. The University of Illinois has a great website with many interesting facts along with tips on how to care for Poinsettias.
  • Non-Timber Forest Products: Goods from the Maine Woods Balsam Fir, Bulletin #2541, by David Fuller, UMaine Extension Agriculture and Non-Timber Forest Products Professional, is an informative look at products past and present, made from the Balsam fir tree (Abies balsamea) here in Maine.

Thank you!

To Mark Whitney, who worked on cleaning up the raised beds here at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension office in Skowhegan. Also thank you to Sheryl Ruman and Cheryl Perkins for cleaning up the flagpole bed. The raised beds are ready for the 2013 gardening season and the flagpole bed looks the best it has since spring and is ready for an upgrade in the spring of 2013.

Somerset County Master Gardeners Newsletter October 2012

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Well, a chill is in the air and the colors of autumn are all around us. Most of the garden chores are done, 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 be putting in a selection of flower bulbs for early color next spring.

Gardening in October

  • With the beginning of October usually comes a brief stint of warm weather, instilling in us the urge to Plant Something! If you haven’t already done so, check for some great buys at the local stores and garden centers that are looking to clear their shelves of fall bulbs to get ready for that other season that’s just around the corner. Remember, fall bulbs bring spring color! Don’t be caught looking for tulips and daffodils in April at your local merchants.
  • Dig up tender bulbs, corms, tubers, and roots (canna lilies, dahlias, and gladiolas) after their foliage has died back or has been killed by frost. Let them dry in a well ventilated room, with temperatures between 60º – 70°, and out of direct sun. Most tender plants will take 1-3 days to cure; gladiolas can take much longer — up to 3 weeks. To store the cured materials, place them in a ventilated container and layer them with peat moss, sand, and shredded newspaper or sawdust. Store them in an area with temperatures ranging around 35 to 45º. For more information, check out University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension’s  Storing Tender Bulbs and Bulblike Structures.
  • If you love garlic and have noticed the prices in the stores going up for whole garlic bulbs, then you might want to try your hand at growing your own. It’s still not too late to get it in the ground, but time is running out. For more information on planting garlic, watch our video How Do I Grow Garlic in Maine?

Items of Interest

  • Now is a great time to get outside and enjoy our beautiful state in all its color. Time spent out on your favorite hiking trail is always a rewarding experience. For information on trails in Maine or places of interest to leaf peepers, visit Maine’s Official Foliage Website.
  • Living with Wildlife: Are you having problems with wildlife around your home, garden or maybe the lawn? Help is on the way. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife is currently assembling helpful information about common Maine Wildlife that may be causing conflicts with humans. The site, Living with Wildlife, is new and still being developed.
  • Diane Blazek at National Garden Bureau writes:

We at National Garden Bureau have of  late become more curious as to what inspires a person to become a gardener. Was there a special person in your childhood who showed you the joy of planting a small seed and watching it turn into a stunning sunflower or delicious tomato? Was it your own inspiration after you bought your first home and wanted to beautify the landscape in order to “keep up with the Joneses?” Or maybe it was the local movement and food safety issues that prompted you to grow your own produce? We are asking you, our loyal reader, to give us a minute of your time to help us explore this topic. We’d really like to know which childhood, young adult or adult experiences, if any, helped inspire you to become a gardener. Even if you have not had any experience in or inspirations to garden, we would still like to hear from you! Please share your experiences by taking this short survey.

Also, if you have an interesting story on how or who introduced you to gardening that you would like to share in our Master Gardener Newsletter, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Tom Goodspeed at thomas.gooodspeed@maine.edu or Kathy Hopkins at kathy.hopkins@maine.edu.

Upcoming Events

  • Living History Days: The Maine Forest & Logging Museum at Leonard’s Mills on Route 178 in Bradley, Maine, is a great place to spend the day and enjoy the foliage, along with experiencing a 1790s logging and saw-milling village! Enjoy the bateau and wagon rides, and fresh-pressed apple cider. Watch a water-powered sawmill and more! Living History Days at the Maine Forest & Logging Museum takes place October 6-7, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information, visit the Leonard Mills website.
  • 2nd Annual Avalon Acres Harvest Festival — October 8, 2012: Bring the kids and learn about life on an apple orchard. The orchard will be open for apple picking, the farm store will also be open, and there will be many apple and harvest related demonstrations throughout the day. Money raised from this event goes to a charitable cause. Last year’s proceeds benefited the St. Albans’ Grange, Lions Club, Masonic Lodge, and St. Albans’ Parent Teacher Organization. For more information visit Avalon Acres & Farm.
  • Great Maine Apple Day: Interested in apples and apple trees? Then the MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) fairgrounds are where you want to head on October 21 for rare and heirloom apple displays, educational talks, and apples and apple products for sale. For more information, visit the Great Maine Apple Day on MOFGA’s website.
  • The Fryeburg Fair: With the fair season drawing to a close in Maine, many will be heading to the largest fair in our state. The Fryeburg Fair is slated to begin on Sunday September 30 and run until October 7. You can get more information and directions to the fair at the Fryeburg Fair web page.

Condolences

To Ted Weber and family on the passing of Nancy Weber, fellow Master Gardener and friend of Extension. Nancy’s dedication to her family and friends, and her lifetime spent teaching and sharing, was a model for us all.

Thank you!

Somerset County Master Gardener Volunteers

To date the Master Gardener Volunteers in Somerset County have

  1. volunteered over 1,040 hours in their communities;
  2. reached over 480 people through volunteering; and
  3. donated over 370 pounds to local food banks & neighbors.

This is just what we have to date (9/19/12), with more coming in each day!

Thank you and keep up the great work in your community and county. Please remember to send us your hours and produce donations to be counted as soon as you can.

At the present time I am glad to announce that we have been able to send out Master Gardener Volunteer Certificates to five people in our 2012 class and four re-certification certificates to previous Master Gardener Volunteers.

Somerset County September 2012 Master Gardener Newsletter

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

 Somerset County September 2012 Master Gardener Newsletter

Wow, where did summer go? Fair season is in full swing here in Maine and lots of folk are taking advantage of the numerous opportunities to go and visit their local agricultural fair. With Labor Day fast approaching and the kids going back to school, our attention might be turned to taking care of what’s left in the garden and getting a head start for gardening for spring 2013 by preparing your garden area now! For information on fall garden clean-up, check out our video on Putting the Garden To Bed. For information on food preservation, visit our Food & Health website.

Here’s hoping 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:

  • Well, 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, nurseries, and more, 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 please see Bulletin #2286, Testing Your Soil or stop by your local UMaine Extension county office.
  • Once you have taken your soil test, 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 to your neighbor’s yard. You can find information on cover crops at our website, or see Cover Crops for Home Gardeners by Cornell University.
  • Are you thinking about getting your lawn ready for next spring or just reseeding after the skunks, moles, voles, and raccoons have stuffed themselves full of the grubs living there and in the process aerated your lawn for you? If you have plans to do lawn work, the UMaine Extension has information on lawn care to help you. 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, watch our video: How to Grow Garlic in Maine for helpful tips.

Items Of interest:

  • Free Pesticide Disposal for Maine Homeowners, & Family Farms

Maine Department of Agriculture,
Food and Rural Resources
Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner

Public Advisory

August 10, 2012

Contact:  Henry Jennings, (207) 287-2731
State Sponsors Free Pesticides Disposal for Maine Homeowners, Family Farms

AUGUSTA—Maine’s Board of Pesticides Control (BPC), the Maine Department of Agriculture, and Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are partnering to provide homeowners a free opportunity this fall to dispose of old pesticides that may be stockpiled on their properties.

Required registrationthe deadline for which is Sept. 28is now open for the disposal day, which gives owners of homes and family farms and greenhouses the opportunity to safely and legally get rid of pesticides that have become caked, frozen, or otherwise unusable, including those that are banned in the state.

It’s not uncommon for new owners of older homes or farms in Maine to discover they have inherited hazardous waste in the form of pesticides, with old chemicals such as DDT, lead arsenate, 2,4,5-T and chlordane left behind in barns, basements or garages.

While disposing of these chemicals can seem daunting, it’s important for the protection of public, wildlife, and environmental health that they are dealt with properly and not tossed 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 Public Education Specialist Paul Schlein. “There will be four sites throughout the state where preregistered 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.

Due to safety and regulatory requirements, disposal “drop-ins” are not allowed, so registration by the Sept. 28 deadline is necessary. The BPC will contact registrants several weeks prior to that drive to inform them of their local collection date and location.

To register, get additional details or learn important information about the temporary storage and transportation of obsolete pesticides, go to their website or call Henry Jennings, Maine Board of Pesticides Control, director, at 287-2731.

Through their jointly sponsored disposal events—which are funded entirely through pesticide product registration fees—BPC and DEP have kept about 90 tons of pesticides out of the waste stream since 1982.

For more information, visit the Maine Department of Agriculture and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

  • New Agricultural Basic Pesticide Applicator License.

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 see Agricultural Basic Pesticide Applicator’s License or visit your local UMaine Extension county office.

  • Update on Spotted Wing Drosophila.

The newest pest for small fruit and berry growers—Spotted Wing Drosophila—is gaining ground throughout Maine. The latest update from August 24 raises concern that the numbers of these pests are growing. With the amounts increasing in the traps that have been put out in areas around the state, concern is growing. For more information, contact your local UMaine Extension county office.

  • 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.

Upcoming Events:

  • Area Fairs are in full swing across Maine.

If you enjoy agricultural fairs as much as I do, you may be looking for one more to attend. See Agricultural Fairs and Special Events for a listing of some of the fairs you may want to check out.

  • Fruit Tree Field Day at Highmoor Farm – September 8, 2012

Highmoor Farm will be hosting a field day with tours of the orchards and an apple tasting for people with an interest in fruit trees, offered by Renae Moran, University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Learn about new varieties, bud grafting, and important diseases and insect pests. Also sample summer apple varieties such as Zestar and Pristine! No pre-registration fee or pre-registration is required. For more information, contact your local UMaine Extension county office.

  • Maine Apple Sunday 

The second Sunday in September is known as Maine Apple Sunday. It is a time for celebrating the local apple harvest. Mark & Wendy Sheriff of Avalon Acres Farm invite the public to visit the farm and learn about the many varieties of apples that theye grow and each variety’s specific uses. You may also want to stop by and visit their Farm Store, Saturdays & Sundays, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Maine Apple Sunday is September 9, 2012! For directions, please visit the Avalon Acres Orchard & Farm website.

  • The Common Ground Country Fair.

This year the fair will be from September 21 thru September 23, with the gates opening each day at 9:00 a.m. For more information on the fair, please see the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association website.

  • Master Gardener Volunteer Opportunity.

Master Gardener Volunteers are need to help staff a booth at Campbell’s Agway True Value location in Skowhegan, on September 29 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. UMaine Extension will be hosting a weed identification booth, along with a talk presented by Kathy Hopkins. Please contact Tom Goodspeed or Kathy Hopkins at 1-800-287-1495 or e-mail thomas.goodspeed@maine.edu for more information and to volunteer.

Thank You!

Thanks to Gail Cardarelli and Tony Smith for their help in our UMaine Extension Raised Bed Gardening Program. Gail and Tony are our Eat Well Nutrition Associates and showed our group some of the wonderful and nutritious things that we can do with produce raised in the garden. The food was great and everyone went home with the knowledge of new things to try from their gardens.

Thanks to Cindy Gibson for her work with weeding and harvesting the produce grown here in the UMaine Extension Somerset County office gardens and delivering it to the Skowhegan Food Pantry!

 

Somerset County Master Gardener August 2012 Newsletter

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Well, hopefully your garden is producing well and you have lots of room in the root cellar, or wherever you store your bountiful harvest. It’s time to stock up on canning jars and freezer bags to fill up with good things to eat for the next few months and more. If you would like information on preserving your harvest, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension has lots of information to help you. It’s also time for the Agricultural Fairs in the area to begin. The Fairs are one of Maine’s great traditions that also just happen to mark the beginning of the end to an all too short summer! Be sure and visit as many of our state’s great agricultural fairs this season that you can. They all have something entertaining and interesting to offer to adults and kids of all ages! While you’re at the fair, don’t forget to stop by and support your local 4-H clubs’ displays and exhibits!

Gardening Items to Do in August

  • Now is a good time to take a soil test if you forgot to do it earlier on. Now is also a great time to get your garden ready for next season by amending the soil this fall as you put the garden to bed. Let the University of Maine Cooperative Extension help you by testing your soil and making useful recommendations for spring of 2013.
  • Plant a fall cover crop in those spaces no longer producing vegetables. Cover crops are a great way to protect your soil from our unpredictable winters here in Maine and restore valuable nutrients that may have been depleted during the growing season. You may also want to put in a second crop of things like spinach, beans, lettuce or beets. For information on cover crops, see Improve Your Soil with Cover Crops form Cornell University.
  • Continuing with garden maintenance, scouting for insects and disease is an ongoing project in every garden this month. One insect to be on the lookout for in August is the Tomato Hornworm. For more information or to ask a gardening question, please check out UMaine Extension’s gardening website.

Disease & Pest Alert!

  • The Spotted Wing Drosophila has been found in Maine! The first spotted wing drosophila of the 2012 season was found in a trap in Limington on Friday, July 13. Three male flies were caught in a trap in the woods adjacent to a raspberry planting. We haven’t caught flies in other locations yet, but growers should be on alert for indications of fruit flies in their plantings and premature fruit decay. For information on identifying spotted wing drosophila and making your own monitoring traps, visit the Michigan State University’s Spotted Wing Drosophila website.
  • Late Blight has been found in two locations in coastal and central Maine. Be alert and on the lookout for this disease in your area. For information on preventive measures and what to do if you find the symptoms in your garden, visit your local UMaine Extension office.
  • Be on the lookout for Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegassianum), an invasive perennial and a public health hazard. Contact with sap followed by sun exposure can cause painful blistering. Giant Hogweed grows in moist soil, especially in ditches and ravines in both sun and shade. For more information, see Giant Hogweed.

Items of interest

  • The Maine Board of Pesticide Control has tentatively scheduled fall of 2012 for their next collection of old unusable pesticides. Visit their website for a registration form or more information or contact your local UMaine Extension office.
  • The USDA has launched new updates to its website: Know Your Farmer Know Your Food. View and take advantage of the new updates.
  • Are you looking for information or directions to a farmers market in your area? The Get Real, Get Maine website has a listing of Farmers Markets by county, along with much more that’s going on in the area.
  • As the month of August gets into full swing, so do the many agricultural fairs around our state. This is a time of year that comes with mixed feelings. For many, it signals the beginning of the end to our gardening season and we all know what follows after that. To others it’s getting ready to go back to school, and along with those two less than pleasant thoughts come the elation of Fair Time! For a complete listing of Agricultural fairs in the state, visit Get Real, Get Maine website.
  • Are you interested in more information on invasive pests? The USDA’s Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) developed outreach materials for Extension Educators on USDA’s Hungry Pests National Initiative. The program helps the public understand — in an engaging way — about the threat of invasive pests and how to prevent their introduction and spread. To see this information visit their Hungry Pests website.

Upcoming Events

  • The 2012 Annual Maine Farm Days will be held at Misty Meadows Farm on the Hill Road in Clinton, Maine this year, on Wednesday, August 22 and Thursday, August 23. More information.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • If you are looking for a project to work on, we have plenty to do right here at the office close to home. Whether you work on your own or in a group, we can use your help. Call Tom or Kathy for more information on this. Phone 1-800-287-1495 (in Maine) or e-mail thomas.goodspeed@maine.edu.
  • Just a reminder to everyone: please send in your Master Gardener Volunteer reporting hours!
  • For those of you thinking about root cellars and wanting to know more about them, the following short piece by one of our Master Gardeners will be of interest to you.

 Root Cellars

By Wallace Seavey

The root cellar is a way to preserve your harvest of fresh, raw, whole vegetables and fruits for several months. The root cellar would need to be a cold, rather moist environment that does not allow the food to freeze. Traditionally, root cellars were underground in a cool, damp cellar with dirt floors and brick or stone walls. However, today’s homes usually have finished basements. But with a little research and understanding almost any space can be adapted for storage.

The two essential requirements are temperature and humidity. The optimum storage temperature for many vegetables is between 32 and 40 degrees F. The temperature can be maintained by using insulation on walls and ceilings. A 100 watt bulb placed near the floor may be an adequate heat source. Thermometers can be placed around the cellar to monitor temperatures.

High humidity keeps vegetables from drying out. The exception is pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and winter squash, which store best at about 50 degrees F and 70 t0 75 % humidity. The easiest way to keep moisture high is to have a dirt floor which most of us today do not have. If your floor is concrete or wood, place several pans of water on the floor to help maintain moisture. Vegetables are 90% water. The more you put in the root-cellar, the higher the humidity. A small, full root cellar will work better than a larger one.

Ventilation is used to help control temperature and humidity. Excess moisture that encourages mold can be exhausted and the room can be aired out when not in use. Be sure the ventilation system (window) is screened to keep rodents out.

A root cellar should be cold, dark, humid, and in a convenient location. The most convenient location may be a walled off part of a basement or garage with a window for ventilation. Water drainage is important for keeping out surface water in spring and summer.

Keep only fresh and sound produce in your root cellar. Produce should be free of cuts, cracks, bruises, insects, and any other damage. The old adage, “one rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel” is true. Visit and check your root cellar frequently.

Resources to help you construct a root-cellar are Stocking Up from Rodale Press; Vegetable Storage in Root Cellars from University of Alaska at Fairbanks Cooperative Extension; Root Cellars: Safe and Secure from the Corporate Food Train from the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; and Storing Vegetables at Home by the University of Wisconsin.

Somerset County Master Gardeners Newsletter July 2012

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Wow! It’s July already and hopefully your gardens are doing well. Now all we have to do is look out for those things that want to harvest it before we get the chance, such as woodchucks, deer, and insects, and, of course, try to keep ahead of the weeds! If you would like information on dealing with wildlife in you gardens, see Cornell University Wildlife Publications Wildlife Damage Management Fact Sheets. Or for insects and weeds, please visit the UMaine Extension’s Home & Garden Pest Identification and Management website. No wonder gardening is such fun. Gardening fills each day with new and interesting challenges. Well, the 4th of July celebrations are coming up. Hopefully you will get to do some of your favorite things over the holiday weekend and the weather cooperates.

July is the month to

  • Pull weeds before they set seeds and then add mulch over the soil to reduce future weed growth and to reduce fungal disease spores from splashing onto plant foliage. The mulch will also preserve soil moisture. The earlier you can reduce the weed population the better.
  • July can be a dry month, so be prepared to water. The garden needs an inch to an inch and a half of water per week. For homeowners with gutters on your roof, consider installing a rain barrel beneath your downspout to collect the water coming off the roof. It is a great way to supplement the supply of water you use in the garden. If you missed the June newsletter on trickle irrigation, the following information can help to save your back from lugging all that water: Bulletin #2160, Trickle Irrigation: Using and Conserving Water in the Home Garden.
  • Check your vegetable and flower gardens for insect or disease pests. At least once weekly, on a dry day go into the garden to search for possible problems. Remember that early detection is the key to solving many garden problems. Don’t know what is causing damage? Bring a sample into your local University of Maine Cooperative Extension county office or send us a digital picture of the problem. Also check out UMaine Extension’s Pest Management for Homeowners website.
  • Time to plant a fall vegetable crop? If you find yourself with space in your garden now, you still have time to plant for a fall crop and keep those areas productive. Beans, radishes, beets, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, and kale are a few of the plants that you can try for fall. If you’re worried about an early frost, check out Bulletin #2761, Gardening in Small Spaces.

Disease & Pest alert

 July is the time for Rose Chafers and Japanese Beetles!

  • The Rose Chafer is usually one of the first significant adult pests that we see chomping on the foliage of many of our trees, flowering shrubs, and berries, as well as grapes and others. Arriving in mid- to late June, they usually come in about two or three weeks before the adult Japanese Beetles emerge to start their feeding frenzy!
  • And Japanese Beetle (UMaine Extension) for more information.
  • For the latest information on Late Blight of potato and tomato, visit UMaine Extension’s The Bug Reporter. Or you may also report or track the latest Late Blight outbreaks at USAblight.

Items of interest

  • As our climate changes we seem to be hearing about more invasive insects that we need to be on the lookout for in our state. The Winter Moth is one of those and it was recently discovered in Harpswell, Maine. For more information on this invasive and much more, please visit the Maine Forest Service website.
  • For those of you interested in climate and temperature change, The Heat Is On is a report by Climate Central, on temperature change by state over the past 100 years and by decade. Take a look and see for yourself that Maine is heating up.
  • Are you seeking out information on processing food from your garden but just can’t get to a workshop to see how it’s done? UMaine Extension has informational videos on how to use and preserve fresh fruits and other wonderful Maine grown produce for processing and preserving, along with many useful Food & Health publications.
  • If you’ve ever wondered about those common gardening tips that worked fine, were passed down through the ages, but don’t seem to have the same results for you today, Busting Common Gardening Myths from the National Gardening Bureau has some interesting information.

Upcoming events

  • UMaine Extension Somerset County office in Skowhegan will host following program on Hot Water Bath Canning and Freezing.

Date: July 18, 2012
Topic: Hot Water Bath Canning and Freezing
Location:UMaine Extension Somerset County Office, 7 County Drive, Skowhegan
Time: 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Cost: $12 (scholarships are available)
For more information or to register: call Tammy Bodge-Terry at 207-474-9622 or tammy.bodge@maine.edu
Taught by: Felicia Dumont, Food Preservation Program Aide

  • Do you want to know more about growing small grains or forage practices? If so the UMaine Small Grain and Forage Field Day is your chance.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
5:30 to 8:00 PM (registration starts at 5:15)
University of Maine Rogers Forage and Crops Research Farm
Stillwater, Maine (1.5 miles from I-95 Exit 193)

Please join us to learn about:

  • Small grain varieties for organic production (wheat, spelt, flax)
  • Wheat and spelt varieties for later fall planting
  • Growing flax for feed to alter milk quality
  • Summer slump pasture forages
  • Fitting wheat into dairy rotations
  • Pre-plant nitrogen sources for organic bread wheat yield and quality
  • Nitrogen topdressing decision tools for organic bread wheat
  • Microbial soil inoculants for wheat: farm-produced and purchased

Thank you!

To all the  UMaine Extension Somerset County Master Gardener Volunteers for giving of their time to work in the community and here at the office in Skowhegan. A special thanks to Mark Whitney for taking time out from his own business and family filled calendar to find time to spruce up our landscape here at the office. Also to Cheryl Perkins for her help in volunteering to help with the Extension Raised Bed/Container Garden Series here at the office, along with our other gardens growing vegetables to be donated to local resources. Thank you to Shelia Farrin for putting together the Container Gardening demonstrations that she and other Master Gardeners have been doing for groups, such as the Senior Companions and the Redington Fairview General Hospital Free Clinic function.

Once again THANK YOU All and have a great July 4th holiday!

 

Somerset County Master Gardeners Newsletter June 2012

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Well, gardening season is really getting into full swing after a month of “should I or shouldn’t I plant?” I think we have finally settled into a weather pattern that will allow us to start planting without wondering if what we plant in the warm daytime temperatures will freeze in the cold nights or rot in the wet soil before it has a chance to germinate properly. For those of you wanting to get those warm weather crops in the ground, be sure to check the soil temperature before planting; warm weather crops such as peppers, tomato, eggplant, and melons won’t do well with soil temperatures below 60 – 65 degrees.

June is the month to

  • Start planting. It’s not to late to start planting or put in a second planting of things like beans, radishes, beets or maybe some parsnips, which will be great when dug in late fall after a couple of frosts or, even better, next spring after all the sugars have settled in. The Johnny’s Selected Seeds website has many helpful interactive tools to help you with things such as succession planting and fall planting.
  • Think ahead to those dry days coming up in July and August. Gardens need an inch to an inch and a half of water per week. For homeowners with roof gutters, consider installing a rain barrel beneath your downspout to collect water coming off the roof. This is a great way to supplement your water supply to use in the garden. To save your back from lugging all that water, see Bulletin #2160, Trickle Irrigation: Using and Conserving Water in the Home Garden. June is a great time to start on these projects and be ready for the dry spells that are sure to be coming.
  • Start scouting for weeds, insects, and disease problems around your yard or garden. Early detection is essential in combating and controlling those unwanted insects, diseases, and weeds. For more information, visit UMaine Extension’s Insect Pests & Plant Diseases website.
  • If you’re growing strawberries, check out the Strawberry IPM Newsletter. Subscribe to weekly updates on the Highmoor Farm website.

Items of interest

 A Garden Life

  • A Garden Life, a new online magazine, is now available to gardeners. A Garden Life can be viewed on a tablet, smartphone or online. It features beautiful images and thoughtful articles on gardening topics. Its goal is to help you achieve better health, create meaningful spaces, and engage in community interaction. Download the app or read it for free!
  • Are you interested in preserving heirloom varieties of flowers and vegetables? If so the following could be a great opportunity. The National Gardening Association is a proud sponsor of the Grow It Forward Heirloom Seed Contest on YourGardenShow.com. Gardeners from across the U.S. and Canada are coming together to grow over 1,400 heirloom plant varieties as part of a movement to preserve the legacy and diversity of these time-honored plants. To learn more, visit Grow It Forward.

Maine Forest & Shade Trees

  • Ever wonder what goes on in your garden when you aren’t watching? The following link may shed some beautiful and exciting insight into just what you’re missing: The Beauty of Pollination (YouTube video).

A Master Gardeners Experience

  • Xerces’ Pollinator Conservation Course at MOFGA

By Samantha Burns,Somerset County Beekeepers-President, and UMaine Master Gardener

I was bubbling with enthusiasm as I sat among the farmers, NRCS representatives, and scientists alike on Tuesday, May 15th. For more than a year, I had waited to attend the Pollinator Conservation Short-Course offered by the Xerces Society, and finally I was there.

I first learned about the course last year when I was up to my neck in research, studying pollinators and how to promote them. The Xerces Society offers a myriad of free resources and articles on their site, and I even went so far as to order their book “Attracting Native Pollinators,” which is an incredible resource.

They offer the short-course at locations around the country, but at the time there were no scheduled visits to Maine, so I submitted my name to their notification list and this year I received word.

Xerces was coming to Maine–and practically in my backyard, too! The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) in Unity hosted the course, which is about an hour’s drive for us.

Eric Mader is the Assistant Pollinator Program Director for the Xerces Society. He works to raise awareness of pollinator conservation techniques among growers and governmental agencies, and has worked as a beekeeper and crop consultant, as well as authoring several books and government management plans for native pollinators. Eric came to MOFGA to present the course and answer questions for us. He claimed to be an uncomfortable public speaker, but despite that he was engaging and knowledgeable, even humorous at times.

The Pollinator Conservation Course began with some background information about the Xerces Society, which was founded in 1971 and was initially a butterfly conservation project, named after the first butterfly in North America to go extinct due to human activities. Today the Xerces sponsors a number of major programs centered around endangered species, aquatic invertebrates, and pollinators, which is currently their largest project.

There were seven modules, beginning with “The Importance of Pollinators,” and then moving on through “Basic Bee Biology and Identification,” “Pollinator-Friendly Farming Practices,” and “Planning Pollinator Habitat” before a break for lunch.

When we returned, specialists from the University of Maine took turns talking about their research surrounding native bee populations, beginning with Professor Frank Drummond, who has been working in this field for nearly two decades. Last summer, the Somerset Beekeepers hosted Frank, who spoke with us about Colony Collapse Disorder and his recent research regarding its effects on the native bee population in the blueberry barrens of Maine.

A very good report of his work, along with the work of collaborating scientists across the country, was recently published in Bee Culture, and you can learn more about the Managed Pollinator CAP program online.

We also heard from Alison Dibble, a university botanist who has been researching alternate forage for pollinators of the Maine wild blueberry, in partnership with the NRCS. She happened to mention that they are working on a paper that will list all of Maine’s 246 native species, which should be available in a year or so.

A couple of UMaine students told the group about their research surrounding native pollinators. Eric Venturini, with a Master’s degree in Ecology and Environmental Sciences, has been looking at using strips of pollinator plantings around the blueberry barrens to increase pollination of wild blueberries by native pollinators, while Kalyn Bickerman, who has a PhD in bio sciences, is studying the native bumblebees to determine their health and population numbers.

Finally, Sam Hanes of the Department of Anthropology at the University has recently begun a project studying the perceptions held by farmers and gardeners regarding native pollinators.  He’s looking to learn more about how growers use native pollinators, which factors affect pollination practices, and which perceptions matter most to growers (i.e., effectiveness, monitoring, uncertainty, variability, etc.).

While research regarding honeybees and native bee populations has generally been overlooked by the academic community, Maine’s scientists have been working to learn more about pollinators for decades, and that is something Mainers can be proud of.

Once the university academics had finished their presentations, Eric continued along with the Xerces’ program, picking up with “Restoring Pollinator Habitat,” “Conservation Programs,” and “Additional Resources.”

We all went home with copies of “Attracting Native Pollinators,” as well as a packet of pamphlets and handouts (I will be donating all of the materials I received from this course to the Somerset Beekeepers’ library of resources). Four lucky people won copies of “Managing Alternative Pollinators” in the closing raffle. I was not one of the recipients (bummer!). But it is available for free download on the SARE website.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of free resources and information available at the Xerces Society’s website. But the main take-away message was this:

  1. Don’t use — or at the very least, limit the use of — pesticides and herbicides.
  2. Plant a diversity of floral sources that span the entire foraging season.
  3. Provide nesting habitat.

The high I received by attending the Pollinator Conservation Course lingers in the days following my participation — and I can’t even really say why. I have no idea why I’ve fallen so hard for pollinators — especially considering I was by no means an insect-lover as a child, yet here I am, fascinated by pollinators and plants and the intimate relationship between the plant and animal kingdoms.  It feels a grave injustice that insect pollinators are generally overlooked, and even shunned. It’s almost as if I never really saw the world around me until I began seeing the pollinators at work. How the world has changed for me! And my heart wants to protect it, to share my love of this beautiful process with the rest of humanity.

So here am I, filled with ideas and exuberance, and the desire to inflict others with this same sense of awe that overwhelms me whenever I watch a bee pollinate a flower.

Upcoming Events

  • June 7: the second session in the Raised Bed & Container Gardening series will be held at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office in Skowhegan on 7 county drive at 3:00 p.m. with a rain date of June 8, same time. Master Gardener Cheryl Perkins will be presenting (Starting your Garden).
  • Check out UMaine Extension’s Calendar of Events to find out what is coming up in June and beyond.

Vegetable Growers Twilight Meeting June 5, 2012 from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

  • Tour  the Stutzman’s Farm, which produces a wide range of vegetables and fruit for their stand and CSA. You’ll have the opportunity to see some of the work with zone tillage, new high tunnels, and the stand and bakery.

There’ll be a discussion of pest management strategies for the upcoming season and an update on GAP certifications and new regulations. We anticipate one pesticide applicator recertification credit will be available for attending.

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. More information.

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 Road, Sangerville.

The Maine Highlands Farmers are having 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 (800) 287-1491 (in Maine), or e-mail donna.coffin@maine.edu. You can also visit the events calendar.

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.

If you are a person with a disability and will need additional accommodations to participate in this program, please call Donna Coffin at (800) 287-1491 to discuss your needs. Receiving requests for accommodations at least (10 days) before the program provides a reasonable amount of time to meet the request, however all requests will be accepted. UMaine Extension programs are open and accessible to all in accordance with program goals.

Volunteer Opportunity

Our nutrition associates have been asked to do some education on container gardening, where the participants in the program will go home with containers and some sort of plant, such as tomato, potato, squash or flowers. It is the Free Fruit and Veggie Program that is hosted by Dr Lamke and Redington Fairview General Hospital. They will be presenting information to families that will be flowing in and out of the hall to meet with Dr. Lamke, so it will be an opportunity to talk with families about container gardening, and giving them the supplies they need to plant in a container. They may also be interested in raised garden beds, etc. He also said if a Master Gardener would like to assist with this, this would be even better. We need ideas please; the date is June 20 from 3:00-7:30 p.m. at Tewksberry Hall on Main Street in Skowhegan. For more information on this opportunity, please contact Gail Cardarelli at gail.cardarelli@maine.edu or Toni Smith at toni.smith@maine.edu.

  • The third session (caring for your garden) of our Raised Bed & Container gardening series is scheduled for July 12 at 3:00 p.m. We are looking for Master Gardener Volunteers to be presenters at this session. Please contact Tom @ thomas.goodspeed@maine.edu or phone 1-800-287-1495 (in Maine).

Somerset County Master Gardeners Newsletter May 2012

Saturday, May 5th, 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 pbdusoe@uninets.net. 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 donna.coffin@maine.edu . 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 thomas.goodspeed@maine.edu or Deborah at 207.581.3874 or e-mail deborah.killam@maine.edu.
  • 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 thomas.goodspeed@maine.edu. This would be a great opportunity for someone wanting to help young people learn to garden and give back to the community.

Master Gardener Newsletter April 2012

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Hi everyone, it was looking like spring back on March 21 and outside temperatures felt like mid-summer. The high reached nearly 80 degrees here at the office! Crocus and daffodils were starting up through the soil and in many sunny sheltered locations blooming had started. But don’t  get too excited. We do still live in Maine and as the saying goes if you don’t like the weather now, just wait a minute and it will change. It’s a little more than a week later and we now have snow again! With that happy thought, here are some thoughts on things to do in April.

April is the month to:

  • Start warm weather seedlings such as peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and herbs that you’ve put off doing until now.
  • Depending on your garden plot, you may want to direct sow an early crop of greens such as spinach or Swiss chard, or even a row or two of peas.
  • Take a walk around the yard and check for winter damaged shrubs or trees. Now is a good time to prune out any dead or badly damaged limbs or branches.
  • Lawn care can be started now by raking up debris, dead grass, and earth mounds left by your friendly neighborhood moles. You may also want to do some reseeding of spots in your lawn toward the end of the month. Watch our video about lawns and lawn care for more info. April is also a great month to plan a visit to a local nursery or attend a garden show to see the latest in new and exciting plant material.
  • If you haven’t done a soil test yet, NOW is the time to get your soil test into the University of Maine soil testing lab. Check out our video on soil testing.
  • For other useful information from UMaine Extension, be sure and visit the publications section of our website, along with our YouTube Channel. These are being updated frequently with new and additional research-based information.
  • For those of you who are interested in information about the delicious Fiddle Head Fern (Ostrich Fern), we have two bulletins on the subject: Bulletin #4198, Facts on Fiddleheads, and Bulletin #2540, Ostrich Fern Fiddleheads.

April is usually the month that gardeners and gardens start getting into full swing! Have fun and have a great gardening season!

Items of interest:

The Somerset County Soil & Water District:

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

The Maine Forest Report:

  • Maine Forest Service Condition Reports for 2011 are now online. This seasonal newsletter provides timely information about insects and diseases affecting Maine’s forest and shade trees. Several issues are produced each growing season with the first issue usually appearing in mid- to late-April, and the last in late summer. To view or download the reports, visit the Maine Forest Service.
  • Beginning in May, 955 purple prisms will decorate Maine trees. Find out why at the Maine Forest Service’s Purple Traps and the Emerald Ash Borer.

Learn, grow, eat, give: Blueberry plant sale to benefit UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteer’s program.

  • UMaine Extension and its Master Gardener Development Board is now conducting an online highbush blueberry plant sale to raise funds for the Master Gardener Volunteers program. For more information, call your local UMaine Extension Somerset County office at 1-800-287-1495 (in Maine).

UMaine 4-H Camp & Learning Center

  • The University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond has just released its summer schedule of events. Visit the Bryant Pond website for information or to register for summer programs.

Upcoming Events:

Maine Garden Day

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

Apple Tree Field Day

  • Master Gardener Alumni Mark Sheriff and family, in collaboration with UMaine Extension, will host 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 High School, follow to end (5 miles). Turn left on Rt. 43 toward St. Albans. Go 3 miles, turn right onto Dexter Rd. 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 left.

UMaine Extension 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 raised 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 11th 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) to register. There is no charge for this program.

If you are a person with a disability and will need an accommodations to participate in this program, please call Tom Goodspeed at 1-800-287-1495 (in Maine) to discuss your needs. Receiving requests for accommodations at least (10 days) before the program provides a reasonable amount of time to meet the request, however all requests will be accepted.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.

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 thomas.goodspeed@maine.edu or Deborah at 207-581-3874 or e-mail deborah.killam@maine.edu
  • 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 thomas.goodspeed@maine.edu. This would be a great opportunity for someone wanting to help young people learn to garden and give back to the community.

In closing we would like to express our condolences to the families of Loring W. Pratt, M.D. and Shirley Bastien, two members our Master Gardener family. They will be truly missed.

Somerset County March Master Gardener Newsletter.

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

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 theresa.tilton@maine.edu 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 Thomas.goodspeed@maine.edu or Deborah at 207-581-3874 or e-mail deborah.killam@maine.edu.
  • 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 Thomas.goodspeed@maine.edu.
  • 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 Thomas.goodspeed@maine.edu.
  • 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 Thomas.goodspeed@maine.edu. 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 Thomas.goodspeed@maine.edu.

Somerset County Master Gardener Newsletter February 2012

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Its February 8th already and I’m behind on the newsletter. Sorry about that. Has anyone noticed the increase in daylight hours? With the weather the way it’s been, I can’t wait until spring is here. February is the time when gardeners will be finalizing plans for their 2012 gardens and ordering seeds, if they haven’t already done so. If you’re planning on starting onions or leeks from seed, you should be starting them soon. For other seedlings, follow the packet directions on when to start each variety indoor.

Here at the UMaine Extension Office we have started the Master Gardener Class of 2012 and we have a full house of gardening enthusiast. 

Items of interest!

Are you wondering what plant hardiness zone you’re in?

Funding Opportunity alert!

  • Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grants Funder:

Lowe’s is offering grants to K-12 public schools and parent-teacher groups associated with public schools. There is a preference for funding requests that have a permanent impact, such as facility enhancement (both indoor and outdoor), as well as landscaping/cleanup type projects. Projects that encourage parent involvement and build stronger community spirit will be favored. To provide the tools that help our educators and parent groups through these challenging times efficiently and with the greatest impact, basic needs will take priority in this round of grant selection.

Winter Survival Camp for Children of Military Families:

  • The University of Maine 4H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond announces the winter survival camp for children of military families, 14-18 years of age on February 19 to 24, 2012.

Learn, grow, eat, give; Blueberry plant sale to benefit UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteer’s program.

  • The University of Maine Cooperative 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.

Maine Vegetable & Fruit School 2012:

  • The Maine Fruit & Vegetable School will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on two dates in two locations in Maine. March 8in Portland and March 9in Bangor. Pre-registration is required. The cost for the Vegetable & Fruit School is $35 per person and includes lunch. For more information please contact: Mark Hutchinson, Extension Educator, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Knox-Lincoln Counties, 377 Manktown Road, Waldoboro, ME 04572-5815, 207-832-0343 or 1-800-244-2104 (in Maine), mhutch@maine.edu. Or contact your local UMaine Extension office at 1-800-287-1495.

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 website.

Fruit Tree Pruning & Grafting Class on April 14, 2012

  • Learn to prune fruit trees with Renae Moran, University of Maine tree fruit specialist. A one-hour lecture will be followed by a demonstration in the orchard and a chance to prune apple, peach, pear, and plum trees. There is no charge for the class, but please bring your own pruning tools and lunch. After lunch, there will be a grafting demonstration.

Welcome to the Master Gardener Class of 2012

  • You are beginning a journey in learning that we hope you will find enjoyable, informative, and useful for you in educating yourself, along with your friends, neighbors, and the community you live in through volunteering. This year’s class has the benefit of being the first to have access to an online manual that is constantly being updated to keep you informed on the newest information available. Once again welcome and have a great time!

Volunteer Opportunities

  • 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 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Pittsfield Public Library.
  • Hammond Tractor Company would like to have Master Gardener and UMaine Extension display at their open house on March 31 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at their Fairfield location.
  • 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 office in Skowhegan on gardening topics for the general public. We can work with you on selecting a topic and date, and help in preparing materials you might need.
  • If you are interested in any of the above topics please contact Tom at (1-800-287-1495) or e-mail thomas.goodspeed@maine.edu.

Thank you

  • Once again Kathy and I want to thank all of our Master Gardener Volunteers for their efforts, support, and all the work they have done in their communities. We hope you continue your efforts in the upcoming year and have a great time volunteering and gardening in 2012!
  • We would also like to thank Walley Seavey for taking on the job of getting our library back in shape.
  • Also, don’t forget this year’s Master Gardener Course will focus on Fruits & Vegetables. If you are interested in attending on any of the nights, please feel free to join us. We do need to know a week before if you will be attending.

Thanks Again & Happy Gardening!

Tom