Grow Food in Raised Beds, Containers with UMaine Extension

April 23rd, 2014 9:39 AM

University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a six-class workshop on building, planting, maintaining and harvesting square-foot gardens in raised beds and containers.

Classes meet monthly from May through October, 2014 at the UMaine Extension office, 7 County Drive, Skowhegan. The first class is 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. May 1; the final class is October 9. UMaine Extension Somerset County staff will teach the classes, and local Master Gardener Volunteers will work with participants in demonstration gardens throughout the growing season. Harvested produce will be shared with area schools and senior and food kitchen programs.

Course fee is $10 per person. Scholarships are available. To register, or to request a disability accommodation, call Pete Bastien at 207.474.9622 or 800.287.1495 (in Maine).

UMaine Cooperative Extension Gardening Workshop Previewed in Morning Sentinel

April 1st, 2014 1:09 PM

The Morning Sentinel reported the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer a six-class workshop on building, planting, maintaining and harvesting square-foot gardens in raised beds and containers. The first class is scheduled for May 1, 2014 at the UMaine Extension office in Skowhegan.

Morning Sentinel Advances UMaine Cooperative Extension Pruning Workshops

March 31st, 2014 3:31 PM

The Morning Sentinel reported on two upcoming pruning workshops offered by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. On Saturday, April 12, 2014 Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District will host the UMaine Extension’s David Fuller who will discuss how to prune apple trees at the Extension office in Farmington. Walter Gooley, a conifer expert and retired Maine state forester, will also speak at the event. UMaine Extension will also offer a free apple tree pruning and grafting field day at Avalon Acres Orchard and Farm in Saint Albans on Saturday, April 19, 2014.

Grow Food in Raised Beds, Containers with UMaine Extension

March 25th, 2014 10:49 AM
Raised bed gardensUniversity of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a six-class workshop on building, planting, maintaining, and harvesting square-foot gardens in raised beds and containers.

Classes meet monthly from May through October at the UMaine Extension office, 7 County Drive, Skowhegan. The first class is 9-11 a.m. May 1; the final class is Oct. 9. UMaine Extension Somerset County staff will teach the classes and local Master Gardener Volunteers will work with participants in demonstration gardens throughout the growing season. Harvested produce will be shared with area schools and senior and food kitchen programs.

Course fee is $10 per person. Scholarships are available. To register, or to request a disability accommodation, call Pete Bastien at 207.474.9622 or 1.800.287.1495 (in Maine). Requests received at least 10 days in advance are preferred; all requests will be accepted.

MS Dishes on Food-to-Market Course

March 25th, 2014 10:45 AM

Morning Sentinel reported that University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a six-session course that covers moving a specialty food product to market. The class will take place Tuesdays, April 8–29, 2014 in Skowhegan and Dover-Foxcroft. Two May class sessions are scheduled to include individual business consultations and a tour of the Dr. Matthew Highlands Pilot Plant — UMaine’s state-of-the-art facility that assists food processors, entrepreneurs, farmers, researchers and students in the food industry.

From Recipe to Market: Learn to Cash in on Opportunities

March 25th, 2014 9:15 AM

University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a six-session course that covers moving a specialty food product to market.

The class, which meets 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. each Tuesday, April 8–29, 2014 will be held in two locations — 7 County Drive, Skowhegan, and 165 East Main St., Dover-Foxcroft. Two May class sessions will include individual business consultations and a tour of the Dr. Matthew Highlands Pilot Plant, a state-of-the-art UMaine facility that assists food processors, entrepreneurs, farmers, researchers and students in the food industry.

Topics to be covered include licensing, safe preparation and packaging of food, assessing potential profits and locating resources to support a developing business. The class is for people operating a value-added business and those seriously considering one; participants must have a specific food product or recipe in mind and are expected to attend all sessions. Presenters include: Beth Calder, UMaine Extension food science specialist; James McConnon, UMaine Extension business and economics specialist; and Kathy Hopkins, Debra Kantor and Donna Coffin, UMaine Extension educators.

Cost is $35 per person. Partial scholarships are available. Registrations must be received by April 1 to reserve a space. More information, including online registration is online. For questions, or to request a disability accommodation at the Skowhegan site, call 207.474.9622 or email tammy.bodge@maine.edu. For questions, or to request a disability accommodation at the Dover-Foxcroft site, call 207.564.3301 or email amanda.miles@maine.edu.

UMaine Extension Offers Free Apple Tree Pruning Field Day

March 12th, 2014 9:00 AM

Pruning a fruit tree branchThe University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a free apple tree pruning and grafting field day Saturday, April 19, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Avalon Acres Orchard & Farm, 234 Dexter Road, in Saint Albans.

Avalon Acres owner Mark Sheriff, an alumnus of the UMaine Extension Master Gardener Volunteers program, will host. He’ll present information about general planting and management practices for apple trees then demonstrate pruning and grafting in the orchard. Apple tree growers and people who plan to plant apple trees this spring are invited to attend.

Pre-registration is requested but not required. Attendees should wear footwear appropriate for walking on uneven terrain. Rain date is Saturday, April 26. For more information, to register, or to request a disability accommodation, contact Peter Bastien, 207.474.9622, 800.287.1945 (toll free in Maine).

Somerset County Master Gardener October 2013 Newsletter

October 2nd, 2013 9:00 AM

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 khopkins@maine.edu.

Sincerely,
Tom

 

Somerset County Master Gardener September 2013 Newsletter

September 4th, 2013 9:00 AM

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

Gardening in September

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

Items of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Events

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

Volunteer Opportunity

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

4-H – the 2013 Skowhegan State Fair is over!

August 19th, 2013 12:05 PM

Did you go to the 4-H Parade this year?  We celebrated 100 years of 4-H in Maine.

We’ll be posting photos from the parade; take a look!

4-H members in the Color Guard for the parade

Follow us at the Somerset County 4-H on our page on Facebook.

Somerset County 4-H UMaine Extension Facebook Page

Give us a “LIKE”  and help us create  a new way to keep in touch!

(Leaders, please call us at 474-9622 or email if you have an event or interesting item to share, or if you would like a copy of a photo).