Somerset County Master Gardener August 2013 Newsletter

August 5th, 2013 3:00 AM

July brought the summer weather that we expect here in Maine: hazy, hot, humid, and dry. These conditions were great for growing fungus, molds, mildews, and disease. For information on pest and plant disease management, see Insect Pests & Plant Diseases or visit your local UMaine Extension county office.

Now we’re into August and wondering how did the season that we longed for back in February slip by so fast? Hopefully your gardens are producing more fruits and vegetables then you expected, and you may be looking to help out a local food pantry or maybe just donate food to an organization in your area. UMaine Extension has some helpful information about doing just that. See Bulletin #4303, A Donor’s Guide to Vegetable Harvest and Bulletin #4302, Food Safety for Food-Pantry Donations. Both publications are also available at your local UMaine Extension county office.

Things To Do in August

  • Harvest your garlic, saving the best heads for replanting in October. Wait for the bottom 2 or 3 leaves to turn yellow. For more information, see our video on how to grow garlic in Maine or read Bulletin #2063, Growing Hardneck Garlic in Your Maine Garden.
  • Sow another crop of peas, kale, beans, spinach or other short season vegetables. See all the ways you can get your garden going earlier in the spring, along with extending it later into the fall in Bulletin #2752, Extending the Gardening Season.
  • Pay attention to your lawn. Now is the best time of year to plant and reseed your lawn. Learn more in Bulletin #2367, Establishing a Home Lawn in Maine.
  • As areas in your garden become empty, amend your vegetable garden soil by sowing cover crops. These green manures will be turned under later to improve the soil texture and fertility. Visit Cornell University to learn more about cover crops.

Items of Interest

  • Raised beds for Raised Bed Garden Program

    Raised beds for Raised Bed Garden Program

    Raised Bed Gardening Course: The raised bed gardening program is entering its fifth week of the six week schedule, with positive feedback from those in attendance. So far we have harvested over 45 pounds of produce midway into the season with much more to come. The produce has been donated to the Senior Companion Program here at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office. The harvest has consisted so far of Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, kale, beans, beets, beet greens,  and tomatoes. Attendance has been great averaging of 15 to 20 participants attending each session.

  • New Invasive Plants in Maine from Ken Canfield, District Forester, Maine Forest Service: There are some new invasive plants that have been either found in Maine or are getting close. New Invasive Plants (PDF) identifies these plants and those with which they may be confused. Garlic Mustard and Black Swallow-Wort are both all over Maine and can affect forestland. Japanese Stilt Grass is in New Hampshire and definitely affects forests. Yellow Flag Iris is a common landscaping plant in Maine that escapes into and takes over wetlands. Kudzu and Mile-a-Minute Weed are plants that were thought to be incapable of surviving our winters, but are now in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and are headed our way. Another scary one that is already in Maine that was not included in the New Invasive Plants information is Hardy Kiwi. Hardy Kiwi is a favorite of permaculture people because the fruit is edible. Many of these plants are available to buy online and can be delivered to your front door, so they could be popping up anywhere. I was surprised to see how many of these plants have already been found in Aroostook County and Downeast.
  • The University of Maine is pleased to announce a new UMaine Extension website resource from Andrew Plant and Ellen Mallory! Small grains have long played an important role in Maine agriculture, and their value is increasing with new and local markets for a greater variety of grains. You will find information on growing small grains and oil seeds for feed, food, and energy at the new UMaine Extension Grains & Oilseeds website.

Upcoming events

  • The Nations Oldest Consecutively Running Agricultural Fair: The Skowhegan State Fair will be celebrating 195 Years when it opens its gates on August 8, along with the 100 year celebration of the 4-H Program in Maine. Now is the time when fair season is in full swing. So get out and support your local agricultural fair. It’s a great way to have fun with the family. Please visit the following websites for more information.
  • Forest Heritage Days 22nd Annual Celebration: August 9 – 10, 2013 in Greenville, Maine, everybody is invited to join this event to celebrate the various aspects of Maine’s forest heritage. For directions and more information, visit Forest Heritage Days 2013!
  • 2013 Kennebec/Somerset Bulb Sale: Plant bulbs this fall to have flowers next spring and summer. Over the years we have been very happy with the quality of the Fedco bulbs. For those ordering the early bulbs, i.e. Day Lily, Peony, and Bearded Iris, we need to receive those orders by August 16. We hope you make some good selections and are ready to plant in October when the bulbs arrive. For more information or to have an order sheet mailed out, please call 207.622.7847 ext 3 or e-mail Dale Finseth at
  • Maine Farm Days: Wednesday and Thursday, August 21 and 22 at Misty Meadows Farm in Clinton. There will be workshops for private pesticide applicators to earn credits on both days. See the workshop schedule. For more information, see Maine Farm Days.


Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Howard Daigle. Howard was a Master Gardener (2012) in Somerset County and volunteered in the community in many capacities. Howard’s kind words, great smile, and willingness to help others out where ever needed will be deeply missed by us all.


Just a reminder, please keep sending in your volunteer hours. Also the second half of the 2013 Master Gardener course will resume on Monday, September 9, here at the UMaine Extension office in Skowhegan from 9:00 to 12:00.

Somerset County Master Gardener July 2013 Newsletter

July 10th, 2013 11:49 AM

Wow! It’s July already and hopefully your gardens are doing well after all the cool rains we had in the month of June. Now all we have to do is make sure that we have an adequate water supply for those dry spells that we know will eventually come — and keep ahead of the weeds and insects. Oh, yes, and be on the lookout for those things that want to harvest the garden before we get the chance, such as woodchucks, deer, and insects. If you would like information on dealing with wildlife in you gardens, visit Wildlife Control Information from Cornell University. For information on insects and weeds, visit Insect Pests & Plant Diseases from UMaine Extension.

Also, if you are seeking  help with supplying your gardens watering needs, UMaine Extension has helpful information on doing just that. See Bulletin #2160, Trickle Irrigation: Using and Conserving Water in the Home Garden or stop by your local UMaine Extension county office and ask for a copy. No wonder gardening is such fun; gardening fills each day with a new and interesting challenge!.

July is the month to

  • 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, see Bulletin #2761, Gardening in Small Spaces (scroll down to the section called “Season Extenders”).
  • 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 may garden problems. Don’t know what is the causing damage? Bring a sample into your local UMaine Extension county office or e-mail us a digital picture of the problem. Additional information is available at UMaine Extension’s Pest Management for Homeowners website.

Disease & Pest Alert

July is the time for Rose Chafers and Japanese Beetles, as well as the newest addition to our insect pest alert: the Spotted Wing Drosophila!

  • Spotted Wing Drosophila, or SWD as it is called, has found its way into Maine and the Northeast. This insect attacks soft fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and grapes. For more information, watch our video Defending Against Spotted Wing Drosophila or get the latest news and information updates at UMaine’s Highmoor Farm website.
  • The Rose Chafer is usually one of the first significant adult pests we see chomping on the foliage of many of our trees, flowering shrubs, and berries, as well as grapes and other plants. Arriving in mid- to late-June, it usually comes in about two or three weeks before the adult Japanese Beetles emerge to start their feeding frenzy! Visit Rose Chafers on the’s Got Pests? website for great pictures and information on this pest.
  • Japanese Beetle: See Bulletin #5037, Japanese Beetle or visit your local UMaine Extension county office and ask for a copy.
  • Forest & Shade Tree – Insect & Disease Conditions for Maine. The latest conditions report from the Maine Forest Service is available online, including information on the diseases effecting oak and pine trees in our area. You can view the report by visiting the Maine Forest Service website.

Items of Interest

  • Summertime programs at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens: Melissa Cullina, Director of Education and Staff Botanist at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, invites you to experience Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens’ spectacular 250-acre landscape. The gardens and wild spaces are uniquely beautiful and always full of surprises! The theme for 2013 is Trees, Timbers and Traditions and encompasses the many facets of trees and their multitude of uses. Learn more about the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden.
  • Tracking Downy Mildew of Impatiens, by Dr. Lois Berg Stack

Dear Maine Master Gardener,

As many of you discovered when you shopped for plants this spring, many Maine greenhouses and garden centers are not selling garden Impatiens, or have greatly reduced their crops. You probably also noticed the increased availability of other shade plants, like New Guinea Impatiens, coleus, and begonias, because they are not susceptible to a disease that has become very serious in much of the U.S.: impatiens downy mildew.

I’d like to ask for your help in an effort to map the occurrence of impatiens downy mildew in Maine. We know that it occurred in 2012, but we don’t know how widespread it was. Together, we can map it this summer.

This disease is easy to diagnose in a garden. Here is what you’ll see:

  1. The first symptom is a coating of white spores on the undersides of leaves, especially between the veins.
  2. As the disease progresses, leaves turn yellow and wilt, and flowers drop early.
  3. Eventually, most leaves fall off, leaving nearly bare stems sticking up.
  4. Finally, the stems soften and fall to the ground.

If you’re interested in helping, please send me an e-mail at and answer these questions:

  1. What symptoms do you see?
  2. Approximately how many impatient plants are in the planting?
  3. Is it in a commercial landscape, or in a municipal planting, or in a home garden?
  4. What town is it in?
  5. Is it urban, or suburban, or rural?

If you’re not sure about the diagnosis, send me a photo with your information. I’d be happy to respond to let you know if in fact it is impatiens downy mildew.

Thanks for considering this project! It’s a way that we can all work together to identify and understand a gardening problem, in order to plan for future garden success.


  • Maine Audubon and Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife are seeking the help of Maine residents to identify the location of maternal bat colonies throughout the state (where female bats group together to raise their young). Information from citizen scientists will help establish a baseline for breeding bats. Interested volunteers can follow an established protocol for estimating colony size by counting the number of bats emerging at dusk. “Because of the devastation of WNS on bat colonies, we are even looking for historical information — if you know of a bat colony that has not seen activity this year, we still want to hear about it,” noted  Susan Gallo, Maine Audubon wildlife biologist. For more information on this volunteer project visit the Maine Audubon website.
  • Maine Home Garden News is published during the gardening season. Maine gardeners may access the most current gardening information  each month by going to Maine Home Garden News.

Upcoming Events

  • The Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs: Are you ready to get away from your garden and take in a look at the latest in farming, gardening, and generally everything else that’s been going on in agriculture? Well, you might want to attend one of the great fairs starting up in Maine this month. The Maine Association of Agricultural Fairs have posted their complete schedule online.
  • Highmoor Farm Field Day and Summer Tour: July 31, 2013 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. This public field day at Highmore Farm in Monmouth, Maine will include tours of current research projects in tree fruit, vegetables, and berries. Participants may receive one Pesticide Applicator rectification credit for attending the morning program and one Pesticide Applicator rectification credit for attending the tree fruit tour or the berry and vegetable tour in the afternoon. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Please contact Pam St. Peter at or 207.933.2100 to pre-register. Cost for this day is $20.00 per person. For more information and to view the day’s agenda, visit the Highmoor Farm website.

Volunteer Opportunity

  • The Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan is looking for a Master Gardener Volunteer to help maintain their gardens. For information on this project please phone Lynette King at 207.474.7133 (ext 101), or contact Tom Goodspeed at 207.474.9622 or e-mail

Thank you…

To those of you who attended the June 15 work day here at the UMaine Cooperative Extension, Somerset County office. Due to your efforts, we were able to remove the star bed and get a start on the flagpole bed by getting rid of the weeds that had taken over. There’s still plenty of work left to be done and if you are looking for a volunteer project, this project is ongoing and needs you.

Just a reminder, please keep sending in your volunteer hours.

Have a great summer!


Somerset County Master Gardener June 2013 Newsletter

May 27th, 2013 6:00 AM

Wow, it’s June already! Gardening is now full speed ahead! With soil and weather temperatures warming up, it’s time to plant those warm weather crops you have been holding back on. Be sure to check the soil temperature before planting warm weather crops such as peppers, tomato, eggplant, and melons. They 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, radish, beets or maybe get in some parsnips that 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 them. Johnny’s Selected Seeds’ website offers 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 down spout to collect water running off the roof. This is a great way to supplement your water supply to use in the garden. For information on how 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 that may be trying to get a head start around your yard or garden. Early detection is essential in combating and controlling those unwanted insects, diseases, and weeds. For information on these and much more, visit UMaine Extension Insects, Pests & Plant Diseases.
  • If you’re growing strawberries you may want to check out the Strawberry IPM Newsletter. This newsletter is posted regularly throughout the season on the Highmoor Farm website, where you can subscribe to weekly updates. Includes color pictures.

Items of Interest

  • Forest & Shade Tree – Insect & Disease Conditions for Maine – May 8, 2013 is now out online. Allison Kanoti of the Maine Forest Service sends along the following in formation:

Welcome to the 2013 growing season! As always, we are looking forward to a very busy season, with continuing initiatives on invasive forest insects and diseases, including a massive survey effort for the emerald ash borer (recently detected in New Hampshire, but not yet known to occur in Maine). In addition, our usual plant clinic diagnostic assistance will be available, along with the regular Condition Reports. To help accomplish all this, we invite you to assist with our mission. We ask you to be vigilant and to report to us any observations on tree insects and diseases of concern to you. We appreciate your willingness, expertise, and commitment to help keep our trees and forests healthy.

  • Flower Philanthropy: Sharing a Bounty of Beauty. We grow all sorts of wonderful veggies and fruits to feed and fuel our bodies, but we also grow an abundance of beauty to feed our senses and souls. While it is certainly satisfying to share our edible abundance, in many ways it is a special joy to give away flowers. Bounty of Beauty is a great opportunity for those of you who love flowers and would enjoy sharing them with others. For more information, see Bounty of Beauty.
  • Are you interested in preserving heirloom varieties of flowers and vegetables? If so, the following could be a great opportunity.

Greetings gardeners! The National Gardening Association is a proud sponsor of the Grow it Forward Heirloom Seed Contest. 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.

Upcoming Events

  • 2013 FAMACHA Workshops for Sheep and Goat Producers, June 1 & 15, 2013. If you are a sheep or goat producer and would like to gain the skills and knowledge to fight the barber pole worm (Haemonchus contorutus) in your sheep and goats, then the one-day FAMACHA workshop is for you. You will learn how to use the blood color of the capillaries around the eye of the sheep or goat to determine the degree of infection. The barber pole worm is a blood sucking internal parasite that is a common cause of death and poor-doing in small ruminants. The workshop will be presented by Dr. Thomas Settlemire and Dr. Richard Brzozowski. Participants will receive an information packet, record sheets, and a FAMACHA card.
  • Fieldstone Gardens’ Open House. If you’re looking for information on trees, shrubs, and perennials, or would like to find that special item, take a trip to Fieldstone Gardens’ annual open house on Sunday, June 29 (the last Sunday of June) and enjoy a wonderful day in the garden in Vassalboro, Maine. There will be great sales on all trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals. Also there will be a Walk & Talk with Steve Jones, where you will see many of the specimen plants around the property. For more information, see Fieldstone Gardens.
  • Session #3 of Raised Bed & Container Gardening Series. If you missed the first two sessions, but would like to attend any of the upcoming events, please call the UMaine Extension Somerset County office at 207.474.9622 or 1.800.287.1495 (in Maine) to register for this course. The remainder of the course is listed below.

Session 3 – Caring for your Garden
Wednesday June 12, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.
Rain Date: Thursday June 13 at 9:00 a.m.

Session 4 – Extending Your Growing Season
Wednesday:  July 17,2013 at 9:00 a.m.
Rain date: Thursday July 18 at 9:00 a.m.

Session 5 – Using your Harvest
Wednesday August 14, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.
Rain Date: Thursday August 15 at 9:00 a.m.

Session 6 – Putting your garden to bed
Wednesday September 25, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.
Rain Date: Thursday September 26 at 9:00 a.m.

To register for sessions, please call the UMaine Extension Somerset County office at 207.474.9622 or 1.800.287.1495 (in Maine). The course is free.

If you are a person with a disability and will need 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.

Master Gardeners Volunteers Needed

The Somerset County Master Gardener Volunteers are meeting on June 15 to work on the office landscape. Start time will be at 8:00 a.m. at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office in Skowhegan. If you have gardening tools (shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, etc.) that you could bring to use, please do. For more information, contact Cheryl Perkins at or contact Tom Goodspeed at 1.800.287.1495 (in Maine) or 207.474.9622 or Hope to see you there!

Thank You!

To Lynch Landscaping in Skowhegan for their generous offer to assist the Master Gardeners project in revitalizing the UMaine Extension Somerset County office flowerbeds. Their contribution of compost and topsoil will go a long way to getting the project done. John Lynch is a Master Gardener from the class of 2011. For information on Lynch Landscaping, please visit Lynch Landscaping.

Links to other websites are provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any content on the linked sites. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

Somerset County Master Gardener May Newsletter 2013

May 4th, 2013 12:00 PM

Flowers are finally beginning to appear in the flower beds and the forsythia are starting to bloom. Planting the vegetable garden can’t be far behind. I know some of you have already started planting things like peas, spinach, and other cold tolerant crops, and then some are still waiting for their soil to warm and dry out enough to be able to plant. If you have questions on gardening, please ask an expert for help.

May is the month to:

  • Start hardening off those seedlings you started earlier indoors and begin planting cold tolerant crops into the garden. In early May if you haven’t put in your peas already, 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. To view the latest publications and videos on gardening in Maine, please visit our UMaine Extension’s gardening website.
  • Need to repair 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 harder 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. You can find more information on lawns and lawn care in Bulletin #2367, Establishing a Home Lawn in Maine, by Lois Berg Stack, UMaine Extension ornamental horticulture specialist.
  • May is a great time to plant new trees and shrubs. With all the renewed interest in non-invasive plants and planting native plants in the landscape, Lois Stack, Ormantel Horticulature Specialist at the UMaine Extension, has compiled information on Gardening to Conserve Maine’s Native Landscape (Bulletin #2500).
  • If you’re planning on growing your own strawberries this year and have already put in your order, May is the time you will want to start preparing the site you have chosen to locate them in. As with all first time garden areas you will want to get a soil test done by the University of Maine Soil Test Laboratory to determine what steps you need to take to get your soil suitable for growing strawberries. Check out our video on How To Grow Strawberries: Planting A Strawberry Bed or Bulletin #2067, Growing Strawberries.

Upcoming Events

The Northeast Livestock Exposition

  • Will be held May, 17, 18, and 19 at Windsor Fairgrounds with many past favorites and new events for youth! For more information on this event, visit Northeast Livestock Expo. To register, click on Youth. New this year will be a market lamb sale with a jackpot show at Skowhegan Fair! Local breeders will be offering great market lambs for youth to purchase for Maine market lamb shows and sales.

Raised Bed Gardening Series

  • The second session of our raised bed gardening series will be held on May 15 and we will be focusing on starting your garden. If you haven’t signed up for this session, but would like to, please call 207.474.9622 or 1.800.287.1495 (in Maine) to register.

Northern New England Home, Garden, and Flower Show

  • Celebrate the arrival of spring with them at the 11th Annual Home Garden Flower Show at Fryeburg Fairgrounds, May 17, 18 & 19, 2013 with great exhibitors, garden centers, and awesome fair food! For more information, visit the Fryeburg Home Show website. 

Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District

  • 2013 TROUT SALE! The deadline for the trout sale is May 10, 2013. Prices for Brook Trout or Rainbow Trout are the same as last year. PICK UP DAY for trout will be Wednesday May 15. For more information, see Somerset County Soil & Water District.

Discover Gorgeous Gardens!

  • The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens invite you to experience their spectacular 250 acres of gardens and landscapes. Their gardens and wild spaces are uniquely beautiful and always full of surprises, including 11,000 tulips in the spring!

If you’re a Maine resident, stop by (with ID) for free admission during Maine Days at the Gardens, 9:00-5:00 throughout Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is open daily year-round. The Gardens Gift Shop is now open for the season, and the Kitchen Garden Cafe opens May 1.

Items of Interest

Emerald Ash Borer

  • The Emerald Ash Borer has now been found in New Hampshire. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was found in Concord, NH, in March 2013. EAB attacks ash trees, and is responsible for the death of millions of ash trees in the mid-west. For more information, visit Protecting New Hampshire Trees and Forests. For information on the state of Maine’s’ efforts in detecting and preventing the Emerald Ash Borer, please visit Purple Traps and the Emerald Ash Borer.

Farm to School Meeting

  • UMaine Extension will host a Farm to School meeting Thursday, May 9, 2013 at the UMaine Extension Penobscot County Office, Bangor, ME at 7:00 p.m. At this free event growers, school food service directors, and the general public will learn about school lunch requirements, acquire strategies for building successful local procurement relationships, and network for the 2013 season. A guest farmer, food service director, and Maine State Child Nutrition Services employee will be on hand to share their experiences with Farm to School and answer questions. For more information and to RSVP, please e-mail Food Corps Service Member Zoe Hastings at

2013-2014 New England Small Fruit Management Guide

  • Copies of the 2013-2014 New England Small Fruit Management Guide are now available at Highmoor Farm. The guide contains the latest information on management control options for the major small fruit pests as well as scouting information. Cost of the guide is $10.00 plus $2.53 postage for a total of $12.53. Copies of the 2012-2013 New England Vegetable Management Guide with color pictures of the important pests and diseases are also available at Highmoor Farm. Cost of the guide is $25.00 plus $3.43 postage for a total of $28.43. To order the guides, please send your check made payable to UMaine Cooperative Extension mailed to: Highmoor Farm, P.O. Box 179, Monmouth, Maine 04259, attention Pam St. Peter. For more information, contact Pam St. Peter at 933.2100 or
Farmer Joe with second graders at Forest Hill School

Farmer Joe with second graders harvesting another crop. Joe Bergeron is a Master Gardener in Somerset County and is co-owner of thelazyway.

Forest Hills School Second Grade Receives Grant to Grow!

  • Forest Hills School is pleased to announce that second grade teacher Marisa Achey was chosen by Johnny’s Selected Seeds to support their growing projects in her classroom. They will be receiving a shipment of seeds shortly.

Mrs. Achey has been active in the 5, 2, 1, 0 (five or more fresh fruits and vegetables, two hours or less of recreational screen time, one or more hour of physical activity, and zero sugary drinks) for over a year, bringing lots of healthy learning activities into her classroom. “Farmer Joe” (Joe Bergeron) has adopted the classroom and the students have enjoyed cooking lessons and lots of fresh produce grown in the library’s window.

To learn more about this project and farmer Joe, visit

Thank you!

Mark Sheriff demonstrating grafting process

Mark Sheriff demonstrating grafting process

A big heart felt Thank You Goes out to Master Gardener Mark Sheriff and Wendy Sheriff, owners of Avalon Acres Farm & Orchard for hosting this years’ Apple Pruning Field Day. This event has become an annual right of spring held at their orchard in St. Albans. This year we had a great turnout for the event with 75 people attending, representing 5 counties (Somerset, Kennebec, Piscataquis, Penobscot, and Waldo). Information was shared on pruning, planting, grafting, and growing, along with a tour of the farm and fresh bake goodies and hot drinks on a very windy, cold, information-filled day. If you’re in the area, stop at Avalon Acres Farm and pick up some farm fresh fruits and vegetables.

Somerset County Master Gardener, April 2013 Newsletter

April 1st, 2013 8:00 AM

Finally April is here! I’m hoping that the old saying, April showers bring the flowers that bloom in May, is going to apply. It would be really nice to see stable weather conditions without the extremes of unseasonable highs and lows. This is the time that gardeners are wondering when will the soil dry and become warm enough to work. Also now is the time most people are starting seeds or transplanting those that they started earlier. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has many great gardening publications on our website, along with gardening videos, to help you with your up coming gardening adventures.

 April is the Month to…

  • Start warm weather seedlings, such as peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and herbs, which 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, 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 towards the end of the month.
  • 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.
  • Once more, if you haven’t done a soil test, NOW is the time to get your soil test into the UMaine soil testing lab.
  • For those of you who are interested in information on the delicious fiddlehead fern (Ostrich Fern) we have two bulletins on the subject: Bulletins #2540, Ostrich Fern Fiddleheads and #4198, Facts on 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

While we are waiting for things to dry out, you may want to take in some of the upcoming gardening programs put on by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension or other gardening groups in the area. For more information on what’s going on from the University of Maine and others please visit the links below.

Upcoming Events

  • Apple Tree Field Day

Master Gardener Alumni, Mark Sheriff and Family in collaboration with UMaine Extension, will be hosting an Apple Tree pruning and grafting field day at their Avalon Acres Orchard & Farm in St. Albans, Maine, on Saturday April 6 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.

2012 Apple Tree Pruning Field Day.

Mark Sheriff talks with participants about prunning fruit trees.

Directions to Avalon Acres Farm: From Newport, take Route 7 West toward Nokomis High School. Turn left on Williams Road. Go past High School, follow to end (5 miles). Turn left on Route 43 toward St. Albans. Go 3 miles, turn right onto Dexter Road. The farm is 1 1/2 miles on left.

From Skowhegan take Route 2 east to Route 23 (Hartland Road) into Hartland. Then turn right onto Route 43 east/ Corinna Road. Turn left onto Dexter Road. Farm is about 1 1/2 miles on left.

Learn more about Avalon Acres Farm & Orchards.

  • Spring happenings at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

We invite you to experience Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens’ spectacular 250-acre landscape. The gardens and wild spaces are uniquely beautiful and always full of surprises, including 11,000 tulips in the spring!

If you’re a Maine resident, stop by (with ID) for free admission during Maine Days at the Gardens, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. throughout Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27. Check out their calendar for more information and a look at their “GROW” Program.

The mission of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is to protect, preserve, and enhance the botanical heritage and natural landscapes of coastal Maine for people of all ages through horticulture, education, and research.

  • The Somerset County Soil & Water District

The Somerset County Soil & Water District is now taking orders for their annual Trout Sale! The updated order form for 2013 is available on the Trout Sale section of their website or call 474-8324, ext. 3 with questions or for more information. Deadline for orders is May 10. Pickup day is Wednesday May 14. See order form for prices and more details.

  • The Bangor Garden Show

A traditional rite of spring returns with a new name and a new look this year. Scheduled to take place from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., April 5-6 and from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., April 7, the garden show will be held at the Bangor Auditorium and Civic Center. Admission is $5; children under 12 are admitted free. Now known as the “BDN Maine Bangor Garden Show and Spring Fling,” the show will be presented by New England Home Health. Organizers promise there will be something for everyone. For more information visit Bangor Daily News website.     

  • 20th Maine Garden Day

A day-long extravaganza of gardening workshops, food, along with a trade show. Over 30 workshops on topics ranging from permaculture, growing great tomatoes, and managing soil organic matter to increasing curb appeal with native plants. Preregistration is required by visiting the website or calling the UMaine Extension Oxford County office at 743.6329 to request a paper registration brochure.

  • Fruit Tree Workshop

This half-day workshop on growing fruit trees in Maine will focus on pruning and dealing with diseases and insect pests. It’s open to the general public — anyone who would like to learn more about the cultural requirements of fruit trees. The class will be taught by Renae Moran, UMaine Extension tree fruit specialist. The class will begin in the meeting room behind the barn. If weather permits, we will have a pruning demonstration in the orchard and a tour of the fruit tree research orchard. The workshop is free of charge, but please preregister by calling Renae Moran at 207.933.2100 or e-mail For more information on fruit trees, visit Cooperative Extension’s Tree Fruits website.

Hopkins, Doctoral Student Interviewed in Mainebiz Article

March 21st, 2013 12:46 PM

Mainebiz interviewed Kathy Hopkins, a maple syrup educator with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and Jenny Shrum, a doctoral biology and ecology student at the University of Maine, for the March 18 article “Maine syrup makers brace for widespread variability.” Hopkins spoke about the unusually warm seasons producers have been seeing in the past few years. She said despite the variability of the seasons, syrup production has been booming and state licenses for commercial production have increased. Shrum spoke about her research into how to better define what temperature rises and weather variability will mean for sap flow, as well as possible steps that could safeguard the state’s industry.

Somerset County Master Gardener, March 2013 Newsletter

March 1st, 2013 11:56 AM

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 when it comes to 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 our 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. For more information, see Bulletin #2751, Starting Seeds at Home (includes plans for building a seed stand) or watch our video How to Build a Seedling Stand to Extend the Gardening Season.
  • This month is also a time when home gardeners begin to prune their fruit trees and check their trunks for insects and borers. You also may 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 flower buds. For more information, see Bulletin #2169, Pruning Woody Landscape Plants.
  • 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 in UMaine Extension’s gardening videos and publications.

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 at and follow the link to the sale.

Upcoming Events

  • So You Want to Farm in Maine? Free Webinar

So You Want to Farm in Maine is a farm business course for people who want to start a profitable farm or expand their farm hobby to a profitable business. This course will be offered in a series of eight webinars, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., starting Thursday, March 7. Classes will be held on the Internet live and with an archived version that will be available shortly after the live session.

Topics will include selecting and evaluating a farm enterprise, writing a business plan, record keeping, market research, and much more. Cost of the webinar is free. Course texts can be purchased through the UMaine Extension publications online store:

More about the webinar seriesTo pre-register.

For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call 564.3301 or 1.800.287.1491 (in Maine), or contact:

Donna Coffin, Extension Educator
165 East Main St.
207.564.3301 or 1.800.287.1491 (in Maine)

  • Apple Tree Workshop. Save the Date!
Apple pruning field day

Mark answer questions on pruning fruit tree.

Master Gardener Alumni Mark Sheriff and family, in collaboration with UMaine Extension, will be hosting an apple tree pruning and grafting field day at Avalon Acres in St. Albans (234 Dexter Road) on Saturday, April 6 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 encouraged to attend. Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear, as we will be walking on uneven terrain. Registration is not required but would be appreciated so that we will have enough handouts. There is no charge for this program.

For more information and/or to let us know that you plan to attend, please contact Tom Goodspeed at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office at 474.9622 or toll free in Maine at 1.800.287.1945.

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 ½ miles on left. Form 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 ½ miles on left.

  • Upcoming MOFGA Events: Our Living Earth, Living Soule Series

Avena Botanicals herbalist and owner Deb Soule is hosting four talks about herbs to honor and raise funds in memory of Russell Libby. The speakers are donating their time, and all proceeds go directly to the Russell Libby Memorial Fund. Classes are by donation only, with suggested donations of $5 to $500. Pre-registration is encouraged but not required. For information and registration, call Avena Botanicals at 207.594.0694. For more information on upcoming events, see Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association.

  • The 20th Annual Maine Garden Day

The date for the 20th Annual Maine Garden Day is April 6 at Lewiston High School. This event is a day filled with gardening workshops, educational displays, and a trade show. To register for this event, visit 20th Annual Maine Garden Day.

  • Maine Maple Sunday

Join Maine’s maple producers to celebrate Maine Maple Sunday on March 24.  This is the day when sugar makers around the state open the doors of their sugar-houses for the public to join them in their rites of spring: making maple syrup.

Most sugar-houses 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 and a map of sugar-house locations, please visit Maine Maple Producers.

Volunteer Opportunity

  • Jamie Doiron of Cedar Ridge Nursing Home would like a Master Gardener volunteer to assist with two raised bed vegetable gardens that they will be building at Cedar Ridge. They would like to be able to raise vegetables for the residents, and for the residents to be able to work in the garden and learn about gardening. If you are interested in this project, please contact Jamie Doiron at 207.474.9686 as soon as possible, or call Tom at 207.474.9622.

So You Want to Farm in Maine? Free Webinar

February 12th, 2013 10:16 AM

small red barnSo You Want to Farm in Maine is a farm business course for people who want to start a profitable farm or expand their farm hobby into a profitable business. This course will be offered in eight (8) evening webinars, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., starting Thursday, March 7. Classes will be held on the Internet, live and with an archived version that will be available shortly after the live session.

Topics will include selecting and evaluating a farm enterprise, writing a business plan, record keeping, market research, and much more. The webinar is free. Course texts can be purchased from the UMaine Extension Publications Store.

More information >>

February 2013, Somerset County Master Gardener Newsletter

February 7th, 2013 8:38 AM

February is the time when gardeners will be finalizing plans for their 2013 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 indoors. Here at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office, things are picking up with gardening questions already coming in. We are also  getting ready for the Master Gardener Class of 2013 that will be starting on March 4th and it looks like we are going to have a good group.

Items of Interest

  • Organic Seed Finder Website

The Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) has put an organic seed finder on their website. The purpose is to bring together organic seed vendors and persons looking for organic seeds. They have a very diverse listing of field crop, fruits, and vegetable seeds, along with other organic seeds. To view the seed finder, go to the AOSCA website.

  • 2013 Master Gardener Volunteers Project Grant Application

If you are working with a group or organization for your Master Gardener project, the following may be of interest to you. This year, projects may apply for up to $500 towards their Master Gardener Volunteer project. Applications are due March 1, 2013. The MGDB will review applications shortly after March 1 to make their decisions, so please be aware of the deadline. For an application, please contact Tom Goodspeed or Kathy Hopkins at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office. Phone: 207-474-9622 or 1-800-287-1495.

  • Blueberry and Asparagus Plant Sale to Benefit Master Gardener Program

The public can support Master Gardener Volunteer projects by ordering a set of highbush blueberry plants, consisting of three young plants, two varieties per pack, for $35.95, and/or a pack of 10 asparagus crowns ready for planting in the spring for $15. Plants must be ordered by April 30 and will be available for pick up at UMaine Extension offices and at Highmoor Farm in Monmouth on Saturday, May 18th.

Purchasers will receive expert advice on growing blueberries and asparagus. “This is more than a plant sale. It is an educational experience with positive results,” says Richard Brzozowski, UMaine Extension educator in Cumberland County.

For more information, or to place an order, go to the Master Gardeners “Grow It Right! Benefit Plant Sale website.

Upcoming Events:

  • Apple Tree Workshop — Save the Date!

Master Gardener Alumni Mark Sheriff and family, in collaboration with UMaine Extension, will be hosting an apple tree pruning and grafting field day at Avalon Acres in St. Albans (234 Dexter Rd.) on Saturday April 6th 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 encouraged to attend. Please wear appropriate footwear as we will be walking on uneven terrain. Registration is not required, but would be appreciated so that we will have enough handouts. There is no charge for this program.

For more information and/or to let us know you plan on attending, please contact Tom Goodspeed at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office at 474-9622 or toll free in Maine at 1-800-287-1945.

  • 2013 Master Gardener Class to begin!

The University of Maine Cooperative in  Somerset County is pleased to again offer its popular Master Gardener program in the Spring and Fall of 2013. This year the course will be run in a split session format with the first session starting on March 4 through May 6. The second session will begin on September 9 and continue until October 7.  The course will feature an online manual that requires a reliable internet connection. Please contact the extension office if you do not have reliable internet access. Participants in the Master Gardener program will receive fifteen 3-hour training sessions on gardening. The 2013 program will focus on ornamental horticulture, ecological landscaping, and volunteerism. The program will be held on Monday mornings from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., beginning March 4 at the UMaine Extension Somerset County office on Norridgewock Avenue in Skowhegan. For more information or to request an application, please call the UMaine Extension Somerset County office at 474-9622 or 1-800-287-1495 (toll free in Maine). Applications are due on February 15, 2013.

  • The 2013 Maine Vegetable & Fruit School

The school will be held on Tuesday, March 12 at Seasons Conference Center in Portland and on Wednesday, March 13 at the Bangor Motor Inn.

Topics include:

  • Storage Crops and Post Harvest Considerations
  • Determining Your Storage Needs and Designing a Solution
  • Produce Cooling and Storage by Design at Laughingstock Farm
  • Storing Vegetables at Checkerberry Farm
  • Marketing Winter Crops at Six River Farm
  • Spotted Wing Drosophila Quiz
  • A Virtual Visit to Jordan’s Farm
  • Marketing to Your Community at Jordan’s Farm
  • Should Strawberries be on Your Menu?
  • Using Compost: The Good, Bad and Ugly
  • New Pest Update: Spotted Wing Drosophila, Stink Bugs, Cutworms, Borers, and Moths

More information is posted on the Highmoor Farm website.

Please, register by February 25. The cost is $35.00 and includes lunch. Participants may receive 1 Pesticide Applicator recertification credit, and Certified Crop Advisors may earn 5 recertification credits.

  • The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Looking for garden-related activities to attend this time of year? The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay has something to interest gardeners of all ages. A schedule of planned events for 2013 is now listed on Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens website. This year’s theme of “Trees, Timbers and Traditions” encompasses the many facets of trees and their multitude of uses. Look for the simple tree icon that will mark theme-related programs, events, exhibits, and activities.

Thank you!

Kathy and I wish to say thank you to all of you who attended the Master Gardener potluck dinner held on January the 28. We are in hopes of making this an annual event. We had approximately 16 people in attendance with some great homemade dishes for dinner. We gave out 1-year pins to all those in attendance who had reached their 20 hours of volunteer time, need for re-certification as Master Gardeners, and new name tags for those who were in the 2012 class that had completed their 40 hours of volunteering. A presentation on pollinators was given by Master Gardener & Somerset County Bee Keeper President Samantha Burns. A good time was had by all!

Below are seven of our Master Gardeners who earned their re-certification and were in attendance to receive pins for volunteer efforts in 2012. Thank you all!

Master Gardener Volunteers

You Can Program Series: Backyard Maple Syrup

February 1st, 2013 9:34 AM

buckets on maple trees collect sapDOVER-FOXCROFT: Enjoy the spring tradition and learn to safely tap maple trees and make maple syrup in your backyard from Kathy Hopkins in the next workshop in the YOU CAN series to be held, Thursday, February 28th from 1:0 0 pm to 3:00 pm at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Piscataquis County Office at 165 East Main St., Dover-Foxcroft, ME 04426.

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 a series of workshops that will give you the skills to get started in self-sufficiency.

The cost of this workshop is $5 and you can register through PVAEC, 48 Morton Ave., Suite M, Dover-Foxcroft, ME 04426 or call 564-6525 or register online at

Kathy Hopkins is the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Educator in Somerset County for 20 years. Her area of expertise includes sustainable agriculture, home horticulture and natural resources. She currently serves as a statewide resource for the Maine maple syrup industry. She coordinates maple trainings, workshops and has prepared a fact sheet on maple syrup production for backyard producers as well as a quality control manual for commercial industry.

For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call 564-3301 or in Maine 1-800-287-1491.

About University of Maine Cooperative Extension:

As a trusted resource for almost 100 years, University of Maine Cooperative Extension has supported UMaine’s land and sea grant public education role by conducting community-driven, research-based programs in every Maine county.

UMaine Extension helps support, sustain and grow the food-based economy. It is the only entity in our state that touches every aspect of the Maine Food System, where policy, research, production, processing, commerce, nutrition, and food security and safety are integral and interrelated. UMaine Extension also conducts the most successful out-of-school youth educational program in Maine through 4-H.