Thursday, April 18, 2019

Be[come] a Master Gardener

Love plants? Flowers and Trees? Growing Veggies and Fruits? Have a pesky unknown insect?
Want to “clone” a favorite plant? Have fun and learn with others who enjoy nature like you do?
Get ready to engage in learning! SDSU Extension’s Master Gardener [SDSU EMG] program
develops gardening enthusiasts into knowledgeable specialists who share research-based
information to their communities through programs, projects, and services.
A little history: Nationally, the Master Gardener program began in 1972 in response to high
public demand for horticultural information from local extension offices in the state of
Washington. The program became part of land grant colleges/universities across the nation.
South Dakota’s Master Gardener program began in 1985. Each year, Master Gardeners
volunteer more than 10,000 hours answering your questions and hosting programming.
How do you become an Extension Master Gardener? Through the SDSU Extension Master
Gardener program, interested volunteers receive 60 hours of training in horticulture and
environmental topics of special value to home gardeners. We will have this MG training course
going on this summer in Sturgis, SD May 30, June 6, 13, 20, 27; July 11, 18, and 25. The
program provides individuals with scientific specialized home gardening horticulture training.
For more information, contact SDSU Extension Master Gardener program staff
at, or to register

Then what happens? Following successful completion of the course, in partial exchange for our
training, Master Gardener Interns share time and knowledge on approved projects within our
communities. New interns must complete 50 hours consisting of volunteer educational outreach,
support, and service, in the first two years to earn certification as an SDSU EMG. Your local
club will help you earn your hours. Then to maintain certification, EMGs need to contribute 20
hours of volunteer service and gain 10 hours of continuing education each year thereafter.
SDSU Extension Master Gardeners are VOLUNTEERS, an arm of SDSU Extension,
answering horticulture questions and sharing science-based information to help educate the
public about gardening and natural resources. Being an Extension Master Gardener is also about
helping deliver meaningful community programs to improve the well-being of individuals and
communities, to protect natural resources, and to help keep fresh fruits and vegetables on the
table. It’s about working to make a difference in the places we live, learn, and work.
Locally we are the Northern Hills Master Gardeners [NHMG] a local club made up of EMGs
from Spearfish, Lead, Deadwood, Belle Fourche, Sturgis, Fruitdale, St. Onge, and Whitewood.
Contact us at or on Facebook

Find us at the Spearfish Farmers’ Market during the summer months, or at Arbor Day, tree, and many gardening workshops.

Where we assist in addressing community needs by:
- Answering the public’s gardening questions on outdoor and indoor plants
- Providing educational programs for the public
- Facilitating gardening projects at schools, libraries, and other public community sites
- Beautifying projects at the DC Booth Fish Hatchery & Adams House
- Presenting school gardening programs to promote science awareness in kids
- Identifying insects and plant problems and suggesting solutions when needed
- Working on protecting pollinators, combating invasives, and encourage gardening
- Writing articles for gardening pages of local newspapers
- And much much more!

Come, join us. Be an Extension Master Gardener. Find new friends with similar interests, take
part in new activities, increase your horticultural knowledge, gain valuable resources for problem
solving, and have fun helping others. The NHMGs are offering assistance for two people for the
Master Gardener Training in Sturgis. To apply contact us: and request an application. Application due date is
April 6 th .

Want to know more? You may contact me at Sue W. White, President of
SDMG Association and member of the NHMGs.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

High Elevation Gardening Workshop

“High Elevation Gardening” Workshop

Monday March 25 from 1 - 4:30pm
at the Historic Homestake Opera House in Lead

Presented by Northern Hills Master Gardeners  

This event is FREE, but please REGISTER by sending an email to


Choose from one of two workshops for each session:

1:00 to 1:50     
High Elevation Planting (Dorothy Vincent)   OR     High Tunnels  (John Hauge)

1:50 to 2:00     break

2:00 to 3:15     
Cleaning Garden Tools  (John Hauge)  OR  Pruning Trees & Shrubs   (Sue White) 

3:15 to 3:30     break

3:30 to 4:30     
Container Gardening  (Barb Kuhlman)     OR   Choosing Shrubs  (Richard Wells)

Gardening information and free seeds, too.

Please sign up for this free event by emailing               

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

NHMG Children's Garden 2018

With the coming of June, the Children's Garden at Hills Horizons got underway on a beautiful sunny day! Children from the nearby Kids Camp trekked over to get some real gardening experience with our NHMG volunteers.

To begin our day, NHMG Sharon Henry brought a picture book about gardening to read with the children, and then they had a turn with gardening tools (trowel, claw, and weed digger) to plant the seedlings that they had started at their school earlier this spring.

Who loves pizza more than kids? The kids got to plant pizza ingredients (including tomatoes, basil, onions, eggplant, and peppers) in hula-hoop sized giant pizza garden plots! Along the way, they got to dig in the dirt, label the plants, and water their new garden project. They even made friends with some creepy crawlers, like worms, centipedes, and beetles.

The children also planted more traditional gardening rows with seeds of carrots, radishes, and lettuce, with a pollinator flower garden nearby. Another garden bed teaming with strawberry plants shared some space with the cabbage, kale, broccoli, and watermelon plants that the kids had started from seed. What a delicious and rewarding experience this summer will be for our young gardeners!

With all the seeds and plants in the ground and watered, the group was satisfied with the opportunity to get a hands-on growing experience with lots of fun in the dirt and water! And the NHMG volunteers got to share the wonders and skills of gardening with a new generation who may cherish this experience as much as we did. We will meet weekly with our gardening kids until the end of July, so they can see the progress of their garden and enjoy the harvest and taste of fresh strawberries, carrots, radishes, and more!

Friday, June 1, 2018

NHMG Annual Plant Sale and Saturdays this Summer at the Farmer's Market

The NHMG Plant Sale is Saturday, June 2nd at Brady Park in Spearfish. Come to find houseplants, herbs, flowers, and vegetables for your garden, and to speak with local Master Gardeners about your gardening needs and issues. This is our annual fundraiser that helps us fund community projects and beautification for our communities.

Every Saturday from 8 am to noon, the NHMG group will host an informational booth at the Spearfish Farmer's Market at Brady Park. We are trained to help you find answers to your questions from many gardening topics, from selecting, planting, and pruning trees and shrubs, to soil testing, to vegetable gardening (seeds, diseases, pests, watering), to annual and perennial flowers and herbs, and more!

The purpose of the SDSU Master Gardener program is to share our research-based learning with the community and to support the love of gardening. Come see us to find out more about our group!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Tree Care Workshop

Master Gardeners Work with Children in our Community

SPEARFISH, SD – (April 9, 2018) Crow Peak Valley Rangers 4-H Club hosted a Spring horticulture workshop conducted by Northern Hills Master Gardeners. Pictured (L-R) Anna Marrs, MG Intern, with club members Abigail Riley and Elaina Nielsen. The workshop introduced young gardeners to seed sprouting using everyday recycled materials.

SPEARFISH, SD – (April 9, 2018) Master Gardener, Sharon Henry, explains the Creekside Elementary School Garden project to the Crow Peak Valley Ranger 4-H Club. An invitation to partner with the garden project was extended to 4-H youth and their families.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Time to Prune Your Deciduous Shrubs? It Depends!

By Master Gardener Sue White for the Black Hills Pioneer Master Gardener Column

Why Prune?  Most deciduous flowering shrubs need frequent pruning to look and perform their best.  This doesn’t necessarily mean every year.  Tour your yard, assess your shrubs.  Over-grown? Too full? Too tall?  Grab those bypass loppers and pruners.  Make sure they are clean and sharp.

But wait!  Is it the right time?  How do we know?

Flowering shrubs can generally be separated into two groups: summer flowering and spring flowering. Summer flowering shrubs, i.e., Hydrangea, Potentilla, Smoke Bush, Snowberry, Cotoneaster, most Spiraea, bloom on new wood, and can be shaped or pruned in March or early April. 

Spring flowering shrubs, i.e., Lilac, Forsythia, Chokeberry, Viburnum, Weigela, bloom on old wood and should not be pruned until after they have bloomed.  If they are pruned in the fall or winter, they will not bloom.

How much to prune? 
Yet again, it depends on what you want to do.  If your plant is not overgrown, consider renewal pruning which involves removing about a third of the oldest canes every year over three to five years.  If your plant is old and overgrown, you may want to rejuvenate it by cutting all the canes within 2-3 inches of the ground.  Many small shrubs may be cut back every year and will grow back and bloom.  However, cutting your mature lilac back to 3 inches may cost you blooms for several years. Remember: The season to prune depends on when your shrub blooms! 

How to prune? 
Shrubs produce canes, multiple shoots coming up from the ground.  Use heading cuts which are clean straight cuts made within 2 to 3 inches from the ground with loppers or sturdy bypass pruners.  This will encourage new shoots to emerge.  Shrubs that produce multiple canes should be pruned yearly or at least every few years.  Shrubs with only a few canes, such as burning bush should be thinned out occasionally rather than using heading cuts as described above.

Prune your Deciduous Trees?  It Depends!

You should only prune to help the tree!  And remember, if your feet must leave the ground to prune, find a certified arborist! 

Reasons for pruning trees: 1) to remove dead, diseased, or dying branches, 2) to remove low, crossing, or hazardous branches, 3) to train trees and control size, 4) to remove broken branches, 5) to protect people and property.

When to prune? 
It depends!  Pruning should begin at planting time.  Then only diseased, dead, or broken branches should be removed. Young trees will need all their leaves the first year.  Following the first-year, pruning done on young deciduous trees should be well thought out.  Remove crossing or rubbing branches.  Remove branches that are growing at an angle of thirty degrees or less relative to the trunk which are weakly joined and likely to break off in storms.  Trees should have one main leader, and limbs should be spaced about 6 to 18 inches apart.  Branches that are growing closer to the ground than you would like should be left in place until they reach about an inch in diameter.  Leaving these branches in place when they are smaller will benefit root development and a sturdier trunk. 
Remove dead or dangerous or diseased limbs as soon as possible any time of year.  Live branch pruning can be done as the trees are just breaking dormancy, but removal of small diameter branches less than 2 inches can be performed during the growing season.  Summer can be a good time to prune as the wounds will heal faster than when the tree is totally dormant.  Exceptions are elms that need dormant pruning and oaks not during April to June, due to incidence of diseases.  Often maples, walnuts, and birches, will exude sap “bleed” after pruning.  This causes little harm.  If you wish to avoid the sap flow, prune these trees in August.

Ready to cut?
Tools:  In addition to the bypass loppers and pruners mentioned above, a pruning saw with fine teeth that works on the pull is easier to use when reaching up.  Lysol and a clean cloth is necessary when removing diseased branches.  You must disinfect tools after every cut to avoid contamination.
Cut back branches to their point of origin, the collar, at the trunk or a lower branch; don't leave stubs.  Find the collar; the bulge that forms at the base of the branch where it intersects with the trunk.  Start your cut just outside the branch ridge, angling down to slightly outside the branch collar below.  This type of cut helps the wound heal.
Do not paint pruning cuts. Sealing cuts and wounds on trees does not speed healing and can promote decay.
More information: Free Tree Care Workshop Tuesday April 24, 2018 6:00 – 8:00pm.  Spearfish City Council Chambers. Direct questions to: