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:  Northernhillsmastergardeners@yahoo.com

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Earl Dailey Memorial Endowment Grant Application

Spring is coming, and the South Dakota Master Gardeners Association Earl Dailey Memorial Endowment Grant Application Forms and criteria are attached:  Small projects or big projects are welcome!  Please send them in!  The due date is March 30, 2018.

There are two types of grants available:

            1) Project Grant
            2)  Professional Improvement Grant

            Each grant type has a fillable PDF attached for your convenience in applying.  Also attached is the evaluation criteria for each application type.  You are encouraged to read the evaluation criteria that applies to the grant for which you are applying as the Grants Committee will use it to evaluate your grant proposal.  The committee realizes that not all applications will meet all criteria, but by addressing the criteria as closely as possible your chance of success and funding are improved.   The purpose of these grants is to promote gardening education and experiences.

Print out a copy as a worksheet; then fill out the PDF on line and send.

SDMG Professional Improvement Grant Application 2018
SDMP Professional Improvement Grant Evaluation Criteria 2018
SDMG Project Grant Application 2018
SDMG Project Grant Evaluation Criteria 2018

AVAILABLE FUNDS:  The SDMG Board has allocated $2500 to award for grants this year; please keep this in mind as you set your budget and make your requests.  The number of requests in the past has varied from 2-14.  The amounts dispersed over the past six years have ranged from $350 to $2500.  Total amounts requested have ranged from $1800 - $9000.  The SDMG Board has determined that Master Gardeners applying for the grants be active Extension Master Gardeners or active Extension Master Gardener Interns. This means that volunteer hours for 2017 must be submitted to the Volunteer Reporting System [VRS].  All Extension Master Gardeners are encouraged to submit their volunteer hours so the Extension Master Gardener information for Dr. Graper’s yearly report is up-to-date.

DUE DATE:  Applications for funding consideration are due to Sue W. White sww@spe.midco.net on or before March 30, 2018.

REMINDER:  Send your applications or questions directly to Sue W. White sww@spe.midco.net   If you respond to this email, it goes to the listserv where it might not be seen or could end up going to everyone on the listserv.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Seed-Starting Indoors: A Seed’s Purpose

This article was written by Northern Hills Master Gardener Sharon Henry for the Black Hills Pioneer

I just finished a box of Kleenex while reading A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron and William Dufris.  Thinking about purposes in life led to the title of this article on seed starting. What is a seed’s purpose?

A seed’s purpose is to germinate and grow. Within their tiny and seemingly dead confines is an energy that will take bits of soil, light, air, and water and turn themselves into living, growing plants. Think acorn into oak. Think tomato seed into salads and BLTs all summer. And think about starting those seeds indoors.

With our short growing season, our annual plants can use a head start. You can buy your “starts” at our wonderful local nurseries or big box stores in late spring. Or get in on the process sooner and from its magical beginnings. Buying your seeds from seed-saving nurseries around the country allows you to choose varieties which are interesting, flavorful, and bred for resistance to diseases. Choose your vegetables based on the length of time it will take for them to ripen rather than play Russian Roulette with our first frost.

Once your seeds have arrived at your house in their little packets, read the packets. The packets tell you how soon you can start your seeds indoors – how many weeks before you must put them outside. You will learn the planting depth for your seeds. You will learn whether you should start a specific plant indoors or whether this plant would prefer that you wait and sow its seeds directly outdoors before or after the last frost. The packet knows!

Now that your timing is right and you’ve chosen seeds that like to be started indoors, provide your seeds with some essentials. Seeds need a light touch at the beginning so the tiny root hairs can develop. Use Sterile potting soil or sterile seed-starting soil. I’ve tried many reputable varieties of seed-starting mediums and the seeds don’t seem too particular.

Seeds also need both water and air. They need breathing room. Water gently at first so as not to drown the seeds. Another beginning watering technique is to regularly dampen your soil with a spray bottle of water until the plants are well-established. As the seedlings grow you can keep air circulating with a small fan.

Depending on the temperature of the seed-starting room, you may need a heating mat to aid germination. A clear plastic dome or supported plastic wrap over the pots until you see the first true leaves will help keep heat and moisture more uniform. If it looks like a rainforest inside my dome cover, I lift it for a little ventilation.

The biggest issue with indoor seed-starting is your light source. You may find that even in sunny windows your seeds seem to start well, but become “leggy”searching for enough light. Grow lights will help. Mine are florescent T-5 bulbs suspended from frames. I can start the lights right over the plants and raise the bulbs as the plants grow. I switch the lights on when I turn on the coffee machine in the early morning and switch them off as I head for bed.

 Left to their own devices outside in the snow and rain, in the cracks of cement walkways, in sun or shade, seeds have achieved their purpose and become plants. My sunflowers self-seed everywhere every year. But I know that the flowers of these self-sown plants are never as large or beautiful as the flowers from the new sunflowers I will sow in the flower beds.  And I love to try new varieties of vegetables. I watch the seed-magic potential unfold on the kitchen table under the grow lights, in the light and uniformly damp potting medium, with air circulated by the endless opening and closing of my kitchen door.

Here’s something fun to do which I learned from fellow Master Gardener, Barb Kuhlman. Take one of those disposable foil 9 X 13 inch cake pans with the clear plastic covers. Make holes for drainage in the bottom of the pan and holes for ventilation in the plastic cover. Fill with damp potting soil and plant some cold hardy greens seeds like Kale or spinach. Or some flower seeds like poppies that need cold to germinate. Then secure the lids and take those containers outside in a place where the dogs can’t get them. They will alternately freeze and thaw, under snow and in sunshine. In mid May open the cake pans and you will have little green seedlings to set out in your garden. These seedlings will be tough and resilient like the land that surrounds them.

Find some seeds and join some Master Gardeners at the Hills Horizon yearly Seed Swap. This year the swap is at the Spearfish public library meeting room on March 11 from 1:30-4:30. Come even with no seeds to swap. Local gardeners with both commercial and hobby gardens will be happy to answer your questions and share their expertise.