Archive for the ‘Educational Resources’ Category

Nature’s Notebook and Master Gardeners: A tool for all seasons

Monday, January 14th, 2013
Sonoran Desert in August, monsoon season

Sonoran Desert in August

 

Lush green mountains and creeks filled with rushing, crashing water – not exactly what one thinks Arizona looks like.  But this is the Sonoran desert in southern Arizona in August during monsoon season.

Summer wildflowers spread cheerfully across open patches between cholla and prickly pear ripe with brilliant burgundy fruit.

Just the Beginning – Phenology Training and a Citizen Science Project

My friend Pat and I are treated to these glorious sights as we travel the rocky dirt road up to the Florida Canyon ranger station, part of the Santa Rita Experimental Range, in the Santa Rita mountains south of Tucson to do our observations for Nature’s Notebook, the citizen science program sponsored by the USA National Phenology Network.

Pat , Pima County Master Gardener Participating in Nature's Notebook

Edy, Pima County Master Gardener Participating in Nature's Notebook

Phenology  - Observing and studying plants leads to a lot more!

As part of the Master Gardener class at the Pima County Cooperative Extension though University of Arizona in the spring of 2012, LoriAnne Barnett, the Education Coordinator for the USA National Phenology Network based at the University of Arizona, taught a class on phenology.

What is phenology?

Phenology, we learned, is a branch of science that deals with the relationship between climate and periodic biological phases of flora and fauna.  Okay.  But what did that really mean to us as Master Gardeners?  To find out, Pat and I volunteered to observe and monitor four plants in the Florida Canyon of the Santa Ritas.Tucked away in this remote canyon is a ranger station where scientists from all over the country can come to conduct research.

Our work becomes part of long-term studies

At the station, LoriAnne had tagged the plants we were to watch – two velvet mesquite trees, an ocotillo, and, unbelievably, a very old lilac bush!!  This particular lilac is part of a historic long-term USDA cloned plant phenological study begun in the 1950s, which provides over 50 years of consistent data for scientists to study.  Lucky, lucky us!

Lilacs in spring 2012 - We recorded its bloom time this year.

Lilac in Winter 2013 - As part of Nature's notebook, we'll record when they first bloom again this spring.

Observing 4 plants leads to lots of new questions and beautiful scenery!

As the months have passed, we have observed the mesquite trees flower and develop pods (no pods on the small one, despite the bloom – something to wonder about) and marveled at the gorgeous color of the ocotillo flowers and the continual drop of leaves and regrowth after a monsoon storm.

Observing the flower on velvet mesquite, Prosopis veluntina, during the growing season.

Prosopis_veluntina

Velvet mesquite, Prosopis veluntina (January)

But our true joy was the heavenly scent of the lilac in bloom in the spring.  Those tiny purple flowers filled the air (and our noses!!) with their delicate fragrance as we would return again and again before reluctantly making our way back down the canyon towards home. As a Midwestern transplant trying to learn about desert flora, this activity opened my eyes to life in the desert in a way I could not have imagined.

Each week Pat and I would delight in the changes we were seeing so very up close and personal.  We also were treated to sightings of fauna that made our trek even more amazing – javalina scurrying along the dry creek bed, a bobcat strolling across our path, snakes and a frightened gila monster running for cover, deer dashing after each other in a panic as we approached, and birds.  So many birds.  Fortunately, Pat is an extraordinary birder and can identify birds by their calls, shapes, and flight patterns.  I’m in awe!  Hummingbirds abound in the canyon while red tail hawks soar over head looking for lunch.

Nature’s Notebook – An Opportunity for Master Gardener Volunteers & Science

Master Gardeners are already in tune to blooms and buds, planting times and zones, emergence and migration.  Having an opportunity to observe and record these events in a program like Nature’s Notebook helps us to remember the how and when of each season and encourages us to create our own hypotheses about what may be to come.

Our data also contributes to a valuable ongoing study about how species and ecosystems are influenced by environmental changes.  

No, this is not work.  This is pure pleasure.  Phenology, it seems, is much more than the science of the seasons. To be with a friend out in the midst of the wonderful place just to monitor and observe the flora and fauna is something I am so very happy to be able to do.

Opuntia engelmannii

Arizona poppy, Kalistoemia grandiflora

Prickly Poppy, Aremone platyceras

Participate in Nature’s Notebook Through Your Local Program

While we participated in the phenology training through our local Master Gardener chapter in Arizona, Nature’s Notebook is a national program. Master Gardener chapters around the country are adding phenology to their list of volunteer projects so check with your local coordinator to find out if your state is participating.

If not, encourage your chapter members to join in tracking phenological changes. You will find all of the resources you need to get started on the USA-NPN website: http://www.usanpn.org/participate. For information about how you can be involved with Nature’s Notebook, or how to add it to a Master Gardener training course, contact LoriAnne Barnett at lorianne@usanpn.org.

-Submitted by

Edy Alderson, Pima County Cooperative Extension, Green Valley Master Gardener Chapter volunteer
Pima County Master Gardeners on Facebook
Pima County Extension on Facebook

LoriAnne Barnett
Education Coordinator | USA National Phenology Network

EMG Blog Learning Notes – Recapping December 2012

Monday, January 7th, 2013

This month was a festive month on the Extension Master Gardener blog.

Getting Caught Up in the Season

Winter Imagination

Winter Imagination Collage

Our EMG Bloggers enthusiastically explored the winter and holiday spirit through many blog posts. Here is what we covered this month.

Favorite Plants and Scenes:

  • Conifers, Which is Your Favorite?  We tried a new crowd sourcing experiment this month.  After Foy shared some interesting conifers (my favorite was ‘Pusch’ spruce), she added a ‘Linky Lists’ link to the bottom of her post so readers could submit a link with a thumbnail image to a webpage on their favorite conifer(s).  The ‘Linky List’ was available to contribute to for about a week, so if you were busy celebrating the holidays you might have missed it.  I gave it a test and linked to my photos of dwarf evergreens from the U of MN Landscape Arboretum.  One other person contributed a favorite conifer,  ‘Whipcord’. You can check the images and links out at the bottom of the post, and look for future blog posts using the ‘Linky List’ tool.

Christmas Cheer Rhododendron

Wordless Wednesday Wreaths

Wordless Wednesday Regional Wreaths

Online Learning and Resources

In the past few months, we’ve tried to maintain a list of online learning opportunities that Extension Master Gardeners or other avid gardeners might like to take or view.  This month’s list includes links to blogs and webinars.

  • Garden Professors Blog Invitation: Spreading the Word About Research-based Gardening Information. This month, “Garden Professor” Jeff Gillman specifically invited Extension Master Gardeners to view and discuss horticulture topics of  interest through the Garden Professors blog and Facebook page.  This invitation also goes out to agents, educators, gardeners, and green industry members, as well, since multiple perspectives and questions stimulate more dialogue and opportunities to learn.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture People’s Garden Fall 2012 Webinar Series Recordings.  As mentioned in last month’s update, you can now view speakers talking about hot topics and titles such as seed saving, engaging volunteers in the garden, going native, composting and compost use,  and best practices in starting and sustaining a school garden.
  • How Much Does a Vegetable Garden Cost/Save? From Gail Langellotto’s (State Coordinator of the OSU Extension Master Gardener program) blog, this post was widely shared on our Facebook page. As becomes apparent when reading the post,  different gardens have different costs associated with them.  Sylvia, from New Mexico, drove this point home on our Facebook page, as she stated:  “My highest cost, is water, water, water, I try to offset it by collecting rain water, when we get rain.”

Next Month?

Stay tuned for more January posts.….And please let us know (either in the comments section or by email: emg@extension.org) if you or your EMG program have a story, learning experience,  or opportunity to share with other Extension Master Gardeners,  or simply join us at:

Extension Master Gardener Blog: http://blogs.extension.org/mastergardener/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/extensionmastergardener
Twitter: 
https://twitter.com/eXEMG

-Karen Jeannette
eXtension Consumer Horticulture Coordinator

-Editorial Reviewer
Linda Brandon, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator
NC Cooperative Extension/Guilford County Center

Garden Professors Blog Invitation: Spreading the Word About Research-Based Gardening Information

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Having had the opportunity to meet many of you when I give talks or conduct demonstrations, I know how passionate master gardeners are about spreading research-based information. With that in mind we’re asking you to help us spread the word about the Garden Professors blog and the new Garden Professors Facebook page we are putting together.

Our group includes Linda Chalker-Scott from Washington State, Holly Scoggins, from Virginia Tech, Bert Cregg, from Michigan State, and myself, Jeff Gillman from University of Minnesota. You can read more about how the Garden Professors blog got started  in our eXtension feature article

Our goal is to engage the public around research-based gardening and horticulture

We cover topics from new trends, flowers, trees (and tree care), while also debating hot issues such as compost tea, using native vs. exotic plants in the landscape, or GMOs.  While there are many differences in gardening across the U.S or even internationally, we find there is a lot of common ground (sometimes even literally) that science can help us understand about how to grow plants.

For example, did you know that adding gravel to the bottom of your containers does NOT improve drainage?

 

Garden Professors Facebook Page

Adding Gravel to Increase the Drainage? Not so, says the Garden Professors Facebook Page

 

Adding to the Facebook page example above, here are just a few examples of topics we’ve covered on our blog this week:

And in the future you can look to see more current events, issues,  and questions addressed, aimed at keeping you up-to-date with reliable, research based gardening information.

Please stop by our blog or our Facebook page (where we think the comments are just as fun to read as the posts)….And let us know, what questions do you have about gardening that you’d like to see discussed on the Garden Professors blog?

Jeff Gillman
Associate Professor
Department of Horticultural Science
University of Minnesota

Intro to Houseplants Online Course Starts in January 2013

Friday, November 16th, 2012

 

 

Flickr_

Houseplants (Source: Flickr, FD Richards)

Iowa State University is offering an eight week online course called Introduction to Houseplants, starting in January 2012!

While winter is waging in the northern half of the United States, you could be inside learning more about lush and tropical houseplants. While this course is aimed at houseplant beginners, even if you are accomplished in the arts of indoor plant care, you may be interested in this class.

What will Intro to Houseplants cover and can I get continuing education credits?

This course is especially ideal for Extension Master Gardeners (or EMGs) because most states will accept this training for your continuing education credits (check with your coordinator to be sure). Most states offer up to three hours of training related to houseplants in their core training.

This class will discuss the science of houseplants for eight hours in addition to the class activities, specifically we’ll focus on:

  • irrigation
  • substrates
  • light
  • fertility
  • temperature and humidity
  • common houseplant problems
  • houseplant propagation
  • houseplant identification.

One example of an activity will include a plant propagation project after the propagation lecture. You will learn about the techniques and then do it yourself!

Interaction with instructor and other students across the U.S!

Introductions to houseplants will be delivered via Blackboard Learn, an online training program that can be accessed anywhere you have internet. Class discussions and at home activities will round out the lecture and video instruction portion of the course.

Intro to Houseplants

Intro to Houseplants (click to enlarge image)

Students will also have an opportunity to interact with each other from all across the United States. One of the first assignments is to post a picture of you with one of your houseplants (one can even be borrowed, if need be). Then you would describe the plant including its common and scientific names as well as an unusual or interesting fact about the plant. Other students in the class can add tidbits of information that they know about the plant too.

As the instructor, I will be available to answer any additional questions – publicly, via discussion threads, or individually.

Having worked with EMGs at both the county and state levels, I especially welcome interaction with enthusiastic volunteers. This course can also go towards an online degree, depending on your goals.

For more information regarding Introduction to Houseplants through Iowa State University, see http://www.agde.iastate.edu/course/viewCourse.php?courseID=S2013HORT+193AXW.

{UPDATE since the original blog posting: If you are an Extension Master Gardener, you may take the course for non-credit for $150.00.  For non-credit registration, go to this link: https://www.ucs.iastate.edu/mnet/hort193a/quickregister.html

If you need more information or if you would like to know how to apply for credit, contact lyoung@iastate.edu}

You will find the relevant registration details and course fee information on that page. Depending on your avenue of taking the course, Iowa State University tuition charges may apply.

Master Gardeners Report on Pesky Nuisance Bugs in Home and Buildings This Fall

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

 

This month, on our Extension Master Gardener Facebook page, we asked Master Gardeners to report on any “nuisance bugs” that they had seen (or not seen as much of) in their region of the United States this fall.  Below is what we heard from them, along with resources to learn more about these pesky insects.

Stink Bugs – Brown Marmorated and Kudzu Bugs

Stink bugs are just that – stinky if handled, provoked, or squashed.  And the Kudzu bug (a type of stink bug) can stain your clothes if you squish it…so be aware: these guys are not just a nuisance, they can, as the name implies, be a smelly nuisance —  especially if they get in your home during fall months. While these two particular stink bugs are also considered invasive and cause economic damage to some crops, for the purpose of the blog post, we are focusing on their pesky nuisance qualities.

Kudzu bug infestation on outside of home

Kudzu bug infestation on outside of home (Photo credit: Daniel R. Suiter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org)

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Photo credit: Natasha Wright, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org)

Hearing about Kudzu bug in Alabama and Other Southeastern States

Maggie Lawrence, inspired this blog post, as she alerted us that Kudzu bug infestations warranted a Wordless Wednesday post and followup post by  Dr. Xing Ping Hu on Kudzu Bugs: Annoying Smelly Pest. These articles alerted Alabama (and other southeastern) homeowners to the Kudzu bug problem this fall and how (or how not) to treat it.

Upon some more inquiry, colleagues at the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health (Bugwood Network), University of Georgia, also pointed us to the Kudzu bug.org website which provides information about its’ increasing numbers and distribution across seven southeastern states to date. It  also provides information about how to identify Kudzu bug and report its presence.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB)

Jacki from Oregon reported about brown marmorated stink bug:

In the Portland, Oregon area, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys, is increasing even though it arrived fairly recently. I found them massed in a clematis, and a few sheltered in a folded deck umbrella.

Do you have brown marmorated stink bug near you? Since 2009, when it was first detected in Pennsylvania, it has been mapped to many states across the U.S as being detected, a nuisance, or a serious agriculture pest.

If you or someone you know is dealing with the presence of stink bug as a nuisance pest near or around the home, find out how to best deal with them in this quick (and interesting) video: Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Control: Keeping Stink Bugs out of your House (University of Maryland Extension).

Box Elder Bugs

In fall, it seems there are always inquiring minds somewhere that want to know about the red and black bugs that appear in large masses outside of the home, sun bathing on warm concrete walls.  On our Facebook page, Linell reported a box elder bug sighting:

“Box elder bugs in eastern NE [are] liking the outdoor sunny warm walls on the garage and stone house, but [I am seeing] much fewer in numbers so far this year (drought?) and not a problem for me at all.”
Box elder bugs

Box elder bugs (Photo credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org)

On the contrary, this month’s article on box elder bugs in the UMN Extension Yard and Garden News discusses numbers in Minnesota are up!
Whether your numbers are up or down this year, if you answer gardening questions in a state that has had box elder bugs in the past, you will likely need to answer questions about box elder bugs once again. If this is the case, there are many states Extension offices with box elder bug information. Here are a few to peruse:  Minnesota, CaliforniaColorado, and Pennsylvania.

Asian Lady Beetles

Krista from North Carolina said,

Lady Bugs!!! This past Monday, [we had] a swarm of them all over my house and a lot of them got inside. I truly dread when they are let loose.

Multicolored Asian lady beetle. Photo showing variation in color pattern.

Multicolored Asian lady beetle. Photo showing variation in color pattern. (Photo credit: Bill Ree, Texas A&M University, Bugwood.org)

As mentioned in this excerpt from Muticolord Asian Lady Beetles from Ohio State University:

Multicolored Asian lady beetles do not carry disease organisms. They do not eat wood, building materials, or human food. In fact, multicolored Asian lady beetles do not consume food while overwintering, but instead rely on their stores of body fat. Otherwise, they eat aphids and other soft-bodied insects.

Regardless of what they eat, if they enter your home in large numbers it can still be annoying.  There are a few (really quite of few) fact sheets from state Extension services across the U.S.  Here is a quick sampling, if you’d like to find one closest to home:FloridaKentucky, MinnesotaMissouriOhioPennsylvania,  Clemson (South Carolina), Oregon

Centipedes!

Last but not least, we can’t forget to report on the common desert centipede!

Sylvia Hacker from New Mexico says:

We get calls about centipedes but not as many as one might expect. They are territorial so you don’t usually find very many in one spot. Centipedes are very good at hiding, most people probably aren’t aware they’ve moved in.  We caution folks not to walk around their house at night barefoot and in the dark this time of year.  Centipedes really resent being stepped on! This fact sheet on Common desert centipede can be helpful for knowing more about centipedes.

Common Desert Centipede

Common Desert Centipede (Photo credit: Sylvia Hacker, Doña Ana Co. Master Gardener)

A Few More Thoughts on Nuisance Bugs

As many of the resource above state, nuisance bugs can become less of a nuisance or problem by preventing their entry into homes and buildings in fall.

Taking simple steps like turning off outdoor lights near home entry points so, for example, brown marmorated stink bugs don’t aggregate in large numbers by a door, can help reduce their entry into homes.

In most of these cases of nuisance bugs, preventing their entry by sealing up some holes and cracks around doors, windows, and siding with caulk can go a long way in preventing extra bugs from finding their way into the home.  Or, in the case of common desert centipede, simply wearing shoes while walking outside at night, and Sylvia suggests,  can be a helpful precaution in avoiding unpleasant encounters.

How about you? Do you have thoughts on nuisance bugs? What questions do you commonly answer about pesky bugs that want to come indoors in the fall?

-Karen Jeannette
Consumer Horticulture Content Coordinator

-Linda Brandon, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator
NC Cooperative Extension/Guilford County Center

Advice for Keeping Trees and Shrubs Healthy in Drought and Heat

Friday, September 21st, 2012

The summer of 2012 has proven to be a tough one when it comes to weather. Most of the country has been abnormally dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The NOAA National Climatic Data Center also reports that 55% of the country is in at least a moderate short-term drought, with 39% of the country in a severe to extreme drought. It also turns out that this summer is the third hottest on record since record-keeping began in 1895. You can see that it has been a hard season without even mentioning hurricane Isaac and the Derecho storm that left a 700 mile path of destruction across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.

http://www.fotopedia.com/items/moonrisings-Zk2R1-pgAjw

Leaf showing response to drought.

Detecting Drought Damage To Limit Stress

We often easily see the damage caused to trees, shrubs, and other plants after a storm. But the damage caused by drought and heat can be just as damaging as storm damage, and often, the damage is already done before symptoms can appear.

Damages from drought and heat go hand in hand; when paired together, the combination can cause even more intense injury. Newly planted trees (less than three years) are most susceptible to drought and heat damage, but even established trees can succumb to their effects.

It is important to catch symptoms early to limit the damage done by these stresses. It is also important to return trees to good health ASAP and prepare appropriately to avoid winter damage in areas where that is a concern.

That is why this year, Extension Agents and Master Gardeners here in West Virginia were on the lookout for trees and shrubs suffering from drought stress, something most homeowners don’t often associate with their trees’ poor health.  An early dry period in March, coupled with summer heat and drought, set the stage for a multitude of concerned homeowners.

Looking for Symptoms of Heat and Drought Stress

As we helped people limit the damage to trees and shrubs by drought stress this summer, we encouraged them to look for:

  • Wilt: The earliest symptom of stress in plants is leaf wilting due to the loss of turgor pressure.
  • Shorter than normal twig growth: Shorter than normal twig growth, small leaves, and overall poor growth can result from drought and heat stress.
  • Plants that shed leaves early: Plants will shed leaves early to reduce surface area to reduce areas that can lose water. Some trees, such as yellow poplar and sycamore, respond to drought through abscission, where leaves change color then fall during the summer. In severe or rapid-onset droughts, leaves may fall while still green. Other trees, such as dogwood, will cope with a process called senescence in which leaves wilt, die, and then fall.

Unfortunately, severe and prolonged drought or heat can cause long term damage or even death in trees in plants. Even moderate stress can reduce growth and make plants more susceptible to pests and diseases. That is why it is important to identify the symptoms and treat them appropriately – because sometimes just adding water to a drought-stressed tree is the best medicine.

Advising what to do (or not do) for drought-stressed plants

We cannot control the amount of water that falls from the sky, so we often offer the following advice:

1) Be on the lookout for early symptoms of drought stress, such as those mentioned above.

2) If damage is light to moderate, simply watering your trees and shrubs can bring them back to health. If drought has been prolonged, a longer watering regimen may be required. However, recovery may be slow, even when sufficient water is restored. Large trees may take an especially long time to recover, as water will need to make it from the roots to the tips of the branches and all the spaces in between.

3) If heat stress is also an issue, we advise people not to fertilize trees until stress is alleviated. Processing nitrogen requires the plants’ use of stored food energy, which is problematic when respiration is abnormally high and nutrient transport is low. Salt-based fertilizers can also cause root damage when soil moisture is limited.

4) Consider drought-tolerant trees when making your next landscape selection.  We shared this drought tolerant tree list from the University of Tennessee with people who were hoping to make their next landscape selection.

So tell us….

Have you experienced drought or excessive heat this year or in the past few years? If so, how did you deal with drought and heat in your garden?

If you’re an Extension Agent or Master Gardener, tell us what kind of advice or resources you used to help people cope with drought in their landscape?

by John Porter
WVU Extension Service Agriculture Extension Agent
Charleston, WV

Drip Systems. . . for Grass?!

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

We have all heard of drip irrigation, right? This is a water-saving irrigation technique that delivers a measured amount of water directly to a plant’s root zone, therefore reducing waste. There is no water lost due to wind, evaporation is reduced, and weeds are controlled by not watering “extra” areas.

What about using subsurface drip irrigation to irrigate our lawns? This technique makes a lot of sense for irregularly-shaped and/or small grass areas. Sprinklers work best for areas that are squares or rectangles. But many times we want a curved “kidney-bean” shaped lawn. Sprinklers will over spray in these areas, and we end up watering the sidewalk! What’s the solution? Subsurface drip!

Volunteers working hard to dig trenches for dripline installation during a turfgrass subsurface drip irrigation workshop. Photo taken by Bernd Leinauer, NMSU.

Drip irrigation system in place and running. The wet areas will coalesce to provide a uniformly wet area. The area is ready for sod installation or seed. Photo taken by Bernd Leinauer, NMSU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Installation is not difficult. A little pre-planning is necessary. The water pressure must be measured and used to calculate how many irrigation zones are needed. Some additional valves may need to be installed. If this all sounds like Greek (it did to me), just contact me (Cheryl Kent, kent@nmsu.edu) so I can e-mail you some educational materials with all the details.

Once the set-up is done, it takes a few friends to help dig, pop together the pieces, and lay the dripline.

I have included a few pictures of a recent subsurface irrigation workshop held by New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension. NMSU Turfgrass Specialist Dr. Bernd Leinauer and Valencia County Agriculture Agent Kyle Tator hosted this workshop.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Cheryl Kent (Bernalillo County Horticulture Agent) at kent@nmsu.edu with questions about the process or materials used.

Tips and Tweets to Help Plants and Gardens Through Hot Weather and Drought

Friday, July 13th, 2012

 

Extension Master Gardener Facebook Status Update - How hot is it?Just as we were publishing the monthly update, July 5th, we asked Extension Master Gardeners how hot it was.

University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension reported that it was 66 degrees in Alaska on July 5th, but that was the exception to the rule. Most of the posts we saw on our Facebook page said temperatures were hanging around 100 degrees.

How Master Gardeners Help Plants Survive Heat and Drought

July 6th, we asked how they were getting their plants to survive. We heard a lot of good advice about helping the garden endure the heat, while still conserving water. In summary, this is how Extension Master Gardeners are getting their plants to survive (or possibly even thrive).

  • water
  • water in the morning
  • water deeply, less frequently (rather than lightly, and more frequently)
  • use native plants that require less water
  • use the right plant in the right place (so they need less water)
  • group plants with similar moisture needs in your landscape so watering can be focused where needed
  • mulch (to conserve soil moisture)
  • use rain barrels to water plants

Of course, high temperatures are even more problematic when plants are stressed by lack of water or drought.  When we posted the U.S drought monitor map,  the Madison County Area Master Gardener Association, commented:

“We are in a ‘severe, long-term’ drought area. It’s so bad that even the trees are turning brown and dropping their leaves.”

Resources for growing plants in drought

One look at the U.S. Drought map, and you’ll see the Madison County Master Gardener Association in Indiana is not alone. In fact, you’ll note many gardeners across the country are facing abnormally dry or drought conditions.  So how do you deal with these conditions?

Your county or state extension service likely distributes timely information about how to cope with heat and drought, such as this press release from Kansas State University,  Leaf Loss Means Tree Stress, which includes two resources:  Watering Newly Planted and Young Trees and Shrubs and Watering Established Trees and Shrubs.

Assembled by extension professionals in the Extension Disaster Education Network, the home and landscape list of drought resources is another source of drought information you might find useful.

Hot Tweets to Help Plants

Below we’d like to share some tweets from extension educators and communicators from across the country. Note how are others dealing with heat and/or drought and click on the links in the tweets to access see how others are working to keep plants and landscapes as healthy as possible during these warm hot scorching months of summer.

From Colorado:

In Kansas:

In Arkansas:

In Maryland:

In Illinois:

 

Do you have a tip for growing plants in the heat of summer? Has heat or drought caused problems for your plants or garden?

-Karen Jeannette
eXtension Consumer Horticulture Content Coordinator

The Power of Pollinators – Spreading the Buzz with Three Educational Modules

Monday, June 25th, 2012

 

As National Pollinator Week 2012 comes to a close, the Extension Master Gardener blog detailed how EMG’s observe Pollinator Week through both the week and the past year.  As Master Gardeners, we all love to cultivate our gardening knowledge — therefore the Power of Pollinators training modules created by The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, University of Wisconsin-Madison and The Ohio State University is the best conclusion to a week dedicated to pollinators.

Access Three Pollinator Educational Modules at eXtension Campus

Each Power of Pollinator module has a train the trainer approach to help spread the word about pollinators. This set of three modules covers:

  1. Why Pollinators Matter
  2. Bee Biology and Identification
  3. Gardening for Pollinators

You can easily access all three modules through the eXtension Campus website, campus.extension.org.

First, set up an account using the “Create an account” link on the left side of the page. It’s free, easy and secure.

Once you have that account created (you will receive an e-mail with confirmation and a password), log into the eXtension Campus site, scroll through the available course categories and select , “Yard and Garden”. Then select “The Power of Pollinators”.

See the Intro to the Power of Pollinators video for a quick overview of what you’ll find in the educational modules:

As we end the celebration of National Pollinator Week 2012 on the EMG blog,  we look to see the daily benefit of pollinators in our gardens. To assist others learn about pollinator benefits and gardening for pollinators, check out these three modules and begin to get the latest knowledge to identify and care for them throughout the entire year.

Terri James, Extension Assistant-Urban Gardening
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension

Extension Master Gardeners Create Pollinator Awareness and Educational Opportunities

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

 

June 18-24, 2012 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsak.

Found on the Pollinator Partnership website, and as mentioned in the University of California Master Gardener Program article Applause for Pollinators:

Pollinators “are responsible for pollinating nearly one-third of every bite of food we eat.” And, “the global value of crops pollinated by bees is estimated to be nearly $217 billion.”

Providing Pollinator Education and ‘How-to’ in Local Communities

Butterfly Garden at Milwaukee County Zoo, Wisconsin

Butterfly Garden at Milwaukee County Zoo, Wisconsin, UW Cooperative Extension

We’ve already discussed Extension Master Gardeners are like pollinators in their local communities – providing education in many ways through gardening.

Extension Master Gardeners can be found highlighting the benefits and roles that pollinators play through hosting educational programs, answering questions via local events, hotlines or email, and often by helping those interested in planting pollinator friendly plants and gardens to do so effectively,  enthusiastically, and sustainably!

Here are a few examples of Extension Master Gardeners involved with pollinator education and outreach:

  • Penn State Extension Master Gardeners are involved with a unique pollinator certification program where Pennsylvania residents can apply to have a Certified Pennsylvania Pollinator Friendly Garden. Later this week, we’ll take a closer look at how this certification program fits together with other ways Penn State Master Gardeners are involved with pollinator education.
  • Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia are celebrating National Pollinator Week by blogging about Echinacea, or rather those insects that are attracted to Echinacea. This blog post was fun to check out with Master Gardener Mary Free’s bright and bold pictures of eight insects found on Echinacea. Be ready! This post is a bit of a pop quiz!
  • WSU Master Gardeners in Chelan County will provide two special opportunities to learn about pollinators this week. WSU Master Gardener Terry Anderson reports they’ll be out at a local farmer’s market (June 23)  providing education and also at Waterpark front’s Xeric garden (June 23 and 24), where they’ll be sharing a set of posters the public can view. Here they will also have plants labeled and flagged so people can see firsthand which plants attract various pollinators and provide colorful flowers. (Read more in the full article published in their local paper,www.wenatcheeworld.com, June 19, 2012.

Above are just a few examples of how Extension Master Gardeners participate in pollinator education. Later this week, we’ll debut some new pollinator educational resources, look at a few examples of how Master Gardeners are involved with pollinator education and research, and find out where to explore bee health/ pollinator resources and citizen science activities.

Stay tuned for more pollinator inspired posts during National Pollinator Week 2012 on the Extension Master Gardener blog!

 

-Karen Jeannette
eXtension Consumer Horticulture Content Coordinator