Steward – September 2018

Managing Gardening Leftovers

by Cheryl Gross, Advanced Extension Master Gardener

The stress of a hot, dry summer is showing on our garden and landscape plants and, while needed and welcome, recent heavy rains will not help the vegetables and perennials much.   Further, we will be watching the slide into cooler and colder weather when the annual plants are exhausted and perennials are ready for a well deserved rest.

Now is time for a best-practices refresher on garden clean up.

The Vegetable Garden:

-Remove any diseased or damaged plant material to the trash for disposal.  Especially plants with powdery mildew. This plant material should NOT go into a compost pile.

-Remove all other vegetable plant material to the compost pile.  

-Cover the bare soil with fall leaves, if you can.

The Perennial Garden:

-Deadhead any plants with seeds that you do not want to spread.   For example, Milkweeds and Asters disperse a lot of seed that may end up in unwanted places.  These seeds can be composted, put into trash, or shared with friends if they are not invasive species.

-Leave plant stems in place.  There are two benefits: winter interest and housing for overwintering insects.  

Trees and Shrubs:

-Now is the time to prune and reshape MOST trees and shrubs.  Prune everything that blooms after the Fourth of July in fall.  Remember, most spring blooming plants have already set buds for next year and pruning now can severely affect blossom abundance.   They should be pruned in mid-summer.

-Pruning generally stimulates plant growth so by pruning before the plant heads into dormancy actually encourages growth.

-Prune away any dead stems, followed by shaping.  Should a plant need a complete refreshing, remember that significant pruning should be accomplished over three years, removing a third of the over-growth each time.  Opening up centers of shrubs can encourage fuller leafing and blooming by letting light in.

-Finally, prune Oak Trees ONLY after and hard frost and before a thaw to reduce the chance of oak wilt.

When it is time to rake leaves consider the following:

-Leave them in landscaped beds for a winter cover.

-Mulch leaves in the lawn to add organic matter.

-Collect the leaves to feed a compost pile.

The most important task is to properly dispose of diseased plant material to reduce the spread the following season.  Keep fall clean-up to a minimum for habitat preservation.

Nourish – September 2018

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

Getting Started with Food Preservation

August Meeting Notes: Edible Trails Tour

Getting Started with Food Preservation

Canning the harvest by MG Sonia Clem (photo by same)

by Kellie Parks, Extension Master Gardener

This time of year is so satisfying when we reap the harvest of our labors, however it can sometimes be overwhelming. What to do when you can’t possibly eat every cucumber, zucchini, or tomato, and the neighbors are crying ‘uncle’? Preserve it! Home food preservation need not be intimidating, and doesn’t require too much of a financial investment, as the equipment needed is minimal and can easily be obtained, sometimes at flea markets and yard sales. Yes, there are more specialized tools that can make the process easier, but one can do without those when getting started. Foods with low acidity require more careful processing to ensure their safety when canning, but can be frozen and dried as well.

The first thing that my mother made certain I had, even before I had my canning pot, was the ‘Blue Book’: Ball’s Blue Book of Preserving. Hers was well-loved, with dog eared and wrinkled pages, notes in the margins, total quantities of items ‘put up’ by year in the front and back covers, and slips of paper with with handwritten recipes tucked inside. There are multiple editions available, both new and used. This one book contains all the instruction one needs to get started, including the science behind food preservation, list of needed equipment, cautions and warnings, and many recipes.

There are several websites dedicated to food preservation, and just as many both virtual and print publications to be found. Here are a few to get you started:

Our own MSU Extension has published a comprehensive resource called Home Storage of Fruits and Vegetables. It is free and can be found here:

The National Center for Food Preservation is a wonderful resource for every method of preservation. From the website: “The National Center for Home Food Preservation” is your source for current research-based recommendations for most methods of home food preservation. The Center was established with funding from the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (CSREES-USDA) to address food safety concerns for those who practice and teach home food preservation and processing methods.”

If you tend to learn better by watching something done, there are a number of YouTube videos available, also.

This is a sampling from MSU Extension’s library of videos:

Intro to Safe Preservation:

Safe Pressure Canning:

Water Bath Canning Basics:

I hope you will give home food preservation a try. Opening up a jar of home canned tomatoes or peaches in the dead of winter is like opening up a jar of summer. It will give your spirits a lift on the dreariest of days.


August Meeting Notes: Edible Trails Tour


by Nancy Denison, Advanced Extension Master Gardener

On a Tuesday evening,  a nice sized group met at the DeYoung Nature area off E. Cherry Bend Rd to walk along with Levi Meeuwenberg (subbing for Jonathon Alyward), on the Edible Trail. The trail was a project started in 2014 to create an edible forest which would blend in with the community, TART Trail and other nature related organizations. The TART group gave permission to use a portion of land alongside the trail and the Land Conservancy pitched in as well. Money was raised and once the planting areas chosen, volunteers used the lasagna or sheet mulching method to install the selected native plants. Currants, Nanking Cherry, French Sorrel, rhubarb, and others have survived in this short but interesting path.  Some goals of this and other edible forests are to build soil, increase biodiversity, and improve insect and wildlife habitats. With our dry hot summer, the trail was looking a little needy and Levi suggested a visit, any time, to pull some weeds and trim here and there. MG trainee, Chris Heyman, volunteered to be the point person from MG’s and to help make this a Master Gardener project so that volunteers can earn volunteers hours woking on the Edible Trail project. Thanks for the walk on such a beautiful evening, Levi!

Beautify – September 2018

The Benefits of Garden Walks

by Cheryl Gross and Michele Worden, AEMGs

Garden walks offer several important benefits to attendees and the community.  For many Garden Clubs a Garden Walk represents a significant amount of their funding each year.  Most, if not all, of the Garden Walk proceeds are returned to the community through public beautification at public parks, Libraries, schools, and more.  Some Garden Clubs provide grants for special garden projects. For attendees it is an opportunity to see how other gardeners view gardening for beautification, food production, outside living, and more.  Many attendees come away inspired with fresh ideas for their own yard. If nothing else, ticket holders spend a few hours in the garden stopping to smell the roses.

Serve – September 2018

2018 Gold Badge Profiles

by Bethany Thies, EMG

One of the highest levels of service an Extension Master Gardener (EMGs) can receive is the Gold Badge, which is bestowed on those EMGs who have reached 1000 hours of volunteer service.  This year, the MSU Extension is awarding this honor to three area EMGs: Marina Deering, Cheryl Gross and Michele Worden.

Recently, the Real Dirt asked these three hard-working EMGs to talk a little bit about their time as Master Gardeners.  Here are their comments:

The Real Dirt:  When and where did you get your Master Gardener training?

Marina Deering:  Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Station in 2004.

Cheryl Gross:  MSU Extension in Leelanau County in 2011.

Michele Worden:  I took the class in 2002 when I was taking a temporary leave of absence from work due to my pregnancy.  I could not travel.

RD:  What prompted you to apply for Master Gardener training?  

MD:  Two reasons: To serve the community and learn how to garden in four seasons. I moved here from Southern California, which has a year-round growing season, and had no clue how to garden with four seasons.

CG:  Like many, I was interested in the comprehensiveness of the training.  I wanted to know more for personal reasons. I did not have a clue about the volunteering aspects.  I thought about taking the training when I lived in Wayne County, MI, and again when I lived in Allegheny County, PA.  FINALLY, 20 years later I managed to fit it in to my schedule in Benzie County!

MW:  I had wanted to take the course since I first learned about it as a newlywed home owner in Ferndale, MI, in 1993.  I was eagerly landscaping my house and planting a vegetable garden and read every garden magazine I could get my hands on.  When I first read about it in Nancy Szerlag’s column in the Detroit Free Press, I wanted to take the class.

RD:  What have been some of your more memorable volunteering assignments?  

MD:  Assisting the residents at Grand Traverse Pavilions with their planter boxes on their porches; helping install and maintain the rain gardens at the Boardman River Nature Center; working at the Leelanau Community Garden in Suttons Bay; and the MGANM bus trips to visit nurseries, gardens and horticultural distributors to expand our gardening knowledge.

CG:  Oh, my.  That is a hard one.  Most of my hours have been earned as the editor of the Real Dirt.  Working with Whitney Miller, aka Techie Chick, and the original volunteer group… Sonia Clem and Nancy Denison as we felt our way through a redesign and change from a mailed paper document to an on-line format is certainly memorable.  I have really enjoyed meeting and working with ALL of the contributors.

Also, working with Habitat for Humanity recently required a lot of listening, flexibility and adapting to juggle a landscape design to suit the site as well as the homeowner’s vision and the limited number of donated plants available.  I guess the most memorable projects are the ones that make me work outside of my “bubble” or comfort zone.

MW:  I was certified and became the mother of twins in the same year.  I started volunteering in the Traverse Area Children’s Garden, first as a garden mentor then leader, when the twins were toddlers.  That was a magical time. Arts and crafts in the garden.

When the kids went to a local Montessori school I helped a bit in their gardens and was eventually tasked with taking over the school garden and greenhouse as the director of the Della Terra Program.  I loved starting seedlings with the kids in the greenhouse each spring for a spring plant sale to parents and planting a pollinator garden in 2009 to pollinate the squash and tomatoes, way before it was a “thing”.  I remember digging potatoes with the toddler classes and their parents for the Harvest Dinner I organized at the school in the fall. I also started a Food of the Month program to teach students about the cycle of food – planting, tending, harvesting and cooking in the school’s kitchen classroom.  Monthly presentations with the plants and different foods made with the plants was an amazing show and tell.

RD:  What volunteer projects are you working on now?  

MD:  The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park in Traverse City where I am Board secretary, docent, gardener.  I also work with the Smart Gardening program, sharing information with the community.

CG:  The September Real Dirt!  And arranging speaking dates for 2019.  Garden Clubs plan their calendars well ahead of time so in August and September they are looking for programs for the entire year ahead.  Keeping track of who called and what topic we settled on can be hard, I am learning to keep better notes!

MW:  I have been the president of the MGANM since 2015.  We have done a lot of administrative work modernizing the association – incorporating, joining the Michigan Master Gardener Association.  Recently we upgraded our financials to Quickbooks Online. I do most of the programming and PR. It has been a lot of work. Fun, but does not leave a lot of room for other volunteer activities at the moment.  I look forward to passing the mantle to the next president and getting my hands dirty again.

RD:  How has becoming a Master Gardener and volunteering with the Master Gardener program every year changed your life?  

MD:  The Master Gardener program has improved my life a great deal. I continue to learn, use and share new science-based information related to responsible horticulture practices. And, I have established wonderful friendships with some of my fellow Master Gardeners.

CG:  I was already a native plant devotee before I took the class, and since taking the class I have had to broaden my knowledge of (a lot) and use of non-native plants (but only a little).  Understanding plant care, soils and pruning techniques PLUS insects has been very beneficial when I manage my own gardens and talk to others. I spend quite a bit of time studying, researching and learning more about Master Gardener topics.  Further, I appreciate the other Master Gardeners I have met through the Real Dirt and MGANM meetings. Gardeners are a lovely group of people who appreciate beauty and do not mind getting in the dirt to create it!

MW:   I have made so many lifelong friends that I cannot imagine being without it.  Before I took the class I worked as a consultant and traveled to clients every week.  That stopped when I had the twins and was certified. Being a Master Gardener made that an easy transition.  

RD:  What advice would you give new Master Gardeners just starting the volunteering process?  

MD:  Congratulations on your commitment to improving quality of life in the community!  The initial 40-hour volunteer requirement for certification may seem daunting at first.  It is worth the effort!

CG:  FIND YOUR NICHE!  The Master Gardener program is extensive.  While comprehensive in one aspect, the class offers only the tip of the iceberg.  If bugs are your thing, focus on IPM. If food gardening is your thing, go be great at that.  Native plants are my focus. I know the most about that topic. If you are unsure? Try several areas of volunteering in your first couple of years… one or more will call you in.  When that happens, follow your passion.

MW:   I think trainees should find an existing project they are passionate about and volunteer most of the hours there as a kind of apprenticeship.  It is the best way to learn through doing, and Master Gardeners are great teachers. I would also say to make the most out of their experience they should become active in the local MGANM association.  The meetings have excellent educational opportunities and it is easy to earn hours by helping.

RD:  Thank you ladies.  And congratulations on reaching 1000 hours of volunteer service!

News & Events – September 2018

Below are some of the upcoming events offered in our area through our Association, the Boardman River Nature CenterPlant It Wild, and The Botanic Gardens at Historic Barns Park. Check each of their websites for even more summer fun. Most, if not all, of these events earn either education or volunteer hours.


Smart Gardening For Soil Health

Tuesday, September 4th 2018, 6:30pm with a potluck at 6:00pm

The Boardman River Nature Center, 1450 Cass Road, Traverse City, MI 49685

MGANM presents “Smart Gardening For Soil Health” with special guest Dr. George Bird from Michigan State University.  Dr. Bird will share best practices in the garden to keep your soil healthy.

Dr. Bird is a professor in the Department of Entomology at MSU and former Research Scientist, Agriculture Canada and Associate Professor, University of Georgia. Dr. Bird became a faculty member at MSU in 1973; where he teaches and does research and Extension outreach on sustainable and equitable development in regards to food systems, with special reference to soil health biology. Dr. Bird is a recipient of the MSU Distinguished Faculty Award, a 19-year member of the Rodale Institute board of Directors and the first National Director of the U.S. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

All Master Gardeners and the public are invited.  A $5 donation from non- members is appreciated.

MGANM Board Meeting/November Recognition Planning Meeting

Tuesday, September 11th 2018, 6:00 pm

Lower Level, Horizon Books, Front Street, Traverse City

Designing with Natives for Fall Color

Tuesday, October 2nd 2018, 6:30pm with a potluck at 6:00pm

The Boardman River Nature Center, 1450 Cass Road, Traverse City, MI 49685

MGANM presents Designing with Natives for Fall Color with Brian Zimmerman of Four Season Nursery and Brian Zimmerman & Associates.  Brian Zimmerman & Associates was formed in 1996. The focus is design & build residential landscape projects, both new and remodel, large or small. Brian is a  third generation landscape contractor in the Traverse City area, having spent 24 years working for his father before starting his own company. His biggest joy is being a part of the project from the initial meeting & design to bringing it all together.

Educational meetings are open to the public, and a $5 donation from non-members is appreciated

MGANM Recognition Luncheon

Mark your calendars for Sunday, November 4th.  

The Recognition Luncheon event is rewarding as it brings together MGANM members and MG volunteers to celebrate the accomplishments of the last year, enjoy a delicious meal, hear a speaker, and enjoy the company of other gardeners.   Earn volunteer hours by participating in event planning, set-up, table decorations, and the like. End the season on a high note!


Boardman River Nature Center

Native Grasses:  Program and Potluck

Wednesday, September 19,  6:30-8:30 pm

Vern Stephens of Designs by Nature will share his expertise in propagating native grasses and establishing grasslands.  Native plants will be available for sale.

6:30 – Potluck – Bring your table service and a dish to pass.  Brief business meeting.

7:15 – Program

Trinity Lutheran Church, 955 James St, Frankfort, MI 49635

Grasslands and Goldenrods: Arcadia Dunes Field Trip

Thursday, October 4, 1-3 pm

Come on out to the beautiful grasslands at Arcadia Dunes for a species ID and seed collection event hosted by GTRLC’s own Angie Lucas, with help from Plant it Wild and Benzie Audubon. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes. This event will be held rain or shine!   

17298-17230 Keillor Rd, Bear Lake, MI 49614



Plant It Wild

“Wildflowers at Pete’s Woods”

Wednesdays, May 2 and 9, 10:00am-12:00pm

Walk with Paula Dreeszen to see all the eye-popping Michigan native wildflowers in Pete’s Woods. Fabulous Spring hike.

Location: GTRLC’s Pete’s Woods Trailhead on Swamp Rd.

Misty Ridge Greenhouse

Monday, May 14, 10:30am – 12:00pm

Visit the greenhouse with growers Paul and Jody Zemsta.  They will explain their propagation practices and have plants to sell.

Location: 6171 N 11 Rd, Mesick

“The State of Native Plants”

Wednesday, May 16, 7:00 pm

Cheryl Gross will host a presentation on the state of native plants in the US and abroad.  Come and learn about what other areas/gardens are doing with natives.

Trinity Lutheran Church, 955 James Street, Frankfort.

“Dunes Wildflowers at Baldy”

Wednesday, June 13, 10:00am – 12:00pm

Join Paula Dreeszen on a 1.5 mile hike to see dunes wildflowers. Possible Yellow Lady Slippers?

Location: GTRLC’s Mt. Baldy Trailhead. M-22.

Plant Sale

Friday, June 15, 10:00am – 2:00pm

Manistee Conservation District & PIW host plant sale with Vern Stephens of Designs by Nature.  MCD Fund Raiser. Great plants!

Location: 8840 Chippewa Hwy # 1, Bear Lake

“Pollinators…State of Affairs”

Wednesday, June 20, 7:00 pm

Carolyn Thayer will present the current findings, research, and methods to protect pollinators.  As up to 2/3 of our food requires insect pollination, learn about this important topic.


The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park

Guided Meditation at the Garden

Thursdays, September 6, 13, 20, 27  5- 6 pm

Meditation at the Garden classes continue with Stephen and Theresa Bangle! The $20 fee covers all four sessions. The Bangles will be donating all proceeds back to The Botanic Garden!

Extending Your Growing Season

Wednesday, September 12th, from 7:00pm-9:00pm

Join us as Patti Travioli, owner of Heartwood Forest Farm, guides us through techniques for extending our growing season including greenhouses, hoop houses and cold frames.

Building a Sustainable Seed Community

Sunday, September 16th, from 1:00pm-3:00pm

Join us for this fun, informative and fast paced presentation as Ben Cohen, owner of Small House Farm, shares seeds and stories while discussing how to build a stronger, more sustainable seed community.

Demystifying Bonsai: Please DO try this at home!

Wednesday, September 19th, from 7:00pm-9:00pm

Hear Linda Schubert and Janet Kivell guide us through demystifying bonsai!

What’s Up With the Bees?

Sunday, September 23rd, from 1:00pm-2:30pm

Join us as beekeeper Alta Walters discusses the many threats to bees and shares ways we can help combat and prevent these threats. This presentation is in collaboration with Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology.

Colantha’s Garden Celebration

Sunday, September 30th, from 12:00pm-4:00pm

Please join us for Colantha’s Garden Celebration at Historic Barns Park and enjoy an afternoon of family fun and special activities to mark the harvest season and the beginning of a new school year. — it’s free!


Note:  All classes will be held at the Botanic Garden Visitor Center.  Pre-registration and tickets are required for all events due to space and are available on the website.


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