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Serve – November 2017

Suttons Bay Rain Garden workers, 2017. Photo by Village of Suttons Bay

Suttons Bay Rain Gardens Prepared for Winter

Ruth Steele-Walker, Advanced Master Gardener

Area Master Gardeners helped educate a group of about 40 community volunteers from the Montessori School “The Children’s House” at an October 20 clean-up of the rain gardens located throughout the Village of Suttons Bay.

The event gave those in attendance an opportunity to learn from MSU Extension Master Gardeners, who moved among the gardens offering weed identification, garden maintenance guidance and education on the many environmental benefits of rain gardens.  In addition, participants learned about the importance of flowering plants and native grasses for providing soil retention, support for pollinator populations, as well as food and habitat for songbirds.

The rain gardens were established in Suttons Bay in 2013 to help eliminate direct runoff from the village’s storm water system into Grand Traverse Bay.  Each year the village has 15-20 volunteers who are trained to and regularly care for the rain gardens.

Before this year’s fall clean-up and mulching began, volunteers from The Children’s House and the volunteer garden caretakers were treated to an educational presentation by Suttons Bay Village Manager Wally Delamater.  The presentation highlighted the history of the rain garden project and use of Michigan native plants.

While the ability to do a water quality testing follow-up has been hampered by budget constraints, since the gardens were installed Suttons Bay officials have seen noticeable changes in the water at the storm drains that empty into the bay.  Prior to the gardens’ installation plumes of debris and pollutant-filled run-off used to be seen entering the bay off the village’s marina park beach.

Black plumes of sediment running into Suttons Bay after a rain event. Photo by Village of Suttons Bay

In the photo taken in 2011 prior to installing the gardens, you can see a black plume spreading into the swimming area from the first flush of storm water.  Since the installation of the rain gardens and storm drain improvements there has not been a reoccurrence of those plumes, reports Delamater.   “In fact,” he says, “during routine storm events no storm water entering the system reaches the bay.”

So, not only are the gardens a beautiful additions to Suttons Bay’s downtown, they’re having a significant effect on the quality of the bay.  Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped to make this project such a success!

Working in the rain gardens, 2017. Photo by Village of Suttons Bay

Sidebar: Computer modeling done by The Watershed Center estimates that the rain gardens annually prevent one ton of sediment, six pounds of phosphorus and 42 pounds of nitrogen from entering Grand Traverse Bay.

To learn more about the Suttons Bay storm water project and rain gardens you can visit https://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/5-Uren-Suttons_Bay_Rain_Gardens_491828_7.pdf


News & Events – November 2017

Below are some of the upcoming events offered in our area through our Association, the Boardman River Nature Center, Plant 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.

MGANM

mganm.org

MGANM Volunteer Recognition Dinner

Sunday, November 5th, 2017, 1:00pm, Gilbert Lodge at Twin Lakes Park6800 North Long Lake Road, Traverse City, MI 49685. Join MSU Extension and MGANM as we celebrate another year of gardening. This event will encompass an speakers Dr. Duke Elsner and MG Coordinator Nate Walton, silent auction, light lunch, awards, and camaraderie.  Reservations required, $20 fee for members.

Boardman River Nature Center

natureiscalling.org

DNR Wildlife Habitat Grant Public Work Bee

Wednesday, November 1, 9am – 4:30pm, East Creek Reserve, Mayfield Road, Traverse City, MI 49686

The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park

thebotanicgarden.org

Gardens of England Tour

Sunday, November 12, 1pm – 3pm at the Visitor Center

Preparing Home Remedies & Teas

Saturday, November 18th from 1pm – 3pm at the Visitor Center

Winter Porch Pots Make-And-Take Class

Saturday, December 2nd, from 10am – 12pm

Register for free/fee classes on the BG website, thebotanicgarden.org,  through EventBrite.


Steward – Sep 2017

Worm Bin (also called vermicompost), photo by MG Trina Ball

Vermicomposting

by Kellie Parks, MG Trainee

OK, I confess.  I am a worm cheerleader.  When I see them whilst working in the garden, I encourage them, thank them, and bury them back in the dark.  Worms are free labor in the garden working with microorganism to make nutrient rich humus.

Many gardeners are backyard composters in the summer months, turning years of kitchen waste into a valuable, organic, soil amendment.  However, in our northern climate, microbe activity comes to a screeching halt when the thermometer drops.  And so too does composting.  On the other hand, we still generate kitchen waste and many simply toss it into the trash during the winter months.  What if, we in the North could compost kitchen waste all year long?

Vermicomposting, or composting with worms, can be accomplished inside in any season.  The basic ingredients are simple: a container, bedding, water, worms, and kitchen scraps.

    • The container can be a plastic or wooden bin.  An old dresser drawer can be a great site or dimension.  Keep indoors or in a heated garage in winter months.
    • Bedding is a recyclable itself; shredded newspapers.  Beware of too much office or junk mail as some of the inks can be toxic to worms.
    • Moisture content is similar to your outdoor compost pile, like a well wrung-out washcloth.
    • Worms should be red wigglers, Eisenia foetida, and can be sourced on-line, at a bait shop, or from a vermicomposting friend.  Volume of worms will depend upon your kitchen waste. Figure approximately one pound of worms for each half pound of food scraps per day.

Worms do best on a diet of fruit and vegetable peels and trimmings, crushed egg shells, coffee grounds, and tea bags.  Avoid onion, garlic, citrus, cruciferous, dairy, fats, oils, and meats.

Castings can be dried or steeped into tea and used on indoor and outdoor plants or mixed into potting soil.  While nutritious, castings are mild and will not burn or over- fertilize.

Be sure to keep the red wigglers contained as they can become aggressive in the soil.

For additional information, see Mary Appelhof’s book, “Worms Eat My Garbage, and the MSUE article:  http//msue.anr.msu.edu/news/worm_composting_or_vermicomposting.


Master Gardener Coordinator’s Corner – Sep 2017

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

Plant Identification

Powdery Mildews and Powdery Mil-Don’ts

Plant Identification

by Nate Walton, MSUE Master Gardener Coordinator, MSU Extension – Leelanau County

Epipactis helleborine. Photo from Minnesota Wildflowers

Have you seen this plant?  This is Epipactis helleborine, or helleborine, a terrestrial orchid that was introduced to Michigan from Europe sometime towards the end of the nineteenth century.  It has recently been reported as a problem weed in Michigan lawns and gardens.  It is quite a difficult weed to manage, so if it is in unwanted areas around your home you might want to take some measures to control it.

Removing the flower heads before they go to seed is a key control measure for this plant, so you’ll want to take care of it right away.  At my house in Traverse City, the helleborine started to bloom in July.  If you’d like to eradicate the plant altogether, digging it up roots and all is the recommended method.  However, the roots go deep and it will re-sprout from the rhizome if any pieces are left behind, so you will want to be thorough.

Photo by BerndH via Wikimedia Commons

For more information on identification and control of helleborine, read the MSUE article “Homeowners battling a weedy orchid invading lawns and flowerbeds,” which can be found at: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/homeowners_battling_a_weedy_orchid_invading_lawns_and_flowerbeds.

 

Powdery Mildews and Powdery Mil-Don’ts

Click on photo for enlarged image. Photo by Nate Walton

The high humidity this summer has made it a really good year for powdery mildew.  You have probably noticed a white coating with a powdery appearance on a variety of annuals and perennials this summer.  The powdery mildew pathogen is a fungus, so it’s related to mushroom producing fungi such as the Morchella spp. that produce morel mushrooms.  Unlike morels, however, the mycelia of powdery mildews do not grow in a network under the soil.  Instead, they grow over the upper surface of the plant leaves.

In the summer, this mycelium produces tiny spores (conidia) that give the leaf its white powdery appearance.  The spores can be spread from leaf to leaf or plant to plant by wind or splashing water.  Lucky for us, most powdery mildews are very host specific, so they will not spread from, for example, your rosebush to your lilac.

When powdery mildew is found on adjacent plants that are not closely related, it just means that both species are susceptible and that the conditions are right for mildew in that location.  Choosing resistant varieties or growing susceptible varieties in locations with good air circulation and plenty of sunlight are some ways to prevent powdery mildew from gaining a foothold in your garden.  Also, avoid overhead irrigation and growing susceptible varieties (e.g. Monarda spp.) in crowded and/or shady areas.

Beginning in late summer, the powdery mildew pathogen starts to get ready for winter.  To do this, it forms a tiny black structure called a chasmothecium.  Chasmothecia show up as tiny black spots on the leaves infected with powdery mildew (see photo).  It is these chasmothecia that will produce fresh spores next year to reinfect the green foliage in the spring.  Removing and destroying the leaf litter under infested plants will help reduce the amount of powdery mildew attacking your garden next year.

If you would like more information on how to manage powdery mildew, read the MSUE article “P is for powdery mildew on ornamentals”, contact your local extension office, or call the MSUE garden hotline Monday through Friday from 9am to noon, and 1pm to 4pm.  The phone number for the hotline is 1-888-MSUE-4-MI (1-888-678-3464).  Thanks, and happy gardening!


Nourish – Sep 2017

Zucchini con Patate Recipe

by Kellie Parks, MG Trainee

This is the time of year when it seems we are all looking for new things to do with zucchini. Here is a super simple recipe I unearthed from the old 1975 Better Home and Gardens Heritage Cookbook. It comes from the Italian chapter, which highlights the delicious contributions that Italian immigrants have added to the American table. Some of you veggie growing readers might be able to pick nearly all the ingredients right out of your garden!

Zucchini con Patate

1 medium onion, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups sliced zucchini

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

1 medium tomato, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

½ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon pepper

Grated Parmesan cheese

In skillet, cook onion in oil until tender but not brown.  Stir in vegetables, oregano, salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Cook, covered, till potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese. Serves 4.


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