Nourish – January 2017

Growing Herbs in Winter

by Jamie Gunther, Master Gardener

Looking out the window is a beautiful sight if you like snow. It may be difficult to remember how the world outside appeared during greener times but even though now is not the right time to plant herbs in the garden area, it is a perfect time to plant some types of herb indoors.

First, a couple of tips to think about before digging in. Make sure your herbs will be exposed to enough sunlight by placing them in a south facing window. If a south facing window isn’t possible, consider some grow lights or a combination of cool and warm bulbs set on timers to recreate a sunny day instead. Also, it is a good idea to make sure that the seedlings are planted to the proper depth in a well-drained soilless mix. Cover with plastic after planting to create a humid environment but be sure to remove the plastic after the seedlings emerge to allow for air movement and allow them room to grow. Be sure to keep moisture and temperature at the required levels to encourage seed germination as well. Be aware that temperatures near windows may vary.

After seeds germinate and seedlings emerge, be sure to keep the soil moist but allow for drainage and move containers apart to discourage fungal growth. Once the seedlings reach six inches, you can begin to harvest the leaves but be sure to leave some if you would like the plant to continue to grow. Also, keep in mind that if plants get leggy, they can be pinched back to just above a leaf to encourage a bushier growth.

Following is a list of herbs that do well grown indoors:

  1. Basil – Fast germinator that may appear in as little as four days.
  2. Bay – This plant will do well in an east or west facing window and likes lots of air circulation.
  3. Oregano – Needs patience. Oregano may take weeks to germinate.
  4. Parsley – It will grow faster in south facing window and slower in an east or west facing one.
  5. Chives – Can germinate in about ten days.
  6. Cilantro – Germinates in about seven to ten days. Cilantro doesn’t like being transplanted so in the spring keep it in the container it was planted in.
  7. Dill – Germinates in one to two weeks’ time.
  8. Sage – Slow to germinate and could take up to three weeks.
  9. Thyme – Two to three weeks’ germination time. The seeds are very small so overplanting is common.

A white blanket of snow outside the window can be a beautiful sight to behold but adding some green indoors can be a great visual enhancement and has the benefit of the addition of delicious home grown herbs to recipes all year round.


Michigan State University Extension

Beautify – January 2017

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

Gardening for Winter Interest

Hosta Book Review


Gardening for Winter Interest

by Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener, Vice President MGANM

Winter is a very good time to view a perennial garden for structure.  There are many flower gardens which lose all interest after the fall and display a flat barren plain until awakening in late spring.  Plan ahead now to add winter interest to a flower garden.

Landscape design uses plant layers that include canopy, understory, shrub, perennials, grasses, and ground covers.  However when flower gardening, a canopy layer reduces the sunlight available which alters the perennial choices.  Small trees and shrubs are available and recommended to help add a design element and interest to a perennial garden.  In winter, early spring and late fall the garden will have something to see when the garden is asleep.

Small trees suitable for inclusion in a flower garden include Allegheny Serviceberry, Speckled Alder, and Redbud.  These can be categorized as small trees or large shrubs depending upon pruning.   

-A Serviceberry, Amelanchier laevis, is a high-value small tree.  It can be single or multiple stemmed.  It blooms early in the spring with an abundance of white flowers, which ripen into berries in early summer and are a favorite food of birds.  Stems are slightly arched and can be pruned.  It tolerates sun to partial shade in dry to semi-moist conditions. 

-Speckled Alder, Alnus rugosa, a fast-growing small tree with multiple thin trunks.  Leaves turn yellow in the fall.  Tiny cone-like seeds develop on mature trees.

-Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis, is a small tree that can be covered with small deep pink flowers in early spring.  The blooms last for two to three weeks and are followed by large, heart shaped leaves.  It has arching branches and a rounded crown.

These trees provide an important vertical structure in a perennial garden.  They can be used as a single specimen, or used as multiples to create a flow.  Both the Serviceberry and Redbud bloom quite early, giving the garden a needed splash of color, while some perennials are just beginning to sprout.

Shrubs play an important role in perennial flower gardening.  Their shapes, whether arched or rounded, stay upright through the year providing shape in the garden under the snow.  In fall and early spring their structure provides assurance that there really is a garden!

There are many shrubs from which to choose depending upon the gardener’s tolerance for suckering.  All can be pruned to maintain the shape and scale desired.  Consider Winterberry, Spicebush, Shrubby St. John’s Wort, Shrubby Cinquefoil, or Highbush Cranberry.

-Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, is a deciduous holly.  It blooms all along the stems in small, white flowers in summer and sets bright red berries.  It is a stunning plant in the snow. Note:  plants are sexed.  Only females produce berries and a male must be present.  These are well-behaved plants.

-Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, produces color and interest throughout the season.  In spring, yellow flowers grace the stems before the leaves appear and the leaves are golden in fall.  Female plants will produce red berries.

-Shrubby St. John’s Wort, Hypericum prolificum, Kalm’s, is a fabulous shrub for pollinators.  Its mid-to-late summer bloom lasts for weeks and attracts bees of all sizes and types.  The bluish-green leaves add summer interest and a natural globe shape.  The blossoms leave a multitude of seed heads which create interest.  Should the plant need taming, cutting the seed heads can keep a compact size.

-Shrubby Cinquefoil, Potentilla fouticosa, is a tough, hardy plant that has a long golden yellow flower bloom time.  It’s branches arch and can be pruned in spring to keep it looking good. 

-Highbush Cranberry, Viburnum trilobum, is a larger shrub that has clusters of white flowers in May and June.  Red fruits follow.  The berries are edible to wildlife after freezing and thawing which provides important early nutrition to migrating birds.  It can be pruned after flowering to maintain size and shape.  Or, give it space and use as a specimen in the garden.

Adding shrubs to a perennial garden creates structure and adds habitat and food for birds and wildlife.  Sitting inside enjoying the warmth and rest from the busy growing season, evaluate the winter interest in the perennial garden.  Adding small trees and shrubs for vertical interest and dynamic design can keep a flower garden interesting all year long.


Landscaping with Native Plants of Michigan, Lynn M. Steiner

Photo by jks Lola,

Photo by jks Lola,

Hosta Book Review

by Nancy Denison, Advanced Master Gardener

The Color Encyclopedia of Hostas by Diana Grenfell and Michael Shadrack, Timber Press, 2004

The encyclopedia is a four hundred page compilation of hosta history, photos and classification has been residing in my bookcase for many years. I have referred to it a few times and always promised myself I would spend a little more time with it, so if you enjoy the diversity and beauty of the simple hosta, read on!

I knew little of the background of the wild and cultivated hosta family, so reading the first two chapters was enlightening.  Hostas are native of the far east and are thought to have evolved from lily-like ancestors who drifted from east central China by two different routes, meeting later to produce the hostas known today.

Most wild hostas had been interbred for centuries although those more geographically isolated have now been brought together by human interaction.  Wild hosta species, those clump forming perennials grown in clearings and woodlands, have given us most of our garden varieties.

The first known Westerner to see, draw and describe a hosta was Englebert Kaempfer (1651-1751), a medical doctor with The Dutch East India Company stationed on an artificial island in Nagasaki Harbor. Between 1784 and 1789 the first hosta (H. Plantaginea) was planted, from which grew others in France and then spread through Europe. Forty years later, hostas from Japan began reaching the west. The first major shipment came to America directly from Japan by the son of London nurseryman, Thomas Hogg.

Hostas begin growing as spring warms the ground and end their seasonal growth to wither away as fall and then winter arrive.  The shape of hosta is mostly determined by the root type; compact roots produce mounded foliage and running rootstock produce spreading groups of foliage.  The frost hardy leaves are stalked, vary in size and rise directly from the roots.  The flowers are tubular, spider, flared or funnel shaped and vary in color from white to deep purple.  The leaves are classified by size, shape, leaf blade, venation, substance, finish and color. Amazingly, leaves are categorized from #1 Giant (144sq in) to #6 Dwarf (2sq in). Leaf shape, blade veins and color are also exacting methods of identifying species.

Hostas need fertile, moist, well-drained soil with protection from heat of the sun and strong winds. However, individual hosta needs can vary greatly.  Most are frost tolerant to 28oF and require winter chilling of at least 40oF for several weeks. Hostas are drought tolerant but can need additional moisture in the growing season. They are able to grow in a wide range of soil conditions but grow best in rich loam. Prep soil, if necessary, with organic materials and continue to mulch in future years. Hostas are shade tolerant but more sun than expected is needed to produce quality flowers. Light dappled shade from a tall tree canopy is ideal.

Chapter 4 discusses gardening with hostas, contrasting colors, size, texture and leaf shape. If you have hostas, you already know snails, slugs and deer are damaging pests, attracted often by fragrant flowers.

The remaining chapters concentrate on describing hostas by leaf color, margin or medial variegation with information on origin, clump size, description, special comments, or distinguishing features. A clear photo accompanies each description.

This spring when my hostas begin popping up, I will attempt to label them again while I enjoy the show of leaves and flowers.  They add depth and dimension to my shade gardens, are easy to split and share… and hopefully won’t be consumed by visiting deer.

Serve – January 2017

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

In Memoriam—John Richard George (aka Rick)

2016 Volunteer Recognition Awards: Volunteers are the Heart and Soul of the Master Gardener Program

MGANM Anniversary: 20 Years Young

MG Rick George pauses for a smile :) 2009

MG Rick George pauses for a smile 🙂 2009

In Memoriam—John Richard George (aka Rick)

by Terry Harding, Community Master Gardener

What can I say about my brother that you already don’t know!  You know he loved growing veggies and sharing his harvest with friends and food pantries.  But, he was much more than that.

Rick and wife Sally were long-time residents of Royal Oak, MI.  They met in high school and married celebrating their 50th a few years ago.  They had 3 kids, sons Greg and Todd and 1 daughter Tracy.  All kids married and 3 grown grandsons love coming to TC for fishing and to visit their family. Rick worked at several places but retired from General Motors and moved to TC with his wife, Sally. 

One of the first things he wanted to do was have a garden and so he did.  He took the MG training with encouragement from my husband, Bill and myself and became a dedicated Master Gardener, and Advanced Master Gardener earning Master Gardener of the year award—something that was a huge thrill for him.

He made a life friend in Mike Davis through working the community garden in Leelanau.  They were kindred spirits and Rick idolized Mike as they both spent countless hours at the garden.  When that garden “died” from lack of interest, Mike started a small Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at the Historic Barns Park as part of the SEEDS program.  He and Rick made raised beds, brought in compost, planted and maintained those beds until Mike and his wife had to move back to Ohio.

Always an outdoors person, Rick loved duck hunting, tying flies for fishing, spending time at their camp around Glennie, Michigan, raising rabbits, and just being able to enjoy the sunshine and water.  He spent hours reading about gardening and probably has one of the finest personal libraries on growing vegetables—especially tomatoes.  He and I attended several Dow Know and Grow seminars in Midland taking in the opportunity to hear nationally known speakers on the subject of gardening.  Aside from being a member of the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan and maintaining his certification hours, he was also a member of Cherryland Garden Club, a small group of gardeners (meets the second Tuesday of the month in the evening), who had monthly speakers on a variety of gardening subjects.

I am going to miss him terribly especially when I need help at the Harding Memorial Garden at Peninsula Community Library.  He was always ready and willing to spend hours helping me with weeding, pruning and transplanting. I will also miss his teasing me about growing flowers and not veggies.   But . . . I know he is in veggie garden heaven now where he doesn’t have to worry about enough rain to water plants, frost killing his newly planted plants or weeding or spreading compost or any countless other tasks.  He will be enjoying the endless sunshine watching his garden grow.

2016's decorations

2016’s decorations

2016 Volunteer Recognition Awards: Volunteers are the Heart and Soul of the Master Gardener Program

by Michelle Ferrarese, Master Gardener Coordinator

November 6, 2016.  Gilbert Lodge, Twin Lakes Park, Grand Traverse County: A group of nearly 50 Extension Master Gardeners and guests convened for the annual Master Gardener Volunteer Recognition Luncheon.  The weather was gorgeous; in hindsight, it could almost have been an outdoor event!  Amor Comida provided a delicious lunch of spiced squash soup, salad, and pie, with seasonal ingredients sourced from local producers.  Dr. Duke Elsner, MSU Extension Educator, presented a talk on “Plantings for Monarchs and Wild Pollinators” that was enthusiastically followed with questions and answers. 

MGANM volunteers decked the tables and the hall in lush fall-themed and monarch-themed décor, staffed the check-in table, and orchestrated a silent auction to raise funds for scholarships to the MG training course.

After Dr. Elsner’s presentation, Master Gardener Coordinator Michelle Ferrarese presented achievement awards to EMG Volunteers.  We had a GREAT showing of volunteer hours this year, particularly for a year during which Master Gardeners had no coordinator for half the year! 

Michele Worden coordinated a successful Silent Auction this year, which raised toward the scholarship fund for tuition assistance for the MG Training Course.  Thanks so much to everyone who contributed auction items and also those who bid on items!

Denise Brown (EMG merchandise vendor from Oakland County) set up her display of wares: t-shirts, hats, water bottles, etc, and outfitted many of our volunteers with logo wear!

Recognition went to the following Volunteers:

Newly Certified Volunteers (Trainees who completed 40 volunteer hours):

Bruce Barnes, Kristen Beck, Maryann Borden, Kathryn Danielson Rizik, Tricia Early, Pam Filkins, Kathryn Frerichs, Kay Goodall, Kathy Marciniak, Laura McCain, Chris Newell, Jane Schnack, Kathy Spinniken, Steve Stephens, Bethany Thies

Advanced Master Gardener Volunteers (EMGs who completed 50 volunteer hours AND 25 continuing education hours within five years of initial certification):

Nancy Denison, JoAnne Gerben

Lifetime Service Awards:

250 Hours:

Elizabeth Clous, Kristine Drake, Candy Gardner,Rebecca Mang

500 Hours:

Kelly Dillan, Lin Emmert, Cheryl Gross, Gary Michalek, Whitney Miller, Ruth Steele Walker, Susan Newman

1000 Hours:

Trina Ball, Janet Hickman

2000 Hours:

Ann McInnis

Master Gardeners of the Year

Grand Traverse County:  Michele Worden

Benzie County:  Steve Stephens

Leelanau County: Ruth Steele Walker

After the Volunteer Recognition, MGANM President Michele Worden presented her State of the Association update and conducted annual officer elections.  Officers were elected as follows: President:  Michele Worden (2 year term)  Vice President: Cheryl Gross (1 year term)  Treasurer:  Glynis Waycaster (? tear term)  Secretary: Judy Reich (? year term)

Award recipients AND door prize winners went home with potted pollinator-friendly perennials, gift certificates, and seed packets of annuals to plant for pollinators next season.  Thanks again to all the volunteers (and Annette Kleinschmit!) who made this possible, from the planning meetings to auction organizing to the set-up and tear-down/clean-up.

20th Anniversary Celebration

20th Anniversary Celebration

MGANM Anniversary: 20 Years Young

by Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM President

It is hard to believe that the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan was 20 years old in 2016.  There is youth and vigor in this inspiring group of volunteers.  To celebrate the occasion, we held a 20th Anniversary party at the Boardman River Nature Center in Traverse City on August 2nd.   

There was a large turnout of friends, old and new.   The room was packed!   It was a bit like a family reunion.  We presented a fun video for the celebration from pictures of past and present projects and friends.   We also created a t-shirt celebrating our 20th Anniversary that members could order. 

Hearty appetizers were served in the reception before the presentations.  We started the evening with a brief introduction by the MG Coordinator and Michelle Ferrarese and myself, the board president.  I made a presentation with Marsha Clark, Executive Director of the Grand Traverse Conservation District on the history and design of the native plant gardens that surround the nature center.  Whitney Miller, Master Gardener, and Nate Griswold of Inhabitect gave a presentation on the value of green roofs in our communities and the construction of the green roof demonstration project at the nature center. 

The demonstration gardens, maintained by Master Gardeners  further our mission by educating the public about landscape sustainability and watershed stewardship.   It was a beautiful summer day, and following the presentations we took a tour of the gardens, ending up at the decorated pavilion where the buffet dinner was ready.  This path also cleverly strolled by our silent auction table which had fun items and memorabilia.

Attendees were served a delicious and tangy pulled pork with several sides such as apple baked beans, a Master Gardeners special recipe.  The meal was underwritten by our sponsors and community partners.  We were so thankful that MSUE bought a cake with which to celebrate, and the Michigan Master Gardener Association supplied the ice cream.  As a special treat we sourced locally grown and produced lavender ice cream – it was to die for!   We were also happy to have raised enough funds with the silent auction for our new leadership scholarship – sending a Master Gardener to Master Gardener College.   We look forward to our next 20 years and becoming part of MMGA in 2017.


Administration – January 2017

President’s Letter:The Coming of the Sun AND Tentative MGANM Schedule

by Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM President

It is 7 degrees outside and the garden slumbers under a blanket of white as I write.   The Winter Solstice approaches but by the time you read this letter,  it will be past, and the days will already be getting longer in anticipation of spring.

Looking back, we had a marvelous year in the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan.  We celebrated our first 20 years at the Anniversary Party on August 2nd.  We also enjoyed a wonderful luncheon at the November 6th Volunteer Recognition Luncheon.  Duke Elsner gave a interesting presentation on Monarchs; I am still amazed by the resilience of these beautiful creatures.  Duke also announced he is part of a new state-wide committee on pollinators, a positive innovation.  The Volunteer Recognition Luncheon Silent Auction raised $578 for scholarships for the spring Master Gardener class through donations and hand-crafted auction items.  Master Gardeners are a talented and generous bunch!

We also remember the beloved Master Gardener colleagues we lost this year, Shirley Bowen and Rick George.

Looking forward to 2017, based upon our unanimous vote this past fall. we will be making a formal application to join the Michigan Master Gardener Association.

We also look forward to fun and educational programs and field trips in 2017.  Information on the events will be posted on the MGANM website and will be also on our Facebook page  and in community calendars.  We hope to put up posters around town to bring some of the public to our meetings as well.  All of our programs are open to the public.  As a reminder, MGANM meetings are a perfect way to earn both education and volunteer hours.  You earn 1.5 hrs for both education and volunteering by attending.

A  preview of what is in store: 

Februrary  7 – Michelle Ferrasese will present “Smart Gardening – plants and practices for sustainable gardening”

March 7  – Proven Winners will come to Traverse City and tell us “What is hot in 2017?”  This will be a joint event with the Botanic Garden Society at the Visitor Center.  Tentative.

April 4 – Wild Harvesting, Speaker TBD

June 6 – Succulent project at Breeze Hill.   This is a Master Gardener field trip and a fee is required.  Space is limited and reservation is secured with your check.  The fee covers materials for the project you will create as you propagate succulents.  Choices will include a wreath, terrariums, etc.

July 11 – Tour and Tasting at Light if Day Tea Farm with Angela Macke.  Tour the only camellia sinensis (tea plants) grown under hoop houses, on an organic and biodynamic farm.  This is a Master Gardener field trip, there is limited in space and a fee will be required.  It will be partially underwritten by MGANM a partially by attendees.  The cost will be a significant reduction in price from public tour rates.

August 1 – Rebecca Finneran presents “Smart Plants for Pollinators”.

October 3 – Brian Zimmerman of Four Season Nursery presents “Plants Deer Don’t Eat”

Please like MGANM on Facebook to keep current with events and news, as well as check the website.  Events and information are posted in a timely fashion on Facebook because it is so fast to easy.  Check there in case if inclement weather or last minutes changes in events.

Thank you for all you do.  Keep dreaming of spring! 

Steward – November 2016

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

Winter is Coming. Is Your Soil Prepared?

MGANM Meeting update: September

MGANM Meeting update: October

Plants Toxic to Pets

Winter is Coming. Is Your Soil Prepared?

by Jamie Guenther, Master Gardener

Just as we prepare ourselves for the upcoming winter by searching for mittens, hats, boots and heavier jackets, it is also a good idea to prepare our garden soil for the upcoming change in weather. Doing so will make the soil healthier which will help ensure that future gardens will be given the support and nourishment that they will need. There are 16 nutrient elements that plants need for growth and reproduction. Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are the three most abundant nutrients, and they are obtained through water and the air. The remaining 13 are divided into three categories:

  1. Primary
    1. Nitrogen (N)
    2. Phosphorus (P)
    3. Potassium (K)
  2. Secondary
    1. Calcium (Ca)
    2. Magnesium (Mg)
    3. Sulfur (S)
  3. Micronutrients
    1. Zinc (Zn)
    2. Manganese (Mn)
    3. Iron (Fe)
    4. Boron (B)
    5. Copper (Cu)
    6. Molybdenum (Mo)
    7. Chlorine (Cl)

The first step is to take a soil test to determine what sorts of amendments are necessary. This may seem like a bother but it is important to be sure that the correct amendments are added and unnecessary ones are not. This will help save both the environment and your pocketbook by only adding what is necessary. The soil test through Michigan State Extension will tell you your soil pH, type of soil, organic matter content, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, nitrogen and lime recommendations as needed. Once you’ve done that, keep in mind that there are a few items to consider when choosing amendments.

There are two forms of fertilizer to consider:  organic and inorganic (chemical). Organic fertilizers are derived from a living plant or animal source while inorganic fertilizers are manufactured. Inorganic fertilizers typically consist of mainly nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus which are clearly displayed on the label. Organic fertilizers are more likely to contain micronutrients as well but a little more research is necessary to be sure of the nutrient content. Some good sources of organic fertilizers are:

  • Cottonseed meal. A byproduct of cotton manufacturing used frequently on acid-loving plants like rhododendrons. Generally, the nutrient content is 7% nitrogen, 3% phosphorus and 2% potash.
  • Blood meal. A dried, powdered blood collected from slaughterhouses. A rich source of nitrogen with the addition of some micronutrients including iron.
  • Fish emulsion. Partially decomposed blend of pulverized fish. This is a well-rounded fertilizer.
  • Bone meal. Ground animal bones collected from slaughterhouses. Good source of nitrogen and phosphorus.
  • Wood ash. Byproduct of burning wood in wood stove or fireplace. Source of lime, potassium and other trace elements and is very alkaline.
  • Dried, crushed eggshells. Good source of calcium.
  • Alfalfa meal. Made from fermented alfalfa plants. Good source of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.
  • Epsom salts. Good source of magnesium.
  • Calcitic or dolomitic lime. Good source of lime and calcium in both but if magnesium is also needed, use dolomitic lime.

Some of the above recommendations will attract wildlife into the garden, so be sure to lightly work them into the soil as a way to cover the odors.

It is also a good idea to add organic matter to the soil as a way to improve soil structure, add pore space for increased ability to hold water and nutrients, and provide a food source for beneficial microorganisms. Some good sources of organic matter are animal manure, compost, cover crops and perennial grasses and legumes.

Even though getting the soil ready for the upcoming winter includes a number of considerations it is definitely worth the effort to ensure a healthier soil and greater productivity in the upcoming spring.


Clemson Cooperative Extension. “Home & Garden Information Center.”

Cornell University Cooperative Extension. Nutrient Management Spear Program

Jeavona, John. “How to Grow More Vegetables.” 2012. Ecology Action of the Midpeninsula.

Oregon State University Extension Service. “Wood ash can be useful in yard if used with caution.”

Michigan State Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program Training Manual.

MGANM Meeting update: September

by Nancy Denison, Master Gardener

September’s meeting was hosted by Kay Charter, founder of Saving Birds Thru Habitat and The Charter Sanctuary, on beautiful wooded property in Leelanau County.  Kay shared her expertise with us concerning beneficial habitats for native nesting birds, of which there are 22 species on her property.  Areas that provide arboreal and deciduous forests, grasslands and wetlands abundant with native plants will encourage our Indigo Buntings, Eastern Meadowlark, Rose Breasted Grosbeak among many other species.

Our birds cannot live without the insects, so the use of insecticides and neonicotinoids are extremely harmful. Cats kill about one billion birds a year and window crashes also cause many deaths and injuries.  Using window screens/blinds can help birds’ confusion.

A brief walk along Kay’s path in her sanctuary finished off the night. We appreciate Kay’s vast knowledge of our native birds and hard work to educate us about the interconnectedness of our natural areas. For more information: or Facebook.

MGANM Meeting update: October

by Nancy Denison, Master Gardener

“Permaculture” was the topic of the October meeting and Penny Krebiehl our guide.  Penny is an artist, Permaculture Designer and founder of Little Artshram in TC, among many other talents.  Permaculture evolved from the term “Permanent Agriculture” meaning to mimic nature’s designs with vision, common sense and strategic thinking.

There are three ethics of permaculture:  care for the Earth, care for people and return the surplus. Also helpful are the principles for functional design, principles for living and energy systems and attitudes. Learning to observe your planting area, creating and optimizing zones for growing while respecting the natural design of the space, can provide optimum success in your gardens. And of course, there is constant evaluation of your success or failures!

Thank you so much, Penny, for sharing your experiences and knowledge with us.

The Permaculture Handbook by Peter Bane

Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison

Association President, Michele Worden, reminded all to make sure they have voted, through the email sent previously, to join the Michigan Master Gardener Association.  The Volunteer Recognition Luncheon is planned for Sunday, Nov. 6. Invitations will be going out soon and volunteers are needed for set up, clean up and the silent auction. Please contact Michelle Ferrarese- or Michele Be sure to get your volunteer hours registered before the end of October to help in preparation for the luncheon.

Plants Toxic to Pets

by Whitney Miller, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM “Techie Chick”

As the holiday season approaches, many people wonder about poisonous plants and their pets. We asked local veterinarian Whitney Jencka from Bay Area Pet Hospital a few questions regarding the subject, and here are her answers.

1. In your experience, what are the top three poisonous plants pets get into during the holiday season?

2. Is it the entire plant that is poisonous or just certain parts?

3. How much of these plants do they actually have to ingest before it can harm them?

4. What are the signs and symptoms of poisoning from these plants?

5. How long does it take for symptoms to show?

6. Do you have any recommendations to keep pets away from these plants?

Most of the calls we get are regarding chocolate, nuts, etc… However, Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) come up a lot! Historically, people have believed these to be very toxic to pets. In actuality, they are not life threatening. If a pet ingests a mild to moderate amount they may end up with GI upset, such as vomiting and/or diarrhea.

The second is Christmas tree water. It is also fairly benign if ingested unless there are fertilizers, nutrient additives. In that case it would depend on the product used. Holly (Ilex aquifolium) and mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) are other common holiday time plants but luckily, they too are pretty harmless. If enough is ingested they can cause GI upset. The only exception would be very large ingestion of the American variety. It contains lectins which in high volume could cause cardiac effects.

I would expect the clinical signs of vomiting to begin pretty quickly. Most toxins that cause GI upset are irritating to the lining of the stomach. The diarrhea would probably occur within 12-48 hours.

Pets are pets and if they are interested in something they are going to get to it. So, if you are at all worried about the animals ingesting these plants I would recommend keeping them elevated at all times beyond their reach or not having them in the house.

You can always call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Hotline for help if there is concern that a pet ingested a toxin.


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