Nourish

Nourish – July 2019

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Supporting our Pollinators: MGANM June Meeting Notes

Supporting Our Neighbors

Supporting our Pollinators: MGANM June Meeting Notes

By Nancy Larson, MG

We had a successful educational meeting and a big turnout with 50 people present. About 1/4 of the people were from the general public and the remainder from the Master Gardener Association.  Michelle Worden, our outgoing president, welcomed everyone and gave an overview of what a Master Gardener is and what it is that we do.  She added the summer’s up-coming schedule of events for anyone who can attend and then welcomed to the podium Nate Walton, MSUE Entomologist.  

Nate talked about all the common pollinators in our gardens and then gave a very informative lecture on our bees; the different types; their life system; their identity as social or solitary nesters’; and their need to continue their life cycle. Nate taught us about their needs for food, water and shelter and how we can assist them in that, and then he introduced Barbara Backus, Master Gardener.

Barbara shared how her team of five started and finished three projects within the city’s gardens.  Barbara and her team re-cultivated a garden at Hull Park and two gardens at Clinch Park with pollinating flowers. They used Lynn Steiner’s “Landscaping with Native Plants”, and bulletin”Attracting Beneficial Insect with Native Flowering Plants” (MSU #2975 and #3314) for their design layout. Barbara recommends using these resources for native flowers.  

Barbara also said that starting a project is very easy and she shared the steps to start your own:

  1. Apply to the Master Gardener program to start a project, with Nate’s help. You must have an educational aspect to your project, i.e. the signs.
  2. Go to the city to request garden space.
  3. Ask the city for funding to buy flowers and signs.

Barbara said the city is thankful we are there to help with the gardens and they are supportive of the work that we do.  She also indicated the city has more land that they are willing to let Master Gardeners re-cultivate with flowers. 

The program ended with many questions and happy faces wanting to get into the dirt again.

Tomato Seedlings, by Michele Worden

Supporting Our Neighbors

By Michelle Worden, AEMG

In April, we welcomed Sarah Rautio from MSUE to our monthly meeting to learn about the Growing Together Program, and some amazing local food donation gardens.  Wonderful work is happening at Leelanau Christian Neighbors food garden and Leo Creek Preserve. As spring finally turns to summer, I know they would love any volunteers to help teach the public how to grow their own food.

Food pantries often hand out seedlings, like these tomato seedlings pictured, that pantry clients can plant in the ground at home or put in pots.  Tomatoes are a good source of lycopene and vitamin C.  This can be an important source of nutrition for people experiencing food insecurity, since they lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tomato Seedlings, by Michele Worden

If you are a home food gardener, consider sharing your bounty with your local food pantry or meal site.  A list by county can be found at http://northwestfoodcoalition.org/.

If you are a volunteer at one of our MG volunteer project food gardens – thank you!  And don’t forget to weigh the produce and report it to the Growing Together Initiative to fight food insecurity.

If you are not able to do either of these things, consider donating money to the Farm2Neighbor program of the Northwest Food Coalition, which supports the local farm economy and feeds our neighbors by buying local fruits and vegetables and giving to area pantries and meal sites.  More information is from an article from the Record Eagle below:

Forum: Support local farmers, neighbors in need

By Kris Thomas

Jun 6, 2019

(Reprinted with Permission)

We know that the freshest, most nutritious food available is the food that’s grown by our local farmers. Providing residents in Northwest Michigan with a vast array of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the growing season is a commitment our farmers have made to support the health and well-being of our community.

We also know that many of our neighbors that utilize our area food pantries and community meal sites struggle to put food on the table to feed their families. And being able to purchase locally grown fresh food, which is often more costly than processed food, simply is not an option for them.

Lack of access to healthy food has a profound negative impact on the lives of our food insecure neighbors, because it makes them more susceptible to many health-related issues, including diabetes, heart disease and obesity. And it is much more difficult for those in our community living with these health-related issues to be successful in many aspects of life.

In an effort to improve the health and well-being of our community by providing greater access to locally grown food, four rotary clubs in Northwest Michigan joined forces and in January 2018, donated more than $20,000 to the Northwest Food Coalition to create the Coalition’s Farm To Neighbor Fund. All donations to the fund are used to purchase produce from area farmers for distribution at food pantries and meal sites in the five-county Grand Traverse area. Since January 2018, thousands of pounds of carrots, parsnips, turnips, radishes, asparagus, tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, pears, acorn and butternut squash and apples have been purchased directly from local farmers and enjoyed by our neighbors in need.

With the growing season upon us, contributions from our community for this very important program would be greatly appreciated. To support the Farm To Neighbor Fund, please go to https://www.nmcaa.net/farm2neighbor.asp. If you’d like to learn more about the Northwest Food Coalition, please go to www.northwestfoodcoalition.org.

Thank you for your support. Your generosity will be felt by many.

 

About the author: Kris Thomas is a member of the Benzie Sunrise Rotary Club. Since leading a food security study for her club in 2014, she has volunteered in different capacities to alleviate hunger in northern Michigan, including working with Food Rescue and the Northwest Food Coalition.


Nourish – May 2019

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Growing Food Together: MGANM April Meeting Notes

Project Spotlight – Leelanau Christian Neighbors Food Garden

Tender plant planting and degree days

Growing Food Together: MGANM April Meeting Notes

By Nancy Denison, AEMG

It was another packed house for this meeting about Growing Food Together. Sarah Rautio, MSUE Horticultural educator from the NE Lower Michigan District introduced us to the SNAP-ED program which began in Iowa and has been adopted by many states. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and works with the USDA and many Master Gardener volunteers. This program teaches people how to establish healthy eating habits and increase their physical activity while staying within a limited budget.

Nancy Popa from Leelanau Christian Neighbors also spoke about their community garden which serves the food pantry. They are looking for volunteers so Contact Nancy at 994-2271 or info@LeelanauChristianNeighbors.org. if you can help.

Kate Thornhill with Leo Creek Preserve was also in the house. Leo Creek, located on the Leelanau Trail, began its food gardens just a few years ago but has a mission of growing food for local pantries and hosting educational programs for children and adults. It is accessible from the trail about 200 yards south of the 4th street trailhead. Contact Kate at leocreekpreserve.com for volunteer opportunities.

 

Project Spotlight – Leelanau Christian Neighbors Food Garden

By Michele Worden, AEMG

In April I was so inspired by all the great work going on at Leelanau Christian Neighbors food garden.  Nancy Popa presented at the Master Gardener meeting and told us about the amazing work going on there.

The garden has thirty-two 4×8 raised beds, producing over 500 pounds of food each year from seventeen different vegetables. The group planted, tended, and harvested- beans, broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, potatoes, radish, spinach, sweet peppers, squash, tomatillo, tomatoes and too many zucchini.  In short, this is a good project to volunteer for if you want to learn about vegetable gardening. Master Gardeners can learn about soil amendments, crop rotations, composting, and organic growing techniques.

There are also opportunities to develop teaching materials. A great benefit of this garden is that the food raised goes to the food pantry at Leelanau Christian Neighbors, and the pantry clients are students that are eager to learn to garden, which is a win-win.  Hunger in northern Michigan is wide spread but a hidden problem. Leelanau County in particular is considered a high need food area in Michigan by Feeding America. This great project allows so many ways to have fun gardening, learning and giving back to our community at the same time. Consider spending a few hours there this summer.  If you can help, contact Nancy Popa at Nanook551@gmail.com or 231-944-9509.

 

Tender plant planting and degree days

By Lisa Hagerty, EMG in Training

The development of plants and pests can be tracked by researchers and growers with the help of heat units or growing degree-days. According to the Michigan State University Extension, accumulated heat units are determined by identifying threshold temperature and accumulation for different crops. “No significant crop development is expected at the threshold, or base temperature.” Growing Degree Day (GDD) information is useful for decision making regarding managing your crop, as it provides a better “understanding of {both} plant and pest development.” For more information, please refer to the MSUE articles:

https://www.canr.msu.edu/ipm/agriculture/christmas_trees/growing_degree_day_information

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/understanding_growing_degree_days


Beautify – November 2018

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Landscaping with Native Plants for Fall Color

State of the Green Roof

Brian has a captive audience during our pruning workshop at Four Seasons Nursery, 9/2/14. (photo by MG W. Miller)

Landscaping with Native Plants for Fall Color

by Nancy Denison, Advanced Extension Master Gardener

October 2 brought the energetic Brian Zimmerman from Four Season Nursery back for a run through colorful, native (mostly) plantings. He shared photos of trees, grasses, shrubs and some perennials and ferns that will add interest and color throughout the year. Larch, sugar maple, tulip tree, and black gum are a few of the trees mentioned. Shrubs included witch hazel, bearberry, ‘Gro-Low’ sumac (my personal favorite) and snowberry. Little and big bluestem grass, which I just saw at the Botanic Garden, looks awesome near the Gift Shop and I sure wish I could find a place for some in my own gardens!

I love how Brian reminds us of landscape design fundamentals such as function, pathways, water drainage, symmetry (or not), size and shape. Remember you are the artist, the landscape is always in flux and “nature is semi-controlled chaos”!

I think I can say we all love whenever and wherever Brian does a presentation- – we know we are going to get an ear full!

 

All native green roof located at the Boardman River Nature Center. Photo by Bob Grzesiak

State of the Green Roof

by Whitney Miller, Advanced Extension Master Gardener

This summer was a rough one for gardeners. Drought plagued us in June and July along with soaring temperatures. It was during this time that the MGANM green roof at the Boardman River Nature Center in Traverse City was put to the test.

Knowing that the roof had an average of 4” of growing media, and was fully exposed to the sun, we had selected for it native plants with shallow roots and drought tolerance. All  were Michigan native plants that are quite drought tolerant.

But did it work?

Even in the best of circumstances, all gardens, even native ones, occasionally need a human to give them a drink when experiencing extreme drought.  This summer I stretched that to the limit. There was a period of four weeks in the midst of this summer’s drought that I was not able to visit the roof and provide supplemental water. Yikes! When I visited in July, I had to apologize to the plants. Everything looked dead. The hairy beardtongue turned into dust when I looked at it. The coreopsis, which usually is blooming at that time, had turned brown and retreated into itself. There was no wild lupine to be seen, whereas there were at least 30 of them last year (I still can’t wrap my head around that one).

The only plant that was bright and happy was bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). And I’ll be darned if that wasn’t the one plant that we struggled to get to take root last year. Oh, how the garden can give you surprises!

Fast forward to August. I waited another three weeks before watering the roof again (yikes again!). Things were looking roughly the same. The bearberry was holding strong, though I noted that the size of the plant has not grown since last year.

Finally, at the end of the summer, we got rain consistent enough that I didn’t have to worry about the roof. I visited in early September and noticed that the prairie smoke was looking a little more perky. Everything else looked like it was holding on.

The last week in September I visited again and this time had plans to spread a light, organic fertilizer as well as a light layer of mulch. I gave most of the plants a gentle tug to see if the roots were still holding. All but one was holding on tight! Much to my happiness, when I got on top of the roof I noticed that some of the coreopsis had sprouted new greenery. The New England asters also had new growth.  And the prairie dropseed looked quite nice and fluffy. It seems native plants truly can handle some tough situations!

My plans for spring include removing the Pennsylvania sedge from the roof. Its performance on our roof has been lackluster and tends to look patchy- – almost like the scalp of a man’s head who just can’t let go of those last three hairs. I also intend to incorporate some wild petunia (Ruellia humilis), which looked quite happy in other gardens during the drought. If anyone has any extras, I’ll gladly accept!


Nourish – November 2018

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Smart Gardening with Soils, September MGANM Meeting Notes

Food Preservation in the Off Season

Dr. Bird speaking to MGANM and the public

Smart Gardening with Soils, September MGANM Meeting Notes

by Nancy Denison, Advanced Extension Master Gardener

Our September meeting was hosted by Dr. George Bird; MSU professor, research scientist, prolific writer and speaker. I’m sure he barely scratched the surface with his discussion of smart soils that night, but he certainly added to our knowledge of this fairly new domain of healthy land/garden use of soil.

Soil is organic matter consisting of dead/decomposing plant and animal matter and living organisms such as bacteria, nematodes, fungi, and arthropods creating a living system that takes in, regenerates and transforms to respond to the environment

Healthy soil provides a place for a plant’s roots, provides needed nutrients and water, allows oxygen movement, resistance to disease or poor growth, and allows organic matter to break down and release needed nutrients. Good management of healthy soil includes maintaining an appropriate level of organic matter, a stable water aggregate level, and minimizing biological or chemical disturbances.

Dr. Bird brought us to his “classroom” for an hour to continue our education in the creation of great growing environments. Thanks so much!

 

Food Preservation, photo by AEMG Cheryl Gross

Food Preservation in the Off Season

by Cheryl A. Gross, Advanced Extension Master Gardener

Canning most often takes place when fruits and vegetables are at their peak, preserving the best nutrition of the season.  In case you haven’t noticed, that peak is the HOTTEST time of the of the year as well. Call me a wimp. I have processed canned peaches and tomatoes and made countless jars of jam, including raspberry, blueberry and peach, whilst sweating and dripping in my kitchen.  Summer canned peaches are the best taste of sunshine in winter. Canned tomatoes, so high in acid, not so much. I now keep cool and use alternative practices.

My tomatoes are roasted, not canned.  Sure, the oven’s heat is a nuisance in summer, but reducing tomatoes to their flavorful essence instead of canning is an excellent alternative.  To 9 x 13 glass pans I add a glug of olive oil, a thick layer of chopped tomatoes, cored but with skin on. (If you prefer to remove the skin, feel free to blanch.)  Salt and pepper or not. Onions or garlic or not. Herbs or not. Roast in a 375 degree oven until most of the moisture is evaporated. Then, I scoop a cup of these roasted, intensely flavorful tomatoes into freezer bags or containers.  The volume reduction is a real saver of freezer space. Add a cup of these rich tomatoes to pasta sauces, chilis and stews throughout the winter season for a wonderful rich and deeply tomato-y flavor.

I prefer to jam in the off-season.  

In July when raspberries are at their peak and you-pick farms welcome us in the morning, my husband and I pick quarts and quarts and quarts of fresh, ripe, juicy raspberries.  Upon returning home with our fragrantly sweet haul, I pick-over, rinse, and mash bowlfuls of berries. Carefully, I measure 5 cups of mashed berries into freezer containers to be frozen within hours of picking.

In October or November once the furnace is on and it is nearing time to get out the humidifier, my husband and I set out to make three or four batches of raspberry jam using the pre-measured, mashed berries.  On the stove sit the bubbling pots of water for jar sterilization, lid and band sterilization, canning, and the jam pot. The heat and moisture from the pots is welcome on a chilly day!

While I have not figured out how to procrastinate canning with peaches and beets, I keep cool by roasting our tomatoes and canning our jam in the off-season.  Next up? Apple sauce.


Nourish – September 2018

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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: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/resources/home_storage_of_fruits_and_vegetables_e1696

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.” https://nchfp.uga.edu/

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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=894EohXmvwE

Safe Pressure Canning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COjmM04i1ck

Water Bath Canning Basics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eVXHsWJDlg

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!


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