Serve – May 2017

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On The Radar

Master Gardener College Scholarships

On The Radar: May

Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener, Vice President MGANM, President Plant It Wild

In May, there are many opportunities to establish your volunteering for the season.  Libraries, Schools, Community Gardens, and Community Beautification projects are each in need of Master Gardener leadership in May.  Community gardens that donate produce to food banks are especially in need of layout, planning and planting expertise. Share the wealth of knowledge you have with your community! 

Keep in touch with volunteering opportunities through MSUE email updates and MGANM.

Keynote Speaker Paul Zammit at MG College 2016. Photo by Michele Worden

Master Gardener College Scholarships

Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener, Vice President MGANM, President Plant It Wild

The purpose of the Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program is to advance the horticultural knowledge of the citizenry.  When MSU Extension educates ‘regular folks’ in current, scientifically-based practices, the intent is that the ‘trainees’ will, in-turn, volunteer in their communities and raise the knowledge base of all.  Well, that is the plan.  Many of us initially take the class for selfish reasons.  We want to know more and be better gardeners for our OWN purposes.  The Master Gardener Volunteer Training program I took was FANTASTIC.  I enjoyed each and every chapter and class.  I loved the learning…. and S L O W L Y came to understand the ‘volunteering’ part.  That is where the ‘association’ came in.  Thank heavens! for the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan (MGANM).  Without them, learning about volunteering opportunities and having easy access to timely education would not be possible.

MGANM, in addition to being a clearinghouse for volunteering and education, raises funds annually to offer one or two scholarships to the Master Gardener Volunteer Training class (offered at the Hort Center in Leelanau County) AND to send current Master Gardeners to Master Gardener College offered at MSU in East Lansing each June.  The purpose of the scholarships is to encourage those, who otherwise might not be able, to attend.  The scholarships have strings attached.  Those who accept the scholarship money are expected to join MGANM and raise the knowledge of the community as a whole through sharing the knowledge and experiences earned! The ripple effect.

It is not complicated.  Get smart; share knowledge.

Currently, MGANM has TWO Master Gardener College Scholarships available for attendance June 23 and 24, 2017 in East Lansing.  One is funded through MGANM fundraising efforts; the second is funded by Brian Zimmerman, owner of Four Season Nursery, a landscape designer, and plant care servicer.  His desire in offering the scholarship is the same as the original purpose of MG Training.  Create a ripple effect that raises the horticultural IQ of our region.  A third 2017 Master Gardener Scholarship is offered through the Botanic Gardens at Historic Barns Park.  They are a partner with MGANM and benefit from the volunteering of many Master Gardeners.

Therefore, we encourage ALL Master Gardeners in our region interesting in sharing knowledge to apply for one of these three scholarships!  Contact the Botanic Gardens for their application procedures, if you volunteer there.  To apply for one of the two scholarships available through MGANM, answer the following questions and send them to Cheryl Gross, MGANM VP @ or mail to 4628 Westbrook Dr., Traverse City, MI, 49685. Deadline to apply is June 9, 2017.


Contact Information:

MG Training Class Year:

MG Volunteering Experience:

Why you wish to attend Master Gardener College:

How you Intend to Share your new Knowledge with your Community:

If awarded the scholarship, you will be expected to join MGANM and attend Board Meetings and Membership meetings during 2018 and submit an article to the Real Dirt on the Master Gardener College experience.

We hope to have many applicants from which to choose!  Contact Michele Worden or Whitney Miller about the Master Gardener College experience.

Serve – March 2017

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Smart Gardening Program: Educational and Volunteer Opportunity for MSUE Master Gardeners

MGANM Names 2017 Scholarship Recipients

Dr. Duke Elsner finding insects

Dr. Duke Elsner finding insects

Smart Gardening Program: Educational and Volunteer Opportunity for MSUE Master Gardeners

by Dr. Duke Elsner, MSU Extension

The Smart Gardening Program is a relatively new initiative from Michigan State University Extension.  Smart Gardening is a campaign to help home and experienced gardeners adopt and implement proven techniques in their yard and garden that will help them save time, money and the environment!  IPM or Integrated Pest Management has long been a hallmark of MSU Extension programs.  However, the amount of information available -from educational institutions, magazines and commercial product producers – is a challenge to unravel and implement.  “Smart” helps people adopt proven, university-researched tactics in their own back yards.  The program was developed by members of the Consumer Horticulture Team of Michigan State University Extension, based upon the initial three themes of Smart Plants, Smart Lawns, and Smart Soils.  Smart Vegetable Gardening is the newest theme to be developed.

There are three key components to the Smart Gardening campaign.  One is the production of educational materials.  Most of these are in the form of brief “tip sheets” that address a single topic in a basic and very understandable format.  Videos have also been developed for several of the topics.

The second component is hosting educational sessions at public events, such as garden shows, fairs, farmer’s markets, and similar events.  Knowledgeable specialists from Michigan State University and other authorities are recruited to speak on their area of expertise.

The third component is a public relations workforce comprised of Master Gardeners, like you.  We recognize that there is nothing quite like a person-to-person connection to help the public with their gardening needs.  The best method to make connections with large numbers of people is to recruit Master Gardener Volunteers to be part of the Smart Gardening delivery team.

MSU Extension has established a special training program to prepare Master Gardeners to be effective representatives for the Smart Gardening Program.  New Smart Gardening trainees are apprenticed under experienced Smart Gardening Volunteers to further prepare them for their outreach activities with the public.

If you are interested in becoming a Smart Gardening Volunteer, please contact me at  If you would just like to see the various tip sheets, videos and other educational materials, check out the Gardening in Michigan web site:


EMG Stone for Yard Display


MGANM Names 2017 Scholarship Recipients

by Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM Vice President

The Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan, MGANM, raises Scholarship funds throughout the year; and primarily at our November Volunteer Recognition event through a silent auction.  All funds raised are given to MSUE on behalf of an award recipient (s) allowing them to enroll in the MSUE Master Gardener Volunteer Training class when the cost might be otherwise prohibitive.

As a condition of the 2017 Scholarship, the recipient is asked to give 10 of the first year 40 volunteer hours to the Association by attending a MGANM Board Meeting, an Association meeting, and otherwise supporting a MGANM project.  MGANM believes that Master Gardener Certification and Association membership has value and contributes to Certified Master Gardeners being engaged in a community of gardeners devoted to keeping current in horticultural trends and research.

We are excited to have been able to award TWO Scholarships this year with the funds raised.  Our Scholarship recipients are:

Michael O’Brien has a passion for growing vegetables, so much so that he has his own hydroponic system that he built by hand.  He recently moved here from a MUCH warmer growing zone, a 10, and sounds like he wants to learn more about growing here in our zone.  He’s very interested in plant propagation, and completing his volunteer hours in a community garden-type setting, or at least that’s what interests him now. 

Marla Tyler wants to become a Master Gardener to learn the best practices to contribute to the health of the environment and be involved in protecting it.  She is committed to learning and volunteering in the community she loves and in which she lives.  She has had some educational sessions with the Leelanau Conservancy to be a hike leader.  She likes native plants and wildlife and said that she enjoys walking Grand Traverse and Leelanau Conservancy lands.  She emphasized her commitment to a project, prioritizing responsibilities, laughing, and having fun. Marla is thankful for the MGANM scholarship to be able to become a Master Gardener.

Of special note, Michael O’Brien’s funds were donated in memory of Rick George, a wonderful Master Gardener who was dedicated to vegetable gardening.  Dedicated Scholarship funds may be donated at any time throughout the year.  Write “MG Scholarship” in the memo portion of your check and it will be used for a Scholarship in an upcoming class.

Serve – January 2017

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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.


Serve – November 2016

Gardening Activity for Kids

by Cheryl Gross, Advanced Master Gardener, Vice President MGANM, President Plant It Wild

While I have three grown children, activities for children do not come easily to me.  Also, I am not the ‘crafty’ type.  Yet in late summer, there I was having a blast with a seed germination activity at our neighborhood block party.

Wanting to pitch-in and help the host, I contacted Lillian Mahaney, a Master Gardener colleague and Jr Master Gardener teacher, for help.  In no time at all Lil connected me to a ‘living necklace’ activity.  Beginning two weeks ahead of the event, I began a seed each day (one week is ample).  It was great fun to check on my seed each day.  By the day of the event, there were three plants in small pots, three plants in small Dixie cups, and four or five still in small plastic bags where the children and adults could see the germination process.

About a third of the children in attendance participated along with two moms.  One mom asked several questions and took the idea to use in her classroom!  It was well worth my effort to pull it all together.  I appreciate that is was a quieter, almost one-on-one activity amid all of the running, throwing and water balloons.  It was craft-like with an educational component AND it was suitable for all ages.  The success of the activity was entirely based on the benefits of connecting with other Master Gardeners in our community!

Living Necklace


Any seed for garden planting (Some use large bean seeds.  I used sugar snap peas because the shoots have a nice edible taste.)

Cotton pads, such as those used for makeup removal

Plastic zip seal bags, roughly 2” x 3”

Narrow ribbon


Hole punch


Wet two cotton pads with water and wring out.

Place a pea or other seed in the center on one pad and cover with the other.

Slide into the plastic bag.

Punch a hole in the top of the bag, beneath the zipper.  Cut a length of ribbon to tie the bag around the neck of the child.

Discuss the germination process… embryo, root, stem and such.

Note: Use caution with the ribbon around the neck (choking hazard).  I had parents available to inform.  If children did not want the necklace, they did not get a ribbon.  The benefit of the necklace is faster germination due to contact with body heat.  The peas in my test did just fine germinating on a ledge in my house.

Serve – Sep ’16

Master Gardener College 2016

Whitney Miller, Advanced Master Gardener

This spring, I saw numerous emails about Master Gardener College and the Extraordinary Project Search (EPS). After some cajoling from a few fellow Master Gardeners, I decided to submit the All Native Green Roof Project for the EPS. While I really wanted to attend the conference, I could only afford one day. Thankfully, the MGANM Board offered to sponsor my attendance for the second day.  Further, the Board has now established an annual scholarship to send one MGANM member to the conference each year. An amazing gift for members from a most supportive Board. What follows is just a snippet of what I experienced at the 2016 event.

Grand Ideas Shade Garden: Kent County MSUE

Grand Ideas Shade Garden: Kent County MSUE

Friday: Tour day

Attendees had a choice of four different tours. I attended a tour of native plants. We began the day with a quick talk about native plants and the benefits they provide. Natives have evolved with our soils/moisture/temperatures etc and have withstood the sands of time, thus reducing the need for fertilizers, water, and the like. We were shown some photographs of some of the more uncommon native plants, and were promised to see some of them later in the day.

Our first stop was the D. A. Blodgett Children’s Home. The home provides services for children ages 6-12 and sits on a small lot. The design of the gardens is remarkable. The garden pulls you in to wander the path and touch and smell things; just what a child needs. There were over 70 native species planted in just 1/4 of an acre, with a few annuals to dress things up a bit around their fountain.

Prairie Habitat at Marywood, photo by AMG W. Miller

Prairie Habitat at Marywood, photo by AMG W. Miller

Our second stop was the Prairie Habitat at Marywood. It is “An eco-justice initiative of the Dominican Sisters Grand Rapids”. This habitat is an entire acre of native plants, and is planted in sort of an “L” shape at the front of the Marywood Campus. From the street, it didn’t look like much. But as you got closer, the enormity of this project is overwhelming. This prairie planting is HUGE! As you walk along the natural edge of the garden, your eye is drawn to individual plants that are in bloom and give pops of color. Those colors entice you to keep following along, almost like a “yellow brick road”. In an effort to track the successes of their efforts, they count their species every year. In 2015, 127 different native plant species were counted.

Directly across the street from the Prairie Habitat was a private home who agreed to be a part of the tour. The garden had a sense of “everything in its place” yet wasn’t formal or stuffy. Many plants had been allowed to ‘wander’ and are kept in check by a very attentive homeowner. My favorite part about this home is their green roof! It was planted with sedums and looked beautiful and bright and green.


Green Roof in Grand Rapids, MI

Of course, I just had to ask about the roof: had they considered natives? did they have problems with the sedums spreading? The homeowner shared my enthusiasm for wanting native plants on the roof, but her reality was the same as most: she was not comfortable getting on the roof in order to tend to the plants. Sedums were a sure-fire way to get greenery for a long period of time and practically have zero maintenance. As for the sedums spreading, they have not experienced any more troubles than any other plant. They did note that there were three birds that just loved to play on the roof, carry off pieces of sedum, and drop them in one particular place in the yard. She let them do it and would simply pick up the pieces once a week or so to prevent them from growing.

Throughout the remainder of the day, we visited several more private homes boasting all stages of native gardens. My major take-aways from the day included:

  • learned new plants
  • stronger confidence in plant identification of those I have worked with previously
  • any garden, no matter how large or small, can host a multitude of native plants
  • the more diverse the native plantings, the more diverse the nature that visits. (The D.A. Blodgett location had numerous birds that are not often sighted in the city)
Become an entomophagist, eat bugs!

Become an entomophagist, eat bugs!

Saturday: Educational Day 

Saturday consisted of multiple one hour educational opportunities spread throughout the day with socialization time in between. Once again, there was an overwhelming amount of quality information, so I will try to be succinct in my summarizations.

In between the educational talks, MGs were encouraged to read the poster submissions  for the Extraordinary Master Gardener Project, and vote for their favorite. I submitted the All Native Green Roof Project, and it won Honorable Mention.

My favorite social activity table was the EDIBLE BUG STOP. Kent County Master Gardeners have a new coordinator, Abi Saaid, and she models herself a modern day Mrs. Frizzle. Abi absolutely LOVES bugs, and encouraged us to become an Entomophagist: someone who eats bugs! There were flavored mealworms, granola bars, and even flour made with insects. The treats were actually pretty tasty-you should try them!


Video courtesy of Invasive Species Network and Katie Greziak

Topic: Bees 

There are over 450 species of bee in Michigan. The easiest way to identify a bee versus a wasp is in the way they hold their wings. Bees hold their wings folded on their back and wasps/flies hold them like airplane wings, though there are always exceptions to the rule. Bees also raise their young on pollen/nectar, while wasps raise their young on animal/insect matter.

While we all know the basics for supporting these, and other pollinators, floral constancy seemed to be a repetitive topic. Floral constancy is the usage of more than just one plant here and there in a garden: pollinators need groups of identical plants to truly be attracted to a space. For example, would you visit a grocery store that has one apple, or a grocery store that has multiple apples in multiple groups in order to select the best?

In the absence of natural deadfall, bee hotels can be a good source for nesting. The tubes do not always need to be cleaned out, as the bees will often take care of that themselves. However, most species of bee overwinter in the ground, thus making the bee hotel effective for some, but not all. If you wish to have different species of bees in your area, bare/non mulched spots are quite attractive to these ground nesters.

[GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Sphinx Moth Pollinator at English Wikipedia

Topic: Butterflies by Dr. Whitney Cranshaw

If you wish to attract butterflies to your garden area, you will need to ensure that there are food supplies for both the adult butterflies as well as their larvae. Adult butterflies can feed on tree sap, fruits, mud puddles, feces, and even fluids from dead animals as well as flower blossoms. Larvae may have more specific needs, such as Monarch larvae requiring milkweed. 

We often appreciate the beauty of the adult butterfly. Oftentimes the larva are overlooked or thought to be nuisances. For instance, sphinx moths have mesmerizing flight, but their larva is the tomato hornworm: something often plucked, squished, or thrown out of a garden. Perhaps considering a “sacrifice” tomato plant (or two) for these larva will allow for a balanced relationship in your garden.

Dr. Cranshaw spoke about using butterfly houses in gardens. While many gardeners love the thought of providing shelter for butterflies, the evidence is dubious whether these actually work. The best way to provide shelter is through landscaping: leave those mud puddles or fallen limbs in your garden and the butterflies will be happy.

By Amada44 - Own work, CC BY 4.0,

By Amada44 – Own work, CC BY 4.0,

Topic: Diagnostics by Dr. Whitney Cranshaw

Dr. Cranshaw spoke in depth about how to diagnose plant problems by focusing on the insects. For the purposes of this lecture, Dr. Cranshaw spoke about what the insects leave behind. I have attempted to break down the lecture into discernible sections.

What did the insect leave behind?


Insects use silk to cover pupae, as shelter, or to protect eggs

Most common insect that produces silk is caterpillar (silk worm, tent caterpillar)

To differentiate insect silk from spider silk, spider silk is much tougher and thicker


Scale insects use wax to cover their back

Mealy bugs use wax to cover their body and to create egg sacs

While aphids to not typically produce noticeable wax, many are covered with wax on their bodies. Some also secrete wax threads.


Insect scat (feces) varies based on how they feed, what they eat, and where they feed.


Comes from Hemiptera insects with piercing/sucking mouthparts

These insects eat liquids (phloem) and excrete it in the form of honeydew

Often thought of as sap when it drips off of a tree

Sooty molds are a fungi that grow on honeydew contaminated surfaces. It looks black and grows wherever honeydew lands. This mold is often thought to be the problem on a plant, so make sure to always inspect the entire plant.

Tar Spots

Insects that produce tar spots feed on mesophyll-individual cells of plants

Symptom of injury is flecking wounds or white spots on top of the leaf.


Frass is a waste product by insects with chewing mouth parts

It is solid in nature

Tomato hornworms and many other caterpillars leave behind frass

Paul Zammit container, photo from Toronto Botanical Garden

Topic: Containers by Paul Zammit 

I found Mr. Zammits’ presentation to be invigorating. He is a very energetic speaker and is all over the stage. This topic is a weak point for me personally, but I feel with his guidance I could potentially create something nice enough for Grandma’s table. Here are his tips for creating beautiful displays using containers.

1. Love the container. Make the investment. Plastic doesn’t live very long and just ends up in the landfill.

2. Do not use topsoil. It settles. Stay away from “moisture products” as they keep things too wet.

3. Fertilize.

4. Stagger containers but have some repetition. Using some plants in all of your containers ties them together

5. Accessorize. Use the things you already own as art. You’ll fall in love with your ‘things’ all over again.

6. Create the design for the space. Don’t buy the container then try to find somewhere to put it. (Though he admits he is guilty of the latter)

Design: If you have the three basics, you have a great container: thrillers, fillers, and spillers

  • Once you have the basics, consider adding height, drama, fragrance, color, and texture.
  • Echo colors from around your yard
  • Use plants as ribbons. For instance, sweet potato vine can be wound UP the height of the container rather than just trailing
  • Mix your media just like your garden: annuals, perennials, herbs, shrubs, etc
  • Parsley is a great filler. you can plant it on its side so it droops
  • Consider the underside of leaves to enhance color or textures

Winter containers

  • Use sand or composted manure
  • Do NOT use green ‘oasis’ products. They will freeze
  • Make your winter containers exceptionally dense

Overwintering empty containers

If you have terra cotta pots, you CAN leave them outside. He has done this in Toronto for years. Prop the containers about one inch above the ground, upside down. If you have large terra cotta pots, you can tip them slightly on their tops.

Do not leave ceramic containers outside unless you wish to have ceramic pieces for your next year’s garden.

At the end of the two days, I had had more fun than I ever would have expected from a conference, and I had learned so much that I felt like my brain might explode. It was two days of networking, listening to inspiring keynote speakers, and some fascinating tours. I HIGHLY recommend attending Master Gardener College to all Master Gardeners


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