The Real Dirt – March 2021




March 2021

President’s Letter

by Michele Worden, AEMG, MGANM President

As we slog through of slush of late winter, I am excited by the opportunities that I see and by the progress we have made on our mission of education.

I am amazed and grateful for the wonderful volunteers that have stepped up and made our association better.  Great things are happening!  Thank you all for answering the call and sharing your numerous talents.

Molly Bacon has led the charge to update and improve our website.  Please look at the new ease of finding useful information and upcoming events.  We have a committee that is working with Molly, but we also welcome any input on how to make things better from the membership.  Let us know what works and what needs improving.

Molly has also been leading the effort to expand and improve The Real Dirt with her prolific group of Master Gardener writers and editors.  We discovered that not all members were receiving the newsletter because of confusion around how to subscribe to it.  Thus, we have moved the delivery platform from MailChimp to our membership management software, Wild Apricot.  By going through Wild Apricot to distribute the newsletter, all members will get The Real Dirt via email.  Archives of past Real Dirt articles will still appear on the website and be discoverable for the public.

A big thank you to Nancy Popa, our Vice-President, and the two Programming Co-chairs, Kay Goodall and Kathleen Mullaney.  They have taken the reins on getting the execution of the programming calendar working like clockwork.   I especially appreciate this as I have some family commitments that prevent me for being as active in the programming as I have in the past.  They are doing an amazing job of working with speakers, writing press releases and distributing them, creating the Facebook and Wild Apricot events and managing the registration process.  It is a lot of work.

MGANM programming has been more popular than ever.  In January we hosted a fascinating event on “Composting and Biochar” by Nate Walton and Tim Overdier that had 80 registrants. 

In February, we saw an amazing presentation on “Seed Starting” by our own Sue Newman.  Our Facebook post on this event went viral and had over 70,000 views and hundreds of shares.  We had 189 registrants.  I think we tapped into the pandemic desire of many to learn how to start a garden from seed.  We had so many registrants for Seed Starting that we had to move from the MGANM zoom platform (max 100) to Nate’s MSUE platform that can host effectively unlimited participants. 

For March, we are excited to welcome tribal member Nathan Wright on “Plants that Native Americans Used”.  So far, we have 128 registrants, and once again have had to  move to the MSUE zoom platform.  I am really looking forward to this talk!

The surge in interest in our programming has had another impact.  We have had an increase in new memberships as well as many of the optional $5 donations to view our programs.  We welcome all to our programming but ask for the optional donation to defray costs. The increase in memberships and programming donations has had a positive impact on our budget.  We will send our Annual Report out in March to the membership.

I am grateful that we have been able to expand the reach of our educational mission through virtual speakers and connecting people to resources.  But I also am itching to get in the garden and in our volunteer projects where we can promote horticultural education the old-fashioned way by getting our hands dirty. 

Start your seeds and plan your gardens.  Spring awaits!

Many thanks for all you do for our community.

News & Events

There are so many wonderful events and workshops happening in our community that we simply cannot list them all. Please be sure to check directly with the websites and Facebook pages for these organizations and the events that they offer:  Botanical Gardens at Historic Barns Park, Boardman River Nature Center (Grand Traverse Conservation District), Plant it Wild, Wild Ones, NW Michigan Invasive Species Network, NW Michigan Horticulture Research Center, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Saving Birds Thru Habitat, Benzie Conservation District, Leelanau Conservation District, and Leelanau Conservancy.

There is a new feature on the MGANM website menu under Volunteer Opportunities titled “Events and Educational Opportunities”.  Updates will be posted as they are received so please check often for additions.


Presently all meetings are being held via Zoom format. Registration is required. For more information and registration, please see the website

Mar. 2nd (Tue.)  “Plants Used by Native Americans” 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Apr. 6th (Tue.) Backyard Conservation” 6:30-8:00 p.m.

May 4th (Tue.) A Pest Resistant Landscape-Plant Choices That Are Work Horses” 6:30-8:00 p.m.


Mar. 14th (Sun.) A Master Gardener’s Guide to Raised Bed Gardening by Sue Newman”.  2:00-3:00 p.m.

Mar. 21st (Sun.) Food Gardening for Everyone with Melinda Myers”.  2:00-3:00 p.m.

Apr. 11th (Sun.) Save Money and Improve Your Soil for Better Gardening Results with Melinda Myers”.  More information to come.  

Apr. 22nd (Thur.)  “Earth Day”.  Two presentations: “Gardening Sustainability” and “Refresh Your Landscape with Dr. Schutzki”.  More information to come.

Registration is required for all events.  Please see the website for all information and cost.


There is an exciting new feature on The Botanic Garden’s website – an audio tour of The Garden. Click on ‘Visit’ at the top of the home page, and then select ‘Self-Guided Audio Tour’.  You can access this feature on your cell phones as well. Whether you are walking the garden or curled up at home, you can hear all about each garden and special features, including an introductory historic background.   Self-guided tour brochures are available at both the upper and lower-level entrances of the visitor center and are aligned with the audio tour.

The Garden and Labyrinth are still available to enjoy. The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park is always open to the public.  Please check the website for current information on the gift shop. The Garden looks forward to welcoming visitors and is working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy while providing guests with the best possible experience.




Forcing amaryllis

Forcing: A New Winter Hobby

By Karine Pierson, EMG Trainee

A wonderful way to bring blooms into the home during the winter is by forcing plants to bloom outside of their normal bloom times. 




The Trials and Tribulations of Indoor Gardening

By Molly Bacon, EMG Trainee

Indoor gardening can definitely be a bit trying at times; however, it is a wonderful way to bring the outdoors inside during our long winters.

Indoor Gardening

Garden Room 2020





Fruit of the Month – Frozen Fruit

Frozen Blueberry Chatter

By Joanne Johnsen, AMG

Frozen blueberries are such a versatile fruit and help to bring a bit of summer sunshine into our gray winters. Includes this blueberry recipe:Overnight Baked Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal

Blueberry Chatter

January Book Club Meeting Update

By Barbara Fasulo-Emmott, AMG, Book Club Chair 

The first meeting of the new book club was a success!

Book Club Update


Garden Planning

Planning for Planting

By Shari Froelich, EMG Trainee

Having a plan before planting is one of the best ways to help ensure success and eliminate extra work and possible mistakes.

Planning for Planting


Garden Mentors

Gardening Mentors

By Sue Sensenbaugh-Padgett, AMG

We all have had mentors in many parts of our lives.  The following article focuses on gardening mentors and their contributions to our love of gardening.

Gardening Mentors






Composting and biochar

Notes by Erin Paxson -EMG Trainee

This presentation is included in the January MGANM meeting minutes. 

Biochar has been utilized for thousands of years. The following article explains in detail what it is, the benefits in the garden, and how to utilize biochar.



Seed Starting

Notes by Erin Paxson -EMG Trainee

This presentation is included in the February MGANM meeting minutes. 

Seed Starting



Seed Saving



Garden Cleanup

Spring Clean-Up in the Garden

By Cheryl Gross, AEMG

Once the snow melts the desire to garden is real. The air smells of soil and leaf mold and the sun is out and warm.  Please do not be tempted to start clean-up. WAIT. Allow the overwintering critters to awaken, develop and emerge before disturbing the landscape, so we can help our wonderful insect friends.

Spring Garden Clean-up

Bale Raised Beds: Part 2

By Michael O’Brien, AEMG

Bale raised beds are a way to garden that more and more people are finding to be a wonderful addition to their garden plans. Part 2 of an article from July 2020.

Bale Raised Beds


Bale Garden




Getting Started with Vermiculture, AKA Worm Composting

By Jane Denay, EMG Trainee

Vermicomposting is a wonderful way to add another facet to your composting.


IPM – Integrated Pest Management




Ladybugs Hibernating



Adaptability, Versatility Spell Success for Insects During Winter

By Braun Campbell, EMG Trainee

Have you ever wondered where the insects go during our harsh winters?  The ways they adapt are amazing and the following article explains those ways in detail.



Rodent Invasion- Survival from a “MAST” year

By Barbara Fasulo-Emmott, AEMG

Keeping rodents from our homes can be a challenge.

Rodent Invasion

Rodent damage

From the Editor


I hope you are enjoying the newsletter changes. It is now sent through MGANM’s membership software. This ensures it goes to all active members, which has not happened in the past.

If you are reading this and not a member, please consider joining.

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