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Tomato Problems Brochure Available

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for tomato problems - web.jpgThis new brochure about three common tomato problems in Minnesota gardens was a popular handout at the Extension Master Gardener booth during the 2014 State Fair.  To review or download the handout just click here.

The brochure includes photos and descriptions of Early Blight, Septoria Leaf Spot and Blossom End Rot.  It includes best gardening practices to minimize and control the problems. 

Generous Gift to Benefit the Program

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P. Hartley_MG_0016-8 (2).jpgPlease join us in celebrating an exciting gift to benefit the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program!

Pam Hartley, a Ramsey County Extension Master Gardener, has created a new endowment fund at the University of Minnesota Foundation to support educational programming for the statewide Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program.  In addition, she has included this endowment fund as part of her estate planning.  We thank Pam for her dedication to, and vision for the program.

"Pam's generous gift will allow us to expand and enhance our educational offerings as well as strengthen innovative programming and increase access to information. Her belief that continuing education and advanced training is key to keeping the program strong will have positive benefits for Extension Master Gardeners throughout the state," said Extension Master Gardener Program Director, Tim Kenny.

Pam has served as a dedicated Extension Master Gardener for nearly two decades, mostly in Anoka County and now in Ramsey County.  She continues very actively volunteering to educate residents in sustainable gardening practices.

Over her years as an Extension Master Gardener volunteer, Pam has taught educational classes for both adults and children and helped to create a Veteran's Peace garden that is used as a teaching garden. Pam has enjoyed volunteering at information booths, farmer's markets, diagnostic clinics, the state fair, and answering phone inquiries. She has been honored to act as a mentor to interns and has served in many leadership roles, including both the state and county advisory boards, organizing horticultural days, and co-chairing a regional Extension Master Gardener conference.

Thank you Pam for your generous commitment and your investment in the future of the Extension Master Gardener program!

Welcome New State Advisory Board Members

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Thumbnail image for IMG_8072.JPGThe University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener State Advisory Board welcomed five new board members on June 13 at the first quarterly meeting of the 2014-2015 program year. Board members represent Extension Master Gardener volunteers in each of the five regions of University of Minnesota Extension.


The State Advisory Board provides input and recommendations to the state Extension Master Gardener staff about program visions, strategies and governing policies. Board members act as ambassadors of the statewide program. In 2014-2015 board members intend to increase communications and connections with local Extension Master Gardener groups within each member's region.


The current board is comprised of fourteen Extension Master Gardener volunteers, one county program coordinator, and four state staff representatives. Pictured above (l to r): David Moen (state program manager), Howard Markus (Washington Co.), Dave Knapp (Anoka Co.), Bob Azman (Ramsey Co), Melinda Ludwiczak (Hennepin Co.), Barb Gasterland (Hennepin Co.), Kit Sitter (Lake Co. & board chair), Rick Ellis (Stearns Co.), Diane Henry (Douglas Co.), Nancy Lizette Berlin (Goodhue Co. & board secretary), Paula Zollman (Olmsted Co.), Leslie Yetka (state education manager), (Bonita Kallestad, Kandiyohi Co.), Sue Riesgraf (Carver-Scott program coordinator), Tim Kenny (state director), and Diane Greiwe (state volunteer coordinator). Not pictured are Coralee Fox (Crow Wing Co. & board vice-chair) and Carol Rethemeier (East Otter Tail Co.).

Master Gardeners cultivate healthy environment

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smith.jpgExtension Master Gardeners contributed more than 111,000 volunteer hours in Minnesota communities last year, many of which were spent teaching homeowners environmentally-sound landscaping practices or how to eradicate invasive plant species.

Community-wide programs, such as a long-term partnership with the Ramsey- Washington Metro Watershed District, illustrate what can happen when local alliances take off.

As part of the partnership, Ramsey County Master Gardeners work to revitalize Battle Creek, which drains a large part of the east Twin Cities metro area. As water rises in the creek, it undercuts the banks and vegetation is lost, causing further erosion and loss of animal habitats.

"Master Gardeners were instrumental in selecting long-rooted plants that would best stabilize the shoreline," says Sage Passi, watershed education specialist.

Master Gardeners also mentor Battle Creek Middle School students, showing them how to drive plants into erosion blankets. The school's science teachers are working with Master Gardeners to create a creek research area where students can compare different approaches to erosion control.

Protecting rivers, lakes and streams from yard-waste pollution is another priority for Ramsey County. Runoff from lawn chemicals can enter the waters through storm sewers causing fish kills, algae bloom and plant decay.

To help prevent that, Master Gardeners share tips on low-impact lawn care and composting at the county's yard waste and compost sites. The sites draw more than 500,000 people each season. Master Gardener Kathy Smith coordinates the effort.

"It all comes back to proper management of materials and reducing waste," says John Springman, environmental health supervisor with the St. Paul-Ramsey County Department of Public Health. "Master Gardeners extend our capacity to hone in on our environmental goals with the public."

Master Gardener

In 2010, University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners in Anoka County wanted to have a more definitive picture of how much their classes and services affect changes in garden practices by people attending their educational sessions. They conducted an electronic survey of people attending their horticulture day, "Walk in the Garden" classes and diagnostic clinics.

The educational sessions that were evaluated all provided information and recommendations about best practices in home garden and landscape care. There were special themes about environmental impacts that encouraged reduction of water use and reduced chemical usage through practices of integrated pest management (IPM).

An E-survey was sent to 176 individuals. The response rate was 45 percent. Assessment of the survey results showed the following positive impacts:

  • 11% completed a soil test
  • 19% started composting
  • 20% reduced watering from the prior year
  • 26% reduced overhead watering
  • 27% reduced late afternoon/evening watering
  • 21% installed a rain barrel
  • 24% used less pesticides
  • 22% used less fertilizer
  • 40% planted more vegetables than in the previous year
  • 17% removed invasive/noxious weeds from their property
  • 24% changed practices of how they cared for trees
The results of this survey demonstrate that the educational effort of University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteers makes an impact.

School-based projects thrive in Ramsey County

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Battle Creek Middle School students

Last year in Ramsey County, Master Gardeners spent approximately 604 volunteer hours working with 1,865 students and 89 adults through school-based projects. These school-based community enrichment projects will have a lasting impact upon future gardeners. The gardens will help manage storm water run-off, beautify schoolyards, inform future school education activities, serve as demonstrations to students, staff, residents and visitors, and provide valuable wildlife habitat. Master Gardeners explained and discussed garden design elements, evaluated sites for schoolyard gardens and residential rain gardens, explained soil types and conducted soil sampling, taught students to identify common garden weeds, and instructed students on seed starting and transplanting.

Check out this thank you note from a Battle Creek Middle School student: "Thank you so much for everything you've done. You've been really helpful to Battle Creek. I think it's awesome that you care about our community. What I'm trying to say is that it means a lot to us middle-schoolers that you helped take care of our environment. Thanks a bunch."

Work continues with the Enabling Teaching Garden Project at Cherry View Elementary School in Dakota County. Using a Minnesota Master Gardener grant, Master Gardeners worked with a special needs Boy Scout and his troop to construct an enabling garden for horticultural therapy. The garden included a wheelchair accessible bed surrounded by a wheelchair accessible path. Special needs students and their helpers were given instruction and assisted in the planting of their sensory garden that includes highly textured, colored, and fragrant plants. Students and helpers maintained the garden during the school year and through the summer months. The garden has been especially meaningful to special needs students and their families. It also exposes all who visit the school to the benefits of horticultural therapy.

Goodhue County Master Gardeners were involved in creating a larger-scale city park designed with special needs in mind. In Faribault County, Master Gardeners have worked with a local nursing home and engaged both residents and youth in creating a raingarden at the facility in Winnebago. This year youth had the opportunity to work with the senior citizens on garden cleanup in the spring. Together they divided perennials and extra plants were sold to benefit the nursing home.

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