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November 2010 Archives

Malus sweet sixteen fruit1 248.jpgST. PAUL, Minn. -- A University of Minnesota scientist is at the core of a team building a portal to connect orchard owners and home gardeners to answers on their questions about apple trees. Emily Hoover, head of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Minnesota, is one of the leaders of the project ....

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(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
2011 Theme: Building Tomorrow's Heritage Swallowtail on verbena.jpg
This year's theme fuses Aldo Leopold's vision of community to include soil, water, plants and wildlife with the current movement toward natural landscape management. Leopold, best known for his book, A Sand County Almanac, was an ecological activist who inspired people to treat the land with love and respect.

This event counts as 4 CE hours for UMN Extension Master Gardeners.

Details including registration:

Did you know ....?

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Electronic communications can be baffling if you don't understand the new language and terms used. Did you know ....

An "URL" is the address of a website or web link. The URL of our state MG website is Think of it like a street address. It's where you can find the website in the vast universe of the world wide web.

"LOL" in an email or text message means "Laugh Out Loud". It is the new "ha-ha-ha".

"Blog" is a shortened version of "web log". It is the new way to journal and express your thoughts via the Web.

Having to enter those random alphanumeric characters before you can submit your comment to my blog helps lessen the chance of hackers programming  repeated  comment to my blog.  These characters change at random each time you go to post a comment.

Dave Hanson, U of MN Dept. of Forestry
612-624-1226 /

Mark your calendars for the 2011 Tree Care Advisor Core Course in St. Paul , Minnesota! The Minnesota Tree Care Advisor program has been training tree stewards (TCAs) for communities since 1993 and since that time TCAs have contributed over 60,000 volunteer hours to Minnesota communities.

Training includes education on several topics including: tree identification, plant selection, basic physiology and morphology, soils, site analysis, diagnosis of disease and insect problems, pruning, planting and more. These trainings are geared towards individuals who may not know much about trees but do know they want to learn.
Acer saccharum form1.JPG
Who should attend the Tree Care Advisor Core Course? Green industry professionals, Master Gardeners and those folks who have the desire to learn about trees and take that learned information and share it with others in their community.

When are the Tree Care Advisor training sessions?
8:30 am - 3:30 pm
March 5, 19, 26, and April 9, 16

Where are the training sessions held?
Green Hall, Room 203 - U of MN St. Paul Campus
1530 Cleveland Ave. N, St Paul MN 55108

How much does the TCA core course cost?
For volunteers, the cost is $98 and an e
xpectation of volunteer work. For professional track, the cost is $375 with no volunteer requirement. Fee includes 5 days of speakers, a training manual, coffee and good conversation...

How do I apply to the Tree Care Advisor Program?
Apply online or print and mail-in the application form:

I think just about all of us as Master Gardeners have been asked why an Endless Summer Hydrangea macrophylla Endless Summer flwr2.JPGHydrangea didn't bloom -and how to get it to bloom in the coming year and produce blue-colored blooms. I just got off the phone with a home gardener who asked this very question. I spoke to my friend and colleague, and hydrangea expert, Kathy Zuzek, and went right to Bailey Nursery (Endless Summer breeder) to see what they had to say. Here is some info that may help you, as a Master Gardener, to answer this question down the road:

1. Too much nitrogen. Nitrogen causes plants to produce foliage. Excessive nitrogen fertilizer can cause a E.S. Hydrangea to grow more leaves, but not bloom. Fertilize a higher persentage of phosphorous (the second number).  Aluminum sulfate is used to produce the blue color owners want. They should be sure to follow the instructions on the package.

NOTE: Aluminum sulfate is not recommended as an acidifier for other acid-loving plants (blueberries, azaleas, etc.) due to the potential for aluminum toxicity to these other plants. Elemental sulfur is a better choice.

Here's a great article about blue hydrangeas:
Here's a good article about soil pH:

2. Too much shade. ES will tolerate some shade, but needs about 6 hours of sunlight for better blooming.

3. Pruning. ES blooms on old and new wood, so pruning the old wood removes potential flowers. A home gardener may choose to not prune the plant for a few years unless a branch becomes too long or becomes damaged / broken.

Bailey Nursery is the original breeder of ES. Here's what they have to say:

Over the last two years we have heard some reports of inconsistent flower production, especially in cooler climates. Although a number of factors may contribute to the consistency or inconsistency of blooms, there is no simple answer to this matter. Here are some steps consumers in cooler northern climates can take to help ensure beautiful blooms.

1. Location
Location, location, location! Yes, that old saying is true. In Northern climates, the location of your hydrangea in the garden will have the largest impact on bloom production. The farther north you are, the more sun your plants can tolerate. In zones 4-5a we recommend planting your Hydrangeas in a location that enables them to receive at least 6 hours of sun with some dappled shade in the afternoon.

2. Pruning
Don't treat your Endless Summer Hydrangeas like an Annabelle Hydrangea by cutting them back in the fall or early spring. By cutting to the ground or within a few inches of the ground, most if not all of the buds on old wood are being removed. In addition, the old blooms of Endless Summer add to the winter interest of your garden. Endless Summer Hydrangeas certainly do bloom on new wood, but it may take longer for flower buds to develop on the new growth of a young plant.

3. Winter CoverHydrangea macrophylla Bailmer Endless Summer form1.JPG
Protection for plants in the first few years is important, as is protection fro
m spring freezes. Since Hydrangea buds emerge early in spring, late freezes may damage bud development as well as any new growth. Keeping the crown of plants covered with mulch through May helps protect these buds and any soft new growth from late spring freezes.

4. Feeding your plant
Fertilization is also an important factor in flower production of Hydrangeas. A good quality,
slow-release fertilizer applied once in spring or early summer should suffice for all but the most demanding locations. Look for an NPK ratio of 10-30-10. Container plants may need an additional application of liquid fertilizer during the growing season. Remember, if you over-feed your Hydrangeas, the effect is more dark green leaf production with fewer flower buds. In the North (zone 4) we recommend no fertilization after August 15th, as plants need to slow down and acclimate for winter.

5. Watering
The amount you water is one more factor you can regulate to ensure beautiful blooms. Although Hydrangeas are named after "Hydra", Greek for water, your hydrangeas will form large leaves, lots of green growth and few flower buds if over-watered. Over-watering may slow the formation of flowers considerably. It's normal for plants to wilt for a short time in the heat of the day. You're better off to water well and less often, than giving a little all the time.

P1040167.JPGAt the Dog Day event, UMN Extension Educator, Bob Mugaas, spoke on lawns and dogs. He provided a great link to an article by Dr. Steven Thompson, DVM, from the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Purdue University.  DOG-ON-IT' LAWN PROBLEMS (Update).

This article is a great resource for Master Gardeners and will help you answer many of the public's questions. Definitely one to print out and keep on-hand.

"Blog" is short for "web log", and is a form of social media that enables people to share ideas and comments about what is posted. If you have a question about my blog, no doubt someone else has the same one, so you are helping by posting your comment / question on the blog. To comment, scroll down and click on Sign In to leave a comment. Please include your name and county.
The Uof MN Twin City campus will be closed Dec. 24-Jan. 2. These dates vary slightly for coordinate campuses. During this time, University services and business offices will be closed. Only essential services will be open. The closure is a cost-saving measure. Utility savings will be realized by turning the heat down in most buildings and labor savings will be achieved during a time when U activities are already reduced.

Civil service employees are taking a forced 3-day furlough (time off without pay) while academic employees received a temporary pay cut instead of a furlough. The state program staff is affect by these changes. However, it is better than losing people.

With the university closure, Dave, Bridget and I will not be in our offices during this time, so you must plan ahead:

  • Please enter your hours before Dec. 22 - especially if you may think you need help. Remember that all hours must be entered by the end of the year in order to get credit.

  • Please request any materials, such as brochures, before Dec. 15, 2010.

  • Online registration for the Master Gardener Course will not be available from midnight Dec. 22, 2010 until 8:00 am January 3, 2011 due to the University closure for cost savings. Customer support and credit card reconciliation will not be available during this extended period of time. Registration will be open again January 3, 2011 at 8:00a.m.
This will not affect those registering for the Arboretum or online, as those deadlines are December 8 and December 11, respectively. The deadline to register for the Winona course has been extended to January 8th, 2011 to accommodate for the closure. Morris will remain February 15. Please be sure to inform all interns who will be taking the Core Course in Winona or Morris of the closure, and to remind them to register as soon as possible.

P1090737.JPGThe past week, we've had some online discussions via our MASTGAR listserv about new - and current - communication tools that we, as Master Gardeners, use to get answers and to build community across our cyberstate. I have been reading and responding, and thinking a lot about how communication has progressed so rapidly from snail mail to websites to email to social networks like (dare I bring it up?) Facebook.

As usual, I wandered around my house and yard, looking for inspiration and a good analogy I could use to explain my opinion about the importance of using a variety of communication tools to reach different audiences with different goals. While in the yard, I decided to cut some dry Hydrangea macrophylla blossoms. As I scanned my variety of tools looking for my pruners - I particularly like pruners - a light bulb went on.

In your garden shed, you store a variety of tools for doing different work in your garden - a trowel, a spade, a fork, a tiller, a pruner, a lopper. Different tools for achieving different goals. You, yourself, may have only a few tools, but you really use them. You may have old favorites you always reach for such as your super-sharp spade with the well-worn handle. It never fails you - the blade stays sharp, the handle is solid. Your neighbor, on the other hand, may have a shed full of tools - some old, some brand new, and some trendy tools like the ones you see on late night t.v. that, in your opinion, are a waste of money. Then one day you borrow one of those trendy tools from your neighbor, and you think "This is pretty great" - and lo and behold, you add one to your shed.

Communication today is like your garden shed: no single tool does everything and you have different tools for different purposes. Some of us have a few, some of us have a regular collection. Communication tools like snail mail, blogs, websites, Facebook, email, and Twitter reach specific audiences, and applications like Google, Druple, Wiggio, Flickr and Delicious offer ways to collaborate and share information. How do you choose? Well, it isn't all about cost in the form of dollars, but also cost how it relates to time, time, ease of use, access, and communication speed. Convenience and popularity of the tool are also important to consider. Our discussion this week: Listserv - 1. Facebook - 0. Other options: maybe. I'll keep trying out new tools.

In summary, no single communication tool is the answer - we need to use a variety - because there is no single tool that fits everyone's communication lifestyle. How we communicate is changing daily. The day will come - I can almost guarantee it - when we look back on email, and say "remember how we used email all the time?" These tools revolutionize our communication choices for better or for worse. I know we don't need to use every communication tool out there, but I like to "borrow" one sometimes and give it a whirl. I may just decide to add it to my garden shed.
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