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Extension > Garden > Master Gardener > Over the Backyard Fence | News from the Master Gardener director > Archives > May 2012 Archives

May 2012 Archives

Source: DL-Online (Detroit Lakes, Minn.), May 16, 2012

When Ardella Triebenbach's children were younger, they were heavily involved with 4-H. Therefore, she was as well.

"We lived northeast of town and 4-H was a big thing out in that area," she said, adding that she was everything from project leader to club leader over the years. "My kids were involved, so naturally, I was too."

So when the state Master Gardeners program started through the University of Minnesota Extension office, she decided to go through the training and become a part of that too. She joined in 1984 and was recognized last November for logging 5,000 hours of volunteer time with the program.

Tom Reiffenberger was also recognized for 1,000 volunteer hours. Though the two Master Gardeners have been volunteering for years and certainly know their gardening, they've both found their own niches for volunteering through the program.

Triebenbach said she grew up gardening with her mother, and then taught her children to garden as well. Though she's always done more vegetable gardening, she's always liked flowers as well. Since she's gotten older and it's just her and her husband at home now, "I've cut back immensely on both."  READ MORE ....

Rheum rhabarbarm Canada Red.JPGI have never had so many questions about rhubarb in the 15 years I have been a Master Gardener or the 6 years I have been state director. Many people have contacted me or Master Gardeners about whether it is safe to east rhubarb that has been subjected to frost damage.

The University of Minnesota does not have a specific publication about this, so I went to other universities (see below). Here's what I learned:

If rhubarb has suffered apparent frost damage, it is recommended you not eat it as oxalic acid from the leaves may be transferred to the leaf petioles (the stems we eat) and is considered toxic. This is particularly true if the stem has been damaged by freezing temperatures and / or is mushy. When in doubt, throw it out.

When you pick rhubarb (not frost damaged), cut the leaves off the stems immediately and compost them (Yes, you can compost them because the oxalic acid and soluable oxalates are not readily absorbed by the roots of plants. Compost containing decomposed rhubarb leaves can be safely worked into the soil of vegetable gardens. Source: Jauron, Richard, Iowa State University Horticulture & Home Pest News, May 2, 1997 issue, p. 57).

You can then use the rhubarb as usual or chop and freeze it. Freezing the stems only does not produce a toxic effect as it is the leaves, not the stems, that contain oxalic acid.

Here are some good resources about rhubarb and toxicity:
http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsafety/news/fsnews.cfm?newsid=18424
http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/rhubarb.cfm
http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1631.html

General information about growing rhubarb:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/m1260.html

Below are statistics illustrating the impact of the Consumer Horticulture Working Group in 2011:

Online Diagnostic Tools: Visits Apr. - Sept. 2011

  • What's wrong with my plant? - 21,097 Visits Apr. - Sept. 2011
  • Is this plant a weed? - 13,588 Visits Apr. - Sept. 2011
  • What insect is this? -  8,312 Visits Apr. - Sept. 2011
92% (n=193) of users reported that the tool helped to diagnose the pest problem;

91% reported that having a diagnosis allowed them to select appropriate management strategies;

100% of Extension educators and landscape professionals reported that having a proper diagnosis allowed them to recommend appropriate cultural control practices to manage the pest problem.

Online Publications: Visits Apr.-Sept. 2011
Garden Home page* - 114,259 Visits Apr.-Sept. 2011
Gardening Information** - 39,198 Visits Apr.-Sept. 2011
*These sites will be merged in 2012
**The Garden site received more visitors than any other extension home page during this time


72 of the top 100 most visited publications on the UMN webpage are written and managed by the Horticulture working group (4/1/2011 - 9/21/2011)

Over 5,000 email addresses are registered to receive the Yard & Garden News Online newsletter written by the UMN Extension Horticulture Working Group on timely horticulture topics.

UMN Extension Master Gardener Program Contributions in 2011

2,269 total volunteers in Minnesota (213 new MG interns in 2011)
Total volunteer hours: 131,766 hours
•    4,070 hrs - Horticulture hotlines (Arboretum, county)
•    27,527 hrs - Information booths (AAMG, diagnostic clinics, farmers mkts, fairs, etc. )
•    5,589 hrs - Mass communications (radio, tv, print)
•    11,575 hrs - Partnerships (Gopher Adventures, Tree Care Advisor, Habitat for Humanity)
•    26,135 hrs - Special Events (Hort days, tours, trade shows, etc.)
•    2,140 hrs - Special County projects (Display gardens, Hennepin Urban Gardener, mentoring, etc.)
•    25,108 hrs - Teaching Classes & Workshops (Community Ed, K-12, Hort Days, etc.)
•    2,664 hrs - UMN Faculty Research Projects (Earthkind, First Detector, Variety trials etc.)
•    18,603 hrs - Administration (office work, planning meetings, MG State Advisory Board, etc.)

eXtension Ask a Master Gardener (Ask An Expert) online Q&A tool
3,589 questions answered by UMN Extension staff, faculty & MG volunteers.

Programs Featuring UMN Extension Horticulture Educators in 2011
Northern Green Expo - 6,652 lawn and landscape professionals
Shade Tree Short Course - 900 tree care professionals
Master Gardener Core Course - 249 Master Gardener volunteers
Master Gardener Summer School - 155 Master Gardener volunteers
MN Turf and Grounds Foundation Field Day - 129 lawn and landscape professionals
Roc Horticulture Days (Morris, Grand Rapids) - 1065 home gardeners
Forest Pest First Detector (with MDA, MNDNR, UMN Forestry Extension) - 204 tree care professionals
Local Pesticide Applicator Training (MN license category A&E) - 813 licensed pesticide applicators
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