Archive | April 2015

Don’t Throw it Away!

Master Gardeners Judy Miller and Jaime Potopinski welcome you to the garden yard sale at the 2013 plant sale.

Master Gardeners Judy Miller and Jaime Potopinski welcome you to the garden yard sale at the 2013 plant sale.

The lovely weather we’ve had off and on over the past week has inspired me (and I’m sure you, too) to get out and start cleaning out my garage and storage shed.  When you come across those pots, plant stands, bird houses, gardening tools, etc. DON’T THROW THEM OUT!  The Outagamie County Master Gardener Association is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, which means that every dollar we make on our fundraising activities is put back into the community in the form of education, community service, education grants, etc.  All of that “trash” that you’re accumulating could be exactly what someone else needs.

At our Annual Plant Sale on May 16, we will be having our ‘Yard Sale’ and need donations to make it work.  Each year we ask our members and members of the community to consider donating their lawn and garden items which, then, represents pure profit that we can use for any one of our many community service projects (for more information about our Community Outreach, visit our website).

If you have items that you would like to donate, you can drop them at the UW-Extension office the day before the plant sale (May 15) when our volunteers will be setting up everything for the sale.  If you absolutely must get rid of things before then, please contact Gail Clearwater or Marilyn Davis (plant sale co-chairs).  Email addresses are embedded in their names so just click on either name to send the email.

Information about the plant sale will be available both on our website and on Facebook.

Posted by Vicki


Meet the Bloggers: The Vicki Edition

My mom has an amazing green thumb and can grow anything (I’ve already commented that she’s a s10302273_759441404096751_2987205643191527527_nerial “snipper” — takes little snips from plants everywhere and within a short time she has a thriving plant. But that’s another story.) Unfortunately, though, I don’t seem to have that natural ability and, in fact, only started gardening in 2011 when I took the Master Gardener classes. I live in the city of Appleton and must contend with our horrible clay soil along with the incredible root system of all of the trees that grow around our home. Nonetheless, I love seeing the miracle that occurs every spring when little shoots start coming up out of the ground and surprising me with their display of color and/or texture. I’m not always successful from one season to the next — many things don’t make it. But the successes are starting to outweigh the failures and that’s exciting!

I love being part of the Outagamie County Master Gardener group of volunteers. Wonderful people from all walks of life! In addition to being part of a great group of bloggers, I also manage our website and I’m one of the administrators of our Facebook page — so, lots of technology on my end, which makes it even more rewarding to finally get outside and get dirt under my fingernails!

Aside from my grandchildren and gardening, my greatest passions are reading and traveling — which means that I’m gone a lot!  Having just returned from Europe this past Fall, I’m now planning my next trip and I’m thinking maybe Russia and Scandinavia next!

Written and posted by Vicki

It is Time to Showcase Your Talents!

Showing Off at the Fair!

Showing Off at the Fair!

Do you grow the perfect looking carrot or plump tomato? Perhaps you have the gift of creating gorgeous floral arrangements? Have you perfected what you think is the perfect wine or beer? How about crafting an unique bird house? Maybe you have already photographed that perfect sunset or a butterfly that landed on your grandchild’s head? If you live in Outagamie County or are an Outagamie County Master Gardener in good standing then the Outagamie County Fair is looking for you! You can submit these things and many more to the Open Class. The Outagamie County Fair is seeking participation in the Open Class. They would like to recognize talent but cannot do so if individuals don’t showcase those talents! This is a great way for others to appreciate your work plus if you are an Outagamie County Master Gardener you can gain service hours (amount to be determined). For a small five dollar entry fee (for paperwork) you are able to enter an unlimited amount of items. The fee and entry form must be turned in by June 20th.  Not sure what is going to turn out? Don’t worry! Remember you can enter a number of items in the Open Class so if at the last minute you have ‘a crop failure’ you will still have other items to be judged. For more detailed information go to and click on the Entries/Contest tab on the right side. In order for Outagamie County Master Gardeners to be able to count our service hours they need to be from the approved categories; departments 14 through 28 (pages 106-129), which can be located in the Premium Book – 2013, 2014, & 2015 (a downloadable PDF). You will also be able to find the open class entry form.

Written by Carey Pederson

Posted by Rachel Seppi

Gardening To Do List for April

The temperatures have finally begun to warm up here in Wisconsin and I for one am anxious to get outside and get the gardening season going. It may be advisable to curb that enthusiasm  however, since Wisconsin springtime can bring a lot of inconsistent weather and fluctuations in temperature. So, what’s a Wisconsin gardener to do in April?

Thankfully the University of Wisconsin Extension offices provide us with all kinds of resources for questions like these. Sharon Morrisey a Consumer Horticulture Agent from the Milwaukee County University of Wisconsin-Extension Office has created a very helpful article about what to do during the first weeks of the season. Check it out through the link below:

Crocus' in Appleton, WI on April 1st, I checked they were real!

Crocus’ growing in Appleton, WI on April 1st

Posted by Rachel

Caring for your Shrubs

Do you stay away from planting shrubs because, frankly, you don’t know how to care for them? When do you prune? Or do you just not prune at all rather than make a mistake? The old run-the-electric-clippers-across-the-top method seems to be quite popular, but I hate that “blooming” that occurs as a result. [Note: “blooming” is when you now have 5 or 6 little branches coming off the end of every one of those that you just cut]. I have this great pamphlet covering the care of deciduous shrubs that was put together by The Learning Store, the outlet for UWEX publications. These are University-based training publications with carefully researched information. The cost is ridiculously low (roughly 50¢ per pamphlet if you order one) or free if you want to just download a .pdf file to your computer. If you want to (and should) check out the site, just click HERE. There are publications on virtually anything you can think of related to horticulture.

Look at my horribly pruned spireas in the background -- before I cut them back severely.

Look at my horribly pruned spireas in the background — before I cut them back severely.

Written and posted by Vicki

Meet the Bloggers: The Rachel Edition

I have been volunteering with the Outagamie County Master Gardeners since 2010. Camping and gardening with my family got me interested from an early age and I continue to take every opportunity I can to get outside. One of my major interests is identifying wildflowers which enables me to combine my love of nature and backpacking/hiking. In addition to exploring Wisconsin and Upper Michigan I have branched out beyond the boundaries of our gardening zone to see what’s growing in Montana, California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona. My list of possible trips continues to grow! I’m also interested in perennials, learning more about natives and vegetable gardening especially in reaping a huge harvest from a small space.

Measuring a Few Leaf Sunflower

Measuring the height of a Few Leaf Sunflower

Posted and written by Rachel Seppi

Follow Up on Air & Soil Temperature Experiments

You may recall from a previous post that we have installed a hoop house/cold frame in The Learning Garden.  As part of this project we are following the air and soil temperatures.  Those temperatures are summarized in the graph below.  We compare the soil temperature inside the hoop house (orange) to a similar bed without a hoop house (green).  The hoop house does consistently increase the soil temperature by about 5 degrees.  The fluctuations are largely due to the amount of sunlight on the particular day that the readings were taken.  The high temperatures during the day are also dependent on the amount of sunlight.  On bright sunny days the high temperatures approach 80 degrees.  Venting keeps the heat from building up to excessive levels.  The low air temperatures probably are similar to the outside air temperature.  The hoop house if just too small to hold heat through the night.  On April 7 radish and lettuce seeds had germinated.

Hoop House

The other temperature study that is going on is black vs clear plastic mulch laid directly on the ground.  It is very clear that clear plastic, the green line, heats the soil faster.  The temperature difference is 10 degrees.  The soil temperature is similar to the hoop house temperature.  It was a bit of a surprise that black plastic did not affect soil temperature compared to no covering.  Although the sun does heat the plastic, that heat is not transferred to the soil.  We will be continuing this study through the summer.

Plastic Mulch

Written by Tom Wentzel

Posted by Rachel