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Little Scientists at Work

by OCMGA Master Gardener Shirley Martin

As part of the preparation for the upcoming planting season several Master Gardner volunteers went to some classrooms at the Appleton Bilingual School and presented a seed starting class. These children and their teachers were very interested in the project and took the instructions very seriously. They are documenting their results with words and pictures. They were so excited to see the seeds sprout in the “planters” made from old water bottles.

The bottles are cut in half and the top is inverted into the bottom. A coffee filter is stuffed into the neck of the bottle then the top of the bottle is filled with soil and seeds are planted in it. This coffee filter acts as a “water wick” to transfer water from the bottom of the bottle (reservoir) to the the planting medium. It is inexpensive and effective. It fits on most windowsills and is an ideal mini-planter.

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In My Backyard: The Sauk County Gardener

One thing you’ll learn about gardeners: we love to share our knowledge and our experiences with other gardeners. Here is a reprint of an article from a fellow gardener in Sauk County that appeared in our State newsletter The Volunteer Vibe.

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Phyllis Both, Sauk County UW-Extension Horticulture Educator

When I was a child many, many, many years ago I loved watching insects.  I would catch and study them under a microscope.  We had a neighborhood with a lot of kids.  We used our imaginations and made up old fashioned games.  My forte was bugs.  I’d catch them, put them in jars and charge a penny to view them.  It was so much fun for a little kid! Now days my interest is a little more extensive and I attend any entomology presentation I can.

Reedsburg-Pioneer-Village-Museum-SignWhen my Master Gardeners adopted a neglected historical site called the Reedsburg Area Pioneer Log Village we each adopted a cabin to beautify. We planted old-fashioned flowers and cared for the cabins to help attract more visitors and school children.  Black-eyed Susan’s, hollyhocks, daisies, and numerous hardy native plants were planted in the very poor soil the pioneers had to deal with.

These improvements helped but it was still not a village. Two victory gardens were planted.  It’s amazing how many people don’t know why the victory garden were planted during WWI and WWII.  It is a great teaching tool.  We loved the gardens but it was still not enough.  We started wondering what the pioneer doctors would have used since a drugstore or apothecary was not available.  An herb garden was built and medicinal herbs were planted.  This garden is another great teaching tool for both kids and adults.

What was still missing?  A prairie!  A natural habitat for bees, butterflies and wildlife was just what the village needed.  After a few summers went by, bluebird houses went up, bat houses went up, and native bee houses went up.

Still something was missing.  My love of the insect world must have pointed me in the right direction.  We decided to create a butterfly trail and add bee hives.  They work well together.  Fortunately three of my Master Gardeners were bee keepers and volunteered to get us started.

Top-bar_brood_comb_from_a_warre_hiveWe built three hives and ordered three colonies with three queens all from California. Our California girls were doing a great job this past summer but only in two of the hives. One of the hives was a bit lazy.  We still got fifty-one pounds of honey from the two productive hives.  We were amazed when the poor producing hive re-queened itself with a Wisconsin lady.  All three hives are buzzing with activity this spring.

I have learned so much about the wonderful community of bees; their leaders, their workers, their gate keepers.  The hives are wonderful teaching and learning tools for out busloads of visitors who have a love of nature.

Garden Conference Success!!

Brian Hudelson, UW-Wisconsin Extension, brings his extensive knowledge of plant diseases

This past Saturday (April 1), our Master Gardener group (Outagamie County Master Gardener Association) hosted an annual Garden Conference. As always, the Conference was a huge success — even the weather cooperated by sending us a sunny day with temperatures near 60 degrees!

Guest speaker Jim Beard shares information about Straw Bale Gardening

Every year, we sell out our Conference as seats are filled by those eager for Spring, excited to hear from our guest speakers, and interested in visiting with our many vendors! This year was no exception as 200 people filled the room and enjoyed the discussions about Straw Bale Gardening, Plant Diseases, Garden Planning/Photography, Incorporating Edibles into your garden, and fun Garden Tips and Tricks.

Author Stacy Tornio talks about her new book “Plants You Can’t Kill” with OCMGA member Chris Frederickson

Gorgeous varieties of Hostas for sale

Every year, the number of vendors who join us

increases and the variety of products continues to astonish our attendees. This year, we had garden decorations, jewelry, organic herbal soaps, lotions, and scrubs, batik scarves, tree charms, stone-cast garden leaves, wood furniture, live plants, garden tools, and much, much more.

Join us next year!

The Conference is always held at the end of March or early April each year. Make a note to check our website (www.ocmga.net) next year for details!

 

by OCMGA Master Gardener Vicki Schilleman

Exotic Garden Trip Notes

presented by Don Brill, WIMGA member, February 16, 2017

Barbados Trip Notes

Orchid World: A unique sun garden

Andromeda Botanic Garden: The oldest botanical garden

Sunbury Plantation: A bit overrated with green monkeys! Worth stopping if it’s on route.

Flower Forest: Great Scottish Highlands garden

Petrea Gardens: an older private garden.  Current construction plans to add sunny gardens and more water.

George Washington’s House & Garden

Hunte’s Garden: I rate this #1.  Built in a sink hole below reused buildings

Welshman’s Hall Gully: more green monkeys

St Nicholas Abby: A must see first class plantation

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Miami Garden Trip Notes

Fairchild Tropical Garden:  A Large Tropical US Botanical garden with zone 10 & 11 plants.  Limited photos allowed

Viscaya: An historic Italianate House and garden restoration.  Very impressive hardscaping. No photos allowed from the house.

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Kentucky Bourbon Trails “Black Secret”

by Bev Kindschy

Last fall we moved our daughter to Louisville, Kentucky to finish up her college training in Radiation Therapy. This move was exciting, since it presented many new learning opportunities including the culture of Kentucky.  One of our first learning experiences was the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which is a program of nine Kentucky distillers that promote the bourbon industry.  Kentucky produces the majority of all bourbon made world-wide, because of the limestone water supply.  Since our family is a fan of wine and beer tastings, we decided to expand our taste buds and start bourbon tastings/tours on the trail.IMG_2189 orig1

On a walking tour of the historic Jim Beam distillery, I couldn’t help but notice that the buildings were all black. As I looked more closely I noticed the trees were extremely black and looked like they had their bark blow-torched.  I learned that it is because the trees and warehouses have been tainted by Baudoinia compniacensis, a unique whiskey fungus, found near distilleries.  This particular type of black fungus is common near distilleries because it uses ethanol as a source of energy for growth.  During the whiskey maturation process (expanding and contracting in and out of the barrels’ oak panels), at least 2% of whiskey escapes from the barrel as ethanol vapor. It is this airborne ethanol that stimulates fungal germination and provides some additional heat protective proteins to the organisms. Since ethanol is denser than air, when it meets the slightest bit of moisture (limestone water supply) you get whiskey fungus all over the place. At an eyeball distance it appears as a crusty coating. At a greater foot distance, it appears like ink staining.

 

One final point in case you plan to participate in a bourbon tasting, Makers Mark has the best bourbon balls at the end of their tour and you get to sample four types of bourbons!

Conservation Field Days

1000 5th and 6th graders attended the 3-day event.

1000 5th and 6th graders attended the 3-day event.

Over 300 5th & 6th graders attended each day of the 51st Conservation Field Days.  That is 1,000 kids during the 3 days of the event which was held on September 22nd through September 24 at Koehnke’s Farm out past the Outagamie County Airport. There were also 5 Master Gardeners who volunteered as Tour Guides for the first year of this Sanctioned Project for us.

Animal skins at the wildlife station

Animal skins at the wildlife station

There were 9 course stations and 9 tour groups.  Teachers and parents also went along with each group to help. The 9 learning stations were Water, Quarry, Conservation Jeopardy, Gardens & Compost, Recycling, Forest Management, Pond & Wildlife, Food Production, and Soils. Everyone seemed to be having fun learning.  Each station was taught by 2 volunteers from County, State & Federal groups including UW Cooperative Extension Service, WI Department of Natural Resources, USDA Natural Resource Conservation, and Goodwill Community Gardens. Each course station included some interactive things which helped to keep all those kids involved and interested.

Pond/Wildlife Station

Pond/Wildlife Station

Outagamie County Master Gardeners were listed in the thank yous along with those other groups. The event is sponsored and organized by Outagamie County Land Conservation Department based right next door to our County Extension. Each day ran from 9:30am to 2:30pm, and was very fun and educational for all.  The weather was beautiful. All of us volunteers were provided a delicious and much appreciated meal for the lunch break and then back to guiding, teaching, etc.

OCMGA Volunteers Jill Botvinik and Sue Mings

OCMGA Volunteers Jill Botvinik and Sue Mings

TV Channel 5 was there on Tuesday and did a broadcast on their 5pm news program that day. I will admit that I went home, sat down on the couch and promptly fell asleep. Fresh air in the country, walking outside in the beautiful fall weather, helping kids learn, and a free lunch! I plan to be there next September.  Hope to see you too!

Written by Jill Botvinik

Posted by Vicki