Summary of Yellowstone County Master Gardener Association Quarterly Meeting

Summary of Yellowstone County Master Gardener Association Quarterly Meeting (12 November 2019)

  • Conoco Grant: Brian Godfrey, President, stated Conoco is sending a $1,000 grant for the Metra Garden Project.
  • Association Membership Drive 2020: Bylaw was revised in order to help increase membership.

– Article IV. Section 2. Interns. Internship status and YCMGA membership shall be extended to current participants of the Master Gardener Course in Yellowstone County. Interns may be accepted into full Associate status upon completion of the Master Gardener Course and payment of annual YCMGA dues.

– Article IV. Section 3. Dues. Dues for the Associates of this Association shall be $15 per calendar year, payable annually. The cost for annual dues may be changed by the Board of Directors.

The change now states that a person does not need to complete their certification as a Master Gardener along with completing their Master gardener hours for the year in order to be an Association member. Master Gardener students can join the Association before taking the test and completing their hours.

  • Membership Cards: Membership cards were to be distributed to members by Brian during the Christmas party and Chris Smith (Treasurer) will be given a list of those who signed up and were given a card at the party.
  • Montana Master Gardener Celebration 2020; Saturday, September 19th, 2020:

– Items like keychains, lanyards, water bottles and hats with YCMGA and MSU Extension logo to sell at the Farmer’s market or use as giveaways at the celebration.

– Nametags of participants will be attached to the lanyards and each lanyard will have a pocket in back where tickets for classes, tours, etc. can be placed.

– Merita Murdock’s tree book will be included with registration packets. It was suggested that Merita take attendees on the tree tour after registration. – 4H building is a possible location. Lunch will be a taco bar. A vendor row, a talk by Dr. David Gilby and a succulent planting class were suggested for afternoon activities. In addition to a fused glass art and seed packets, Brian asked if everyone could find donations for the celebration. Saturday evening dinner will be a Master Gardener BBQ.

– Speakers will be contacted in March and volunteers will be recruited in June/July.

  • Moss Mansion YCMGA Christmas Tree: Sharon Wetsch decorated this year’s YCMGA Christmas tree at Moss Mansion. The theme was ‘The Netherlands’ and it was displayed in the Moss Mansion master bedroom.
  • Christmas Party 2019: On Tom Kress’ suggestion, the Christmas party would be at the 4H building, Saturday, December 7th at 4 pm. Tom also suggested a potluck this year with the YCMGA providing the meat, including meat for non-beef eaters.

The Yellowstone County Master Gardener Association meets four times a year. Look out for their emails on meeting dates.

Master Gardeners Fall Picnic

Master Gardeners Fall Picnic
by Amy Grandpre

The last picnic of the year (September 24th, 2019) was a lovely event. And even though it was very windy, we cozied up next to one of the Metra barns, making it most pleasant.

Extra special thanks to Brian Godfrey for his most diligent planning to keep our picnic gear all together and ready for fast access: his “Master Gardener Chuckwagon” is a most innovative idea and one I’m sure will get abundant use.021

Special thanks as well to Tom and Barb Kress, who brought a most beautiful platter of “Kress grown” tomatoes and onions for dressing the burgers (as well as many garden goodies to share), and to my honey, Tim, for flipping burgers and brats. And while I’m at it, thanks to all you cooks who put together food offerings for the picnic. We sure do put out a good spread for our potlucks – perfectly yummy.

Enjoy Squash From Your Garden All Winter Long

RECIPE by Elizabeth Waddington

Winter squashes should be allowed to mature fully on the vine. If the rind cannot be dented with your thumbnail, it is ready for harvest. Complete the harvest before the first hard frost. Stems and vines will be hard and dry at harvest time. Cut squash from the vine leaving 2 to 3 inches of stem above the fruit; this will allow the squash to store longer.

Cooking Basics

To roast most winter squash, carefully cut the squash in half through the stem, and scrape out the seeds inside. Then rub a small amount of oil or butter along the inner flesh of the squash and top with some salt and pepper.020 Place the squash face down on a baking sheet and roast in a 400-degree oven for between 30-45 minutes depending on the size of your squash. You’ll know it’s done when the skin has become brown and slightly blistered and the flesh has softened and can be pierced with a fork with no resistance. You also have the option of cutting the squash into pieces before roasting, which will take longer in prep time but will allow the squash to roast at a faster rate.

To boil your squash, you’ll want to first carefully cut off the skin and slice the squash into smaller chunks. Place in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. While the timing will vary depending on the toughness of the squash you choose, check periodically if your squash is tender enough to easily pierce through with a fork. To steam your squash, place your chunks in a steamer basket above the boiling water and cook until tender.

For those in a time pinch, or working with limited appliances, you can also microwave many types of squash – depending on its size – by slicing it in half down the center, removing the seeds, and microwaving on high for seven minutes per pound.

Once you’ve cooked your squash via one of these simple methods, then you can easily incorporate it into recipes ranging from showstopping savory mains to festive desserts.

Here’s an easy side dish to prepare:


1 buttercup squash, sliced and cooked (see above)
2 tbsp butter
½ cup shredded triple cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan
2–4 tbsp lowfat milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Scoop the squash out of the shell and into a bowl. Add the butter, cheeses, and enough milk to smoothly mash the squash (add even more milk if your squash is dry). Serve immediately.

The Winter Wildlife Garden

The Winter Wildlife Garden
by Ann McKean

Here in Montana most of us withdraw from the garden for the winter and dream impatiently about the return of summer, but there is a whole season of beauty and benefit that you can tap into by adding some wildlife friendly plants to provide late season food and cover. 014However, before you even plant a thing, think about changing your gardening habits.

First, switch your garden cleanup season to spring instead of autumn. Nature doesn’t do fall cleanup so why do we?! Besides returning some lost nutrients back to the soil and adding winter interest with structure and texture, the plants you don’t cut down and the leaves you don’t rake up provide critical winter shelter for birds, small mammals and even hibernating insects. They also help protect the crowns and roots of your plants. If you have a specific concern about disease and need to rake under or cut 015down certain plants in the fall, try creating a winter brush pile in another area to preserve hollow stems and create a place to hibernate and hide. Remember to wait to compost or toss what’s left until critters have had a chance to wake up.

Second, try not to use pesticides. Reducing or eliminating pesticide use not only spares the caterpillars birds need to raise their young, but also preserves the beneficial predatory insects which help keep things in balance. If you practice good cultural maintenance with proper plant selection, spacing, pruning, watering and judicious feeding,016 nature will usually be able to keep pest populations below the threshold of chemical intervention. As Master Gardeners, we must lead the way to a paradigm shift about how we view our gardens and the wildlife they support.

There are many plants we can include in a winter garden to benefit wildlife and add beauty. Native plants are always a good choice because they have evolved with the insects, animals and conditions in our region. Some of these plants offer vital late season nectar and pollen, including rabbitbrush, asters, coneflowers, goldenrod and perennial sunflowers. Many also provide nutrient and calorie packed seeds through the winter. There are also a host of native and non-native shrubs and trees which offer a bounty of 017nuts, berries and sometimes even twigs to nibble. Chokeberries and chokecherries, snowberries, sumacs, viburnum, red-twig dogwood, roses, mountain ash, crabapples, oaks and cone bearing evergreens are a few examples. I’ve even watched in amazement as wild turkeys deftly strip grass seeds from their stalks. All of these plants also add rich texture, structure and subtle color to our winter landscapes.

As you plan next season’s garden additions and head out to the nurseries this spring, think about how fortunate we are to enjoy such a wide variety of wildlife so close to home, and remember to include some plants for your winter garden to support those treasures. 018You, your garden and your community will be enriched.

Source: Wildlife/2012/DecJan/Gardening/Winter- Table-for-Wildlife


Level Up To Three!

Level Up To Three!
by Elizabeth Waddington

Every other summer, you have a chance to level up from two to three by spending an August weekend in Bozeman with fellow Master Gardners. While the dates have not been set for 2020, according to Dara Palmer, the Montana Master Gardener Coordinator, the basics will include Integrated Pest Management sessions, Real Colors training, and tours/demonstrations.

From the state website: The Level 3 Master Gardener course is an intensive training offered on the campus of Montana State University – Bozeman. There will be approximately 30 hours of class time and a minimum 40 hour volunteer commitment. The Level 3 Master Gardener course will emphasize a hands-on curriculum focusing on volunteer management training, plant diagnosis and insect identification. To be eligible for Level 3 Master Gardener, students must be a certified Level 2 Master Gardener and be nominated by their county or reservation Extension agent or Master Gardener Coordinator. Space for this class is limited to 24, please be aware there may be a waiting list.

To entice you to consider this extra training, several folks who have recently been through the training shared their “top 5 reasons”. Here are a few of them:

  • Access to the insect collection at MSU, once in a lifetime opportunity.
  • Real colors, Personality test – understand yourself and others.
  • Another level of information from individual presentations.
  • Gallatin Valley Farmers Market visit.
  • Hands on practical training.
  • Exposure to gardeners from other parts of the state and their problems and solutions.
  • Learn to research topics.
  • Learn more to contribute more to the community and Master Gardner program.
  • Working knowledge of Schutter Diagnostic lab.
  • Network with like-minded individuals.
  • Awesome food.
  • And, drumroll please… a Cool Purple Shirt.

A huge benefit is “expanding your knowledge base” to the point that others (especially outside the master gardener group) feel comfortable approaching you for input into their gardening practices or directing them to information that they may not know is readily available.

More details and dates to come but don’t delay, when you hear it is open, register right away!

Master Gardeners Certificates and Rewards 2019


by Amy Grandpre

Below is a list of Master Gardeners who have gotten their Certification or Hour rewards.

Level 1 Shirt & Certificate
Linda Todd
Paul Scarpari
MaryAnne Wanca-Thibault
Kyle/Deborah Neary
Maggie McBride
Roberta Fuller
Deb Yates
Lisa Guy
Keith Buxbaum
Lori Buxbaum
Kayla Grams
Claudia Janecek

Level 2 Shirt & Certificate
Elizabeth Waddington
Suri Lunde
Joanne Bylsma

Level 3 Shirt & Certificate
Sheri Frederickson
Cheryl Fowell

200 Volunteer Hours
(Yellowstone County Pin)
Donna Canino
Julie Osslund
Karen Botnen
Maia Dickerson

$25 for 400
Volunteer Hours
Brian Godfrey
Gail Tesinsky

$50 for 600 Volunteer Hours
Brian Godfrey
Joyce Hendricks
Marion Grummett
Sue Carter

Mantle Clock for 1400 Volunteer Hours
Merita Murdock – donated reward value to Master Gardener Account to use for MetraPark Square Foot Garden Signage (thanks Merita)

$200 for 2000 Volunteer Hours
Sharon Wetsch (thanks Sharon for all you do)