Yellowstone Master Gardeners Association News

Highlights from the Quarterly Association Meeting held March 13, 2020

Submitted by Amy Grandpre

Please check with Amy Grandpre about scheduled or rescheduled spring events.

-The Yellowstone Room at the Metra is being torn down. Amy will look for a new location for the Master Gardener classes next year. We are OK till the end of March 2020. Brian said the Master Gardener classes are going great this year and he would like us to spread the word about them to keep the classes top of mind. Be sure to collect e-mails from potential students so Amy can remind them of upcoming classes and events.

-New Master Gardener Cups: Amy gave meeting attendees the new Master Gardeners coffee cups. All class Master Gardener students this year will receive one as well.

-New Ace Hardware greenhouse: Brian is working with the Managers of the new Ace Hardware opening soon. He is working with them on a possible discount for Master Gardeners. Sharon asked if we could do seminars there as well. Brian said Ace Hardware is sponsoring a sustainable vegetable garden and the berry garden at ZooMontana. Sherry stated that classes at places like Ace and Gainan’s would further enhance the Master Gardener Program. When classes are held there, those patrons who come to shop will then stop to check out the classes that are in session. Many of them stay to listen.

-Zoo Project: Brian stated that he will be stepping down as president of the ZooMontana Botanical Society due to his accident. He will be president until June 2020.

-Metra Square Foot Garden and Rockery: Joann Glasser presented the Demo Garden info at the Master Garden 1 class. Brian stated she is also helping to get the benches installed at the rockery. Brian would like to see native plants in the rockery. AnnaMarie said she has some sedum to donate.

-Arbor Day: Sharon and AnnaMarie met to do the initial planning for the Arbor Day celebration booth. They are calling it the Birds and the Bees. Sheri Kisch will present the information on bees. AnnaMarie will be using her talent as an artist to paint posters as a visual display for the bird presentations. Sharon stated they will be helping the kids create pine cone bird feeders using pine cones, peanut butter and bird seed. Someone brought up the possibility that some kids may have peanut/nut allergies. Sharon said that will be addressed. Amy suggested
using jute and glue guns to put together the pine cone feeders. The Arbor Day celebration will be May 7, 2020 at North Park.

-Square Foot Garden Packets: Joann Glasser put together packets with seeds and instructions for people to use for a Square Foot Garden. We could hand them out at different venues.

-Montana Master Gardener Celebration 2020: Amy asked when we should call the presenters for the Celebration. Sharon said to wait due to the virus situation. We have the 4H building to use for the Celebration. The greenhouse could also be a venue. Brian said the planning committee will get together soon. A Vendor Row will be part of the Celebration.

-Reimbursement for Library Garden Series Class Speaker: Sherry asked if we could reimburse the Master Gardener speaker for classes done in April and May. Reimbursement would only be for items/plants given away at the classes. Sheri Fredericksen made a motion to approve the request, Cindy seconded. Motion carried.

What is Square Foot Gardening (SFG)?

Submitted by ~ Suri Lunde

Square foot gardening (SFG) is a method of creating small, orderly, and highly productive kitchen gardens. Developed by gardener, engineer, and efficiency expert Mel Bartholomew as a better way to grow more vegetables in less space, the idea was popularized in his books Square Foot Gardening (1981) and All New Square Foot Gardening (2006).

The basic system: a 6-inch-deep frame or raised bed is created, filled with a mixture of vermiculite, peat moss, and com-post, and divided into a grid of 1-foot squares, which are masquarefoot 2naged individually. Each of the squares is planted with a different crop depending on the size and requirement of the crop. When a square is harvested, just add compost and plant a different crop within it, allowing for continual harvest. Since there are no paths between the squares, there is no wasted space, and the soil in the bed stays loose because you never step on it.

It is an almost fail-safe system for new gardeners, the elderly or disabled (SFG beds can be built at a raised height to make them more accessible), children, and people with limited yard space or little time, or who want a highly organized method to follow. Additionally, SFG can also be included in a garden plan that uses traditional planting methods.

Pros of SFG

  • High yields: Intensive planting means plentiful and continuous harvest from a small space.
  • Fast set-up: SFG is a quick way to start a new garden. Raised garden bed kits and raised garden soils can be purchased if you prefer not to create them from scratch.
  • Place the raised bed anywhere (even over grass or pavement), fill, and start planting in just a few hours.
  • Ease of maintenance: Since the garden is small, regular tasks like planting, maintaining, and harvesting take less time, and watering can be done by hand.
  • Less weeding: An SFG bed filled with good soil-less mix should not have seeds which means no weeds to pull in the first season. Closely planted crops also minimize weeds in the beds.
  • Increases biodiversity: Growing a variety of different crops close together is a form of companion planting which increases biodiversity and helps reduce pests and diseases.

Cons of SFG

  • High initial cost: The expense of building or buying even a small raised bed and filling it with soil-less mix can be costly.
  • Cramped beds: SFG beds are not ideal for crops that take up a lot of space such as pumpkin, squash, or a big planting of sweet corn. Therefore, grow compact vegetables such as carrots and radishes in SFG beds and plant large crops in traditional rowed vegetable gardens.
  • Insufficient depth: The 6-inch-deep beds recommended in SFG might be too shallow for some plants. The solution: make your frame at least 12 inches deep to accommodate plants like carrots and potatoes.
  • Watering: Consider installing soaker hoses or a drip irrigation system since the soil in raised beds tends to dry out faster.

SFG Bottom Line
Many gardeners find vegetable gardening a relaxing activity, and there is satisfaction in eating something grown in your own backyard. SFG can be that successful backyard gardening method but before you decide if SFG is right for you, know your gardening style, needs, and preferences. Happy gardening!

Noteworthy: YCMGA has square foot demonstration gardens at the Metra. Check these links for information.

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.

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)

Whirling Carrot-Top: Valeria Jeffries

by Bess Lovec

Give this gal a hurdle and she will either bulldoze through it or climb over it. For instance, when I interviewed Valeria Jeffries, she had just finished her first marathon. Not only did she complete it: She finished best of class in her age group (admittedly due to the help of Dr. “Joe”). She bonked due to the heat, yet recovered enough to finish. One of the perkiest people I have ever met, I’ve known Val for years through the Yellowstone Art Museum, where she served as Chair of the Board. She just radiates energy, even though she’s very busy as a regional executive with Holiday stores. I felt a surge of excitement when I saw that she enrolled in the Master Gardeners’ program the year I did.

How does she do it? Gardening overlaps with most of the six roles she wishes to improve upon: leader, gardener, chef, athlete, artist, and as a spouse. Allen and she have five acres by the Yellowstone River that provide numerous opportunities for creative gardening. Allen has a salsa garden of tomatoes, cilantro, and peppers among their four raised beds. Another is of wild flowers. Plus they have a pond that Val surrounds with a variety of bulbs. “I always enjoy plants” she shares. Carrot topWith her fast-paced career involving lots of travel, Val makes time to walk through nurseries to reduce stress. Unfortunately their property was hit by the recent hailstorm, but with her can-do attitude, she brushed off the property and views the changes as an opportunity for growth. Even though her car was totaled along with six windows and two roofs, her thoughts go towards the farmers struck by the devastation.

Her gardening days began in Minnesota when her mom sent her and her siblings to the garden to pick fresh vegetables. Lately Val finds joy in companionship gardens, in which gardeners share plants with other gardeners. She hosts the Master Gardeners booth at Pompey’s Pillar’s annual event and also volunteers with Chris Smith at Jim’s Jungle every weekend in May. Chris and Val first met when providing advice at Lowe’s.

Her praise for the MG program overflows, but her highlights include getting to know other gardeners and learning specifics about soil types, fertilizers, the essentials. She values Amy’s ability to build community. Val calls herself a Master Learner rather than a Master Gardener, although, based on photographs she shared, she’s both! The only area of improvement that she hopes will evolve for the MG program? Improved, updated videos.

She’s flummoxed by begonias but has found success with black-eyed Susans and bulbs. Next Val plans a shade garden on her back patio and, potentially, grapevines. She feels her best accomplishment as a gardener is yet to come. Her advice for new gardeners radiates wisdom! Volunteer, keep reading, ask questions, and participate. That formula sounds ideal for success in any endeavor.