A Master Gardener Cheerleader: Phil Painter

When I say Phil Painter is an optimist, I’m not referring to the local nonprofit club. Instead I’m sharing that he radiates positivity, which is always welcome as we fall headlong into winter! Phil completed Level 1 about the same time he began a lawn care/landscape maintenance business. He, like many Master Gardeners, combines his interest in gardening with his work life. His business has been so successful that he has little time to garden or volunteer, although his spouse gardens. This summer his wife had enough beefsteak and roma tomatoes, generated in pots, to give many away. She also raises herbs for cooking. The weekly weeding, though, falls to Paul. They plan raised beds for spring 2019 with a few intended goals: so the Chesapeake Bay retriever cannot dig their labors and to utilize less city water. In the past they have grown corn, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, squash, and broccoli.

He was included and even at times forced into gardening his parents’ 20×60-foot plot. His mother found the pursuit much more challenging in Harlowtown than her native California. Eventually he recruited her to the MG program, which she did in Helena. Sometimes knowledge flows upstream!

The welcoming, open format is what Paul cherishes about Master Gardeners. Prior to his enrollment, he struggled to find correct regional information, and he appreciated learning the why to many of his questions. Much of the prior information he was supplied, even locally, was opinion rather than fact, so he was hungry for accuracy.

He finds value in the attitude of sharing information plus the broad range of topics explored. He freely and frequently gives Amy’s number to customers. His advice to new gardeners? Call the Extension Office and sign up for Master Gardeners’ classes. We have a super cheerleader! He hopes the direction of the program will be towards youth, suggesting the Boys and Girls Club or Scouts, to give young people a sense of accomplishment. Even though he has little time to volunteer with our various activities, he has enjoyed observing the number of volunteer options blossom.

His company does not spray because to do so requires special licensing. This factoid alerted me to the notion that if a company does spray, the client might want to check on their licensing. I’m relieved that spraying necessitates licensing. Of course homeowners can spray at their own familial and pet risks.

We discussed brands of equipment, which I won’t endorse herein, and the services he provides: mainly mowing, then power raking, clean-up, and fertilizing with non-pesticide products. He only does sprinkler blowouts for his customers. For landscaping and tree pruning, he makes referrals. Wise enough to limit his scope of practice to what he can successfully manage, Paul devotes this time of year to blade sharpening and oil changes. Specific wisdom he shared with me included that there’s no need to water lawns until July (yards don’t like “wet feet,” aka wet roots), and the many lovely tall grasses so popular lately need thinning every 3 to 5 years. Also trim lilacs after blooming rather than eliminating new blooms in the spring.

So if you crave witness to one of the successes of our program, contact Phil Painter for inspiration and information!

Submitted by Bess Lovec

4 X 4 Square Foot Garden Winners

This year the 4×4 Square Foot Garden not only went through major upgrades, but we also had a most vigorous competition. Everyone did such a great job and it was a most challenging competition for our judges, Debbie Werholz and Rosemary Power, to undertake. (Thanks so much, Debbie and Rosemary.) The winners of this year’s 4×4 competition are:

First Place $50 – Merita Murdock

Second Place $25 – Roy Wahl

Two Third Place $10 – Ron & Joyce Hendricks; Charlie Hendricks

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Extra special thanks go out to our other competitors: Rick Shotwell, Joann Glasser & Pat Morrison, and Rebecca Starr. You all gave those who viewed our gardens a beautiful representation of the options one can have in small spaces.

Submitted by Amy Grandpre

Got Hail Damage?

Wild summer storms can discourage home gardeners as well as farmers. The best defense is a good offense by using proper cultural practices – location, watering, fertilizing and pruning techniques – from the beginning of the season. When hail happens, trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals can successfully survive if the proper maintenance is done after damage.

Trees and Shrubs
Prune off any broken branches caused by hail. Use proper pruning cuts, taking care not to cut into the branch bark ridge. If trees or shrubs were split and large limbs were broken, clean the wounds with a sharp knife or pruning shears. Browned leaves will not turn green. To assess the ex-tent of damage, move up the plant and past the leaves to check how far back dead material extends. Dead twigs will snap. Moving further back on the branch, you can use a knife to scrape the top of the branch to look for live wood. Prune twigs and branches at the point where there is live, green wood. Do not apply paint or wound dressings, but let the wound close naturally. If damage is too great, consider removing the plant.

Continue to inspect branch wounds closely and monitor throughout the growing season. Many wounds will callous over with proper plant watering and maintenance. Be vigilant about spotting Fire Blight if humidity and temperatures (60°F to 85°F and relative humidity above 60%) are conducive to the bacterial growth. A preventative spray of horticultural oil in the spring or fall can reduce overwintering egg casings and spores.

Hail often destroys leaves, but trees may have enough reserves to re-leaf. Because this takes a lot of energy, be sure to give the tree adequate water throughout the summer (approximately one inch per week, depending on species). Applying two to three inches of mulch at the base of the trees but not touching the trunk and shrubs will also help moderate soil temperatures and maintain soil moisture.

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Annual flowers and edibles
Plants that are completely stripped of foliage and have broken stems should be replaced. If less than one-third of the plant remains, it is probably not worth trying to save. Other plants with less damage might be salvaged, but they will need time and care to recover.

  • Trim and remove severely damaged leaves so that the energy of the plant is directed to create new growth. After trimming, spray edibles with a copper-based product available at garden centers.
  • Apply fertilizer to promote growth. Pat Appleby of Canyon Creek Nursery suggests Soil Diva either to spray on foliage or as a soil drench. It will enhance microbial activity to stimulate the plants.
  • Water regularly without stressing plants with too much or too little water.
  • Place new plants between damaged ones to provide instant color in the case of annuals – and to help insure a harvest in the case of edibles.

After a very intense storm, the soil around plants tends to form a crust after it starts to dry out. Use a small hand rake to gently work around those plants and break up that crust so it doesn’t form a hard shell.

Perennials
Perennials often have secondary buds that will provide new growth following hail damage. Perennials also require optimal care following hail so that they not only survive the current season but gain the health to overwinter and bloom again next season. Trim perennials back as far as the extent of the damage is visible. This also applies to perennial grasses.

Apply fertilizer to provide nutrients that will generate growth.

Do not cut back damaged foliage on bulb flowers such as daffodils and allium. The leaves enable photosynthesis which feeds the bulbs though severe damage may cause less vigorous plants the following year.

Water adequately. Xeric plants may need more water than usual to help them recover more quickly.

Living with Hail
In areas more prone to hail, use a cloth designed to protect plants from hail (or sun). Pat suggests using a 30% block to allow moisture and light to reach plants while protecting them from hail. You can also look for finer-leafed plants such as cosmos which the hail often falls through rather than shreds.

Sources 
Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado https://www.alcc.com/dealing-with-weather-damaged-plants.
Ask an expert Cooperative Extension https://ask.extension.org/questions/395347.
Colorado public news http://www.cpr.org/news/story/after-hail-advice-resurrecting-your-garden.
Interview with Pat Appleby of Canyon Creek Nursery.

~Submitted by Elizabeth Waddington

2018 Flower Show

The 2018 Flower Show, hosted by the Thumb-R-Green Garden Club, had the theme of “Under Montana Skies.” The flower show was held Aug. 31-Sept. 1 at the D.A. Davidson Building, in conjunction with the downtown farmers market. Of course all the displays were super, but especially enticing were the underwater arrangements…what a fun twist on flower arranging.

Thanks to all the Master Gardeners who helped in making this yearly event easier for all involved: Ann McKean, Bess Lovec, Charlie Hendricks, David Fisher, Gail Tesinsky, JoAnne Bylsma, Joyce Hendricks, Linda Walters, Marion Grumett, Mary Davis, Merita Murdock, Ron Hendricks, Vonnie Bell.

Submitted By Amy Grandpre

 

Outstanding Master Gardeners

This year our county had four outstanding Master Gardeners to celebrate: Bryan Godfrey, Elaine Allard, Joyce Hendricks and Mary Davis.

Bryan, Joyce and Mary were all in attendance at the 2018 Master Gardener Celebration in Bozeman, and received their certificate and pin directly from Dara Palmer. A little history: Brian joined Master Gardeners this year (2018) and hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped yet. He took and passed Lev. 1, Lev. 2 and Lev. 3. His positive optimism and “let’s do it” outlook got him noticed and as a result he is now Yellowstone County Master Gardener Association President. He has secured a 3 year contract with Walmart for donations of garden related items, and donations from other various plants sellers. He was instrumental in coordinating the transformation of the Square Foot Demo Garden at Metra Park. He’s also involved with Zoo Montana and the Plant Select project, becoming the president of the Zoo Montana Botanical Society. He has a vision to grow our program, to make it the best and most active in the state.

Joyce joined Master Gardeners in 2010 and became a Level 3 Master Gardener in 2014. Joyce helps with the Billings Flower Show, coordinates the Master Gardener Information booth during the fair and helps with the C.A.R.E. After School program. Joyce is also a certified flower judge and is the current first Vice President for the MT Federation of Garden Clubs. She is also very involved with the Square Foot Demo garden and is an active competitor in the 4×4 competition. She also helps with ZooMontana beds, the Farmers Market Information Booth, the Jr. Garden Club, Friendship House Gardens and Veterans Park Project. Elaine and Mary both joined in 2002 and both became Level 3 Master Gardeners in 2011.

Elaine coordinated the monthly adult education seminars at the Billings library for many years, teaching some of the seminars. She has coordinated Master Gardener volunteers to serve during the annual Arbor Day event. She is a master at teaching children how to make seed bombs, which she taught at the library, during Arbor Day and with Park 2 Park Mentoring program. Elaine is also one of the editor/staff who began the YCMG Newsletter and is still active. She also served as a board member/secretary for the YCMG Association, has worked in the Metra Park Square foot garden and participated in the 4×4 competition. She also worked at the: Geranium Festival, The Billings Flower Show, Billings Farmers Market and CARE after School Program

Mary has coordinated the C.A.R.E. After School program since its beginning in 2003. She is one of the main coordinators and organizers of the Billings Flower Show, is a certified flower judge and was state president of the MT Federation of Garden Clubs from 2003 to 2005. She is also one of the editor/staff who began the YCMG Newsletter in January of 2012 and is still active. She coordinates the summer Jr. Garden Club. She’s also works at the Arbor Day events and in the Mission Garden at St. Andrews Community Gar-den. I want to thank again these dedicated Master Gardeners, who have given so much of themselves and their time to our program.

You are all a big part of our program’s success.

Submitted by Amy Grandpre

Dan Walt Garden Tour

This year’s DanWalt tour ended up being on an unseasonably cool and wet Aug. 26th day. This special garden is now owned and managed by current Master Gardener Suri Lunde and husband Clint, who are doing a wonderful job carrying out what must have been a most all-consuming life choice. The gardens were beautifully kept. The hibiscus were in their prime (so huge), and the Love Lies Bleeding amaranthus had some strands over 2 feet long.

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An extra bonus were pears for all who were interested from the huge pear tree beside the pavilion. We did have rain showers to contend with, but Suri and Clint had us covered with umbrellas for all so the tour went on with-out a hitch. The traditional chicken salad lunch was delicious as always, and the cheesecake Divine. We then had a real surprise when Dan Jellison (former owner) showed up by accident just as dessert was finished. Of course he mingled and shared his sharp wit for many light hearted laughs. For those of you who missed or who would like to share DanWalt with family or friends, don’t forget the self-tour option. This garden is well worth visiting and sharing.

Submitted by Amy Grandpre