Archive for February, 2014

The Sugar Maker’s Companion: An Integrated Approach to Producing Syrup from Maple Birch and Walnut Trees by Michael Farrell 2013

Don’t let the long title of this book discourage you from taking a look at the amazing material inside. The front cover draws you in with a photo of trees in a snowy landscape with sap buckets attached, this shares the space with a shot of glowing translucent jars of syrup, topped by a trio of desserts decorated with a pastry maple leaf ! The author, Michael Farrell states that this book is written primarily for those interested in actual syrup production and those doing it for a hobby might prefer a more concise guide. If you want to start production, be sure to read one of the first chapters , “Is Sugaring for You?”. Others chapters are devoted to topics such as sugarhouse design and construction , gathering techniques, marketing , etc. One that may be of special interest is Chapter 4, entitled, “An Untapped Resource.. Sap Producing Trees of North America “ this is where the reader may be surprised to learn that a wide variety of maples, as well as black walnut trees produce sap !
Even if you are not interested in “making sugar” any gardener or landowner will enjoy the abundance of photographs , the detailed directions , the trivia and other information including the locations of syrup companies located in Michigan and Ohio .
The author, Michael Farrell is on the staff at Cornell University He currently serves as Director of the Uihlein Forest- Cornell`s Sugar Maple Research & Extension Field Station in Lake Placid, NY .


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A Class in Bonsai

There’s a shop on the outskirts of Monroe, just south of Dundee called the Flower Market. As you walk past the door you encounter a large display of fairy garden accessories and a Koi pond filled with mouth open Koi hoping you have a morsel for them. Then there they are; the more than 900 bonsai plants and trees. Some are for sale, some are the owners collection. The owner, Kurt Smith, is about to give our Monroe County Master Gardeners a class on Bonsai. He shows us one from the collection not for sale that is over 40 years old as well as a Chinese Elm.Resize_0215141123-00_01

Here are notes from the class:
There are two classes of Bonsai. The Tropical, which you see in the Greenhouse, and the outdoor type. These outdoor plants must be outside and go through the seasonal changes including winter. If you plan to keep the Bonsai in the house choose an East or North window. A southern or west window are fine, but will dry out the plant fast and chances are you will probably miss watering it. It then will die. If you wish you can grow them under lights. Plants generally are smaller when grown in that fashion.

Bonsai need two key elements: Light and Water. The good bright light of that east or northern exposure and water when the soil is dry. Kurt suggests that you do not use moss or decorative rock over the dirt and roots entirely. If you cover the soil, you are unable to see when it is dry. You sight is your best indicator…look at the dish and ask…does this need water today? The color of the soil when wet is dark and rich, but is light and ashy when dry. The soil mix that he uses is equal parts of turfas, haydite and peat moss. If the plant needs water, soak it thoroughly. His soil mixture allows the roots to grow and get oxygen.

You may fertilize the plant once a week. Using a liquid fertilizer is best. The soil mixture used has no nutrient value so fertilizing is necessary for the growth. Kurt warns us though…do not fertilize a sick plant.

To begin you start with a bigger tree and then cut it down. You choose a plant where the trunk has movement. The upper section will be cut off and new limbs will grow. He shows us a ficus with a woody trunk and tells us to look for the area where the tree embraces you. That will be the front. Now, with a gasp from the crowd, he begins to take of all the leaves.Resize_0215141142-00_01

After removing all the leaves you take a look at it. find the first branch to begin with at the bottom approximately one third the way up the trunk. Now you begin to trum taking away unwanted branches. Try to alter the limbs and open up the trunk.
The next step is to wire copper colored aluminum around the branches and pull them into shape with out breaking them off. Thin the branches at the top for you only want one good branch at the top. When wiring try not to wire too tightly nor cross wires. After forming the tree take it from the pot and begin to remove the dirt from the root. He also suggests that you make sure the root doesn’t show the formation of the round pot on the top.
Trim away unnecessary roots so it will fit in your selected bonsai container. All containers should have holes for drainage. If holes are large add a screen over them. Kurt also strung a string thru the holes to tie in the tree. This helps to secure the tree until it take hold. He then continues to look at it, wire it and form it. He said to visualize a triangle. Any portion of a limb that sticks out from that triangle should be cut off. Kurt uses chop sticks to help work the soil around the plants root. Now water right away by submerging it until the bubbles stop… maybe a minute. Be careful not to over water.Resize_0215141108-01_01 0215141108-00


The Monroe County Master Gardeners received a great lesson. When you start your…send a photo for the blog to post. We’d love to share our gardeners education being put to use. Thank you Kurt for the very entertaining presentation.

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The Toledo Zoo is presenting a new event fun for the whole family:

The Toledo Zoo is presenting a new event fun for the whole family:
Spring Alive………..Fairytales, Fables & Flowers

February 27th through March 2nd

Fun blooms at this floral extravaganza featuring beloved childhood stories, family-friendly activities, animal encounters and more….

Some of the events include:
mini-workshops on fairy gardens, bonsai gardening, flower arranging and more
personal tours of the Zoo’s historic Conservatory
marketplace of experts’ favorite gardening tools
cooking demonstrations with the Zoo’s executive chef
plants and pollinators planting activity
Madcap Puppets present Aladdin & Friends
ice carving demonstrations
wine tasting
meet an animal
For more information on events listed by day and time visit: http://www.toledozoo.org/springalive

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Great Growing Workshop

Jennie sent this to me as an event that some may want to attend. Open the link on the last line for Registration and other information

Greetings gardener and those who’d like to grow and eat fresh, nutritious vegetables,

The Alpine Master Gardeners is hosting a “Get Growing” workshop and luncheon on Saturday, March 15, 2014 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. in Gaylord.
See brochure/registration and flyer attached. Please help us spread the word.
Informative and fun event
Open to the public
Early bird registration is $25 through March 5. Regular registration is $35
(Low rate due to great community sponsors-below)
Excellent opportunity for first time gardeners as well as people who have been gardening their whole lives.
We believe everyone will benefit from the event tailored to growing healthy, nutritious vegetables in a northern Michigan climate.
Featured speaker, Craig Schaaf, of Golden Rule Farms, will present “Secrets to Nurturing Vegetables For an Abundant Harvest”.
His small garden has steadily grown, now capable of providing beyond his family’s financial needs.
Craig raises quality vegetables for a restaurant in Traverse City
Enjoys experimentation, and loves to teach.
Learn how to increase harvest
Gain great enjoyment from your garden.
Soil enrichment, proper tilling techniques, weed and pest control, crop rotation ……
Bring your questions on any gardening topic – season extension/seed saving …….
Lunch at the event will be a locally grown feast prepared by chef and farmer Mike Everts of “Real Food Dream Kitchens” and Blackbird Gardens of Petoskey. Blackbird Gardens has been an integrated culinary garden with clean-grown vegetables, and fine catering company for more than 25 years.

Morning fruit/yogurt/granola parfaits * spinach salad with walnuts/beets/feta & maple/Dijon/balsamic dressing * bison red chili * curried lentil squash soup * roasted root vegetables * Breadworks Bread and Baba Gahnou * delicious local food dessert.
The presenting sponsor of the event is Otsego Wildlife Legacy Society (OWLS).
Other sponsors are Treetops & Home Depot, as well as Family Farm Home, 5/3 Bank, Otsego Memorial Hospital and Meijer.

Online brochure and one page registration forms are available at http://www.otsego.org/amg (under Events).
For more information, contact Jeanne Freymuth at 988-732-5348
or email alpinemastergardeners@gmail.com.
Alpine Master Gardener Association is a group of Master Gardeners whose mission is to assist in the education of the public to the positive benefits of gardening.

Thank you.

“Get Growing” Workshop and Luncheon Committee
Alpine Master Gardeners Association (AMGA)

MG 2014 Brochure 1-28 email file

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Gail sent me the following information on two seminars / workshops for educational hours. I’ve loaded the documents for you to view. Just click on the links to view:

Flyer-March_2014_-_NeotropicalSongbird_Migration_and_Birdscaping_Your_Yard (1)

Seed_Swap_Flyer (1)

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