Gardens

2020 Herb of the Year

RUBUS (Brambles) 2020 Herb of the Year Red Raspberry, Black Raspberry, Blackberry & Wineberry

Article by Dana Weinberg, UConn Extension Advanced Master Gardener

Since 1991, the International Herb Society has chosen an Herb of the Year. This year’s choice is the genus Rubus. The name comes from the Latin word ‘ruber’ meaning red. Indigenous to 6 continents and readily hybridized, you can count up to 700 different species within the genus. It’s mid summer and the raspberries, wineberries and even some blackberries are bearing their delicious fruit. What a great time to explore some of the commonalities and differences in this wideranging genus!

A member of the Rosaceae family, all Rubus species bear 5 petalled flowers, like a wild rose. These petals are usually white, but sometimes pink. Each flower has several pistils. Each flower has numerous pollen-laden stamens which attract insects, but many Rubus species are also self-fertile with the ability to set seed on their own. All flower parts are attached to a central coneshaped receptacle (torus). Rubus fruit is an aggregate of small drupelets (individual fleshy fruits surrounding a single seed) attached to the torus.

Members of this genus thrive in well drained, humus rich soils in full sun to part shade. Their water requirement is modest. Rubus stems are called canes. Canes can be green to somewhat woody and are usually covered with bristles, prickles and/or gland-tipped hairs. They spread by seed, tip rooting, or suckering from stolon runners or rhizomes, depending on species.

Berries
Image by Stefani Ecknig, Getty Images

Rubus root stock is perennial, but the canes are biennial. With the exception of some special cultivars, first year canes (primocanes) yield flowers and fruit only during their second season (floricanes), then die. The floricanes are then replaced by new primocanes the following year. Canes can vary in length, depending on type. In the wild, canes tend to bend and arc. In cultivation, canes are commonly pruned and trellised.

Rubus plants have been used since antiquity for food and medicine. Stems, roots, flowers and leaves have been used in infusions, plasters and extractions to treat a wide range of maladies. These include treatments for diarrhea, nausea, stomach ailments, shingles and fevers, as an external wash for wounds, as an antivenom for snakebites, to strengthen gums, to reduce eye inflammation, to cool rashes and as a hair dye. Rubus fruits are full of fiber, antioxidants and vitamins and are delicious to eat.

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Sarah Bailey Receives Mehlquist Award from CT Hort

working in garden
Hartford County Master Gardener Coordinator Sarah Bailey and a Master Gardener volunteer work in Burgdorf. Photo: Chris Defrancesco.
Congratulations to Sarah Bailey, coordinator of our UConn Extension Master Gardener Program on receiving the 2020 Mehlquist Award from the Connecticut Horticultural Society.
 
“… Sarah’s reach and impact on Connecticut’s gardening community has been significant. Sarah’s work to transition the MG class to an online platform in 2018 helped bring the Program into the 21st century. This shift makes it easier for students that are still in the workforce to participate, as the in class commitment was reduced to 4 hours per week. Each day, Sarah leads her team of County Coordinators to provide science-based information to home gardeners. She works tirelessly to meet the challenge of sustaining the MG Program with limited funding from UConn and federal sources. The program is largely
self-sustaining with revenue from MG and Advanced MG classes. …”
 
Visit http://bit.ly/CTHort_Sarah to read more. Congratulations, Sarah!

Job Opening: Assistant Cooperative Extension Educator – UConn Plant Diagnostic Lab

plant in hand and soilSearch #: 494755
Work type: Full-time
Location: Storrs Campus
Categories: Faculty Non Tenure Track

The University of Connecticut, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture (PSLA) is seeking a full-time Assistant Extension Educator to fulfill the mission of the UConn Plant Diagnostic Lab. This is an 11-month, non-tenure track position renewed annually with the expectation of long-term employment. Collaboration with staff and faculty in the PSLA and Extension departments is a key component of this position, and the incumbent will provide support for extension programs at the UConn Home & Garden Education Center, the Commercial Turf Diagnostic Laboratory, the Integrated Pest Management team, and the UConn Master Gardener program.

This position will manage the UConn Plant Diagnostic Laboratory in collaboration with the Home and Garden Education Center Coordinator and will include diagnosis of commercial and residential horticultural problems utilizing microscopy and culture and non-culture based diagnostic tests. The successful candidate will summarize results from diagnosis and identification of problems and provide recommendations for corrective actions to lab patrons in timely written reports. Participation in the National Plant Diagnostic Network and administration of the Northeast Plant Diagnostic Network (NEPDN) at UConn is expected and involves grant writing and reporting. The incumbent will oversee lab budgets, equipment, lab safety, and personnel. The incumbent will be a member of the UConn IPM Team and provide technical support to the Commercial Turf Diagnostic Laboratory. Occasional travel and work during weekends and evenings are required. Excellent oral and written communication skills are essential as this job requires the ability to write, or contribute to, a monthly newspaper column and blog posting, fact sheets, the annual UConn Plant Diagnostic Laboratory summary report, NEPDN grant proposal and progress reports, as well as other publications as needed. In addition, the individual will give educational presentations to diverse audiences on numerous horticultural topics. He or she will represent the UConn Home & Garden Education Center and the University at state, regional and national events and conferences. Contributions to undergraduate and graduate classes are also expected.

For more information click here.

Part-Time Agriculture Program Coordinator In-Training Position Open

making the three sisters recipe with members of the Mashantucket tribe
Extension educators make the Three Sisters recipe with members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

We are seeking a part-time (20 hours/week) Agriculture Program Coordinator-in-Training to work on our Mashantucket Pequot Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP). The incumbent will work collaboratively with a team of Extension professionals, tribal members, and leaders to empower members of Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (MPTN) and communities through nutrition education and youth engagement. This includes a mix of responsibilities related to youth engagement, nutrition education and agriculture programming. The position is based in the MPTN reservation, which is located in Mashantucket, CT though the individual hired will be an employee of the University of Connecticut.

Read the full position description, including details on how to apply.

Apply to Become a UConn Extension Master Gardener – 2021 Class Will Be Online

Master Gardener logoGarden harvests are underway, and it’s a great time to plan ahead for next year. Apply now for the 2021 UConn Extension Master Gardener Program. Classes will be held in Bethel, Brooklyn, Farmington, Haddam and Stamford. The deadline for applications is Friday, October 16, 2020.

UConn Extension Master Gardeners have an interest in plants, gardening, people and the environment.  Specifically, they are willing to share their knowledge, passion and enthusiasm with their communities, providing research-based information to homeowners, students, gardening communities and others. They receive horticultural training from UConn, and then share that knowledge with the public through community volunteering and educational outreach efforts. UConn Master Gardeners help with community and museum gardens, school gardens, backyard projects, houseplant questions and more.

“The Master Gardener Program opened my eyes to the wonderful world of horticulture, gardening, and the fragile ecosystem we share with animals and insects,” says Pat Sabosik of Hamden, who completed the program in 2017.

The 2021 class, that runs January through April, will be entirely online. Each topic consists of online educational material to be reviewed before the class date and a weekly interactive online session providing more depth and application of information to real-life situations. The classroom portion runs from 9 AM – 1 PM. There are five class cohorts available; each affiliated with one or more Master Gardener offices. This year’s Haddam class will be held on Saturdays.

“The combination of in-depth classroom learning with subject matter experts, extensive reading materials, and hands-on projects and outreach experiences is a good balance of learning experiences”, says Anne Farnum who also took the class in 2017.

Classes begin the week of January 9, 2021. Subject matter includes basic botany, plant pathology, soils, entomology and other aspects of gardening such as plant categories, native plants, and pest management. After the classroom portion, students complete 60 hours of outreach experience during the summer, along with a plant identification project.

The program fee is $450.00, and includes all needed course materials. Partial scholarships may be available, based on demonstrated financial need.

For more information, visit the UConn Extension Master Gardener website at www.mastergardener.uconn.edu , where both the on-line and paper application are located.

There is Still Time to Garden

school garden plant
Photo: Molly Deegan

August is just around the corner, and somehow you never got your vegetable garden started. Perhaps you had a wonderful early-season harvest but didn’t plant any later-season crops. The garden bed is just sitting there, empty except for weeds.

Don’t think the garden season is over! There are plenty of short-season crops and cold-tolerant veggies you can grow starting right now.

Connecticut’s first frost dates vary from mid-September in the area of Coventry to early November along the coast in the Bridgeport area. For most of the state, that frost date falls sometime in October. (You can check your specific area at  https://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-connecticut-first-frost-date-map.php) That means most of us have anywhere from eight to ten weeks (55 to 70 days) of growing season left.

There are plenty of short-season vegetables to choose. Once you have determined your likely first frost date, select plants and varieties that will mature in that time frame. This includes vegetables such as beets, bush beans, some cabbages, lettuce, kale, Asian greens, scallions, radishes, turnips, spinach and Swiss chard.

Some vegetables can tolerate cooler temperatures and even a light frost. These selections provide a little extra insurance against an early frost. These include small, round beets, short carrots, radishes, bunching onions, mustard greens, Swiss chard, kale, and spinach. The cooler temperatures will actually improve the sweetness of carrots, cabbages and beets.

You can extend your season further by using plant protectors such as floating row covers, cloches and other similar devices that will give your plants a little extra warmth when the temperatures drop.

So, don’t put the garden tools away just yet. Get started on round two – or three – of your garden to table season!

Article by Sarah Bailey, State Coordinator, UConn Extension Master Gardener Program