gardening

Part-time Jobs: Master Gardener County Coordinator Positions

Master Gardener logo

We have two part-time jobs open for Master Gardener County Coordinators, one in Tolland County (Vernon office) and one in New London County (Norwich office). Position descriptions and application information are below.

Position Description: Master Gardener County Coordinator – Tolland County 

(We also have a position open in New London County – see below for more information)

The UConn Extension Master Gardener Program is seeking applications for the position of Master Gardener Tolland County Program Coordinator. This is a 16‐hour‐per‐week position and is a temporary, six‐month appointment. Renewal is optional pending coordinator review and availability of program funding. 

Responsibilities include but are not limited to: provide leadership for the base county Master Gardener program. Successful candidate will coordinate development, staffing, and recognition of program mentors, volunteers and interns; coordinate and assist with annual classroom portion of the program; work with UConn Extension center/county‐based faculty and staff, as well as university‐based faculty and staff as needed. Will also work with allied community groups and Extension partners such as the CT Master Gardener Association and Extension Councils; train and supervise interns in the Extension center when classroom teaching is completed; arrange and conduct Advanced Master Gardener classes each year; create, develop and coordinate outreach programs and projects in the county. They will prepare annual reports on program activities, impacts, incomes, outcomes (number of clientele contacts); and communicate effectively with the state coordinator, other county coordinators, center coordinators and support staff. 

Preference will be given to candidates who are Certified Master Gardeners, or with a degree in horticulture, botany, biology or equivalent experience. Interested applicants should possess strong organizational, communication and interpersonal skills and be able to show initiative. They should be able to demonstrate experience in working collaboratively as well as independently, and be willing to work flexible hours including some evenings and weekends. Must be familiar with Microsoft Office. Volunteer experience is desired. Monthly reports shall be communicated to the state coordinator and topical information may be shared with others as requested. 

Submit letter of application, resume and names of three references to: 

Sarah Bailey, State Extension Master Gardener Coordinator at sarah.bailey@uconn.edu Please put Master Gardener Coordinator Position in the subject line. 

Electronic submissions only. 

Screening will begin immediately. 


Position Description: Master Gardener County Coordinator – New London County 

The UConn Extension Master Gardener Program is seeking applications for the position of Master Gardener New London County Program Coordinator. This is a 16‐hour‐per‐week position and is a temporary, six‐month appointment. Renewal is optional pending coordinator review and availability of program funding. 

Responsibilities include but are not limited to: provide leadership for the base county Master Gardener program. Successful candidate will coordinate development, staffing, and recognition of program mentors, volunteers and interns; coordinate and assist with annual classroom portion of the program; work with UConn Extension center/county‐based faculty and staff, as well as university‐based faculty and staff as needed. Will also work with allied community groups and Extension partners such as the CT Master Gardener Association and Extension Councils; train and supervise interns in the Extension center when classroom teaching is completed; arrange and conduct Advanced Master Gardener classes each year; create, develop and coordinate outreach programs and projects in the county. They will prepare annual reports on program activities, impacts, incomes, outcomes (number of clientele contacts); and communicate effectively with the state coordinator, other county coordinators, center coordinators and support staff. 

Preference will be given to candidates who are Certified Master Gardeners, or with a degree in horticulture, botany, biology or equivalent experience. Interested applicants should possess strong organizational, communication and interpersonal skills and be able to show initiative. They should be able to demonstrate experience in working collaboratively as well as independently, and be willing to work flexible hours including some evenings and weekends. Must be familiar with Microsoft Office. Volunteer experience is desired. Monthly reports shall be communicated to the state coordinator and topical information may be shared with others as requested. 

Submit letter of application, resume and names of three references to: 

Sarah Bailey, State Extension Master Gardener Coordinator at sarah.bailey@uconn.edu Please put Master Gardener Coordinator Position in the subject line. 

Electronic submissions only. 

Screening will begin immediately. 

September Checklist for Connecticut Gardeners

Written by Colleen Amster and Arianna Ege, UConn Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

mums on a bench
Photo: Michelle Winkler

September is a good time for Connecticut gardeners to begin the fall cleanup and assessment process. It is also a good time to shop for trees, shrubs, and bulbs, and prepare for next year’s growing season. Here is a helpful list to get you started:

Annual and herbaceous perennials

  • Take note of which annuals did well in your garden this year and decide what plants you would like to add to your beds next spring, and where. It is helpful to take photos of the bare spots that you would like to fill.
  • Remove and compost spent annuals. Some annuals like geraniums can be dug up and placed in a cool place to overwinter in containers.
  • Some annuals are cold hardy, like pansies, calendula, sweet pea and ornamental kale, and can be planted now.
  • Begin to harvest and dry (in paper bags) seeds for herbaceous perennial plants that are ready to be collected by late September like hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon), echinacea (coneflower), rudbeckias (black-eyed susans), baptisia (false indigo) and some helianthus (sunflowers), just to name a few. Store seeds, once they are dry, in containers or bags in a cool dry location. Some coneflower seed heads, like echinacea, will need to be shaken in a container to separate the seeds from the chaff. Seeds can be started outdoors later in the fall or, for better results, inside in potting medium in the spring. Some will need to be refrigerated and stratified.
  • As herbaceous perennials turn brown, begin cutting back plants from 4-8” from the ground, depending on the plant. Some fibrous herbaceous perennials do best when they are divided every few years, including echinacea, hostas, and peonies.
  • Take note of any perennials that have been impacted by powdery mildew or fungal diseases. Look for fungal problems on leaves and remove and dispose of any diseased plant parts. This is a good time to research and implement treatments for plants that have been impacted by botrytis, or root rot, or other diseases over the last growing season.
  • It is also a great time to buy discounted plants that transplant well in fall. Many local plant trusts have sales in September and some will sell grouping of pollinator plants. Planting in fall allows root systems extra time to develop.

Bulbs, tubers, rhizomes, and corms

  • Decide what bulbs you would like to add to your garden beds and buy from a reputable source.
  • Before purchasing bulbs, check for disease or damage, such as rot, cuts, or bruises and do not buy bulbs that are soft or moldy. Make sure bulbs are firm and have a protective papery skin. Purchase hardy bulbs in August-September and plant the bulbs as soon as possible. Plant from mid-September to mid-October so the bulbs can grow roots before the ground freezes.
  • Store bulbs in a dry place away from direct sunlight until you are ready to plant them.
  • A special note about garlic: Garlic is especially beneficial in the garden. It is nutritious, easy to grow, repels pests and wildlife, and is a good pollinator plant if some is allowed to bloom. It comes in three varieties, hardenck, softneck, and elephant. If you are planting garlic next month, cloves should be purchased from a reputable supplier or local garden center. Garlic bulbs sold in the grocery store are mainly grown in China and California and may have diseases, nematodes, or viruses that can impact your soil.

Vegetable and herbs

turnips growing in a garden
Photo: Michelle Winkler
  • Maintain good sanitation in your vegetable gardens, pruning and removing diseased leaves, weeds, and any plants that are no longer producing viable fruit to reduce insect and disease issues, and staking plants like tomatoes to keep them off the ground.
  • Make room for cool weather greens like spinach, lettuces, radishes, collard greens, swiss chard, kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, and mustard. Brussel sprouts can still be started now, as well as carrots and rutabagas. Check out this planting calendar for best dates to plant in your zip code: https://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-calendar/zipcode/06070/date.
  • Harvest veggies as they ripen. Harvest and dry herbs that are beginning to get leggy or that have begun to flower or bolt.
  • It is a good time to save heirloom seeds for next season, including tomatoes. Fun fact: any tomatoes that haven’t ripened on the vine by the first forecasted frost can be harvested green and stored indoors until they begin to ripen! See this article for details: https://news.extension.uconn.edu/2014/10/27/is-your-garden-bursting-with-fall-tomatoes/.
  • You can take herb cuttings at this time to start herbs like mint and oregano indoors in a sunny window.
  • Protecting your fall vegetables and flowers with row covers will give you extra growing time in the season and protect tender plants from sudden temperature changes.

Trees and shrubs

  • Focus on removing deadwood and deadheading flowers after they bloom. Don’t prune too heavily, because new growth will not have time to harden off before winter and will be more susceptible to frost damage.
  • It is a good time to plant trees and shrubs, many of which are on sale this time of year!
  • Continue harvesting seasonal fruits.
  • Sanitize the area around each plant by removing fallen fruit and plant debris to prevent the spread of disease and pests.
  • Never add a heavy application of fertilizer to perennials or trees in the late fall as it will encourage new growth and plants can be injured by an early frost.

Lawns

  • Mow grass below 3” now that temperatures are dropping to reduce matting and fungal issues.
  • If your lawn is compacted, consider de-thatching and aerating.
  • Remove weeds and dead grass to expose soil and apply fertilizer. Now is the best time of year to plant grass seed and fill those bare patches in your lawn!

Soil and pests

  • Make plans to add mulch around plants that will need extra protection during the winter months and order a delivery of mulch if that is more economical than buying it in bags. Evergreens and other perennials will need a protective layer of mulch before the first frost. Remember to ask your supplier if they sell certified compost and mulch–and heat their products to at least 104 degrees to kill invasive earthworm cocoons and other pests.
  • All plants should be quarantined and observed before planting and some invasive pest research groups are recommending that all new plants be thoroughly rinsed and planted with bare roots.
  • Prepare your leaf collection bin and compost bin for cool weather.
  • Check for insect pests including the spotted lanternfly and invasive earthworms.
  • Apply deer repellent or plan for netting trees and perennials that deer tend to browse, including arborvitaes and yews.
  • Continue to weed garden beds and maintain good sanitation.
  • Many Connecticut gardeners are reporting infestations of the invasive Asian jumping or snake worm. Wood ash is always a beneficial fall amendment but has the added benefit of repelling these worms; diatomaceous earth or biochar may also be used to combat them.
  • Last, collect soil samples to be tested while the soil is still easily workable so you can plan soil amendments accordingly: https://soiltest.uconn.edu/sampling.php

References and further reading

Perennials: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/FactSheets/perennials.php
Bulbs, tubers, rhizomes, corms: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/bulbs/planting.cfm
Seed saving: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/FactSheets/seed-starting.php
Flowering sequence of different types of bulbs: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/bulbs/selection.cfm

Garlic: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/index_306_3102396391.pdf http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/Articles_28_731441880.pdf
Tomatoes: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/FactSheets/tomatoes.php
Saving seeds: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/Articles_25_1925738656.pdf
Invasive earthworms: https://ag.umass.edu/sites/ag.umass.edu/files/pdf-doc-ppt/kostromytska_invasive_earthworms_ppt.pdf

https://extension.psu.edu/look-out-for-jumping-earthworms
September gardening: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/FactSheets/gardening-tips-september_15_1424196800.pdf
Fall gardening: https://news.extension.uconn.edu/tag/fall-gardening/
Tree, shrub, and perennial planting and aftercare: https://clear.uconn.edu/projects/crlg/documents/f3.pdf
Fall lawn care: http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/Articles_69_3249872767.pdf

Apply to Become a UConn Extension Master Gardener

2022 classes will include hybrid and virtual options

vegetable gardenFall is a great time to plan for next year’s gardening activities! Apply now for the 2022 UConn Extension Master Gardener Program. Classes will be held in New Haven, Norwich, Tolland, Torrington, and Stamford. The deadline for applications is Friday, October 18, 2021.

“The program provides the opportunity for beginner, intermediate or experienced gardeners to increase their personal knowledge of the practice of gardening … The program allows you to meet with like-minded people over a common interest – growing plants,” says Advanced Master Gardener Ken Sherrick of Middletown.

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.

Four of the program cohorts will be in a hybrid class format, with three to four hours of online work before each of 16 weekly in-person classes, running from 9 AM to 1 PM. There will be one entirely online evening cohort, on Thursdays from 5:30 – 9:30 PM, hosted by the New Haven office.

Classes begin the week of January 10, 2022. 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 Master Gardener program gave me an understanding the role of plants and insects within the ecosystem, which fostered a passion for removing invasive plants,” says Advanced Master Gardener Karen Berger of Canton, who now volunteers on a project to remove invasives, replacing them with native plants that benefit the local environment.

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 mastergardener.uconn.edu , where both the on-line and paper application are located.

September Gardening Tips

Gardening Tips for September

landscaped lawn

  • Mid to late September is a great time to add accent plants, like vivid mums and starry asters, that will provide autumn colors in the landscape. Use them along with cool-colored ornamental cabbages and kales to replace bedraggled annuals in containers as well.
  • Lawns can be renovated or repaired between late August and mid- September for best results. New grass should started well before fall leaf drop.
  • Watch for frost warnings and cover tender plants.
  • Examine houseplants carefully for insect pests before bringing them back inside. Give them a good grooming if necessary. You may want to spray plants with insecticidal soap after hosing off the foliage. Let the plants dry before applying the soap.
  • Remove and compost spent annuals and fallen leaves.
  • Weed and mulch perennial beds using a loose organic material such as bark chips or leaves to keep down weeds, preserve moisture, and give roots a longer time to grow before the soil freezes.
  • Outwit hungry squirrels and chipmunks by planting hardy bulbs in established ground covers.
  • Lift and store tender bulbs, such as cannas, dahlias and gladiolus, after first frost.
  • Perennials like day lilies and bearded irises can still be dug up and divided.
  • Visit a local nursery or garden center and select spring flowering bulbs to add to your gardens. Plant the bulbs among perennials, under trees and shrubs, or in larger groups for a splendid spring show. Choose colors that complement other spring flowering plants as well as nearby plantings. Work a little Bulb Booster or 5-10-10 into the bottom of the planting holes.

Updated App, New Rules & Soggy Summer: Time For a Rain Garden

rain garden
Coneflower and blazing star are in bloom in the rain garden behind the baseball field at East Lyme High School.

Story and photos by Judy Benson

July’s wet weather may have dampened plans for beach days and barbeques, but it’s also a reminder of an environmental problem homeowners can help solve in their own yards.

The excess of rainfall—about twice the amount normally seen so far this month—means more stormwater tainted with lawn chemicals, oil and gas residues and other pollutants has been entering our streams, rivers and Long Island Sound. The polluted runoff flows off roads, driveways, roofs and parking lots into storm drains that carry it directly into our waterways, untreated, sometimes resulting in high bacteria counts that recently closed swimming areas at Ocean Beach in New London and Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic for a few days.

“A lot of people think stormwater goes to a treatment facility, but most of it just drains directly into a water body,” said David Dickson, faculty member and extension educator for UConn CLEAR (Center for Land Use Education and Research).  “Runoff is one of the top water quality problems, especially here in Connecticut.”

But it’s also a problem where small-scale efforts with muscle and a shovel can make a big difference. And thanks to a recently updated, user-friendly app and the added motivation of new state requirements for stormwater—set against all the recent rainfall—there’s no better time for individual action than right now.

Dickson and his colleagues at UConn CLEAR are proponents of rain gardens, an elegantly simple, relatively inexpensive solution that can also enhance outdoor spaces for both people and wildlife. This is basically a bowl-shaped area planted with native grasses, shrubs and flowers tolerant of both extreme wet and dry conditions where runoff is channeled and absorbed into the soil, filtering out pollutants along the way.

Over the past four years, more than 45 rain gardens have been installed at schools, town halls, museums and other public spaces throughout New London and Windham counties, led by the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District. Judy Rondeau, assistant director of the ECCD, quickly ticked off some examples: gardens at East Lyme High School, the Mystic Art Association, Whalen’s Wharf in Stonington, the Groton Social Services Building and the Lebanon Historical Society among them, all collecting runoff from adjacent roofs and pavement.

Sue Augustyniak built this rain garden on the property of of the William A. Buckingham Memorial as her service project for the Coastal Certificate Program.
Sue Augustyniak built this rain garden on the property of of the William A. Buckingham Memorial as her service project for the Coastal Certificate Program.

One of the newest rain gardens in the region can be found at the William A. Buckingham Memorial in Norwich. It was built by Master Gardener Sue Augustyniak as a service project for the Coastal Certificate program, a joint offering of Connecticut Sea Grant, the UConn Master Gardener Program and the Long Island Sound Study. The garden collects water that had been running off the historic home property onto the road, with pussy willow, sweet pepperbush and other plants gracing the shoulders.

“It’s helping keep the Thames watershed clean,” she said. “It’s a great way to help my own community.”

Rondeau encourages people to visit one of the local gardens.

“Seeing them can give people an immediate understanding of where the water’s coming from,” she said, adding that plans are in the works for another 20 rain gardens over the next year.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to get some in this summer, if it ever stops raining,” she joked.

But rain gardens in public places are only part of the solution. Rondeau and Dickson are hoping to spur interest among homeowners to build rain gardens in their own yards. The gardens would not only help solve water issues on their own properties but would also help the cities and towns where they live. Starting this year, all but the most rural towns in the state are required to divert 1% of runoff away from pavement and out of storm drains each year.

“A very easy way to do that is to push rain gardens,” said Rondeau. “It’s a way individual homeowners can make a bit of a difference and beautify a corner at the same time. But even if you don’t like gardening, you can just put in a grass garden. It functions the same.”

So how do you build a rain garden?

David Dickson spots a skipper butterfly and several bees pollinating on the flowers in the rain garden at East Lyme High School on July 12.
David Dickson spots a skipper butterfly and several bees pollinating on the flowers in the rain garden at East Lyme High School on July 12.

That’s where the newly refurbished rain garden app, co-created by Dickson and his CLEAR colleague Michael Dietz, comes in. Launched nine years ago with funding from Connecticut Sea Grant, the updated app is now a web-based tool usable on mobile phones, desktop computers and everything in between. It gives step-by-step guidance on choosing a site, calculating the size, testing the soil, choosing plants and digging the hole the right way to the right depth.

“Especially with some of the heavy, flashy rains we’ve been getting, it’s important to divert as much of that water as possible,” said Rondeau. “It will relieve stress on the storm drain system and direct the water to where it will infiltrate into the soil.”

The free rain garden app can be found at: https://nemo.uconn.edu/tools/app/raingarden.htm.

Judy Benson is the communications coordinator for Connecticut Sea Grant. 

Healthy Soils to be Focus of 2021 Coastal Certificate Program

This year’s Coastal Certificate Program will take place virtually over four days in mid-May. Led by Judy Preston, CT Sea Grant’s Long Island Sound outreach coordinator, this year’s classes will emphasize healthy soils at the root of healthy gardens, landscapes, and ultimately the watersheds that are essential to clean waters and a healthy Sound.

The classes will also look at how soils fuel diverse gardens that sustain wildlife, including pollinators. Co-sponsored by Maggie Redfern, assistant director of the Connecticut College Arboretum, it will also feature guest speakers.

The classes will be from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on May 11, 13, 18 and 20. Class is limited to 35 students.

To register, visit: https://mastergardener.uconn.edu and go to the Garden Master Course Catalog: https://uconnmastergardeners.gosignmeup.com/Public/Course/Browse

For information, contact: Judy Preston at: judy.preston@uconn.edu; (860) 395-8335

Download a pdf of the flier here.

Original Post

Compost Sale

compost facility

Spring 2021 UConn Compost Sale Details

Pick-up date: Friday, April 16th 1-4 PM and Saturday, April 17th 10 AM – 3 PM
Rain date(s): Friday, April 23rd and/or Saturday, April 24th

$25 per yard. Customers must purchase a minimum of ½ yard.

Payment must be made online by credit/debit card only.
*Payments must be received by 5 PM on Thursday, April 15th.*

Pick-up Location: UConn Compost Facility, 1396 Stafford Rd., Storrs, CT 06269.
Please follow the signs.

Make online payments here!

IMPORTANT RULES:

– Please bring Proof of payment (A picture of your payment receipt or the actual printed receipt.) Those who have not prepaid online will be turned away.
– Customers must wear a mask and stay in their vehicles.
– No boxes, pails, buckets or bags.  Compost will not be loaded by hand (shovel) by customers or UConn Staff.
– Trucks and trailers only. Compost will be loaded by a UConn tractor.

You will be asked to leave if you do not follow these rules.

Please contact Mary Kegler at 860-486-8567 with any questions.

Virtual Connecticut Master Gardener Association Symposium

flower in pot on porchOn Saturday, March 20th starting at 9:00 am, Connecticut Master Gardeners, guests and the public will have the opportunity to hear national and regional experts talk about  “Gardening Any Time, Any Place”  by virtually attending the Connecticut Master Gardener Association (CMGA) 28th annual garden symposium.   Registration and information about the virtual event is available at ctmga.org/symposium-event-2021  The cost for the two featured  speakers and a choice of two of five breakout session speakers is $60 for CMGA members and guests; $90 for non-members and includes a “virtual event bag” with coupons, promotions and special offers from symposium sponsors.  Contact: symposium@ctmga.org

What is Extension – New Video Released

UConn Extension connects thousands of people across Connecticut and beyond each year, with the research and resources of the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. We are comprised of more than 100 educators and a vast network of volunteers. UConn Extension works collaboratively to build more resilient communities through educational initiatives aimed to cultivate a sustainable future and develop tomorrow’s leaders. The work of UConn Extension connects communities and individuals to help make Connecticut a better place to live, and a better place for future generations.