MARCH 2015

Quote of the Month


President's Message

From Ed Meachen, MGV

On Saturday, February 21st, I attended an outstanding program that brought Community Garden leaders and Master Gardener Volunteers together to talk about community gardens.  It was the first MAMGA program of the year, and about 80 MGVs, Extension staff and community garden leaders attended.  I met a host of gardeners I had never met before, and had some marvelous conversations about the work that’s been going on in community gardens for the past 40 years. 

Katie Gletty-Syoen of McFarland Community Gardens, Danielle Niles of Crowley Station CG, Mary Mullen of Marlborough Park CG, Mee Xiong of Brittingham Park CG, and Aislynn Miller of Meadowood Park CG shared their challenges, their community building stories, and their eagerness to work with master gardener volunteers.  Shelly Strom of Community Groundworks served as the panel chair. 

There was a lot of audience participation, a lot of great suggestions, and good conversation.  What most interested me were the suggestions for how MGVs could bring their expertise to community gardens (and of course, put in productive hours for recertification).  The follow-up to this program will be a master gardener volunteer and community garden leader “Match Making” event on Monday, March 16th, from 6-8 pm.  We don’t know the location yet, but we’ll post it out on the web site when we determine where it will be held. 

So if you are interested in an opportunity to do long or short-term volunteer work with a community garden near you, please RSVP Sharon Lezberg at Dane County UW Extension (608) 224-3719, or email her at


Board Business

Madison Area Master Gardeners Association
Board of Directors Meeting

March 2, 2015 
6 p.m.
Dane County UW-Extension
5201 Fen Oak Drive, Madison

  1. Approval of the January Board Meeting Minutes (Percy) 
  2. April meeting date for election of new Board officers (Ed) 
  3. Strategic Planning meeting with Mindy Habecker to prepare for June 1st Board Planning meeting (Ed) 
  4. Wisconsin Farm Technology Days progress report (Lisa) 
  5. Membership report (Percy)
  6. A Membership Meeting progress report (Ed, Aleta, Dana, Bonnie) 
  7. Program Committee report (Ed)
  8. A Community Gardens Program debrief 
  9. Community Services Committee report (Jon, Steve, Aleta)
  10. An update on grant applications 
  11. Communications and Budget Committees.  Any reports? 
  12. Ad Hoc Funding Committee ideas 

November 2014 Board Minutes Summary

  • The Board changed the membership dues to $15 per year, eliminated the 2-year renewal option, and set a cost of $20 for the annual meeting.
  • In 2015, Dane Co/UW-Extension staff has been assigned to prepare educational displays for the Farm Technology Days, scheduled to be held in Sun Prairie from August 25 through 27.  More information about how MAMGA members can help will be made available.
  • The Board voted to place a short summary of its meeting minutes on the MAMGA website in order to make the organization and its functions more transparent.
  • The Board voted to add $1500 to the 2015 budget for a grant program for MAMGA members.  An additional $304 will be added to the $131 in the Shelley Ryan scholarship fund. 
  • Catherine Murray resigned her position as president due to a job promotion but she will remain on the Board with limited responsibilities until her term expires in March 2015.
  • Aleta Murray announced that she was stepping down as the WIMGA representative.  Any Board member who is interested should discuss it with Aleta.
  • The Membership Committee reported that the membership renewals will be sent out electronically to 181 members.  The renewal and volunteer interest forms are available on the MAMGA website.  The 200+ members whose membership expires at the end of 2015 will be sent an email requesting permission to share contact information with Dane Co./UW-Extension.
  • Ed and Aleta will head up the Annual Meeting Committee which is planned for March 2015. 
  • The report from the Fundraising Committee was deferred to the January meeting due to lack of time.


Bylaw Changes

For Consideration by the Membership

The MAMGA Board has approved one change to the MAMGA Bylaws.  This change will be brought to the membership at the March 28th membership meeting for a vote.  ARTICLE IX stipulates that a two-thirds vote of the members present is required for approval. 
The change to the bylaws concerns the position of “vice-president/president-elect.”  The Board has decided to retain “vice-president” but drop “president-elect.”  The reason for doing this is that the standard term for each of the four officers (President, VP/Pres. Elect, Secretary, Treasurer) is one year.  But in actuality, the VP/President Elect is required to serve for two years—one as vice president and one as president.  This makes it very difficult to recruit someone for the office.  It’s a good way, in theory, to educate someone for the role of president before they take up that responsibility, but in practice, it has not accomplished that goal.  In the future, under the new bylaws, the vice-president will serve out the term of the president if she/he resigns during the one year term, but does not require another year of service as president. 
The necessary changes to the bylaws are indicated below.
Board of Directors

(Note:  the following is the new language with the term 'president-elect' deleted.)
            Section 4.12.  Conduct of Meetings.  The president, and in the absence of the president, the vice-president, and in the absence of the vice-president, any director chosen by the directors present, shall call Board of Directors meetings to order and shall act as chairperson of the meeting.  The corporation’s Secretary shall act as secretary of all Board of Directors meetings, but in the Secretary’s absence, the presiding officer may appoint a director or other person present to act as secretary of the meeting.  The chairperson of the meeting shall determine if minutes of the meeting are to be prepared, and if minutes are to be prepared, shall assign a person to do so.
Standing Committees of the Board
            Section 5.015.  Executive Committee.  The Executive Committee shall be composed of the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and one additional director who shall be elected by the Board of Directors promptly after the Annual Meeting.  The Executive Committee shall have and may exercise, when the Board of Directors is not in session, the powers of the Board of Directors in the management of the affairs of the corporation, except action with respect to the election of officers, and the formation of and the filling of vacancies and committees.  The delegation of authority to the Executive Committee shall not operative to relieve the Board of Directors or any individual director of any responsibility imposed upon the Board of Directors or any individual director by law.
            Section 6.01.  Number and Titles.  The officers of the corporation shall be a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer.
            Section 6.09.  The Vice President.  In the President’s absence, or in the event of his or her death or inability or refusal to act, or if for any reason it shall be impractical for the President to act personally, the Vice-President shall perform the duties of the President.  The Vice-President shall perform such other duties and have such authority as from time to time may be delegated or assigned to him or her by the President or by the Board of Directors.  

The Extension Express


From Dane County UWEX Horticulture
Program Coordinator
Joe Muellenberg

Programming Update

Garden Basics & Beyond Class Series
Taught by UW-Extension Educators & Specialists, Master Gardener Volunteers, and local experts this short course will give you the practical knowledge to keep your home garden thriving. Classes will be held Tuesdays from 6:00-8:30pm at the Dane County UW-Extension office.

  • March 3   – Soils & Composting
  • March 10 – Plant Propagation
  • March 17 – Tree Planting, Pruning, & Selection
  • March 24 – Native Plants for Gardens & Pollinators
  • March 31 – Vegetables
  • April 7     – Annuals & Perennials
  • April 14   – Weeds & WildlifeRegister now!  

Cost is $130.00 –includes a set of handout materials that accompany the classes. A reduced price of $90.00 is available for participants to attend 4 classes of their choice.

Wisconsin First Detector Network (WFDN)

The effects of invasive species are having increasingly negative impact on Wisconsin’s landscape and biodiversity. Master Gardeners are primed to join the fight against them! Learn to identify, report, and stop the spread of invasive species in Wisconsin. Join the Wisconsin First Detector Network
Click here to watch the WFDN introductory video.
Hort Short
It’s cold outside! Don’t let that stop your houseplants from thriving. Read Houseplant Care by Amy Gibbs and Brian Hudelson at UW-Madison Plant Pathology where to best locate your beloved indoor plants. Other topics include how & when to water, fertilize, and control pests & diseases for houseplants.
Follow us on Facebook:
Follow us on Twitter: @DaneCoHortUWEX and @Wisco

Thank you!

Thanks to: Karen Allenstein, Katie Kelsner, Sue Harris, Mary Pelzer, Nina Harmes, Libby Howting, Jamie Murray-Branch, Gail Piper, Nancy Jacobson, Cyndy White, Kate Kemper, Suzy Bowditch, Denise Johanowicz, Dave Thompson, Rachel Martin, Sandy Aebly, Mary Young, Debbie Craig, Jennifer Anderson, Dennis Tande, Mary Collet and Jackie Winchester.

We couldn't do it without you!

        Green Thumb Tuesday          

Tuesday, March 3
Informal Lunch Meeting

12:30 - 2:30 p.m

Monona Gardens Restaurant
6501 Bridge Rd, Madison

TOPIC: Garden tools you can't live without

Food and beverage from Monona Gardens menu; separate checks provided. No registration required; however it helps to know you are coming for room arrangement.  Contact Dana Warren at 833-5703 or to RSVP or get additional information about the event.

Green Thumb Tuesday is the time and place to relax, enjoy food and/or beverage and talk about gardening.

Try something new in 2015 -- join us!


Rotary Botanical Garden
Spring is on everyone’s mind, isn’t it? Check out the Rotary Botanical Gardens Spring Symposium: Garden Inspirations, The Spice of Life! 

Saturday, March 21, 2015
Speakers & Presentations:
  • Peter Hatch, Director of Garden & Grounds at Monticello (retired), Nationally-renowned Author & HistorianThomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden
    • Author book-signing to follow presentation – Softcover copies of “A Rich Spot of Earth” available for pre-purchase during registration process, $27.50/each. To be picked up at Symposium
  • Kyle Cherek, Host of Emmy-nominated series     Wisconsin Foodie on Wisconsin Public "A Culinary Compendium: Love and Lore of Local Food"
  • Mark Dwyer, Director of Horticulture at Rotary Botanical Gardens"From Bucket List to Back Yard"
$85         RBG Friends Members
$92         Active Master Gardeners (must list county/state)**
$99         General Public

Lunch is included in registration fee.
**Active Master Gardeners who are also RBG Friends Members are eligible for the Friends Member pricing above.
Anyone may register online with a credit card or download a registration form at
or register by phone or mail using the contact information below.
Rotary Botanical Gardens
Attn: Kris Koch
1455 Palmer Drive
Janesville, WI 53545
608-752-3885 ext. 17

Herb Society of America District and Educational Events to Attend
From Pat Greathead
H.S.A. Central District Membership Delegate

Register Soon!

This spring is a wonderful time to learn new gardening techniques and herbal uses.  The Central District of the Herb Society of America (H.S.A.) offers several spring events in mid-western states.  I have been very fortunate to attend each of the of the spring events in neighboring states and Wisconsin during the past two years and highly recommend that you make every effort to attend in 2015.  Click here to find a calendar of these events.  A Wisconsin event is described below.
Saturday, May 23:  The Wisconsin Unit’s Herb Fair at Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners, WI.  9 a.m. – 3 p.m.  Vendors, Tea Room, free speakers, and if you remember your H.S.A. membership card, free admission to the gardens and 10% discount in the Gift Shop.  See the website for additional info in the near future. 

If you go to the H.S.A. website,, under the drop-down header "What’s new" and open "Calendar of events,", you will find information on these and other events throughout the country.  Should you be traveling near these other events, please make plans to participate in all you can.

If you have any questions, please let me know.
All the best, as always,

Pat Greathead, H.S.A. Central District Membership Delegate

Continuing Education Opportunities


Wisconsin First Detector Network
Now Enrolling for 2015

Invasive species are expanding throughout the state of Wisconsin each year. While these species are often overlooked, they are impacting our state’s economy, environment, and even human health. Wisconsin’s First Detector Network (WIFDN) was established in 2014 to train citizen scientists help prevent these impacts by looking for and reporting invasive species. In the inaugural year we trained over 100 people that contributed over 700 hours towards this effort.
In 2015 we are seeking additional members to train (existing members can participate for free).  What does it take to become a WIFDN volunteer?
  1. Passion for protecting Wisconsin from invasive species
  2. Register for training videos/webinars ($30 registration fee, see below)
  3. Volunteer 24 hours of service towards invasive species monitoring or education 
Participants will receive detailed training on invasive species biology, impacts, and identification as well as the opportunity to participate in projects specifically designed for WIFDN members.

It all begins March 13th with the first of 5 biweekly webinars.

Click here to register for the 2015 WIFDN training. Registration is $30 and open until March 26, 2015. If you cannot afford the registration limited scholarships are available please contact us!

See our website for more details about WIFDN and the training session:

Contact Tony Summers, WIFDN Coordinator; Phone: 608 262-9570;

Copy and paste this text into your web browser if the above link does not work:®TYPE=3100-103.


                   Beekeeping Classes 2015

                             Madison, WI

You are invited to attend one of our day long 'Beekeeping Classes'  to be held at the Dane Co. Extension Building, 5201 Fen Oak Dr, Madison, WI 53718. Beginners' classes will repeat on March 28, April 11 and May 2, 2015.

Second Step Class is on March 21, 2015. 

All classes run from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. The fee of $50 covers coffee, handouts, free sample journals, catalogues, and props galore for you to handle. 

Individual, hands-on mentoring is also available, $20 for 2 hours in the apiary.To register, contact Jeanne Hansen at 608-244-5094 or


Garden Reflections
by Joan Fitzgerald, MGV, PHA

It's a late Saturday afternoon in late February and if you're feeling like I am today you can hardly wait until we have better weather.  Seems like I've been looking out the windows at snowy lawns and sidewalks forever!

On the bright side, I did go to Orchid Quest at the Marriott West in early February and the Garden Expo in mid-February.  I had not been to the Orchid Quest in several years and this was the first year they had the event at the Marriott.  In addition to seeing dozens of beautiful orchids, participants enjoyed free parking!  I bought a couple of the less expensive plants for spring cheer in my home.

I've been going to the Garden Expo for more years than I can remember. I have been attending for the last 6 or 7 years with my friend Blanca. She likes to look for the 'tool of the year.'  She watches the crowd and sees what tools people are carrying around with them.  This year's tool had a long yellow handle and a black rubber push broom on the end of it.  It was bargain priced at $25 for two of them, and one of them had a telescopic handle for high reaching jobs like washing the siding on your house.  Blanca didn't know what the tools were called but she did purchase them.  While she was doing that, I people watched.  I told her I have enough gadgets in my garage that I don't use and I wasn't going to add to my collection this year.

This month's newsletter is jam-packed with volunteer opportunities and events to keep you occupied until gardening gets going in earnest here in southern Wisconsin.

Take advantage of all that MAMGA and the Extension have to offer master gardener volunteers!


"Match Making Event"

Join us for a Master Gardener Volunteer and Community Garden Leader “Match Making” Event!

When: Monday, March 16: 6-8pm
Where: Location to be determined

What: An opportunity for Master Gardener Volunteers and Community Garden Leaders to connect and identify volunteer connections in community gardens. Volunteers can support garden management, plan educational events, and head garden projects—in partnership with community garden leaders!

RSVP or direct questions to: Sharon Lezberg at Dane County UW Extension: (608) 224-3719 or


Hi!  My name is Julie Mellenthin. I am the Landscape & Garden Coordinator for Agrace HospiceCare in Fitchburg, WI. We are interested in recruiting up to 13 MAMGA Gardeners for the 2015 season. 

Agrace Gardens Description:  Founded in 2000, Agrace Gardens is a public display garden situated on a 14 acre premise of the Agrace hospice facility in Madison, WI. Previously the property was most likely used as a pasture for some time following settlement. Two phases of development initiated the creation of the gardens: in 2000, the Don & Marilyn Anderson HospiceCare Center opened, followed by the addition of the Ellen & Peter Johnson Residence in 2006.

The gardens were designed with the intent to provide solace and comfort to patients, families and visitors. Today the gardens consist of several individual theme spaces: courtyards, woodlands, an oak savanna, prairies, rain gardens, kitchen gardens, a dry river bed, patient patio gardens, annual beds and containers, a screen garden, a butterfly garden, a hosta bed and a pond & memorial brick walk.

The gardens are a constantly evolving project. The diversity of existing ecosystems, forest stands and topography allow for the continual development of distinctly different spaces. Efforts are underway to further differentiate each of the unique theme spaces.
Job Title:  General Gardener
Job Description:  Assistant Gardeners work in groups of up to 15, maintaining the 8 acres of formal beds which surround our facility. Duties include: planting, watering, mulching, deadheading, pruning, cutting back perennials, edging beds, sweeping patios and weeding, weeding and weeding!
Job Location: 5395 E. Cheryl Parkway, Madison, WI 53711
Opportunity Duration: Mid-April through November.
Expected Time Commitment:  Every Tues or 2+ Tues/month 2 hours /shift 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Contact: Volunteer Services
Contact Phone Number:  (608) 327-7163
Contact email:
Additional Comments/Notes:  Assistant Gardeners are asked to make a seasonal commitment of 50 hours or 25. Every/other Tues. gardeners have the flexibility to choose which 2+ Tuesdays to work each month.

Julie Mellenthin
Landscape & Garden Coordinator


Job Title:  Gardener: Sunday Watering
Job Description:  Sunday Watering Gardeners water and perform general maintenance on our annual beds and containers. Duties include: watering annuals in front entrance beds and containers, performing general maintenance techniques on annuals.
Job Location:  5395 E. Cheryl Parkway, Madison, WI 53711
Opportunity Duration: Mid-May through November
Expected Time Commitment:  2+ shifts/month.  Shift: 1st &, 3rd or 2nd & 4th Sunday each month, plus an occasional 5th.  Flexible hours. 
Contact Person: Volunteer Services
Contact Phone Number:  (608) 327-7163
Contact email:
Additional Comments/Notes: Take pride in being a part of one of Agrace’s most cherished garden spaces – our annual beds & containers! A training session in Spring is provided.

Wisconsin Farm Technology Days

August 25-27, 2015 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days is an annual event in the state that is held in a different county each year. This is the year it is being held in Dane County at the Statz Bros. family farms in the town of Sun Prairie. UW-Extension Horticultural specialists and Dane County Master Gardeners play a major role in this event. Planning for MGV roles in educational outreach, garden demonstrations, and other activities gets under way this month. There is a group of MGVs meeting in a few weeks. Please come and join your colleagues in making this an exemplary event.  

Contact Lisa Johnson at or 608-224-3715 or if you are interested in volunteering.  It's a great way to help out Extension with your volunteer hours.


Plant of the Month

-- Orchid --

By Jackie Winchester, MGV
Orchid (Phalaenopsis spp. and cvs.) is a popular potted plant pre­cisely because it blooms for months at a time and survives under typical household conditions. Orchids are not difficult to grow but are different from most houseplants. Most orchids grow epiphytically, aboveground on tree branches or rocks. The thick, strong roots anchor onto bark or stone, and are accustomed to the drenching-and-drying routine of tropical rainforests. They need air around them and the roots are crucial to growing healthy orchids. Understanding the natural habitat helps determine orchid care that will bloom year after year.

Orchids prefer bright, indirect light especially when orchids are flowering. Once the orchid finishes flowering, it needs energy to produce another flower spike. In late fall to early winter when the spike should begin developing move your orchid to a spot where it gets a few hours of direct morning or late-afternoon sun.  Introduce the stronger light gradually over a week.

Orchids need regular, light feedings and can’t absorb as much fertilizer as houseplants that grow in potting soil, as their roots burn if they receive too much fertilizer too quickly. In summer, fertilize weekly at half the recommended rate. In winter, cut fertilizing back to once a month.

Orchids do best in a mix of bark, perlite, and charcoal, which drains quickly but stays slightly moist for days. After a year, the bark mixture breaks down and stops providing the drainage and air circulation necessary for orchid roots so it’s time to repot.

Overwatering is a common problem with indoor orchids. Water only when the mix is dry, and never let an orchid sit in water. Orchids are prone to root rot and disease when left soaking in water overnight or during the winter. Frequently when a leaf shrivels, you start watering more, instead of only once a week. Then another leaf drops; the roots keep shriveling. An orchid will look like it is drying up but it’s actually drowning. When in doubt, wait a few days as orchids can handle drought better than over watering.

Orchids like temperatures between 60°F and 80°F. The hardest thing to achieve indoor is a temperature drop at night of 15°F to 20°F that is typical in rainforests. Orchids initiate a blooming spike in response to a month of cool nighttime temperatures so providing a night temperature drop will encourage a bloom spike.


Gardening Tip

Purchase a notebook to keep records of your gardening information. You could include things such as seeds planted, favorite vegetable varieties, warranties on trees and shrubs and how much mulch you used this year so it will be easy to remember for next year. Recording your successes make you feel good too! 

Source:  Village Gardener Express: Official newsletter of Ebert's Greenhouse Village, Ixonia,WI


From the Bookshelf

The Flower Recipe Book

by Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo

Flower arranging has never been simpler or more enticing. The women behind Studio Choo, the hottest floral design studio in the country, have created a flower-arranging bible for today's aesthetic. Filled with an array of stunning, easy-to-find flowers, it features 400 high-resolution photos, more than 40 step-by-step slideshows, and tappable pop-tips throughout.

The arrangements run the gamut of styles and techniques: some are wild and some are structured; some are time-intensive and some are astonishingly simple. Each one is paired with a "flower recipe"; ingredients lists specify the type and quantity of blooms needed; clear instructions detail each step; and hundreds of photos show how to place every stem. Readers will learn how to work with a single variety of flower to great effect, and to create vases overflowing with layered blooms. To top it off, the book is packed with ideas for unexpected vessels, seasonal buying guides, a source directory, a flower care primer, and all the design techniques readers need to know.

Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo are the founders of Studio Choo, a San Francisco-based floral design studio that serves up fresh, wild, and sophisticated flower arrangements for any occasion. Their work has been featured in publications such as Sunset, Food & Wine, and Veranda and in the blog Design*Sponge.

Snippets . . .


ORGANIZE YOUR SEEDS: When winter's cold gets you down, play with your seeds! Organize seed packets in an accordion file according to starting date relative to your last frost date — 10-12 weeks before, 8-10 weeks, 6-8 weeks, and so on. Mark the tab on each pocket with the actual sowing dates for your area. Then it will be easy to pull out the appropriate packets when the proper time for seed sowing arrives.

Source: Gardener to Gardener online, January 2015

FAN YOUR PLANTS: If you start seeds indoors, consider investing in a small fan to improve air circulation around young plants. This will help to reduce disease problems like damping off that thrive in too humid conditions. The gentle movement of the seedlings in the breeze will also cause them to develop sturdier stems. Or, every few days, run your hands gently across the tops of seedlings to help them develop sturdy stems that will hold up well when they are out in the open garden.
Source: Gardener to Gardener online, January 2015
GATHER SUPPLIES FOR SEED STARTING: Gather all your seed-starting supplies now so you'll be ready when it's time to begin sowing. Stock up on germinating and potting mixes, containers, labels and indelible markers. If you don't already own one, consider investing in a heat mat to speed germination. If you plan to grow under lights and are in the market for new fixtures, consider buying the newer, more energy-efficient T-5 fluorescent lights.
Source: Gardener to Gardener online, January 2015
TEN PERENNIALS GROWN EASILY FROM SEEDS: Have you ever tired to grow plants from seeds?  Panayoti Kelaidis, writing for Fine Gardening online identifies ten perennials that are easy to grow from seed. All of these plants can be grown in Wisconsin gardens.
  1. Allium - USDA Hardiness Zones 3-11
  2. Penstemon - Zones 3-10
  3. Hardy Ice Plant - Zones 5-11
  4. Primrose - Zones 3-8
  5. Silene - Zones 3-9
  6. Dianthus - Zones 3-10
  7. Draba - Zones 4-6
  8. Lupine - Zones 4-8
  9. Native Columbine - Zones 3-8
  10. Wild Buckwheat - Zones 3-11
To find out more about these versatile perennials click here.

Master Gardener Volunteer Profile

-- Jim Scorgie --
by Mary Collet, MGV
Jim Scorgie’s passion for growing plants began in childhood, in caring for houseplants in his family’s apartment on the south side of Chicago.  The family moved to Wautoma, WI, in 1950 while he was in high school.

“We had three acres, an orchard, and plenty of room for a garden. The only problem was the soil. It was like beach sand. Watering was a constant chore and severely limited the scope of the garden to how many milk cans of water you wanted to lug. Quack grass grew through everything, and sand burs were a constant nuisance when weeding.”

Nonetheless, Jim found his Wautoma home “a heavenly place.”
Gardening was interrupted for 8 years while Jim attended Hamline University, Harvard Divinity School, and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He was ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church in 1964 and went on to serve several churches in northern Illinois.

“My Chicago parishes did not lend themselves to gardening. I tried a few things without much success. Then I was appointed to Mt. Morris, which was a gardener’s paradise. A parishioner let me share a space she owned with a seasoned gardener, who taught me much about gardening. For 11 years, I wallowed in the luxury of beautiful topsoil abandoned after the Ice Age. It was a clear space unhindered by shade, and tomatoes grew with amazing speed. We canned until we were glad winter came.”

When Jim was appointed to a position in Rockford, he was offered a small gardening plot. At his next appointment in Libertyville, he shared a plot with neighbors and church members.

When Jim retired in 2001, he and his wife decided to move to the Madison area to be midway between their daughters in northern Illinois and the family home in Wautoma. Their three acres of land west of Middleton provide plenty of room for growing vegetables, fruit, and flowers.  Because voles are plentiful, vegetables are grown in raised beds or pots. Jim has had enormous success in growing tomatoes in 15-gallon pots, filled with mulch, which are watered by a trickle irrigation system that he designed. He renews the mulch yearly. The pot-grown tomatoes are prolific, crack-free, and resistant to blight.  He stores vegetables in an old refrigerator, which preserves their moisture. Cabbage wrapped in waxed paper lasts for as long as 5 months.

Jim characterizes his flower gardening efforts as “much more modest” than his vegetables. He has had particular success with planting tulips much deeper than usually recommended—as deep as 18 inches—a technique he learned from an “old Dutchman.” This technique has also been successful with daffodils, in addition to interplanting with tansy.

Since becoming a Master Gardener in 2004, Jim has volunteered at Olbrich, conducting tours of the gardens and serving as an herb garden docent, and has given presentations on container gardening and houseplants for UW Extension.  He regularly attends Green Thumb Tuesday for “great times of sharing, laughing, and eating.” Lucky for his fellow MGVs, Jim has much to share!



Attracting Beneficial Insects
with Native Plants

by Susan Carpenter, Native Plant Gardener
UW-Madison Arboretum

What do native hedgerows, small brush piles and flowering borders have in common? What is a beetle bank? All are habitat features that support predatory and parasitic insects that can benefit agricultural crops or your garden.
Beneficial insects include wasps, beetles, true bugs, lacewings and flower flies. Examples include:
• Firefly beetle (Lampyridae) Larvae are predatory on soft-bodied invertebrates like slugs and snails. Adults are predatory or feed on pollen and nectar. They lay eggs near the soil surface and overwinter as larvae in soil or under bark.
• Flower fly (Syrphidae) Larvae feed on aphids, scales and mealybugs. They lay their eggs on plants near the larval prey, and overwinter as larvae, pupae or adults in leaf litter or soil. Adults feed on pollen and nectar, and their coloration may mimic bees or wasps.
To establish a native hedgerow, select a large enough area or buffer to accommodate the shrubs at maturity. Choose species appropriate to your site’s soil moisture conditions. For example, in an area with mesic to moist soils, Cockspur hawthorn (Crateagus crus-galli), chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) and buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) are good large shrub choices.
Smaller shrubs suitable for hedgerow or border planting are New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus), native roses (Rosa spp.) and white spirea (Spiraea alba).
To establish and maintain the shrub planting, you may need to water new plantings for the first year or two if rainfall is not consistent. When well established, these shrubs can be renewal pruned, and some coppiced (cut to the ground) to create dense forms. Be ready to remove invasive shrubs or weeds that seed in under your shrubs.
Small brush piles and beetle banks (a low soil berm densely planted with bunchgrass – such as little bluestem (Schizochyrium scoparium) – or other permanent plantings provide cover and habitat for predacious ground beetle (Caribidae) larvae and adults, among other beneficial species.
The Xerces Society Guide, “Farming with Native Beneficial Insects: Ecological Pest Control Solutions” is a comprehensive resource. It includes detailed profiles of the insects and a few arachnids, as well as native plant suggestions by region, and field techniques for creating garden features.
Enjoy researching these and other native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants that attract beneficial insects as you plan for the 2015 season.  Some of these and other appropriate shrub species will be available through the Friends of the Arboretum native plant sale advance orders. You may download an order form on the Friends website at now. Advance orders are due in the Friends of the Arboretum office by March 27. If you have questions, call  608.263.7760. If you order through this sale, you will pick up your plants on May 7. 

What's the Difference

Between MAMGA, WIMGA &
Certified Master Gardener Volunteers?


MAMGA, the Madison Area Master Gardeners Association, is a local non-profit organization of persons who have completed the basic Master Gardener training course, or are current students. MAMGA members may or may not also be currently certified Master Gardener Volunteers. MAMGA exists to provide education, service, and fellowship opportunities for its members. Membership costs $15 per year. MAMGA members receive discounts at many local nurseries, participate in educational programs and garden tours throughout the year, and are invited to social events.

WIMGA, the Wisconsin Master Gardeners Association, is a state-wide non-profit organization of persons who have completed the basic Master Gardener course, or are current students. Most MAMGA members also choose to join WIMGA, but doing so is not required. WIMGA membership costs $5 per year. WIMGA members receive periodic newsletters and other informational communications from the state master gardener office. WIMGA also hosts a statewide master gardener conference each year.

Certified Master Gardener Volunteers have completed the basic Master Gardener training course and have satisfied annual volunteer service and continuing education requirements. Most Certified Master Gardener Volunteers choose to join MAMGA and/or WIMGA, but are not required to do so. There is no cost to be certified as a Master Gardener Volunteer. Certified Master Gardener Volunteers assist gardeners through the local UW-Extension Office by serving as plant health advisors, answering hotline calls, tending the Teaching Garden, and performing various other activities that support the UW-Extension Horticulture Program and reach out into the community. Certified Master Gardener Volunteers also perform lots of other gardening outreach and service at places like University Display Gardens, Allen Centennial Garden, Olbrich Gardens, the UW Arboretum, churches, community gardens, and many other venues.

University of Wisconsin-Extension, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Wisconsin counties cooperating. UW-Extension provides equal opportunities in employment and programming, including Title IX and ADA.



Dane Co. UW Extension Horticulture Program

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2014-15 MGV Hours Reporting Form
2015 MAMGA Membership Form
2015 Volunteer Interest Form

Calendar of Events


For reporting purposes:

Items in green count as CE credits for recertifying MGVs.
Items in red count as a MAMGA event.

March 2
MAMGA Board Meeting
Extension Building
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

March 3
Green Thumb Tuesday
Informal lunch meeting
New time: 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.
Monona Gardens

March 21
Second Step Beekeeping
Extension Building
9 a.m. - 4 p.m

March 28
Annual Membership Meeting
UW Arboretum

March 28
Beekeeping Class
Extension Building
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

April 11
Beekeeping Class
Extension Building
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

May 2
Beekeeping Class
Extension Building
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

May 23
WI HSA Unit Herb Fair
Boener Botanical Gardens
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

July 31 - August 1
WIMGA Annual Conference
More info in April newsletter


September 17-18
Midwest Regional MG Conference
Wisconsin Dells


Contact Info

P.O. Box 259318
Madison, WI 53725
Phone: (608) 224-3721

Dedicated gardeners promoting responsible gardening through education, volunteer service, and fellowship.

Ed Meachen - President
Percy Mather - Secretary
Cathy Cryor Burgweger - Treas
Lori Nelsen - Alternate Member
Aleta Murray - WIMGA Rep
Lisa Johnson - Ex-offcio Advisor
Jon Daugherity
Steve Hoffland
Dennis Tande
Bonnie Mitchell
Dana Warren

Joan Fitzgerald, E-News Editor

MAMGA is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization.
Dane Co. UW Extension
1 Fen Oak Court, Suite 138
Madison, WI 53718-8812
Phone: 608-224-3715

Lisa Johnson, Dane Co. UWEX  Horticulture Educator
Phone: 608-224-3715 
FAX: 608-224-3727

Joe Muellenberg, Horticulture Program Coordinator
Youth Educator
GROW Leader
Phone: 608-224-3709
FAX: 608-224-3727

Dr. Susan E. Rice Mahr
Master Gardener Program Coordinator
Phone: (608) 265-4504
(FAX: (608) 262-4743

Mike Maddox
MG Program Director
Phone: 608-265-4536

WI Master Gardener website:

MG Program Office Blog


Please note that event cancellations or other inclement weather announcements for MAMGA events will be posted on our website.

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