Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Master Gardeners across our district in Northwest Lower Michigan are delighted to welcome our new Consumer Horticulture Program Instructor, Elise M. Carolan, to the MSU Extension office in Leelanau County!  As coordinator of Master Gardener Volunteer activities in our area, Elise will be overseeing numerous community service projects including the Leelanau Community Garden (LCG), now in its 23rd year of operation, as well as our MG/SEEDS Demonstration Garden just outside Traverse City.

For background information, please see The LCG blog has not been supported since 2012 but remains online and serves as an example of the opportunities the garden offers for teaching as well as growing food. The effort was formerly supported in part by the Leelanau Family Court, but that support was terminated in 2014. It’s my understanding that in 2015, financial support is to be forthcoming from the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan, for which we’re extremely grateful. The garden represents a wonderful opportunity for additional Master Gardener Volunteers to perform an important community service while gaining invaluable experience in food gardening. Even before her selection for her new position with the Extension, Elise offered excellent new ideas on possible ways to improve the LCG’s productivity and overall value to the community; beginning in January 2015, we’ll be consulting with her in more detail. Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Nice December Day (!)

After a snowy November, it seems downright tropical in our back yard at 34 degrees and sunny. Having left the garden beds mostly in sad shape earlier this fall, I did a little late fall cleanup.  The ground was frozen just enough on top to make most stems of remaining annual plants easier to break off than to pull, which was just fine with me.  Most of those roots I left in place will break down quickly next spring, adding much-needed organic matter to our loamy sand soil; especially the legumes will add extra nitrogen as well.

One discouraging discovery was the proliferation of vole superhighways through the grass, leading to almost every section of my irregularly shaped garden:
I suspect that my expenses for galvanized hardware cloth next spring may exceed those for garden seeds.

And speaking of seeds, I'm glad to see those garden seed catalogs arriving in the mail about every day now. For one thing, they’re much better winter entertainment that what’s on TV these days.  But for another, if you’re looking at this blog, you and I are likely to be “on the same page” with regard to recognizing the importance of fresh, organically vegetables in our daily diets.  One certain way we could all improve our health and well-being over the next year would be to order something from one or more of those catalogs, plant those seeds or plants next spring, nurture them, and consume the results.  Questions on methods?  I'll help if I can. A look at our demonstration garden at the Historic Barns Park on the SW outskirts of Traverse City, MI, might be a good place to start. We’re hoping for a better-than-ever garden there in ‘15.