Be on the Lookout for these Vegetable Garden Diseases!

Look out for these garden diseases! See symptoms? Please report!

Occurrence of a couple important diseases of vegetables and basil is monitored in the USA every year to be able to inform growers when they need to be prepared for them to develop in their crops. Their occurrence is variable and impact is great, thus the importance of monitoring, which is done primarily by plant pathologists working with growers. Gardeners can access this information, thereby also benefiting, and they can play a very important contributing role by reporting when these diseases occur in their gardens. Some gardeners already have been! I have lots of photos to help with identifying these plus other diseases at: http://blogs.cornell.edu/livegpath/gallery/ and information about them at http://blogs.cornell.edu/livegpath/extension/for-gardeners/. Make sure to take photos to document your report.

Late blight of tomato and potato. Occurrences are mapped at http://www.usablight.org/. At this webpage anyone can sign up to receive alerts when late blight has been confirmed near them; the alert system is not just for growers.

Late blight on tomato

Downy mildew of cucumber, squash and other cucurbits. In addition to information about occurrences, at http://cdm.ipmpipe.org/ there is a map-based forecasting system predicting where the pathogen is likely to develop next. There is also an alert system gardeners can utilize.

Downy mildew on cucumber

Downy mildew of basil. Reporting presently is done to a spreadsheet at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1lHTfaVYxjjr7CxbEJiv8qgYmB5VdMFdT_4ehfjQrc5U/edit#gid=0  A map-based webpage is being developed similar to that for the other two diseases.

Downy mildew on basil

Take advantage of these great resources, and please contribute reports to increase the value of monitoring and our knowledge about occurrences of these important diseases.

Dr. Meg McGrath is an Associate Professor at Cornell University’s Long Island Horticulture Research and Extension Center in Riverhead, New York.

Not sure of the disease on you vegetable plants? Contact our Horticulture Diagnostic Lab and drop off a sample for diagnosis. For current hours, visit: http://ccesuffolk.org/

 

 

New Online Master Gardener Volunteer Training

No need to wait until you retire to take the Master Gardener Training program! New this fall, CCE Suffolk will be offering an online, hybrid training program that is designed for you to learn at your own pace, while easily fitting into your busy schedule.

Starting in September of 2018, the program will include all of the horticultural topics and hands-on training needed to become a Master Gardener Volunteer for Suffolk County Cornell Cooperative Extension. Monthly weekend in-person trainings will take place one Saturday each month from September 2018 through March 2019. Now is the perfect time to take the first step, and join our very dedicated group of expert gardeners!

See our new brochure to learn more about the Master Gardener Volunteer program.

Download the application for the 2018-2019 training here.

Questions? you can email Donna Alese Cooke at dmc72@cornell.edu or call her at 631-727-7850 ext 225

Master Gardeners volunteering at Spring Gardening School

 

 

Landscape Trees with Beautiful Bark

Sycamore bark

With spring rapidly approaching there’s no better time to appreciate the silhouettes of our trees, especially those with attractive bark. This is a valuable ornamental feature often overlooked. While you are likely familiar with some of the larger trees that have striking bark, such as American or European beech, American sycamore or London Plane tree, there are many trees suitable for smaller landscapes which will catch your eye.

Japanese stewartia

Perhaps you are familiar with Stewartia psuedocamelia, or the other Stewartia species which have white camellia-like flowers in the early summer. But did you know that as they mature they develop an exfoliating bark in a patchwork of copper, tan, olive and lavender? Stewartia spp. are typically pest free and offer fall color too. Every yard should have one! Another tree offering bark in similar colors are the Crape Myrtles, Lagerstroemia indica hybrids. Crape myrtles are widely known for their late summer flowers in shades of pink, red, purple and white. When looking for a crape myrtle for your landscape select varieties best suited for our colder winters and then chose a flower color.

River Birch Bark

 

Maybe you have a wet site where many trees do not do well. I have just the solution for you, and it has attractive peeling bark to boot! The tree I’m referring to is called a river birch, Betula nigra. Young trees have papery bark in shades of cream, salmon, orange brown, and cinnamon brown which peels freely. As the tree matures the trunks become dark reddish brown to gray-brown in color with plate-like scales. River Birch also boasts resistance to the bronze birch borer, a devastating pest of many other beautiful birch trees.

A lesser known tree with highly ornamental bark is the Paperbark cherry, Prunus serrula. Much like most other flowering cherries, its white flowers are short lived and it may be prone to disease and insect pests, but the bark is incredible! I came across this tree in the New York Botanical Garden and was wowed! The bark is a glistening coppery red-brown, looking more like polished copper than living bark. I’m still contemplating including this one in my own landscape despite the pest management it will likely require.

Birch bark Cherry

Acer griseum

Mature Kousa dogwood bark

 

Before leaves and flowers emerge this spring, get out and really look at your trees. Botanical gardens and arboretums are a great place to see some of these trees and others that are especially beautiful in winter. Take notes and photos. Consider planting one or more of these trees with beautiful bark to give your landscape four season appeal!

Article and photos by Alice Raimondo, CCE Suffolk Horticulture Consultant

Register for the 2018 Spring Gardening School

Join us for Suffolk County’s annual Spring Gardening School on Saturday, April 14, 2018, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Organized by Master Gardener Volunteers for the last 36 years, this beloved event kicks off the growing season for hundreds of gardeners who gather together for a day of learning and fun.

Spring Gardening School 2018 will be held at the Riverhead Middle School in Riverhead, NY. All classes are taught by Master Gardener Volunteers and Cornell Cooperative Extension Educators. The day consists of workshops held during three sessions and offers classes for beginners to advanced gardeners. This year a keynote address on “The High Line: Lessons for Your Garden” will be presented by Roxanne Zimmer Ph.D., Master Gardener Volunteer from Peconic.

You can sign up for such classes as School & Community Gardens 101, Gardening in Deer Country, Edible Landscaping, Gardening in Small Spaces, and many, many more. This year, you can choose to create hands-on take home projects such as Botanic Art (see project below), Nature’s Colors in Your Hands (plant dyes), Make & Bake Herb Bread & Butter, Floral Arranging, and The Art of Bonsai.

The fee to attend is $65 per person ($60 early bird, before March 1st), which includes free soil pH testing, a plant diagnostic clinic, gardening exhibits, and an early plant sale from some of the finest nurseries on Long Island; continental breakfast, delicious boxed lunch, raffles, and door prizes. Preregistration is mandatory; first come is first served.

Classes fill quickly! Download the brochure here which has the registration form to mail back to us. We look forward to seeing you there!

Attracting Birds in Winter

Keep your gardens alive with color through the winter by attracting songbirds to your yard.  Feeding birds throughout the winter not only benefits the birds, but is a great hobby for gardeners to keep us active and engaged with the outdoors. Heavy winter snow events can cover up much of bird’s natural food sources, forcing them to seek out what humans may have left out for them.

Downy Woodpecker, photo by Sandra Vultaggio

There is nothing quite like seeing a bright red Cardinal against a snowy backdrop. When feeding birds, you can try to be specific as to which birds you would like to attract, or very simply provide a mixed seed which will attract an array of birds. Different feeders are attractive to some types of birds, while discouraging others, and specific foods and seeds will attract some birds and not others.

Northern Cardinal, photo by Sandra Vultaggio

Hard wire mesh feeders are attractive, often painted with bright colors and will attract many of your smaller, clinging birds like Chickadees, Nuthatches and Tufted Titmice. These are great for larger seed blends like black oil sunflower seeds and safflower seeds. They often stay stocked for a while since the birds need to pull seeds out individually. They also tend to leave the ground below much cleaner.

A platform feeder is great for any bird, but especially attractive to the larger birds: Blue Jays, Mourning Doves and Flickers. You will often find Dark-Eyed Juncos using these types of feeders as well. Any type of seed and nut mix will work well on these types of feeders. It’s fun to watch the individual personalities as the different species interact in the open space.

Hopper-type feeders are great for keeping seed fresh and protected from the elements. These are a great option if you don’t intend to go out to fill the feeders often, as they can hold quite a bit of food.

A popular food source for birds in winter is to provide suet. Suet is a high-energy food source that will attract woodpeckers. Peanut butter is also a great fatty food source. You can search for fun DIY feeder projects using peanut butter and seed that will be sure to attract lots of different hungry visitors.

Tufted Titmouse and White-breasted Nuthatch. Photo by Alice Raimondo

Ready for some real entertainment? Get yourself a peanut wreath. It is so much fun to watch the blue jays and squirrels bickering with each other trying to remove the peanuts from the spiral of wire.

Blue Jay under a peanut wreath, photo by Sandra Vultaggio

Prolonged freezing temperatures can make water sources scarce, so providing fresh water is a surefire way to attract birds and other wildlife to the yard. Often times you’ll attract a more diverse set of species with water than you would with seed. You can provide a fresh water source all winter long if you purchase a water de-icer or an ice-free birdbath. These contraptions do not heat the water, but simply keep the water from freezing – typically down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Most of the quality re-icers on the market need to be plugged in and generally cost $1-2 per month to run, depending on how cold the weather is.

Eastern Bluebirds enjoying a heated birdbath. Photo by Alice Raimondo

When you feed birds outside, you may quickly find that the larger predatory birds are just as hungry as the songbirds. Hawks will often perch in high trees near feeders, waiting for an unsuspecting dove. For this reason, it may be a good idea to hang feeders near shrubs or other brush material so the birds will have quick access to shelter if needed. In the same way, be aware that feral cats have a way of staking out backyard birdfeeders.

Sometimes you do not have to invest any money at all to attract birds to your yard throughout the winter. You can simply provide habitat for them by minimizing your fall cleanup. Leaving sticks and other small debris lying about for wildlife to pick up and use as needed. Or pile up larger branches and debris in a discrete corner of the yard where wildlife can use it as shelter through the winter Allow spent flower heads to stand throughout the winter for finches to pick through. Consider leaving the dried stalks of ornamental grasses to stand all winter to provide habitat and shelter for wildlife and insects. In the spring, birds will often take pieces of the grasses to assemble their nests.

Following some of these tips will ensure that looking out of your window in the winter will not just make you long for springtime, but appreciate the beauty that each season brings us.

Black-Capped Chickadee, photo by Sandra Vultaggio

by Sandra Vultaggio, CCE Suffolk Horticulture Consultant

Caring for Holiday Plants

It’s that time of year again, when we either give or receive plants as gifts and tirelessly try to keep them healthy throughout the year in hopes they may bloom once again. Because these plants are grown specifically for the holiday season, there are some tips and techniques you can use to keep them from ending up in the compost bin and looking beautiful year-round.

The poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, is a popular potted plant at this time of year, providing color throughout the holiday season. Newer poinsettia cultivars are long-lasting in contrast to those available a few years ago. When purchased, poinsettias should be in prime condition, should be well shaped plants with dark green foliage and bracts free from defects.

To care for Poinsettia, soil should be kept moist at all times, but not excessively wet. Water when the soil begins to feel dry and apply enough to the surface until it runs through the drainage hole. For best results, do not allow foliage to wilt between watering. Keep poinsettias away from cold drafts and excessive heat, otherwise this may cause foliage and bracts to wilt from rapid water loss.

Poinsettias are among the most difficult plants to re-bloom in the home. To learn more about propagating poinsettia and proper care for re-bloom next year, our fact sheet on “Care of Holiday Plants” includes more information on Christmas Cactus, Cyclamen and other blooming holiday plants available this time of year.

Adapted from Resource The Selection, Care, and Use of Plants in the Home, by Charles C. Fischer and Raymond T. Fox, Cornell University, 1/90.

Learn & Grow from the Experts!

Applications for the 2018 Master Gardener Volunteer training course are now being accepted!

Anyone who enjoys gardening and has a desire to learn and share their knowledge and skills can apply. Participants receive research-based instruction during the course of the training and upon graduation, Master Gardeners give back and share their knowledge though community service, projects and educational outreach.

For more information, contact Donna Alese Cooke, Community Horticulture Specialist for CCE Suffolk. She can be reached at dalesecooke@cornell.edu or at 631-727-7850 x225. Application materials can be downloaded at: http://ccesuffolk.org/gardening/master-gardener-volunteers.

Applications are due by October 31, 2017, and can be emailed, mailed or faxed to 631-852-3205 attn: Donna Alese Cooke

Master Gardener Volunteers at the Children’s Garden at Suffolk County Farm

 

Master Gardeners in the Community: The Wedge at Mt. Sinai Heritage Park

The perfect time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now. This Chinese proverb applies to many aspects of life including the creation, enhancement and maintenance of the landscape at the Wedge in Mt. Sinai.

The Wedge (Heritage Park and Heritage Center) was just a seed of an idea 20 years ago. In just a score of years, 18 acres of sod farm have been transformed into a “mini central park” cherished by many and envied by others. Volunteers, donors and local government have foraged a partnership to ‘grow’ a mix of passive and active recreational features at the Wedge. Contoured slopes, meandering walking paths, landscaped areas and gardens, a playground, putting green and three sports fields allow visitors to ease their minds, reflect, learn, enjoy, communicate, romp, run, walk and play. Add to these are the community and private events sponsored by the 501c3 Heritage Trust at the Heritage Center.

The 2017 crop of Master Gardeners toured the park in May. I enjoyed sharing information and experiences about the landscape and hardscape added to the Wedge by volunteers, scouts and local business. At the end of the tour I felt there was more to share about being a Master Gardener volunteer at the Wedge.

Any volunteer project will confront challenges (issues) like soil preparation, water supply, money, leadership, time, consensus building, short and long term maintenance, nurturing of personal rewards, and permission from and coordination with the powers that be. All have been experienced and are part of the ‘tree’ planted twenty years ago.

The playground and putting green are great family fun. Organized sports are played on the ball fields but it is not uncommon to see kids and adults engaged in “free play” or friends and families picnicking on the same fields. The play knoll is climbed by tots, rolled down in the summer and sledded down in winter. The park’s daffodil Smiley Face brings smiles to faces when 2,500 daffodils bloom.

The activity and landscape changes with the season but one constant is the use of the 0.7 mile perimeter path.  Kids, adults, families, friends, residents of group homes, people recovering from surgery or heart attacks walk, stroll, run, ride scooters, and learn to ride bikes on the path.

The park is so favored because of its openness, sense of safety, location, contours and landscape. The textures, colors and shapes of the landscape change with each season. The spring Master Gardener tour highlighted the following:

  • Old Man’s Machine and Crop exhibit – Crop plots of grains, flax, potatoes and rows of lavender have a back drop of farm implements that were used to prepare soil, plant and harvest crops.

  • Mt. Sinai Garden Club’s perennial and shade garden along with 8 community plots.
  • Small pollinator garden and corn crib shed.
  • Avenue of America mile sign post and the beginning of the Heritage Planet Walk.
  • Avenue of America trees and location of Parade of American Flags. Selected state trees were described and a prize Gold Rush dawn redwood was admired. In 20 years all these trees will enrich visitor’s pleasure in the park.
  • Court of America sitting area with a rock garden representation of the United States.  Aluminum edging forms the outline of the country, rocks represent mountains, shaped bluestone the Great Lakes and various plants vegetate the land (below). Presidential blocks border the 20’ x 14’ “map”.

  • The blooms of the Patriotic Triangle symbolize the colors of our nation and the three sides and corner columns (Ionic and two Corinthian) represent the branches of government.
  • The dawn redwood corner is developing into a low maintenance landscape. The Arkansas rose is the symbol of Iowa and North Dakota and Vinca, St. John’s Wort, Walkers Low and Liriope will suppress the growth of weeds. The tall redwood is still recovering from being transplanted eight years ago and someday will be 130 to 150 feet tall.
  • A butterfly garden triangle is well established and has a bridge for the bridging ceremonies of local Girl Scout troops.
  • A grass play knoll provides a high place to climb and enjoy the open space of the park. Families and friends picnic on the crest or watch kids roll or sled down the slopes.
  • A new golf putting green is enhanced with a landscaped water feature.
  • A Hinoki cypress maze has plant but will take time to establish. When opened it will complement the playground and putting green.
  • The Four flags triangle is enhanced with shrubs and perennials.

People compliment and thank us for our volunteer work on the landscape and it is not uncommon for people to ask questions about what is planted. The last 20 years has been rewarding. The next 20 years will provide future master gardeners and other volunteer opportunities to enrich and maintain the Wedge. Visit the Wedge and say hello if you see us puttering in the park. Congratulate Fred when you see him, he has volunteered 40 years of community service for CCE Suffolk.

If you’d like to help please contact any of the below:

Fred Drewes; ave.america2010@verizon.net  631-473-6776

Heritage Trust; contact@heritagetrustmail.org:  631-509-0882

Walter Becker, Mt Sinai Garden Club; WBecker@WJBsales.com

Article written by Fred Drewes, Master Gardener Volunteer                

Photos courtesy of Valerie Bruno, Master Gardener Class of 2017

 

Gardening in a Changing Climate

In a recent visit to the Teaching Gardens at Farmingdale State University, the Master Gardeners toured the beautiful gardens, learning first hand how changing climate conditions can affect how we garden. Plants and tropicals once only hardy to southern environments are now flourishing here on Long Island, and if conditions are right, certain varieties may be able to successfully overwinter in the garden.

Farmingdale State Teaching Gardens, photo by Donna Alese Cooke

As gardeners continually adapt to changing weather patterns, they understand how these changes may impact our precious landscape and natural resources. Here are some simple steps the home gardener can take, as described by Professor David Wolfe from the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University, to adapt to these changing climate conditions:

  • Vary your plant selection and try new varieties that may be better suited to your changing climate. Select drought and heat tolerant plants that are resistant to diseases and insect pests.
  • Consider shifting planting times: try planting cool-season crops earlier, to be harvested before the season heats up.
  • Look for new weeds, pests and diseases that come as a result of a warmer climate.
  • Be prepared to deal with both rainy and drought conditions: add organic matter to your soil. This will improve drainage in wet areas and retain water in drought-prone areas.

Wolfe also suggests various ways to reduce our carbon footprint, by strategically using fertilizers, storing carbon in soil, planting trees, and reducing fossil fuel use, and reducing, reusing and recycling disposable products.

You can learn more about Gardening in a Changing Climate at Wolfe’s page at http://blogs.cornell.edu/hort/2011/04/04/wolfe-gardeners-part-of-climate-change-solution/ and enroll in a new, free online course starting on September 11th, “Climate Change Science, Communication and Action,” offered by Cornell University Civic Ecology.

Climate Change Science, Communication and Action is an online course designed for Extension Educators, Master Gardener Volunteers, state and local government, land trusts and other non-profits, and others interested in an introduction to climate change science and how to communicate effectively about this important topic. Participants will make new connections and share resources as part of an online network of Cornell University professionals, students, volunteers, and others interested in Climate Change Science.

On a local level, CCE Suffolk Community Horticulture has formed a local group of course participants, who will use what they learn from this course and apply it to our educational outreach and community needs. The course dates are September 11-October 1, 2017, and you can find the registration link below. Once registered, please contact dalesecooke@cornell.edu to be added to the Suffolk CCE Community Action group on Facebook, and to be informed of local meetings where we will meet as a group in Suffolk County.

Links:

Climate Change Science, Communication and Action Online Course Registration Link: https://cornell.qualtrics.com/jfe5/form/SV_d68I902D6SPzts1

Department of Horticulture: http://blogs.cornell.edu/hort/2011/04/04/wolfe-gardeners-part-of-climate-change-solution/

Interactive USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, where you can find your zone by ZIP code: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/InteractiveMap.aspx

Submitted by Donna Alese Cooke, Community Horticulture Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk

 

 

Master Gardener Volunteer Training 2018

CCE Suffolk will once again be offering a new class of Master Gardener Trainees. The next training course will take place every Wednesday, 10am-4pm from January 17 through May 30. Weekly lectures and hands-on learning will take place at various locations in addition to our Extension Education Center, CCE Suffolk, 423 Griffing Avenue in Riverhead.

What do Master Gardeners do? Master Gardener Volunteers receive research-based instruction during the course of the training, and continue to be kept current through ongoing experiential learning and advanced training. In return, they agree to share their knowledge though community service and educational outreach.

Volunteers become Certified Master Gardeners for CCE Suffolk after completing the training course and volunteering 125 hour of service. CCE Suffolk’s Master Gardener Volunteer Program is directly linked to Cornell University as part of its National Land-Grant College charter, which provides a valuable connection to state-of-the-art gardening knowledge.

Each year hundreds of these service-minded folks from Suffolk County:

  • Organize a Spring Gardening School for the public, including workshops, exhibits, and a plant sale
  • Table with gardening information at community events
  • Cultivate the land and teach youth at the Children’s Garden at Suffolk County Farm
  • Design and help maintain community beautification projects, demonstration gardens, community gardens, and school gardens
  • Offer gardening talks and classes at public libraries, schools, and  interested groups
  • Create and participate in programs for senior citizens, youth, and the physically and mentally challenged
  • Teach the proper care of lawns, shrubs, trees, and flowers, and how to grow fruits and vegetables
  • Install exhibits and provide gardening information at flower shows and events

    MG Volunteers at the Children’s Garden at Suffolk County Farm

Anyone who enjoys gardening and has a desire to learn and share their knowledge and skills can apply to the 2018 Master Gardener Training Class. The cost of this comprehensive gardening course is $375 with an additional $125 deposit. The deposit is refundable, upon completion of 125 hours of volunteer service. Download the application here.

You can find more information about our Master Gardener Program and download application materials at: http://ccesuffolk.org/gardening/master-gardener-volunteers.

Donna Alese Cooke is the Community Horticulture Specialist for CCE Suffolk. She can be reached at dalesecooke@cornell.edu or at 631-727-7850 x225.©