The Dirt for August 31, 2017: Fall Classes and Gatherings

Bradley School Garden ready for Students’ Return

bradley1When Desourdy School  Garden Mentor (SGM)  Linda Hall learned that her Cluny School, Newport would close this summer, she accepted the challenge to revive the Bradley School Garden, Portsmouth. The before pictures show what she accepted after the previous SGM accepted another teaching assignment.
After many hours, days, campaigning, gentle nudging and good old fashioned weeding and digging, Linda formed a team of volunteers to donate soil, bricks, plants, labor, rototilling and soil amendments to begin the transformation. A symbiotic relationship between plants, soil, birds & pollinators has been created in this once invasive area!
bradley2Her goal is to attract hummingbirds, butterflies & bees!  Coffee cans will be spray painted with wood circles on their sides for winter ” bird houses! A white bench ( donated.. by Linda) will give children a ‘sanctuary… a secret garden’ to apply additional nurturing while learning how to grow food.  An onsite greenhouse will have a new brick floor and materials for starting seeds when the children return.
Master Gardener Soil testing was conducted, lime acquired, compost materials requested and summer planting conducted in time for the return of the students in September. Native plants: honeysuckle, Solomon seal, Asclepia tuberosa ( butterfly weed) & many others will circle the huge light pole.

September Continuing Education Classes

Weed Identification Using Weeds of the Northeast
Friday, September 8
URI East Farm Building 75

This class will teach you to identify weeds using the resource: Weeds of the Northeast. This class will be a mixture of classroom and field ID walk. Carl Sawyer will begin by showing us how to use the book, and then we will use it to identify common weeds in the field.

We recommend obtaining a copy of the Weeds of the Northeast, Authors Uva, Neal, DiTomaso in advance of this class. Please register in Volgistics.

AgronomyFarm2High Tunnels
Thursday, September 21th, URI Agronomy Farm 4:30-6:00pm

Learn from URI Agriculture Extension Agent Andy Radin about best practices for growing in high tunnels (unheated hoop houses).  We’ll learn about growing through the seasons with different crops, soil management and pest management.  This class will be geared toward people growing in school and nonprofit settings.  Bring you questions along about your high tunnel!  Please register in Volgistics.

Project Leader Meeting
Saturday, September 30
URI Pharmacy 170, 9am-12:00 pm

We ask that all projects are represented by the project leader or designee for our fall gathering.  This is an opportunity to communicate successes of this year and plan for next year.  Important topics such as budgeting, Project Open House, etc. will be discussed. Please register in Volgistics.

Middletown Library Community Garden

Innovative Demonstration Gardens
Saturday, September 30th, URI Pharmacy 170 12:30-2:00pm

The URI Master Gardener Program has over 40 project demonstration gardens that teach about natives, herb gardening, vegetable production, edible forests and more!  This class will explore ways to increase the educational experience for visitors including signage and live teaching experiences.  Using tools developed at the University of Georgia, we’ll help projects design tours and workshops. We will also hear from some of our project leaders about successful tools they’ve used to engage learners in the garden!  This is a great class for anyone involved in a community project, historic or demonstration garden throughout the state.  All project teams are encouraged to attend!   Please register in Volgistics.

Save the Dates for October

pumpkinsSchool Garden Mentor Meeting
Thursday, October 5
Location TBD, 5:30-7:30 pm

This will be a gathering to tour a school garden and share the year’s successes and challenges.  We’ll share exciting plans for next year and discuss reporting and budgeting.  We ask that all School Garden Mentors make an effort to  attend.

School Garden Conference
Saturday, October 21
URI Kingston Campus

This conference is a great opportunity for School Garden Mentors to learn about curriculum tools available to their schools. SGM’s will be sent a coupon code to register free of charge.   Scholarships available to students and on a needs basis.

Tree Steward Class

Tree stewardship combines learning about trees, caring for trees, and understanding how people and trees can best grow together. Increase your knowledge and appreciation for: tree biology, tree identification, tree planting & pruning, trees health, urban forestry, soils, and tree benefits.

And here are another 22 reason why you should become a Tree Steward!

Sept. 19, 26, Oct. 3, 10
Oct. 14, 10:00am – 1:00pm
Warren Town Hall/Senior Center 514 Main Street, Warren

RITree Member/Town Employee $50.00 Non-member $75.00

Registration can be made online at or by calling the RITree Council 401-764-5885

Workshops from the Ecological Landscaping Alliance

Native Woody Plant Materials
Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA

  • Wednesday, August 30, 2017, 10:00am – 2:30pm
  • Wednesday, September 6, 2017, 11:00am – 1:00pm
  • Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 10:00am – 2:30pm

Explore the huge variety of native trees, shrubs, and woody vines. Learn which species grow well in shade, which support local wildlife, and how you should stagger your plantings for continuous bloom, fruit production, and fall color. This class will discuss growth characteristics, cultural requirements, and best horticultural uses. Read more and register.

Webinar: Kill Your Lawn And Opt for More Biodiversity
September 12, 12:30 -1:30pm EDT

Lawns are a soul-crushing time suck. Just read the headline of a recent article on According to NASA, in the United States more surface area is covered by lawn than by any other single irrigated crop. Traditional lawns are resource-heavy, requiring irrigation, fertilizer, and pesticides to thrive in our climate and most of us would be better off reducing or eliminating them altogether. Learn how to replace your lawn with native plant alternatives that functional, beautiful, and environmentally friendly. Read more and register

September 21, 10:00am -12:00pm EDT
New London, CT

The Connecticut College Arboretum is located in southeastern Connecticut, 5 miles inland from Long Island Sound. Join tour guide, Maggie Redfern for a rare look at regional native plant and animal habitats including upland meadows, salt marsh, and Mamacoke Island. A meadow restoration project was completed on approximately 12 acres to restore early successional habitat and control invasive plant species. In addition, about five acres of pine plantation and early deciduous forest heavily infested with invasive plant species were completely cleared and planted with native grasses and forbs.   Read more and register.

Webinar: The Liberated Landscape.
Letting Nature Do the Work
Presented by Larry Weaner
September 25, 4:00am -5:00pm EDT

Over thousands of years plants have evolved to reproduce and proliferate on their own, yet we often go to great effort and expense to carefully place every plant in our designed landscapes. How can we capitalize on the reproductive abilities of plants and actively encourage planted as well as existing species to colonize our landscapes? In this lecture, well-known landscape designer Larry Weaner will discuss principles and protocols for creating dynamic, ecologically rich landscapes where nature does much of the planting.   Read more and register.

ELA Season’s End Summit: The Plant Pollinator Partnership
Four Pollinator Experts Share Research and Practical Tips
November 1, 8:00am -4:30pm EDT
North Grafton, MA

As native bees as well as European honey bees struggle for survival, their reduced numbers put natural ecosystems and agricultural systems at risk. And bees are not the only pollinators that are suffering. Beetles, butterflies, ants, birds, and bats all help with pollination. In response, landscape professionals and concerned homeowners across the country are learning more about the habitat needs of the creatures that pollinate plants – and using that knowledge to make planting decisions.  Read more and register.

“Inspiration for Next Year’s Garden”

The Massachusetts Master Gardener Assn. (MMGA) is sponsoring an important regional educational event on September 23, 2017 in Westford, MA: our 2nd annual Gardening Symposium, “Inspiration for Next Year’s Garden.”

The agenda includes four nationally-recognized speakers: Thomas Rainer, author of Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes; David Culp, plant hybridizer, Sunny Border executive, and author of The Layered Garden; Kathleen Gagan, owner of Peony’s Envy, a nursery and display garden featuring the Northeast’s most extensive peony collections; Janet Macunovich, online, broadcast and hands-on gardening educator and the author of best seller Designing Your Gardens and Landscapes).

The Massachusetts Gardening Symposium will be held at Westford Academy in Westford, MA, 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM, on Saturday, September 23. Additional information and registration can be found at Tickets are $75.00 thru August 6; $90.00 starting August 7. Credit/debit cards, checks and PayPal are accepted. Registration closes September 16, 2017, and space is limited.

UConn Native Plants and Pollinators Conference

Student Union Ballroom (Room 330) 2100 Hillside Road, Storrs, CT 06269
October 19, 2017

8:00 – 8:45 a.m. Registration and Coffee
8:45 – 9:00 a.m. Welcome and Introductions Vickie Wallace, Extension Educator, UConn Extension and Dr. Michael O’Neill, Associate Dean and Associate Director, UConn Extension
9:00 – 10:00 a.m. “Lifestyles of Pollinators” David Wagner, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut Learn about the ecology and behavior of insect pollinators and their conservation.
10:00 – 11:00 a.m. “Native Perennials for Bees, Butterflies, and Birds” Emily DeBolt, Fiddlehead Creek Nursery, Fort Ann, NY Discussion of herbaceous perennials to support pollinators, including top-performing cultivars, and examples from design/build projects. 11:00 – 11:15 a.m. Break
11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. “Selecting Native Shrubs for Season-long Pollinator Support” Jessica Lubell, Associate Professor, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Connecticut Landscape uses of native shrubs, both popular and under-used, will be covered in sequence of bloom to create season lasting pollinator support.
12:15 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. “Research Update: Examining Pollinator Attraction of Shrub Nativars” Jacob Ricker, Graduate Student, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Connecticut Report from the first data collection season of our UConn study to evaluate pollinator support of several native shrub species and their cultivars.
2:00 – 3:00 p.m. “Native Trees for Pollinators” Andrew Brand, Broken Arrow Nursery, Hamden, CT Native trees with ornamental characteristics that also function to support pollinators through flowers and foliage.
3:00 p.m. Pesticide Recertification and Adjournment – Safe Travels!

Register online or visit the UConn IPM website ( Early Registration $50.00, by Friday, September 8, 2017 $60.00 after September 8, 2017 Students $25.00 with valid school ID

Registration fee includes parking, morning refreshments, and lunch. Parking is available in the North Parking Garage (103 North Eagleville Road) and South Parking Garage (2366 Jim Calhoun Way).

Please bring your parking garage ticket with you to check-in for validation. See UConn Storrs Campus map.

Please note that the registration system will accept only one credit card payment per email address, whether for an individual or group registration. If after submitting your individual or group registration, you need to pay for additional registrations, please do so by phone. Please call 860-486-3336 between 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday


Hot Topics from the URI Consumer Horticulture Educator

rosanneThe following science-based articles may help you answer questions from the community.  Rosanne Sherry, URI Consumer Horticulture Educator, recommends you read them to help sharpen your own gardening and educator skills! Please send comments or suggestions for articles to

From Master Gardener Recommended Horticulture Best Management Practices.

Practices that should always be recommended:

Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs

  • Test the soil to learn the pH and nutrients already present
  • Determine soil drainage capacity before planting
  • Avoid planting invasive species; instead choose plants, especially native plants that minimize maintenance and increase habitat.
  • Achieve a low maintenance garden by planting natives
  • Group plants with similar needs (water, fertilizer, sun…) for easier maintenance
  • Use plants or mulch to conserve water, suppress weeds and prevent soil erosion
  • Maintain healthy plants by meeting their cultural requirements with the goal of using less pesticides
  • When adding plants to the landscape, select ones that will grow in the conditions (soil pH, sun or shade, etc.) of the landscape
  • In times of low precipitation irrigate landscape plants deeply and infrequently, at a rate of 1″ per week


  • Test the soil to learn the pH and nutrients already present
  • Determine soil drainage capacity before planting
  • Select a groundcover for the conditions (sun/shade, moist/dry etc.)
  • Group plants with similar needs (water, fertilizer, sun…) for easier maintenance
  • Use plants or mulch to conserve water, suppress weeds and prevent soil erosion
  • In times of low precipitation irrigate landscape plants deeply and infrequently, at a rate of 1″ per week

Eco-RI August 1, 2017

EcoTalk podcast co-hosts Frank Carini and Nick Boke are joined by Anne Raver of the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society and naturalist Rick Enser to discuss the state of the region’s pollinators and what you can put in your yard, rooftop garden or window box to increase biodiversity. Listen to ecoTalk Podcast  (full podcast is a half hour.)

New Terrain  August 1, 2017

Worth Reading

Soil filters out some emerging contaminants before reaching groundwater by Jeff Mulhollem for Penn State University.

Keeping Fireflies from Blinking Out for Good by Colleen Beaty for the Wildlife Habitat Council.

And 2 great factsheets to study