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March 2023 Monthly Meeting Recap

The March meeting gave volunteers information about RCMG's financial status, (sad) news about the Habitat for Humanity project, and a RCMG-led panel about how to apply Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices in your home garden.


The March monthly meeting was held both online via Zoom and in-person at the Roseville Oval from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m on Tuesday, March 21. Watching the recording of this meeting can be counted as 2 hours of Continuing Education. (Find the recording in the Archives of the Monthly Meeting page.)

Reminder on Monthly Meeting Etiquette

If you’re in person:

  • Use the mic when speaking

  • Say your name when speaking

  • Use notecards to ask questions

  • Introduce yourself to someone new

  • Keep the tables clean

If you’re online:

  • Mute your mic while you listen

  • Say your name when you speak

  • Enter your questions into the chat or hold on until the end


Many thanks to the RCMG volunteers involved with the March Meeting:

  • Education Committee: Jane Carlstrom & Simba Blood

  • Project Leaders: Ann Aurelius & Eamon Whiteaker-Smith, Nancy Joyer, Cheryl Brady & Jennifer Porwit

  • Journalist: Amanda Swanson

  • Room-Set: Cody Welchlin, Daniel Mays

  • Greeters: Kajada Jones, Cody Welchlin

  • Zoom Aide: Scott Beary

  • Room Clean-up: Cody Welchlin

Board News (6:30-6:45)

The Financial Committee has a few recommendations, including purchasing an accounting software like Quickbooks and implementing a process to track donations. Some expenditures last year were paid for without being authorized by the board - since this is against the bylaws, we need to be vigilant to avoid such oversights. Make sure to tell the board if your project doesn’t have an item in the budget! If approval is needed prior to the next board meeting, it can be done via email. The board is discussing whether the $150 expenditure cap should be raised due to inflation, but project leaders don’t anticipate any challenges with this amount for now.

Project Updates (6:45-7:00 pm)

American Indian Montessori School (Ann Aurelius & Eamon Whiteaker-Smith; project leads)

Ann and Eamon are working on a garden, specifically with the preschoolers. They’ve had a lot of luck using seed tape to ensure that the kids can easily space small seeds like carrots. Since this is a cultural school, the program is also helps the kids make seed-saving bags, traditional for many Indigenous people. Kids love making and filling their packets and it’s a great opportunity to support the cultural mission of the school. Join this project if you’re good with kids and have ample patience - it goes from May through September with a break in August.

Habitat for Humanity (Nancy Joyer; project lead)

Sadly, Habitat for Humanity has decided to change the program so significantly that they’ve ended the program that we were partners in; based on the changes they made, it’s Nancy’s recommendation that we are no longer partners in the program. The previous program assigned 6 or so gardeners to design a garden/landscape for a new homeowner, Habitat would deliver the plants and tools/materials on two days per year. Under this new program, homeowners will continue to get $300 for plants but would have to drive to get the plants themselves on a specific day - Habitat would not provide tools or transportation. Thanks to all those who have been part of the project over the years!

Children's Peace Garden (Darren Lochner)

There are calendars available with photos and recipes!

Plant Sale Update (Cheryl Brady & Jennifer Porwit; Committee and subcommittee leads respectively)

(NOTE: This segment appears at the end of the meeting recording).

The sale is only 2 months away! All plants have been ordered and many people are starting seeds. Within the next 2-3 weeks, volunteer shifts will start to hit Sign Up Genius. We need more people to start seeds - even growing 10-20 plants of a single variety would be helpful. Check out the website for information on starting tomato seedlings and reach out to Jennifer Porwit with any questions. If you need pots, they’re available at the diagnostic clinic at the barn. If you’re reusing pots, make sure they’ve been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

Darren Lochner's Coordinator Updates (7:00pm-7:15pm)

State Program News

  • Read the newsletter! The March newsletter was already sent around and has plenty of great information

  • The State and National Conferences are coming up

    • State Conference (June 2-3)

    • The keynote speaker on Friday is author and poet Sun Yun Shen; on Saturday it will be Kelly Morris, who will be sharing his new book The New Naturalist

    • Will include a visit to the farm!

    • National Conference June 18 - 22

  • You can go to the Arboretum for FREE with code MG2023

  • Special Training Toolkits on Nature Heals and invasive species have opened up

Ramsey County News

  • U of M Farm Family Recognition: Let Darren know if you have any recommendations for nominations for Ramsey County Farm Family of the Year


  • Nametags for 2022 intern graduates and Years-of-Service/Hours-of-Service awards are available. Pick them up at the Barn.

  • Volunteer Projects

    • If you have new ideas for projects, submit a new project form. The form is available on the Ramsey county website; sign in as a volunteer and there’s a “projects” option.

    • Volunteering will pick up soon, so be sure to review the train-the-trainer on using Sign Up Genius.

    • A few reminders about sign-ups:

      • If anything changes, we’ll need to know ASAP - Sign Up Genius has a great shift swap feature that can be great for when life happens last minute

      • There are a few sign-ups that will go out to interns and mentors first (yard waste sites, farmers markets, etc)

  • Annual Project Fair - 3/28

    • The Project Fair is next week and will showcase the many amazing projects open to volunteers - starts at 6:30 on March 28th

  • Live Core Course Q&A Event - 4/27

    • Those taking the core course have access to a Zoom Q&A each week - there will be a live event on April 27th discussing community engagement

  • Monthly meetings

    • Hybrid Formats: April 18, October 17 & November 21

    • In-Person Only Format; June, July, August, September

    • June meeting will include a tour of the Barn and an activity

    • August meeting will be in collaboration with Washington County Master Gardeners

    • NO MEETING: May and December

  • Book Club Discussion – 3/29

    • The next book club discussion is next Wednesday.

    • If you take a book out of the MG lending library, please return it within the month

Guest Lecture (7:15-8:30pm)

Using IPM Best Practices for Tomatoes

Roger Whippler highlighted the tenets of IPM and discussed how he’s implemented it with his tomatoes. Some key takeaways:

  • Look for letters on the label to identify what issues particular varieties are resistant to; selecting the proper variety is key!

  • Heirloom vs Hybrid: Selected for resistance or tolerance

  • Tomato insects: cutworm (can be prevented with physical barriers), flea beetles, aphids, hornworm

  • Rotation is important - remember to avoid planting in spots where other nightshades (peppers, for example) have been

  • Remove diseased leaves, keep plants off the ground with cages or staking

Searching for Solutions to Jumping Worm

Karen Randall has used free leaves from her neighborhood and compost sites for decades. Last year she noticed jumping worms in a few of her plots but didn’t see any impacts/symptoms in her garden. She used IPM to address the problem and was heartened by the fact that the Arboretum has had jumping worms for decades - this is not a death sentence for your garden!

Karen took action to reduce food sources and preferred habitat, altered plant choices and location, and started new plantings early. Since heat can kill worms and eggs (103-104 degrees in the soil, 130+ degrees in compost or mulch), Karen heat-treated her topsoil and has made sure that she only gets her compost and mulch from reputable sources that heat their material. This is especially important since biological and chemical controls aren’t viable in this instance, as there are no natural enemies in the US and there is no approved treatment for jumping worm application, though there is research being conducted.

Her advice: Make sure that you’ve thoroughly vetted the source of your mulch (ask if they heat it to 130!). The county says that they’ve heated their compost to 130, but there is still some risk - you need to assess your own risk. The arboretum gets their bulk mulch and woodchips from a place in Burnsville

Managing an Infestation of Red Lily Beetle

In May 2021, Gene Ranieri noticed a red beetle on his lilies, but nowhere else in his garden. He searched through the UMN extension website but found that the beetle wasn’t included in the list of pests. Later, he found that this was an invasive lily beetle that has come to the US from Eurasia. These beetles are attracted to true lilies but do not impact day lilies or calla lilies. Gene learned that they’re active from summer through fall and overwinter in cool, moist, sheltered locations. He had to manage all lifecycles (egg, larvae, adult) and found that handpicking and pesticides were primarily recommended.

Ultimately, Gene examined the lilies 3 times a day to remove beetles and larvae, but did not use chemicals - popsicle sticks proved especially effective in removing larvae and eggs. Similar to the Jumping Worms, there are no biological enemies present in the US, though wasps are being tried in the Northeast. Starting early drastically reduces the number of beetles throughout the season; doing so enabled Gene to only examine the lilies twice per day in 2022.

Questions from the audience

  1. What advice do you have for interns/volunteers getting questions about problems?

    1. Have the site pulled up on your phone

    2. Recommend cultural practices and garden hygiene

    3. Consider signing up for “Ask the Extension” to do research and answer email questions!

    4. Remember: you know more than you think you do and it’s okay to lean on more seasoned gardeners.

Recap provided by Amanda Swanson


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