Coconino Master Gardener Association

Currently, warblers of several species are migrating through Flagstaff towards Canada and beyond. The Yellow Warblers, like this little guy are often an exception. They frequently choose to remain in Flagstaff throughout the summer. All of the warblers are busily searching the innermost branches of shrubs and trees for insects.
Photo by Cindy Murray.

Welcome to the Coconino County Master Gardeners' Association Blog. The mission of the Coconino Master Gardener Program is to support the University of Arizona by providing researched-based information on environmentally responsible gardening and landscaping to the public. The program creates a corps of well-informed volunteers, and delivers quality horticultural education programs adapted to our regional high elevation environment. The mission of the association is to provide support for those volunteers and Master Gardener graduates, continuing education, and opportunities to participate in community programs that increase the visibility and participation in the Master Gardener Program.
On this site you will find gardening news, links, a calendar for local events, volunteer opportunities, book reviews, agenda/minutes for our association monthly meetings, and association documents and contacts.
The Coconino County Master Gardener Association was founded in 2009 by a small group of master gardeners with the help of Hattie Braun the Director of the MG Program. After several small meetings it was opened to all master gardeners on May 21st, 2009. Meetings are held monthly on the 2rd Thursday of each month from 6:30pm - 8:30pm. We meet at the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church (1601 N. San Francisco). The agenda usually includes continuing education and a short business meeting. Watch this blog for the agenda and minutes for all meetings. Contacts for the association (officers and committee chairs) are listed at the bottom of this blog.

Reporting Master Gardener Hours

All master gardener trainees and certified master gardeners need to report their hours.
Beginning in 2010 certified master gardeners need to have 6 Education hours and 12 Volunteer hours in order to maintain certification.The on line reporting system allows you to report Education or Volunteer hours.
If you have any questions or concerns about the new reporting system, please contact Crys Wells or Hattie Braun. Their contacts are listed at the bottom of the blog under
Link to reporting

Ideas for hours------
--Attend monthly meetings
--Work on an association committee
--Work at an informational booth for the Master Gardeners
--Be a speaker about gardening topics at a variety of venues

--Host a garden tour
--Work at the home show
--Work at a MG site (Olivia White Hospice, the Arboretum, Riordan Mansion, or school gardens (many others)). Check out the Assoc. Doc. & Forms under Volunteer Sites.
--Work in the Extension office
--Write an article for the newspaper column -Gardening Excetera
-Volunteer with the Seed Library
Be creative! There are many ways to fulfill your hours. Just remember for volunteering it needs to be a non-profit endeavor or an approved for profit site.

Change in Contact Information

Have you moved or changed your e-mail address, but would still like to be contacted about high elevation gardening information from the Extension? The Coconino County Extension Master Gardener Program has a site that will let you change your information on-line.

Click here to change your contact information!

Event Calendar

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gardening Excetera Column 12/17/11

Tam Nguyen

I never thought that a pure, white diamond really existed. I laughed when my Dad told me: “Come on, sweety, we are going to see the diamond!” I said to him, “It will not make us full or make money. I want to sleep more! I want to get up late and lie with my warm blanket.” But he still got me up and took me out into the yard. He gave me a glass of hot tea and pointed to the droplets on the leaves, saying “Those are all the pure diamonds”

The early mornings in the highlands of Viet Nam are cool and fresh with mists hanging in midair. The sun peaks through the coffee leaves, casting shadows on the ground, as though the sun in waltzing through the morning.

There were dew drops on the leaves. They were beautiful, glittering in the early morning sun. I played with them, collecting all the tiny tear drops on my glass. I wonder why we had the dew drops because my Dad had not watered the trees yet.

They came from the air, an essence. The mists made them when the temperature and humidity were just right. The process has been working all night before while I was sleeping, relaxed and enjoying my dreams. The earth was still working hard.

While I was playing with the dew drops, my Dad told me about the tear drops. He told me whenever I understand about meaning of a tear drop, I will have an different angle on life. I would appreciate how much life has given me so many wonderful things. The tear drop from mother’s eyes will be forever. She always cares for her children and her family. The sweaty drop from father will be different because he will work and protect his family and provide the food and a house to live. The impurity of sweat and tears is purified by the love of a mother and father.

It was made a pure diamond. It was without price for value. I watched the colors of dew drops with different colors. One is pure, one is have colorful, and another glitters. The dew drops never break down. They just break into two other tear drops when I try to cut it and when I fold the leaf together the tear drop will come together. It was a game that did not last long for me because the sun came up, and all of them disappeared. They dried out.

The value is understanding it! It came from the ideas. We named the dew drop a diamond. The talent of human is one of elements make difference of world. The pure diamond never has the value as the value of working to change the value of world.

The molecules of dew are so wonderful because of flexible of form. They begin from water molecules, and from there they form dew, snow, ice, and water. All these things are process of water to change from water to gas, liquid, solid. Playing with dew drop was a game for me since I was a little girl at country village. Dew drop was evaporated just wonder for me that because of the sun, and the sun was seem as an enemy for dew drop. I was hearing my Dad tell me a story more than listening to him the meaning which he tried to tell me. Years later, I comprehend it. My Dad kept my childhood full of story. It did not make full my stomach of food. But dew drop gave me a wonderful game and a point to thinking. I appreciated my Dad took me out into the yard at early morning and show me dew.

The wonder when I came to Flagstaff in the winter. I looked out from window at the snow, the ice, the crystals, the icicles. It was field of diamonds. The sky was blue. Snow danced with light from sun bright and clear. I opened the door. I freeze-dried. I ran back get mittens, hat, coat, gloves. No more dew drop but crystals.

Tam Nguyen is a Master Gardener and a student at NAU and The Literacy Center. She is taking her oath of citizenship on December 19. Dana Prom Smith edits GARDENING ETCETERA, emails at, and blogs at

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gardening Excetera Column 12/11/11

Dana Prom Smith

Dirty Harry once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” More importantly, Georges Braque, the famous 20th century French Cubist, said: “In art, progress lies not in extension, but in a knowledge of limitations.” So it is with gardening in the high country. If we don’t know our limitations, we’re in trouble, but if we do, then we can have beautiful gardens.

Now, some local negativists gripe and whine about the limitations of gardening in Flagstaff, fondly recalling other climes and cultures where “all you had to do was stick a plant in the ground.” Now, those fondly-recalled climes are often hot, humid, sticky, buggy, and swathed in mosquitoes. More important than their short memories of yucky climates is their tendency to “look at the present through a rear-view mirror” to quote Marshall McLuhan. Lot’s wife also stole a fond rear-view glance at Sodom and Gomorrah as she fled their destruction and was turned into a pillar of salt (Gen 19:26.)

Rear-view, salt-preserved people aside, gardening is a tutor for the way inevitability and necessity beget creativity. We all work within limits, and it’s important to know them. Freedom and responsibility are always limited, such as being born male or female. This awareness of limitations applies not only to art and life itself, but also to gardening in Flagstaff.

Although gardens are human constructions, as are paintings, they’re extensions of the wild, or else they won’t work. The wilderness is the testing grounds for gardens.

Braque began his career painting landscapes in 1908; however, he, alongside Picasso, discovered the advantages of painting still lifes instead. Braque explained that he, “began to concentrate on still-lifes, because in the still-life you have a tactile, I might almost say a manual space… This answered to the hankering I have always had to touch things and not merely see them.”

Braque likened the genius of gardening to a form of art. It’s reaching out to touch, hear, taste, and smell, to bring life up close and personal. Seeing often keeps things at a distance, as in “over there,” almost as an abstraction. However, if something is tangible, it is limited to time and circumstance. As Robert Frost said, “I play tennis better because the net is there.”

Rather than importing plants from out of our histories or imaginations that don’t belong in Flagstaff, it’s far better to use plants that work in Flagstaff. In gardening as in everything, we can never fully trust the advice of people who anticipate making money off their advice. It’s called caveat emptor, buyer beware. It’s not that they can’t be trusted, it’s that their advice needs to be checked. The late President Reagan said, “Trust and verify.”

Most of us have the greatest-ever research tool available sitting somewhere in our homes or at work. It’s called the Internet. The things to look for in the search are climate zones, last and first frosts, length of growing season, water, soil, and so forth. Perhaps, the best guide for gardening in the high country is Busco and Morin’s Native Plants for High Elevation Western Gardens. It’s the real skinny on plants suitable for Flagstaff’s gardens.

We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. If we take our cues from our environment, we can have splendid gardens in Flagstaff that will rival gardens anywhere. It’s all a matter of accepting the limitations inherent in the beauty of our environment. We’re not necessarily limited to native plants, but if we go beyond, we have to make sure they’re adaptable and not invasively toxic. As it is psychologically, so it is horticulturally, it’s authenticity, being faithful to ourselves and our place, not pretending to be someone else somewhere else, or, worse yet, wanting to be someone else somewhere else.
Martin Buber, the Jewish theologian and philosopher, told the story of an aged pious man, Rabbi Susya, who became fearful as death drew near. His friends chided him, "What! Are you afraid that you'll be reproached that you weren't more like Moses?" "No," the rabbi replied, "that I was not Susya."

Dana Prom Smith © Copyright 2011
Dana Prom Smith, editor of GARDENING ETCETERA, can be reached at and blogs at

Friday, December 9, 2011

3rd Annual Coconino Master Gardener Assoc. Christmas Party

Thank you to all who participated in our 3rd annual Christmas Party. Special thanks to Julie Holmes for hosting this year. A great meal was enjoyed by all and a fun time with the "white elephant gift exchange". Irene Matthews is still looking for another gift.

Looking for a gift for the gardener on your list? Calendars for 2012 are still available at the Cooperative Extension, Warner's, Native Plant & Seed, and the downtown CSA.

Our first meeting for 2012 will be in January 12, at 630pm, at the Shepherd of the Hills Church. The monthly lecture will be on the History of Farming in Flagstaff and the speaker is Meredith Hartwell. Come join us. We will again be collecting dues for the 2012 CMGA membership.

Last of all, don't forget to add all your (volunteer & education) hours to the blog so Crys Wells can come up with totals for 2011. Her reports help justify the support we get from the County Board of Supervisors. The higher the numbers the better.

The seed catalogs have already begun to arrive and before you know it we will be knee deep in gardening again. Looking for something to do in the down time? The CMGA and MG Program has already begun work on the Highlands Garden Conference next fall - watch the blog for their meetings. Faith Brittain has agreed to head up the Home Show for 2012 and she will need help with planning and manning the booth in March.

Loni Shapiro
Coconino Master Gardener Association

Monday, December 5, 2011

Highlands Garden Conference Meeting

Hello Master Gardeners,

We will be having another meeting about the upcoming AZ Highlands Garden Conference for 2012. The next meeting will be on December 13th at noon at the Cooperative Extension (2304 N. 3rd St). Bring your lunch and help us brainstorm next year's conference theme.

Jo-Anne Barcellano
AmeriCorps VISTA Member
Coconino County Cooperative Extension
The University of Arizona
928-774-1868 ext 100

Hydroponics Classes in Tucson

The Controlled Environment Ag Center in Tucson is hosting a crop production intensive January 2-8, 2012.

New in 2012 – Three Intensive Options!
January 2 – 6, 2012 Intensive Focused on Tomato Production
January 6 – 8, 2012 Intensive Focused on Lettuce Production
January 2 – 8, 2012 Combined Intensive: Both Tomatoes & Lettuce

Hands-on intensive training in hydroponic crop production focusing on tomatoes and/or lettuce
Trainings, balancing classroom and greenhouse time, are provided by professionals in the growing fields of Hydroponics and Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)

Round Table Discussion with Top Greenhouse Engineers
Attendance is limited, resulting in unique and expanded contact time
with successful agriculturists and educators

Tomatoes: Patricia Rorabaugh, Ph.D., Assistant Professor/Hydroponic Specialist, The University of Arizona
Lettuce: Myles D. Lewis, M.S., Entrepreneur/Grower, Arizona Vegetable Company
Special Guest Speaker: Dr. Merle Jensen, Consultant: Greenhouse Hydroponic Crop Production

Topics will include:
Greenhouse Basics
Crop Layout
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Crop Maintenance
Plant Nutrition
Food Safety

Registration Fees
Tomato Intensive: $999.00 early /$1049.00 regular
Instructor: Patricia Rorabaugh, Ph.D.
Lettuce Intensive: $499.00 early /$549.00 regular
Instructor: Myles D. Lewis
Entire/Both Intensives: $1299.00 early /$1499.00 regular
Discount: $50 off Second Registration in group

Location and Information

The University of Arizona
Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC)
1951 East Roger Road – Tucson, Arizona USA
Ph: 520-626-9566

Registration Form available at our website:

Spring Master Gardener Class 2012

We will be offering a 2012 spring Master Gardener class.
The class will start on February 8 and run thru May 16. It will be held Wednesday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:30 at the East Flagstaff Community Library. If you know of anyone that is interested in the class, please have them contact me ASAP.
There will be limited space in this class for those of you that want to make up missed classes. Let me know if you are interested in attending a class.

Hattie Braun
University of Arizona
Master Gardener Program Coordinator
Coconino County Cooperative Extension
2304 N. 3rd St.
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

Phone: 928-774-1868 x 170
FAX: 928-774-1860

CMGA Accomplishments for 2011

1. 47 Members of the association for 2011.
Included 10% discounts for Viola's, Warner's and Native Plant & Seed
71% Master Gardeners, 11% trainees, 18% guests participated in monthly meetings.

2. Move to a new site - Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. Provided $250 reimbursement for use of facility.

3. Changed bi-laws to reflect new membership rules.

4. Organized the MG Projects with a committee to establish rules, review applications from those interested in MG help, and a method for approval. Several new projects approved in 2011.

5. Participated in the Flagstaff Home Show with a booth and many lectures.

6. The Garden Club officially became part of the CMGA. A listserv established for contacting members. Many garden tours provided throughout the summer. Bulk Nolo Bait offered for sale for members.

7. Established a EIN tax number and PO Box for the association. Created a logo for the association to use with membership cards and correspondence.

8. New bank account established at the National Bank of Arizona.

9. Continued participation in Sunday and Wednesday Flagstaff Community Markets.

10. Established a grant for Master Gardener Projects
Two given this year to Sunshine Rescue Mission and the YMCA ($150 each)

11. Sponsored the fall Arboretum at Flagstaff newsletter ($250) and included an article about the association and the MG Program.

12. Fundraising included memberships and our 2nd Annual Calendar for sale throughout the community. Photos were of gardens throughout Coconino County. Many were from the Native Plant Society's annual contests.

13. Provided 10 monthly lectures for Master Gardeners and the community at large. Additional programs provided by other Master Gardeners through an informal speakers bureau.

14. Established a listserv for communications from the association. Over 100 added to this list.

15. Held an annual Recognition Picnic and a Christmas Party.

Loni Shapiro
Coconino Master Gardener Association

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gardening Excetera Column 12/3/11

Cris Wischmann

I’m a slow learner. It took five years for me to realize that trees other than pinyon and juniper won’t grow at my Leupp Road address. I planted over two hundred trees and shrubs from the Arizona State Land Department around the perimeter of my four acres as a windbreak, and supported them with a drip line for water. Only the Russian Olives lasted the full five years, before the rabbits and voles (yes, voles not moles) destroyed the limbs and roots. After twenty years here, I have developed an admiration for the native trees that survive temperatures ranging from minus 20 to 100 plus degrees Fahrenheit with very little water. Ten years ago over 60 pinyon trees died on my four acres, succumbing to bark beetles and drought. They provided fuel for the woodstove. And now the junipers are riddled with mistletoe.

Underneath the standing dead trees in this area, though, the wildflowers and blue grama grass are thriving. And so is the wildlife that relies on the grasses. I decided to minimize my gardening (and labor and expenses) and planted flowers in two beds in front of the house, and in several barrels in the back yard. I also noticed what my neighbors were growing successfully and chose perennials well suited to this area.

Classes offered by Master Gardeners at the Community College gave me suggestions for placement of plants for efficient use of water. I was so proud of the results at the end of the summer and looked forward to the following spring.

And in the spring, the plants returned, but didn’t get as big or fill out as I had hoped. Then I noticed lots of rabbits and fenced off the flowers beds with chicken wire. That seemed to solve the problem. Although some flowers still disappeared, I didn‘t mind sharing with the critters I enjoyed watching from the front porch. So I bought new plants each year to add different colors, and replaced plants that didn’t thrive, and apologized for the chicken wire when entertaining guests.

This spring the chicken wire failed me. The re-emerging plants were being eaten down to the dirt. Those cute little chipmunks I liked to watch had multiplied and were voracious eaters. The big catmint plants changed from miniature NAU domes to tall celery stalks in a week. I put plastic milk jugs around the plants, sprinkled commercial repellants, and spread dog poop in my manicured beds. I added pungent plants like mints, lavenders, and marigolds. These activities did not work and my friends were getting tired of my frenzied rants about chipmunks. When the little pests ate all the leaves off my new Virginia Creeper in addition to all the flowers off the marigolds, I finally went to the experts.

I emailed my problem to Dana Prom Smith and asked for suggestions. He had none, but forwarded my query to Janice Busco, who replied with several recipes for remedies. All would necessitate a trip to town for ingredients except for one. It required Castor Oil, and I had a quart of the stuff. I mixed one-fourth cup of castor oil with a pint of warm water, added a squirt of dish soap, shook it up and sprayed it on the leaves, bare stems, and ground of my flower beds. And in three days, the perennials were above ground, and the one remaining trailer of Virginia creeper was still intact. Success! Major problem solved! I shared the solution with a neighbor who was also losing more plants than usual this year.

As I write this report, there’s still enough summer left to allow the garden plants to flower. I just have to remember to reapply the castor oil mixture after each rain. Then I can get to my favorite activity, sitting on the front porch just above the flower bed and watching the wildlife, including the rabbits and chipmunks.

I learned a lot this summer. I just hope I remember to get the castor oil mixture on the ground in March next year before the chipmunks notice that it’s spring again.

Cris Wischmann, a Flagstaff resident since 1970, is a sometime mathematics instructor. Dana Prom Smith, editor of GARDENING ETCETERA, blogs at, and emails at

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

3rd Annual Coconino Master Gardener Assoc. Christmas Party

What: Christmas Potluck and White Elephant Garden Gift Exchange
The Association is providing the main dish (ham)
Guests (last name a-g) need to bring side dish), (h-q) appetizer, (r-z) dessert
Bring a white elephant garden gift to exchange (gently used or purchased less than $10)
When: Thursday, December 8, 2011, 6-8pm

Where: Julie Holmes Home (e-mail for details

Questions or RSVP (by December 1) to Loni Shapiro at above e-mail.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Coconino Master Gardener Assoc. Meeting Minutes 11/10/11

Master Gardener Meeting Minutes 11/10/11
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church
1601 N. San Francisco

6:30pm-6:40pm Welcome – Agenda Jim Mast
Brief review of agenda for the evening
Introduction of speaker

6:40pm-7:30pm Continuing Education
Speaker: Steve Yoder
Topic: The Arboretum at Year 30 and plans for 2012
Mr. Yoder showed the history of the Arboretum through photographs and stories. From a largely research institution, it has grown into a popular destination for the public with many fun and educational activities. Some of the fun includes the rejuvenated Pollinator Garden (in the shape of a butterfly), activities like the popular Pumpkin Walk, Wildflowers and Wine and the Ponderosa Hustle Footrace. In addition to pure fun, there are many opportunities to assist the Arboretum staff in creating and maintaining the gardens and in furthering their research programs. Volunteers are needed to help plant and maintain gardens and in the greenhouse, assist with public events, work in the visitor’s center, assist with research by participating in seed collection field trips and data gathering. For more information on the Arboretum at Flagstaff, go to . In particular, take a look under Research for details on their current and past projects. Most recently, there was an article in the Arizona Daily Sun, Experiment in Warming, that describes a project involving the Arboretum that Steve Yoder mentioned during his talk. They received a large grant from the federal government for this project.

7:30pm-7:45pm Refreshments
Thank you to Ann Eagan

7:45pm - 8:30pm Business Meeting – Jim Mast
7:45pm – 8:00pm Overview of recent Executive Meeting – Jim Mast
Election of officers – officers election for 2012
Slate – Debi Stalvey/President
Bea Cooley/Vice President
Ed Skiba/Treasurer
Loni Shapiro/Ann Eagan/co-secretaries
Home show (need coordinator and volunteers to work with Hattie),
Hattie to contact home show sponsors and plan the first meeting. She will check with Faith to see if she is interested in helping.
Highland Garden Conference 2011 & 2012. Loni reported on 2011 conference events.
Hattie has scheduled a meeting for next week to begin planning for the 2012 conference in Flagstaff. E-mails are in your box about time and date.
Officer reports will be at the January 2012 meeting.

Financial – Ed Skiba
Ed reported current income and expenditures. The balance following deposits from the calendar, Nolo bait, and a refund from the grant to Sunshine Rescue Mission – expenses for the church - is 1019.15.

Secretary – Loni Shapiro
We still have about 100 calendars. 4 sold this evening. Continuing sales at Warners, CSA, NP & Seed, Extension, and the St. Pius Holiday Bazar. Leftovers will be sold in 2012 at ½ price and give to speakers and give-aways at the Home Show. Profits will be reported in 2012.
Blog – Articles posted about the 2011 Highlands Garden Conference and the weekly garden article from the Daily Sun. Books brought from the conference for all to check out. They are also posted on the blog.
Snack volunteer sign-up was posted and will be brought to the Christmas Party.

8:00pm – 8:20pm Committee Reports:
Continuing Education – See schedule below for current list of talks for 2012. Loni requested ideas for 2012 (Houseplants/Invasive Species/Bulbs) The results will be sent in an e-mail along with previous suggestions for a survey of preferences on the listserv.

Community Programs – Molly Larsen/Julie Holmes
Flagstaff Community Markets
Report sent to Jim Mast for 2011 by Molly Larsen. Will be included in overall report for 2011.
Home Show – see above

Coordination of MG Projects – Linda Guarino – 2011 report forthcoming

Volunteer Support/Social – Hattie Braun & Crys Wells
Crys – membership/volunteer and education hours for October 455 volunteer and 86.25 education hours. Please get your 2011 hours in by the end of the year.
Christmas Party – Dec. 8, 6-8pm, at Julie Holmes, potluck, she will provide ham, appetizers/sides/desserts will be assigned, bring a white elephant gift. Invites will be in e-mail this week.

8:20pm – 8:30pm Garden questions?
Bulb question – What should I do if I don’t get my bulbs in the ground this week? Plant in a pot outside or put in the refrigerator. They need forcing (cold)to produce in 2012.
Loni brought up a tree/shrub idea from the Highlands conference – planting all trees/shrubs bare root. See Loni for idea. Hattie to check on Arizona research on this new way of planting trees.

Next meeting: Christmas Party, December 8, 6-8pm Julie Holmes Home

Future meetings:
January 14 – History of Farming in Flagstaff – Meredith Hartwell
February 12- Topic TBA
March 12 – Tom Bean/Topic TBA
April 12 – Riordan and Pioneer Museum - Joe Meehan/Charlotte Dodgson

Educational and Volunteer Opportunities from the Blog (coconinomgassociation.blogspot

Submitted 11/17/2011
Loni Shapiro & Ann Eagan

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Photovoice Project

Are you interested in FOOD?
Are you interested in helping shape Flagstaff’s FOOD SYSTEM?

If YES, be a part of
Flagstaff’s Food System Photovoice Project!

What is Photovoice?
Photovoice uses cameras and dialogue to bring together community members around an issue and create community leadership. This Photovoice project is interested in identifying opportunities and challenges associated with a local food system in Flagstaff.

What will I do?
This will be a fun and engaging project! If you participate, you must be willing and able to spend some time and energy with the group. There will be two four-hour sessions to 1) become familiar with the Photovoice process, and 2) talk about what you experienced and describe your photographs. In between that time, you will spend a week taking photographs. Also, you must adhere to Photovoice ethics concerning photography and group discussion. All of this will be explained in the initial meeting.

What will I gain from the experience?
Hopefully you will have a fun time, meet new people, and develop new ideas about what a local food system in Flagstaff might look like!

· Must be at least 18 years old and a resident of Northern Arizona.
· Willing and able to commit to one week of photography in October, and attend two four-hour sessions to 1) become familiar with the Photovoice process and 2) talk about what you experienced.
· This project is free to participants and participants will not be compensated monetarily for this project.

Contact Liz Krug to sign up and be a part of this unique project. • (602) 369-0756

Monday, November 14, 2011

1st Planning Meeting for 2012 Highlands Garden Conference

Hello Master Gardeners,

My name is Jo-Anne, and you may or may not know who I am. I'm an AmeriCorps VISTA helping Hattie with the Master Gardener program.

Next year, Coconino County will be hosting the AZ Highlands Garden Conference for 2012. Hattie and I will be needing your assistance to make next year's conference a success. If you are interested in joining our planning committee, please come to the Coconino County Cooperative Extension office located on 2304 N. 3rd St on November 16th from 12-1pm.

Our general agenda will be:
--Appointing a chairperson
--Forming a speaker committee
--Forming a site committee

We hope to see you there. If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email me.

Jo-Anne Barcellano
AmeriCorps VISTA Member
Coconino County Cooperative Extension
The University of Arizona
928-774-1868 ext 100

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gardening Excetera Column 11/5/11

Dana Prom Smith

“Dysfunctional family” is an epithet often thrown around nowadays, masquerading as a diagnosis. The problem: it’s meaningless because all families are dysfunctional in one way or another. A diagnosis without a difference, it’s like accusing someone of breathing.

We perceive our experiences through the prism of our personal metaphors. Some think that human relationships are like a machine in which everything works efficiently without intimacy, the parts being interchangeable. Others think of them as if they were cupboards or a parts department, pigeon-holing members as though they were objects unrelated to one another. Both metaphors in terms of family relationships lead to alienation because there are no intimate connections.

More functional metaphors for a family are an organism or a fabric in which the members are involved with one another or closely woven. As John Dunne wrote in Meditation XVII, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

Dysfunctional families pretty much parallel our gardens. When we first moved to Flagstaff 8 years ago, one of the first things I did was to plant a rhododendron and several forsythias largely because I was still enthralled with the beauty of Princeton in the spring, a halcyon experience now 65 years old. A hymn reads, “New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth.” I’d forgotten that.

I enjoyed Latin in school, but not my sons. A year of frustrations and anger was misspent enforcing Latin. I thought they would like what I liked and become what I had in mind. A folly it is to impose our expectations on others contrary to their interests, abilities, and inclinations. Happily, they’ve forgiven me. When they were in their early twenties, I took them out to dinner with my daughter and asked for their forgiveness for all the ill-tempered and stupid things I had done. I would recommend such an event for every parent.

So it is with gardens. Many wonderful plants don’t do well in Flagstaff, but many do. I kept that rhododendron alive for four years as it withered year after year. The forsythia, Shasta daises, blanket flowers, penstemon, and Arizona fescue have prospered beyond my expectations. One sure sign of dysfunction, nay, insanity, is to keep repeating a failure expecting a success. In short, what works are native and adaptive plants.

Our sense of beauty needs to change when we move from one place to another. I was raised in California with orange trees, Meyer lemons, camellias, bougainvillea, avocados, and azaleas. I miss them, but that should not blind me to the beauty of the ponderosa pines, Gambel oaks, sheep fescue, and quaking aspen.

When I moved to Tucson years ago after 8 years in the East and Middle West, I first thought the desert was a waste. After a year, I began to see its beauty, and when I left, I missed its beauty. I still smell creosote bush when it rains. So it is with the High Country. No azaleas, but, ah, the wildflowers.

Also, that maple I planted at the same time as the rhododendron and the forsythias now shades a once beautiful flower bed. The flowers are now pitiful, pathetic, and dysfunctional. I have to transplant them and put in what the arborists call “understory” plants. Gardens evolve just as do families. Those reluctant Latinists are now worthwhile middle-aged men planning their retirements. My daughter now does the Thanksgiving dinner.

Since we’re all dysfunctional, it’s important to look at the whole of the garden and family. Sometimes plants don’t prosper no matter how much care they’re given. No point in blaming the plant or Flagstaff. The big dysfunction is in not accepting one’s dysfunction.

Families bond much like a soldier’s “band of brothers” where forgiveness, tolerance, and trust are the sine qua non of survival and prevalence. So, too, is a garden. Not every member is the same. Not only that, they change with time. Gardens, like our families, are organisms constantly evolving into new shapes and forms. So “faith, hope, love abide, these three.” Gardening and families are acts of all three.
Copyright © Dana Prom Smith 2011

Dana Prom Smith (, edits GARDENING ETCETERA. His email address is

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Desert Botanical Garden Happenings

Are you beginning to have gardening withdrawal with the change in weather in Flagstaff. The Desert Botanical Garden is just beginning to come alive with the cooler weather.

David Rogers' Big Bugs have invaded the garden!
Now through January 1, 2012
These 11 enormous, whimsical bugs are created from fallen or found wood, cut saplings, twigs, raw branches, twine, bark and other natural materials. Fun for all ages.

Mariposa Monarca
Monarch Butterfly Exhibit
Now through Nov. 13, Nov. 18-20 & 25-27
9:30 am- 5:00 pm
Free for members and children under three, $3.50 for general public with paid Garden admission.

Monet's Giverny and Other Edens
Photographs by Richard Nilsen
Now through Nov. 13, 10:am - 5:pm daily
Free for members or paid Garden admission
I just came back from the DBG and all three of the first listed events were wonderful.If you have children or grandchildren this would be a great time to visit with bugs and butterflies.

Thursdays, now through Nov. 17 6-8:30pm
Presenting sights, sounds and flavors of Phoenix.
Full event line-up and ticketks at
Advanced tickets suggested.
Must be 21 or older to attend.

Music in the Garden
Fall 2011 Concert series
Fridays, now through Nov. 18, 7-9pm
Full concert line-up and ticketks at
Advanced tickets suggested.
Must be 21 or older to attend.

Chiles & Chocolate
Friday - Sunday Nov. 11-13, 10am-5pm
Delight your taste buds with indulgent gourmet chocolates, zesty salsas, and other unique treats. Included with paid Garden admission. Members are free.

Visit for tickets and complete fall scheduling.

Gardening Excetera Column 10/29/11

Tam Nguyen

Every season has a various beauty. The color of leaves changes so fantastically. Fall season has many leaves which fall off. It looks like a rain of leaves! Once in a while there is a tiny sound of the leaf that does not fall to the ground, the leaf that hangs on when others fall. So quite, so silent, so still. Because the leaf is so light, it seems to have no weight.
In a garden with many plants in spring, everything looks so green, smell so fresh. The new bulb is going up. Then the time comes for the leaf to change color, light green, dark green, gold, brown, and then falls off the branch. The leaves fall and sound crisps under my feet. I though about my Dad, and I think about life cycle. Why it is short?

Day by day, the leaves take the light from the sun, make energy for tree, and make free oxygen for the earth. The silent work is every moment. Then when the leaf fall off, we call it going home. After it finishes its job, it begins the new traveling to begin the new story.

It’s almost the shock of the spirit because the leaf makes my mind look at life from another angle. The human being, the earth, and the tree become a one thing. The spirit is in everything, everywhere. The beauty of life becomes a thing named by love. The fluttering leaf becomes the music with the melting melody. Nothing can stop it. It survives all over time. The leaf touched the ground, played with wind. It is flying, and the flying never stops.
Deep inside the person, there is the empty space to fill with the beauty of life, for love, for trust, and hope life will be better. These are our horizons, the sky bordering the mountain and the leaf changing its color. It is so deep in color, so close for anybody to touch, yet far enough for some people try not to understand about spirit. The leaf still is there. It is attending everywhere even in a quite village or a busy city. The leaf helps the spirit fly higher, further and faster, than the human can imagine about the time and space.

When the leaf falls, it begins a new travel tour. The wind will flow it up, and it will fly on the air. It is a time for leaf to find out the real world after it heard from the sun, clouds, and wind. The leaf will tour wherever the wind pushes it, the forest, village or city, expand all over. The leaf brought the song with the artist to make the life better. Just as the artist feels the melody and sings the song, so the blowing wind sings a melody.

Often the only person who is the artist can feel the melody of song and sing out loud. Gold color reminds him that the late evening for life, ready for everything, knowledge, experience and passion for life somewhere. Nothing can survive forever, one moment will be forever. The end of tour, the leaf will drop on the earth and go back to root. It will change to organic nutrition of the earth. The earth will be porous for the plants. All the story of leaf’s tour, nobody knows exactly, but it makes the mystery for life. Often people do not understand the experience of nature. They think the leaf is without meaning for human life, without caring or paying attention to the leaf.

Many forests disappear or turn into the desert when the leaves are gone. The green leaf brings hope for everybody. I wonder how many people ask for the gold leaf. Is it for dying or beginning new things, to do something or begin come back? The leaf is the reason we breathe every day. Even the good day or bad day, people need the small leaf to clean the air without touching or smelling it.

My tutor told me of Albert Camus’ words: “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

Tam Nguyen is a Master Gardener and a student at NAU and The Learning Center where Dana Prom Smith, the editor of GARDENING ETCETERA, is her tutor. His email address is, and he blogs at

Highlands Garden Conference 2011 - Prescott, AZ - entry 2

This is my second entry for information from the recent regional MG Conference. I recently received an email with a link to the Yavapai web site. It has all the talks and outlines from the conference, so I won't bore you with mine.
Both keynotes are well worth your time - one on bugs and one on gardening myths. Another that I found useful was one on Cactus, Agave, and Yucca for High Elevation gardens. I realized that there are many more that will work from zones 4-6 than I realized. Check out his outline for a list of those that will.
The recipes from the farm tour I attended the day before are also on the link. They include a to die for vegetable soup. Options were for a tour of 2 farms or the headwaters of the Verde. I did the farm tours and they were great - the Chino Valley Farm (one of our Sunday Market participants) and a smaller farm used mostly for home sustainability. They also sell at the Prescott Market - mostly corn.
At our next association meeting (Nov. 10)I will bring some books from the keynote speakers if you want to take a look. I have also added them on the blog book list.

Loni Shapiro
Coconino Master Gardener Association

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Highlands Garden Conference 2011 - Prescott, AZ

This was the first talk of the 2011 Highlands Garden Conference. It was a good conference and I learned many new things. I will continue to add articles about some of the talks, and have encouraged others who attended to do the same. In the meantime here is a link to the talks if you want to listen or see their outlines.

Dr. Ed Martin
Serves as one of two Associate Directors of Extension programs in Arizona, providing leadership and support for statewide Extension programming. He has developed an Extension education and applied research program in Irrigation Engineering with an emphasis on Irrigation Management to meet the needs of agricultural producers and similar clientele in Arizona.

Dr. Martin did the intro to the conference and it was about Extension in Arizona. It was titled “Danger of a Single Story” to illustrate the many facets of Extension, and why we shouldn’t think of it as just the Master Gardener program. The title comes from a Nigerian writer by the name of Chimanda Adichie. She spoke at a TED conference on the importance of not having a single story about a person or culture. If you have 20 spare minutes I highly suggest you listen to her lecture on the web. It is a lecture that all Americans should listen to. Link to video.

Getting back to Dr. Martin’s intro, he spent the remainder of the time outlining all the programs that are part of the extension, funding and how it is spent, and the value of Master Gardener volunteers in dollars in Arizona. It was a short talk but a great intro for the conference.

Surprisingly last year was a good year for money for the Extension even though we always hear about budget cuts. They had more than $23,000,000. This comes from a variety of sources – some from donations and about half from grants written by faculty. Half was spent on the SNAP programs (this has become a larger piece of the budget), 5.5 million went to the counties, and 5.5 million was spent at the U. of A. campus. Some of the programs included:
Integrated Pest Management
This saved growers $212 million by the use of fewer pesticides. They went from 4.15 lbs per acre to .48 lbs.
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
The "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-Ed)" is an ACE Healthy Lifestyles education program for children and families eligible for SNAP (food stamps). The mission of SNAP-Ed is to shape food consumption in a positive way, to promote health and reduce disease.
SWAP (School Water Audit Program) Swapping water waste for water efficiency
This is a program to have children learn about water conservation by doing research projects within their own schools on water use. It has resulted in large reductions of water use within schools.
4-H Program – 142,000 enrolled. NO KID LEFT INSIDE

These are only a small portion of the Extension activities. If you want to see a report of all they do this is the web address for the 2010 report.

Figures from 2010 for volunteers in the Arizona Extension:
10,395 volunteers, 159.998 hours, $21.36 value per hour = $3.2 million
Half of that $3.2 million was by volunteer Master Gardeners

And that is only Arizona - imagine how much master gardeners contribute in the US.

Loni Shapiro

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gardening Excetera Column 10/22/11

Dana Prom Smith

A narrow, well-worn graveled lane leads to Casa Escondida, the “hidden house.” Finding the lane means meandering through three county roads, several ambivalent junctions, and some missteps. Several miles from the village of Chimayó in northern New Mexico, it is off the beaten path. While no one can completely get away from it all, Casa Escondida comes close: no telephones, no television, no radios, peace and quiet in what is a “rustic elegance.” Sadly, there was a wireless internet to check the stock market, a disquieting experience.

The quiet is the quiet of nature. A couple of crickets near the patio carried on an undecipherable dialogue. Following soon, a whole chorus of several hundred chirping voices joined in the conversation. While sipping a glass of cooled chardonnay to smooth out the kinks from sitting on a long drive, my ears begin to hear the silences of nature: the winds rustling the leaves of the cottonwoods and whistling through the junipers. The birds were still singing as the sun began its descent.

Although dusk had settled around the patio, the sun was still shining on the tops of a couple of giant cottonwoods (Populus fremontii) in the distance. Alight with seemingly small red and golden Christmas tree lights, they glittered against the backdrop of the deepening blue of a New Mexico sky. It is the kind of scene which evokes a tension-releasing sigh.

A dinner at Rancho de Chimayó was an authentic taste of northern New Mexico. Nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, the people of the villages are largely descendants of the Conquistadores, some identifying their lineage to the seventh and eighth generation. Flavored by the people of the region, the cuisine is often more Spanish than Mexican.

After dinner, the chirping of the crickets slowed while the yipping of the coyotes took over in that bloodthirsty ferocity of the wild euphemistically called the balance of nature. I was grateful for not being born a field mouse.

While asleep later that I night, we were awakened by the piercing screams and coughing barks of a bobcat, similarly engaged in the balance of nature. It was not more than ten yards from our patio in a thicket of trees and bushes. Sometimes, the wilderness comes too close.

At dawn, I heard a rooster. I realized I hadn’t been awakened by the crow of a cock since I was a boy. My job was to feed the chickens and gather the eggs, sometimes fleeing an irate hen. It was a very pleasant homecoming. I lay abed relishing the moment and memories.

While sitting on the patio enjoying a pot of hot tea, fresh fruit, sausage, and a green chili omelet, I caught a flash of fire out of the corner of my left eye. Steeled by the drought that had plagued northern New Mexico, I turned to check to see whether or not a disaster was in the offing, but, no, it was the rays of the rising sun striking the tops of the cottonwoods in the distance. They glowed for one glorious moment and then no more.

Looking straight out from the patio lay a small cultivated garden fit for a dry climate, then a lawn of mown weeds and grasses, and finally a wild thicket of Siberian elm saplings, an exotic invader, junipers, piñon pines, a maple emblazoned in red, and finally in the background those giant cottonwoods. It was a panoply of colors, sizes, and shapes. A truth dawned on me. A southwest garden is as much about the wild as it is about order and pattern. What does it profit to look out onto a world we have tidied?

In the small strip of a cultivated garden were honeycomb butterfly bushes, two small yuccas, and a couple of stonecrop bushes with their burgundy flowers in full bloom.

Over to the right of the patio stood the center piece of the garden, an ancient juniper with its age-roughened bark, hacked, sawed, and pruned, with a few tuffs of new life emerging here and there. I had found a compadre.

Copyright 2011 © Dana Prom Smith
Dana Prom Smith, editor of GARDENING ETCETERA, emails at and blogs at

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Harvest Party & Potluck

Hello Fellow Gardening Folk, Farmers, Friends and Supporters!

It's hard to believe fall is here already. It has been incredible to see all of the bountiful gardens around Flagstaff this season.

Let's get together to celebrate! Community Gardens throughout Flagstaff have united to host the 2011 Harvest Party & Potluck on Wednesday October 19th, 5pm at the New Start Garden.

This event is free and open to the public and will be filled with exciting activities-- so bring your friends & kiddos, a dish to share, seeds to exchange, an instrument if you play and your biggest squash!

WHO: Everyone!
*including a seed exchange, youth activities, music, a baking contest,
and a biggest squash contest!
WHERE: New Start Garden (corner of Mogollon St. and Cherry Ave,near Thorpe Park)
*In case of bad weather, we will meet indoors at
408 E.Route 66, Suite 1(next door to Simply Delicious)
WHEN: Wednesday, October 19th, 5pm
WHY: To celebrate, share, network, eat good food and have fun!

*If you have any questions or would like to volunteer, call Flagstaff Foodlink at (928)255-1123

We look forward to seeing you!
Flagstaff Community Gardens

Jamie Fredricks
Community Garden Coordinator
Flagstaff Foodlink

Make a Difference Day Project

Flagstaff Native Plant & Seed is giving us a fantastic deal on plants and trees for campus. If you have time this Saturday, please come on out for Make a Difference Day and help us plant. We’ll be here from 9am to noon. Please bring garden tools if you have them (we have quite a few tools here). FALA will be providing snacks, but if you’d like to bring a snack as well, we’d welcome it!

And please spread the word. We will have more than 100 plants to get into the ground. :)


Becky Daggett
Executive Director
Flagstaff Arts & Leadership Academy
928.779.7041 fax

Monday, October 17, 2011

Webinars from Flagstaff Foodlink E-mail

Master the Art of Home Canning, Seed Saving, Bee Keeping, SNAP Gardening and Season Extension

Fall has finally arrived. For many this is a busy time at home, at work and especially in the garden where there are crops to harvest, prepare and preserve; seeds to save; weeds to pull; debris to collect and compost; cover crops to plant and the list goes on. To help you save time, money and space, USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative has invited experts to share advice in its 2011 Fall Webinar Series.
A series of five hour-long trainings will broadcast live on Wed. Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26 and Nov. 2 from 12 noon to 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. They are free for anyone to watch online. To join the training, register at

2011 Fall Webinar Series

Wednesday, October 19
Webinar: Pollinators For Your Garden with Dr. Jeff S. Pettis, research leader with USDA-Agricultural Research Service Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland.

Pollinators are essential to any gardening endeavor. Hear about the variety of native or wild pollinators and things you can do to encourage or increase them in your area.

Wednesday, October 26
Webinar: Food Stamps Grow Gardens! Leveraging SNAP to grow gardens across America with Daniel Bowman Simon, founder of SNAP Gardens

Did you know that you can use SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) benefits to help plant a garden? This session will provide ideas for how garden-minded professionals and amateurs alike can spread awareness and connect SNAP recipients to resources and information that will enable productive gardening experiences for all.

Wednesday, November 2
Webinar: Extending the Growing Season Using High Tunnels and Hoop Houses with Ron Cordsiemon, Missouri Plant Materials Center Manager for USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in Elsberry, Missouri

High tunnels and hoop houses can be used to increase the growing season of a variety of plants. This session will cover the different types of structures used and the time and expense involved for construction. This session also will look at the potential for increased production among different types of vegetables.

Angie Tagtow, MS, RD, LD

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Master Gardener Meeting Minutes 10/13/11

Master Gardener Meeting Minutes 10/13/11
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church
1601 N. San Francisco

6:30pm-6:40pm Welcome – Agenda Jim Mast
Brief review of agenda for the evening
Introduction of speaker

6:40pm-7:30pm Continuing Education
Speakers: Joel Kefuss
Topic: A Conversation on Native Pollinators and Making a Solitary Bee Nesting Box
Mr. Kefuss discussed pollinators, types of bees, colony collape, and how to encourage them to come to your yard. Different types of boxes you can make were demonstrated.
Link to Mr. Kefuss outline.
One resource for pre-made Mason Bee Nesting Boxes - 800-733-4146
There are many more.

730pm-7:45pm Refreshments
Thank you to Linda Guarino

7:45pm - 8:30pm Business Meeting – Jim Mast
7:45pm – 8:00pm Overview of recent Executive Meeting – Jim Mast
Nomination for officers – officer nominations for 2012 include Debi Stalvey for President, Bea Cooley for Vice President, and Ann Eagan to co-chair with Loni Shapiro for secretary. Nominations will be taken at the Nov. meeting when we vote.
Listserve – several people will be added to the send list for the listserv. Hattie says this will happen when the state computer techs get it done.
Home show – coordinator needed to work on the 2012 Home Show with Hattie.
Christmas Party – scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 8, at Julie Holmes house from 6-8pm. It will be a potluck, with a white elephant exchange. Linda Guarino will send out the invites after the next Executive Meeting.
Highland Garden Conferences 2011 & 2012 – the conference is next Saturday. They have about 100 registered. Registrations for the higher fee are still open. The conference will be in Flagstaff next year. Hattie will be attending a wrap-up meeting of this year’s conference in November. If you want to be part of next years you may want to carpool with her.

Financial – Ed Skiba memberships, update on current expenditures and balance
Last statement was for $919.15 (Sept. 30). Since that time $62 spent on a PO Box. and $202 has yet to be made in deposts. $250 needs to be paid to the church. The calendars are fully paid and the rest collected will be profit.

Secretary – Loni Shapiro calendar, need volunteer for snack for November
Calendars selling well (about 80 so far). We are still selling at Warners, NP & S, CSA, Extension Office, and hospice on Thurs. morning until the end of Oct. A crew is set for selling at the Highland Garden Conference. Sales after that will be discussed at the Executive Meeting for November.
Ann Eagan volunteered to bring snacks next month. Thank you to Ann and the Guerrettes for doing it twice this year.

8:00pm – 8:20pm Committee Reports:
Continuing Education – See schedule below for current list of talks. Loni has surveyed members for next years lectures. We are scheduled tentatively through April. Loni will send out the results of the survey to ask preferences for next year.
Community Programs – Molly Larsen
Flagstaff Community Markets - 24 done in 2011, with 20 volunteers. Thanks to all who helped.
Home Show – need to begin planning for 2012.
Coordination of MG Projects – Linda Guarino – Linda mentioned that the list is on the blog as a reference for all. Some of the larger projects are on the handout tonight. The list will be updated in 2012.
Volunteer Support/Social – Hattie Braun & Crys Wells
Crys – membership/volunteer and education hours
Volunteer hours for Sept. 487.75 /11.5 education. The education hours are low and Crys reminded all to clock 1 hour for volunteering and 1 for education for the meetings.

8:20pm – 8:30pm Garden questions?
Debi S asked about what to do about area where tomatoes were planted and possible blight or fungus. Hattie suggested not planting tomatoes there again.
Loni S mentioned great success in the 2nd year for Raspberries from High County Gardens – “Caroline”. They have a raspberry farm and it is at 7000 feet so the varieties they use do well here.
Molly L asked about what to do about dieback at bottom of a blue spruce. It was suggested cutting the dead branches is the only option. They will not grow back.
Someone asked about growing wisteria – not easy here (season too short) but try east facing.
Ed mentioned that Walmart has cheap mums and Iceland poppies.

Next meeting: November 10 – The Arboretum at 30 Years/Plans for 2012 – Steve Yoder

Future meetings:
December 8 – Christmas Party
January 14 – History of Farming in Flagstaff – Meredith Hartwell

Gardening Excetera Column 10/15/11

Annette Perkins

Last spring brought out in me a renewed enthusiasm for the upcoming growing season. There was also, a niggling reminder of the many “learning moments” encountered in one’s quest for a bountiful harvest! Allow me to share with you, one such moment.

It began much like any other spring in Flagstaff, tilling, toiling, and amending the soil in the garden. Sowing the seeds, transplanting starts, and trellising the early snow peas kept me busy and happy. The watering, weeding and thinning paid off. The garden was lovely by June! I headed out one fine morning to do the daily garden rituals. Then, my heart fell. Overnight, something had obliterated a row and a half of succulent, snow peas and two-thirds of my delicate, Japanese eggplants. In years past, I have battled errant rabbits, bent on destroying anything leafy, green, and succulent. They, at least, had the courtesy to leave stubs and shoots. The creatures at work now, left absolutely, nothing! A bit of detective work and a trip to the extension office, soon revealed the culprit of my garden attack. Allow me to introduce to you, the Arizona pocket gopher.

There are three species of pocket gophers in Arizona. All three belong to the genus Thomomys. They thrive anywhere there is adequate plant material and tuberous roots. The soil must also be suitable for them to tunnel in. Pocket gophers live about three years, do not hibernate, and are active both day and night. They rarely leave their tunnels and live solitary lives, except during the breeding season. In high altitudes, the young are born in June and July. In lower altitudes young are born between December and May and also between mid-July and August. A litter averages five or six young who live in the nest for several weeks. Pocket gophers are strict herbivores with insatiable appetites. Pocket gophers enjoy a wide variety of both annuals and perennials.

They will nibble on the tuberous roots of plants and will pull the entire plant into their tunnel from below. The entire tunnel system may spread out 700 square yards! The soil will be pushed to the surface in a distinctive, fan-shaped mound. Check the mound for a side plug, because Pocket gophers prefer a closed-tunnel system. Fresh mounds indicate recent, gopher activity. It is important to remember that the tunnel system is comprised of main, horizontal runways and lateral runways that are diagonal to the main runway and the ground surface. This is an important factor when eradicating them from the garden or lawn.

Deterring pocket gophers from setting up house in your prized beds and lawn means to control weeds adjacent to the garden, landscaping, and lawn. This may not be practical on a large scale. At the very least weed a perimeter around the garden and bed areas.

There are several methods available to control these vermin on the market. A reliable and cost effective method is trapping. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when setting and retrieving traps to protect you and to keep the human scent off the trap. Trapping is most effective during the spring and fall before the young are born. Placement of the traps in the main runways is essential for successful trapping. Attaching a wire to each trap will make retrieval of the trap easier. Covering the placement hole or leaving it open is personal choice. The multitude of audible, high pitched, frequency devices, magnetic field devices and vibrational devices can be expensive.

One important point is that gophers tend to be curious creatures. Combining methods may well be the most effective method of control. Scent repellants such as, oleander have not been proven effective. Toxicants and anti-coagulants work well but, read the warning labels carefully. The most effective placement of bait is within the horizontal tunnels. Fumigants do not usually work well in Arizona soils. Combining control methods is another option in keeping your lawn and garden areas rodent free. Constant vigilance and early detection of gopher activity is key in controlling these rodents.

May all the rewards of your garden experience outweigh the challenges!
Annette Perkins, an RN and a Master Gardener, is a long-time resident of Parks. Dana Prom Smith, editor of GARDENING ETCETERA, blogs at, and can be reached at

Friday, October 14, 2011

Native Plant Society Meeting & Field Trip

Calling all Northern Arizona plant lovers:

Come to the last official meeting and field trip of the season. This has been another successful year of botanical excursions, volunteer efforts and learning experiences. Come and let's celebrate.

Monthly meeting and presentation - Tuesday, October 18: Greg Davis Goodwin will present his research on the distribution of the US Fish and Wildlife Endangered Arizona cliffrose, Purshia subintegra. Greg is a Forest Service Biological Technician in the STEP Program, while he completes his MS in Geographical Information Systems (GIS).


The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. in Room 328 of the Biology Building on the NAU campus.

Field Trip on Saturday, October 22: Hike in the Verde Valley Botanical Area with Greg Goodwin and others from the Forest Service and Arboretum at Flagstaff who have been studying the endangered Arizona cliffrose and other rare plants for many years. Learn about their research and discover fall flowering and fruiting plants while enjoying cooler temperatures in our newest Plant Atlas Project of Arizona (PAPAZ) location on the Coconino National Forest.

If you are in Flagstaff, meet at 8:30 am at the Arizona State Credit Union parking lot, southwest corner of Beaver and Butler. Come prepared with sun protection, lots of water, food for lunch, and a car or gas money for carpooling.

Folks from the Verde or down south can meet us at the 89A - Rocking Chair Road parking area at 1000. We will be back at Rocking Chair Rd. by 1400.

Please contact Barb at 928-853-3355 if you have any questions.

Posted by D. Lamm

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gardening Excetera Column 10/8/11

Gardens in the Forest
Aisha Sadiq.

Being a foreigner, I was surprised by the variety of small home gardens in Flagstaff. Gardens with multifarious plants, herbs, flowers, fruit, vegetables as well as animals made me think that perhaps Flagstaff folk, besides exploring nature, have as one of their favorite avocations to preserve and care for nature in their own backyards.

Gardening is more than just a pastime when it becomes an effort to cultivate not only a society of interdependence between nature and humankind but also interdependence among humans. The relationship between nature and human culture is brought to life by the notion of a “garden in the forest” as a metaphor for both environmental and human survival. Anyone with even a small plot of land can practice the art of gardening by recognizing the interrelatedness necessary to construct a natural society for both environmental and human values.

My theory of “garden in the forest” is based on my visit to the garden of one of my best friends in Flagstaff. They live in a clearing in the ponderosa forest. Their garden in the forest is not only a land for flowers and herbs raised by the toil of the gardeners against extreme weather and rough soil, but it also constitutes an interestingly compact community of wild animals who move freely and conveniently in this area. There is a unique shelter from cold weather for wild rabbits and the shady side of the garden has a small pond of goldfish. The melody of several birds from the trees called my attention to lamps with discs of grain hanging for their meal, a microcosm glorifying man and nature at the same time.

In this modern era, moralists hardly get attention due to the prevalence of existentialism and uncertainty. In his essay “Revaluing Nature,” Glen A. Love effectively holds human self-interest accountable for the destruction of nature, presenting the human ego as the cause of modern environmental, cultural, and spiritual emptiness. The problem with his argument is that he undermines humanism, spirituality, and other cultural values in his promotion of environmental activism. However, he does appreciate the role of nature writers. Among these is Joseph Wood Krutch who acknowledges a panentheism, a divine transcendence everywhere immanent, as offering a cure for our modern crisis. Krutch’s concept “we are all in this together” depends upon human cultural edification as well as on environmental conservation.

There is an inseparable link between the present environmental crisis and the collapse of humanity’s feelings for one another, and that the solutions to both are intertwined. We ignore our environmental damage because we are careless of humanitarian values as well. My notion “garden in the forest” is in accord with Thomas Berry’s belief in The Dream of Earth. Interestingly, Berry substitutes “biocracy” for democracy, as being necessary for ecological preservation as well as human uprightness.

The spirit of gardening reflects the values of cultivation in human relations also. In Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition, Robert Pogue Harrison relates gardeners to those poets and artists who strive to replace society’s false ideals of economic and political morality with aesthetic values of creation and cooperation. My friends’ gardens in the forest are not only biological ecotone, but also ideological amalgamations of nature and human civilization. True gardeners in flesh and spirit work earnestly on volunteer projects for social improvement as well as for their environment.

A garden in the forest expands the gardener’s eco- and human-consciousness beyond any fences. While walking in my friend’s garden, I was struck by the sense of serenity. The mountains and trees were standing above; the whole place had a regal grandeur in it. I was thousands of miles away from my home country, but this place with its objective serenity and humane contact overwhelmed me with the sense of home. I felt some strong similarity between this soil of America and that of my small town in Pakistan. These gardens with their harmony of nature and humanity are a free-zone from all political and racial tensions; it expresses only one robust and universal relation among men as well as between man and nature.

Aisha Sadiq, a Pakistani, is a student of English at NAU. Dana Prom Smith, editor of GARDENING ETCETERA, blogs at, and emails at

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Riordan Mansion Workdays

This Saturday is another work day at the Riordan Mansion. We will meet an hour later at 9:30 to let the sun warm up the area where we will be working a bit before we start work and we will be done around 1:30. It is supposed to be sunny and in the Mid 50's on Sat so should a good day to do the cleanup of the summer gardens and put the plants to bed for the winter. Dave and I hope to see all of you there. Bring your favorite tools and good gloves for another fun time at one of Flagstaffs nicest historic sites.

We got the permit from the Forest Service to harvest some plants in the forested areas to transplant at the Riordan. We hope to be doing this within this month and I will let you know of the work day for this. It may be on a day when you can help.

Our next and final work day of this year will be on Oct 22nd and we plan to rake up the many downed small branches in the lawn areas, pine needles around the house and take down any vines growing up the side of the house, etc. It has been a great year and so much has been accomplished. Thanks to all of you for all your wonderful help on this project.

Any questions please call Charlotte at 213-0187 or Dave on his cell phone at 699-3331 or e-mail us at or

Charlotte and Dave

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Article from the Fall Arboretum Newsletter

Dana Prom Smith, master gardener, writer, and editor of the Gardening Etcetera wrote this article for the Master Gardener Association. The association sponsored the fall newsletter for the Arboretum in 2011. If you are not a member you can view the newsletter on-line at

A Master Gardener might be a neighbor. Trained in horticulture specific to the Colorado Plateau, Master Gardeners are dedicated to promoting the pleasures of successful gardening in Flagstaff and Coconino County.

Sometimes thought difficult if not impossible, gardening in our area is a unique and rewarding experience if a person knows the most effective ways to garden. Master Gardeners want to share their knowledge and experience of those effective ways.

As a means of acquiring that knowledge and experience, classes are held through County Extension and the US Department of Agriculture by which people can become certified as Master Gardeners. Many of those who have been certified have organized themselves into the Coconino Master Gardener Association whose aim is to communicate the joys of successful gardening in the county. They meet on the second Thursday of each month with programs about successful gardening, participate in Flagstaff’s Community Markets and the Home Show, and provide a speaker’s bureau that is available for interested organizations. This year they were able to provide two small grants for community garden projects (Sunshine Rescue Mission and the YMCA).

Gardening in Flagstaff and Coconino County is an exciting and enriching experience if the gardening is accommodated to our climate, soil, weather, and vegetation. Master Gardening is a ready way to learn those accommodations. It is not hard if gardeners know what they are doing. Master Gardeners want to share that knowledge so that gardeners can be both successful and happy.

For more information contact the Coconino County Extension ( or the Coconino Master Gardener Association (

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Gardening Excetera Column 10/1/11

Dana Prom Smith

When my friend, Loni Shapiro, asked me to speak at a memorial service for Zane, a therapy dog, I looked at my own personal therapy dog, Roxanne, to see what she thought about the invitation. A three-legged yellow lab, now white with age, speaks from her soul through her eyes, making it clear that I should speak for Zane. The word “therapy” comes from the Greek word “therapeia” which means “healing.” Zane was a healing dog. The service was held in the Olivia White Hospice Gardens where Zane had served many of the residents.

Now, many people think that dogs don’t have souls. They’re generally people who don’t love dogs and don’t have dogs for companions. Some dogs, just like human beings, don’t have souls, but some do. Their souls can be seen in their eyes which I’ve heard are the windows to the soul.

Some people have apparently traded their souls in for money and power, striking a Faustian bargain with the devil. Their eyes have no depth and are windows to nothing. They’re flat, resembling the eyes of snakes, cold, calculating, and predatory. Nowadays, our word for these flat-eyed people is sociopath. It’s always important to examine the eyes of the rich, famous, and powerful to find out whether or nor they are flat. They’re a lot of flat eyes. Their voices don’t match their eyes.

At any rate, getting back to Zane’s soul, the reason why some dogs heal is that they have souls and, thus, intraception, the late Harvard Professor H. A. Murray’s term for the ability to understand the emotional and cognitive experience of another person. Rollo May said: “It means entering the private perceptual world of the other and becoming thoroughly at home in it.” Without intraception people communicate with shadows, artifices, and appearances, but not someone else.

A therapy or healing dog isn’t burdened with all the internal toxins afflicting many human beings. Flat-eyes see only objects to be exploited. Dogs understand the other person because they don’t have to fool around with all the internal conflicts that clog most people’s perception of others. In other words, they’re simple, and simplicity is always the beginning of understanding because clarity requires simplicity. The mind has to be clear to understand someone else.

Now, gardens are a great place to begin leeching these psychic toxins. The act of paying attention to our physical sensations draws us away from our inner, psychic turmoil. It’s difficult to stew in our indignations while smelling a rose or eating a fresh tomato. We equate gardens with peace for good reason. They bring peace to the soul.

A healing dog in a garden, as at the Olivia White Gardens, can’t be beat because dog’s with souls have intraception. Dogs not only draw our attention away from our fascination with our own malaise as do roses and fresh berries, they also draw out the malaise because of their simple insight into our situation. A dog understands. As we run our hands along a dog’s back or hold its head in our hands, we can feel the tensions release. Dogs with souls are always happy to see us.

Zane died last Christmas Eve of lymphoma after working at the Olivia White Home for more than 6 years. The Pet Idol of Flagstaff for 2006, he was more than just a pretty face. Loni Shapiro remembers him “as kind, gentle, and comforting to all he met. He was playful or serious as the situation indicated.”

Zane was adopted by Dave and Terri Hill of Munds Park and Cottonwood from Rescue a Golden. Zane now has a replacement golden in Murphy. For more information, Dave and Terri can be reached at Terri said of Zane, “Dave and I learned a lot from Zane.” “Compassion and feeling is what we absorbed from his presence.”

Copyright © Dana Prom Smith 2011
Dana Prom Smith edits GARDENING ETCETERA, blogs at, and emails at

Friday, September 23, 2011

Solar Cook-Off and Apple Festival

Friends of Flagstaff's Future Solar Cook-Off & Apple Festival When: Saturday, October 1 Where: Buffalo Park Ramada, near the park entrance Solar cooking is a year-round option in the sunny Southwest. It's also an apple bonanza year! F-cubed is celebrating with a solar oven and apple harvest picnic! If you have a solar cooker, please join us. You can cook an apple-themed dish if you so desire. If you don't have a solar cooker, you may bring a potluck dish and join us for lunch. The event also features a short and fun trail clean up, apple peeler/slicer & cider-making demonstrations, kids activities, and a solar oven talk by Lisa Rayner. Spinners will be have their spinning wheels and hand spindles to demonstrate their craft.
Festival schedule 9:00 a.m.: solar oven set ups 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m: apple cider making & canning demonstrations 10:30 a.m.-noon+: spinning demonstrations 11:00 a.m.: trail clean up 11:30-11:50 a.m: Solar oven talk by Lisa Rayner 12:00- 2:00 p.m.: picnic There is a $5 suggested donation to support purchasing equipment for our ZERO WASTE EVENT program, but this is a community event and NO ONE will be turned away for lack of funds! Lisa Rayner

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rio de Flag Greenbelt at Rt. 66
Revitalization and Restoration Project

National Make A Difference Day
Saturday, October 22, 2011 8:00 am - 1:00 pm
Organized by the Flagstaff Area Stream Team F.A.S.T.

Come celebrate National Make A Difference Day 2011! Take part in this community-based project to revitalize and restore the Rio de Flag Greenbelt and open space. This volunteer project will work on improving wildlife habitat, reclaiming open space, stabilizing floodplain and drainage areas. We’ll have teams working on...

Picking up trash and debris throughout the area
Seeding and planting native vegetation
Building a Watchable Wildlife Platform along the future trail
Removal of noxious weeds
Recording of archeological sites within city property (training provided)

Wait there’s more! A free prize raffle, lunch and post project guided tour!.
Tour details: Get a glimpse of what this area can become after the final restoration phases are complete. Join us after lunch for an expert-guided tour of Picture Canyon! Picture Canyon is a hidden treasure and the perfect place for an afternoon hike to see migrating birds, petroglyphs, and Flagstaff’s very own waterfall.

To sign-up in advance as a volunteer, contact Connor Boyle at or (928) 213-2473. Drop-ins are welcome also. Please bring a hat, work gloves, sturdy shoes, and tools (shovel, rakes). Some tools will be provided.

Fall Harvest Festival 10/1-3/2011

Jeff Sacha (Master Gardeners class 2011) and the Pioneer Museum have organized a raffle to help raise funds for the Poor Farm Project, a volunteer effort that is working with the Pioneer Museum and the Heritage Garden to benefit our community by providing gardening education and produce.

Their goal for this raffle is to raise $1500. Already this year, they have worked with local students and food banks. They would like to increase this effort for next year. They are also pursuing rain water harvesting and efficient irrigation systems for the farm.

Raffle tickets can be purchased at the Pioneer Museum ($3), 2340 N. Fort Valley Road. For more information call 774-6272.

Hattie Braun
University of Arizona
Master Gardener Program Coordinator
Coconino County Cooperative Extension
2304 N. 3rd St.
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

Phone: 928-774-1868 x 170
FAX: 928-774-1860

Solar Cook-off & Apple Festival - NEED APPLES

Friends of Flagstaff Future is having a solar cook-off & apple festival Oct. 1. A crew from the Transition Action Team, which includes me, is looking for people who have apple trees with ripe apples. We're looking to start picking this Sunday. We will have a juicing table at the festival. Some of the apples may also be used for personal use (like, I hope to can some cider and apple butter). If you have a tree for us to pick, please contact me asap. If you have a neighbor with apples to pick, let them know about our project and festival.

Thank you,
Lisa Rayner

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Gardening Excetera Column 9/17/11

Jeffrey Best

After I read Eliot Coleman’s book, “The Winter Harvest Handbook”, this past summer, I was equipped with the necessary knowledge to attempt a winter garden. After mastering summer gardening, I was ready for this bizarre experiment.

My back yard garden area has approximately 100 square feet. In previous years, I planted cold hardy vegetables in mid-March. These withstood cold and snow and did well. So, with my newly acquired knowledge, I thought I would plant in the fall so that my vegetables would grow through the winter for continual winter harvest. With low expectations and lots of doubt, I started my experiment in September 2010, just a few days before the equinox. I planted in a small area of 3 feet by 4 feet. I pulled some productive bush bean plants and a lovely yellow nasturtium plant that was full of flowers. That hurt. I cleared my area and fertilized well. I planted scallion, spinach, lettuce, pac choi, carrots and kale. Over my new garden I placed my cold frame. I construct my cold frame with pvc pipe and connectors. It was still warm when I planted, so I left the plastic and frost cloth off until late September.

I planted before the first frost, and everything was thriving in the garden. My newly planted area was surrounded by mature plants. My cucumber and tomato plants were still producing. By October 9th, almost everything was dead from frost, yet small seedlings were coming up in the winter garden area. I started covering the cold frame with plastic at night which I removed each morning. I was expecting a lot from my spinach, but it disappointed me. I had to replant the spinach plants and cover them with wet burlap to get them to sprout. The spinach grew slowly after this.

By Thanksgiving, I was leaving the garden covered all of the time. Nights were very cold and the first snow had occurred. All winter garden plants were still alive and growing. Growth was slow for most of the plants. I’d obtained a small weather station the past summer. This works with a receiver in the house and a transmitter outside. The receiver shows the outside temperature. I placed the transmitter in the middle of the winter garden. Temperatures were ranging from 20 degrees to 70 degrees. The actual outside temperature was almost always at least 10 degrees colder. Since the winter garden was covered with frost cloth and plastic, it stayed much warmer.

Caring for the winter garden was a snap. It required much less attention than a summer garden. I watered once a week when the weather was good. I had no insect problems. This was a big benefit for the pac choi. In the spring, flea beetles had done a pretty good job of destroying my pac choi.

My biggest problem was keeping the cold frame from collapsing from strong winds and heavy snow. During snow storms, I went out and cleared the top of the cold frame every few hours. The weight of the snow collecting on the top of the cold frame punched a hole through the plastic. I patched this up with clothes pins.

The star of the winter garden was the pac choi. It was the first to sprout. I spread the seed in small clumps and these came up profusely. I thinned these out over time to 8 plants in 2 square feet. All of these were eventually consumed. I thinned these until I was left with 2 large pac choi plants by mid-winter. I harvested the last pac choi plant on February 8th. We enjoyed multiple batches of homemade pac choi soup in the fall and winter. My soup also included meat balls, green beans, flour dumplings, scallion and kale. I had frozen bags of beans and kale this past August that were grown in my garden. These also went into the soup.

You can grow vegetables in the winter in Flagstaff. I will grow another garden this coming winter, maybe just with pac choi this time.

(The Master Gardener Calendar is available at Warners and Native Plant & Seed.)

Jeffrey Best, a Master Gardener, is a Computer Programmer Analyst at NAU and works in the vegetable gardens at Dorsey Manor, the housing complex of the Sunshine Rescue Mission. Dana Prom Smith edits GARDENING ETCETERA, blogs at, and emails at

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Native Plant Society Meeting & Field Trip


Sunday, September 18:
Kate Watters (see below) will lead the walk to Dry Lake Caldera, a unique geological and botanical area that was preserved by the Grand Canyon Trust and other organizations. Please meet at the Arizona State Credit Union parking lot, southwest corner of Butler and Beaver, at 08:30 am, and come prepared with sun protection, water, food, and car or gas money for carpooling. The walk will last until about noon.


Tuesday, September 20, 6:00 pm NAU Arboretum west side of Biology Building.
Fall Potluck, and Planting and Dedication of tree in memory of H. David Hammond.

Tuesday, September 20, 7:00 pm Room 328 of the Biology Building:
Presentation by Kate Watters, Kate will talk on the Flora of the Kane and Two Mile Ranches. This will highlight the last four years of botanical exploits with Budding Botanist volunteers on an 850,000 acre ranch owned by Grand Canyon Trust on the Arizona Strip. Kate is the Volunteer Program Manager for the Grand Canyon Trust where she helped create the Plant Atlas of Project of Arizona (PAPAZ). She is also a co-author of "River and Desert Plants of the Grand Canyon."

Native Plant Society Monthly Walk

This Saturday walk sounds wonderful. You may be interested.

Birds and Botany – Saturday, September 17th TRIP - LEADER: Bea Cooley

Stay cool in the mountains while those other intrepid birders melt at Lake Havasu. We'll meet at 7:45 am in the Basha's-Humphreys parking lot to carpool. Alternatively, meet up at 8 am at the Wildlife Viewing site on Highway 180, north of the Nordic Center and across from the Little Dove Chapel at mile marker 235.5 and on the west side of the highway. We will walk the loop through woods, meadows and aspen, looking at the ground for blossoms and in the air for birds. Bring binocs, water, hat and sunscreen plus plant books, if you have them. We will finish about 10:30. Please call Bea Cooley (928-526-5069 or

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gardening Excetera Column 9/10/11

Mary Fulè
Like many people I know in Flagstaff, I am a transplant, having moved here about 20 years ago. My family and I have been here ever since, and I am have been trying to garden here for most of that time.

I grew up in Kansas, where the issue with gardening was keeping things from getting too big. Gardening in Flagstaff is a challenge, and it has taken a long time for me to feel like I know what I am doing. My husband used to say I was pretty good at growing $50.00 tomatoes, (taking into account the number of plants that I killed before we harvested a ripe one.)

A few years ago my gardening took a big set-back when we moved to a different neighborhood in Flagstaff. We had lived up on McMillan Mesa, where it is sunny and warm and moved to Coconino Estates, to an older home with lots of shade trees and the cold-air drainage of the Rio de Flag right behind my back gate. I felt like I was going to have reinvent the wheel to get a successful back yard garden, but then I came across a book in the library, Edible Estates, by Fritz Haeg. This book is about a movement to get people to tear up their front grass lawns and plant gardens instead. Anyone interested can check out his web-site at:
Reading this book was an epiphany. This was the solution I had been looking for. My front yard was warmer and sunnier so it was much better suited for a vegetable garden than my back yard. The book brought up all kinds of issues that back yard gardeners don’t need to think about, like neighbor’s reactions and lawn aesthetics, both of which are important to consider.

The next step was the logistics of getting a garden ready. One huge benefit of this new location was its past history as farmland. Our soil was black gold. We started with a small area of the yard, digging up the old sod and putting it in a pile in the middle of the front yard. This was the defining structure of our new vegetable garden. We then added a few truckloads of dirt mixed with steer manure to fill in the holes. We added some larger rocks to limit erosion and add warmth to our little hill. Finally, we put in an above ground drip system, and we were ready to plant.
Each time we worked outside, neighbors would stop by and talk about our plans and offer advice and encouragement. We spent a lot of time working on the garden that year, and we got to know quite a few people from our neighborhood. Our block has a lot of walkers and bikers, and since the garden is close to the street many people would remark on our project. We learned neighbor’s stories, histories, kids’ names, where they worked, who we knew in common and everything in between. It was an eye-opening social experience for my family. Fritz Haeg had talked about the social aspect to front yard gardening in his book, but I hadn’t put much thought into that aspect when planning our garden. For me, this ended up being one of the biggest highlights to this project.

This last summer I grew corn in circular rows with pumpkins and melons taking up the ground space. Many times people walking by would stop and talk about the garden, letting me know they had been watching it all summer and how much they enjoyed seeing it grow. We ended up with at least 4 pumpkins weighing in at 25 pounds, big bright orange globes, peeking through huge green prickly leaves, with reddish tinted corn towering over the pumpkins like sentinels.

Our front yard garden has been successful as a small producer of fresh, organic vegetables, but the two unexpected bonuses for me was sharing the beauty of the garden with others and the added community that our garden brings to our neighborhood. It’s our own version of a “front porch.”

Mary Fulè is a Master Gardener Graduate and works in NAU’s Extended Campus. Dana Prom Smith ( edits Gardening Etcetera and can be reached at

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Workshop on Finding Funds for Food

Find Funds For Food
Join USDA Rural Development for an informational exchange on funds and assistance available through the agency to support local and regional food systems.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
3:30—5:00 p.m.
Coconino County Health & Community
Services Building
Ponderosa Room
2625 N. King Street, Flagstaff

For more information contact Scott Neuman at 928-679-4763

Small Acreage Land Owner Workshop

Join Cooperative Extension Agent Erik Glenn for the first in a series of workshops designed for small-acreage landowners.

What do You Have and What do You Want?
Inventorying Your Property and Planning for the Future
Small-acreage landowners are invited to JOIN Coconino County Cooperative Extension for a workshop to learn how to inventory their properties, identify resources, understand constraints and set goals.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Coconino County Community Services Building, 2625 North King Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86004

The cost to attend this workshop is $10. This amount will cover lunch and a variety of printed handouts. Attendees may pay at the door but reservations are required.

If you will be attending, please RSVP **no later than Sept. 16** by calling 928-899-4595 or emailing
Erik Glenn
Director, Arizona Economic Development Course Area Assistant Agent, Community Resource Development Project Manager, Regional Center for Sustainable Economic Development Yavapai County Cooperative Extension The University of Arizona
1955 E 6th St
Tucson, AZ 85721
Phone: (928) 899-4595
Fax: (520) 621-7834

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gardening Excetera Column 9/3/11

THE ANSWER MAN: What’s Your Problem?
Dana Prom Smith

This time of the year, many people ask questions about planting bearded irises.

Q. Spent big bucks on iris bulbs. Missus told me to fix up the front yard. Told me I was gonna get cold sardines for breakfast if I didn’t get a move on. Said that old, rusty plow “just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore,” least ways not since some Master Gardener moved in next door. Kinda scowls at my yard. Anyways, all I got was green spikes, no flowers. Told me they didn’t need much care, and that’s just what they got.

A. Your sentences don’t have subjects, just verbs and objects, like imperatives and commands. You must’ve been traumatized by your drill sergeant. They never use subjects, either. Anyway, they aren’t bulbs, but rhizomes. “Little care” doesn’t mean “No care.” If those rhizomes were your children, you’d be charged with child neglect and tossed in the hoosegow. Here are some guidelines about parenting rhizomes.
You feed children. Irises are fed about 6-8 weeks before they bloom and after their blooms are gone. No lawn fertilizer. Too much nitrogen. Nitrogen for iris is like candy for children. It rots their rhizomes, instead of their teeth. Use bone meal or super-phosphate because phosphorous makes for root growth. All root, they need lots of phosphorous.
Next is potassium. You need potassium for your cardio-vascular system just like irises need it for their health and growth.
I’m sure you make your children clean their rooms and make their beds. Irises need clean beds and rooms. They need weeds picked, just like you don’t let your children hang around a bunch of delinquents.
Finally, you don’t want your children wasting their energies in frivolous pursuits, like video games. Children need discipline just like irises. After the irises have bloomed, cut the flower stocks close to the ground. This is allows their energy to go back into the rhizome instead of frittering it away.
Your wife is right. That rusty old plow is an eyesore. You aren’t a farmer anyhow. The proper plural for iris is irides. Iris is a Greek word meaning rainbow. Dress up your front yard with rainbows, and your wife won’t serve you cold sardines for breakfast. Maybe, even that Master Gardener with the creepy hat will give you a hand.

Q. My name is Abigail. My husband, Rusty, thinks that a front yard of gravel, weeds, and a rusty old plow is the cat’s pajamas. He says it celebrates the early days of Flagstaff when “men were men” whatever that means. I threatened him with cold sardines for breakfast, just like early cowboys ate, if he didn’t get off his big, fat behind watching “Ice Road Truckers” and fix the front yard. Our new neighbor just shakes his head. His wife is real nice and friendly and suggested that the easiest thing to grow were bearded irises. Said they were quite beautiful. She even said that they could be planted in groups right in the middle of that damned gravel. Rusty dug’em in, but they just kind of pooped out. What do you suggest?

A. I fear that Rusty didn’t plant them the right way. You don’t dig’em in but settle them in, just like you’re putting your children to bed with a light blanket over them and just their heads sticking out. First, prepare the bed, by digging in compost, phosphorus, and potassium, and then let it sit for a week or so. Then make a small mound and settle the rhizomes into the bed, covering them with a thin layer of soil while leaving the leaves above the soil. Then for the first few weeks water them so that the soil is damp, but not wet lest the rhizomes rot. This should be done toward the last of summer or the beginning of fall so that the rhizomes will have time to develop roots before winter sets in.
Cold sardines may be better for Rust’s health, but biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs are better motivators. Napoleon said, “An army marches on its stomach.” Don’t let the Master Gardener’s hat put you off.

Copyright © Dana Prom Smith 2011
Dana Prom Smith edits GARDENING ETCETERA and can be emailed at He blogs at:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Daily Sun Gardening Etcetera 8/27/11

Dana Prom Smith

Suzannah and Andrew Libby’s garden recalls Vincent Van Gogh’s Gardens at Arles. Serendipitously, Van Gogh is Suzannah’s favorite painter. When I first saw the garden, the morning was clear. The sky was one of Flagstaff’s breathless blues, deep and true, and the temperature was comfortably warm though slightly chilly around the edges. Sitting under a canopy seemingly suspended in midair, we drank tea and talked. And a pleasure it was to talk with an intelligent and gifted woman: an artist, a gardener, and a lover of children.

Suzannah envisions her garden as a canvas on which she has created a series of isles, not just plots, but raised islands floating in a sea of green grass amongst stream beds of smooth pebbles. Looming above the canopy is a venerable maple and toward the back of the garden are some fruit trees and an immense willow.

Near the front is a fairie garden surrounded by a mud and wattle fence, the mud concrete and the wattle thin sticks of bamboo. Looking like a primitive dwelling with walls slightly askew and out of kilter, the bed is filled with berries, herbs, and flowers, a pot-pourri of tastes, sights, and aromas of lavender, mint, and lemon balm.

Further down the garden isles of color are strewn with yellow primroses and black-eyed Susans, others day lilies and red poppies, and still others harebells. A wandering path draws a person into anticipations of something new just beyond the next turn.

At the beginning of the garden, the light is bright and clear as though there were a giant hole in the sky. Slowly, as the eye tracks toward the rear, the light becomes more dappled, and finally in the back it is shaded and dark. It is as though one were being gradually drawn into a shadowed mystery.

Suzannah, herself, is something of a mystery. Her life has not been a straight line, but one resembling her garden. Raised in Las Vegas, her father was general contractor with an artistic flair, building their swimming pool with a huge red rose painted on the bottom of the pool. Her mother’s life was infused with the arts. From there she went to the University of California at Santa Barbara to study art and then on to the Parsons School of Design in New York City. After a peripatetic and painterly journey as an artist, she landed in Portland, Maine, where she met her husband, Andrew, an artist in wood and music. Their daughter Lovenia was born in Portland.

Wanting to be near her family, they settled on Flagstaff which recalled the woods of Maine. They also sought a place where they belonged. After a life of wandering exploration, they wanted rootedness.

Close to completing her bachelor’s degree in Integrative Art from Prescott College, she has found her purpose as an artist as well as a place to fulfill that purpose. She created a children’s garden pre-school, called Gartendale, modeled after the Waldorf approach to education of Rudolf Steiner. Small children learn by experience, instead of concepts and ideas: thus a garden becomes a school room in which a child experiences nature at every turn.

What better place for this kind of education than a child’s garden of isles, an education through touching, feeling, smelling, seeing, digging, and exploring. The happiest memories of many adults are often those explorations as children of gardens or a wilderness along with family members. Those early experiences are also the shaping ones, ones that began lives of exploration, of finding out, of taking care, of traveling through the shadowed mysteries. A garden is where we connect with the fundamentals.

Suzannah and Andrew’s garden leads the eye from light, touch, color, and aroma to those of shadows of what is yet to be known of outer space, inner minds, and the immensity of life. Flagstaff’s Chapter of the Arizona Native Plant Society designated it “Flagstaff’s Most Delightful Garden for Children.” What better grounding for such a journey is there than smelling herbs, picking the berries, enjoying the flowers, and playing in the dirt?

See for more information.
Copyright © Dana Prom Smith 2011
Dana Prom Smith edits GARDENING ETCETERA and blogs at His email address is