Coconino Master Gardener Association

Another beauty from Cindy Murray. Swallowtail butterfly on phlox.

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!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

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

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