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

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Daily Sun Article From Frank Branham

By Frank Branham
I love the beauty of autumn in Flagstaff, but I am always sad to see the end of fresh summer vegetables from my garden. Now that fall is here it is time to start enjoying this year’s winter squash. Pumpkins have become a symbol of fall, but acorn, spaghetti, and butternut squash offer a great variety of flavors.
Most winter squash grow very well in our climate. It's best to start them indoors in late May and move them outside in the middle of June so they have the maximum growing season. Each plant needs a bed of well-amended soil about the size of a bushel basket, which gives them enough room for their roots. These massive plants flourish with huge leaves, long vines, and copious yellow flowers. For a special treat male blossoms can be stuffed and fried. Be sure to leave enough male blossoms to pollinate the female flowers that appear on the tiny new squash. The winter squash will grow and mature just in time for the first light frost to give them a hint of sweetness. Once harvested the squash should be cured in a sunny window for two weeks then moved to a cool dry place for up to nine months.
Most winter squash recipes start with splitting them in half, scooping out the seeds and roasting until tender. Spaghetti squash has a mild savory flavor and the cooked flesh easily shreds into pasta like strands. To maintain the texture of those strands it is best to bake spaghetti squash with the cut side down on a cookie sheet with a little water. Cook for about thirty minutes or until soft.  Scoop out the bright yellow flesh and shred it with your hands or a fork. To make Spaghetti Squash Pomodoro sauté these al dente strands with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and fresh chopped basil. Toss with fresh Parmesan Cheese before serving. For a quick side dish sauté the strands with butter, salt, pepper and a hint of nutmeg. 
Acorn squash, which have a sweet, nutty flavor, are relatively small so you can serve a roasted half squash. Filling acorn squash with a Thanksgiving style bread stuffing makes an interesting entrée. Each bite combines a little squash with the stuffing.  As an alternative a smaller wedge can be roasted with brown sugar and butter as a side dish.

Link to: Pumpkin cheesecake recipe
Link to: Winter squash soup recipe

Unlike most winter squash, which are hollow, butternut squash has a solid neck and a thick wall around the seeds at its base. This makes it easy to peel and cut without roasting. The neck can be sliced or cut into fettuccine style strips on a spiral slicer. Sauté those strips with olive oil, cream and parmesan cheese for” Butternut Alfredo”.  I have cut leaf shaped slices of butternut with a cookie cutter and sautéed them to create a dish that appeared to be strewn with fall leaves. 
When I owned the Cottage Place Restaurant our most popular soup was a creamy Winter Squash Velouté flavored with apples, curry powder, chipotle and fall spices. There is a recipe for this soup featuring butternut squash at the Coconino Master Gardener blog, (Go part way down the blog page and click the “recipe” link.)  It will also give you a way to use some of our local apples. 
Pumpkins are associated with many fall desserts, like the traditional pumpkin pie. Many varieties of pumpkins do well in Flagstaff. For years I have been growing a hybrid called a French Pumpkin. Since it is only mildly sweet I puree it with brown sugar for desserts. My favorite fall dessert is Pumpkin Cheesecake made with cinnamon, nutmeg and a hazelnut crust. This recipe is also posted at
Try different winter squash this season and next summer plant the ones you prefer. After writing and doing the research for this article I have decided to plant more spaghetti squash next year along with my French Pumpkin. Seeds for many winter squash are available at the Grow Flagstaff! Seed Library at the Coconino County Extension Office. 
Enjoy being creative with this healthy fall vegetable.

Frank Branham is a Coconino Master Gardener and retired chef.


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