Extension Unit News
Master Gardener State Award Winners
Each year a few Master Gardener volunteers are recognized on a state level for their outstanding contributions to the Master Gardener program. This year at the University of Illinois Extension statewide Master Gardener conference, held September 8 in Bloomington. Logan-Menard-Sangamon Unit Master Gardeners were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the program.
This year's honorees, recognized for their superior contributions to the program, are representative of the state's 3,500 Master Gardener volunteers.
Statewide 10 Master Gardeners received the Sustained Excellence Award. Master Gardeners receiving the Sustained Excellence Award have volunteered as Master Gardeners for at least three years, have previously received the State Outstanding Master Gardener Award and have completed at least 300 hours of service since receiving the Outstanding Master Gardener Award. (Volunteered more than 480 hours.)
Sherry Park of Loami became a Master Gardener volunteer in 2005. She received the State Outstanding award in 2009. Sherry currently chairs the "Prairies to Perennials" garden committee. This pollinator friendly garden is located in front of the Springfield Extension office. She enjoys giving public presentations about gardening with native prairie plants. Previously Sherry chaired the Perennial garden committee for two years.
Statewide 36 Master Gardeners, fewer than 2% of active Master Gardeners in the state, received the State Outstanding Master Gardener award. Master Gardeners who receive this award must be an active participant in the program, demonstrate leadership and have volunteered more than 180 hours of service to the program.
Sangamon county Master Gardener volunteers who received this award were Susan Hack and Denny Kirchner.
Susan Hack of Springfield became a Master Gardener volunteer in 2006. She has chaired the "Fruits and Vegetable" demonstration garden for two years. In addition Susan volunteers to promote Plant a Row for the Hungry by leading a community garden in which produce is donated to a local food pantry.
Denny Kirchner of Springfield became a Master Gardener volunteer in 2012. He served as chair of the Herb Garden committee for three years. Other volunteer activities included serving on the Horticulture Advisory committee and Iles House garden committee.
Congratulations to our award winners.
Become a Master Gardener Volunteer
The University of Illinois Extension Logan, Menard and Sangamon county unit is accepting applications through December 1 to participate in the 2018 Master Gardener Training Program. This volunteer program is a great learning opportunity for gardening enthusiast and beginners.
U of I Extension Master Gardener volunteers are adult members of the community who are interested in learning more about lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetables, the environment and much more. Master Gardener trainees receive 60 hours of in-depth unbiased, research-based horticulture training from University of Illinois Extension educators and specialists.
A Master Gardener Intern is expected to return 60 hours of volunteer service in the year following their graduation. To learn more about the Master Gardener program visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/mg/.
Classes will be offered on Tuesday's from 9am to 4pm, starting February 6 and ending April 10, 2018. Training classes are face to face. Cost of the training which includes the Master Gardener training manual is $225.
If you would like an application or have questions, call University of Illinois Extension at (217) 782-4617.
Indian Summer Festival
There's something for everyone – from toddlers to great- grandparents - at Lincoln Memorial Garden's annual Indian Summer Festival to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Columbus Day weekend, October 7 and 8.
Family activities will include the popular fairy house building area where children use natural materials such as acorns, twigs, bark, leaves, and grasses to create houses.
University of Illinois Extension staff and volunteers will have a tent and be offering information about invasive species, native wildflower gardens, pollinators, composting and other extension programs.
The Indian Summer Festival is an important fundraiser for the Garden which uses the proceeds to help cover the costs of Garden maintenance and educational programs. The Garden is located at 2301 East Lake Drive, Springfield. For more
information call (217) 529-1111.
Fall Horticulture Webinars
The fall series of University of Illinois Extension's Four Seasons Gardening program wraps up in October.
The therapeutic benefits of gardening have been documented since ancient times but there has been a recent upswing in the interest for therapeutic gardening and horticulture. Join Extension Horticulture Educator, Candice Hart, as she discusses what exactly therapeutic gardening is and is not and shares how you can be successful in helping yourself, as well as others to enjoy the art of gardening at home or in institutions like schools, assisted living facilities, and others. Tips for success and examples of activities will be shared.
Program will be held at the U of I Extension Buildings , 700 S. Airport Drive, Springfield and 980 N Postville Drive, Lincoln. To reserve a packet of handouts at one of these locations, pre-register on-line at the Logan-Menard-Sangamon unit website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/lms/.
Participants also have the option to listen to the webinar from home by registering at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/4seasons/. For participants who listen to the webinars from home, there is an additional program offered on Thursday evening at 6:30 pm during the same week as the Tuesday session. The presentation will be via computer but will allow live discussion between the instructor and gardeners throughout Illinois. Questions call (217) 782-4617.
The most important test a smart gardener can take is a soil test, which is used to determine the level of nutrients in the soil and the soil's pH. A soil tests can reveal why some plants aren't growing well in a particular area.
Because soil nutrient levels can change, it is recommended that soil be tested every three years. Soil sampling can be done any time of the year, but the ideal time is late summer to early fall. It is desirable to take samples before soil
temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to wait six to eight weeks before testing a recently fertilized area.
The pH value is the measure of acidity or alkalinity of the soil. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Numbers less than 7 are considered acid and numbers greater than 7 are alkaline. Soil pH directly affects the availability of
nutrients. Most soil nutrients are readily available when soil pH is at 6.0 to 7.5. When the pH rises above this value, nutrient elements including phosphorous, iron, manganese, copper and zinc become less available to plants.
Not all plants perform well in the same soil pH ranges; blueberries and rhododendrons for example, need a soil that is acidic with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. Soil pH values above or below the optimum range may result in plant symptoms of nutrient
Soil test results are only as good as the sample provided to the testing lab. Here are a few steps to follow.
Divide your property into sections according to use and soil type. Submit a sample for each area of the yard- i.e. vegetable gardens, flower gardens, and lawn.
Use a clean soil probe, spade, hand trowel or shovel to collect samples. Avoid using brass, bronze or galvanized tools because they can contaminate samples.
A soil sample must be representative of the area being tested. So a soil sample is a composite of numerous sub-samples. Randomly select and evenly space sub-samples. Collect at least eight sub-samples from a 100 square feet area.
Soil sampling depths depends on what plants are growing in that location. Recommended depths are: established lawns, 4 inches; vegetable and flower gardens 6 to 8 inches; and trees and shrubs, 6 to 12 inches.
When testing the area under a tree, take sub-samples from the trunk to the outer edges of the branches.
If using a shovel, spade or hand trowel, dig a hole and set the soil aside. Then cut slices of soil 1/2 to 1 inch from one side of the hole. Remove leaves, roots, thatch and debris from all samples. Place the slice in a clean, plastic container. Repeat
this process within the sampling area. Mix subsamples. Spread the combined sample on a clean paper and allow the soil to air dry. Place about 2 cups of thoroughly mixed soil in a paper sack or plastic bag, and seal shut. Label each sample with
name of area being sampled i.e. lawn, vegetable garden, flower garden, rose garden, fruits, pin oak tree, etc. If the soil is from a bare area, indicate what will be grown in the area. Also include your name and address.
Put samples in a sturdy box and mail sample to a soil testing lab. For a list of soil testing laboratories in Illinois, visit https://extension.illinois.edu/soiltest/. Expect soil test results within two weeks. Results should indicate the amount and type of
fertilizer or other soil amendments to apply to the soil.
While soil test results provide a great deal of information, a standard soil test will not identify poor soil drainage, soil compaction, over-watering or under-watering or environmental disorders. But you can make a good start on improving the
landscape conditions by doing careful soil testing and heeding the results.
Planting and Harvesting Horseradish
U of I Extension Master Gardener volunteers will discuss "How to Grow and Harvest Horseradish" on Thursday, October 26, at 5:30 pm. Roots of the horseradish plant are harvested and grated to become a flavorful addition to several food dishes. The demonstration will be in the Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens located on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in front of Building #30, Springfield.