Across the Fence

Friday, February 12th
Cold Weather Gardening Tips and Inspiration
–Leonard Perry, UVM Extension Horticulturist

Watch all our shows online shortly after they air, at:

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New facebook Page – Central VT Chapter

The Central Chapter of VTEMG has a new facebook page.  Check it out; it can be found in the sidebar.

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The 2016 WNRCD Annual Tree, Shrub and Plant Sale is now OPEN!

Click here for more info. FYI only, does not count for EMG vol. hours.



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The Life of an Heirloom Tomato: Part I

Wendy Alger is a Central Chapter Master Gardener and has given permission to reprint her article which ran in the Central newsletter.  Thank you Wendy!

The Master Garden classes have inspired me to grow a Demo garden. I loved the idea of healthy plants growing all types of vegetables with little fancy signs bearing the variety names underneath their branches. After cruising the seed catalogs and websites, I decided on experimenting with a few heirloom tomatoes.  I couldn’t decide which varieties to order so, of course, I ordered one of each! Well, almost. I finally narrowed my wish list down to eleven varieties; full size and cherry. I also chose a wide range of colors; red, white, yellow and orange. The catalogs listed the plants with intriguing descriptions of “good for soup” or “best acid level for canning”. So with thoughts of freezers of food stored for the winter, I placed orders with two catalogues.  The purchase was approximately $70, which included other vegetable seeds besides just tomatoes.

The seed packets soon arrived and I began drawing plans for my garden.  My garden plot has been established for years and is a specific size, filling the flat area of the back yard. It cannot be made larger. However the imaginary garden on my paper plans grew constantly. I knew that my plan would have to be re-evaluated when the snow melted.

In March, I purchased a 32 square seed tray for $20. Each square came with a compressed dirt disk so additional bags of dirt were not needed. The tray also came with paper charts to record the names of each variety of tomato planted in the corresponding square. I thought I would use this labelling system temporarily until later when I would add quaint name sticks. The tray worked well, seemed sturdy, and came with a clear dome. The dirt disks expanded and the seeds were easy to plant. The base of the tray held a large amount of water and I also watered the dirt surface. I planted the seeds on March 5th and then I went on vacation for a week. See Photo 1 below.

firsttomEureka! I returned home to a tray of sprouts! I was so excited that I spun the tray around a few times, looking at the little plants, amazed that they had grown to the height of the dome cover within just one week. Soon after, I realized that I had moved the tray and had no idea how it corresponded to the paper chart! So already the correct varieties are in question. But, too late, so I moved on.

During one of the Master Gardener classes, discussion involved the growing the plants underneath a light vs by sunny windows. Many of us had grown plants by windows and had experienced the tall, thin plants.  Lights were said to produce shorter, thicker plants that were much stronger. Also plant grow lights were compared to cheap white lights. So now the search was on for the best light for my new sprouts! Eventually, after much shopping and computer searching I purchased a 2 foot light bulb, white light, with a fixture for about $25. My husband built a simple wooden rack to hang the light, with an adjustable chain. The light should be as close as possible to the tops of the leaves. Note in Photo 2, the tray under the light, the sprouts were all the same height. Unfortunately this did not last long.

tom1Some grew much faster than their neighbors, so, of course the light had to be raised, which made it too high for the slower growers.  Many sprouts soon out grew their little square and began begging to be put into pots. But then the pots wouldn’t fit under the light with the tray! But I decided that the faster growers must be transplanted. After searching  hardware stores, I found  many different sizes of pots, some plastic and some of a shredded paper material. And they cost only pennies! So the plants which were about 6 inches tall were placed into oval cups made of shredded paper.

tom3Note Photo 3, showing some very tall and some very short plants. Originally I had planned on recording how each variety grew but since I lost track of the names, that is certainly more difficult.

At another Master Gardener class, another student over heard me bragging about my amazing tomato plants and told me how I had planted too early. “No, Town Meeting Day”, I said, stating that is when tomato seeds are started in Vermont. He laughed and told me how he starts his during the first week of April.  Many other students agreed with the April date so another experiment idea was born. Obviously I need to plant more seeds in April and compare the plants with the March batch for growth, hardiness and success in the garden. And I would be much more careful with my labelling!

tom22Photo 4 shows the March batch plants now, much larger, out of the tray and by the windows on my dining room table. Some are in the round shredded paper cups and some are in square paper cups. They have out grown the fluorescent light, which was built for smaller sprouts. I am keeping the shades and curtains pulled shut to keep the sunlight more diffuse. They are growing and appear healthy for now! Recently, I watched Charlie Nardozzi speak on WCAX garden tips and he said to pat the plants many times during the day. The movement of the plants strengthens the stalks, as if they were outside in the fresh air. So, in addition to watering, I now pat the tops and tell them what good plants they are. He also said to start the seeds in April because larger plants cannot transplant as successfully. I am glad I started a second batch so that I can compare the hardiness. Soon I will begin to do the hardiness steps of taking the plants outside for a few hours a day before actually transplanting them into the garden.









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Newly Added Webinar

FYI: Webinar recording “Managing invasive species in landscapes” has been added to the Educational Opportunities list on the sidebar.

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If you dream of starting your own seedlings for your home garden, we can make it happen. We provide soil, containers, and labels. We water, fertilize, and protect your plants from insects and diseases. We make growing fun and easy. We like working with people who have never gardened before as well as experts.  You can grow your favorite, new, hard-to-find, or heirloom varieties. $75 for the first month; $37.50 each 2 week period afterward. Share the space with a friend to save even more! We will have a limited number of “organic” spaces at our Spear Street facility. The cost for this space is $85 for the first month and $42.50 for every 2 week period afterward.  

Sign up by contacting us at or call UVM Greenhouse Facilities personnel at 656-0465. The UVM Greenhouse Facilities are located on three sites in Burlington and South Burlington, Vermont. We serve the research, teaching, and outreach needs of many departments at the University of Vermont. 

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Pest Update and Hemlock Management Presentation Woodstock

Counts for EMG continuing ed hours.

Thursday, Jan. 21 from 6-7:30 pm at Woodstock Town Hall., Mollie Klepack & Forester, Jim Esden will speak. Mollie will give a pest update of what’s been happening in the pest world. Jim will cover pests and issues related to managing hemlocks.
Pizza & snacks will be provided! Bring a friend! Please RSVP to GWEN by Jan. 19.
This is a FREE event
When: Thursday, January 21, 2016, 6-7:30pm (snow date TBD)
Where: Woodstock Town Hall
Who & What: Mollie Klepack, UVM Extension, Pest Coordinator: Pest update in VT
Jim Esden, Forest Parks & Recreation, Forester: pests and issues related to managing hemlocks
please RSVP to Gwen at by Jan. 19

Gwen Kozlowski
Community Outreach Professional
Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program
University of Vermont Extension

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Northeastern IPM Center and Climate Change

The following are excerpts from 2 articles from the Northeastern IPM Center.
Click here to read more.

The climate is changing and the evidence is all around us. Springs are arriving earlier, summers are longer and hotter, winter temperatures are warmer, and plant hardiness zones have shifted northward.

Weeds, insects, and diseases have always had an impact on agriculture and forestry ecosystems, but with recent changes in climate, these could become more significant. Many pests are resilient under normal conditions, but with climate change they could adapt and become a more difficult challenge.

What is increasingly being studied, but still not fully understood is the distribution of pests, changes in cycles, and the resulting impacts on the environment, economies, and society and culture.

Therefore, the Northeastern IPM Center, together with scientific partners, have proposed to hold a National Forum on Climate and Pests. Its purpose will be to gather those in the scientific community who are working in this area.


Ragweed, a perennial, produces copious amounts of seed. People allergic to ragweed suffer weeks of coughing, sneezing, and plain misery. 

“The climate is warming,” Ziska said. “A warming climate facilitates widespread distribution of ragweed. You’ve got a recipe for a perfect storm.”

Ziska and his team have been conducting research to address basic questions about climate and weed population dynamics. For example, herbicide efficacy could be hindered by extreme rainfall that washes away chemicals. High winds increase drift and complicate spraying practices. In addition, elevated carbon dioxide levels could change how herbicides work, even making them less effective. For example, he found that Canada thistle regrows after glyphosate applications in high-carbon-dioxide conditions. The silver lining is that there are tools other than chemicals in the IPM tool box.

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Spring 2016 Gardeners Supply Seminars

Click here: Spring 2016 Gardeners Supply Seminars
ll classes count for VTEMG continuing ed hours.


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Canceled: The Northern Gardening Symposium

Because of a scheduling conflict New England Wild Flower Society has decided not to host the Northern Gardening Symposium this year. They had planned to hold this annual event in Woodstock, VT on April 16, however there is another gardening symposium being held on the same date and in the same location. Please consider attending this other fantastic symposium, the 12th Annual Great Gardens and Landscaping Symposium, being held at The Woodstock Inn and Resort on April 16. (All workshops count for VTEMG ed hours.)
The Northern Gardening Symposium will be back in 2017.

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