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What is a Master Gardener?

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What do I need to become a Master Gardener?

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The CCEFM master gardeners plan and create a large exhibit annually in the Cooperative Extension building at Fonda Fair.

A CCE master gardener is a teacher. Sometimes it is one-on-one and ...

Sometimes it is a group of youth in a school or at Fonda Fair...

And sometimes it is in classroom before a large group of people.

CCEFM master gardeners hold a plant sale annually and dispense information about selection, planting and care of plants they sell.

Consumer Horticulture
Plan a Butterfly Garden
Posted 4/11/2013

It's easy to lure butterflies to your yard by planting a few of their favorite flowers. You can even create a complete habitat that attracts a delightful array of winged diners with a bit of planning. 

What to include in your plan: 
Attract butterflies to your garden with a wide variety of plants. Now's the time to make a plan for a spring project, whether it's a new garden to welcome butterflies in every stage of their development, or add or enhance an existing garden. Your plan should provide spots for sunning and laying eggs, host plants for hungry caterpillars, shallow water sources, and a safe harbor when the time comes for metamorphosis.  

Choose a Sunny Spot:
Most flowers that attract butterflies require at least six hours of sunlight each day. It's also helpful to create your butterfly garden in a spot that's sheltered from the wind. Check out a butterfly's tissue-paper-thin wings and you'll see why they appreciate protection.Tip: You may see butterfly houses for sale. These are merely garden ornaments; butterflies don't usually take shelter in them

Include Children: 
Not much hooks a little boy or girl's interest in gardening more quickly than a colorful butterfly in flight. Appreciation for plants will follow closely on the heels of chasing butterflies on paths through wild tangles of blooms as tall as the tops of the kids' heads.Tip: Get kids even more involved when they can watch all the stages of a butterfly's life cycle. 

Cater to Caterpillars: 
Butterfly caterpillars each have their own food preferences. It's easy to see adults fly from flower to flower sipping nectar. But it's sometimes harder to watch caterpillars feeding because they eat only a particular host plants. Each species lays eggs on the plants the caterpillars favor. That's why it's important to plant specific food sources to attract specific types of butterflies. Favorite caterpillar cuisine includes parsley, dill, fennel, milkweed, and white clover. Tip: If these leafy morsels are too unwieldy for your taste, tuck them in a vegetable patch or in an out-of-the-way corner of your yard

Plant a Nectar Smorgasbord: 
To lure the greatest variety of butterflies to your garden, select an assortment of bright flowers that produce nectar throughout the season. Some of the best include alyssum, Asclepius,  butterfly bush, cornflower, cosmos, purple coneflower, globe amaranth, heliotrope, larkspur, milkweed, nicotiana, pentas, salvia, sunflower, Mexican sunflower, and zinnia. Species with clustered blooms, such as phlox, offer several sips in one swoop for butterflies such as the ever favorite Monarch. Tip: Instead of tossing your overripe fruit in the compost pile, fill a saucer with sliced oranges, pears, and melons and set it among the flowers to attract fruit-loving butterflies.

Mass Flowers in Casual Clumps:
Butterflies are more likely to notice big displays of single colors. Massing individual flower species in large, informal drifts -- such as a border of sunflowers, black-eyed Susan's, globe thistle, and phlox -- advertises all-you-can-sip portions that butterflies can home in on from a distance.

Serve Simple Suppers:
Like a lot of people, butterflies like fast food. Blossoms that face upward, offering unobstructed landing pads, make it easy for butterflies to grab a quick sip. The bright yellow umbels of yarrow stand like beacons to draw in just the guest you'd like to have in your garden.

Provide a Water Source:
In nature, butterflies flock to the muddy edges of puddles, creeks, or ponds, where water is fortified with minerals. You can satisfy their thirst just as well by placing a shallow saucer filled with wet sand among your flowers. Butterflies usually will not risk drinking from deeper water sources, such as birdbaths

Leave Sleeping Larvae Undisturbed:
Let's not overlook the miraculous metamorphosis that occurs when a caterpillar completes its gorging and turn to the work of spinning a chrysalis. If you are lucky enough to find a chrysalis in your garden keep an eye on, you may witness the butterfly emerging, it but leave it where you found it.

Don't Forget About Containers:
Enjoy butterflies, even if you have small space. Container gardens planted with butterfly favorites such as lantana, scarlet milkweed, parsley, or dill can be just as attractive as plants grown in the ground

Avoid broad spectrum insecticides:
Broad spectrum insecticides kill all kinds of insects not just the pests. When you wipe out all insects the pests come back the quickest. All insecticides are poisonous so keeping their use to a minimum is much better for your environment. So don't forget butterflies are insects, too!


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The Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program provides direct support for home gardeners by answering questions on the phone, email, and at events, teaching classes, and identifying insects. These volunteers stay current on horticultural topics.

Tip #1:
Consider planting flowers which may be dried for winter arrangements. Some of the best are strawflower, statice, celosia, and globe amaranth.

Tip #2:
Do not restrict yourself to buying plants in bloom. Petunias that bloom in the pack are often rootbound or overgrown and, after planting, will actually be set back and cease to bloom for about a month. Plants without blossoms will actually bloom sooner and will grow better as well.

Tip #3:
To extend the blooming period of gladiolus, plant early, middle and late season selections each week until the middle of June. Choose a sunny location and plant the corms four to six inches deep and six to eight inches apart.

Tip #4:
When chrysanthemums show signs of life, dig up and divide large plants. Discard woody portions and replant divisions 12 to 15 inches apart.

Tip #5:
Cut flower stalks back to the ground on daffodils, hyacinths, and other spring flowering bulbs as the flowers fade. Do not cut the foliage until it dies naturally. The leaves are necessary to produce strong bulbs capable of reflowering.

Tip #6:
The last Friday in April is National Arbor Day. Plant a tree, or support an organization which does.

Tip #7:
Prune spring blooming shrubs such as forsythia and spirea after they have completed flowering.


Have a gardening question?

Do you have a gardening question for the Master Gardener in Fulton or Montgomery Counties?

Send an email! A trained volunteer master gardener will get back to you as soon as possible.


You may also leave a message on their voicemail:


Japanese Beatles

It's time to scout for Japanese beetles. Evidence suggests that adult beetles are attracted to previously damaged leaves. Therefore reducing feeding damage now can result in less feeding damage in the future. 

Japanese beetle adults are one quarter to one half inch long with copper colored wing covers and a shiny metallic green head. Kind of attractive in a buggy sort of way. A key characteristic is prominent white tufts of hair along their sides.

They also have the munchies for your favorite rose, linden, grape, raspberry and some 350 different plants. They generally do not feed on dogwood, forsythia, holly, lilac, evergreens and hosta. To view more information on identifying Japanese beatles and how to control/get rid of them view the article below.

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How to Take a Soil Sample

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