Friday, June 25, 2010

Grow Organically

If you are looking for a one-stop resource on organic vegetable disease and insect control, check out the Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management. This publication, while intended for commercial organic vegetable growers, points out cultural, biological, and chemical controls for common insects and diseases that trouble commercial crops and home gardens alike.

Giant Hogweed:

Do Not Touch this Plant!

Giant Hogweed, Heracleum mantagazzianum, is a non-native plant with irritating sap. The sap, combines with moisture or sweat, and in the presence of sunlight causes stinging, burning, blistering rashes, that can lead to scarring and blindness.
Brought in as an ornamental garden plant, it has spread to natural areas, following watercourses and popping up along stream beds. It is often confused with our native Cow Parsnip, Heracleum lanatum, which also triggers the same type of skin reaction (Photophytodermatitis).
If you see this noxious plant or suspect that what you are looking at is Giant Hogweed, please call us here at Cornell Cooperative Extension. Often a digital photo can help us eliminate look-alike confusion. If it is Giant Hogweed, we can then confirm its location and report it to the proper authorities.
For more information, visit this NYS Department of Environmental Conservation website with maps, photos and links:
or this link from Cornell Cooperative Extension:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010



Pink Flowers in Brass Jug by Wright Moore - Oil *

MAY 15 FROM 8:30 AM TO 12:30 PM


Just in Time for Spring Planting –

Annual Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County

Fund Raiser for Community Education Programs

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County will hold its annual MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEERS 2010 PLANT SALE on Saturday, May 15 from 8:30 am to 12:30 p.m. The popular and much anticipated sale to benefit CCE/Putnam’s program of community outreach and education again takes place at Tilly Foster Farm on Route 312 (between Route 6 and I-84) in Brewster.

The MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEERS 2010 PLANT SALE is noted for its superior quality plants that are priced to sell. These plants, selected for their ability to thrive in Putnam gardens, include a wide array of vegetables, annuals, herbs and perennials from the Master Gardener Volunteers’ personal collections.

Highlights include:

  • A new addition to the 2010 sale will be a gardening supply stand featuring a fun selection of implements, tools and gifts chosen to delight gardening enthusiasts.
  • FREE soil pH testing and texture analysis will be conducted.
  • FREE gardening advice regardless of how extensive.

The MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEERS 2010 PLANT SALE benefits the community outreach and education programs sponsored by Cornell Cooperate Extension of Putnam County. Master Gardener Volunteers play an active role in helping CCE/Putnam accomplish its mission through educating home gardeners of all ages on a variety of gardening related issues such as improving the home landscape and garden, integrated pest management, wildlife management, water conservation and many more concerns and obstacles confronting today’s gardener.

No matter one’s age, from gardening novice to seasoned old hand, the MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEERS 2010 PLANT SALE has plants for everyone. So, come on down to this favorite once a year community event.


For additional information call 845-278-6738 or go online to the Putnam County Web site of the Cornell Cooperative Extension at


Check us out online. For gardening tips and trends, what’s happening around the neighborhood and just good old friendly gossip, be sure to visit CCE/Putnam’s new gardening blog at and join our FaceBook page at Master Gardener Volunteers of Putnam County, New York.


For additional press information and downloadable photos, please contact:

Pat Madigan, CCE/Putnam, at (845) 278-6738 or

*artwork courtesy:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Master Gardener Volunteers offer Scholarships to Putnam Students

Brewster, NY -- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County Master Gardener Volunteers have announced that two scholarships of $500 will be awarded this year. Residents of Putnam County who are graduating seniors are eligible to apply for the scholarships for the study of Plant Science, Horticulture, Floriculture, Architectural Landscape Design, Forestry, Botany or other environmentally related programs.

Students must be Putnam County residents but can attend any high school or be home-schooled. Awardees must plan to pursue advanced education in a recognized institution of higher learning.

More details about the scholarship, the application form and eligibility criteria are available through high schools’ guidance offices and online at We encourage all students who meet the criteria to apply for these scholarships.

Together with the professional horticulture staff of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Master Gardener Volunteers offer adult education workshops, staff the daily (9-12) Horticulture Hotline, answer plant and insect questions at the Cold Spring Farmers Market, host plant sales and work with gardeners at the Tilly Foster Farm Community Garden. Master Gardener volunteers help link Putnam County residents with science-based information from Cornell University and other land-grant colleges to help people use natural resources wisely, to become more confident home gardeners, and to landscape with the environment in mind.

For more information on the scholarship:

Master Gardener Volunteers of Putnam County Scholarship Committee

Cathy Croft, Chair, 54 Enoch Crosby Road, Brewster, NY 10509; 845-279-6925

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

World's Most Useful Tree?

An amazing find about the Moringa tree (tropical, unfortunately) which provides food, oil, erosion control and seeds that can remove bacteria from water! Read all about it at

--Dianne Olsen

Monday, March 1, 2010

During A Long Snowy Winter -- Why Not BONSAI????


Q. Why bonsai?

Why any hobby? Learning, doing, loving, sharing…

Q. How did you get started?

I had a yen for plants since I was a four-year-old kid, and whenever I saw a bonsai tree I was mesmerized. At about age 30 I saw a newspaper ad for a bonsai class that was to be given at a local nature center. I signed up, learned the basics, and went home from the class with my first little potted baby. The rest is history.

Q. Do you have a bonsai specialty?

I now specialize in Japanese maple trees. I think they are the best choice for bonsai in the Northeast since they are hardy, tough, and have beautiful leaves that constantly change colors during the growing season, and take to training in containers readily. They also flower, and have the little propeller fruit that add a lot of color and interest. Of course, they are most famous for their fall leaf colors, which, with most Japanese maples, are spectacular.

Q. Any special tips you recommend for the beginner?

Yes! Make sure you find a course on bonsai so that you can learn the basics, thereby avoiding the killing of too many babies at the outset. Helpful courses are also available on videos these days.

And join a local bonsai club, where you can talk to more experienced enthusiasts, pick up plants, tools and books at low prices when they have auctions and sales. You can also buy plants from club members.

Q. What is the meaning behind the art of bonsai?

Natural beauty, miniaturized to fit in smaller spaces and grown in containers.

Q. Did bonsai originate in Japan?

Good question. This is being debated all the time. At this time, it is generally accepted in the US that potted plants, and their training, actually began in India, and then migrated to China at some point. The Japanese picked it up from the Chinese, probably during the 16th or the 17th centuries. They refined the process, and codified it as an art form. American soldiers, during and after World War II, came into contact with bonsai in Japan, and brought little trees back to the US. Bonsai took off in the US sometime in the early 1970’s, sparked by a book written by the Japanese bonsai master Yuji Yoshimura. He wrote the first extensive book about bonsai propagation in the English language.

Q. Are there different approaches to bonsai in different cultures, e.g. Japan and China?

Since bonsai is global now, mostly the same types of plants are used by bonsai enthusiasts everywhere. But where the Japanese try to develop a tree’s design so that it looks like a totally natural tree in miniature, the Chinese tend to highlight unusual, and sometimes contorted designs, with strange curves, a lot of exposed roots, and, frequently, an over-supply of leaves.

It is true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Both groups of trees are miniaturized, both are potted, both are carefully trained, and developed over many years. But no matter what the design, nature adds something special to a tree. An aura that comes with age that often eclipses the actual design.

Q. How can bonsai plants be incorporated into a northeast perennial garden?

Bonsai, by definition, are “potted plants” so they do not grow directly in the ground. But, plants in the garden can be cut back and trained so that they remain smallish -- and look interesting -- mostly using the same techniques as are used with bonsai. Technically they cannot be considered bonsai.

Also, in the garden a plant with a bonsai’s dimensions will hardly be visible. Bonsai are for looking at and appreciating up close. They are the main show, not part of the landscape.

Of course, your bonsai will be very happy to spend the warm season out of doors in a prominent spot with the right cultural requirements.

Q. Bonsai versus cats or dogs; which offers a more rewarding experience?

All of them, except that bonsai do not have to be walked, there is no kitty litter, and no seasonal shots. On the other hand, bonsai trees do require training and maintenance work, particularly in the spring.

Mike Ivany is a dedicated bonsai enthusiast with nearly 30 years experience cultivating his babies on his Yonkers apartment terrace overlooking the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades beyond. He is a former vice president of the Yama Ki Bonsai Society that meets monthly in Greenwich, CT, and is an auctioneer at the organization’s annual fundraising gala. He has cultivated hundreds of plants and now tends to a collection of nearly 40 trees of all ages. Mike is a graduate of the New York Botanical Garden’s Landscape Design Program.

Yama Ki Bonsai Society:
Contact Mike at
This interview was conducted and edited by Tim Fisher, Master Gardener Volunteer.