The Real Dirt is the official newsletter of the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan
September 2022
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In This Issue

President's Letter from Sue Hudnut
Rediscovering our Roots - Sue Sensabaugh-Padgett's experience at MG College
Spotlight on the Butterfly Garden at Hull Park by Nancy Larson
Deep Roots in Our Area's Farming Tradition by Nancy Lassen
Harvesting Seeds by Michael O'Brien
Coordinators Corner by Nate Walton, MSU MG Volunteer Coordinator
Upcoming Events

President's Letter

Any time without snow is a great time to be gardening in northwestern Michigan, but the bluebird skies and cool breezy afternoons as fall approaches are particularly inviting. Thoughts turn to how things went this past season, and how we will use what we learned to prepare for the next.
As an association, we do the same. Our sold-out tour of Michelle Shackelford’s Leelanau Specialty Cut Flower Farm and Zoom presentation with Cheryl Gross on gardening for butterflies were a couple of highlights of our summer programming.

On October 4th, we will have Jonathan Dahl from MSU help us read soil tests and understand safe and effective usage of soil amendment products. On November 6th we have our volunteer recognition luncheon, where Shelly Stusick from the Grand Traverse Conservation District will present on small scale conservation in your landscape. This will be from 1-3 pm at the Twin Lake/Gilbert Lodge, details to follow. Both of these events are not to be missed!
Also during our November meeting we will be having our Board elections. This year we are looking for people who want to serve in the capacity of President and Director.  This is a great way to connect with people. If you are interested in running, please contact me.
Survey for 2023
We recently sent out an email with a link to our 2023 programming survey. If you took the survey, thank you! If not, please take a few minutes to do it. You can access the survey by following this link. We need to finalize 2023 programming by the end of the year, and need your input to help make it great. We plan to use a Zoom/in-person hybrid format for 2023 programming, and are working again with the Boardman River Nature Center to work through the details.

Lastly, this month MGANM and MSUE were awarded the Friendly Garden Club Community Beautification Award. This is for the outstanding work by Master Gardeners at the Clinch and Hull Park Gardens and downtown Pollinator Boxes in Traverse City.   Super thanks to Carla Burns, Fern Spence, Nancy Larson, Barbara Backus and Victor Dinsmoore for leading the initiatives with MSUE and MGANM.

Until next time, enjoy this beautiful season in your gardens!
Sue Hudnut
President - MGANM

Rediscovering our Roots 

My Experience at Master Gardener College
By Sue Sensabaugh-Padgett

“My history goes back some 2,500 years. The Romans even used me to scent their baths, beds, and hair.  But don’t confuse me with my French cousin… Chefs sometimes like to use me to flavor beverages, pork, fish, and chicken dishes.”  Imagine your team of MG's from across the state being handed a packet with 50 clues like this asking for both the common and Latin name.  That was my introduction to Michigan Master Gardener College.   This is the first time meeting in-person since Covid changed our lives.  It was not an easy decision to attend, but I am so glad I went to the beautiful Michigan State University campus.  My hesitancy was going solo.  I can now promise you that you are never alone in a group of fellow plant lovers. 

The staff gave me clear instructions for everything I could possibly need or want.  There were self-guided tours and bonus lectures available between the scheduled trips and classes.  My first excursion was to the Beal Demonstration Gardens for a Scavenger Hunt with clues like that above.  The garden is organized around how the plant is used by humanity. I learned so much discussing the options with my teammates.  I saw one of the oldest tree species on the planet, discovered the identity of a random wildflower in my border, saw the incorporation of QR codes in the garden, and this was just the first half-day!  Next morning, I went on a trip exploring the history and development of the Land Grant System and the Extension Service. Every Land Grant University must have a Merrill Building on campus in honor of the man that championed the system.  Later, we visited The Bug House.  If you have children in your life that like bugs, you need to visit this place on campus.  The walls are covered with creatures organized by Genus and Family but also organized by color and size demonstrating their natural beauty.  I don’t have pictorial proof, but I did hold a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach and loved it.  Yes, I washed my hands Mom. 

After another amazing meal served in the open-air gardens, I headed to a class where I learned about the logic, tools, and techniques for sharpening garden tools.  What?  Sharpen my shoveled and hoes?  It makes perfect sense but I never thought about it.  Beyond the learning, I can not say enough about the why the Extension Staff prepared and cared for us.  Oh, like all Scavenger Hunts there was a prize.  My team identified the most clues correctly (our score was 15 correct): we each received a $50 garden center gift certificates.  There were door prizes and tables prizes at every delicious meal.  As a final gift, we received 3 shrubs as we finished our experience. While this was my first experience attending an In-person, it won’t be my last.  I learned too much to share here. Ask me about the Children’s Garden, Herbarium and so much more.  However, the most important thing I took home was the connections I made with other MGs across the State.  Plan now to join me next year. 

Spotlight on the Butterfly Garden at Hull Park in Traverse City

By Nancy Larson EMG
EDITORS NOTE: We’ve all read the news about Monarch butterflies becoming close to endangered.  As a result many master gardeners are being asked about ways to support butterflies.  Here Nancy tells us about a project in Traverse City that is been designed to do just that. 

SPOTLIGHT: On Monday, June 6th, 2022 the planting of the Butterfly Garden at Hull Park project came to life when 50 volunteers who showed up to plant 25 flats of native flowers.  The project was done under my guidance and with the help of EMG Barbara Backus who helped coordinate the design layout of the flowers and their types.

The 2,500 square foot garden is laid out in the shape of a Monarch butterfly.  It’s located at Hull Park in the area of the boat ramp and other nearby master gardener projects.

THE GOAL: As it matures, the garden will attract butterflies and become a habitat for pollinators.

In July 2022, the garden was approved by MSU Extension as a master gardener project and I am serving as the project coordinator.  Credit for the inspiration for the garden comes from Traverse City resident Nelson Asper in memory of his wife Cindy, an avid gardener who passed away from leukemia.

Nelson arranged the project with the city and donated it to the city and the public.   His hope is that it will bring healing to all that visit there.

The garden is open for all master gardeners who may need volunteer hours.   Volunteers can meet me there the first and third Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Andrew Groleau has Deep Roots in Our Area's Farming Tradition

By Nancy Lassen
Establishing deep roots works well for plants, farms and families.

Andrew Groleau, 29, knows all about deep roots. He is a third-generation farmer who loves connecting to the land and his family’s heritage. Many a local neighbor and traveler have stopped by his family’s farm market on the corner of Hammond and 3 Mile Road in Traverse City.

The Groleau tradition began with Andrew’s grandfather, Frenchie, who purchased the land and started the farming operation. His father, Louie, continued the tradition of working the soil and reaping the harvest. His mom, Lynn, opened a popular farm market about 20 years ago.
“I’ve been around the farm my whole life,” said Andrew. “I remember picking cherries as a kid, and pulling up stones from out in the fields.”

Over the years, the Groleau family has grown strawberries, sweet and tart cherries, corn and pumpkins on the land. Andrew is currently working a field of vegetables to supply the farm market.

A big focus for this year’s harvest is tomatoes. He is also growing peppers, cucumbers, summer and winter squash. He rotates fields to increase the strength of the soil and is moving toward no-till gardening in the future.

He loves the connection he feels to nature and the earth. But, there have been challenges along the way.

“Learning how to plant to market scale is a challenge,” said Andrew. “I’m working hard to be efficient and figure out the best use of my time. Certain things need to be done at certain times and they won’t wait for me. I’m figuring it out with each season.”

Andrew says there is just enough routine in farming to be helpful, but also enough change everyday so he is not bored. Summer is by far the busiest season for him, but spring is also full with preparing the soil and planting seeds in the greenhouse in early April. He moves the plants to the fields in early June.

“I like the variety every day,” said Andrew. “Working with the plants is my favorite part. I find it is a great stress reliever.”

As fall approaches, Andrew will pick the final crops, clean up the vegetable beds, and remove the portable irrigation system before the ground freezes. He knows the routine of the farmer. His deep roots in family, the farm and the land guide him.

Harvesting Seeds

By Michael O’Brien, AEMG

After having a great harvest, the thought of saving seeds for next year's garden may come to mind.  Saving seeds is a great idea and it's something our ancestors have been doing for a very long time. 

Garden crops can be classified into two categories: dry fruited and wet fruited.  Dry fruited are mature seed pods and an example might be Milkweed.  Wet fruited means the fruit needs to be opened to get to the seeds and then the seeds need to be cleaned and dried.  In this case it’s important that the fruit be fully mature before taking the seeds. 

Seeds coming from the wet fruited category will most likely need to be washed first.  Then the seeds can be spread out on a plate so they can dry.  Avoid drying seeds on paper towels because once the seed dries it may be stuck to the paper towel.

When the seeds are dry then they are ready to be stored in an envelope which can be hand-made then sealed and dated. The envelop provides a place for information about the plant like the need full sun.  Avoid storing seeds in a plastic bag, as they may rot.  

All seeds retain some moisture so they can germinate.  Seeds like to be stored in a cool, dark, dry place.  Storing seeds in a sealed jar and possibly in the back of the refrigerator works well.  Some seeds need to be stored in the refrigerator for possibly ninety days before they can germinate.  This is called cold stratification.

It is important to know if your seeds are hybrid or heirloom.  Hybrid seeds are seeds that have been genetically modified to enhance some quality which can be disease resistance, color or height – just to list a few typical modifications. Hybrid seeds will begin to revert to aspects of the parent plant though it will most likely look different or will grow differently.  Heirloom seeds will be genetically the same as the parent plant year after year.

Saving seeds can be a great way to repopulate the garden year after year while only buying a few new plants each year.

Coordinator’s Corner

by Nate Walton
MSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator
Changes to the MSU Extension Master Gardener
Training Program coming in 2023

The MSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program® began in 1978 in an MSU Extension office in Wayne County. Back then, the training manual was just a stack of MSU Extension Bulletins. Since then, the program has grown immensely and today boasts over 3,000 volunteer participants in Michigan. Every year, hundreds of new MSU EMG Trainees are inducted into the program and provide thousands of hours of volunteer service in their collective first year of volunteering. The value to our communities of this program is incalculable.

The Consumer Horticulture Work Team at MSU Extension is the entity within MSU Extension that is charged with administering and delivering the Extension Master Gardener Program in Michigan. This work team is a small group of Horticulture Educators located in county offices across the state. For example, as the horticulture educator for Leelanau County, I also have a role and responsibility to act as the MSU EMG coordinator for the Northwest Lower Peninsula Region.

In 2021, the Consumer Horticulture team decided to pause all new EMG training classes for 2022, so that we could dedicate our time to redesigning and updating the EMG volunteer training program. We have been hard at work all this year and look forward to launching our first redesigned training program in 2023!

Unfortunately, because many of the new changes to the training program are still taking shape, I cannot share much of what to expect in our re-vamped training program. If you would like to see that latest information that is being released about the MSU Extension Master Gardener Training Program, I would suggest that you visit the website.

I hope that you will continue to spread the word about this important program to your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. If you know of someone who is interested in joining our program, please direct them to the above website and let them know that they can sign up to be informed when registration opens for our 2023 volunteer training programs. For your convenience here is the link to that sign up.

If you are an MSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, I would like to reassure you that the upcoming changes that you have read about here, are for the MSU EMG Training program and will not affect existing MSU EMG Volunteers during re-certification. If you are not yet an MSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, I hope that you will consider visiting the links above to learn more about our program. Thanks for reading!

Upcoming Events  

Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan (MGANM)
Presentations require registration
and offer 1.5 Continuing Education credits unless otherwise noted. A $5 donation is requested for non-MGANM members. Visit our website to register.  

Monthly Member Meeting/Presentation

October 4, (Tuesday) at 6:30 p.m. a Zoom presentation on "Reading and Implementing the Actions of Your Soil Test" with Jon Dahl, M.S.-Senior Specialist-Manager: Soil & Plant Nutrient Laboratory MSU

November 6th (Sunday) 1-3 pm is our volunteer recognition luncheon and meeting. Save the date! More information to follow.

The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park

Please see the Botanic Garden website for more information. Some events may have a charge and most need pre-registration. Please consult the website for event times, more information and registration. Events usually sell out quickly
Sep. 14th (Wed.) 6:00 p.m. “Author Talk with Tim Mulherin:  Exploring That ‘Up North’ State of Mind”. Please see the website for further information and registration.
Sep. 21st (Wed.) 6:00-7:30 p.m. “Outdoor Cooking Demonstration at the Pavilion”. Please see the website for further information and registration.
Sep. 25th (Sun.) thru Sep. 30th (Fri.) “A Virtual Walk Thru the Trees of the Botanic Garden” with Dr. Bob Schutzki.  Please see the website for further information and registration.
Oct. 9th (Sun) “Habitats of Sleeping Bear Dunes” Please see the website for times and more information. 

Plant It Wild

To register for each program and field trip email (except for GTRLC Field Trips) A zoom invitation will be sent to you a few days prior to the program.
Sep. 21st (Wed.) 7:00 p.m. “Fall Planting & Transplanting”.  Join Garrett Noyes, Birdsfoot Native Plant Nursery Owner focus on the benefits of fall planting and transplanting, garden preparation and planning.  


Leelanau County Government Center: Native Plant Landscape - Suttons Bay
Master Gardener Volunteers perform the bulk of the maintenance, care, and upkeep of these gardens. They have also created educational signage that teaches about the different native plant species contained in the garden. There are weekly work bees at the Government Center on Tuesday mornings 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. throughout the growing season. (ES: native plants).  Please contact Nate Walton at 231-2569888 or

Releaf Michigan is looking for volunteers to help plant trees on Saturday October 1st in Northport. Meet at 9:30 am in the Northport School Parking lot. Holes will be pre dug!  

The Botanic Garden is always looking for new folks willing to give a little time (and have lots of fun doing it!) volunteering as Docents, Gardeners or ‘Possums’ (grounds and maintenance helpers).  We love our volunteers and even more, love working with them. Contact at

Long Lake Culinary Campus/Long Lake Elementary
LLCC has a greenhouse available and Long Lake Elementary would like to use it to grow food and run educational programs. All they need is a little help from knowledgeable and enthusiastic EMG Volunteers! Contact Nate Walton ( for more info. 

Friends of the GT Commons
Help maintain educational flower beds in a high traffic section of the GT Commons (near the entrance to Trattoria Stella). Contact Nate Walton ( for more info. 

MGANM Volunteer Opportunity - THE REAL DIRT is Looking for writers!
Writing articles for The Real Dirt earns you volunteer hours that go toward your recertification. Articles should be between 500 and 800 words.  We have people to help edit as well. The Real Dirt is published bi-monthly (January, March, May, July, September, and November). Please submit articles for November to: by October 15.
Other Local Volunteer Opportunities
Antrim County-Glacial Hills The extreme ecological diversity found at the Glacial Hills Pathway and Natural Area speaks to its statewide significance. The property contains 12 distinct habitat types, including two hardwood forest types, three wetland habitats, and the shrub thicket and wet mesic forest types that support more than 20 species of trees, more than 100 species of flowers, and more than 100 species of birds, including great-horned owls, eagles, and the threatened red-shoulder hawk. Protection of this parcel also safeguards water quality in the beloved Chain of Lakes watershed.
Volunteers are needed to help combat invasive species and everyone is welcome.   Work bees will be on Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m.   For more information and location information, please contact Sue Haadsma-Svensson at srhs49615@gmail com or 317-442-6364.
Blue Fish Early Learning Center, 405 E Dresden St., Kalkaska, MI 49646   The garden offerings, curriculum, and help from a master gardener can also help incorporate more healthy eating habits into families through education, demonstration, and resources. To volunteer contact: Jessyca Stoepker,

Grand Traverse Area Children’s Garden, 536 Woodmere Ave., Traverse City, MI 49686. The Garden’s intention is to have fun while in the garden, spread the joys of working with the earth while "planting the seed" that plants affect every moment of our lives; to breathe, to eat, to heal, and to enjoy.
To volunteer contact: Erin Hafeli, (313) 850-3649



MGANM, BGS and other events may offer educational and volunteer credits. For any questions, please contact Nate at 231-256-9888 or
There are many wonderful webinars available from Wild Ones, Monarch Joint
Venture, Xerces Society, Ohio State University, Smithsonian Gardens, Wildflower Association of Michigan, MMGA, Pollinator Partnership and many others.  Please see their websites and Facebook pages for more information.

MSUE Webinars 
Sep. 20th (Tue.) 6:00 p.m.
 “Gardening on the Straight and Narrow, Designs for tight spaces” Presenter: Rebecca Finneran MSU Extension Senior Horticulture Educator.  Every landscape has one or two narrow spaces that are just difficult to design for. Whether it is a shady strip along your driveway or a sunny street-side planting, you can take advantage of dozens of plants that will fit the bill. Join MSU Senior Horticulture Educator, Rebecca Finneran, in looking at inspiring ways to design your straight and narrow space.
Nov. 8th (Tue.) 6:00 p.m. “Nomenclature and Nonsense Names Presenter: Barslund Judd, MSU Extension Consumer Horticulture Educator. Do you ever wonder why plants have those strange Latin names? Binomial nomenclature is the system by which two terms are used to name an organism. We will talk about the history behind binomial nomenclature, it's structure and where names like Begonia darthvaderiana come from. We will also talk about complicated cultivar names and other quirks.
Participants must register to receive the link and will also receive cumulative lists of previous DIG IN sessions for review if you miss one! Click here to register.

Become a champion for pollinators. Pollinator Champions is a free, self-paced online course offered by Michigan State University. The course is packed full of videos, articles, and fun activities to guide you through the amazing world of pollinators and pollination. Click the button below to register for Pollinator Champions. Everyone is welcome to learn about pollinators for free, but for a small fee, you can receive a certificate and materials to help you give presentations about pollinators. Take the free Pollinator Champions course, and then help us spread the word as an MSU Certified Pollinator Champion.  

Smart Gardening with Vegetables 101

Now is an exciting time to learn about growing your own vegetables. Plan to register for Michigan State Extension’s Smart Gardening with Vegetables 101 online course.

This self-paced, introductory online course provides all you need to know to successfully start and grow a vegetable garden. Whether you have a large space, small space, or plan to garden in containers, you will learn research-based practices for success. From seed starting to harvest, you will learn important concepts needed to select and grow fresh vegetables from start to finish. To register click here.

Other Videos to Watch

There are two interesting webinars available from Wild Ones on YouTube.One is "Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees" by Doug Tallamy - click HERE  The Other is "Wasps: Their Biology, Diversity and Role as Beneficial Insects and Pollinators of Native Plants" by Heather Holm - click HERE
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Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan · 8527 East Government Center Drive, Suttons Bay, MI · Suite 107 · Suttons Bay, MI 49682 · USA

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