Master Gardener Winter Workshops

January 5, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

New Castle County Master Gardeners are offering a variety of workshops for the home gardener this winter. Cabbages, vines, spices, and landscaping are just some of the topics on slate.

Click here for the workshop brochure.


Native Gifts for the Holidays

December 15, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Gift certificates for UDairy Creamery ice cream make a great holiday treat.

The holiday season is right around the corner. Some folks wrapped up their shopping on Black Friday but plenty haven’t finished the task – and some haven’t even started.

No worries. We’ve rounded up some great gift ideas. Best yet, these gifts have a uniquely Delaware focus. Some choices – like landscape design classes – are tailor-made for outdoorsy types. Others gifts – like Delaware wool blankets — work equally well for couch potatoes who just gaze at the landscape from their windows.

From spices to vines 

A few years ago, New Castle County Master Gardeners began offering winter workshops in addition to their regular fall and spring classes. “The response was overwhelming,” says Carrie Murphy, the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension horticultural agent for New Castle County. “January and February aren’t good for gardening but they’re perfect for learning new ways to garden and planning for the season ahead.”

Winter workshop topics include vines and espaliers, downsizing your garden, and the origin of cooking spices. For the complete list, go to this website.

To purchase a gift certificate for a Master Garden workshop, call 302-831-COOP.

Keep warm with Delaware wool

UD’s flock of Dorset ewes get sheared every spring before going out to summer pasture. Previously, their wool was sold at a regional auction to wool processors. Then farm superintendent Scott Hopkins and animal science professor Lesa Griffiths put their heads together and, soon after, Blue Hen Blankets and Yarn was born. Now, after the sheep are sheared, the wool is sent to a Canadian mill to create cozy blankets in two styles — a lap throw and a queen-size version.

The blankets have plenty of heft — each lap throw requires four pounds of wool and the queen-sized contain 12 pounds.  The lap size is $100 and queen-size $175. Buy them at the UDairy Creamery on UD’s South Campus. For creamery location and hours, see the website.

A gift that lasts all year

Surfing at Indian River Inlet and swimming at Fenwick Island. Hiking at Alapocas Run and biking at White Clay Creek. Pond fishing at Killens Pond and surf fishing at Cape Henlopen. Give them an annual pass to Delaware’s state parks, where they can enjoy their favorite outdoor activity — or try something new.

Annual passes range in price from $12 for a senior citizen to $54 for an of-state resident. For more info, or to buy a pass online, go to the state parks website.

UD profs and other experts at Longwood

Don’t let “Tips for Turf Diagnosis: Insect and Disease Management” scare you. Sure, Longwood Gardens’ continuing education program has serious classes for pros. But there’s also “beginning bonsai” and “orchids for beginners.” Your gift recipient doesn’t even have to be a gardener — birding, photography, art and flower arranging classes also are offered.

UD prof Sue Barton teaches the fundamentals of sustainable landscape design in a five-session class; UD adjunct instructor Jon Cox presents the secrets to photographing water in an all-day session. For the full schedule of classes go to the Longwood website and click on “education.”

Longwood gift cards can be purchased on Longwood’s website or at the Kennett Square, Pa., gardens.

Give ’em Delaware River Mud

Mud pie ice cream, that is.

Delaware River Mud Pie is the most popular flavor at the UDairy Creamery, according to manager Melinda Litvinas. This ice cream pairs vanilla and chocolate cookie with swirls of fudge.

Plus, the creamery offers seasonal selections, including peppermint bark, eggnog, gingerbread and peppermint hot chocolate. Gift certificates are available in $5 denominations, perfect for stocking stuffers.

You may want to pick up All Nighter for yourself. This concoction of coffee ice cream and cookie dough chunks, crushed cookies and fudge swirl won a recent flavor creation contest. It was concocted by UD senior Kate Maloney. According to her contest entry, “Every college student has to pull an all-nighter at some point… [this ice cream] gives you the sugar rush you need to survive a 24-hour cram session.”

All Nighter could be just thing for assembling toys late on Christmas Eve, too.

The UDairy Creamery is located behind Townsend Hall on the Newark campus. The creamery closes on Dec. 23 at 5 p.m. (and re-opens Jan. 3). For more information, see the UDairy Creamery website.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley


Master Gardeners Win International Award

October 24, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Gail Hermenau, New Castle County Master Gardener, of Middletown, Delaware, accepts the Search for Excellence Award at the International Master Gardener Conference on behalf of the entire organization.

Three University of Delaware New Castle County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners—Suzanne Baron (of Middletown), Gail Hermenau (also of Middletown), and Eva Rotmann-Oehler (of North Wilmington)—and Horticulture Educator and Master Gardener Coordinator, Carrie Murphy, attended the International Master Gardener Conference in Charleston, West Virginia, October 11 – 14, 2011. During the conference, Gail Hermenau accepted the 2011 International Search for Excellence Award presented to the Master Gardeners for their small scale Grow your own Food themed home gardener workshops, demonstrations, and tours in the teaching gardens.

In 2009 and 2010, the New Castle County Master Gardeners responded to community need for information on how to grow your own food.  Master Gardeners worked together with their coordinator to develop opportunities that responded directly to this need.  The topics that Master Gardeners developed as part of their workshops and demonstrations included site and soil preparation, composting, plant selection, seeds and transplants, tips for growing vegetables, companion planting, beneficial insects, integrated pest management (IPM), fall gardening, harvest to table, growing berries, and putting your garden to bed.  In total, there were more than 20 events focused on the Grow your own Food theme, educating more than 300 community members.

This is the third Search for Excellence Award presented to the New Castle County Master Gardeners at the International Master Gardener Conference in just four years.


Sussex County Master Gardeners Open House set for July 16

July 8, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

The Sussex County Master Gardeners, of Delaware Cooperative Extension for both the University of Delaware and Delaware State University, invite the public to their Open House on Saturday, July 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sussex County Extension Office in Georgetown. Admission is free and visitors are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to the event and join Master Gardeners in supporting the Food Bank of Delaware’s “Delaware Does More” program, a program aimed at growing food and raising funds for neighbors in need.

Highlights of the day will include touring the Sussex County Extension Office gardens, seeing all the tools and gardening aids, and learning how to preserve food grown in your garden. For those new to gardening, there will be chances to learn about Square Foot Gardening, using raised beds and containers for growing vegetables. There will also be plants available for purchase.

Kids will have all sorts of fun opportunites, including seeing the garden drama “Peter Rabbit’s Adventures in Farmer McGregor’s Vegetable Garden,” going on a scavenger hunt or enjoying the butterflies, frogs and goldfish, as well as getting the opportunity to see what it’s like inside a teepee trellis.

For more information, contact Tracy Wootten at (302) 856-2585, ext. 538, or Tammy Schirmer at ext. 544, or visit the Carvel Research and Education Center website.


New Castle County Cooperative Extension celebrates graduation of Master Gardeners

June 30, 2011 under Cooperative Extension

The University of Delaware’s New Castle County Cooperative Extension congratulated the class of 2011 New Castle County Delaware Master Gardener Volunteer Educators in a graduation ceremony held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, June 1, at the New Castle County Cooperative Extension office.

Every two years the organization seeks to re-invigorate and increase its volunteers, and since this year was a “training year,” training was held from March to May for New Castle County Master Gardeners, who receive certification only after participating in a rigorous training course and completing the specified hours of volunteer service.

In order to receive certification, the Master Gardener Trainees must successfully complete a 3-month training session that translates into 72 hours of horticultural course work. They train as apprentices in the following Master Gardener Volunteer committees: Youth Education, Workshops and Telephone/Diagnostics. Finally, they must complete 40 hours of volunteer service in New Castle County prior to the end of the 2011 year.

Delaware Master Gardeners bring environmental education and the joy of horticulture into classrooms, homes, communities, and demonstration gardens throughout the county. They offer science-based guidance on home lawns and gardens, develop demonstration gardens and community service projects, run gardening workshops for adults, conduct youth outreach, and staff the Garden Line telephone service. Through the Junior Gardener program, one of its most extensive outreach efforts, New Castle County Master Gardeners bring environmental education about resources, recycling and composting to classrooms.

Anyone interested in becoming a New Castle County Master Gardener in 2013 should contact the Cooperative Extension office at (302) 831-2667 or (302) 831-2506, or email at Those interested may also visit the New Castle County Master Gardener website.

The full list of those who completed the Master Gardeners Volunteer Educator program can be found here


Sussex MGs offer garden walk

June 13, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

The Sussex County Master Gardeners are pleased to invite the public to a Garden Walk at the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden on, Thursday, June 16, 2011, 5 – 7 p.m. The garden is located behind the county Extension office, 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown. The event is free.

Master Gardeners will feature a look at a June garden filled with flowers. In addition to enjoying the garden, a number of Master Gardeners will be available to provide information and help on a wide variety of gardening topics including an exhibit of Accessible Gardening Tips and Tools.

Following the Garden Walk, Master Gardener Vicki Thompson will be presenting a workshop on ‘Hostas’ at 7 p.m. in Conference Room 3 of the Extension Office. Pre-register for this workshop by contacting Tammy Schirmer at (302) 856-2585 ext. 542 or

Master Gardeners are working volunteers and are supported by Delaware Cooperative Extension through the University of Delaware and Delaware State University Extension offices. It is Delaware Cooperative Extension’s policy that that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran or handicap status. If you have special needs that need to be accommodated, please contact the office two weeks prior to the event.

Article submitted by Michele Walfred.


June 15: Official opening of NCC MG garden

June 8, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

We invite you to join the University of Delaware New Castle County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners on Wednesday, June 15, from 5 to 7 pm to celebrate the official opening of their Native Plant and Vegetable Demonstration and Teaching Gardens; tours, a question and answer session and light refreshments are included in the program. A formal program featuring the development and purpose of the demonstration and teaching gardens will take place at 6 pm in conference room 132A.

Please check our website for any program updates RSVP to sharon lucabaugh,, (302) 831-2506.

The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension New Castle County Master Gardeners’ Native Plant and Vegetable Teaching and Demonstration Gardens are located at 461 Wyoming Road in Newark Delaware on the University of Delaware campus.

The Native Plant Garden has been designed and planted to create an awareness of the environmental benefits that can be achieved through the use of native plants. This garden, located at the front of the Extension office, is an attractive demonstration of native plant use, easily adaptable to the home landscape. It consists of five very different garden niches, each planted with material appropriate for the growing conditions/objectives of that site: the butterfly garden, rain garden system, corner prairie meadow, foundation plantings, and shrubs and paths.

The Vegetable Garden has been designed, amongst other things, to demonstrate how to grow vegetables successfully in a small space. This garden, located behind the Extension office, alongside the compost demonstration site, features four raised vegetable garden beds, a perennial border for pollinators, a berry border featuring raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, and a tomato border. The harvest from this site supports the Plant-a-Row for the Hungry program and is donated to the Delaware Food Bank.

The teaching and demonstration gardens are used as outdoor classrooms for workshops and other purposes. Self- guided tours are also encouraged at any time.


Master Gardeners offer vegetable garden workshops

February 24, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

Vegetable gardening continues to surge in popularity. An estimated one in every three American households grows some type of veggies, whether it’s a solitary tomato plant on a deck or a showcase of raised beds with wrought-iron garden stakes, irrigation systems and obelisks for climbing vines.

With all this interest in growing edibles, it was a no-brainer for New Castle County Master Gardeners to choose a program focus this spring. Two thirds of the workshops are dedicated to edibles.

“Our vegetable workshops fill up right away so we decided to offer even more vegetable classes this year,” says Carrie Murphy, horticultural agent for New Castle County Cooperative Extension. “For the second year in a row we’ll have separate classes for novice and experienced gardeners. We’ll also present specialized sessions, such as a workshop devoted exclusively to growing berries and another on starting vegetables from seed.”

Classes get underway in less than two weeks and continue through May. The majority of the sessions are in March, when gardeners are finalizing their plans, and in the case of some crops, starting to plant.

In Delaware, commercial and home growers typically put seed potatoes in the ground on or around St. Patrick’s Day. The Master Gardeners’ potato planting demo, on March 19, details the best methods for success, including mounding techniques and container growing.

The demo appears to fill a need, says Gail Hermenau, a Master Gardener and head of the committee that develops the workshop schedule. “Last year, we offered a tour of our demonstration vegetable garden,” says Hermenau. “When we arrived at the mounded potato beds, a number of people said they didn’t know potatoes grew like that and wanted more information.”

A new tomato class also was created because of popular demand. “A lot of feedback came my way about holding a workshop specifically on tomatoes,” says Hermenau.

Tomatoes top the list of the most commonly homegrown vegetables (even though technically they’re a fruit). Now that more backyard gardeners are growing heirloom varieties, they’re combating new challenges. Heirlooms aren’t disease-resistant, like most hybrids, and they’re more susceptible to cracking and bruising. The March 31 workshop will focus on the pros and cons of heirlooms and other varieties, as well as site selection, seed sources, transplanting, fertilizing and more.

Programming for advanced gardeners includes a workshop on maximizing yields through succession planting, companion planting, crop spacing and other techniques.

Another way to learn about veggie growing is at a Garden Day, held in the Master Gardeners’ Native Teaching Garden on the second and fourth Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to noon, April through September.

On these days, Master Gardeners work in the garden, all the while explaining what they’re doing – from scouting for pests to the right way to weed. They’re happy to answer specific gardening questions, too.

Sussex Master Gardeners also will offer vegetable-oriented programs this spring, including a March 10 session that covers the basics of site location, soil, fertilizing and watering.

“New Gardener in Delaware?,” on May 12, will be useful for vegetable gardeners, as well as those primarily interested in ornamental gardens. This workshop focuses on how to overcome the challenges of growing plants in Sussex’s sand, salt, humidity and heat.

“People move here from Connecticut or the D.C. metro area and think that they can garden the same way they did in their old hometown,” notes Tracy Wootten, Extension horticultural agent for Sussex County. “But Sussex is unique. We teach you how to succeed as a gardener here.”

Check out the spring Master Gardener workshops online. New Castle County classes are at this website and Sussex County classes are at this website.

Register by calling 302-831-COOP in New Castle County. In Sussex, call 302-856-7303.

Article by Margo McDonough
Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed online on UDaily by clicking here.


Master Gardeners Offer Winter Workshops

January 3, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

Where do Delaware gardeners go in winter?

A lucky few have second gardens in Florida or other subtropical climes, where they can put their hands in the soil all winter long. But most local gardeners simply go into planning mode, using the cold-weather months to prepare for the growing season ahead. For many, that means attending Master Gardener workshops.

“We never used to offer horticulture programs in the dead of winter; we took a break in between our fall and spring workshops,” says Carrie Murphy, New Castle County Cooperative Extension horticultural agent. “But three years ago, Master Gardeners offered a January series with an environmental theme. The response was overwhelming; gardeners came out in droves. It was very evident that this series filled a need for programming at this time of year.”

The “Keep it Green” series is on hiatus as Murphy and the Master Gardeners revise curriculum. But in its place this January and February is a winter series with an eclectic bent. These New Castle County programs include topics for experienced gardeners, such as espaliers, as well as topics for beginners, like an introductory vegetable gardening program.

The Kent-Sussex Master Gardeners also offer a winter series, by popular demand, says Tracy Wootten, Extension’s horticultural agent for Sussex County.

In northern Delaware, the “Vines and Espaliers” class on Feb. 10 will appeal to those jaded sorts who wonder “so what else is there?” Climb to new creative heights by trying espaliers — the pruning of trees and other woody plants so that they grow flat against a wall, fence or structure. Vines and other forms of vertical gardening also will be discussed.

“Tom Maddux, who is teaching this class, has created a great vertical garden at his garden in Old New Castle,” notes Murphy. “It’s fascinating to see what he has done with vines and espaliers.”

The format of virtually every Master Gardener program encourages interaction. But audience participation is a must at “Garden Line Live” on Jan. 13. This two-hour question-and-answer panel is an in-person version of the phone line that Master Gardeners operate.

Eight Master Gardener experts will field questions on anything garden related — lawn maintenance, insect management, vegetable gardening, composting, plant selection and landscape design. If the panelists get stumped, they’ve got a “life line” in Dick Pelly, a research whiz and longtime Master Gardener who will stand by with research books and Internet access.

Murphy isn’t sure what to expect but if it’s anything like the 1,100 phone calls the New Castle County garden line receives annually, there will be questions about stink bugs (a hot topic this year) and deer control (always the number one question on the phone line).

The winter series also features “Preparing Your Landscape for Spring” on Feb. 16 and “Starting Your Vegetable Garden” on Feb. 23.

In southern Delaware, the Kent-Sussex Master Gardeners will present four winter classes, including a class with a philosophical slant, “Planning/Journaling in the Garden” on Feb. 17. Instructor Jessica Clark was inspired by Fran Sorin’s Digging Deep, to present a planning workshop that’s about more than just obtaining soil samples and deciding when to add compost.

“In the words of Fran Sorin, ‘your garden should be a place where the feeling of your hands in the dirt offers a deep, primordial connection with the earth, where you can learn what can work for you in the physical garden and where it can work in your emotional garden,’” notes Clark.

A Jan. 13 house plant session details common mistakes made in caring for house plants and includes a re-potting how-to. Other offerings include vegetable gardening on March 10 and a garlic class on Feb. 10, featuring details on how to plant, grow and cure two popular cultivars of garlic.

Learn more

In New Castle County, to register or for more information, call 302-831-COOP or go to the website. In southern Delaware, call 302-856-7303.

Article by Margo McDonough

This article can also be viewed online on UDaily by clicking here.


New Castle County Master Gardener training offered

December 15, 2010 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

Delaware Cooperative Extension in New Castle County is now accepting applications for Master Gardener volunteer educator training. Training will run Tuesday and Thursday mornings starting March 3, 2011, and continue through May 24, 2011.

Carrie Murphy, Master Gardener program coordinator, Cooperative Extension Services, said of the program, “This training program is designed to make good educators out of good gardeners. Trainees pledge to devote volunteer time to help Cooperative Extension provide research-based information to the gardening public. Without this volunteer program, we could not reach nearly as many people as we do now.”

Training will consist of horticultural and educational topics, with emphasis on hands-on experience and active learning techniques.

There is a training fee of $150. Scholarships are available based on financial need. The application deadline is Jan. 10, 2011.

Details on the Master Gardener program, training, and application materials are available on the Master Gardener website, or by email or phone request to Carrie Murphy, at [] or (302) 831-2506.

This article is also available online on UDaily.