Straw Bale Gardening

Handouts from my talk on Straw Bale Gardening at the 2017 Lodi Garden Expo are now available. Enjoy.

Fond du Lac County Day In The Garden

The 19th Annual Day in the Garden by the Fond du Lac County Master Gardener Association is set for Saturday, March 18th. The event features speakers, vendors, and a silent auction. It runs from 8:00 to 3:45 at the UW Fond du Lac Extension Office.

I will be speaking on Gardening for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects at the event.

Day in the Garden will give you get tips and inspiration for your own garden and is a great way to network with other local gardeners.

For additional information, see 2017 Day in the Garden brochure.

Handouts for the talk are available here.

The 2017 Wisconsin Garden Expo

It is time again for the Wisconsin Garden Expo. The 2017 event runs from Friday, February 10th through Sunday, February 12th at the Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall in Madison, WI. It features a trade show and numerous educational seminars and demonstrations, plus a farmer’s market on Sunday. This is an excellent and very popular event held to benefit Wisconsin Public Television. This year marks the 24th anniversary of the Expo. It attracts over 20,000 attendees from across the Midwest.

I will be presenting two seminars at the show. On Friday the 10th at 2:15 in Mendota 5, I will speak on Improving Success with Seed Starting. Attendees will learn the “whys” behind the “hows” of seed germination to improve their success when starting plants from seeds. Tips and techniques to help gardeners of all skill levels will be covered. Handouts from the talk (327k .pdf)

On Saturday the 11th at 2:15 in Mendota 8, I will speak on Gardening for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects. Attendees will learn how to identify, appreciate, and encourage beneficial insects in the garden. I will cover recommended annuals and perennials to plant for season long bloom, and how to tend your garden to make it a safe haven for beneficial insects. Handouts from the talk (514k .pdf)

Weekend Permaculture Design Course in Michigan

Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings, MI is offering a weekend workshop based, year long Permaculture Design Course. The first class is January 21 and will cover the Principles of Natural Systems and Design. The course will be taught by Western Michigan University Office for Sustainability Permaculture Coordinator Josh Shultz.

The weekend format is built on independent workshops. This format allows  easier scheduling for individuals with work, budget, and other commitments. It can also allow those interested in specific topics to participate without committing to an entire design course. The extended format also allows for visits to field sites throughout the year, focusing on seasonally appropriate topics.

The first workshop serves as an overview of Permaculture concepts. It runs Saturday and Sunday, January 21 and 22 from 9 am to 4 pm each day. Cost is $200 for members $200 and $220 for non-Members.

For more information can be found at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute



Growing Michigan Agriculture Conference

The Growing Michigan Agriculture Conference will be held Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at the Kellogg Center on the Michigan State University campus.

Registration is $85 by March 3 and $95 at the door. For more information, contact ANR Event Services at 517-353-3175 or email

Topics covered will include legislative policy, crops, and more.

Midwest Pollinator Protection Grants

The USDA National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced a new grant program for farms and ranches in the Midwest to promote conservation efforts, improve honey bee and pollinator health, and reduce colony losses during winter. Grants totaling almost $3 million are available to producers in MI, MN, ND, SD, and WI.

Grants can be used to support conservation practices that improve nectar and pollen availability for pollinators, including cover cropping and forage management.

Grant applications are due March 21, 2014. See the NCRS web site for details.

NRCS offers a free Farming for Pollinators publication in .pdf format.

Seed Savers Exchange Chicago Event

The Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) is having a member luncheon program at the Morton Arboretum in Chicago, IL on Sunday, March 16th. Speakers are Vicki Nowicki and Diane Ott Whealy.

Registration is a $15 suggested donation, and pre-registration is required.

SSE is a fantastic organization and a great resource for open pollinated, locally adapted varieties.

TRSV and the Honey Bee

A number of viruses affect honey bees and are significant factors in ongoing problems with colony collapse disorder (CCD) and colony losses during winter. Varroa mite (Varroa destructor), which itself can weaken colonies, can also transmit viruses to honey bees, further reducing hive strength. A recently published research study identified a new virus issue in honey bees. Continue reading

Tobacco Hornworm Chemical Warfare

A while back I did a post on the tomato/tobacco hornworm, and just came across some interesting new research on this pest. Continue reading

Resources & Notes for Off-Grid Living

During my time this summer at Two Fish Farms,  the alternative energy system was not fully installed (a windmill and second solar array are now up and running), so all power use had to be very carefully managed. Irrigation was the primary power draw, and ensuring the pressure tank remained pressurized without stressing the batteries was key. Continue reading