Tussie Mussies Recap

May 25th, 2017 12:23 PM

Before the age of emails and texting there was the art of secret messages via floral arrangements. They called them “Tussie Mussies” and it was just as interesting as it’s name sounds.

Said to originate in the Victorian era, Tussie Mussies are small, round bouquets made up of herbs and flowers that each hold symbolic meaning. Last week, our very own home horticulturist, Amy Witt, led a class on these dainty creations. Amy explained the intricate detailing and meanings of each flower and herb and how to pair them together to create a thoughtful message.

buckets of flowers


There were flowers by the buckets! Each holding a special meaning. White roses for innocent love, baby’s breath for pure heart, and fern for fascination and sincerity.
All of the flowers will provide a number of combinations and messages for each Tussie Mussie created throughout the workshop. We had several women sign up and it was a hit! The results were beautiful!



Here are some of the creations:


Each bouquet is unique, allowing for creativity and personality to shine through. Though the tradition faded away after the Victorian Era the spirit is making its way back with workshops such as this one. Tussie Mussies are a perfect, sentimental gift to give for any occasions such as birthdays or “get well soon” (just be sure to give a key of your floral meanings as well).

When words are not enough these thoughtful bouquets can speak wonders.







Fiddleheads and Ruhbarb: Maine for May

May 11th, 2017 8:00 AM

By: Kathy Savoie, UMaine Extension Educator

University of Maine Cooperative Extension publishes information to help you find, grow, use, preserve and store in-season fruits and vegetables in Maine. Visit extension.umaine.edu to order or download bulletins to fit the season, including May favorites such as Bulletin # 4198 Facts on Fiddleheads, Bulletin #4060 Facts on Edible Wild Greens in Maine, and Bulletin # 4266 Fruits for Health: Rhubarb.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has investigated a number of outbreaks of food-borne illness picked fiddleheadsassociated with fiddleheads. The implicated ferns were eaten either raw or lightly cooked (sautéed, parboiled or microwaved).   The findings of this investigation recommend that you should cook fiddleheads thoroughly before eating (boil them for at least 15 minutes or steam for 10 – 12).

UMaine Extension educator Kathy Savoie recommends getting up-to-date information on the best methods, canners, jars and seals to use to ensure a safe result before preserving food. Recommendations are available from local UMaine Extension offices and online at extension.umaine.edu/food-health, including upcoming food preservation workshops and how-to videos. For more information, call 207.581.3188; 800.287.0274 (in Maine).

2017 Master Gardener Plant Sale

May 10th, 2017 4:15 PM

By Kathleen McNerney, UMaine Extension Home Horticulture Coordinator (Second photo by Lynne Hazelton.)

MG Annual Plant Sale 2017
Although Spring seems to be off to a slow start, the Cumberland County Master Gardeners are in full swing, spring mode The Annual Cumberland County Master Gardener Plant Sale will take place on Saturday May 20th from 8am-noon at the Barron Center, located at 1145 Brighton Ave, in Portland. In addition to vegetable and herb seedlings and annuals and perennials there will be an exemplary selection of Maine Native plants and pollinator plants.

Due to the recent devastation caused by the invasive species Operophtera brumata, more commonly referred to as winter moth, all of the plants that are donated to the plant sale will be taken to bare root status and re-potted in sterilized pots and clean potting soil. This will eliminate the potential for the spread of this virulent little pest.

MG Plant Sale 2016

Master Gardeners will be on hand to assist and advise you on plant selections. Other fun items for sale will be ‘Gently Used Garden Tools’ as well as books, bagged organic compost, pre-started potato buckets, and new this year, homemade strawberry and blueberry shortcakes. Garbage to Gardens will be there giving out one month free memberships and there will be fun activities for the kids as well. Jock Robie will be there with his vermiculture display (worm composting) and the Cumberland County Water Conservation team will help kids make their very own seed balls, filled with seeds of native and pollinator plants. We will also be selling the Annual Calendar Raffle with each entry having 30 chances to win fabulous prices every day in June.

All of the proceeds from the plant sale go back into the Master Gardener program in the form of ‘Seed Grants’ for various Master Gardener projects which focus on education of the public and remediation of food insecurity, through the Maine Harvest for Hunger program. So you will not only get great plants at a great price, with expert advise, but your purchase will help support Mainers who may be food insecure.

So buy your plants from those who grow them and know them!

Preparing for Your Backyard Poultry Flock

May 4th, 2017 2:34 PM

By Jason Lilley, UMaine Extension Cumberland Sustainable Agriculture Professional

a pair of chickens

It’s the time of year when many families are heading to their local garden center or farm to pick up their backyard poultry flock. There are several things to consider and prepare before picking up those birds to ensure that the birds are healthy and productive.

The first step is to decide what type of birds you want.

  • Ask yourself, do you want the birds for eggs, meat, to show, or a combination of these. Check out this fact sheet on Matching your Need to the Right Breed for ideas on breeds that might fit your family’s needs.

Be prepared before picking up your chicks.

  • Clean your brooder house before picking up the chicks.
  • Apply 2 to 4 inches of clean, dry litter to the floor.
  • Set up safe heating lamps. During the first week after receiving your chicks, they should have access to an area that is 95 degrees F. If the chicks are all huddled near the lamp, or far away from it, adjust accordingly to make them more comfortable. More information about lighting can be found here.
  • Have clean accessible water available. Try to minimize the amount of shavings and manure that the chicks can throw in the water, and plan to clean the waterer regularly.
  • Have the appropriate “starter” feed on hand. This mix has a higher protein content and often contains medication against the coccidiosis

Next, make sure to get your chicks from a reputable source and ensure that they have been vaccinated.

  • Getting your chicks from hatcheries approved through the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) will reduce the risk of your chicks carrying diseases. The chicks should also be vaccinated to prevent future illnesses. Check with your supplier about vaccination and certifications that the hatchery may carry.
  • For more details about getting started with a backyard flock, check out this Fact Sheet; Giving Chicks a Good Start.

For more information on managing your flock throughout the season see click here, or contact your local Cooperative Extension office.

Master Food Preserver Applications Still Available

April 28th, 2017 9:00 AM

There is still time to apply to the Master Food Preserver program!

CC Volunteer #s

The Master Food Preserver program in Cumberland County is the only one of its kind in Maine. Each year 12 Master Food Preserver volunteers are trained to extend the reach of UMaine Food Preservation education to over 6,000 Maine youth and adults. They teach the value of growing and eating locally grown produce, how to prepare food safely for high nutritional value, how to preserve food safely, economically and efficiently, and how to adopt safe food handling practices. Upon graduation, Master Food Preservers serve as volunteers and resources in the community to provide the public with research-based information from UMaine Extension and USDA.

The 10 part hands-on kitchen labs will be held on Tuesdays, 5:30pm-8:30pm starting June until September. The course covers food preservation techniques including canning, drying, freezing, fermenting and winter storage as well as important food safety information.

Class size is limited and those interested are required to fill out an application. Applications are still being accepted for the 2017 Master Food Preserver class. The application can be accessed here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KZXZC88. Applications and letters of reference are due no later than Friday, May 5 by 4:30PM. For a physical application, please call 207.781.6099 or visit 75 Clearwater Drive Suite 104 Falmouth, ME 04105.


National Volunteer Week – 4-H Volunteers

April 27th, 2017 5:32 PM

 By Sara Conant, 4-H Community Education Assistant & Administrative Specialist

In honor of National Volunteer Week we would like to highlight our 4-H volunteers! 4-H is a national organization for youth ages 9-18 to learn life skills through hands on work in a variety of project areas. 4-H programming occurs in libraries, afterschool clubs, through classroom enrichment with 4-H Science Toolkits, at 4-H Camps, and in 4-H Clubs. Community 4-H Clubs are the signature 4-H activity in most all of Maine, but particularly in Cumberland County where we have the largest club program in Maine with 22 4-H clubs, focusing on a variety of topics.

Those who call our office looking for 4-H programs usually assume that each club and activity is run by our staff. 4-H Volunteer BlogWhile many of our outreach programs for libraries and afterschool organizations, as well as our 4-H Special Interest Summer Clubs are taught by either Mitch Mason, Extension Educator, or Sara Conant, 4-H Community Asst., the truth is our signature 4-H activity, community clubs, could not happen without our 80 volunteers. While I love petting a fluffy lamb, or fuzzy beef critter, and enjoy my time spent at the fair monitoring these shows, I know I am not the person you want teaching your children about how to pick out a livestock animal with good confirmation, and prepare it for a show, etc. I leave that up to our wonderful, knowledgeable volunteers. For the programs that I teach, including our 4-H Summer Special Interest clubs in horses and foods, I stick to what I know well.

Our club leaders and volunteers consist of former 4-H members, parents of both current & past 4-Her’s, and other community members who believe in our mission of creating positive experiential learning experiences for youth. Volunteers must be 18+ and go through a series of steps and trainings to become a 4-H certified volunteer but the whole process only takes about six hours to complete and much of it can be done at your own pace. To learn more about the requirements to become a 4-H volunteer please visit https://extension.umaine.edu/4h/volunteers/how-do-i-become-a-volunteer/.

Teen Council Member Matt teaching Cloverbuds about his 4-H Rabbit Project.

Teen Council Member Matthew teaching Cloverbuds about his 4-H Rabbit Project.

4-H volunteers are club leaders, project leaders, or episodic volunteers (serving on various committees including the Awards Committee, 4-H Kitchen at the Cumberland Fair, 4-H Exhibit Hall Committee at the Cumberland Fair and more). To learn more about the various volunteer opportunities available in Cumberland County 4-H please visit https://extension.umaine.edu/cumberland/programs/cumberland-county-4-h/volunteer/.

In addition to adult volunteers we also have teen volunteers. Along with leadership roles that most 4-H clubs offer their members, we also offer two distinct programs available for teens who want to expand their leadership toolbox. In the Summer teens can volunteer for our Summer of Science Program to teach youth at local Summer Food Sites science activities one day a week for six weeks. The SOS program is open to 4-H & non-4-H teens and gives them the tools to become teachers and leaders to younger youth. Throughout the year we also offer the Teen Council for youth to help plan both Winterfest (awards ceremony), and Mini-Forum (a day of workshops). Teen Council members are current 4-H members from a variety of clubs who come together to learn event planning & management skills, organization, public speaking, and more.

For more information about any of the volunteer opportunities mentioned or any of our other 4-H programs please email or call Sara Conant, sara.conant@maine.edu, 207-781-6099.

Succession Planting

April 20th, 2017 10:38 AM

By Jason Lilley, UMaine Extension Cumberland Sustainable Agriculture Professional

Little Ridge Farm, rows of planted beans

Little Ridge Farm in Lisbon, ME. 

Now that the garden soil is drying out and warming up, it’s time to get planting!

Many gardeners wish that they had more space to get more veggies from. One way to increase your yields without increasing your garden space is with succession planting. Succession planting is the practice of planning the use of your garden space and planting times for continual harvests throughout the season. This ensures that as you finish the harvest of one planting of a certain crop, the next planting is ready to be harvested.

Succession planting;

  • Maximizes the use of your garden space
  • Ensures a continuous supply of crops and
  • Results in higher season long yields

To start planning your succession plantings make a chart for each of your crops of the;

  • Days to harvest
  • Cold tolerance of the crop and
  • Harvest period of the crop

Days to harvest

One way to utilize your days to harvest information for succession planting is to plant different varieties of the same crop that have different days to harvest. For example if you plant a sweet corn variety that is 68 days to harvest at the same time as an 80 day variety, you would almost have finished harvesting the 68 day variety in the ≈12 days before the 80 day variety is ready to start harvesting.

Days to harvest information also gives you helpful information about when to put in your last planting. Remember that as the days get shorter and cooler in the fall, you will need more time for your crop to mature than the stated days to harvest.

Cold Tolerance

Be aware of the heat and cold tolerance of your crops. Cool season crops like radishes, lettuces, peas, and spinach do best in cooler soils. These crops are best to plant in succession in the early spring and late fall. Some of these crops can be harvest before warm season crops are ready to plant, making room in the garden those crops. Warm season crops like tomatoes, eggplant, melons, and beans are more sensitive to frost and grow more slowly in cooler temperatures. Final succession plantings of these crops should occur earlier to ensure that they can mature before temperatures are too cool.

Harvest Periods

When deciding how long to wait between succession plantings consider the amount of time that you can harvest from a plant or crop. Crops like kale, peas, summer squash, and tomatoes continue to yield over a long period so you may want to wait longer between plantings. Other crops like melons, radishes, and head lettuce are harvested and done, so more frequent planting are be beneficial. Suggested interval times between succession plantings for different crops are listed in this chart by Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Use this succession planting calculator to enter your first planting dates, your desired time between planting, and have your successive planting date calculated for you!

12 Great Gardens to Visit in Maine

March 30th, 2017 9:00 AM

By Kathleen McNerney, UMaine Extension Home Horticulture Coordinator

No Matter where you travel in Maine there are fabulous gardens to visit and explore. From Kittery to Mt. Desert Island, from cottage gardens to arboretums and Native Plant gardens there is something for everyone. Here is a listing of some of the ‘must see’ Maine gardens that are open to the public. So pack a picnic and get out there!

Costal Maine Botanical Gardens, photo courtesy of the gardens.

Costal Maine Botanical Gardens, photo courtesy of the gardens.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay Maine. Located on128 acres of pristine land with 3,600 feet of tidal shore frontage in Boothbay, this is the crown jewel of Maine gardens. Features include the Garden of the Senses, the Children’s Garden, Azalea and Rhododendron Garden, Meditation Garden, Kitchen Garden and miles of woodland trails. There are many educational programs offered throughout the year. The Gardens are open daily May 1 through October 31 with special hours during their Gardens Aglow event, which runs November 18 through December 31.

Celia Thaxter’s Garden at the Shoals Marine Laboratory, Isle of Shoals, Maine, off the coast of Kittery. This garden was the inspiration for Celia Thaxter’s book ‘An Island Garden’. This 15’ x 50’ garden served as the cutting garden for the large hotel that Celia’s father built and that served as a gathering place for many literary giants. To this day interns and workers at the laboratory tend to the gardens, remaining true to the descriptions and method described Celia’s book. Tours are available.

Hamilton House Grounds, South Berwick, Maine. Located on a bluff overlooking the Salmon Falls River, the grounds of this historic house embody a romantic vision of America’s past, with a beautiful perennial garden, a vine draped kitchen ell and a plant-covered pergola. Open June – October

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow House Gardens, Portland, Maine. This colonial revival, urban oasis in the heart of Portland is a wonderful retreat. Three generations of the Wadsworth family tended the gardens at this historic home. In 1901 the house and grounds were bequeathed to the Maine Historical Society. Visiting the grounds is free. Open May – October.

UMaine Gardens at Tidewater Farm, Photo by Amy Witt (UMaine Extension Horticulturist)

UMaine Gardens at Tidewater Farm, Photo by Amy Witt (UMaine Extension Horticulturist)

UMaine Gardens at Tidewater Farm Falmouth, Maine. These gardens were created and are maintained by UMaine Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners in Cumberland County. The area, with a beautiful view of the Presumpscot River, consists of a Children’s Garden, Cottage Garden, Pollinator Garden, All America Selections Display Garden and the Norm Steele Harvest for Hunger garden that last year provided 1540lbs. of produce to local pantries. Open dawn to dusk year round.

Viles Arboretum, Augusta, Maine. This 224 acre preserve was begun by the Maine Forest Service in 1981 and in that year 120 trees were planted. In 1991, the Arboretum was certified as a Demonstration Tree Farm. With six miles of trails the Arboretum is open dawn to dusk year round.

Merryspring Nature Center, Camden, Maine. Made up of 66 acres of pristine woodlands with a vernal pool and numerous gardens the Merryspring Nature Center this is a perfect place to hike, go birding and view wildlife. Visitors are welcome to collect seeds, ask for cuttings or purchase divisions. Open year round.

McLaughlin Gardens, photo from mclaughlingarden.org

McLaughlin Gardens, photo from mclaughlingarden.org

McLaughlin Gardens, South Paris, Maine. Celebrating 20 years. Previously privately owned by Bernard McLaughlin, an avid Iris collector, the gardens are now maintained by the non-profit McLaughlin Foundation. Mr. McLaughlin frequently allowed visitors in his garden. He passed away in 1995 and the foundation was formed to protect the property from development. Their goal is to keep the gardens open to the public. Set for a major expansion in the next 15 years this already beautiful place will be interesting to watch grow. Open May 12- October 31. Closed Mondays.

Woodlawn Gardens at the Colonel Black Mansion, Ellsworth, Maine; With 180 acres to explore, this garden features a clipped lilac hedge that encloses the 1903 formal garden and a cutting garden. It is supported by Master Gardener volunteers form the Cooperative Extension in Hancock County. The grounds are open year round.

Ecotat Gardens and Arboretum, Hermon, Maine. A word mash-up combining ecological and habitat, these grounds on 91 acres consist of 55 gardens, with 280 varieties of trees and 1,500 varieties of perennials. It is open year round from dawn to dusk.

Beatrix Ferrand Garden at the College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine. Celebrated garden designer, Beatrix Farrand’s emblematic skill is on full display at this garden, created by her in 1928. The unique stone walls, staircases and hedges define garden rooms. Several of the original rose bushes still survive. This garden features great views of Frenchman’s Bay and a geometric parterre. Open year round.

Wild Gardens of Acadia, Mt. Desert Island, Maine. The Wild Gardens are located in Acadia National Park, and reflect the typical habitats as found on Mount Desert Island. There are nine separate display areas and all the plants are clearly labeled for easy identification. The garden is open year round and is located at the Sieur de Monts Spring and Nature Center. While garden touring in Mt. Desert Island be sure to visit their Land and Garden Preserve

Meet the Staff: Administrative Personnel

March 27th, 2017 10:27 AM

University of Maine Cooperative Extension Cumberland County Admin standing outside of the office building.
The administrative specialists at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Cumberland County provide necessary support for the educational programs and are your contact for UMaine Extension’s services. They coordinate classes and workshops, run website and social media pages, prepare instructional materials, monitor budgets, respond to individual client requests, and more.
So who are they?

Lynne Hazelton, Administrative Support Specialist, Agriculture and HorticultureAgriculture and Horticulture
Lynne Hazelton, Administrative Support Specialist

In addition to providing administrative support to the Agriculture and Horticulture programs, Lynne is a Master Gardener volunteer and coordinates the annual Donation Drive to benefit the Preble Street Resource Center each fall. She also uses her fine art education to create marketing and informational materials, like the annual Taste of Tidewater Fundraiser logo.


Mallory Martin, Administrative Support Specialist, Nutrition and HomemakersFood/Nutrition and Homemakers
Mallory Martin, Administrative Support Specialist

When Mallory isn’t providing administrative support to the Food/Nutrition programs and the Homemaker volunteers, she’s providing support to the state-wide 4-H Foundation. Before working for Extension, Mallory was a Youth Trustee for the 4-H Foundation and now uses her education in film and theatre to assist with videos and promotional materials in her program areas.


ayla Mann, Administrative Support SpecialistReception
Tayla Mann, Administrative Support Specialist

Tayla is your first point of contact at the UMaine Extension Cumberland office. She’s the friendly face when you arrive and the pleasant voice you hear when you call. She provides support to all program areas and uses her personal blogging experience to manage our weekly blog.



Sara Conant, Administrative Support Specialist and Community Education Assistant, 4-H4-H
Sara Conant, Administrative Support Specialist and Community Education Assistant

Sara has been involved with Cumberland County 4-H for 14 years as a member and club leader and is your contact for anything Cumberland County 4-H related. She splits her time between providing administrative support to 4-H programs and teaching outreach programs at schools and libraries, as well as coordinating and teaching our Special Interest 4-H Summer Programs. Sara also runs the Paws ‘N’ Pals 4-H Dog Club in Windham with her adorable Miniature Poodle, Marly.

Get to know your UMaine Extension Educators! More “Meet the Staff” posts are coming soon! 

Maine Maple Weekend in Cumberland County

March 24th, 2017 10:17 AM
Maple Syrup drizzling over a stack of pancakes

Photo by USDA

Maine Maple Sunday is a timeless tradition here in Maine. And we have got the low down for your sweet tooth on where to go in Cumberland County this weekend!

Balsam Ridge will be celebrating all weekend with activities such as a tree tapping demonstration, tours and live entertainment. Stop in and check out their syrup, cotton candy and other delicious maple recipes while supplies last!

140 Egypt Road Raymond, Maine 04071 (207) 655-4474 | 9am-4pm

Jo’s Sugar House at The Hartwell Farm will be open on Sunday from 9am – 4pm sharing stories of the making of maple syrup and the transformation of sap over their wood fired evaporator. With offerings of maple confections, gift baskets and more!

19 North Gorham Road Gorham, Maine 04038 | (207) 671-2189

Whipple Lock Farm is cooking up maple sugar cookies and maple candies in preparation for Maple Sunday! They will be opening at 9am, stop in and bring your sweet tooth!

27 Whipple Road North Gorham, Maine 04038

Coopers Maple Products will be opening their doors at 9am on Sunday morning with a pancake breakfast! They will also have maple nuts, cotton candy and even their newest addition of pure raw honey! You can even check out their farm and livestock while you’re there!

81 Chute Road Windham, Maine 04062 | (207) 892-7276

Dad’s Maple Sugar Shack is prepping for an all weekend celebration! They will be open both Saturday and Sunday from 9am – 3pm with their delicious dark robust maple syrup and many other sweet treats!

1061 Naples Road Harrison, Maine 04040 | (207)583-6036

Greene Maple Farm is gearing up for Maine Maple weekend with Phillip View Farm. They will be supplying sweet maple treats, whoopee pies and even maple pulled pork! They will be open Saturday and Sunday from 8am – 4pm. You are going to want to check it out!

77 Bridgton Road Sebago, Maine 04029

Sweet William’s is definitely sticking with their name providing maple sundaes, maple baked beans, maple popcorn and so much more! They will also have guided sugarbush tours and face painting for the kids. Check it out this Sunday from 9am – 4pm.

66 Spiller Road Casco, Maine 04015 | (207) 627-7362

Nash Valley Farm will be open Saturday from 12pm-4pm and Sunday from 9am – 4pm with everything maple! Try out their delicious maple syrup over ice cream along with other treats at their country store.

79 Nash Road Windham, Maine | (207)892-7019

Merrifield Farm is opening their doors for both Saturday and Sunday from 9am – 4pm. They will be serving up pancakes along with a variety of maple treats. The weekend is filled with all kinds of activities like tours, music and cart rides given by the 4-H Brass Knob Club. You wont want to miss what they have in store!

195 North Gorham Road Gorham, Maine | (207)892-5061

The Lockman Place has been prepping all month bottling up their homemade maple syrup for this Sunday. They will be open 10am – 4pm so stop on in and meet the family!

274 North Gorham Road North Gorham, Maine 04038 | (207) 892-9342

Jim’s Sugarhouse is gearing up to be open all weekend from 8am – 4pm supplying treats like syrup, sugar, and lollipops for your sweet tooth!

296 Maple Ridge Road Harrison, Maine | (207)449-6511

Be sure to spend your Maine Maple Weekend supporting local maple syrup distributors and tasting lots of treats!

Happy Taste Testing!

by Tayla Mann, UMaine Extension, Administrative Specialist

UMaine Extension Publications on Maple Syrup: 
Bulletin #7036, How to Tap Maple Trees and Make Maple Syrup.
Bulletin #7038, Maple Syrup Quality Control Manual
Bulletin #7041, Licensing and Regulations for Maple Syrup Processing in Maine