July 2023 Master Gardener Volunteer Newsletter

In this issue…

From the President…

Hello fellow Master Gardeners:

As I write this letter, a few days prior to the Summer Solstice, I ask myself “Where has summer gone?” We had a few warm days and then cool and wet. My wife’s irises love this weather, but my veggies are looking forward to a return to a Mediterranean climate.  Hope your veggies are doing better than mine.  Oh well, as they say, “if you don’t like the weather in Maine, just wait and all will change.”

At the June CCMGA board meeting, it was reported that the plant sale did well, not as good as last year, but still very good. Last year was immediately after the pandemic and customers were eagerly waiting to return to a new normal and spend money on plants. This year with prices for everything up the customers were more cautious.  The next board meeting will be in September.

Now back to our environment. The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than most locations along our Atlantic coast. Research is ongoing to try to understand the dynamics for this.  It affects the local lobster catch, as lobsters are migrating further north. The rise in sea temperature is also having an impact on terrestrial plants and wildlife.

The Friends of Casco Bay, who have been recording the health of Casco Bay for years, are having their annual meeting on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, 5:00-7:30 p.m at Spring Point Field, Southern Maine Community College, 50 Lighthouse Circle, South Portland, Maine. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. and I plan to attend.

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute is another local organization that I invite you to learn more about. Their website has a wealth of information about the institute’s work.

Have you ever wondered where some of our favorite vegetables and ornamentals originally were found?  After a little research, I learned that the tomato is native to western South America and Central America.

In 1519, Cortez discovered tomatoes growing in Montezuma’s gardens and brought seeds back to Europe, where they were planted as ornamental curiosities, but not eaten.

I wish you a wonderful July,

David Elliott

Reporting MGV Hours and Produce Donations

Thank you to everyone who has been reporting their hours so far this year. This is a friendly reminder to report your volunteer hours here: Reporting Master Gardener Volunteer Hours (bookmark this page!). MGVs have until the end of the year (December 31, 2023) to complete their annual requirement of 20 hours or 40 hours if you are currently working on your certification.

Need to check the status of your MGV hours?
Email Becky Gray at extension.mastergardeners@maine.edu or call 207.356.1348

If you are donating produce this season, please report the number of pounds donated here: Cumberland County Maine Harvest for Hunger Donation Report Form.

Harvest for hunger sign in raised bed garden
Harvest for Hunger bed at the Bridgton Community Garden

Field Days at Tidewater Farm

Wasp on cilantro flower
A wasp lands on a cilantro flower

Join us on Saturday, July 8, 10:00 AM to noon for our Field Day at Tidewater Farm. This event is free and open to the public, so bring your friends and family! Demonstrations begin at 10:30 AM. Child-friendly activities will be provided. No registration required.

Enjoy a stroll through our perennial gardens as we highlight plants and practices that support the life cycles of a variety of pollinators. Then, learn how to scout for pests in your vegetable garden with an emphasis on prevention and techniques for encouraging beneficial insects. 

Our friends at Maine Audubon will be on hand to offer native and pollinator-friendly garden resources. Learn how you can support wildlife in your own backyard through native plantings, and participate in a child-friendly activity.

2023 – 2024 Cumberland County Master Gardener Volunteer Speaker Series

Here is a highlight of what’s coming during the next Speaker Series Session (September 2023-June 2024).  Our theme is “Climate Change for Maine Gardeners.” This is a draft so expect some changes but at least you can get an idea of what we have planned for you.

September 14: Creating a Habitat for Backyard Birds with Andrew Tufts/Audubon
October 5: Drought Resistant Plants with Amy Witt/Earthwalkers
November 16: Native Trees with Jeff Tarling/Arborist
December 6: Holiday Decoration to Share with a Care Facility with Deborah Gray

January 11: Growing Figs in Containers in Maine with Bob McArdle/MGV
January 25: Winter Sowing with Tyra Hatcher-Mitchell/MGV
January 24: Doug Tallamy (sponsored by the Maine Garden Club and Audubon)
Dates TBD: Landscape for Life (Five sessions) with Amy Witt/Earthwalkers
February TBD: Homegrown National Park with Andrew Tufts/Audubon
February 29: All About Seaweed for Gardeners Maine Seaweed Council
March 21: The Problem with Peat with Tom Witwicki and Bonnie Barthmaier/MGVs
April TBD: No Till Practices with Mariam Telob/MOFGA
May 24: Ornamentals Nicki Griffin and Lucretia Bagley/MGVs
June 6: Small Fruits with Joel Leak/MGV

2023 Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Sale 

We did it again! A successful plant sale choreographed by the dynamic Cumberland County Master Gardener Volunteers. We raised a lot of money – approximately $14,000 after expenses. And we make our success look easy!!!

I measure success in a different way. The professional appearance we presented, the streamlined systems we perfected, and the community outreach we provided are obvious and quantifiable. But more importantly, I value the friends new and old that make plant sale day the best day of the year. Meeting old friends after a winter of hibernation, making new friends that share your passion for the garden, and talking with strangers who look to us as the “Experts” is the reason we do the plant sale. Thank you for helping with this successful fundraiser – Bonnie B

Several people shopping for plants at a sale, with donated Coast of Maine soil in the foreground.
Cumberland County Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Sale 2023

Volunteer Opportunities

Saturday August 12: 7th Annual Gray Wild Blueberry Festival 

MGVs are needed at the 7th Annual Gray Wild Blueberry Festival on Saturday, August 12th, which runs from 9:00am to 3:00pm. This event is rain or shine and will take place at the Henry Pennell Municipal Complex (24 Main Street, Gray, ME 04039). 

Master Gardener Volunteers will share a table with the Master Food Preservers, and will help answer gardening questions and share resources (handouts and seeds) with attendees.

  • 1st shift – 8:30am to Noon: 2 volunteers needed (set up & table)
  • 2nd shift – 11:45am to 3:30pm: 2 volunteers needed (table & breakdown)

Please sign up here. Contact Mary with questions.

If you have a volunteer opportunity you’d like to share, please send Mary an email at mary.wicklund@maine.edu.

Upcoming Events

Thursday, July 6: Soil Science and How to Test your Soil | 12-1 pm Online
Friday, July 7: Edible Plant Walk l 4-6 pm Falmouth
Saturday, July 8: Field Days at Tidewater Farm l 10-12 pm Falmouth
Saturday, July 8th: Herbal Tea Blending Workshop l 10-12 pm Freeport
Saturday, July 8: Summer Plant Walk l 10-12 pm Falmouth
Saturday, July 8: Harvey Butler Rhododendron Sanctuary l 10-12 pm Springvale
Tuesday, July 11: Preserving the Harvest: Jam and Jelly Basics l 5:30-8:30 pm Falmouth
Wednesday July 12: Growing Greens in the Garden | 6:30-8:30 pm Online
Tuesday, July 25: Summer Plant Walk l 4-6 pm Falmouth
Wednesday, July 26: Food Preservation Webinar: Fermenting Pickles l 1-1:45 pm Online
Thursday, July 27: Tomato Pruning and Trellising l 4-6 pm Freeport
Tuesday, August 1: Building a Biodiverse and Climate Resilient Yard | 12-1 pm Online
August 4: Edible Plant Walk l 4-6 pm Falmouth
Saturday, August 5: Summer Plant Walk l 10-12 pm Falmouth
Wednesday, August 9: Flower Farming | 5-7 pm Windham


Do you need more CLYNK bags? CLYNK bags can be picked up at the office Monday thru Friday, 8:00am to 4:30pm. Our account grows steadily and the money supports Cumberland County Master Gardener Volunteer projects. Collect your returnables in one of our designated CLYNK bags, drop off at your local Hannaford and help us grow our Seed Money.

The Cumberland County Master Gardener Volunteer Newsletter is edited by Clarissa Brown and Annika Schmidt.
Event listings are compiled by Stephanie Karakantas. If you would like to submit an article or help with any aspect of the Newsletter contact AJ Cornell, the newsletter coordinator.