January 2021
Gardeners' Resolutions for 2021
Do your New Year’s resolutions include gardening? Find out what other gardeners are planning for 2021. Perhaps some will inspire you.

Plan Ahead
Plans for your 2021 garden can start right now. One gardener plans to use winter downtime to complete a spreadsheet with all of her perennials listed by characteristics such as height, width, sun and shade preference, color, and bloom time. She will use the data to rearrange her garden so that plants are in their optimum location for growth, with colors and heights coordinated for each season. Another will use a calendar to mark every upcoming garden task along with garden-related classes and events. You can make notes of garden tasks and bloom times in 2021 so that you can use it to plan improvements in next year's garden. Also, don't forget to look at your landscape during winter so you can select and plant for winter interest during the next growing season.

Benefit the Birds and Bees
Many Master Gardeners have resolved to remove fussy, pampered plants from their gardens in favor of more natives. Optimally, these native plants should be arranged in drifts to benefit pollinators who are seeking them and also to improve the aesthetics of the garden. 

Some gardeners have been motivated by Professor Doug Tallamy's research to look closer at the insects and wildlife that are using their garden. Not only are native insects vital to native birds' diets, they are also examples of biodiversity to be appreciated in their own right.

Reduce Reuse Recycle
Master Gardeners offer the following resolutions to save time, resources, and money:
  • Divide and propagate what is already growing in the garden.
  • For summer container gardens, utilize small (less expensive) native perennials that can be planted in the ground in the fall.
  • Take stock of viable, leftover seeds before buying new.
  • Start seeds early this year; get vegetables, such as peas and beans, in early to extend the yield.
  • Go compost! Learn how to set up and maintain a simple outdoor compost bin composed of garden refuse and appropriate kitchen scraps. Visit here for composting resources.
To sum it up--plan more and buy less!
Let's Get Real
It is difficult for those who love gardening to tame their enthusiasm. Many resolutions involve downsizing, or, at least, not expanding the garden too quickly. Spring 2020 was especially challenging with fluctuating temperatures, and it left several Master Gardeners resolving not to plant tender plants outdoors too early. Even though spring air temperatures can be deceptively balmy, annuals and warm-season vegetables will grow better when the soil has warmed. The Master Gardener Helpline can provide guidance on when to plant in the spring.

Resolutions to follow directions also falls under this category. If the plant tag states “full sun”, don’t buy it for your full shade garden. (Full sun is defined as six of more hours of direct sun per day.)

Try Something New
Master Gardeners are aiming to try out new garden plants in 2021, including white lace flower (Orlaya grandiflora) for cutting, the tropical rex begonia vine (Cissus javana), and the fall-blooming saffron crocus (Crocus sativus). Though these plants might not be on your radar, researching and growing a plant that is new to you is a great way to sharpen your gardening skills.

Words to Live By
The wisdom in these resolutions speaks for itself:
  • Walk the garden every day and pull out unwanted new plants, weeds, and invasives. Taking a few minutes each day will cut down on those big all-day chores!
  • Spend as much time as possible gardening This is the one place that a person can find solace.
  • Use “wabi sabi" as the overriding principle. The Japanese aesthetic is sometimes described as one of appreciating beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete in nature.
  • Remember... whatever is started this year is only going to be beautiful if it can be maintained.
  • Resolve to cope better with gardening disappointments.

Finally, in this year of COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine, I think we can all agree with this gardener:
"My New Year's wish is that we can all soon reunite as gardeners and be able to walk through each other's gardens without fear and share our love of plants."

Source: Penn State Extension, Lois Miklas, Master Gardener Coordinator
Recycling Electronics This Holiday Season
With holiday cheer and gifts galore, many of you will give or receive new electronic equipment. As you switch out of the old and welcome the new, please remember to recycle your old electronics responsibly.

Examples of common electronic equipment that must be recycled:
  • Computers (desktops, laptops, e-readers, tablets, etc.)
  • Computer peripherals (mice, keyboards, monitors, printers, etc.)
  • Small electronic equipment (DVR's, DVD players, MP3 players, video game consoles, etc.)
  • Televisions

It is illegal to dispose these and other covered electronic equipment (CEE) in the trash under New York's electronic waste law.

How to recycle electronics:
Visit DEC's Consumer Electronic Waste Recycling webpage for information on all available recycling/reuse opportunities.

Manufacturers of CEE are required to provide consumers a free and convenient opportunity to recycle their equipment or one piece of CEE from another manufacturer with the purchase of the same type. Depending on a specific manufacturer's acceptance program, CEE recycling/reuse opportunities may include: permanent collection locations, local collection events, mailback programs, or at-home pickup (when no other free and convenient option is offered).

Questions or concerns? Contact the E-waste Recycling Team. ewaste@dec.ny.gov

Source: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC)
Monroe County Soil & Water Conservation District
Conservation Tree & Shrub Program
2021 Tree & Shrub Ordering Information Available Now!

Try online ordering this year via our Square Store! This is a pre-order program that allows landowners the chance to receive tree and shrub seedlings in species that are native to New York State. Orders are taken every winter with distribution of trees occurring in April. Each year, the District offers a variety of new species to our sale.

30 Day Wasted Food Challenge
Forty percent of all food produced in the US goes uneaten, according to the Natural Resource Defense Council. Wasted food is a major contributor to multiple environmental and social problems that we face today - and most of this waste is happening right under our noses! ReFED estimates US households alone waste 76 billion pounds of food annually, costing each household an average of $1,800 per year!

Challenge yourself throughout January with the 30-day wasted food challenge. This challenge can be accomplished a number of ways, and by the end, it will help you throw away less food in your kitchen, save money and benefit our environment.
  • Week 1: Recognize what food you're already throwing away
  • Week 2: Develop a plan
  • Week 3: Take action
  • Week 4: Reflect

Source: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC)
Winter Pruning
Winter is the perfect time to prune most woody, deciduous plants. With the leaves gone it is easier to see all of the branches and to determine what should be removed. When the plant is actively growing, there is the chance that it will experience some shock as pruning removes food-producing leaves at a time when the plant is feeding itself. In the winter, since the plant is dormant, this is not an issue.

Before you put your pruners to work, you need to do a bit of planning. The first thing to consider is the plant itself. A quick check at one of the many botanical garden or university horticulture sites will give you the mature size, spread and shape that the plant’s DNA says it wants to achieve. Keep in mind that the plant is working hard to get to that point. If you are pruning a shrub that matures at 8’ height and 12’ spread to fit into a 4’x 4’ space, you might want to reconsider. Every time you prune this plant back to the smaller size, it will push back once it starts growing again. A better choice might be to remove the plant and replace it with one that will not outgrow the space.

Here are a few quick pointers to keep in mind when pruning:

  • Know the plant, as stated above. Prune to encourage it to reach its predetermined shape and size. Step back and review your work and your end-goal often while pruning.
  • Prune out any broken branches or branches that are rubbing on another branch
  • Prune to allow light and air to reach the interior of the plant
  • Always make clean cuts (using sharp pruners) and cut just above a node. A node is the spot where a twig is attached to a branch or a leaf or bud is attached to a twig.
  • If removing a branch, look for the branch collar (a swollen area at the point of attachment). Make your cut just outside the branch collar. This will allow the tree to heal quickly and cleanly.
  • Choose your pruning tools wisely. Hand pruners are good for twigs up to about ½”. Loppers are the next step, for twigs and small branches up to an inch. A small folding hand saw will work well on branches that are too big for loppers. Large branches require a larger hand saw with a curved blade or a chain saw. Whatever tool or tools you are using, make sure the cutting blades are sharp. Clean cuts heal faster and offer fewer opportunities for disease and insects to enter.

Written by: Marci Muller, CCE-Monroe Horticulture Program Leader
2021 Season AAS Winners 
All-America Selections, North America’s oldest and most well-known non-profit plant trialing organization, is pleased to announce their exciting AAS Winners for the 2021 garden season.
All-America Selections National and Regional Winners have been tested for garden performance by a panel of expert judges. Varieties that perform best over all of North America become AAS National Winners. Entries that performed particularly well in certain regions are named AAS Regional Winners. The AAS Winners offer gardeners reliable new varieties that have proven their superior garden performance in Trial Grounds across North America, thus, our tagline of “Tested Nationally and Proven Locally®”.

AAS was founded in 1932 by Ray Hastings as a way for home gardeners to learn which new varieties are truly improved. More about AAS Winners
Urban Feeders May Be Havens For Rural Birds During Harsh Winter Weather
When Arctic air and squalling snow send winter temperatures plunging, backyard bird feeders can seem like the trendy bistros of the bird neighborhood—with flocks of sparrows and chickadees cramming in to get their fill. A study published in Journal of Animal Ecology shows that such observations are no coincidence: Some birds flee the countryside and find refuge in urban areas—and the bird feeders there—to survive extreme winter weather.

Photos and composite image of birds visiting a feeder in Trenton Falls, New York, by Pamela Karaz.
Source: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology - All About Birds Blog
Upcoming Small Scale Food Processing Workshop
Calling All Aspiring Food Entrepreneurs!

If you are considering a new food processing business, or growing the one that you already have, then this workshop is for you!     

Strict safety rules and the necessity for high product quality give the food industry a unique character. From licensing and certification to recipe testing, from shelf life and packaging to promotions and selling, the requirements are complex and can be overwhelming. But with a clear understanding of the key steps and a good plan, a small scale food processing business can be a profitable enterprise.

Join us for two mornings of learning and guidance on how to start and grow your food business. Both current and potential food entrepreneurs are encouraged to attend!

Landscape Technician Training Program
Workforce Development
Do you love the outdoors and creating beauty? Are you hoping to gain new skills and get a great job? Our Landscape Technician Training Program is currently recruiting students! The program runs February 22 to April 2, 9AM - 3PM, Monday - Friday.

Spend 6 weeks learning about the amazing field of horticulture and the many job available in the landscaping world. Complete the program and start a new job this spring! Scholarships are available. Spread the word if you or anyone you know might be interested!

Upcoming Zoom Events
Registration Required
Be on the lookout for your confirmation email with the Zoom link to access the class!
Olmsted and Rochester Parks
Wednesday, February 3, 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM
Hosted by Brighton Memorial Library
Email deena.viviani@libraryweb.org to register.
This talk will be an introduction to the life and accomplishments of Frederick Law Olmsted, a pioneer of the modern urban park. We will explore Olmsted’s early life, the history of urban parks, and the major projects of Olmsted’s firm such as Central Park and the Rochester (now Monroe County) park system. 

Presented by MG, Bob Beabout.
Speakers Bureau - Book a Master Gardener Presentation
Master Gardeners are available to present horticultural lectures for your club or organization. We are also willing to present in nursing home facilities and will format the presentation to abilities.

Presentations are 45 minutes in length and conclude with an additional 15 minute question and answer period. Please note – some presentations have limited availability throughout the year. All presentations have a speaking charge of $50, payable to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County.

Gardening Helpline at Your Service
When plant, insect and wildlife problems happen in the garden, who can home gardeners call? A team of trained Master Gardeners are available to help answer gardening and pest questions, and solve problems using current research-based information.

By calling the helpline, you’ll find yourself in contact with someone who will help identify the cause of your problem, or give an answer to your question using Cornell’s experience and research knowledge. If the issue is addressed in one of our many factsheets, it will be sent to you for your reference.

Contact us: (585) 753-2555 or monroemg@cornell.edu

Gardening Helpline Hours:
November – March: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 9 AM - 12 PM
April – October: Monday - Friday, 9 AM - 12 PM       
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Gardening Helpline:
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