Author Archives: woodcountymga

WCMGA Garden and Coffee Talks-Part 4

Join the Wood County Master Gardener Association for their 4th ‘Garden and Coffee Talks’ event taking place at the Pittsville Library. This discussion will focus on Insects, bugs, invasive pest, and other critters of the garden world. This will be a casual open group discussion in a round table setting where guests can actively participate in the group and take part in the sharing of knowledge. Coffee, tea, and light snacks will be provided. FREE EVENT


Tuesday, May 15

1:00pm – 3:00pm
5291 3rd Ave, Pittsville, WI 54466, USA

WCMGA Garden and Coffee Talks-Part 3

Join the Wood County Master Gardener Association for their 3rd ‘Garden and Coffee Talks’ event taking place at the Marshfield Library.  This discussion will focus on Community Gardens and their impacts on Community Health. Our featured speaker will be Laura Zelenak, Health Educator from Marshfield Clinic and Marshfield HealthyLifestyles.   This will be a casual open group discussion in a round table setting where guests can actively participate in the group and take part in the sharing of knowledge.  Coffee, tea, and light snacks will be provided.  FREE EVENT

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm.  

Everett Roehl Marshfield Public Library, 105 S Maple Ave, Marshfield, WI 54449, USA

Impacts of Wood County Master Gardener Volunteers

The Master Gardener Program in Wood County started in 1997. Over 443 people have been trained since that time, and there are currently 60 certified Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) for 2018. The UW-Extension Educator facilitating the MG Program is Horticulture Educator Jeremy Erickson.

Volunteer Service in 2017

Youth Education  285 hours
Adult Education 356 hours
Support 6,761 hours
Total 7,401 hours

Since 2000: 113,990 hours at a value of over $2,116,933

* using the current estimated dollar value of volunteer time in Wisconsin of $23.06 per hour, from Independent Sector. Cumulative value based on previous annual estimates.

mg-footer-logoWhere you can find activities by MGVs

  • WCMGV Monthly Educational Programs
  • Farmers Markets
  • Wood County Libraries
  • Central Wisconsin State Fair
  • Q & A at UW Extension Office
  • Community Gardens- 2 sites
  • Mead Wild Life Center
  • FaceBook/Website Online Q & A

Connecting With the Next Generation of Gardeners

MGVs offered a variety of public programs for 2,344 youth who experienced designing/planting a Youth Art Gallery Garden, created boot/shoe succulent planters, learned how to grow a sunflower at a children’s festival, how to plant/harvest produce at community gardens, the value of a monarch garden, the value of composting, names of plants, how to plant bulbs, all about pollinators, and the importance or growing their own food to eat and share with friends, family, others. They also learned leadership and speaking skills as they presented a garden tour of their school gardens to MGVs.

image of children gardening

Documenting Education Contacts

MGVs engage and educate the public in numerous presentations, festivals, fairs, plants sales, farmers markets, individual conversations and other events. To document these contacts we developed a Self- evaluation Form and a Year End Tally of Community Education Form which are filled out all year long and then handed in Oct. 1st along with hours form. In 2017 we made contact with 9,351 adults in a variety of settings.

Central Wisconsin State Fair Booth Informs

This year we took our Ask a Master Gardener program to the fair for 6 days. Our booth display included our 7 display tri-folds created to celebrate our 20th Anniversary plus gardening information. We offered handouts about the most popular topics, insects, diseases and other garden related materials and had a form to ask questions that would be answered later. We have a demonstration garden on the fairgrounds which drew huge crowds with numerous questions.

20th Anniversary Recipe Book!!!


Wood County Master Gardener 20th Anniversary recipe book is available now! This collection of over 500 recipes, tried and true favorites of WCMG Volunteers, will be a great addition to your cookbook collection or a wonderful gift.  Its loose leaf design allows you to add your own recipes and has sections on herbs and spices; cooking, baking, and microwaving tips; colorful section dividers on durable stock;  and a special section on gardening tips and timetable especially for Central Wisconsin.

You can purchase a book at the UW-Extension office at the Wood County Courthouse or at Master Gardener events throughout this summer.   Quantities are limited! Reserve your copy by mailing your check and order form to the address on the this link:

WCMGV Cook Book Order Form

C Grimes Cover Doc



Wood County Volunteer Effort

Check out the brief summary of the Wood County Master Gardeners.  This is a small sampling of what the volunteers did in 2015.  Great job!!!


Watch for Late Blight in Tomatoes and Potatoes

This is Late Blight Season: Know the Symptoms and Get Disease Confirmation

By: Ken Schroeder, Agricultural Agent

UW-Extension, Portage County


Late Blight Phytophthora infestans, has been confirmed on potatoes and tomatoes in Wisconsin every year since 2009.  As I write this, July 9th late blight has been reported in 3 central Wisconsin counties.

Late blight caused the Irish potato famine of the 1850’s.  It is often referred to as a ‘community disease’ because it is extremely destructive and easily spread by wind.  Left unmanaged, a small outbreak can lead to an epidemic, devastating gardens and commercial vegetable fields.

This disease has the potential to completely defoliate fields within 3 weeks of the first visible infections.  Spores are easily spread by wind, rain, machinery, workers, and wildlife.  Because the fungus produces so many spores that can travel long distances through the air it is very important that everyone, farmers and gardeners alike, who grow potatoes and tomatoes are able to identify late blight.

Know the Symptoms:  Leaf symptoms appear as pale green, water-soaked spots that often begin at Late Blight leavesthe leaf edges or tips where water from rain and dew accumulates.  Spots can be circular or irregular and bordered by pale yellow to green blending into healthy tissue.  They enlarge rapidly (expanding ¼ to ½ inch per day) turning brown to black over time.  When relative humidity is in excess of 90% leaf lesions are often surrounded by cottony white mold on the lower leaf surface.  This white, cottony growth distinguishes late blight from several other foliar diseases of potatoes and tomatoes.  Infected stems and petioles turn brown to black and may also be covered with white masses of sporangia.  Stem lesions frequently appear first at the junction between the stem and leaf, or at the cluster of leaves at the top of the stem.  Entire vines may be killed very rapidly.  A characteristic odor similar to that produced by Late Blight tomatoesgreen tissue after a severe frost can often be detected.  Visit the University of Wisconsin Vegetable Pathology website and the UW-Extension Horticulture website for additional late blight photos and links to other late blight information including options for gardeners and organic producers.

Get Disease Confirmation:  Twice weekly check potatoes and tomatoes closely for symptoms of late blight.  If you suspect late blight on your crop contact your local University of Wisconsin Extension office and have a sample sent to the University of Wisconsin plant disease diagnostic lab for confirmation.  If confirmed, destroy infected plants by burying or putting in plastic bags for disposal.  Don’t compost!!!

Late Blight Look-Alikes:   Early Blight – appears as brown to black lesions with concentric rings on the leaves.  Typically, lesions are produced on older, lower leaves and progresses upward.  Significant yellowing may accompany the lesions.  Moderate temperatures (75 to 85 oF), high humidity, and prolonged leaf wetness are conducive to development of early blight.  Alternating periods of wet and dry weather tend to increase progression of this disease.  See UW-Extension Early Blight fact sheet .

Botrytis/Gray Mold – Gray mold appears late in the season on the foliage, and may be mistaken for late blight.  A grayish-green, wedge-shaped, spreading lesion with concentric rings appears on the leaves, often near an injury or a dried blossom.   Lesions begin on the margins or tips of leaves.  With severe infections, leaves are blighted and a soft gray rot attacks the stems and exhibits a fuzzy gray fungal growth.  When vines are disturbed, spores billow from them like a cloud of dust.  Cool temperatures and high humidity promote disease development.  Gray mold is often found in fields where a lot of fertilizer is used.  Typically, gray mold is not of economic importance in Wisconsin.  See Gray Mold fact sheet .

Septoria Leaf Spot – A very common leaf disease of tomato, however, not necessarily a look-alike.  Symptoms begin on the foliage closest to the ground and then move on up the plant.  Leaf spots tend to be small and circular with dark borders and gray or tan centers.  Eventually, multiple spots on a single leaf will merge.  Warm, wet, humid weather increases the severity of the disease that can progress to the point where all the foliage is killed and falls from the plant.  This disease does not advance nearly as rapid as late blight.  See UW-Extension Septoria Leaf Spot fact sheet .

For assistance in identifying this potentially disastrous late blight disease, contact your local University of Wisconsin Extension Office

Master Gardener Level 1 Training 2015 – Wood County

I hate the thought of summer coming to an end so soon, but am excited to announce another Master Gardener Training class for fall of 2015.  The Master Gardener program is a volunteer program designed and sponsored by University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension to educate community members interested in gardening who, in turn, volunteer each year to further educate the public and provide community support.  The first step in becoming a certified Master Gardener Volunteer is to attend the Level 1 training course.  In Wood County, we try to hold one Level 1 training class per year, alternating between the Wisconsin Rapids area and the Marshfield area.  This is the year we are going to be in Marshfield.  The Level 1 training classes have been evolving over the years to incorporate more hands-on learning activities rather than just lecture.  We are also using internet technology for better access to learning modules and state specialists located throughout Wisconsin.  Participants will need to be able to access these modules on their own time.  The classes will be held on Tuesday evenings, beginning in September and concluding in November.  The Tuesday classes will be from 6-9pm held in the auditorium at Marshfield Ag Research Station.  There will be 36 hours of training in all horticultural related subjects including fruits, vegetables, perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs, landscape design, weeds, insects, diseases, soil and plant health, composting, wildlife management, natives and invasives, houseplants, plant propagation and lawn care along with volunteer training.  We always have live presenters during the class hours, and will have distance education incorporated as well for off-site learning opportunities.

The Wood County Master Gardener Association is a strong group with wonderful members passionate about gardening, community service, and education.  We have many projects and activities throughout Wood County and surrounding areas that help enrich the beauty of our communities and enlighten our community members.  If you would like to be part of our team, consider taking the Level 1 training.  Once complete, each person is required to volunteer 24 hours of community service before you are awarded the status of Certified Master Gardener Volunteer.  To maintain the certification, 24 hours of service is required each year along with 10 hours of continuing education.  Most of our members achieve this amount without even having to think about it!  After the Level 1 training is complete, there are more opportunities for advanced Level 2 trainings on specific topics.  We have educational events at all of our monthly meetings along with garden tours and socialization with fellow members.

If interested in participating in the Level 1 training and joining this dynamic group of volunteers, please register with the Wood County Extension office.  Our registration brochure is available at the link below or call 715-421-8440 and we can send you information.  We also require the background check form and volunteer agreement form to be sent in at the time of registration.  The fee for the Level 1 training class is going to be $135 per person and includes all training materials and handouts.  Registration is open until August 27th.  The classes will begin Tuesday, September 8th but you must be registered by August 27th to attend.


Master Gardener Training Brochure

Background Check Form

UWEX-MG Volunteer Agreement Form

Master Gardener Newsletter Dec 2014

Take a look at our latest newsletter:  MG Newsletter Dec 2014

2014 – A Look Back

Another year under our belt.  More weeds pulled, perennials divided, annuals deadheaded, shrubs pruned, bugs identified, questions answered, and problems solved.  As quick as the growing season goes by, another one is right around the corner.

The year begins in January with planning.  There is a lot of administrative responsibilities that go along with keeping a volunteer organization like the Wood County Master Gardeners running smoothly.  Thanks to many dedicated volunteers, the budget is set, meeting programs and locations planned, public educational seminars finalized, members awarded for service, and projects approved.

Winter is also the season for education.  Many of our volunteers attend garden seminars in surrounding counties and even statewide.  Not to mention being inundated with seed catalogs to help plan the gardens for next year.  Our spring seminar was at MSTC in Wisconsin Rapids.  Our featured speakers included The Renegade Gardener and the author of Straw Bale Gardening.

As the weather starts to improve, gardens start growing and the spring plant sale is upon us.  In mid-May, the Master Gardener volunteers gather to sell plants and give advice to the public.  This is the first fund raiser for the year.  Some of the plants are purchased from a nursery and others are either dug out of volunteers’ gardens or grown from seed.

Our monthly meetings alternate from one end of the county to the other to accommodate as many people as possible. All meetings are open to the public and have an educational component.  The first meeting for the year is in March and we wind up in November with our holiday celebration meeting.

The Garden Walk is the second fundraiser for the year in early July.  In 2014, visitors toured 6 beautiful gardens.  Each garden featured a different local artist.

In fall, the Marshfield plant sale is concurrent with the Maple Fall Fest at Wildwood Zoo.  Again, volunteers dig and divide perennials from their own gardens along with seasonal creations like dried arrangements and fall decor.  The money from the fund raisers support the Wood County Master Gardener educational seminars and beautification projects.

Another lucky MSTC student in the Urban Forestry program applied for and received the $500 scholarship to go towards their education.  This is the 5th year that the Wood County Master Gardeners have awarded this scholarship to a deserving young student.

By the time the weather turns south, all of the gardens are put to bed for winter and the Fall Gardening seminar is upon us.  This year we convened at UW-Wood County / Marshfield on a Saturday morning in late October to learn about Landscaping plants to attract birds and what we can do to support our native pollinators.  Time to start planning for 2015!


MG Newsletter June 2014

Here’s an old newsletter from June when it was warm.

Master Gardener Newsletter June 2014