News from the UVM Extension

Community Horticulture Program




Gardeners & Climate Change

Our recent volunteer survey revealed that Extension Master Gardeners and Composters are interested in learning more about climate change and gardening. In the coming months, we hope to provide more training on this topic but, in the meantime, let’s talk about gardeners and climate change.

In 2016, the Vermont Department of Health received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify the most pressing human health impacts of climate change. The result was a 149-page report, “Vermont Climate and Health Profile Report: Building Resilience against Climate Change in Vermont" and the development of the Department’s Climate & Health webpages. Both outline health concerns as a result of our changing climate and it turns out that gardeners and others who regularly work and play outdoors are at higher risks than others. 

That means you, as a gardener, need to keep in mind that you are at greater risk for climate-related health impacts. These include exposure to:

Extreme heat -- In the past 30 years, Vermont has seen an increase in days per year reaching 87°F or hotter from an average of 6 to an average of 20 to 34 days/yr. Vermont has also seen an increase in the length of the frost-free season by two to six weeks.

Extreme weather – Vermont has had an increase in total annual precipitation by three to 10 inches, and an increase in the frequency of the heaviest 0.1% of precipitation events (~3” of rain) from once every seven years to once every two to three years.

Vectorborne diseases – The incidence of West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis spread by mosquitoes are expected to increase as is Lyme disease and anaplasmosis from ticks. In 2015, Vermont had the highest rate of reported Lyme disease cases in the U.S.

Comprised air quality – Levels of mold and allergenic pollen are expected to rise due to climate change, exacerbating asthma and creating respiratory challenges for Vermonters.

Foodborne and waterborne pathogens – Climate change is expected to exacerbate contamination levels and incidence of food and waterborne illnesses because of warmer temperatures (in both summer and winter), the potential for extended droughts and/or floods due to more frequent rain events.

What’s a Gardener To Do?

Before you plow under your garden and head inside, know that awareness, preparation and prevention strategies are your friends when it comes to potential health impacts of climate change. The Vermont Department of Health has some great resources on how to take care of yourself and others at: Some simple, common sense tips include: Drink extra fluids and stay in the shade on hot days, use EPA-registered insect repellents, check your body routinely for ticks, watch air quality forecasts, 

prepare for storms and floods, and find ways to lower your carbon footprint. 

Be well and happy gardening,

Deb Heleba, State Coordinator


Pest Spring Wrap Up and Summer Heads Up

Dr. Ann Hazelrigg provides a plethora of pest information in her spring wrap up and summer heads up at:

She reflected on spongy moth infestations that grew like teenagers this season, azalea bark scale that suck plant juices from your azaleas, and peach curl that distorts the leaves.

Now that summer is upon us, Ann talks about flea beetles, cucumber beetles and Colorado potato beetles that are out in full force. She also addresses diseases in the garden including downy mildew and tomato leaf spot diseases like early blight and Septoria leafspot that always seem to make an annual appearance.

Finally, she asks us all to be on the lookout for: spotted lantern fly and beech leaf disease. See below for more information about these new pests. 

Ann Hazelrigg, UVM Extension Plant Pathologist

Spotted Lantern Fly

Things to watch out for include spotted lantern fly (SLF) and beech leaf disease. Spotted lantern fly is not in Vermont yet but could arrive on nursery stock as egg masses imported from other states. Please inspect any the trunks or branches of trees or shrubs you have recently purchased for the cement-like egg masses. The very distinctive invasive pest can easily be identified in the nymph or adult stage. They feed en masse on grapes and apples among other plants and their excrement fosters the growth of black sooty mold. Report any finds to Vermont Invasives at

SLF adult on a maple tree. Getty Images

First instar-third instar nymph of SLF. NJ Dept of Ag

SLF 4th instar nymph. NJ Dept of Ag NJ 

SLF egg mass. Getty Images

Beech Leaf Disease

Beech leaf disease is a new disease in the northeast that threatens all ornamental and native beeches. The disease, caused by a microscopic worm called a nematode, causes a foliar blight, defoliation and death of trees. Symptoms in the leaves include striping, curling, and/or leathery texture of the foliage which can be visible throughout the growing season. Affected leaves wither, dry, and yellow and reduced leaf and bud production may occur. The disease can kill mature beech trees in 6-10 years and can kill younger trees even more quickly, with some saplings dying within a year. Please let the Plant Diagnostic Clinic know if you see this disease. 

Beech leaves exhibiting the striping associated with beech leaf disease. NY DEC 

Thinning canopy of beech trees due to the disease. NY DEC.

Dig Into Composting This Fall: Sign up for Our Vermont Master Composter Course!

Registration is now open for UVM Extension's Vermont Master Composter course, designed to teach the basics of backyard composting.

The online course opens on September 2. Topics to be covered include the biology of composting, soil and decomposition ecology, site and container selection, compost "recipes," the compost process, troubleshooting, disease control, worm composting and Vermont's Universal Recycling Law (Act 148). The course runs for eight weeks and course materials will be available to participants until December 2.


Two tracks are offered to meet participant needs: An at-your-pace track that allows participants to move through the course at their own leisure, and a volunteer track where participants become a certified Vermont Master Composter and have access to live discussion sessions with instructors offered via Zoom on six consecutive Thursdays from 6-7 p.m., beginning September 8.


The cost is $50 for Vermonters and $150 for out-of-state residents. To register or learn more, visit: To request a disability-related accommodation to participate, contact Deb Heleba at or (802) 656-1777 by August 26.

The course is sponsored by the UVM Extension Community Horticulture Program with financial support from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. If questions, please contact the UVM Extension Master Gardener Program Office at (802) 656-9562 or


Beneficial Insect Habitat Demonstration 

August 17, Norwich, Vermont.

Join UVM entomologist Cheryl Sullivan for this twilight meeting where she will share her research and tour the demonstration plantings and answer your beneficial insect questions.

Register here.

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2022 Annual Conference Features Doug Tallamy

Mark your calendars for our Annual EMG Conference to be held online on Saturday, December 3, 2022. Keynote speaker will be Dr. Doug Tallamy, entomologist at the University of Delaware, and author of "Bringing Nature Home" and "Nature's Best Hope".  We are still accepting  suggestions for Vermont speakers (including Extension Master Gardeners) who have integrated Dr. Tallamy's concepts in Vermont; contact Deb with your ideas.

EMG Chapter Events

Extension Master Gardener Chapters around the state are offering some excellent workshops this summer / fall including the following.

8/13: Seed Saving: Which, Why, How

with Dr. Caleb Goossen. Register at: 10 to 11 am. Bennington Chapter.

8/15: Medicinal Plants with Scott Courcelle. 7 pm. Rutland Chapter.

9/15: Green Infrastructure with Burlington City Arborist VJ Comai. NW Chapter.

9/17: Gardening for Justice: Connecting All People to the Land. SE Chapter.

10/15: Small Group Wild Mushroom Program. SE Chapter.

Look for detailed announcements on the EMG listserv or contact the Chapter directly. Chapter contacts are found at:



Celebrating Jane Murphy

In this issue, we celebrate Extension Master Gardener Jane Murphy. Jane has been a Helpline volunteer since she completed the course in 1997 and has contributed more than 2,387 volunteer hours to the program. Thank you, Jane, for your ongoing efforts to help Vermonters with their gardening questions! Learn more about Jane through a fun Q&A here.


Chapter Plant Sale Successes


Several chapters held successful in-person plant sales this spring, and they took many different forms.

The Northwest Chapter held a seed and plant swap, organized by EMGs Cheryl Willoughby and Ellen Foster, as an Extension Master Gardener networking event for their chapter. It featured houseplants, garden vegetable starts and seeds, with pizza and beverages on hand. Volunteers were happy to connect, socialize and take home a plant or two and some seeds. Jumping worm information was made available to attendees as well.

For the Bennington Chapter sale, coordinator Martha Beauchamp’s organization and commitment along with additional Chapter volunteers focused on native pollinator plants, and those tables sold out early. Traditional perennials like Shasta daisies, astilbe, and house plants were not big sellers for the Chapter this year, and will likely be offered at the Chapter’s fall sale. Nearly 350 plants were prepared for the Bennington Chapter sale, and the income was supplemented by the Chapter’s online sale which raised $1,500 for course scholarships. 

In the Rutland Chapter, veteran plant sale coordinators Patti Westburg and Jerri Hoffman collected over 1,600 plants, including more than 950 from Rutland Chapter EMG gardens.

This year, the sale was held outdoors for the first time and the sale saw solid attendance numbers. Funds raised are used to support Rutland Chapter projects.

After developing a webinar on pollinator gardens in 2021, members of the Southeast Chapter wanted to hold a plant sale focusing on native plants to help gardeners put theory into action. Nasami Farm in Massachusetts, a program of the Native Plant Trust, was the original partner, but between pandemic supply/demand issues and logistics of online payments, that plan was put on hold. However, in May 2022, the Chapter partnered with the Windham Natural Resources Conservation District, which holds an annual plant sale of bare-root trees, shrubs, and perennials at low prices. With jumping worm considerations, this was a great option. The Southeast Chapter EMGs helped with plant list descriptions and staffed an Ask a Master Gardener table where seven volunteers, including coordinators Susan Still and Peg Solon, provided education to plant sale attendees on site selection, planting and pruning, and managing disease and insect pests. 

Congrats to all for successful and educational plant sales!

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What's Bugging You? NYS IPM Program Offers Free Monthly Webinars

Fridays | 12:00 pm. – 12:30 p.m. EDT | Zoom | Free; registration required

The first Friday of each month, spend half an hour over lunch learning about practical solutions for pest problems with the New York State IPM Program. Each presentation will end with an IPM Minute. 

Register to attend these monthly events. Submit photos of how you are implementing IPM to the “IPM and You Photo Contest.” 

Recordings of past presentations are also available.

Upcoming First Friday Events:

  • August 5: Feature Presentation: Do's and Don'ts for ladybugs in the garden (IPM Minute: Risks associated with pest control home remedies)
  • September 2: Tackling white grubs in your lawn: scouting, decision-making, and sustainable management (IPM Minute: Shoo flies, don't bother me!)
  • October 7: Fall lawn IPM: managing leaves and ticks (IPM Minute: Is that a praying mantis egg case?)
  • November 4: Repellents, fencing, and other IPM approaches for managing deer damage (IPM Minute: Where you chuck your pumpkins matters)
  • December 2: Homeowner update on emerald ash borer management (IPM Minute: Creepy crawly Christmas - what to do if you find insects in your Christmas tree)


Lisa Chouinard, Office & Program Support

Ann Hazelrigg, Plant Pathologist

Cindy Heath, Volunteer Coordinator

Deb Heleba, State Coordinator

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University of Vermont Extension

Community Horticulture Program

206 Jeffords Hall

Burlington, VT 05405

(802) 656-9562

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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. University of Vermont Extension, Burlington, Vermont. University of Vermont Extension, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or familial status.  Any reference to commercial products, trade names, or brand names is for information only, and no endorsement or approval is intended.