March 2022 Newsletter

Digging In


Last month, we learned some disheartening news from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department – the American bumblebee has been listed as endangered in Vermont. Thankfully, numerous research efforts, close to home and across the U.S., have been conducted to support bees and other pollinators. Here are just a few notable research projects.

Honeybee research conducted by beekeepers have yielded important citizen-science discoveries. VT beekeepers Ross Conrad and Jeffrey Cunningham and PA beekeeper Jeffrey Berta have all conducted research on miticide alternatives to combat destructive varroa mites. Berta has discovered a particularly macabre but fascinating aspect of honeybees – through his research on breeding queens, he learned about a grooming behavior trait called mite biting behavior (MBB) where some bees have the propensity to chew the legs off varroa mites, leaving them to die. Berta has capitalized on this gross but effective mite-reducing behavior by breeding queens with MBB. Closer to home, UVM’s Dr. Samantha Alger runs the Vermont Bee Lab where her team has conducted research on the transmission of RNA viruses from honeybees to wild pollinators and the role that flowering plants play here. And UVM’s Dr. Taylor Ricketts is conducting research across the globe to better understand how wild bees contribute to pollinator services.

As I have been attending Extension Master Gardener (EMG) Chapter and project leader meetings over the past few weeks, I have been inspired by the amazing efforts of EMGs to create pollinator gardens across the state to educate the public about the importance of pollinators and their habitats, as well as the efforts of the EMG Pollinator Working Group to create the Gardening for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects resource guide with plans for future activities. Through these efforts, I am confident that our EMG volunteers are making a difference to support and protect pollinators throughout Vermont!


Deb Heleba, State Coordinator


From the Plant Diagnostic Clinic


Vermont winters include rain, snow, sleet, and everything in between. To reduce falls on our sidewalks and prevent sliding on our roads, de-icing salt is often used. The most common salt used for roads is sodium chloride, which is both inexpensive and effective, but it can cause damage to landscape plants.

Salt spray damage from cars is obvious this time of year. Look at the white pines nearest the highway-these show a lot of needle browning and desiccation while as you move farther from the road, you see less of the damage. The salts burn evergreen foliage and can damage buds and twigs.

Damage to deciduous plants is less obvious but is often noticed when plants begin to grow in the spring. Salt damage can also occur from the dissolved salts in runoff. Although the salts may not cause death of plants, high salts can stress plants, weakening them so they are more vulnerable to other problems like winter damage, early caterpillar feeding, etc.

Learn more here about the impacts of salts and how to use salts effectively while minimizing plant damage.

Ann Hazelrigg, UVM Extension Plant Pathologist

Volunteer Projects & Updates


Bennington Chapter Intern 

Anandaroopa Nam Nguyen 

With a diverse array of volunteer activities, intern Anandaroopa Nam Nguyen made a big impact in the 2021 gardening season at the Gardens at the Yellow Barn, helping with chapter activities, delivering more than 800 pounds of food to the Arlington Food Shelf and the East Arlington Federated Church, creating a 1,200 sq ft native pollinator garden next to the community garden, planting a variety of native seeds, and organizing a ‘How to Create a Pollinator Garden' workshop. 

A long-lasting bonus to the energetic work Anandaroopa did was a recording of portions of the pollinator workshop on Greater Northshire Access TV which delivers content to 11 southern VT towns.

Congratulations to Anandaroopa for volunteering for nearly 100 hours. His efforts at providing public education and hands on gardening activities clearly had a positive effect on expanding pollinator habitat and providing healthy food to his fellow community members.



Charlene Clifford

Master Gardener Class of 2004

Rutland Chapter

1100 volunteer hours

Project Leader of Pine Hill Partnership

Read More Here

Resources & Upcoming Events


Fridays Through April 8th, 9 am*

Thanks to a generous anonymous donor, we will once again offer a series of horticulture related films and speakers to Master Gardeners, Master Composters, and the general public.

Topics include:

Regenerative agriculture, soil health, climate change, plant biodiversity, as well as beautiful cinematography of gardens and farms around the world.

Each event will be followed by a

30-minute open discussion to share thoughts and impressions.

Register Here

*Exception of March 18th is at 6:30pm



CHECK OUT THE REVAMPED “What’s bugging You” page of

The New York State IPM Program.

This website has made it easier to ID your pest problem with added pests and categories, photos and video. This is a terrific resource for the entire northeast. Find it here.


Check out University of Maine's

Seed Starting Guide


Peat excavation contributes to

climate change.

Go Peat Free!


UVM Extension Staff

Deb Heleba - State Coordinator

Ann Hazelrigg - Plant Pathologist

Lisa Chouinard - Office & Program Support

Cindy Heath - Volunteer Coordinator

Debby Gillen - Outreach Assistant




Community Horticulture Program

Burlington, VT 05405

(802) 656-9562

Support Us
Facebook  Instagram

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.