News from the UVM Ex´╗┐tension

´╗┐Community Horticulture Program

MAY - JUNE 2022

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Gardener-to-Gardener: Tips on Adult Education

As Extension Master Gardeners and Vermont Master Composters, your volunteerism centers on educating the public, and that means you are likely offering adult education. However, many of us did not receive formal training on andragogy, the method and practice of teaching adult learners. Two recently published bulletins are here to help!

Sustainable Agriculture Through Sustainable Learning: An Educator's Guide to Best Practices for Adult Learning, written by University of Connecticut's Sandy Bell and Janet McAllister, presents five best practices for adult learning: 1) make content relatable, 2) engage positive emotions, 3) give learners choice, 4) identify mental models, and 5) provide opportunities for practice and application. The bulletin dives into the science on how adult brains work and then gives examples and tips on how to put these practices into action. Although the bulletin is geared to Extension educators who work with farmers, the practices will work with any adult audience. The bulletin is available for free online as well as in print from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program

Reaching Women in Agriculture: A Guide for Virtual Engagement, also available for free online and in print from SARE, is the result of a collaboration between staff at the American Farmland Trust and UVM Extension. Originally developed as a guide for engaging women farmers during COVID, the bulletin takes best practices for adult learners and centers them on women learning in virtual spaces. Again, although designed for women-centered spaces of commercial farmers, the guidance in the bulletin will likely benefit all adult learners.

Happy andragogy! Deb Heleba, State Coordinator


Vole Damage

Now that the snow is long gone (we hope!), it is time to assess the base of your trees and shrubs for damage from voles. Voles do not hibernate through the winter and feed on bark and roots while protected under the snow. If the bark is missing all around the tree, the tree will not recover. The damaged plant may leaf out in the spring but once it tries to draw water up to the foliage, the tree will wilt and die. If the damage does not encircle the tree, the wound may heal over and eventually repair itself. 

Voles can also cause damage to turf by tunneling on top of the ground. These little guys are vegetarians, unlike moles who spend their time tunneling underground and feeding on grubs and earthworms. Voles live 2 to 16 months and produce litters of 3 to 6 babies on average. 

There is no easy fix for these little critters so the best management option is to protect your desirable trees and shrubs in the fall by using tree guards made of hardware cloth up to 18 inches high and burying them 2 to 3 inches deep. I do this every year with all of my young apple and crabapple trees. I also try to keep weeds down around desirable trees and avoid piling mulch up to the tree trunks. 

You can find more information on vole and other mammal damage to landscape plants at:

Ann Hazelrigg, UVM Extension Plant Pathologist


Vole or meadow mouse. Photo credit: USDA-APHIS-WS.

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Vole damage around the circumference of the tree. Photo credit: Bert Cregg, MSU.

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Vole tunneling damage to turf. Photo credit: David L. Clement, University of Maryland,

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Master Gardener Helpline Now Open

Our UVM Extension Master Gardener Program Helpline is officially back open to accept phone inquiries from the gardening public.

Vermonters may now submit their gardening and backyard composting questions to Extension Master Gardeners in two convenient ways ÔÇô online at or by phone at 802-656-5421. The Helpline phone will be open on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon through Oct. 27.

Gardeners are encouraged to use our online system to submit photos of plants damaged by insects and diseases as the UVM Plant Diagnostic Lab is not accepting live home garden insect and plant specimens for the 2022 season. They are also encouraged to upload copies of their soil test reports if they have follow-up questions about home gardening soil recommendations. Commercial growers should contact the UVM Extension Commercial Horticulture Team for assistance at:

Please note that Extension Master Gardener volunteers do not provide personal site visits to home gardens. Nonprofits and other organizations interested in receiving assistance--including presentations and resources on gardening, pollinator plants and backyard composting--should visit our website at:

The Extension Master Gardener Helpline is made possible through a grant from the USDA NIFA Crop Protection and Pest Management Program.

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Get Ready for Spongy Moth

They're back! Our Helpline recently received the first observations of spongy moth in Vermont!!

UVM Extension Entomologist Margaret Skinner has updated the factsheet, Look Out for Lymantria dispar dispar coming to a Tree Near You!  to provide timely information on this voracious pest. 

Spongy moth is the new common name for Lymantria dispar dispar (formerly but no longer called gypsy moth due to the ethnic slur referencing the Romani people). Dr. Skinner says, "The caterpillars are greyish with six pairs of raised red spots and four pairs of raised blue ones and tufts of yellowish hairs. They start out tiny when they hatch from the egg in early spring, and spin down the tree on thin silken threads, landing in your hair or plants below." They favor oak, maple, birch, apple and other hardwood trees. Management options include banding trees with burlap, tied on and folded -- remove the caterpillars in trash or soapy water with a bit of rubbing alcohol. They may be vacuumed (with a shop vac) from the sides of buildings; Dr. Skinner provides additional management options in the factsheet. 

Photo courtesy of Karla Salp, Washington State Department of Agriculture,




Celebrating Christine Barnes In Memoriam

In this issue, we pay tribute to Extension Master Gardener and Project Leader Christine Barnes of Northfield who passed away peacefully on March 27 with her husband and fellow Master Gardener, Gordon Perkinson, at her side. Christine volunteered countless hours, along with fellow volunteers, to organize and oversee 17 different garden installations in Northfield, including the gardens at Depot Square, Dog River Park, Northfield Senior Center and Library, and many other locations. We honored Christine posthumously with the UVM Extension Master Gardener Gold Badge Award for contributing 1,000 hours of volunteer time in support of the program. Read more about Christine and her contributions here.


New Approved Projects for 2022


Congratulations to the UVM Extension Master Gardeners (EMGs) and Vermont Master Composters (VMCs) who have successfully submitted project proposals so far this season--we are excited to share these new volunteer opportunities that focus on key aspects of our mission to educate the home gardener on science-based gardening practices.

Barton Community Giving Garden Composting Project: EMG Project Leaders Sue Lucas & Pam Kennedy have expanded the Barton Community Giving Garden with the addition of a composting project. Volunteers will provide composting presentations, hands on construction of compost bins and community outreach, create best practice information sheets for distribution, and tabling at events. Special thanks to Mimi Hayley for her past project leadership of the Barton Giving Garden. This project supports the giving garden model of providing food to residents of the Barton community.

Boy With A Boot Garden, Wallingford: EMG Anne Awad is focusing her volunteer efforts on the historic Boy With Boot Sculpture Garden in downtown Wallingford in collaboration with the Wallingford Library and the Town of Wallingford. The educational program will focus on gardening changes for sustainability: composting and soil amendment, using pollinator plants, native plants, and plants needing less intensive watering.

Burnham Memorial Library Gardens, Colchester: EMG Project Leader Karen Burke is partnering with the Burnham Memorial Library to create a pollinator garden, weekly information tables with Master Gardeners to answer questions, and demonstrations and lectures for the home gardener. In addition, planning for a community giving garden in 2023 will take place in consultation with staff from the library, Colchester village residents, and the local food shelf. This project advances our mission to expand pollinator gardens throughout Vermont.

Manchester Community Library Pollinator Garden: Co-leaders Mia Clark and Melissa Meola are partnering with the Manchester Community Library to provide volunteers with the opportunity to plant pollinator plugs from Hildene and provide presentations and tabling events for the public. Planned topics include Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants, Caring for Shrubs and Perennials, and Integrated Pest Management.

No-Till Community Garden Education, Village of Essex Junction: Volunteering in three community gardens in the Village of Essex Community Garden, EMG Project Leader Robert Kurth will work with EMG volunteers to create or curate educational materials and provide classroom and on-site instruction. Volunteers may manage on-site demonstration projects such as permanent bed construction and maintenance, cover cropping, deep mulch systems and conservation tillage.

North Hero Library Garden, North Hero: EMG Betsy Jaffe and fellow volunteers in the Grand Isle County region will engage the local community in gardening education at the North Hero Library with gardening talks about starting a raised bed garden, soil testing, and companion planting, followed by workdays in the garden. Gardening handouts and fact sheets will be available for patrons as they use the library. This project will make it easier for Grand Isle EMGs and Interns to obtain volunteer hours.

Pollinator Pals--Pollinator Support for Schools, Libraries & Youth Groups, Remote: A unique online project designed to provide pollinator garden resources to schools, libraries, and youth groups, this project is being led by Madeline Chamberlain, the facilitator of the EMG Pollinator Working Group. EMG volunteers will support educators and others in their pollinator-related activities with science-based resources, including support for creating lesson plans for all age groups and guidance on creating a pollinator garden.

Interested in trying your hand at project leadership? We have the following project leader positions available--contact Cindy for more information.

  • Addison County Parent Child Center School Greenhouse, Middlebury
  • Charlotte Central School Compost Program, Charlotte
  • DAR John Strong Mansion Museum Herb Demo Garden, Vergennes
  • Milton Library Children's Demo Garden, Milton
  • Northfield Gardeners, Northfield
  • Russell Memorial Library Demo Garden, Monkton

As a reminder, the project proposal window is open through June 30. EMGs or interns who have an Active EMG as the Co-Project Leader wishing to propose a new gardening or composting project are asked to contact Cindy Heath,, 603-543-1307 to discuss your project idea before submitting the online project proposal form.

Thank you to EMG & VMC Project Leaders for continuing to make a diverse array of projects available for EMG/VMC volunteers to educate the public on home gardening and composting topics.


Hardening Transplants

PennState Extension provides some solid reminders about hardening off your tender seedlings & plants at:

University Maryland also has a step-by-step checklist for hardening transplants at:

Plant Hardiness

Vermont currently has 5 plant hardiness zones -- from a chilly 3b in the Northeast Kingdom to 5b in the "banana belt" of Windham and Bennington Counties. 

Hardiness zones are calculated from the average annual extreme minimum temperatures experienced during the past 30 years. However, temperatures in your area may have dipped and will dip below these temps in the future. As gardeners, we need to choose plants that are rated for our hardiness zones, knowing that we may have microclimates in our neighborhood or even in and around our property. 

The USDA publishes the Plant Hardiness Zone Map at:; you can search by zipcode to find your  plant hardiness zone.


We are well into the planting season already but you can visit this chart to determine when to seed vegetables if you live in Zones 3 and 4, and this chart for Zones 5 and 6


Community Horticulture in the News

As you may know, we have some EMG volunteers who are excellent writers and work with our UVM Extension press editor to develop media releases. In case you missed them in your local paper, here are a few recent headlines. These are handy ready-to-distribute resources to share with the public.

Planning a Cutting Garden by Deborah Benoit

Gardening for Natural Dyes by Bonnie Kirn Donahue

Growing Potatoes by Bonnie Kirn Donahue

Things First-Time Gardeners Need to Know by Deborah Benoit

Embracing Moss by Nadie VanZandt

How to Grow Onions by Bonnie Kirn Donahue

For more stories, visit our newsroom at:


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.