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Smart Garden 2020: Master Gardeners share their plans for their own gardens

Long before I got this sweet job as an Extension educator in Horticulture here at the University of Minnesota, I trained and volunteered as an Master Gardener in Hennepin County. In addition to my mother's encouragement, I credit being a Master Gardener with propelling me from a marketing communications career into an incredibly satisfying and fun horticulture career.

Extension Master Gardener is a volunteer program of the University of Minnesota. Volunteers use research-based horticultural knowledge and practices to promote healthy people, healthy communities and a healthy planet. Learn what we do: Master Gardener Program

So when I need Smart Garden ideas for my landscape, who better to ask than my fellow Master Gardeners? With about 2,400 volunteers in Minnesota, interest levels run the gamut and I always learn about something new.

I received many great responses from all over the state about what Master Gardeners are planning for their own, personal yards and gardens. Read on and see if anything sparks a new idea for your 2020 garden.

Enjoy - and thanks Master Gardeners! You are the BEST!
-- Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator, Horticulture

What is one thing you are planning for your personal yard or garden, patio or deck garden, or in your own community garden plot etc. this coming year?

My big project this spring is going to be digging up and transporting much loved perennials (and younger trees!) from my old residence to my new home that potentially lacks spots for all these new plants. - Lindsay Foy, Pennington County

I'm thinking about growing Mambo watermelon here in Duluth this year! - Ellyn Wiens, St. Louis County

I’m converting the large bed on my north property border to native shrubs, to provide my insect and wildlife habitat. – Nancy Eicher

I'm going to add another raised garden (with legs) to my deck, to grow a few more vegetables in containers. Easier to reach as my knees are older, and also closer to my kitchen and home. - Julie Bjorklund, Chisago County

This year I am going to try growing dent corn and grinding it into corn meal. -  Rachael Cochrane, Dakota County

This year I’m going to try growing Aleppo peppers for drying. – Bruce Gillman, Hennepin County

We are adding a pergola to the entrance of our raised bed garden with seats to rest on. – Edward Myatt

I am currently stratifying seeds of Blephilia hirsuta (Hairy Woodmint), a favorite of native bees, to add to my shady native plant garden. – Karen Sutherland, Ramsey County

We are planning to grow mushrooms at the Lindstrom Community Garden this year. – Sue Kirchner, Chisago County

I'm going to up my herb game and grow more herbs - rosemary, chives, dill, marjoram, thyme - and actually dry or freeze them for winter use. Fresh herb prices from the grocery store are $$$. – Amy Chapman, Hennepin County

Transform another section of our lawn to a pollinator-friendly habitat using native plants. – Barbara Campion, Hennepin County

We are moving to a newly built home on my family farm, and I will be planting as many native plants as I can (trees, shrubs and perennials) to restore this pastureland for pollinators, birds and wildlife. Starting with willows, dogwoods, birch and alder along the new driveway for a windbreak next to the tamarack bog.  - Renay Leone, Sherburne County

I’m going to try growing ramps for the first time. – Michaeleen Kruger, Hennepin County

I will be growing green light cucumbers this year.  An AAS winner, they are small and don’t require peeling. - Bonnie Stromberg, Wright County

We lost our community garden for the coming season (sigh!), so in the one sunny spot in my yard I will be planting okra for both the beautiful blossoms and delicious pods (and hope the rabbits will leave them alone). - Esther Haskvitz, Hennepin County

I’m planning to finish installation of our raised beds for a kitchen garden with native perennials planted around them. – Anne Sawyer, UMN Extension Educator, Food Safety, and Rice County Master Gardener

I’m planting a cocktail herb garden. I hope that this will be part of our fair display. - Leslie Holen, Becker County

I'll be exploring and preparing a location for an expandable vegetable garden somewhere on my property to start in 2021.  In the vegetable arena, I've only grown herbs and within the last two years tomatoes - so it's all new to me. - Ellen Campbell, Hennepin County and MN Tree Care Advocate

This year I am determined to combat weeds in my gardens and will be adding mulch and more pollinator plants.- Nora Beckjord 

Plant pollinator friendly groundcover to replace wood chip mulch. – Rozanne Witter, Dakota County

I'm in a new to me house and starting from scratch by implementing 1/4 of a long term landscape master plan. I can't wait to have dirt to play in again! – Sue Ponsford, Hennepin County

I will also be growing peppers – Poblanos and Anchos - to dry, but will be growing them in a container. – Grace Anderson, Hennepin County

I’m about to winter-sow several hundred native lance-leaf coreopsis, blazing star (Liatris spicata), black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), and blanket flower (Gaillardia) seeds for my expanding, sunny, sandy native gardens in Hubbard County.  – Sue Schiess, Hennepin County 

We are going native! Planted a pussy willow, button bush and serviceberry shrubs last fall and are excited to see what spring brings! We also planted northern pin oak and hop hornbeam trees after losing ask trees to EAB. Look forward to doing a 10x10 raised veggie garden for the first year. - Mary Galvin, Dakota County

This year I'm going for lots of color - cardinal flower, Liatris, indian paintbrush, more coneflowers - whatever brightens up the garden. - Mary Mason, Hennepin County

Among other plants, I will be planting 50 strawberry plants in my hydroponic system this spring. I will be using 4" PVC tubes (food safe) and growing them vertically on a rebar support frame. No soil needed. – Larry Cipolla, Hennepin County

I am putting half of my vegetable garden into a solarization project. -Louise S. Anderson, Renville County

I'm planning on building on my small, urban and mostly shade garden for pollinators - Penstemon, Platycodon, coral bells, Astilbe, Cranesbill, turtlehead, Sedum, Hubrichti, Amsonia, yellow wax bells, Hosta. Other goals: more blooms from early spring to frost in this shady spot, and to register my garden to be a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. - Sue Scofield, Hennepin County

I'll be growing about 40 doz. milkweed seedlings in 4 varieties for our HCMG plant sale; However, I  am really excited about the few purple milkweed I started from seed and planted last summer. They grew, but did not bloom, so am hoping to see blooms this year. They are notoriously hard to grow here. - Kathy Alme, Hennepin County

It's that stage of life where I have to bring it down a notch. So one perennial bed is being dug for our Plant Sale. I'm putting pollinator-friendly shrubs in that space so less work, still a benefit, still beautiful. - Valerie Prax

I plan to try growing a patch of wheat in my garden. - Sharon Decker, Hennepin county

Ironwood in bloom
I am planning on growing the vegetables I like to eat when they are freshest: pole beans ( Blue Lake Stringless), cherry and grape tomatoes, Swiss Chard, kale, bib lettuce, beets, snap peas and cat grass for the kitties. - Claire Kari, Hennepin County

This spring, I’m replacing a maple tree with a less commonly planted native tree called Ostrya virginiana or “ironwood”. - Anita Hoaglund, Hennepin County

I have ordered a Mt. Royal Plum tree and a Meyer Spruce to be planted in my yard. - Kathy Oftedahl, Waseca County

I am going to try Impatiens, Beacon Paradise Hybrid, starting them from seed.  This hybrid has been certified to have high resistance to Impatiens Downy mildew disease. - Rebecca Patient. Hennepin county

I am planning to grow herbs and cherry tomatoes in containers on my new deck. I might try some peas and green beans too. - Tana Haugen-Brown, UMN Extension Educator, Pesticide Safety, and Sherburne County Master Gardener

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