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This article originally appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of Northern Gardener.

Teaming up with Mankato Area Public Schools and Blue Earth County State Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), the Minnesota River Valley Master Gardeners helped the staff and youth participants in the district’s after-school childcare program plant 4-by-12-foot raised bed vegetable gardens last summer. The program serves children kindergarten to fifth grade before and after school and on non-school days, including over the summer. Gardens were planted at six schools: Kennedy, Eagle Lake, Franklin, Rosa Parks, Roosevelt and Hoover; and a Master Gardener taught a basic gardening class to the program supervisors and assisted each group all summer.

Students enjoyed harvesting vegetables from their garden plot in Mankato.

Interested students had an opportunity to participate in a garden club, learning about vegetable gardening, weeding, watering and harvesting from the Master Gardeners. “The kids loved watering; having a hose out there was an attraction,” says Diane DeWitte, the Master Gardener coordinator for the six school locations. Using lesson plans created by Blue Earth County SHIP, program supervisors taught students about plants, cultivation, irrigation, photosynthesis, food and nutrition.

“By the end of the season, more kids had gravitated to the gardens than we had started with,” says Diane. Out of the peppers, tomatoes, beans, spinach, broccoli, potatoes and watermelon planted, the tomatoes were the biggest hit. “I was not expecting that they’d like the tomatoes so much—and they even enjoyed eating broccoli!” It was a great experience for all involved, and the Master Gardeners hope to continue working with the summer program next year.

—Brenda Harvieux

The post Minnesota River Valley Master Gardeners Bring Gardening to Mankato Schools appeared first on Notes from Northern Gardener.

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If you have ever been in Scandinavia at the end of June, you know how much they enjoy the long, summery days of “midsommar.” Picnics, family trips to the cabin, strolling through gardens and enjoying good food and drink are part of the annual celebration. This year, MSHS is sponsoring its own version of midsommar in conjunction with several wonderful garden centers just outside of the Twin Cities.

Held Saturday, June 24, this event features a self-guided tour of distinctive garden stores in the lovely St. Croix/Stillwater/Scandia area. Each of these stores features a variety of unique plant material, yard art, artisan products and other garden treasures.

Secluded garden centers with unusual plants and decor are on the midsummer tour.

You can peruse the garden centers at your leisure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Then, join us for a 90-minute private tasting and tour of Saint Croix Vineyards. Tours and tastings start at either 2:30 or 4 p.m. (Sign up for a specific time when you register.)  Savor a glass of wine, take a walking tour of the winery and the vineyard, learn about growing grapes in Minnesota and the steps involved in making wine.  Plus enjoy a wine tasting in the private tasting room with platters of cheese and crackers and a small dessert. What a great way to mark the longest days of the year and to end your day’s garden adventures!

After you register for the event, you’ll be given special passes as well as site locations and a suggested driving route. Get your MSHS pass stamped at each location for drawings and door prizes. There will be special demonstrations at select locations.

Cost for the event is $25. Please register by June 20.

Skol!

The post Celebrate Midsommer with a Garden Center Tour (and Wine!) appeared first on Notes from Northern Gardener.

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