Green Thumb Course Descriptions 2020-2021

*Starred Classes in purple are recommended for those interested in becoming a Master Gardener volunteer.

 Early Spring Series 2021 Online Tuesdays 6:30-8:30

*Fruit Tree Pruning March 9 (Optional Outdoor lab will be Saturday March 13 from 10-noon Dane County Extension Teaching Garden, registration required, space is limited): Learn proper pruning and training techniques for apple, pear, cherry, and plum trees. March, while the trees are still dormant, is a great month for pruning. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)

*Shade and Ornamental Tree Pruning and Tree Planting March 16: Trees are an investment in the environment. Learn how to properly prune for good structure, which creates a safe and strong tree that remains an asset for many years. We will review the 3-cut method and making decisions on what to cut and how much to cut. We will also cover proper planting of trees. Many trees are not planted properly, and it often affects their health and longevity. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)

*Shrub Pruning March 23 (Optional Outdoor Hands on Lab Sessions Dane County Extension Teaching Garden March 18 1-3:30 pm, March 20, 9:30-noon or March 23 3-5 pm registration required, space is limited): It is important to prune shrubs periodically, not just to control height and width, but for better flowering, fruiting and overall health. Different shrubs need different pruning techniques and they should be pruned at different times of the year. We will cover proper pruning techniques for different types of deciduous shrubs. You will receive an electronic copy of a chart that covers timing and techniques for pruning many deciduous shrubs. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)

*Soils, Soil Testing and Fertilizers April 6: Good soils are vital to growing healthy plants. This class will present information on the physical and chemical structure of soils and introduce techniques for improving the soil you have. We will also cover information about soil testing and test results. There will be a short activity on understanding and selecting fertilizer products, both organic and traditional, as well. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)

Wisconsin Spring Wildflowers April 20: This class will focus on spring ephemerals and non-ephemeral perennials in woodland settings, but also cover some spring-blooming prairie forbs as well. Information about how these plants propagate, and how they are used by pollinators will also be covered. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)

*Plant Propagation Without Seeds April 27: Learn how to propagate plants in the garden and home. We will review techniques to propagate plants via seed, cuttings, divisions, offsets, and bulbs. You will receive a chart for techniques to propagate many common houseplants and some perennial garden plants. We will briefly touch on tissue culture and woody plant propagation as well. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)


Late Spring Series 2021 Online Mondays 6:00-8:00 pm

*Insects in the Garden May 3: Insects are an extremely diverse and critically important group of animals.  In this class, PJ Liesch, Director of the UW-Madison Insect Diagnostic Lab will discuss the basic anatomy, physiology, and ecology of these creatures and take a brief look at the main groups of insects. This will help you in identifying insects in your garden, knowing beneficial predator insects from plant-eaters, and understanding management techniques. (Speaker PJ Liesch)

*Fruit Tree Care May 10: This class will cover fruit tree care, from selection, to planting to pruning. We will cover Integrated Pest Management strategies to help with insect and disease management and review several of the most common culprits. The focus is on apple trees, but pears and plums will also be briefly addressed. You will receive electronic copies of several publications from the UW-Madison Dept. of Extension Learning Store on growing techniques for a variety of fruit trees. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)

*Diseases in the Garden May 24 AND May 26 Part 1- Fundamentals of Plant Diseases (24th) and Part 2 – Growing Healthy Plants: Basics In Plant Disease Management (26th): Brian Hudelson of the Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic will present information about disease-causing organisms (fungi, bacteria, viruses, phytoplasmas and nematodes) and the symptoms they cause, as well as information on environment factors that favor disease development.  Also, learn about disease-like plant disorders caused by non-biological factors such as nutrient imbalances, pesticide exposures, environmental pollutants and adverse environmental conditions.  In Part Two, learn about common methods for disease control, their pros and cons, and how you can adapt these techniques for use in your own home garden. (Speaker Brian Hudelson)

*Strawberries, Raspberries and Blueberries June 7: Learn about planting, fertilizing, pruning and overwintering these three types of fruit crops. Variety recommendations, insect/disease management and some troubleshooting will be included as well. You will receive electronic copies of Learning Store publications as well as learning about other handy online resources. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)

*Healthy Houseplants June 14: Have you ever wondered why your houseplant is not doing well? This class is for you! We will cover general houseplant-growing techniques such as matching light levels with plant needs, proper watering, repotting and fertilizing before moving into ID and management of insect and disease issues. The class will finish up with a review of a number of popular species of houseplants. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)


Mid-Summer Series 2021 Online Mondays 6:00-8:00 pm

*Attracting and Managing Wildlife in the Garden June 21: Learn how to attract desirable wildlife in your yard while discouraging and managing species that like to feed on your plants. Dr. David Drake of the UW-Madison Wildlife Ecology Department will present an engaging look at wildlife in garden situations and also cover some local research projects and resources on urban wildlife. (Speaker David Drake)

*Weed ID and Management June 28: We will talk about using various techniques to manage weeds in the garden and landscape and spend some time reviewing a rogues gallery of common weeds, both grassy and broadleaf types. You will get an electronic copy of a handout that walks you through a taxonomic key for identifying grasses as well as other resources. We encourage you to send in photos of weeds from your yard ahead of time (Speaker Lisa Johnson)

*Shade Perennials July 12 (Optional Outdoor Lab July 15 6:30-7:30 at the Dane County Extension Office Teaching Garden pending COVID developments. Registration required, space is limited): (Speaker Lisa Johnson) Learn about how to select perennials for your garden as well as general care, propagation and maintenance. Find out about herbaceous perennial plants (native and non-native) that will thrive in light, medium and deep shade. We will also discuss plants that tolerate dry shade and wet shade.

*Perennials for Sun July 19 (Outdoor Lab July 22 at the Dane County Extension Office Teaching Garden pending COVID developments. Registration required, space is limited): Learn about how to select perennials for your garden as well as general care, propagation and maintenance. We will discuss a wide variety of native and non-native species that will do well in full, hot sun in dry areas all the way to half-sun locations. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)

*Growing and Designing With Annuals August 9 (Optional Outdoor Lab at the at the Dane County Extension Office Teaching Garden pending COVID developments. Registration required, space is limited): (Speaker Lisa Johnson, TBA speaker) Learn about growing healthy annuals for pots, windowboxes and bedding situations. We will cover species selection, siting, growing in containers vs bedding situations, watering, and fertilizing. We will also talk about designing with annuals in-ground and in containers.

*Lawn Care August 16: Dr. Doug Soldat of the UW-Madison Department of Soil Science will discuss various facets of lawn care, including learning about grass species, seed selection and sowing, watering, fertilizing, aerating and mowing.


Late Summer Series 2021 Online Wednesdays 3-5 pm

*Native Plants and Pollinators August 11: This session will focus on groups of insect pollinators and how you can attract and support them by growing various native and nativar plants. You will get an electronic version of the PowerPoint presentation that gives details on the cultural needs of a number of native plants to aid in selection if you are planting. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)

Rain Gardens: Planning, Construction and Plants August 18: Learn about how to properly site and construct rain gardens. You will see examples of planting plans and be introduced to resources for purchasing plants, in addition, we will review a list of plants that do well in rain gardens. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)

Small Native (and Nativar) Trees and Shrubs August 25: Learn about native shrubs and trees that support a diverse ecosystem and look great in your yard. We will also cover nativars, which are cultivated selections of native plants chosen for smaller size, better structure, larger or more abundant flowers, more reliable fall color, etc. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)

*Invasive Plants: ID and Management September 1: This class will mostly consist of invasive plant ID and management. Invasive plant species share the characteristics of being non-native, able to out-compete native species in natural environments such as woodlands and prairies and having no natural enemies. This makes them different from weeds that invade disturbed areas like gardens and roadsides. Some of the most common herbaceous and woody invasive species, their identifying characteristics and management methods will be covered. (Speaker Lisa Johnson)