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Dragonfly Tales
Gardening Tidbits to Inform and Inspire
31 January 2012

By Colette S. Wolf, UTTC/USDA Land Grant Horticulture Extension Educator

      As our new semester begins, I wish to extend a warm, winter welcome to our new and returning students, faculty and staff! Even though our campus gardens are resting quietly for the winter, a relaxing stroll or invigorating jog along our paved campus trail can offer you a view of our many gardens. Keep your eyes open and you will see our Medicine Wheel Garden, Kids Garden, Anne Kuyper Community Garden, Traditional Garden and our new, south campus Dragonfly Garden.

Mulch mounds

      You will see the Dragonfly Garden located at the end of Burleigh Avenue, adjacent to the airport fence-line. For those familiar with the garden, a few activities have taken place to prepare the plantings for winter. For instance, mulch mounds like muskrat huts surround each rose bush. Mulch refers to any material used to spread around or over a plant to enrich or insulate the soil. The mounds insulate the plant crowns where growth will begin in the spring. The dark, black mulch is made locally. City residents can donate grass clippings and leaves that the City of Bismarck composts into this lovely, nutrient rich mulch.


      Notice the plastic tubing placed loosely around each fruit tree trunk? The tubing protects the young, thin bark from developing cracks caused by exposure to freeze/thaw temperatures, sun and wind. Tubing also provides a barrier from deer, rabbit and mouse damage. Keeping the tubing loose prevents many insects from making themselves at home. The light-colored plastic absorbs less heat from the sun, which would add to the freeze/thaw conditions in winter. Freezing and thawing can crack the bark, while the sun and wind can cause the cracks to get bigger. The trees are also sprayed each month with a non-toxic deer and rodent repellant spray. This stinky smelling, organic mixture turns deer, rabbits and mouse noses the other way. Fruit tree twigs and bark make a good snack in the winter months, so the spray and tubing keep the young trees protected from our animal friends. These measures all assist our Dragonfly Garden plant community to grow healthy and strong to produce the apple, pear, plum, cherry and other fruits soon to form on the maturing trees.

Community garden shed

      We have a new addition to the Anne Kuyper Community Garden, located on the north side of the campus (airport side) between Sisseton Street and the paved campus trail. Thanks to our maintenance crew, our newly remodeled Anne Kuyper Community Garden Shed is now in place. It was built by our Construction Technology class. We have Steve White Mountain; Construction Technology Instructor, to thank for making the inside inviting to garden ways. It is now an excellent outdoor learning space! And this summer, it will be a nice place to share tools, stories, knowledge and good food.

      Winter might be upon us, but gardening thoughts happen all year long. We hope to inform and inspire you to garden with us, as the growing season approaches.


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