Free Smart Gardening Series offered online

Join us for online sessions on beekeeping, wildlife damage management, pollinator-friendly landscaping, vegetable garden insects, the Upper Peninsula hotline responder team and garden resources, and tips for using your fruits and vegetables.

Vegetable garden
Create and properly manage vegetable gardens that are inviting to pollinators and other beneficial insects, keep wildlife out, and produce edibles we enjoy. Photo by Rebecca Krans, MSU Extension.

Signs of spring have passed and gardening is in full swing. Beautiful sunny skies and warmer weather have allowed us to catch up on plant growth requirements for the current season. While we want to enjoy this nice weather and be outside gardening as much as we can, it’s also a great time to be learning more about what we can do and observing in our yards and gardens. We can also be conscious of honey bees, other pollinators and beneficial insects, and how our actions affect them. Finally, we can learn more about how we use fresh produce. One opportunity that will be available online starting Tuesday, June 9, 2020, is the Smart Gardening Series.

The Smart Gardening Series is being offered in place of the canceled Escanaba Kiwanis Home & Garden show. “We want to offer some free gardening information and resources to the Delta County and Upper Peninsula area via online since we weren’t able to do it live in April,” said Stephanie Ostrenga Sprague, MSU Extension nutrition educator. Typically, over 4,500 residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula attend this show. Since this is now being offered in an online venue, anyone can register and attend for free.

Presentations will be held on the following Tuesdays from 7-8:30 p.m. EST: June 9, June 16, June 23 and June 30. You are free to sign up for one or all sessions. You must register by June 7 to be included in the June 9 session and by the Monday before each of the other sessions, respectively.

Register for the Smart Gardening Series

The full schedule includes the following.

June 9 – First Year Colonies: Getting Ready for Bees

Presented by Adam Ingrao, veteran’s liaison and agriculture entomologist

Beekeeping is a fun and rewarding endeavor but is not something to just jump into. In this session, we discuss the nature of modern beekeeping and how to prepare to become a beekeeper. We will discuss educational resources, basic equipment, hive styles, supplies, site selection and give you an overview of a season for a first-year beekeeper.

June 16, 7-7:45 p.m. – Creating Pollinator Friendly Landscapes

Presented by Jackie Manchester-Kempke, Advanced Extension Master Gardener

How Smart Gardening taught me to enhance my yard and to value goldenrod. What I kept and what I have added to provide full-season pollinator nourishment. 

June 16, 7:45-8:30 p.m. – Wildlife Damage Management in the Home Garden

Presented by James Dedecker, director of the Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center

Wildlife can reduce the beauty and productivity of home gardens through feeding, digging and rubbing. Attend our session to learn how to manage wildlife damage in ways that are effective and economical.

June 23, 7-8 p.m. – Insects in the Vegetable Garden: Helping the Good Bugs Fight the Bad

Presented by Nathaniel Walton, MSU Extension consumer horticulture program instructor

Green metallic sweat bee
Bees in the family Halictidae, like this green metallic sweat bee, are important early season pollinators of our spring blooming trees and shrubs. Photo by Nathaniel Walton, MSU Extension.

Many insects, like pollinators, are essential in the garden while others are garden pests that eat our fruits and vegetables. By learning about their life cycles, behaviors and the good bugs that eat them, you can implement tactics in your garden to outsmart these pesky critters.

June 23, 8-8:30 p.m. – Upper Peninsula Hotline Responder Team Introduction and Garden Questions

Presented by Rebecca Krans, MSU Extension consumer horticulture educator, and specially trained Extension Master Gardeners

When registering, if you have a lawn or garden question you’d like discussed during this session, please send a photo and your question to by June 16. If you need a lawn or garden question answered before this, we also offer the MSU Extension Lawn & Garden Hotline on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST at 1-888-678-3464, or upload photos and questions to the Ask an Expert resource on the Gardening in Michigan website.

June 30 – Tips for Using Garden Produce

Presented by Stephanie Meck, community nutrition instructor

This session will give tips for how to use fresh vegetables and fruit from the garden. Recipes will be shared including how to use fruits, vegetables and herbs to flavor water and stay hydrated as the weather gets warmer.

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