McCrory Gardens Announces Maple Syrup Workshop on April 2

Media Release

McCrory Gardens Announces Maple Syrup Workshop on April 2

BROOKINGS, S.D. – A maple syrup processing workshop will be hosted by Pete Schaefer, Curator of the McCrory Gardens Arboretum.

The workshop is intended for people with a few sugar or silver maple trees and/or boxelder trees who are interested in hobby or backyard maple syrup production. The workshop will be held the evening of April 2 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the McCrory Gardens Education and Visitor Center. Registration is now open at Registration for Friends of McCrory Gardens Members is $3 and $5 for non-members.

Thanks to funding through the South Dakota Dept. of Agriculture’s Specialty Crops Block Grant Program, McCrory Garden visitors will have the opportunity to see maple syrup production in action this spring.

At the Arboretum, Schaefer taps into 15 sugar maples as well as silver and hybrid maples for syrup production.

“We placed the taps into our trees in early March,” Schaefer said. “In a normal spring, the sap would begin flowing around the middle of March and continue for two to four weeks. This year spring appears to be arriving late, so we haven’t seen significant sap flow yet.”

Schaefer will have a wood-fired evaporator onsite which will be in operation periodically to boil the sap down to syrup. When the sap starts flowing, McCrory Gardens will post an announcement on the McCrory Gardens websites –, and facebook pages.

The public is welcome to stop by the McCrory Gardens this spring and view the tapped trees and their sap flow.

“We are excited to be adding a little sweetness to the gardens this spring and we hope to see people come to our maple syrup workshop or anytime,” said Schaefer. “McCrory Gardens is open every day to the public from dawn to dusk.”

To view this article electronically, visit

Seed Catalogs

It’s not too late to order 2013 seed catalogs. Some companies now offer downloadable catalogs and search features on their websites.

When a call went out on Facebook for the favorite catalogs of friends, a variety of responses were received.

Below are some of them, in no particular order:

Prairie Road Organic Seed – Fullterton, ND, family owned sellers of open pollinated seed selected for hardiness, earliness, vigor, quality and taste.

Fedco Seeds – Offering untreated seeds of beans, corn, peas, melons, cucumbers, squash, root crops, lettuce, greens, brassicas, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, flowers and more.

Moose Tubers – Certified seed potatoes, onion sets, potato onions, shallots, sunchokes

Organic Growers Supply – Committed to supporting organic and intelligent farming and gardening: cover crop, green manure seed, grain seed, rock powders, soil amendments, organic fertilizers, organic feed, hand tools, seed-starting supplies, organic pest controls, orchard tools and supplies, drip irrigation, garden fabrics, gardening books and more.

Fedco Trees – Trees, shrubs, fruits, berries, bulbs and perennials for spring planting: apples, pears, stone fruits, berries, grapes, conifers, nuts, ornamentals, bulbs, perennials.

Fedco Bulbs  – Fall-planted flower bulbs and garlic: tulips, narcissus, crocus, iris, hyacinths, scilla, muscari, allium and more, amaryllis and paper whites for indoors, lilies, daylilies, peonies, bearded iris, books, tools and supplies.

St. Lawrence Nurseries – northern climate fruit and nut trees, berry bushes and edible landscaping plants.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds – vegetable, fruits, flower seeds, herbs, farm seed, tool and supplies. Signers of the Safe Seed Pledge.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – heirloom vegetables, flowers and herbs from the Americas, Asia and Europe.

Seeds of Change – Vegetables, herbs, glowers, live plants, tools and supplies.

BAKERS SEED CATALOG 2013(updated Feb. 14, 2013)



Sitting here recalling how grandma managed the household during a blizzard. Meals needed prepairing, animal chores had to be done and, without fail, grandpa would get an emergency call to come fill up someone’s almost empty fuel tank – the one that kept the oil furnace going.

Even after we got our own house, we frequently went to grandma’s and grandpa’s place right next door to ride out a storm. Most of the chores were over there. Grandpa had that big oil delivery truck and a tractor if we really needed to get out in the storm – like the time he plowed through drifts with that truck to rescue a neighborING in-labor farm lady and delivered her to a waiting vehicle on the state highway. Talk about adventure. When that baby was born, he got grandpa’s name for his middle name.

Grandma baked and cooked her way through the storm. All the kids were scattered about on the two couches and various easy chairs in the livingroom. We stayed busy putting together puzzles, playing games, reading books, knitting, cutting out quilting squares or other such tasks grandma devised for us.

The living room was heated with an oil space heater. One of the older children needed to watch the fuel level and alert grandma when it was low.

Refueling the stove meant a trip outside to the oil tank with a 5 gallon can.

When adults come in from the blizzard, their outer clothing was often wet and caked with snow. We helped them peel off their buffalo plaid wool coats and kromer stormy hats, and hang that gear up near the stove.

Off came cold or wet socks, replaced by a fresh pair that had been warming next to the oil stove. Then something warm to drink.

Grandma made the very best hot cocoa. Milk from the cows, cocoa powder, vanilla bean sugar. All whipped up together with her special handpowered egg beater – the one with the green handle.

Poured into a huge mug, granda would say, “Here. Give this to Joe. Nobody else. Just Joe. You paying attention?”

And when you returned to the kitchen, you needed to report that, indeed, the mug was delivered to Joe.

Learned years later that was because those mugs of cocoa were often spiked and grandma was just trying to make sure none of the kids got a hold of one of those mugs.

At least two kettles of soup were simmering on the wood stove – in later years it was a bottle gas stove. Beef and pork roasts, chicken, bread, pies and cookies worked their way through the oven. And all the while the kitchen stove was helping heat the house.

Grandma was doing her best to keep us fed and warm and occupied until the weather simmered down and we could begin the arduous task of clearing all that snow away. Or playing in it.

SNOW FEB 13 - 2

Washing Dishes

Grandma was the champion of washing dishes with not much water.

The dish washing ritual began when she placed a small round enamelware pan in the sink.

Using a quart-sized enamelware pitcher, grandma dipped hot water from the wood stove water reservoir and poured it into the waiting pan.

Dirty dishes were ‘pre-washed’ in that small pan. At the end, the water was…well pretty ‘junky’ as grandma would say.

She’d grab that pan of used water, walk outside and dump it on the flower bed near the kitchen door.

A white enamelware pan with a chipped red rim – sized for dishwashing – was now in the sink. Grandma poured in a couple pitchers of hot water,  added cold water to adjust the temperature, and then added the dishwashing soap. No more than two gallons of water was in that dishpan.

A gallon of hot water went into the small pan that had previously been used for pre-washing the dishes. Rinse water.

Glasses were washed first. Silverware was added to the water to soak a bit as grandma worked her way through the plates, serving bowls, and finally, the pots and pans.

Wash, rinse, place in the drying rack.

At the end, the water was carried outside and used to water one of the numerous flower beds, herb gardens or newly planted fruit tress or berry bushes that graced the yard.

So let’s add that up. 1 quart to prewash, 2 gallons to wash, 1 gallon to rinse.

Did I mention this was for dishes for 14 people?

And did I mention there is no having to change the wash water because it’s all yucky with floating bits of junk?

Got to thinking about this while working my way through a water audit as part of the permaculture design course I’m taking.  Think I’ll be adjusting – just a bit – the way I’m handling the dishes around here.

1 quart to prewash, 1 gallon to wash, half-gallon to rinse, and no more than once a day.


Keeping it watered when the ground is cracking

Gardeners were encouraged to conserve water in their community garden plot even before we realized the ground would be parched from lack of rain and a record hot growing season.

Soaker hoses, emitters, all kinds of sprinklers, plants encircled by little moats or planted in big tin cans to hold water, and the use of plain old hoses were found around the garden. Mulch from newspapers, shredded paper, and grass clippings helped, too.

Those vegetables sure look good don’t they?

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Community in the Community Garden

Our first year community garden was no different than many first year community gardens. A few plots were left at the end of the sign-up period. A decision was made from the start that any left over plots would be used to raise food for the community.

Dakota Milestones, which supports adults with developmental disabilities, took over the planting and care of four 10-foot by 25-foot plots. They cared for over 200 plants during a summer of record heat.

For their efforts, they were awarded three Community Hero Awards. Part of their award is a financial donation to an organization of their choice.

They chose the community garden and requested the money go for a sidewalk, a sun shelter that is walker and wheel-accessible, and the start of a small orchard and perennial beds.

Our deep gratitude to our dear friends – the adults supported by Dakota Milestones and the staff serving them.

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Community Garden 2012

A little slide show of the 2012 Community Garden. Everyone gave it a good shot, and worked hard at it. First year garden. Drought. Heat. Struggles with watering and gardeners being exhausted from the heat. Cracks in the ground. Low yields.

Despite all that, we are doing it again. And we are excited about it!

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Community Garden

Community Garden

A community garden is coming to Chamberlain. The city council gave final approval during its May 7 meeting, after asking one question. “Is there interest in a garden?

The garden is a joint effort between the city of Chamberlain, Sanford Chamberlain Medical Center, and area volunteers. The garden is located on land owned by Sanford Chamberlain just north of the Sanford Care facility.

Already tilled, 10’ x 20’ plots are available on a sliding fee scale, with a maximum payment of $20 for the season. Water is included. Individuals, organizations and area churches are encouraged to adopt a plot and grow food for distribution to those in need.

Trinity Lutheran Church is taking a month-long Noisy Offering (collection of coins) to help offset garden expenses.

St. James Catholic Church is collecting canning supplies and offering the use of their kitchen for teaching canning and preserving excess produce.

The Rural Office of Community Service is providing seeds and plants, if needed.

Area volunteers will be marking off and numbering the plots in the next week.

Persons interested in a plot may contact city offices at 605-234-4401.

Seed Stock and the Home Gardener – Choices

A sure sign of spring is the arrival of seed catalogs in the mail. Gardeners spend many an hour looking through the catalogs, picking out their favorite seeds, deciding which new offerings to try, and balancing out the selections with the garden budget for seeds and space available in the garden.

Today’s gardener has a bit more of a challenge in selecting seed, especially if the gardener wants to avoid genetically modified seed.

Currently much of the world’s seed stock is under the ownership of mega-corporation Monsanto. Yes, the Monsanto known for genetically modified seed.

When Monsanto purchased seed retailer Seminis in 2005 for a whopping $1.4 billion, Monsanto became the largest seed stock owner in the world.

Some seed companies refuse to sell genetically modified seed. These companies prominently display a safe seed pledge – a written statement committing to not sell genetically modified seed, or to not knowingly sell genetically modified seed. Consumers who are unsure of the company’s status, should contact the seed company.

The Council for Responsible Genetics publishes a safe seed resource list, a list of companies who have signed the safe seed pledge for 2012.

In the meantime, here is a list of seed stock owned by Monsanto. Seed stock listed are not necessarily genetically modified, but they are owned by Monsanto. In addition, not all the seed stock listed is necessarily exclusive to Monsanto/Seminis. Gardeners can verify the source by checking with the seed company.

The information listed below can be verified at the Seminis website. The link is found in the article, Forewarned is Forearmed: Home Garden Veggies in the Monsanto/Seminis Catalogue.”

Beans: Aliconte, Brio, Bronco, Cadillac, Ebro, Etna, Eureka, Festina, Gina, Goldmine, Goldenchild, Labrador, Lynx, Magnum, Matador, Spartacus, Storm, Strike, Stringless Blue Lake 7, Tapia, Tema

Broccoli: Coronado Crown, Major, Packman

Cabbage: Atlantis, Golden Acre, Headstart, Platinum Dynasty, Red Dynasty

Carrot: Bilbo, Envy, Forto, Juliana, Karina, Koroda PS, Royal Chantenay, Sweetness III

Cauliflower: Cheddar, Minuteman

Cucumber: Babylon, Cool Breeze Imp., Dasher II, Emporator, Eureka, Fanfare HG, Marketmore 76, Mathilde, Moctezuma, Orient Express II, Peal, Poinsett 76, Salad Bush, Sweet Slice, Sweet Success PS, Talladega

Eggplant: Black Beauty, Fairytale, Gretel, Hansel, Lavender Touch, Twinkle, White Lightening

Hot Pepper: Anaheim TMR 23, Ancho Saint Martin, Big Bomb, Big Chile brand of Sahuaro, Caribbean Red, Cayenne Large Red Thick, Chichen Itza, Chichimeca, Corcel, Garden Salsa SG, Habanero, Holy Mole brand of Salvatierro, Hungarian Yellow Wax Hot, Ixtapa X3R, Lapid, Mariachi brand of Rio de Oro, Mesilla, Milta, Mucho Nacho brand of Grande, Nainari, Serrano del Sol brand of Tuxtlas, Super Chile, Tam Vera Cruz

Lettuce: Braveheart, Conquistador

Melon: Early Dew, Sante Fe, Saturno

Onion: Candy, Cannonball, Century, Red Zeppelin, Savannah Sweet, Sierra Blanca, Sterling, Vision

Pumpkin: Appalachian, Harvest Moon, Jamboree HG, Orange Smoothie, Phantom, Prize Winner, Rumbo, Snackface, Spirit, Spooktacular, Trickster

Spinach: Hellcat

Squash: Ambassador, Canesi, Clarita, Commander, Dixie, Early Butternut, Gold Rush, Grey Zucchini, Greyzini, Lolita, Papaya Pear, Peter Pan, Portofino, President, Richgreen Hybrid Zucchini, Storr’s Green, Sungreen, Sunny Delight, Taybelle PM

Sweet Corn: Devotion, Fantasia, Merit, Obession, Passion, Temptation

Sweet Pepper: Baron, Bell Boy, Big Bertha PS, Biscayne, Blushing Beauty, Bounty, California Wonder 300, Camelot, Capistrano, Cherry Pick, Chocolate Beauty, Corno Verde, Cubanelle W, Dumpling brand of Pritavit, Early Sunsation, Flexum, Fooled You brand of Dulce, Giant Marconi, Gypsy, Jumper, Key West, King Arthur, North Star, Orange Blaze, Pimiento Elite, Red Knight, Satsuma, Socrates, Super Heavyweight, Sweet Spot

Tomato: Amsterdam, Beefmaster, Betterboy, Big Beef, Burpee’s Big Boy, Caramba, Celebrity, Cupid, Early Girl, Granny Smith, Health Kick, Husky Cherry Red, Jetsetter brand of Jack, Lemon Boy, Margharita, Margo, Marmande VF PS, Marmara, Patio, Phoenix, Poseidon 43, Roma VF, Royesta, Sun Sugar, Super Marzano, Sweet Baby Girl, Tiffany, Tye-Dye, Viva Italia, Yaqui

Watermelon: Apollo, Charleston Grey, Crimson Glory, Crimson Sweet, Eureka, Jade Star, Mickylee, Olympia

Some companies listed on the safe seed resource list include:

Seed Savers Exchange

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Fedco Co-op Garden Supplies

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Seeds of Change

Annie’s Heirloom Seeds


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