Gardening Topic for June 2004
T'is the 2004 Soil Season

Provided by the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association

By Louise A. Dunphy, Master Gardener


Have Your ' pH' tested at your local Farmer's Market

Proper management of the lawn, tree and shrub, vegetable and flower garden soil is key to plant health and crop productivity. For western Massachusetts' gardeners there is assistance. The Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association seeks to make soil management less complicated for you and your neighbors. Trained by UMass Extension instructors, community volunteers will once again be present at many of the areas Farmer's Markets this season to answer your questions, guide you in your soil management decisions and test your pH. In some areas they hold classes and workshops and in others they staff a 'Hot Line' with on-site visits possible.

One of the most important aspects of nutrient management is maintaining proper soil pH. We are equipped at the markets to test your pH levels and provide reliable methods to adjust levels in your soil or to advise you how to complete further soil testing. To prepare a soil sample follow these simple instructions.

How to sample your soil for testing by the WMMGA

1. Dig a hole 6-8 inches deep (3-4 inches deep for lawns) and set the soil aside

2. Using a clean trowel, take a thin vertical slice from the side of the hole and place in a clean container

3. Take at least 5 samples from the test area and mix them well in a clean container

4. Place 1/2 cup of this mixed soil in a small plastic bag, close tightly and label the outside of the bag

Avoid taking soil which has recently been limed or fertilized.

Here are the markets you can visit in your neighborhoods this season.

Watch your local newspapers for updates and changes.


The Farmer's Market at the "X" is in its 7th year and has become an institution in the neighborhood. The market is held every Tuesday, May through October, from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. The market is held in the parking lot behind the Goodwill Shop at 473 Sumner Avenue (also known as Routs. 83 and 21). If you are heading east on Sumner Ave, you will take a right on Lenox Street (just before the first "X" traffic light) and the parking lot will be on your left. If you are heading west on Sumner, you will go through all the "X" traffic lights and take the first left after the last "X" light. The "X" is formed by the convergence of Dickinson Street, Belmont and Sumner Avenues, and is the business center of the Forest Park area of Springfield.

The market has a variety of tasty and interesting attractions. You can pick up ingredients for your entire dinner while there, as well as skin care items, perennial and annual flowers and vegetables or, try a sample of a dish made by the Market Manager, Belle-Rita Novak, with something fresh from your garden or from the vendors. The vendors include fresh vegetables, annual and perennial plants, a bee keeper who makes a variety of products from his honey, including hand cream that smells heavenly; there is a bread baker who has several different breads, cookies, and muffins, a new vendor featuring unusual plans and produce, and a woman who bakes cookies, breads, and other delightful desserts to die for. There are a variety of pork products from Outlook Farm in Westhampton. A local restaurant offers burritos and home made salsa and chips.

From time to time the market will have face painting offered, animals and things created from balloons, music and other entertainment.

And, of course, the knowledgeable Master Gardeners are right in the center of the market to help those who have gardening problems or questions. We will test your 'pH".


Master Gardener's will be testing soil and answering your gardening questions this year at the Chicopee Farmer's Market on the following dates from 10am to 2pm. The market is located at 153 Center Street in the parking lot of the Valley Opportunity Council.

Wednesday June 16
Wednesday July 7
Wednesday August 4
Wednesday September 8


The Holyoke Farmers Market will host the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener's Wednesday's June 10 and 24, July 15, August 12, and Sept 9. It is held on High St in front of City Hall from 12:00pm to 3:30 pm. Bring your samples and let's talk soil.

Hot Line Phone Number


The Western Massachusetts Master Gardeners Association telephone Hotline at Wisteriahurst will be open for gardening questions from 9 am until noon every Tuesday from June 15 till the last Tuesday in October. The phone number to call is 413-533-0414.

Questions for the master gardeners can also be left on the voice mail at the above number, if you are unable to call during the Tuesday hours. A wealth of gardening information is available with resources to find answers to almost any gardening question. Our service provides the home gardener with sound environmental practices.

We are located in the Carriage House off the main driveway.

Walk-ins welcomed!


The Greenfield Farmer's Market hosts soil and plant clinics on Saturdays from 9am to noon. Master Gardener's will be there on the following dates.

June 26th with a workshop on Annuals
July 31 workshop TBA
September 4, 11, 18, 25 workshops TBA


Just added!

The Ashfield Farmer's Market will host soil and plant clinics twice this season on Saturdays 9am to noon. The market is held in the center of town in front of the Historical Society building.

September 18
September 25

The Berkshires

Efforts are focused on spring and fall events. We have recently concluded testing at the farmers markets in Pittsfield, Lenox, Lee, Great Barrington, and Sheffield. Our fall schedule will support the above plus markets in North Adams and Egermont.

The following are planned:

June 17, Effective Use of Annuals, Biennials, Perennials

Not Scheduled, Herb Gardening and Harvesting

Not Scheduled, Preserving and Storage of Garden Produce

Not Scheduled, Putting your Garden to Bed


Berkshire County MG's are working on funding for a handicapped garden at Providence Court, an assisted living facility in Pittsfield. Currently this project has been awarded $1,000 from the Pittsfield Hidden Garden Tour Committee, and in awaiting consideration of a similar grant from the Home Depot Corporation.

Hot Line Phone Number

(413) 298-5355

Master Gardener's staff a gardening hot line on Monday and Thursday from 9:00 am to noon at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens.

Happy gardening everyone!


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Provided by the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association