Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff
any gardener — from novice to expert — can successfully grow
plants if they use the best management practices applicable to the
specific soils and plants available at a given location, said Bill
Halfman of the University of Wisconsin (UW) Extension Office-Monroe
Members of the University of
Wisconsin Extension Office-Monroe County present a gardening
class to members of the BOSS garden plot program. (Contributed
and master gardeners Terri Brown, Susan Zinke and Cynthia Erdman
presented a two-day class to personnel participating in the Fort McCoy
Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) garden plot program at
Fort McCoy in late April.
extension’s involvement with the program began when Halfman met with
Maj. Douglas Huntrods to provide assistance. The visit led him to
contact Mike Napsey, Fort McCoy BOSS adviser, and help other gardeners
at Fort McCoy.
are many crops that can be grown in this area," Halfman said.
"The first key for any gardener is to determine what vegetables
they would like to eat." Or what other plants they would like to
that has been decided, the gardeners should review resources from the
UW Extension or the University of Minnesota Extension to select the
plants best suited to grow in the local climate and soil conditions,
next step is to pick a site, with preference given to one that has
either morning or all-day sun compared to a site that only has morning
shade or afternoon sun. Napsey said the BOSS garden plots at Fort
McCoy were chosen to have the maximum exposure to all-day sun.
master gardeners will be going out to the garden area throughout the
season to help the BOSS gardeners," Napsey said. "We plan on
having future classes and based on feedback from the attendees will
make adjustments to the curriculum etc."
said the program is intended to help personnel grow their own plants,
develop a sense of community with their fellow gardeners and support
the objectives of the Army Community Covenant, have fun and save
are many crops that can be grown in this area."
Extension Office-Monroe County
can take proactive steps to prepare a site for planting. If soil tests
indicate fertilizer is needed, it can be applied and tilled in with a
roto-tiller. On sandy soils, which are common in this area of the
state, tilling in finished compost or peat moss can help increase
water holding capacity. Napsey said many of these steps are done at
the BOSS garden plots before they are issued.
said one other caution is frost can be a concern with sensitive crops,
but this threat usually has passed by the end of May.
can be done by seeds or transplant, he said. Some crops, such as
beans, radishes, cucumbers, peas and sweet corn can be planted
directly from seeds. Other crops benefit from being transplanted and
many crops can be done either way.
key to transplanting is to do it on a cloudy day or late in the
afternoon to minimize transplant shock to the plants," he said.
"At this time, it is getting too late for starting transplants
from seeds at home."
can be bought at many places, including major stores, and locations
unique to the area, such as local high school agriculture greenhouse
programs, Amish farmers, and area produce auctions, he said.
matter where people choose to purchase their plants, they need to
inspect them carefully to select healthy looking plants," he
both seeds and transplants, gardeners will have the best results if
they ensure planting is done at the right depth and spacing, Halfman
said. Some plants, such as tomatoes, require additional measures.
Straw or a similar material should be used for mulching to keep soil
from splashing on the leaves. Correct watering, fertility management
and using tomato cages or stakes to keep the plants upright and the
fruit off the ground also helps ensure success.
should be checked at least every couple of days to ensure they’re
receiving adequate moisture. Soaker hoses are more water efficient
than sprinklers, and keep foliage drier, which helps reduce diseases.
Halfman said adequate care will result in healthier plants and greater
around the crops can be used to protect them from mammal pests. If
pesticides need to be used to protect against insect pests, Halfman
said the best advice is to use an appropriate pesticide and always
follow the directions on the label for safe application.
who do not have access to a good garden growing option can consider
growing their crops in containers, which is a very viable option,
master gardeners count the time they assist with the BOSS garden plots
as the volunteer time they need to maintain their status. Halfman said
the UW Extension’s mission is to provide information and education,
as established by priorities, through workshops, individual visits and
printed materials to help people in their service area — including
farmers and non-farmers — improve their lives.
about growing crops also can be found on the Internet. Two good sites
The Monroe County UW Extension Office can be reached at 608-269 (or
372 for those living in Tomah)-8722.
more information about BOSS garden plots, call Napsey at 608-388-6588.
Tools, watering supplies, etc., needed to manage the BOSS garden plot
sites are available on site.