WHPS CANCELS 2017 PLANT SALE & PLANT EXCHANGE
This was not an easy decision for your Board to make, but we feel it is the right thing to do at this time. Why have we decided to cancel our Plant Sale (and Plant Exchange) this year?
First and foremost, we value the Plant Sale as a great promoter of interaction and communication between members (It’s fun!) and it gets our members more involved in our organization. And it allows us to donate all sales proceeds minus expenses to worthy garden entities.
This year, we have been struggling with the issue of jumping worms (see below), and the best way to offer plants from member gardens, knowing that many of the gardens have the worms. (Please see an email included below received from Jeff Epping, WHPS member and Director of Horticulture for Olbrich Botanical Gardens, with his thoughts about the jumping worms.)
The DNR has recommended best practices: the washing of the plants before potting in new soil before exchanging or selling plants. But there are unanswered questions: what happens to the water after washing; where to store the plants before the sale (rather than on the ground, where worm cocoons may be located). Even washing the plants does not guarantee that worm cocoons will not be transported.
Many of our potential dig hosts are not signing up to host digs this year because of these questions.
Many members have mentioned to those on our Board that they do not have the worms and will not attend the sale due to the potential of getting them, even with the recommended best practices of washing the plants purchased before planting and throwing away the soil from the sale.
We feel that if we postpone until next year it will give this issue a year for members to see if they have the worms as they become noticeable in late June and July and to see (hopefully) if strides can made to find out more about either getting rid of the worms or how to better deal with them.
We want you to know that the WHPS is concerned about protecting our gardens as best we can. To that end, we feel that delaying our sale by a year will allow us continue this event in a more informed and thoughtful manner.
Thank you all so much for your support of the Plant Sale over the years and join us as we look for the Plant Sale to return next year stronger and better than ever.
We plan to have future announcements in your email and this newsletter as we try to offer more workshops, member open gardens and possibly special events – all designed to help you learn more about gardening, meet your fellow members and have a great summer gardening season!
Jumping Worms (Amynthas ssp.), a review
What are the Jumping Worms and why are they worse than other worms? These worms populate a relatively shallow depth in the soil and don’t appear until July. The cocoons cannot be detected – and they survive Wisconsin winters.
Best Practices – offering plants to others: As you dig up the plants you are going to be offering to others, please shake off the soil and wash the plants before you pot them from a bagged mix or bag them bare root. This is the best that can be done at present to get rid of the worm cocoons.
Best Practices – receiving plants from others: Everyone who receives plants from others – either through exchange or via a plant sale from an individual garden – should remove all of the soil and wash the plants before you place them in your garden.
Email from Jeff Epping March 30, 2017
Here’s a little info you can share:
We’re more than a little worried about the jumping worm invasion at Olbrich. We really don’t know when we first imported it into the gardens or how it got here exactly, but it’s here and we’re trying to figure out the best way to deal with it. We are working closely with Bernie Williams at the DNR and hope to come up with the best way to live with them. I say live with them, because I don’t see that there is any way to eradicate them now that they are firmly embedded here.
I am also living with them in my home garden and have noticed very significant changes in my soil in parts of my garden. My soil structure has changed from a typical silt loam soil to a granular, almost sand-like loose structure. The granules are so loose that I can easily scoop my hand into the top 3-5 inches of soil with minimal effort. The soil granules also seem to be a bit hydrophobic and certainly not moisture retentive. During periods of drought in the summer the plants in the worst jumping worm areas suffer from lack of moisture way more than in the areas where the worms are less concentrated.
Here at Olbrich we noticed something disturbing the other day, which I think is due to the presence of the jumping worm, but I am not exactly certain. Our hedge row of approximately 20 wintergreen arborvitaes planted on the west perimeter of the Rose Garden are all leaning towards the east. It appears that strong wind gusts out of the west a few weeks back caused the problem. These trees were planted about 5 years ago and should be well rooted and anchored and not affected by wind, at least not to that degree. I think the loose soil structure is why the trees are leaning, since we didn’t suffer any wind damage on any other plants in the gardens. We plan on treating the soil with Early Bird fertilizer this spring in hopes of killing the worms in that area and then try to get the soil back to a healthy state again…to be continued. In the meanwhile, we will not share any plants or plant material with other gardeners, since we certainly don’t want to spread the worm in the process. We’re hoping to learn more as time goes by and learn how to deal with the jumping worm. Wish us luck…wish us all luck and garden on!
Director of Horticulture
Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Note that Jeff sent an additional email on March 30 with the following:
If I am digging/planting and come across worms I dispose of them, but I don't make a big effort to go on a hunt for them. I think it might make us feel good to pick them out and get rid of them, but I have a feeling that there are so many that you don't see that you're probably not really putting a dent in the overall population.
If you Google jumping worm Wisconsin DNR you will come across a lot of great information that they have put out, including printable pamphlets and other materials. Bernie Williams and the Wisconsin DNR are at the forefront of trying to get on top of this problem and she is often contacted by other states for help, so we're lucky to have her here in Madison.