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Northern Gardening

  • 2nd Thursday 7-8pm
  • and following Saturday at 6am
News & Information

Recipes | Local Food on the North Shore

Northern Gardening covers a variety of gardening topics relevant to our northern climate. The program airs on the second Thursday of each month from 7-8 p.m. and is rebroadcast the following Saturday at 6 a.m. The program is a partnership between the Northwoods Food Project, the Cook County U of MN Extension Office, and WTIP.

The Northwood's Food Project is a non-profit organization who's purpose is to increase Cook County's long term food sustainability and self-reliance by eating and growing locally produced food.

Learn more about the partnership between WTIP, the Northwoods Food Project, and the Cook County U of MN Extension Office that makes Northern Gardening possible.

Jeanne Wright and daughter Olya, Diane Booth, and Melinda Spinler in the WTIP studio for Northern Gardening.

What's On:

Northern Gardening talks all about roses

Northern Gardening host Diane Booth and Cook County rose grower Jim Boyd talk to David Zlesak all about roses in this mid-winter program. 

Zlesak, who was interviewed over the telephone, is a rose breeder and associate professor of horticulture at the Univ. of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has developed many hardy rose varieties and has just introduced a new climber for northern regions like Cook County.

Listen in as David, Diane and Jim talk about how to grow healthy roses, which varieties are perfect for our climate, how to overwinter them successfully and more.  



Are cut flowers a viable new industry for Cook County?

Join Northern Gardening hosts Diane Booth and Joan Farnam and Master Gardener Sally Berg as they talk with Rita Jo Shoulz of Alaska Perfect Peony Farm and explore the possibility of creating a local industry here in Cook County.

Alaska has discovered a world-wide niche in the peony cut-flower industry and has gone from zero peony roots grown for the industry in 2004 to more than 139,000 peony roots in just 10 years.  

Can we do to this in Cook County?  Peonies like cool summers and long days — exactly what they have in many regions in Alaska and along the North Shore. 

Rita Jo Shoulz talks about how she started growing peonies for cut flowers in Alaska and managed grow it into a multi-million dollar industry. She also offers lots of tips about how to grow the perfect flower. Check out her site, for lots more info.



Christmas gifts for the gardener in your life

Hosts Diane Booth and Joan Farnam welcome Linda Chappell, recently retired librarian at the Grand Marais Library, to the studio to talk about Christmas gifts for the gardener.
On the show, they interview Kent Peterson, owner of Terrace Horticultural Books in St. Paul, about what books he recommends, and then Diane reports on what U of M Master Gardeners around the state said when asked about their favorite garden gifts, including tools, art in the garden and other fun ideas. 

For a full list of gardening books and gift ideas mentioned in this show, along with much more, click here.



Northern Gardening talks all about small, delicious fruits

Northern Gardening host Diane Booth talked to Jim and Beris from the Honeyberry Farm in Bagley, MN, in this week’s program. Honeyberry Farm specializes in some of the more unusual small fruits like honeyberries, bush cherries, aronia, currants, elderberries, gooseberries, etc.  They also are a host farm for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms and host volunteers or WWOOFers from around the world. To learn more about Honeyberry Farm, see

Guests in the studio included Linda Kiel, local Cook County gardener and small fruit grower; and Jan Johnson, owner of Jams Made by Jan, from the Gunflint Trail. It is a wrap-around show covering everything from growing fruits, to providing the labor for growing the fruits, to talking about value-added fruit products. 




Putting your gardens to bed

Hosts Diane Booth and Joan Farnam discuss wrapping up the gardening season with Cook County gardeners Chel Anderson and Melinda Spinler. They talk about planting garlic, how to get your vegetable and perennial gardens ready for winter and more. 



Northern Gardening - Handling the harvest

Harvest month has arrived, and Northern Gardening hotsts Melinda Spinler and Joan Farnam discuss how to store all your wonderful garden produce as well as wild foods like mushrooms. They are joined by Nina Simonowicz, who has a big garden and gathers mushrooms and other wild foods from the forest. They talk about canning, freezing and drying as well as how to store root crops like carrots and onions. They also talk about their favorite recipes for using their wonderful produce.

Note: Cook County Extension will teach an introductory class about the basics of canning, drying or freezing food you have grown yourself at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22. Register by calling Diane Booth at 387-3015.



Midsummer Vegetable Gardening & Odes to Bees

Northern Gardening hosts Melinda Spinler and Joan Farnam talk about midsummer gardening and the challenges of running a CSA (Community Supported Agricuture) with Cree Bradley, co-owner of Chelsea Morning Farm in Lake County, Grand Marais Master Gardener Sally Berg and Hovland gardener Nathan Slettedahl in this program.

The guests talk about the challenges and rewards of gardening on the North Shore and give lots of tips to local gardeners.

 Ann Possis was also a guest on the show, and she read a few short poems from the newly released book, "If Bees are Few: A Hive of Bee Poems." Did you know that poets have been writing about bees for 2,500 years? Listen in to learn more.



Northern Gardening talks all about rain gardens

Rain gardens are growing in Cook County! 

Northern Gardening hosts Diane Booth and Joan Farnam talk to experts about how rain gardens work, what to plant in them and how to get one built in your yard. Guests included Mary Blickenderfer, former U of M associate professor, who  helped install the first rain garden at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais; Ilena Berg, Cook County Soil and Water district manager, will gave us an update on funding opportunities to install rain gardens; Kathy Bolstad, who maintans a beautiful rain garden on her property; and Rene Skadburg and Laurie Kriz of the Blue Moose, who talk about the plants that work in rain gardens in Cook County.



Tools in the Garden and Gardening Apps

Tools in the Garden!

In this week's program we talk about Hergonomic Tools, tools designed for women and for men as they age. And we talk about about gardening apps that will help you in your garden. Mark and Melinda Spinler, long-time Cook County gardeners, join hosts Diane Booth and Joan Farnam in the studio, with guests interviewed by phone. 

Hergonomic Tools is a Pennsylvannia company started by Liz Brensinger and Ann Adams, who received USDA grants to research tool designs that are easier to use and friendlier to the body. They have come up with some great ideas! Check out their tools at Http://

In the second half of the show, we talk with  Lynda Ellis, U of M Master Gardener from Anoka County, about gardening apps and how to grow things "smarter." More information on these apps can be found at

We also talked about some of our favorite tools, including a Hori Hori knife and a broadfork. 



Food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture along the North Shore

Hosts Joan Farnam and Diane Booth will be talking about the initiatives Grand Portage is making with their food sovereignty plan. This will be the last in a series of topics we have been exploring this winter on ‘Sustainable Agriculture’ along the North Shore of Lake Superior. 
Guests Rick Anderson and Tess Bailey will talk about the development of local food from backyards to community gardens, along with a plan that will encompass the cultural food values of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
Join in during the broadcast by calling 387-1070 with your questions and comments about sustainable food and what ideas you may have about Cook County adopting a holistic food plan.