October Gardening Activities

Plant pansies, violas and snapdragons in mid-October for  fall and winter color. Ornamental kale, parsley, red mustard and Swiss chard are other great choices for containers and flower beds this time of year. winter container

  • Fruits and Nuts–Planting season for strawberries starts in South Alabama. Clean up orchard areas.
  • Shrubs–Shrub plantings can be made. Water when needed. Note varieties of camellias in bloom. Mulch shrubs that do not have mulch.
  • Lawns–Continue to mow lawns until no new growth is noticeable.
  • Roses–Continue insect and disease control practices.
  • Annuals and perennials–Visit flower shows and gardens. List desirable varieties of mums. clean up flower beds immediatlely after killing frost.
  • Bulbs–Plant tulips, hyacinths, daffodils,, crocuses, Dutch irises, anemones, and ranunculuses. Watch planting depth. Dig caladiums; clean and store in warm place.
  • Miscellaneous–Renew mulch around shrubs and rose beds. Loosen mulches that have packed down. Spray with oils before freezing weather to control insects. Remove all dead stems and trash from flower beds. Transplant into small pots any cuttings taken earlier.
  • Vegetable Seed–Plant turnips, mustard, kale, rape, spinach, and onion sets.

Source: Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Alabama Gardening Calendar

Congratulations MG Class

Due to the Covid-19 Stay at Home order, the 2020  Chilton County Master Gardener class members have been studying and completing tests on the remaining class topics at home. Once we can hold classes again we will reschedule the remaining classes. We look forward to the time when they can join our association members in MG and Extension activities and complete certification requirements. Congratulations to Patricia Agee, Gail Brooks, Linda Church, Joan Crocker, Julie Garris, Sharon Hosch, Peggy McGraw, Ruby Moberg, Jane Rabey and Jim Rabey for completing and passing all their tests!

Wonderful Japanese Maples

Japanese maples, what a wonderful topic for a rainy March day! Our speaker for our Chilton County Master Gardener meeting was David Doggett, a Jefferson County Master Gardener and volunteer at Aldridge Gardens, who grows over 70 cultivars of Japanese maples at his home in Irondale. He discussed choosing a site, selecting a variety, companion plants and planting. David has donated and planted 51 (48 cultivars) Japanese maples at Aldridge Gardens.

There are cultivars to meet the needs of most gardeners: small or taller, upright or weeping, fine leaved or more coarse, textured leaves or smooth. Colors often vary from season to season but include reds, pinks, light greens, apricot, yellow, darker greens and more.

Awards Day

Collage of photos 2-2020 meeting

Our Chilton County Master Gardener February meeting is our Awards Meeting. Our Master Gardener of 2019 went to the duo of Wally and Lee Walters, two very active MGs who rarely say no to any Master Gardener event. The Demo Garden addition of reused monkey bars for growing climbing plants was selected as the Project of 2019. Top hours volunteer was Sondra Henley (1155), second place was Alice Broome (549.5) and third place was Pat Farmer (538). Top Continuing Education Hours were earned by Betsy Smith (100.7). Stars * for hours were presented and badge earners were announced. Helpline pins were awarded to Lyn Webb and Benita Cahalane for working 3 or more days.

Gary Gray, Regional Commercial Horticulture Agent, presented a program on the easiest fruits we can grow as home gardeners. He discussed several varieties of fruits, their culture and pest problems. Some of the easiest fruits for home gardens are muscadines, blueberries, figs, apples, blackberries, and Japanese persimmons. Several unusual native fruits were discussed such as pawpaws, mulberries and passion fruit (Maypops).

*Stars and Badges
Bronze Star (100-299): Joan Barber, Clem Clapp, Cheryl Herbster, Ron Herbster, John Higginbotham, Sarah Justiss, Karen Mims
Silver Star (300-499): Debbie Housner, Betsy Smith
Gold Star (500-999): Lyn Webb, Elizabeth York
Gold Badge (1000-1999): Treasia Bennett, Susan Cleckler, Linda Hand, Jane Mason
Platinum Badge (2000-3999): Alice Broome, Jerry Farmer
Ruby Star (4000-5999): Audrey Giles
Diamond Star (8000-9999) Sondra Henley

Click Here for a slideshow of photos from the awards program.

All About Gourds

For the first meeting of 2020, Chilton County Master Gardeners were treated to a program about gourds presented by Mack Gothard, President of the Alabama Gourd Society. Fellow ALGS member, James Stone, assisted Mack with the presentation. Tips on growing, harvesting and drying gourds were discussed. Gourds can be decorated in any way one can imagine using paint, woodburning, carving and more. Mack says the gourd “tells” you what it is and his usually become chickens! Many gourd varieties were on display as well as decorated gourds and musical instruments made from gourds.

March Gourd Madness will be held March 20 and 21 at the Chilton Performing Arts Center. http://www.marchgourdmadness.com

The Alabama Gourd Show will be held in Cullman in October. http://www.alabamagourdsociety.org

Congratulations Sondra Henley!

Sondra Henley has become our association’s first master gardener to obtain her Advanced Master Gardener Certification. Her advanced certification subject is Composting. In order to become certified, Sondra developed and completed a plan of specific requirements which included continuing education, volunteer time and presentations. This effort takes lots of self-motivation and commitment. Congratulations Sondra Henley!

SONDRA Henley receives Advanced MG certification

Dr. Mitchell and Camellias

Our Chilton County Master Gardeners enjoyed an educational talk on “The Camellia, Celebrate the State Flower” presented by Dr. Charles Mitchell. Dr Mitchell is known to most Master Gardeners in this state as the Soils teacher for the MG Program. Recently retired from Auburn University, he still teaches Master Gardener Soils classes and is very involved in the Auburn-Opelika Men’s Camellia Club. We learned about the origin of camellias and tips on caring and propagting them. The lovely blooms brought from his garden varied from white to pink to red and were a treat to see. The Auburn-Opelika Men’s Club has searched for camellias with names connected to Auburn and have also named a few in honor of Auburn University. “Sweet Auburn” was named by the club and was given as a door prize to one lucky MG.

Our elections were held and congratulations go to our new 2020 Officers:
President: Susan Cleckler
Vice-President: Charla Doucet
Treasurer: Audrey Giles
Secretary: Elizabeth York

Dr. Mitchell showing camellias
Officers of CCMGA for 2020

Fair Judging

Six Chilton County Master Gardeners along with three St. Clair County Master Gardeners spent November 4 judging Shelby County Fair entries. What fun it is to see and judge the entries: photographs, paintings, ceramics, sewing, quilts, crochet, knitting, canned vegetables, jellies, produce, plants and more. Items were entered by adults, senior adults and children in three age categories. Best of all was taste testing the baked goods including cakes, pies, and cookies. The most difficult part is selecting the Best of Show! Photos by Susan Cleckler

Judging Shelby County Fair
May Cremer-Stewart, Debbie Housner, Susan Cleckler, Alice Broome, Trisha Williams & Harriett Jackson
Chilton County MGs judging at Shelby County Fair
Alice Broome, Trisha Williams, Debbie Housner, and Harriett Jackson

All about Hummingbirds

Fred Bassett, a well-known hummingbird expert, was the speaker for our October meeting. Fred has banded over 30,000 hummingbirds from Florida to Alaska. Ruby throated hummingbirds are the most common hummingbirds found in our area. Plants and a feeder will attract the birds to your yard. For a list of hummingbird friendly plants: http://www.hummingbirdresearch.net/files/HummingbirdPlants.pdf

Fred discussed many types of hummingbirds and their normal range. At this time of year it is good to leave feeders out for those birds traveling through. There have been eleven different kinds found in central and south Alabama during the winter.

Four more 2019 Master Gardener class members have completed requirements for certification and were presented their badge and certificate. Congratulations to Joan Barber, Benita Cahalane, Clem Clapp and May Cremer-Stewart! Photos by Audrey GIles.

Hummingbird man
President receiving check

Sex in the Garden, Propagation of Course!

Sex in the Garden, Propagation of Course! was the topic for our September meeting. Don Armstrong, Autauga County Master Gardener, showed us propagation techniques for dividing plants and rooting cuttings. His choice of potting medium is 3 parts wood chips to 1 part Pro-Mix plus a little time-release fertilizer. Don usually takes six inch cuttings, removes most leaves. scrapes the stem, dips in rooting hormone and places 2 to 3 nodes into the potting mix. He suggests putting 10 to 12 six inch cuttings in gallon pots. These pots are placed in the shade until rooted and then separated into individual pots and moved to partial shade. As a special bonus Don shared dozens of plants he has propagated: airplane plants, amaryllis, ivy, English dogwood, forsythia. iris, blueberries and much more.

We congratulate Charla Doucet and Kaylee Doucet on completing their certification requirements and presented badges and certificates to this mother/daughter duo!

Master gardeners getting certificates