Straw Bale Gardening

Straw bale gardening was the program for our September meeting. Eric Schavey, ACES Regional Extension Agent in Commercial Horticulture, taught us the 10 day process to prepare a straw bale for growing vegetables, herbs and even annuals. The items needed are the straw bale, ammonium sulfate, water, fertilizer (8-8-8) and lime. Transplants work best for this type of gardening. Eric was a great speaker and we really enjoyed his presentation. He even left all the items used in his presentation for door prizes!
Photos by Diane Clapp and Audrey Giles

September program speaker Eric Schavey
Members enjoying fellowship at Sept. meeting
Top- Mildred Knowles and Trisha Williams
Bottom- Jimmy Knowles, Jerry Farmer, and Alan Reed

September Gardening Activities

Watch for red Spider Lilies to appear like magic this month. You will see them in yards, along roads, in pastures, at old house places, and in some surprising places. They seem to shrive on neglect!

  • Fruits and Nuts–New catalogs will be arriving soon. Start plans for future selection and planting.Red Spider Lily
    Take soil test for new planting areas. Fertilize established strawberry plantings.
  • Shrubs–Study landscape to determine plant needs. check early varieties of camellias. You may want to replace those damaged in spring by late freezes. After fall growth is completed, spray all shrubs with a fungicide.
  • Lawns–Plant seed of winter grasses where situation prevents planting permanent grasses. Winter seeds will appear soon. Stop fertilization three weeks before first frost.
  • Roses–Protect fall crops of blossoms from aphids and thrips. Keep plants health.
  • Annuals and Perennials–Last chance for planting perennials and biennials. Old clumps of perennials may be divided. Plant peonies.
  • Bulbs–Spring flowering bulbs may be planted late this month in North Alabama. Delay planting in South Alabama.
  • Miscellaneous–Clean up infestations of insects on azaleas, camellias, boxwoods, gardenias, hollies, etc. If oil spray is needed, don’t use in freezing weather. Build compost bin or box; leaves will be falling soon. Move houseplants indoors.
  • Vegetable Seed–Plant hardy vegetables and root crops.
  • Vegetable Plants–Plant cabbage, collards, cauliflower, celery, Brussels sprouts, and onion sets.

Source: Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Alabama Gardening Calendar

Celebrating 40 Years of MG

Chilton County Master Gardeners celebrated the fortieth anniversary of Alabama Extension Master Gardeners Volunteers with a luncheon at the Chilton Research and Extension Center. We enjoyed visiting with retired CEC Gay West and retired 4H Agent Josine Walters. The crew at CREC also joined us for lunch and a delicious chocolate celebration cake. Hurricane Ida gave us cooler but damp weather so we headed home to watch the ACES Zoom presentation. Thanks to Mary Lou McNabb and Extension Agent Gary Murray for starting the very first MG class in Alabama. Thanks also go to Elouisa Stokes(40 active MG years), Tony Glover and Dave Williams for their contributions to the Master Gardener Extension Program.

Learning about Olmsted Design

Chilton County Master Gardeners enjoyed a program about landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted presented by Charlene LeBleu from Auburn University. Olmsted was a journalist, social critic, public administrator and architect. He is known as the father of American architecture and well known for designing Central Park with partner Calvert Vaux as well as other public parks. Another design he is known for is the grounds of the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC. His planning and landscape consultancy was carried on by his sons and include plans for many parks and public spaces including many universities. Check our August 2021 meeting minutes for more details of the program found under the About CCMGA tab. April 2022 will be an Olmsted Celebrate Parks month. For information: https://olmsted200.org/

Thanks go to Lynn Webb and Jane Rabey for our beautiful decorations and the fun snacks. What could be better than chocolate chip cookies and ice cream! Photos by Trisha Williams and Lyn Webb.

Garden Insects

Chilton County Master Gardeners had a last minute change of meeting location and met at the City of Clanton Zoning and Planning Room. Autauga County Master Gardener Anthony Yarborough spoke to us about Destructive Garden insects. We learned about several insects that attack our vegetable gardens such as flea beetles, squash bugs and the always hiding tomato hornworm. Let’s not forget about the white flies, flea hopper, pickle worms and more. He told how to scout insects and control them early. He suggests following Integrated Pest Management using cultural and mechanical methods before using insecticides. When insecticides are needed start with Bt, Sevin, or Milky Spore Powder before using more potent chemicals. Always spray early or late to help protect bees.

Our members were encouraged to help with our plant dig on Thursday, seed saving, Helpline calls, and sharing vegetables through the Grow More Give More campaign. We had a good turnout and expect to be back at our normal meeting place in August, hope to see ALL of you there!

Pres. Pat Farmer presents Anthony Yarbrough with hand crafted walnut pen by MG Ron Herbster
Back, Ron and Cheryl Herbster, front, Jan and Jim Rabey

Back, Jerry Farmer and Jimmy & Mildred Knowles; middle, Faye Collins and Wally Walters; front, Joyce Lawson and Judy Cobb
back, Linda Church, front, Lanell Baker and Harriett Jackson

Let’s Grow Herbs

What a treat to hold our June meeting at Petals From the Past! Our own Betsy Smith, who is working on her advanced certification on Herbs, was our speaker. She taught us about the five herb families and their growing needs such as amount of sun, soil type, water needs, and space and duration (perennial or annual). The families are mint, aster, carrot, amaryllis and laurel and of course she gave us the scientific names for each family.

Betsy also gave us handouts: one about all the different herb families and another on how to gather and dry herbs. We also enjoyed passing around the potted herbs she had for us to touch and smell. Who knew there were so many types of mint and thyme available and she didn’t even have them all!

Following the meeting a tour of Petals From the Past was available and that is always a fun learning experience.

Photos by Diane Clapp and Ruby Moberg

Betsy showing herbs
Betsy Smith presents “Herbs!”
Herbs
Herb handouts
Snacks
Snacks handouts made by Lyn Webb
Shoes with Herbs on them
Betsy’s shoes match the presentation!!
Betsy Smith makes presentation
Betsy Smith presents program on Herbs.

Plant Swap Fun

Lake Mitchell Pavilion was the site for our annual May Plant Swap. Although it was overcast it was a nice day to be at the lake. It is always a treat to see what plants our members have propagated or purchased to swap. We had dipladenia, roses, hosta, begonias, geraniums, hydrangeas, hosta, Solomon’s seal and more. There was also a fig tree and a plum tree plus tomato seedlings that were shared.

Kathy Giles, the park manager’s wife, spoke to us about the Higgins Ferry park and some of the things they do on a daily basis. A new playground was finished this Spring and she explained how it was built with donations. She told us about the activities at the park and that it is free except for camping.

Badges and certificates were presented to our newest certified Master Gardeners: Peggy McGraw, Ruby Moberg and Patty Frye. Congratulations for completing volunteer requirements during a trying year.

Photos by Diane Clapp

Master Gardeners gives minutes

Awards Day!

Awards Day, March 9, 2021, was a special meeting day for Chilton County Master Gardeners!

We awarded Reach for the Stars bronze pins to Benita Cahalane, Charla Doucet and Kaylee Doucet. A silver pin was awarded to Larry Jones and a gold pin to Debbie Housner. Lyn Webb received her gold badge and Lanelle Baker got her platinum badge. For earning more than 4000 hours, Harriett earned her ruby star.

Our top hours volunteers were recognized and presented certificates.
1st Place: Lynn Webb, 600.5
2nd Place: Harriett Jackson 447.5
3rd Place: Sondra Henley, 425.5

Top Intern hours was awarded to Gail Brooks, 83.45 and top Continuing Education hours was awarded to Lyn Webb, 171.5.

Our Master Gardener of the year is Susan Cleckler. She has served as President for two years and lead us through this challenging year. Susan has been involved with all aspects of MG and is a great example of what a MG should be.

Congratulations to our 2020 award winning volunteers!

David Doggett, Jefferson County Advanced MG, Aldridge Gardens Docent and a member of the Alabama Hydrangea Society, taught us about winter pruning of panicle and smooth hydrangeas. He gave us detailed instructions for first, second and third year cuts. He also discussed propagation using the winter cuttings and suggested books on propagation. It is always a real treat for David to share his knowledge with us.

Awarding stars
Awards program
Awards program
Awards program
Nominations fir MG if the tear

The Hype about Hemp

The first CCMGA meeting of 2021 was held on February 9 at the Clanton National Guard Armory. Thirty-four mask-wearing members met in the large bay which gave us room to be socially distanced. We did not meet in December or January so it was nice to see everyone, even though we were 6 feet apart!

Our speaker, Jessica Kelton, Alabama Cooperative Extension System REA for Farm and Agribusiness presented her program, “The Hype about Hemp”. Hemp was first grown in Alabama for CBD oil, fiber and grain in 2019. There are regulations and oversight for growing hemp. For CBD production growers use cloned plants as female plants are needed. Mixed seedlings are planted to grow hemp for fiber or grain. We learned that hemp does not like “wet feet” but needs irrigation. After harvest the plants must be hung to dry much like tobacco. This can be a challenge in Alabama’s humid climate.

After the program, we had our usual business meeting where we approved the 2021 Budget, announced our Plant Sale for April 17 to be held at Goose Pond Park, announced Ask a Master Gardener being held at Garrison’s from Feb 29 through April 10, and heard a report of the February Advisory Cancel meeting by Council representative Harriett Jackson.

February Gardening Activities

Bright yellow crocus and other early blooming plants will soon announce that spring is on its way. If you do not have crocus in your garden be sure to plant some next Fall.

  • Planting season continues for dormant trees, shrubs, roses. You may plant some vegetable seeds such as collards and Swiss chard as well as vegetable transplants including cabbage, onions, lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and strawberries.
  • Prepare beds for summer annuals.
  • Fertilize fruit trees, fertilize grape at a half rate now and a half after fruit sets.
  • Spray shrubs with fungicide before new growth starts.

yellow crocus

Picture credit: Trisha Williams, edited by Audrey Giles
Source:   Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Alabama Gardening Calendar