Try forcing bulbs such as amaryllis, paper whites or tulips as a way to enjoy gardening during the winter. December is a great month for armchair gardening. You can enjoy the seed and perennial catalogs and start planning your spring garden.
Fruits and Nuts–Plant young pecan and other deciduous fruit trees and grapes. Select budwood. Start dormant pruning of established fruits. Protect all young trees from rabbit damage by placing wire around the base of the tree. Put on dormant oil sprays for scale.
Shrubs–Planting is still the main activity but delay in case of freezing weather.
Lawns–Control wild garlic, chickweed, poa annua, dandelion, and other weeds. Read label on each can of weed killer used.Roses–add plants to rose garden. Mulch all plantings.
Annuals and Perennials–Plant hardy annual seed without delay. Have you tried violas?
Bulbs–continue spring bulb planting.
Miscellaneous–Shrubs, trees and indoor plants make excellent gifts.
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!
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
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
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.
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!
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 strive on neglect!
Fruits and Nuts–New catalogs will be arriving soon. Start plans for future selection and planting. 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.
Chilton County Master Gardeners had a great program at our June meeting on Tree ID, Tree Pests and Invasive Plants. Brian Smith from the Alabama Forestry Commission Southeast Region Office in Clanton gave us a quick review of leaf shape, arrangement, edges, tips and veins before giving us the opportunity to use a tree identification guide to ID tree branches he provided. We definitely had mixed results following the guide! After our attempt to ID he went through them and told us about each.
Congratulations to our newest certified Master Gardeners Cheryl and Ron Herbster! Both completed the requirements for certification and were presented with their badges and certificates.