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

HELP! We Need Help With Helpline!

I hope everyone has seen the group email from Pat about the online sign up site for the Extension Helpline. Pat and JERRY have worked it and JERRY said it was easier then the old set up. Ruby Moberg has signed up several times, she is experienced at it, so if you would like, you can go in and sign up with her. Or any others that are comfortable with a computer should be fine with it. The link is posted below, so click on it, then look at it and your calendar, and pick a day for you. Extension is now doing it 1 full week a month, up till Nov., instead of every Thursday all summer. It’s a great way to earn hours! Please help! The button below will take you to the sign up site.

Sign Up!