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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Bright rain boots filled with spring flowers welcomed us to our April Chilton County Master Gardener meeting, thanks to Hospitality leader, Lyn Webb.
Congratulations to Intern Joan Crocker, who was awarded her Master Gardener badge and certificate.
Mollie Smith, Auburn School of Fisheries manager, presented a program on Aquaponics. She described the system used at AU and also showed how a smaller scale home version could be set up. Fish are grown in tanks and the water is used to water and fertilize plants. The fish, usually Tilapia, are also harvested. AU has had great success growing vine crops with their system.