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A busy day at the office

August 24, 2016
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It is rare that I spend almost an entire week at the office without travel, but when I am going to be on the road as much as I am in the upcoming months, it is nice to have this time to get things organized, planned and work done ahead of schedule. I have only one more column to write, and I am done with those, and I have done most of the powerpoints for the upcoming speaking events when I return.  We also are working on a new training for online web reporting, MG appreciation day, PNG leadership, and several workshops, so it is a busy time.

We are also inundated with questions about the armyworms.  I have even been told that one gardener has damage on their zoysia lawn now too, but that is not common.  They can attack St. Augustine, but their preference is Bermuda.  Pay attention if you have a Bermuda grass lawn, because they are out there.  I was told today that one lawn care company got 800 phone calls today!  Impressive.  Tonight when I was out watering I had neighbors come by or pull up in their cars to ask questions on how to control it.  Once you kill the armyworms, then lightly fertilize to help the grass rebound.  You will need to move quickly because we don’t like to fertilize lawns much past September 15.

In addition to bugs, we also have more than our fair share of weeds right now. Remember the definition of a weed is a plant out of place.  In our front beds at the office we have sweetgum seedlings sweetgum weed aug.16and even a rogue daylily in the middle of the junipers. daylily weed aug16  I would rather deal with those than nutgrass, nutgrass1chambers bitters chambers bitters aug7.16and mulberry weed. mulberry weed july161

Monitor your gardens and weed if you can.  One plant I intentionally planted that has become a weed is garlic chives. It is beginning to bloom wild garlic aug23.16and the bees adore it, but it spreads like wildfire.   I normally allow it to bloom and then weed-eat it before the seeds set.  I hope that is not a a done deal before I am back and can cut them back.  I have more than I need now, and I think every seed does germinate.

 

Did it feel like August yet? and armyworms

August 23, 2016
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If you listened to the weather, we got to 91 today and the humidity was back so it was supposed to feel like 100.  Did it feel like that to you? I was outside some, and maybe we have just forgotten what it was supposed to feel like, but it did not feel that bad. I did have to water containers for the first time in weeks, and only a few.   We have had some unusual weather. I mentioned yesterday that we are getting reports of armyworms.  Central Arkansas county extension offices and lawn care companies are being inundated with calls from folks who have Bermuda grass lawns.  You can drive through almost any neighborhood in central Arkansas and not have to guess what type of grass they have. If they have Bermuda, their lawns look brown from the attack of the fall armyworms. It is almost like a line of demarcation between them and their neighbors if their neighbors have zoysia. bermuda versus zoysia For some reason, armyworms don’t seem to like zoysia grass and prefer Bermuda above all else.  Rarely does it kill an established lawn, but if you have a new lawn, it may not fare as well.  You can see the worms if you go out in the morning or early evening.fall armyworms in Bermuda  They get their name because they are like a voracious army plundering lawns and pastures as they move.  There are various insecticides labeled for control, but the smaller the caterpillar, the easier the control. A few days after you use an insecticide, you might consider applying a light application of a slow release high nitrogen fertilizer.  That should help the Bermuda grass bounce back.  But do be aware that there can be a second generation of the armyworms and if you have lush tender new growth, they may come calling again–so watch out.

As I was out walking Petals I realized that my impatiens have really grown with all this rain. I used an older photo the other night when I was talking about plants that like the rain, versus not.

my garden july4.16 this was a few weeks ago and this was today: impatiens and annuals aug23 (2)  You can’t even see the bottle peaock nor the container for the dragonwing begonias, the impatiens have grown so much.   Not just the common impatiens but the sunpatiens have thrived as well impatiens and annuals aug23 (1) impatiens and annuals aug23 (3)and so has my Petals- Petals with petals aug16 (2)  Even the heat-loving lantana and angelonia at the office have never looked better annuals office aug.16 but weeds are spreading too.  We have some seedling sweetgum trees popping up in beds at the office sweetgum weed aug.16 and remember the definition of a weed is a plant out-of-place. In this juniper bed, the daylily is a weed.daylily weed aug16

Monday

August 22, 2016
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This is my last week in the office for a while, and I have a lot of tasks to accomplish, so the day flew by. I have had two foreign trips where my camera died, so I am practicing with my GoPro camera as a backup, but it is definitely a learning curve, but I am sure I will have it mastered before I leave–or at least enough to function with. It also takes great video in a very compact size, even if I don’t have to use it for still pictures, I can capture some great video.

After lunch today I met with a team from the 2017 State MG

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0084.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0085.

conference to work on merchandise and to plan our meetings for the rest of the  year.  I took these pictures with the Go Pro.  I also finished some last-minute reminders and mailouts to the MGs going on the Cornwall/Wales trip and knocked out a few more columns.  I am almost to the end of the columns I need to pre-write. If I write one or two a day I should be done by Wednesday or Thursday.

We are also getting a lot of calls on armyworms. They are decimating lawns and pastures across central Arkansas. Here is what the pest looks like:

armyWormDamage1 and here is a shot of the damage it can reap: armyworm damage

Products containing Sevin or carbaryl, or bifenthrin can control them, but the key is to catch them before the damage is too severe.

And speaking of lawn damage, I have seen numerous fairy rings all over the state, but finally could pull over and take a picture.  fairy ring aug16 (1) fairy ring aug16 (2)  Fairy rings produce white mushrooms in an almost complete circle.  With all the recent rainfall, the fruiting body of the fungus are these white mushrooms.  The organic matter fairy rings break down is often old tree stumps, roots,  and other larger pieces of organic material in the soil below the lawn. Once this material is depleted, the fairy ring will disappear, but it can take a while.  If your lawn is otherwise thrifty, I would not be too concerned.

This morning I got my weekly Monday motivational message from John O’Leary, and it spoke volumes.   “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead 

To me that sums up Arkansas Master Gardeners to a tee!  I think they are changing the world in their home communities (and thus the world) on a daily basis.  Working together, and being inspired to make a difference is what they do, and I am so proud of all the accomplishments and dedication of our volunteers.  Keep doing what you are doing!  Arkansas is a better place because of what you do.

At last, a sunny Sunday!

August 21, 2016
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Today turned into a spectacular day.  Sunny blue skies and very low humidity.  I keep telling myself it is August.  I did pick some okra, peppers, eggplant and a cucumber, and I am hoping my tomatoes are going to start rebounding.  Some of my plants, like the impatiens and caladiums adore all the rain we have been havingmy garden july4.16caladiums aug 7.16 but some of the heat lovers are a bit bedraggled.   I have more blooms on the gardenias gardenia aug15 (1) gardenia aug15 (2) and the reblooming wegelia Sonic Bloom is blooming again. weiglia rebloomer aug15.16  My tropical and hardy hibiscus are still blooming hibisucus tropoical aug15.16but I have lost some petunias that just got beat up by the rain, and a few other sun lovers were happy today–just like I was.

I continue to see more butterflies in my yard. Today I saw several swallowtails and a monarch, but I still don’t see any caterpillars or chrysalis.

My buckeyes have large seeds and the foliage is beginning to decline, but the seeds aren’t quite ripe. When they are the pods will pop open to expose the shiny seeds. That is when they are ready for planting. buckeye fruit aug15.16

One other plant that is in its season is the night-blooming cereus. This is truly the ugly duckling of the plant world.  night blooming cereus with flower bud. aug16 (1)  This cactus sprawls all over the place, but when it sets flower buds, take note.  The buds appear on the edge of the leaf night blooming cereus with flower bud. aug16 (2)  You need to watch them closely as they grow quickly.  night blooming cereus night blooming cereus buds When the buds are ready they will open after the sun sets and they only stay open for one night, but they are stunning when in bloom and smell so sweet. night-bloom  The only down side is you have the flowers for about 4-6 weeks, and the ugly plant for 12 months!

Today was a slow-paced day with no excitement at the Carson household. Clay is feeling fine with no new incidents, so time will tell. It was a nice change of pace. I leave for Cornwall and Wales in 9 days.

Supper Club and a kink in our plans

August 20, 2016
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Our group of friends have been hosting each other off and on for over 24 years of supper club. We have not been as regular as we were in the beginning, but we still have several dinners every year. Tonight it was our turn to host, and Clay and I have been planning the menu and getting things prepped all week.  We are not as freaked out about it as we were in the beginning when we would cook for days to get ready, but now we sort of have it down to a science. Our menu ended up as:

Supper Club at the Carson’s
August 20, 2016

Greek 7 Layer Dip
Roasted Eggplant Dip

Caprese Panzanella Salad

Smoked Ribeye
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Mushrooms
Grilled Summer Vegetables

Peach Trifle

I got up early and made a run to the farmers market to get fresh ingredients that I didn’t grow. Since it was raining, I went to the covered River Market.  I bought a lot more than what I needed for tonight.  I found fresh ginger and some other unusual Asian items that I will use later this week. farmers market aug16 (1) ginger fresh farmers market aug.16

I also bought squash, tomatoes and peaches that we needed for our meal.  We tried to go with a fresh foods type of meal. Clay was busy cooking his angel food cake for a fresh peach trifle when I got home, and all morning we tagged team the kitchen.  I roasted vegetables from the garden for a spicy roasted eggplant dipsupper club aug20 (2) and we made a fresh marinade of herbs from the garden to put on the rib eye and wrapped it and put it in the fridge and I pre-made the garlic mashed potatoes and sliced the veggies and marinated them to grill if the rain stopped.  Clay put the finishing touch on his fresh peach trifle supper club aug20 (4)and was going to run some errands, so I was getting the kitchen back to finish my dishes.  All of a sudden, Clay did not feel good. He decided to delay leaving to run his errands. When I saw he was still home, he had turned beet red and felt worse, so we assumed he was having another allergic reaction of some kind–he had two other episodes in the past 9 years, and this mimicked it. I ran to get some Benadryl and by the time I was back with the pills and water, he was passing out–his eyes rolling back into his head. It was scary, but I called 911 and got 2 Benadryl down him in the interim. When the fire department arrived, he was still pretty out of it, and very disoriented with low blood pressure. We made the decision to go to the hospital and he went by ambulance. clay mems aug 16 Once there, they filled him with fluids, did an ekg and by then, he was back to normal.  The doctors are not sure what he has, but he was just cleared by a cardiologist last week, so now it is back to his primary care doc. The doctors in the ER at UAMS were great and told us to go home and have our dinner party!  I was all for waiting a day, but Clay wanted to do it tonight, so after a two-hour stint (amazingly fast–that is what a ride in an ambulance will do) we were home and hustling to get dinner ready.  We walked in the door at 4 and were serving appetizers at 6!   A few things got left off of the original menu, but what you see above, is what we served.

supper club aug20 (5) supper club aug20 (6) supper club aug20 (7) supper club aug20 (8)

Clay feels fine and although I was a bit frazzled at the beginning of the evening, we pulled it off and had a great visit with friends, and things tasted pretty good!  There were not a lot of leftovers–and Clay still feels good!

supper club aug20 (9)

River Valley Planning and Magazine school landscaping

August 19, 2016
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I was told yesterday that the Fort Smith area has not has as much rain as we have in LR.  Several said they are still watering!  While last night, it was sunny and delightful at the Learning Fields, I awoke in my hotel room with pouring rain. It was intermittent as I drove to the Learning Fields, but by the time our meeting was over, it was sunny.  We had our first full committee meeting for the 2018 MG conference which will be hosted by the River Valley MGs in Fort Smith.  river valleymg birthday and planning aug (42) river valleymg birthday and planning aug (43) We had a very efficient meeting and set our “footprint” for what we will do. We are going to try something new so stay tuned–I think it will be exciting.

We got done early enough that I had time to walk the Learning Field Gardens. Last night it was too dark by the time we ended, and it was raining before the meeting today.  While I saw no mosquitoes last night, they were out in force today. I gave several a good blood meal but killed a few too.  The gardens still look great in spite of the weather.  There were great gourds including the sponge or luffa gourds gourds learning fields aug (2) gourds learning fields aug (3) gourds learning fields aug (5)  They still have tomatoes and okralearning fields. aug (4) okra aug16 (2) and loads of figs. fig aug16 learning fields.

There were also plenty of flowers including these showy cleome or spider flowers cleome aug.16 lf (2) and their themed gardens just get better each season, from the labyrinth, to the cutting garden, the herb garden, the children’s garden and the native plant garden. learning fields. aug (3) learning fields. aug (7) learning fields. aug (8) learning fields. aug (10)  If you are ever near Ft. Chaffey you need to go see this great project.  I also was thrilled to see the poster we made for MG of the Year hung in a prominent location to continue to recognize our award winner.  learning fields. aug (1)  It is always nice to try something new and when it works out, that makes it even better.

Rains were threatening again, so I headed to my next stop which was the Magazine High School in Booneville.  They have interest in getting the kids involved and landscaping their campus.  They have a fairly blank palette, so plenty of opportunities to get things going, but I recommended as a first step to get someone out to give them a drainage plan. Many eroding areas along with standing water that needs to get addressed, but they have so much enthusiasm that I am expecting great things.  It rained off and on during my drive there, but the sun was shining as we walked the campus. magazine school aug (4) magazine school aug (7) magazine school aug (8)

They do something similar to the UA Fayetteville campus by putting the names of their graduates on the sidewalk–a neat idea. magazine school aug (2)

Driving home afterwards, I went through heavy rains and sunny skies.  It was off and on the whole way home. I did participate in a conference call halfway home, but it made for an easy drive. I also got to see Mt. Magazine state park from the bottom looking up. mt magazine (2)

 

Master Gardener Celebration for River Valley MG 25th Birthday

August 18, 2016
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Some people know how to throw a party! The River Valley group has been in existence 25 of the 28 years of the Arkansas MG program. This group has members from several surrounding counties, but mainly Sebastian (Ft. Smith) and Crawford (Van Buren) counties.  Tonight at their monthly meeting, they honored all the MGs with a cake decorating and best tasting cake contest.  

             

There were so many clever cakes, and after judging the best decorated, everyone got to sample and vote for best tasting. This one by Diane Parker won for best decorated. 

     

And Mary Smith’s carrot cake won best tasting. 

 

Before the sugar high I presented a program on the MG program. After a brief business meeting we then sampled cake.  


A plaque and a Gingko tree were presented to MG of the Year Susan Randolph. We all went outside to take pictures

   
 

The sun was shining, low humidity and temps in the upper 70’s–in Arkansas, in August! Truly hard to believe. It was a great night to be outside. 

   
   

We went back inside for a few more announcements and a game of garden jeopardy. I found the program and made the game, but I neede the internet. I got a cable fro a co-worker and it worked like a charm. It was great fun, with some highly intelligent gardeners! 

  
The blue team won! Tomorrow morning some of us will be back at the learning fields for our first overall planning committee for 2018. 

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