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A great day in the garden

October 4, 2015

It was a bit nippy this morning inside our house as we slept with the windows open and it got down to 57 degrees. I slept great! The high today was only 70 and it was delightful in the garden. I started off getting rid of some of the summer vegetables. I pulled all but 1 eggplant, all but three tomatoes and all but three peppers. I harvested everything off the plants I pulled and I had a basket full. veg garden oct4 (2)

veg harvest oct5 (1)

I decided I needed more soil, so I ran some errands and my last stop was Cantrell Gardens for more super soil and compost. I was delighted to see so many edible varieties of greens being sold along with the ornamental ones. fall greens oct4 (1)

fall greens oct4 (3)

fall greens oct4 (2)
I was also amazed that the topiary rosemary plants have already hit the market as well. rosemary oct4.15 Remember, they are not good houseplants, preferring to be outdoors. But in these small pots, they may need some protection if it gets well below freezing.

I got home and had help unloading. My husbands comment was “When does this gardening season end? You must have bought 80 bags already this year!” I think he tends to exaggerate, or get mixed up with mulch. But I needed to amend some of the beds and had some pots that needed filling. I have been on a fall plant buying jag the past couple of weeks and I needed to plant. I got everything in the ground or in large pots, and I didn’t even buy any new plants today, although I was tempted. The lettuce I bought 2 weeks ago, really needed to get planted–I could pick some since it has grown so much in the six-pack! veg garden oct4 (1)

veg garden oct4 (6)

veg garden oct4 (4) The bok choy I planted several weeks ago is looking fantastic, and I am 99% certain that the “broccoli” transplants are really cabbage. We eat way more broccoli than we do cabbage, but I guess we will be looking for some new cabbage uses. veg garden oct4 (3)

veg garden oct4 (5)

As I was potting up some plant for the bed near the driveway I noticed that something has been feasting on my Hubbard squash. I am suspecting chipmunks. I sprayed it with off, but will try vinegar and hot peppers next. fall decor oct4.15 (1)

hubbard squash being eaten.oct4.15 Knock on wood, so far that is the only thing being eaten.

My pineapple sage is finally blooming. I think it is getting too shady where it is growing so I may need to move it next spring. pineapple sage oct4 (1) and I have one bloom on the strawberry vanilla hydrangea that is the pinkest I have ever had. hydrangea strawberry vanilla oct4.15 (2) I also have flower buds coming on the mahonia Soft Caress and the toad lilies are absolutely covered with blooms. mahonia soft caress flower buds oct4 (2)

toad lily oct4.15
I haven’t planted winter annual flowers yet, because my summer annuals are still going strong. I love the creeping periwinkle and the cuphea reseeded from last year along with some coleus. coleus volunteer.oct4.15

periwinkle oct4.15 (1)

cuphea,dianthus and marigold sept30.15.
The garden is looking pretty good. I ended by fertilizing the vegetables and watering–we sure do need some rain. Now I think I will go read a book!

Friends, Brinkley and more

October 3, 2015

Would it be nice to bottle up this weather and keep it? If we could just add a bit of rain it would be perfect. I did water and do some planting yesterday and had a great meal at friends Ann and Greg’s house last night. ann and gregs (1)

ann and gregs (2)
This morning was an early start heading to Brinkley for the annual Brinkley Fest. The Monroe County Master Gardeners went all out decorating the seminar space and promoting the MG program. monroe county event brinkley (14)

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monroe county event brinkley (2) We were thankful we were inside, since it was really pretty nippy outdoors with a brisk wind blowing. monroe county event brinkley (6)

monroe county event brinkley (7)
This small, but mighty county showcased themselves quite nicely today and hats off to the organizers. monroe county event brinkley (15)

monroe county event brinkley (17) We thought we had a good crowd when I started, but more and more people kept coming in. It was a really nice event. I spoke on raised beds and vertical gardens, and they had container gardens and succulents after me. Well done Monroe County!monroe county event brinkley (9)

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monroe county event brinkley (20)
Then it was back to LR where I put together some more of my pear roses for a fund-raiser tonight. I died the fruit orange this time!rose pears (1)

rose pears (2)
The fundraiser was to help the children of inmates. There was an excellent crowd and a lot of great fellowship. feild fundraiser.15 (1)

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My son was helping cater, and he found these amazing Moon Drop grapes at Sam’s yesterday. grapes moondrop (2)

grapes moondrop (3)They have a wonderful flavor. These grapes are one in a line of interesting shaped or flavored grapes that are hitting the market from the producer Grapery. Grapery begain in 1996, and their goal was to chang the perception of the way grapes taste, (which has been clear with their Cotton Candy grapes), but they also are changing the perception of the way grapes should look. We think of grapes as being round or oval. Thanks to Grapery, we can now add rectangle to the mix. Moon Drops are here. A black, seedless sweet grape, that has an elongated shape and is so sweet. Another interesting one is Witch Fingers witch_fingers If you can find them, try them, they are oh so tasty! So far it has been a full weekend. Tomorrow I hope to find some time to work in the garden.

St. Francis County & Fall

October 1, 2015

Was it not a glorious day today?! Not a cloud in the sky and mild temperatures. We slept with the windows open and it was heavenly. It would have been a perfect day to spend outside in the garden, but work called.

Every fall, the St. Francis County Master Gardners have hosted an all day gardening seminar for the public. Each year, it just gets better and better with more and more people. They had a full house today, and I told them they may need a bigger venue if this trend continues. St. Francis county mg seminar.1501

St. Francis county mg seminar.1507 Not only did they have a huge crowd, but they were organized and decorated! St. Francis county mg seminar.1504

St. Francis county mg seminar.1505

St. Francis county mg seminar.1506They made these wonderful labels which adorned the goody bags and the information inside. St. Francis county mg seminar.1509 They had great snacks and lunch as well as a great educational program. It was a great way to showcase the MG program.
Speaking of the MG program, we are promoting the week of October 11 -17 as Arkansas MG Week. Several counties are planning events and look what Craighead County has made to pass out at their farmers market and other venues. mg birthday week magnets.15. These magnets will keep the program in the spotlight. So help us celebrate MG week and recruit some new volunteers.

I did stop in at a few places in Forrest City and Pulaski County on the way home which had pumpkins, vegetables, mums and more. mums.15.


I got home and had to water again. My water garden loses water frequently, and the raised bed vegetables in full sun often wilt too. I also added to the fall display. Each day it just gets a little bit better!
fall decor oc.1.15.1

The harlequin flower clereodendron is opening up its seed pods. It starts out with flowers = clereodendron aug26.15, then the fragrant flowers close up clereodendron oct.1.152 and turn pink. Their final stage is to pop open with hot pink “petals” with a deep blue seed. clereodendron oct.1.151 Stunning! Now if they just didn’t multiply so quickly, they would be even better.

And finally I have some caterpillars in the garden. I still haven’t seen any monarch caterpillars on the milkweed plants which blanket my side yard, but I have seen adults. Today I found several swallowtail caterpillars on the parsley. Hurrah! swallowtail caterpillars.oct1.15.1

swallowtail caterpillars.oct1.15.2

I think they are doing well, in spite of the ever-present wasps that still linger in my yard. wasp.oct1.15.

Finally it feels like fall!

September 30, 2015

If you haven’t been outside in the past couple of hours–go! The temperature is dropping nicely, along with the humidity and it is wonderful. Now if we could just get some rain! I did get .10 inches yesterday in a spot shower, but not nearly long enough. They said tonight on the weather that September 2015 is the driest September on record–since they have been recording since the 1890’s! It is hard to believe when we were in the monsoon season in Iowa just last week, where they had flash flooding. Feast to famine!

We had our first committee meeting today to discuss the candidates applying for two new horticulture specialist positions. We hope to have a new specialty crop (fruits and vegetables) and horticulture IPM specialist on board close to the new year. I can’t wait! We sure do miss Craig. Then I worked on Powerpoints for many upcoming events. Tomorrow I will be in St. Francis county for their all day horticulture seminar at the community health facility. Then Saturday I will be in Brinkley in the morning for their Brinkley-fest at the convention center. I also worked on a Powerpoint for the Senior Expo October 17 and my money management presentations for PNG Leadership. We seem to stay so busy, but it does make the time pass quickly.

Tonight the water garden was sucking air, so I cleaned the filter and started adding water. While it was filling back up, I went to inspect the garden–which I try to do daily. I am not the most patient gardener and have been checking to see if my garlic and shallots had started growing. Today I see the first sprout! garlic sprouting.sept.30.15 Sorry for the bad picture, but the light was going! I also think the broccoli transplants I bought were mislabeled–these sure look like cabbage to me. cabbage maybe sept.30.15. I planted them closer together thinking they were broccoli, but maybe I am wrong.

I know many folks have pulled their tomato plants because they looked so bad, but I hated to do so since I had so many green tomatoes. I am getting up to 20 or more every day or two and I still have many left on the vines, so I will suffer through for a bit longer. tomatoes sept30 (1) The two that are doing the best are the Juliet–the longer one, which I think has a tough outer skin, and the one we gave away during the state conference–not sure the variety, but it is small, round and quite tasty. Wish I had more than one plant of those. Last night I made roasted tomato sauce with some of the older ones, along with garlic and some peppers. It was quite tasty. I even have some late cucumbers on the one plant I put it late. cucumber late sept30 (1)

I also have my first open bloom on the tea camellia camellia tea - sept30.15 (3)–the tea you drink comes from this plant. I am just not sure how. It is loaded with buds, so I can’t wait. My sasanqua camellia also has a ton of buds, so it should be a pretty fall.

I started my Halloween decorating a tad early, but am adding to the fall decor weekly. I do love the colors of fall. fall decor sept30.15 (3)

fall decor sept30.15 (4)

fall decorsept301.5

mustard purple sept.301.5 All the pumpkins and gourds–and so many in ORANGE, I just love it. You may know that Randy Forst is not an orange fan, and we kid about it a lot. Today his Master Gardeners all dressed in orange for the last day of MG training to get him! I haven’t seen the picture yet, but I am sure it was stunning.

I hope to get a little more planting done this weekend. The weather is supposed to be ideal. kale and chard sept30.15.

Papercrete and succulents

September 29, 2015

Yesterday we had a great planning session in Pulaski County for the 2017 State MG Conference. They are highly organized and moving forward in their planning. mg planning pul sept.15.
This morning started early for many MGs and me who were driving up to Heber Springs for the Advanced MG class on succulents and papercrete. This class filled up almost overnight and they had a full house. adv mg class papercrete.succ (4)

adv mg class papercrete.succ (5) We started with classroom sessions on succulents. Then they moved into the hands-on morning session where they each made a basic papercrete pot. adv mg class papercrete.succ (10)

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adv mg class papercrete.succ (35) Papercrete is a bit like the hypertufa pots people are making, but they end up being more lightweight and still durable. It is a mixture of water and shredded newspaper that soaks at least overnight or longer, then mixed into a pulp. adv mg class papercrete.succ (49)

adv mg class papercrete.succ (50) To that mixture you add some Portland cement and perlite adv mg class papercrete.succ (53)

adv mg class papercrete.succ (52)

adv mg class papercrete.succ (51)

adv mg class papercrete.succ (47)then mix all that together. Every MG got a bucket full of premixed material to use and a pair of gloves. Some were planning on being messier than others. adv mg class papercrete.succ (13) The floors were covered as well. The completed projects were left in their greased bowls until they have time to set for at least 24 hours. The finished product will look something like this: adv mg class papercrete.succ (38)

adv mg class papercrete.succ (39) Papercrete guru Lee Coates and his wife taught the class and brought some products to sell along with plants and fairy materials. adv mg class papercrete.succ (2)

adv mg class papercrete.succ (3)

adv mg class papercrete.succ (16) They also had sessions on propagation, advanced ideas on what you can make and then this afternoon they were doing a shell advanced papercrete project. Look at some ideas that the Cleburne County MGs put together that they had made:
adv mg class papercrete.succ (46)

adv mg class papercrete.succ (22)

adv mg class papercrete.succ (1) The Cleburne County Master Gardeners did a great job putting on this training and were highly organized and working as a team to get it done. Everyone pitched in with food, set-up, clean up and more. adv mg class papercrete.succ (7)

adv mg class papercrete.succ (19)

adv mg class papercrete.succ (54) The Green Shirt brigade was everywhere, assisted by their great county agent Michelle. Good job Cleburne County!

Driving home I had to stop and pick up a few more fall plants and pumpkins. They are everywhere. I was pleased that the nursery in Heber Springs was selling several varieties of edible kale to use as an ornamental edible. I bought three different kinds.fall kale and cabbage (1)

fall kale and cabbage (2) along with some mums, snapdragons, pumpkins and an orange veined Swiss chard!! swiss chard sept.15. All in all quite a productive day.

mystery and moon

September 27, 2015

Today was a day to regroup and try to catch up. I did write 3 columns and tried to answer email besides doing things around the house. Last night was a gorgeous moon moon sept26 and 27.151

moon sept26 and 27.154leading up to tonight’s super moon. But what was predicted as a showstopper tonight we can’t see because of cloud cover. Here is all I got. moon sept26 and 27.155 When a full or new moon makes its closest approach to Earth, that’s a supermoon. Although still about 220,000 miles away, this full moon should have looked bigger and brighter than usual. Maybe the clouds will clear up, but I probably won’t be awake to see it.

Here are the answers to the mystery challenge from last week, and the new challenge.

Mystery plant A – mystery plant sept.15 (1) is commonly called Maltese Cross – Silene chalcedonica (sy-LEE-nee kalk-ee-DON-ee-kuh) or Lychnis chalcedonica is another Latin name used interchangeably. Bees, butterflies and birds like this relatively short-lived perennial for full sun.

Mystery plant B- mystery plant sept.15. is commonly called Painters Palette – is a perennial plant that can spread if it is in a rich, moist site. It has several Latin names including: Persicaria virginiana, Polygonum virginianum and Tovara virginiana. Plantsmen can’t agree which genus it should have.

Mystery plant C – stumped you all and I took the picture at the Knight’s garden in Berryville. mystery plant sept21.15. This plant is actually a type of kalanchoe – Kalanchoe gastonis-bonnieri (kal-un-KOH-ee gas-TON bon-nee-ER-ee) commonly called donkeys ears. The new growth is quite white, resembling lamb’s ears which someone guessed. As the foliage ages, the spots appear. Native to Madagasgar, it is grown as a tropical–it is not winter hardy. It can produce a lovely peach colored flower, but it grown more for its foliage.

New Challenges:
Mystery plant A – mystery plant a sept.28 is a reseeding annual or perennial depending on where you are in the state.

Mystery plant B – mysery plant b sept28 is a fall blooming bulb.

Mystery plant C – mystery plant c sept28 (1)

mystery plant c sept28 (2)

mystery plant c sept28 (4) is a tropical.

good luck!

We are home!

September 26, 2015

We had an early morning in Kansas City and watched the sun rise over the city. sunrise kc1 You know what they say, the early bird gets the worm, well in this case we got the great parking space, right next to City Market. city market kc (2) They were just beginning to get visitors when we arrived, so we popped into the Opera House next door for a quick breakfastopera house kc.1

opera house kc.2 before hitting the market. The market is quite large with rows of temporary vendor stalls and around the perimeter are permanent stores with many ethic stores and products. city market kc (3)

city market kc (4)

city market kc (5)

city market kc (7) We saw some more unusual items–including fresh ginger (we all bought some) ginger fresh.sept15.1

ginger fresh.sept15.3, chestnuts chestnuts sept.15. and squash blossoms. squash blossoms sept.15. There were loads of Asian stalls with all types of unusual vegetables, as well as the usual suspects with vegetables galore, plants and lots of pumpkins, gourds and mums. mums.sept15.

pumpkins and gourds. sept15. Our car was pretty well loaded to the gills with four people and their stuff already. I would have loved to get some mums–especially one of the tri-color ones, but there was no room. I had to settle for a swan gourd. Our last stop before we left the market area was an old-fashioned seed store which had everything under the sun inside. feed store kc.151

feed store kc.152

feed store kc.153 It was right next to the Missouri County extension office, which abutted the city market as well! missouri extension office2

missouri extension office3

missouri extension office4 What a great location!
We loaded up and headed for home. We made one more quick stop to get gas and stuff at Pecans and more. They have a large Amish community and we saw someone out doing their shopping in their horse and buggy.amish horse and buggy.15
Next stop was Fayetteville to drop off Beverly and Gloria. We were happy to see the Arkansas sign, ark signand from that point onwards it was wall to wall motorcycles. We saw over 400 from the state line until we hit Fayetteville city limits! This is the weekend of Bikes, Blues and Barbeque and they supposedly have over 400,000 motorcyclists in town. It was amazing to see them everywhere. motorcycles.151

motorcycles.152 Across from the county extension office is the fairgrounds, where many of them stay–and where the parade begins from. They were having helicopter rides coming and going right across from the office. helicopter rides fay.15.1

helicopter rides fay.15.2 We were happy to unload and get back on the road and out of town! We pulled into Little Rock around 5 p.m., tired and happy to be home. Clay was happy to see us too, as were the dogs. We got unloaded, and I made a quick run through the garden, fed the fish, watered a bit and picked some vegetables.veg harvest sept26.15.1 I have tons of peppers still waiting to be picked. Clay did a great job on the yard and things are looking good, but boy is it dry in Little Rock. Yards all over are turning brown again–but not mine!

As much as I enjoy an adventure, it is good to be home!


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