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Sharp County, and have you heard the forecast?

March 27, 2015
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I am in Cherokee Village for the Sharp County Master Gardener SPRING seminar and snow is forecast for in the morning. There is a freeze warning, but they have had temps in the mid 70’s this week so we don’t think it should stick, but haven’t we already had enough winter weather? It was 48 when I arrived here this afternoon, but the sun was shining and it did not feel too bad.

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Hard to believe the weather will change. The daffodils are blooming and vinca is even in bloom already.

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When I arrived I stopped in to get set up for in the morning. This year the event is at the First Baptist church family center–next door to the school where they normally have it. They begin registration at 8:30 and the program begins at 9:00 am.

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They have everything ready for in the morning.

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A group of them took me out for a great catfish dinner tonight. Come join us in the morning and think spring!

Reunion

March 26, 2015
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It started off rainy, and wasn’t that some impressive thunder overnight? One of our dogs got so scared he got under the covers. Of course, our windows were open so it made it even louder. But then, it cleared up and got quite a bit colder. It still was a pretty day.

This afternoon and evening was a mini-reunion with roommates and friends from college. paula,helen,karen and cindy.mar26.15 (2)

paula,helen,karen and cindy.mar26.15 (11) They started gathering mid afternoon and left just a little while ago. One we hadn’t seen since my wedding, almost 31 years ago, so there was a lot of catching up to do. We talked, laughed, looked at pictures and ate a good meal.paula,helen,karen and cindy.mar26.15 (5)

The sous vide pork loin was really good. I continue to be impressed with my Sansaire sous vide machine. I cut the bigger loin in two, trimmed it of all fat and one I just seasoned with Moroccan seasoning, Chinese 5 spice and a little Cavendars. sous vide pork loin.mar26 (11) The other I butterflied and filled with fresh herbs and feta cheese then wrapped and just put salt and pepper on it. sous vide pork loin.mar26 (8)

sous vide pork loin.mar26 (9) I sous vided them for about 4 1/2 hours and they were moist and so tender. The mixed greens salad from my garden with pear, blue cheese and pecans was the first course, and I made polenta and then sautéed some of the kale with coconut milk and it was quite tasty. I did not cook it down as long as what I had over the weekend. sous vide pork loin.mar26 (4) Then my friend brought a lovely bundt cake with strawberries, so all in all a nice meal.

What could be better, good food and great friends. We hope it won’t be another 30 years until we do this again. paula,helen,karen and cindy.mar26.15 (6)

Spring has sprung!

March 25, 2015
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Julie and I had an easy drive home in full sun this morning. We got back in time for an all afternoon meeting on the new money management guidelines, before heading home. It is amazing how fast our plants respond to a couple of days of warm, sunny weather. When I left yesterday morning my tulip magnolia was showing a hint of color and tonight when I got home it is almost in full bloom. tulip magnolia mar25.15.1

tulip magnolia mar25.15.3 The blueberries are about to pop blueberry blooms mar25.15 and the red buckeye is not far behind.red buckeye mar25.15.1
Our gardens are turning into a sea of color. I have my first bloom on my kerria open, and daffodils, hyacinths, pansies and camellias are still blooming nicely. camellia mar25.15.2 It is a pretty spring, and we hope no more cold weather will come in and change that!

Tomorrow I am taking the afternoon off to see old college friends–not old in age–but old in friendship. They are coming to visit and eat dinner, so I did some prep work tonight. I am going to serve sous vide pork loin, with polenta, and then kale and coconut milk, plus a salad with pears, blue cheese and walnuts. I picked all the kale and greens from the garden and have them cleaned greens harvest.mar25.15.1

greens harvest.mar25.15.6 and prepped and am vacuum sealing the meat tonight to marinate in flavors. I can’t wait to see them all and catch up.

Eureka Springs

March 24, 2015
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We had a beautiful drive to Eureka Springs and had three meetings today. Our first was with the overall chairman and the facilities staff. Then we had a walk-through with the committee chairs to see the facilities to know where we plan to put everything.

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After that, we walked up to the main building for a general meeting.

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We have gotten a lot accomplished and are well ahead of the game. They have a great logo and are already lining up speakers and vendors. Mark your calender for June 2-4, 2016. You won’t want to miss out.

A beautiful start to the week!

March 23, 2015
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Today was amazing! Blue skies and temperatures of 77 degrees, and I did peak and we have two more days, just like today, then a chance or rain and cooler temps. There is even a chance of 38 degrees later in the week here, which could mean frost in outlying areas or further north, so pay attention.

I wish I could say I spent the day in the yard, but that was not meant to be. I had columns to write, emails to send and a week to prepare for. We head north in the morning to Eureka Springs to work on the 2016 conference–it is a tad further drive for us than Benton!

Here are the answers to last weeks mystery plants and your new challenges for the week.

Mystery plant A – mystery plant march16.15.1 is a plant called Osteospermum (oss-tee-oh-SPUR-mum). It is an annual here and can be commonly called African Daisy. It comes in a wide range of colors and I often buy one or two because they are so showy, but they usually don’t last long for me–playing out when temperatures heat up. These new varieties are being touted as heat loving, so let’s try to see.

Mystery plant B – mystery plant march16.15.2 is an evergreen shrub which is beginning to bloom now. Pieris japonica (pee-AIR-iss juh-PON-ih-kuh) also called Lily of the Valley shrub or Andromeda, it has clusters of lily of the valley white blooms in the spring. It does well in moist, acid soils in the shade. It is slow-growing, but can be quite showy, with new foliage coming in shades of red or bronze depending on variety.

Mystery plant C – mystery plant march16.15.3 is commonly called sweet alyssum, Lobularia (lob-yoo-LAR-ee-uh) is the Latin name. This summer annual often used to stop blooming as summer temperatures heated up, but if you kept it alive it would rebloom in the fall. Breeders have fixed that problem, but because of the stigma surrounding sweet alyssum, they are now trying to brand it as Lobularia–the Latin name. It comes in white or purple and is quite fragrant. It is a great summer annual and won’t stop blooming until a killing frost. Does best in the sun.

Here are your new challenges:

Mystery plant A -mystery plant a.mar23.15. is a deciduous shrub that is blooming now.

Mystery plant B -mystery plant march23.15 is a perennial.

Mystery plant C – mystery plant c march23.15.3

mystery plant c march23.15.1 is an evergreen shrub blooming now.

Good Luck!

River Valley Lawn & Garden Show and Callery Pears

March 22, 2015
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We awoke at WRI to a light rain, and after a good breakfast I was on the road to Ft. Smith. It rained most of the way up there, sometimes light, while other times heavy. When I got there, it was a light rain.
The River Valley Master Gardeners wrapped up another great show today in Ft. Smith. They had beautiful gardens with loads of spring blooming plantsriver valley lawn and garden show.15.01

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tropical hibiscus rvlg.15.1–just what we needed on another rainy, gloomy day in Arkansas. I know we are all ready for some sunshine! Unless you have worked a show, you don’t know how much effort goes into one–and they do it well. They had loads of food that they prepare each day to serve the vendors and volunteers in addition to manning all the volunteer jobs of set up and clean up, taking tickets, and much more. They were also working hard at recruiting new MG volunteers. river valley lawn and garden show.15.14
They had a beautiful red flowering quince that not only had a deep red, but loads of flowers. flowering quince red.rvlg.15.

I got to visit with many Master Gardener and gardeners from the northern tier of the state and Sherrie Smith was there diagnosing problems as well. river valley lawn and garden show.15.11

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Every year I am sickened by the increase in callery pear trees blanketing the roadsides. It gets worse each year. While I see some all across the state, I think this is the most impressive display. pear seedlings ft. smith.15 (1)

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It wasn’t raining when I left and I even put on sunglasses for a bit on the way home, but the rain came back lightly closer to home. Now it is just cool and overcast. I haven’t looked ahead to the weather forecast for the week, but I am hoping for spring!

Grow your own groceries

March 21, 2015
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I saw a beautiful sunrise as I crossed the river out of town this morning heading to the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain.

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I got up to the teaching barn and unloaded and set up all my stuff. We had a great group of students where I taught raised beds, vegetable gardening, herbs, season extenders and small fruit.

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At the end of the lectures we let people help plant the raised beds.

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Everyone had a little free time before we had an excellent cooking demo on garden to table from the owners of LR Root Cafe. We sampled great dishes including cabbage, broccoli, sweet potato and apple soup and an outstanding coconut curry kale dish.

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We then had a wonderful local foods meal, and now we should sleep well. Tomorrow we end with breakfast, then I head on to Ft. Smith

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