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St Francis County MG Program

June 4, 2019

I (Berni Kurz) drove to Forrest City this morning to meet with the St. Francis County Master Gardener Executive Board along with County Agent Cody Griffin. We covered quite a bit of information in our 2 hour meeting mostly dealing with financial management. I provided them with some examples of policies and procedures that they can adapt to strengthen their county organization as well as being financially responsible to their members. If your county MG program would like a similar conversation, contact me to schedule a visit.

You can’t tell from this picture, but this is a weed control demonstration which Cody Griffin put out this spring in front of the St. Francis County Extension office. This demonstration compares several homeowner weed control products to each other. Very impressive when you can see the results staring you in your face. The herbicide in this trial which performed the best thus far is  MSM Turf Herbicide (‎Metsulfuron Methyl). Thank you Cody for putting this demonstration in such a visible place for homeowners to see and interpret the results.
This demonstration garden, which the St. Francis Master Gardeners maintain is located on the South West corner in front of the County Extension office. I like the openness and flashes of color in this bed as well the use of mulch. Good job St. Francis Co. Master Gardeners.

Propagation was the word for the day at Lonoke

May 16, 2019

Plant propagation is of interest to all gardeners and somewhat of a mystery to us all. Today at the Lonoke County Master Gardener monthly meeting, I led a hands on plant propagation workshop where participants learned some of the “secrets” of propagating houseplants as well as landscape plants.

Master Gardeners left the workshop with cuttings from 8 different houseplants and 10 different shrubs.
Cuttings were delicately prepared, then dipped into rooting hormone and then stuck into potting media in 1 gallon nursery containers. Once the container was full of cuttings, they were placed into clear plastic bags to maintain 100% humidity around these freshly cut plants. Bags will stay in place until cuttings have rooted which will be 4 to 8 weeks depending on the plant. During the time of root development, covered containers will be placed outdoors where they will receive a lot of indirect sunlight and no direct sunlight. Containers will be checked every couple of weeks for moisture needs.
Double trouble….Jean & Jean. I had to leave the fun and head to the State Office and was delayed for a 1:00 p.m. meeting because of a wreck on I-40. I was a few minutes late, but I was not worried because Julie and Amanda had everything under control.

Master Gardener Plants Sales

May 13, 2019

I stopped by the Van Buren County Master Gardener plant sale held at Ed Lemon Park in Fairfield Bay this past Saturday. Most County Master Gardener programs have some sort of plant sale or exchange type activity. Plant sales for many is the only means to raise fund to support various community based horticulture educational programs.

It was a rainy day for a plant sale but the rain did not stop the crowd from attending this sale in Fairfield Bay in Ed Lemon Park sponsored by the Van Buren County Master Gardeners. Master Gardeners organized this community wide event with 40 some odd vendors selling all sorts of goods along with several avid cooks participating in a bbq cooking contest.
The plant sale was very well organized with rows of tables expertly arranged under trees. You can see the crowd in the back patiently waiting in the rain for the gates to open at 9:00am
All plants were well labeled as well plants were color coded which denoted sale price of each plant. I could not leave without buying several must haves for my shade garden in Fayetteville.
Additionally, Van Buren County Master Gardeners were selling these clay flowers which were fired to last for many years as yard art. All of these were made by Master Gardeners. I could not resist getting a very realistic looking purple iris which Marilyn will place among her iris collection.
Only feet from the plant sale, I found several garden rooms which Van Buren County Master Gardeners maintain. This is the entry gate to the Butterfly Garden. MG’s formed and molded the four different stages a butterfly goes through depicting metamorphosis.
In the herb garden, all herbs were labeled using cedar tree cookies with the name of the herb burned into the wood. This was very attractively done creating uniformity in this garden.
I found “Black Baccara” a Hybrid Tea Rose in the Rose Garden. Because a truly black flower does not actually exist, the Black Baccara rose is said to symbolize undying hope, optimism and expectation that a black rose will someday be a reality.
“Crimson Bouquet” was in full glory and shone beautifully on this dark dreary day. This Grandiflora type of rose is promoted as disease resistant, but today it had dropped many of its lower leaves due to Black Spot of Rose disease. After 2 hours of shopping and walking in the gardens, I was soaked and ready to drive onto Fayetteville for the weekend.

Too much of a good thing….water

May 10, 2019

Most often, a rain occurrence is a good thing. As with most everything, to much of a good thing can have its consequences. Some homes have been flooded causing loss of property. Farmers are seeing fields going under water and experiencing crop loss, and home gardeners are seeing more foliar diseases, root rots, and general poor plant performance. Here are a few pictures of what’s happening in the Kurz Farm vegetable garden.

As seen in the middle of these two rows of potatoes, water is standing. These potatoes were planted on a ridge which has helped in keeping vigor. What we don’t see, is the reduced growth of potato tubers from lack of full sunlight with the frequency of overcast days.
These tomatoes are doomed if we don’t get dryer weather. The longer tomatoes are in standing water the more prevalent root rots and wilts can be.
Second planting of okra finally is up as well as a good crop of crabgrass seedlings. My second planting of green beans and cucumbers are coming along good as well, but my second planting of squash did not make, so I’m planting them for the third time.
I harvested 8 heads of medium size broccoli last night. Plants did not grow out as well because of all the rain. Although harvested, I will leave the plants in place to allow the smaller heads for a second harvest in a few weeks. My mom is off out of state for a few weeks so I’m blanching and freezing the harvested heads tonight.
Earlier this week, before my mom left, she harvested our first kolrabi for the season, and yes it was delicious. They are planted on a ridge and escaped issues of too much water.
Cabbage, although on a ridge, are not at their best. Heads are starting to form. I will sidedress once more lightly with nitrogen in hopes to get size on the heads.
I planted leaf lettuce in a 20 gallon container. I have been harvesting fresh lettuce for the past three weeks. These were lightly fertilized twice with a soluble fertilizer at the rate suggested on the label. As cool as its been, I should get two more weeks of harvest from these before they bolt (go to seed).
These tomatoes awaiting for a drier day to be planted in the garden. Most of these were planted by seed.
Lots of blooming plants can be found on the Kurz Farm near Lonoke now. These snap dragons were planted last spring. Not a true perennial but most often the same plant will survive several seasons in our garden. They do best in afternoon shade to survive a hot Arkansas summer.

2019 MG State Conference – Many Thanks

May 2, 2019

The 2019 Arkansas Master Gardener State Conference has come to a close. Wednesday the post tours continued with rain in most of the locations. Our gardeners pressed on and the sun did shine as the day progressed.

A GIGANTIC thanks goes to our conference chair Linda Soffer and co-chair Jane Burrow! These two drove many miles to meetings and potential conference sites. They have put in hundreds of hours planning, creating and executing final conference details the past months.

A HUGE thank you goes to the hosts and volunteers that gave hundreds of hours preparing for the big event – Hempstead, Nevada, Miller and Howard counties and County 76. A BIG thank you to Hempstead County staff chair Terrie James and agriculture agent Stacey Stone for all their time and coordination of the event in Hope. Also a big thank you to Sandra Kirk at the Hempstead County extension office for her time and organizational skills that kept us on target.

Thanks goes to John Gladden, Josh and the whole staff at Hempstead Hall for their outstanding service and hospitality. Hempstead Hall is a wonderful facility to host events.

Last but not least is our staff at the Little Rock State Extension office. Holly Beason, Terilyn Maize and Amanda Gonia have been most helpful in every way. From paperwork to putting tags on our goody bags and everything in between, we thank you for your time. You are very much appreciated.

As Linda Soffer said on Tuesday evening, “They say it takes a village. This year it took a state to put on the 2019 MG state conference”. Thanks to ALL for a job well done.

Spring in the Ozarks

April 28, 2019

I took some pictures earlier today of our garden in Fayetteville before I headed to Hope for our State Master Gardener Conference. The benefit of gardening in two different climatic zones is that I have the opportunity to enjoy the changes of season for a longer period of time.

My wife has a pretty large collection of spring bulbs with some blooming early and then as these closing out the spring season at the end. Remember to remove spent blooms so all the energy can go to replenish the underground bulb and not the above ground seed pod.
This pink dogwood as well as all others have had a prolonged bloom season because of the mild wet spring.
This white variegated dogwood blooms were so large this year. The blooms looked like white tissue paper from a distance. Marilyn and I planted several dogwoods on our heavily sloped woodland setting where we can view them from our deck above.
Ben Morrison Azaleas are just now starting to show color. The beauty of these azaleas are that they are tall and open. Some native ferns are planted underneath these azaleas.
Kousa dogwood in full leaf and the flower bracts are just starting to show some color. It will look glorious in a couple of weeks with the bracts fully expanded and shimmering white.
This wonderful native plant, Amsonia hubrichtii, Arkansas Amsonia is going to be in bloom for several weeks. This adds flowing light texture to our perennial border.
Camassia has been blooming, going on a couple of weeks. This native plant to the Pacific NW United States has longs stems which makes it a great cut flower.
Over the years Marilyn has acquired quite a collection of German Bearded Irises. This is the first of many to bloom in our Fayetteville garden.
Aquilegia canadensis, Red Columbine, a native has out done its self in our shade garden. Tradescantia, spiderwort is a real stand out as well. In the back ground, Fashion Azaleas are in full bloom.
I left Fayetteville early this afternoon and was greeted by these Knock Out Roses as I pull up to my hotel in Hope. I will be in Hope for the next 3 days. 454 Master Gardeners have joined me here to participate in garden tours, attend lectures and very importantly, to recognize outstanding County MG programs as well as individuals at the awards program on Tuesday.

Count Down to MG Conference in Hope April 29-May 1

April 23, 2019

Julie and I, along with MG Conference Chair Linda Soffer & Co-Chair Jane Burrow, are busy double checking details for the 454 MG’s to converge on Hope early next week. This is my first State MG Conference on this side of the table. Julie, Linda and Jane have spent countless hours to ensure in delivering another successful conference. I stepped outside the State Extension office in Little Rock around noon today to breathe in fresh air and to check on what is in bloom.

Linda is here at the State Extension Office today putting final details into place.
These Kurume Azaleas have been vibrant this year as all of our spring flowering trees and shrubs have been. These are on the back side of the State Extension Office building. My office is on the 3rd floor and I look down onto this bed. This outstanding spring display is the result of the mild wet summer/fall we had last year. Spring blooming plants set there flower buds the previous late summer to fall.
Several native buckeyes are found in the shaded garden on the Extension grounds. Beds were freshly mulched which is a nice accent to this woodland setting.
This is one of the latest spring blooming spireas, commonly called Bridal Wreath Spirea. This spring bloomer benefits from removing 2 to 3 of the older canes by pruning them to the ground. New growth will result from these cuts this year and then next spring you will be rewarded with flowers from top to bottom.
Julie’s cool season annual flower trial is still looking glorious. The cool wet spring has really enhanced and prolong this seasonal color. Julie will be announcing our summer annual plant trail very soon. Look for details in a couple of weeks. For those of you who participated in the cool season trail, send in your evaluations ASAP.
On the front side of our building you will find perennial verbena glowing. These were planted last spring and have been outstanding.
Nepeta has started to bloom. This is a great perennial to add to your border to attract pollinators. Lambs ear in the back, is a few weeks out from blooming and is a good food source for pollinators as well.
I am really fond of Oakleaf Hydrangea. Although not in bloom yet, these young bloom heads provide great interest in the garden even now. The spent blooms in the background need to be pruned to give the garden a cleaner crisp look.
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