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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.

Kurz Farm Vegetable Garden Update

April 18, 2019

After putting away everything from County 76 meeting yesterday, I returned a few phone calls and replied to some emails before I headed home to do some needed work in the vegetable garden. To my surprise when I got to the farm my mom had weeded and fertilized the entire garden. All I could say wow and thank you! This allowed me to mow the lawn. The pictures below are from the garden yesterday.

Onions are coming along nicely. These onion sets were planted 5 weeks ago about 1 inch deep and 4 inches apart in this double row. I will pull some of the soil from the base within the next week before the plants get much larger. Onions respond to a side dressing of Nitrogen every 2 weeks with a total of 3 to 4 applications over a 2 month period. Apply 2 tablespoons of ammonium nitrate per 10 ft. of row per application and lightly water in if no rain is in the forecast.
You can see that my mom has started to hill these Red Pontiac potatoes. We have a row of Yukon Gold and as usual, they are not as far along. These were planted the same day as onions. My mom choose not cut seed potatoes so I bought only the smaller ones. Whole potatoes were planted 12 inches apart in the row and covered with 2 inches of soil. 8-8-8 fertilizer was incorporated before planting at the rate of 1 lb. per 100 sq.ft. Because of the over abundance of rainfall, I side dressed these with a tablespoon of ammonium nitrate per 3 ft of row with a 1 ft wide strip. I may make another nitrogen application in 2 to 3 weeks depending on the growth response till then. I could not find any insects on them, so I’m not certain what cause the few holes in the leaves. It may have been hail a few weeks back.
Kohlrabi is coming on nice. You can’t see them well but the base is starting to swell. They were planted 4 weeks ago with 1 lb. per 100 sq.ft. of 8-8-8 fertilizer. I’m about a week late for it side dressing of 1 tablespoon ammonium nitrate per 3 ft. of row on a 1 ft. wide band.
Broccoli is looking good. They got the same pre-plant fertilizer application as Kohlrabi and planted the same day and they are in need of nitrogen as well. Since they are planted 1.5 ft apart. I gave each plant 1 tsp. of ammonium nitrate spread evenly in a 2 ft. circle around each. The green and purple cabbage in the garden got the same treatment. I have not seen any larvae yet, but I have Bt on the shelve ready to use when needed.
I planted green beans 3 weeks ago a day or two before a heavy rain. They look pretty sad. I will replant now that I know the first planting did not make. This garden soil is a Clay Loam and can quickly becomes water logged. Although I had them on a hilled row, the prolonged cold wet soil prevented good emergence. Some of you have a better site for drainage and I have seen some good stands of green beans. I’ll let you know how the second planting goes.
My spinach is having a tough time on getting good stand. These should be double in size and twice as many plants. These were also planted 3 weeks ago. It is a challenge for plants in heavy soils with more than adequate moisture. I will keep these but will plant another 10 to 15 ft bed of spinach for harvest in early June. I would not advise to plant any later than now because once summer heat comes on, spinach shuts down.
Egyptian Walking Onions are on the verge of making the cluster of small bulb-lets on its tops. I like this semi green winter onion for harvesting throughout the winter. Fresh growth starts in early spring, most often by end of February and earlier during a milder winter. In southern Arkansas, this onion does not go dormant in the winter. Dormancy is summer months where they can be harvested and used in the kitchen. Dry cool store bulb-lets for planting in the garden this fall.
This wood box was given to my mother from the Lonoke County Master Gardeners. Bonnie Moody and Cheryl Anderson led the “Salad Table” project which won the 2019 MG Project of the Year. My mother has know Bonnie and Cheryl since my youth. In fact Bonnie was my High School Botany teacher. Didn’t she do good. My mom planted 2 parsley and 2 chives in her box and has them setting outside the back door just feet from the kitchen. She has been harvesting a few leaves even though they were planted just 4 weeks ago.

Master Gardener County 76 held Quarterly Meeting

April 18, 2019

Yesterday, Wednesday April 17, Arkansas Master Gardener Co 76 President, Pasty Louk called to order County 76 quarterly membership meeting at the headquarters building of the U of A Cooperative Extension Service in Little Rock. First on the agenda was a virtual tour of the State Master Gardener meeting host site, Hempstead Hall in Hope. This was led by none other then Janet Carson. County 76 along with Hempstead County MG’s are coordinating this years State Master Gardener Conference, which has 454 registered to attend April 29 – May 1. The 5 working committees of Co 76 met yesterday and reported back to membership before the meeting dismissed at 3:00. These 5 committees are the heart throb of this state wide organization. These committees and its Chairs are: Recruitment Retention Recognition led by Debbie Howell, Plant Nurture & Grow Leadership led by Debora Carpenter. Fund Raising led by Glenda Bell, Communications led by Mike Wilbanks, and Advanced Training led by Marty Lynch.

Janet, was live on the big screen in Little Rock yesterday, as she was providing us behind the scenes virtual tour of Hempstead Hall in Hope. We have 100 MG volunteers working at this years conference which is destined to be a success.
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