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District Dig In – Forrest City

March 6, 2017

We had a great day for our first District Dig In in Forrest City. The UA community college could not have been a nicer facility nor their staff more accommodating.  We left LR before sun-up and had plenty of time to get the lay of the land before folks started arriving.  County 76 members Glenda and Jane were on hand all day to do one-on-one training with folks who needed help logging in to their online reporting system.  We had Shelby County, TN agent Chris Cooper to talk vegetables and I did a MG state of the union address and talked new or rediscovered annuals and perennials. We had a good crowd and they had a lot of questions and interaction. We can mark this down as a very successful event.  A big thanks to our local staff chair Cody for helping with logistics and even helped serve drinks!  We did have a very tasty barbecue lunch and everyone had plenty to eat. We will send out evaluations after all three are finished.

Our next event is Monday, March 13 in Arkadelphia at Henderson State University.  We can still take registrations until Wednesday but then we have to lock in our lunch order.  We can extend Fort Smith registration until March 15 but then we have to lock in food orders.  If you are a Master Gardener and plan to come to either, please go online and register, or if you have problems email me or Julie with your intentions.  The cost for all events is $20 each and includes a meal in Arkadelphia and finger foods and entrance to the Lawn & Garden Show in Fort Smith, plus the educational component.

It was rainy heading up and then the sun came out but the wind was whipping all day.  My car was battered!  We made it home before the rain began in earnest, and I had time to load my car for tomorrows sold-out pruning seminar at Garvan Gardens in Hot Springs. Another early day, and I hope the weather passes so we can do some outside pruning.

A full day in the garden!

March 4, 2017

Needless to say, I am pooped! Maybe having the weekend off is not such a great thing!  Not really. I enjoyed my day in the garden tremendously, but I am tired. I started a little after 9 a.m. and with just a few short breaks did not end until 3 p.m.!  I would like to say I got everything done, but not even close.  I have not spent any measurable time in the garden in weeks, so there is a lot to do.  I did do a lot of pruning today. You can see by the pile of debris, that there was a lot thinned out. pruning-mar-17-1  Every year I tackle privet plants that just grow back, so I did remove a lot of those along with yaupon holly seedlings and some wax leaf ligustrum. I also have quite a few cleyera in my yard and while most look great, two are heavily infested with the entomosporium leaf spot cleyera-diseased-2which we get on red top photenias. I am removing both plants this year, but just thinned out what I can do until a chain saw can take out the rest.  The front garden looks a lot better with all the excess thinned out. pruning-mar-17-3  I also pruned the summer blooming spirea and a few roses. spirea-pruning-mar17-1 spirea-pruning-mar17-3  I hope to get to the rest of the spirea and buddlea tomorrow. I did have a rose blooming on a knock out but I still cut them back hard.  You will have better blooming if you prune these plants, even though they have started growing.

I also pulled out and pruned out the left over dead tropical in pots on the deck, and cut back some other perennials.  I raked and mulched leaves and cleaned out beds.  I also pulled many of the winter vegetables to make room for more planting. I planted potatoes, onions, spinach, lettuce and broccoli today and fertilized all the beds with seedlings coming up, then I watered.  It was really pretty dry, but I hear rain is coming. veg-garden-mar4-17-2 vegetables-mar-1 vegetables-mar-2

Everything is moving on warp speed this spring. The blueberries are in full bloom  blueberry-mar4-2and my new white kerria has started to flower, kerria-white-mar4-17with only a bloom or two on my yellow.   Most of my perennials are growing and some are quite far along. hosta-mar4-17

While I was gardening, Clay was putting together a storage building to house many things from our garage. We are in the final stages of kitchen planning and hopefully they will begin construction in little over 4 weeks, so we have a lot to get moved before then.  Since we are losing some space in the garage we are tackling that first.  There was some debate on where the shed should go and where it would fit–it was a tad larger than planned.  Unfortunately once built we had to move it over the fence to its final resting point. That took some doing and creative engineering but it is done and ready to be used. shed-partsshed-moving-mar-3 shed-moving-mar-7 shed-moving-mar-9shed-moving-mar-1 shed-moving-mar-2  It is done and looks good.  My final thing was digging up (with Clay’s help) a young dogwood that has great shape but doesn’t belong where the birds planted it.  It left tonight for a friends house.  dogwood-transplant-mar4-17

Now, after a shower and a couple of Advil’s I think a glass of wine is in order!  It was a pretty day and we had all the windows open, and some still are but it is getting a tad nippy.

Could we add more hours in the day?

March 2, 2017

What a jam-packed day at the office it was!  We started by celebrating the soon to be mother Ashley Hobbs on our floor. ashley-shower-mar-17-5 A baby shower for another baby boy, and grandma Kim is right downstairs!  Regardless of how crazy our schedules, we need to stop and celebrate important times in each others lives.  It can’t all be work, work, work–it is the personal connections that make things meaningful.  Having said that, I did have to leave a tad early to head to a zoom meeting on a national report.  After that meeting, Julie and I worked on finalizing everything for our first District Dig In in Forrest City on Monday. I have my PowerPoints and handouts done.  I also worked on some County 76 items and had a conference call with our leadership.
I also tried to catch up on some mail and email, and reports that are due. Be sure if you are sending in samples for identification that you don’t put them in a plastic bag. This came in today for identification.  plant-sample  I would say it is mush!  Place samples between paper towels and put them in a paper bag when you send them in.


The days fly by when you stay busy and it was almost 6 pm before I walked out of the office. It was a lot cooler today than it has been. I was actually glad I had on a coat. I did check my garden briefly when I got home and I have seedlings emerging.  About 10 days ago I planted English peas, spinach, kale and nasturtium seeds and I have sprouts on all of them.seedlings-mar1-1-copy seedlings-mar1-4 seedlings-mar1-5 I hope to have some time this weekend to prune, weed and plant some more winter vegetables.

A scheduled program this weekend was cancelled so this will be my first and last weekend without work in a while. I can’t wait!

District Dig In next week & HS Village

March 1, 2017

This is a last call for Master Gardeners who want to attend the District Dig In in Forrest City next Monday, March 6.  district-dig-ins-logo1

This is a new idea for us to meet with smaller groups of people in a more regional way.  We have three slated–the first is Monday, March 6 in Forrest City, then March 13 in Arkadelphia and our final one will be in conjunction with the River Valley Lawn & Garden Show Saturday March 18.  These are for MG’s only and we will have portions of the program that are the same (I will talk about the MG program at all locations and must have annuals and perennials for the garden at two locations) and then Forrest City we have University of Tennessee Extension agent Chris Cooper will be talking vegetable gardening.  In Arkadelphia Vic Ford will talk about raising mushrooms at home, and in Fort Smith Gerald Klingaman will talk about conifers and Susan Belsinger will talk on herbs. I will discuss the MG program, and I will do native plants at their general sessions earlier.

The cost is $20 and includes all the lectures plus lunch in Forrest City and Arkadelphia, and in Fort Smith it includes entrance to the Lawn and Garden Show all three days, plus exclusive lectures and snacks.

DROP DEAD registration deadline is tomorrow morning by 9 a.m. for Forrest City since we have to confirm our lunch counts.  If you plan to come and have mailed in a form please let Julie or I know so we can add that to the list.  There is still time tonight to register on the MG only site–password is required but a hint–the user name is mgonly.

If you are a MG and you don’t remember the password, email me or Julie!

Was today not a glorious day?  Overnight I did get a half inch of rain and at a little before 5 a.m. we had a nice round of hail. It has been windy all day and is cooling off now.  I had a great group of people in Hot Springs Village this morning and they had a ton of questions.  This is a gardening group! hs-village-program-mar1-1 hs-village-program-mar1-2

It was an easy drive back and Julie and I have been plotting about how to get everything done we need to in the next few days.  I have columns to write, PP’s to finish for Monday’s Dig In and Tuesday’s pruning workshop at Garvan Gardens.  I haven’t looked much past those days.  Spring is always crazy, and this one is no exception.



Mena to Ft. Smith and home

February 28, 2017

I did get a bit of work done in my motel room this morning before leaving for Ft. Smith. Driving out of Mena the mountains were in the fog so I was once again glad I did not drive back up the mountain yesterday.  It was an easy drive to Ft. Smith where I worked on our garden tour to Mississippi for October with a travel agent, then met up with MGs to look at some potential sites for the 2018 MG conference.  We toured one of the large parks where one of our evening dinner events is planned. ft-smith-park-feb-1 ft-smith-park-feb-3 ft-smith-park-feb-4  We timed the drive back to the host hotel and by then it was almost time to head to our planning meeting.  I did have a few minutes to walk the Learning Fields gardens. They are beginning to come alive and the donated daffodil bulbs from last year are everywhere in full bloom. daffodils-learning-fields-feb-17-9 daffodils-learning-fields-feb-17-11 learning-fields-feb-17-4 learning-fields-feb-17-1 learning-fields-feb-17-2 learning-fields-feb-17-5  They have some very unique painted rock plant markers. learning-fields-feb-17-12 We had a taste testing of a potential caterer and got updates from committees.img_2171 img_2172

I drove home with storm warnings all around, but aside from a little rain through Conway, I missed them.  I was quite happy about that.

Tomorrow morning I head down early to Hot Springs Village to do a program sponsored by the Mens Garden Club on new plants.  I have to be there around 8:30 but the program begins at 9.  It will be at the Village United Methodist Church, 200 Carmona Rd.

Clean-up and Mena

February 27, 2017

I started the day early by loading my car with all I could from our display at the statehouse convention center. We had quite a few Extension folks loading up and we got it cleaned up. I unloaded my car, cleaned up and packed a bag, then headed to the office. I had a few meetings and then I was on the road by 2 heading to Mena for a gardening program tonight. I got to Mena with 45 minutes to spare and decided to drive the 15 miles to Queen Wilhamena state park to check in before the program. I had not been to the park since it was renovated and since I don’t have to be in Ft. Smith tomorrow until the afternoon, i figured I could explore a bit in the morning. Bad idea! I had not gotten 3 miles into the trek before fog set in. At first it wasn’t bad, but it quickly turned into pea soup. 

I slowed down and concentrated and then there were deer crossing the road! All in all I had 6 cross in front of me and saw more on the edge of the road. I finally came to a juncture with another road and could turn around and head back. It took me an hour and I didn’t even make it to the lodge. I drove slowly and honked periodically to warn the deer I was coming. Luckily I didn’t hit any, but was releived when I got closer to town and out of the fog.  By the time I finished speaking tonight it was misty/foggy even in town, which is where I stayed. The park will have to wait for another day!

I did meet with some of the MGs with their rose garden project before the meeting. 

We had a good turnout for the seminar and we had a great discussion. They have a fabulous meeting room at their county office.

It’s a wrap! and at least some of us dodged a bullet!

February 26, 2017

It was 30 degrees when I got up but it warmed up rapidly.  By the time I left for the show at 8:30 it was 42 degrees. I did walk the garden this morning and everything looked fine–no frost or curled leaves and the blueberry flowers are intact and look fine.  I am thankful my garden did not get hit, but I heard from others that they had what appeared like a good frost on some of their plants.  Time will tell.  Give plants a chance to rebound before you begin to pull them.

For those of you who purchased tomatoes, peppers or basil and actually planted them outside, need to consider replanting in APRIL!  It is way too early to plant now and regardless of what they are selling know what to plant when.  Cool season vegetables should be planted now–lettuce, onions, potatoes, radishes, broccoli, and cabbage, but don’t plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, or squash until April.

We had a slow but steady crowd today at the show and I had many vendors tell me this was one of their best, if not the best they have done in sales.  I think many gardeners are chomping at the bit to plant and get their garden started.  But it wasn’t just plants selling out–there were garden tools, garden gadgets and food products that went like crazy. Some booths were bare by the end of the day. afgs-sat-17-27 afgs-sunday-17-18

The Florist competition was smaller than normal, but the displays were outstanding. afgs-sunday-17-6 afgs-sunday-17-7 afgs-sunday-17-9 and they also gave us a unique twist on a dozen roses: afgs-sunday-17-10 afgs-sunday-17-11 afgs-sunday-17-12

Again, I got to see so many gardeners from across the state. Some brought plant samples for us to identify or questions were asked.  The most common concerned crape myrtle bark scale and what to do about it.

The How-To stage had another full day of speakers and the topics were quite diverse, including Randy talking chickens. afgs-sunday-17-15 afgs-sunday-17-17

Our Master Gardeners were also present doing everything from selling and taking tickets to kitchen duty for the food demos to clean-up crews at the end, afgs-sunday-17-28 and they always do their job with a smile on their face!

I did get to get to play surrogate grandma today to baby Aurin.  He was enamored with the rabbit and so excited he shook all over when he first saw it. I was holding him up so I didn’t get a picture but it was too cute!aurin-afgs-17-1 aurin-afgs-17-2  I think a rabbit is in his future!  He had a big time seeing all the gardens and people.

The day flew by and it was 4:00 before we knew it.  While set-up takes time, take-down seems to fly. We had our extension exhibit deconstructed and piled together to await pick-up tomorrow.  We took a wagon load out and will get the rest tomorrow.  Cars and trucks were pulling in and loading up and moving out.  A sight to see!  afgs-sunday-17-20 afgs-sunday-17-22  I made it to the parking lot and one vendor had locked her keys in the trunk, but I found a release inside her car so she was set. Then one of our agents car wouldn’t start and my jumper cables weren’t enough to get the battery going, so they had to go get a new battery.  Not the way they wanted the day to end, but she did text that she got a new battery and made it home safe and sound.

Another successful show in the books, and now the planning begins for 2018 and a new lay-out for the fair grounds.  Exciting times.

Tomorrow I will be back to finish taking things down, then a quick trip to the office before heading to Mena to speak tomorrow night.



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