gardening goings on by SherryBlanton
Aug 13, 2011 | 11985 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Lunch and Learn, August 28th 2013
by SherryBlanton
Aug 08, 2013 | 1851 views |  0 comments | 155 155 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Please join the Calhoun County Master Gardeners on August 28th for Lunch and Learn when Jonathan Stober, District Biologist, will talk about The Talladega National Forest. Program is from 12 to 1 PM; it is free and takes place at Cane Creek Community Gardens at McClellan. Please bring your lunch and join us.
For more information please call the Calhoun County Extension Office at 256-237-1621. 

A Bee Friendly Garden
by SherryBlanton
Aug 06, 2013 | 1461 views |  0 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Puprle heliotrope is a magnet for bees.
Puprle heliotrope is a magnet for bees.

I recently attended a wonderful workshop on pollinators–these are the creatures who pollinate our flowers, and our crops – both fruit and vegetable. 85 per cent of flowering plants require an insect to move the pollen. Butterflies and bees are both pollinators but bees, however, are the most important ones. Bees actively collect and transport pollen.  80 per cent of the world’s almond crop is dependent on bees.

Since bees are vital to our gardens, it is important to create an environment that is safe and attractive to them. Our garden design as well as very careful use of pesticides and herbicides can make our yards havens for bees. Include flowers with attractive color  and fragrance. Bees are attracted to blue, yellow, purple, violet and white. Bees can not see the color red (red looks like black to them). Provide season long sources of pollen and nectar by growing flowers year round and including early and late season flowers to provide a food source. Mass your flowers. In a small area plant a mass of one flower; thus  increasing visibility to the pollinator is making it easier for the bees to search for nectar.  Include a wide variety of flowers to attract many different pollinators. If you have a vegetable garden, it is important to create a habitat close to your crops and gardens as small bees may fly less then 500 feet and bumble bees may not fly more than a mile. An abundance of different flowers will increase the kinds of bees in your gardens. Keeping at least three things blooming at all times is terrific. Use locally native plants to support your bees population. Unfortunately, some of our newest hybrids are bred for beauty and are not necessarily attractive to bees; many of the old fashioned flowers make wonderful bee lures. It is not hard to attract bees; if you plant what they like, you will hear the humming of happy bees. Additionally, providing a source of water in the garden is a good thing.

Aside from choosing your plants to attract bees, the gardener must also limit pesticide use in the garden. Our mantra should be less is best! One of the worst chemicals for bees is sevin.  Keeping plants healthy helps them to repel insects and disease. If you have to spray a pesticide, spray late in the day when the bees are not out. Use a liquid form of a chemical instead of a dust. Check all the ingredients on the label to be sure you know what you are spraying.

Additional hints for a bee friendly garden involve a bit of an attitude adjustment for the gardener: develop a tolerance for weeds; learn to love less than perfect in the garden. Make your garden inviting to beneficial insects so they can help with any bad insects pests.

A few simple steps and we can encourage bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to call our gardens home; our world will be a better place for the humans too.

Thank you to Extension Agent Dani Carroll whose information was the inspiration for this blog.

Lunch and Learn July 2013
by SherryBlanton
Jul 03, 2013 | 4620 views |  0 comments | 324 324 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Basil Plants
Basil Plants
Have you ever wanted to have an herb garden? Herbs are not hard to grow and are a wonderful addition to your landscape. Not only are herbs beautiful, many herbs are host plants for butterfly caterpillars. Home grown herbs are also wonderful to use in the your kitchen. On July 24th the program for Lunch and Learn sponsored by the Calhoun County Master Gardeners will be "Herb Gardening." Our speaker is Dani Carroll, an Extension Agent and experienced herb gardener. She will also be serving samples of foods prepared with herbs. The program is from noon until 1 at Cane Creek Community Gardens at McClellan. It is free and open to the public. Bring your lunch and join us. For more information please call the Extension Office at 256-237-1621.

by SherryBlanton
Jun 03, 2013 | 4248 views |  0 comments | 367 367 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Please join the Calhoun County Master Gardeners for Lunch and Learn on Wednesday,

June 26th at noon at Cane Creek Community Gardens at McClellan. Our speaker will be Hayes Jackson and his topic will be "A Simple Water Feature for the Garden." The program is free. Bring your lunch and come! 

by SherryBlanton
Jun 03, 2013 | 3255 views |  0 comments | 251 251 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

This has been the strangest spring (and it is not officially over for three weeks). I might call it the spring that almost did not happen. It was chilly one day; then the monsoons struck, and now the heat and humidity have set in. Farmers shook their heads as they worked to get gardens plowed and crops in. For us home gardeners, we waited much later than usual to add summer color to our yards. Warm weather annuals are, for the most part tropical in nature, and are not really fond of wet cold earth. Hydrangeas are blooming about three weeks later than usual (although that is not always a bad thing as they were not hit by one of those freak late frosts that sometime happen). Our friends in the mid-west have endured terrible tragedies brought about by weather events. Hurricane forecasters say this will be a busy summer. But we who love our gardens and growing things will deal with whatever strange weather conditions come our way. We will be married to our hoses if late summer droughts come. If the weather is wet and humid, we will take care of plant diseases brought about by inclement conditions. And we will continue to smile.

Lunch and Learn, May 22, 2013
by SherryBlanton
May 18, 2013 | 3168 views |  0 comments | 131 131 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Please join the Master Gardeners for our May Lunch and Learn program, May 22, 2013 from noon until 1 PM. The program is held the fourth Wednesday of the month at Cane Creek Community Gardens at McClellan from April through September. Our May speaker is Lisa Harris of Scenic Alabama and her program will be about "Alabama the Beautiful." This organization is doing some great things to improve our state. The program is free and open to the public. Please bring your lunch and join us.

First Plant Sale of the Season--Coming Up!
by SherryBlanton
Apr 14, 2013 | 6808 views |  0 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Join the Calhoun County Tree Amigos Master Gardeners for the first plant sale of the season. Unusual perennials, trees, and shrubs will be featured at the sale, Saturday, April 20th,  8am - noon,  Cane Creek Community Gardens at McClellan. 

We are going to have some fabulous drought tolerant plants available. If you want plants with berries, we will have them; flowers, we will have them; plants for butterflies, we will have them. We are also going to have something absoutely wonderful--an 'Everblooming' Banana shrub. For those who have a banana shrub here is your chance to get another one. If you don't have one, take my word, you need one. The flowers smell like banana pudding--yum.

Sale proceeds  benefit the Tree Amigos program. So you are shopping for a very good cause. The Tree Amigos program is a therapeutic horticultural  program for the residents of the Coosa Valley Attention Home.
For information please call 256-237-1621. 

Take Pride in Jacksonville Day
by SherryBlanton
Apr 04, 2013 | 3205 views |  0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Please join the city of Jacksonville as we "Take Pride in Jacksonville." It is a day for the residents to spruce up their neighborhoods and their community. Stop by City Hall on Church Street and register at 8:45 AM on April 13, 2013 to help pick up litter around the city.We will take electronics for recycling including computers, monitors, fax machines, etc. Residents can also bring their recycling, including paint cans, to the Jacksonville City Hall beginning at 8:30. There will also be a large truck there to collect discarded household items. The Jacksonville-Piedmont landfill will be free from 7:00 AM until 11:30 for Jacksonville residents.Cub Scout Pack 19 will be at City Hall collecting aluminum cans.
The day is sponsored by the City of Jacksonville, RSVP, Calhoun County Recycling Center, Calhoun County Beautification Board and County Commissioner Rudy Abbott. For more information, please call RSVP at 256-435-5091,

by SherryBlanton
Mar 26, 2013 | 2957 views |  0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Although the weather today on March 26th does not feel much like a spring day, the calendar says that spring is here. Many of you will soon begin to scrutinize your lawns and decide it is time to renew or replace. If your lawn is not healthy, your first step should be a soil test as your soil conditions have a huge impact on the state of your lawn. Your soil report will contain recommendations on how much and what type of fertilizer you might need to perk up your lawn. If you have lots of weeds, disease or fungus in the grass and are not sure what your plan of action should be, you can also send off lawn and soil samples to help identify the problems and possible solutions. There are many givens, such as the amount of sun or shade, that can’t be easily changed. At this point the homeowner may have to decide what level of imperfection he/she can tolerate.

If you have decided to replace your lawn (or perhaps are installing one for the first time), there is a lot of information that you should gather about your site before you choose a turf grass. Just as with ornamentals and trees where we strive to choose the right plant for the right place, we also want to choose the right grass for the right place. Please take note of your environmental conditions: whether the grass will be in sun or shade; whether you have poor or good drainage; whether you are able to keep your lawn watered, the type of soil (clay, sand) in your yard, and what your soil pH (acid or alkaline soil) is.

More questions need answers to help the homeowner determine the best turf for the site: how much time and effort and money are you willing to spend maintaining your lawn? How much work do you personally want to do to keep up your lawn? (Some folks refer to centipede as the lazy man's grass because fertilizing too much can ruin it; however, it is very picky about its growing conditions.) Do you enjoy watering, mowing, fertilizing, etc.? What kind of turf are you looking for: a lawn that looks like a golf course or are you happy with a peaceful green lawn with a few weeds here and there? Another important consideration is how much use will your lawn get. There are lawns, like centipede, which do not react well to lots of foot traffic; thus, if you have a team of young soccer players, perhaps centipede is not for you.

One of the most important considerations for the homeowner to evaluate is how much shade the lawn will get. Grass and full shade do not go hand in hand. The more light a lawn gets the better it will grow, but our blazing hot summers and continued droughts can also be very stressful on a lawn.

Once you have thought through some of these issues, consider consulting the many publications available either online at or at our local Extension Office on Noble Street for information regarding specific turfgrasses, planting times as well as the best planting and care techniques. A healthy lush lawn is a delight but like the rest of gardening requires thought, preparation, and continued effort.

Many thanks to Dr. David Han from Auburn University whose class on turgrasses for our MG intern training class was the inspiration and factual source for this blog.

Calhoun County Master Gardeners "Lunch and Learn" Series
by SherryBlanton
Mar 22, 2013 | 3213 views |  0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
YOU’RE INVITED TO LUNCH & LEARN….A series of free gardening programs sponsored by Calhoun County Master Gardeners & Calhoun County Commission.
Held the 4th Wednesday of each month at the Cane Creek Community Garden at McClellan from noon-1pm ; bring your own lunch!
                         April 24 “Batty for Bats”
                     Vicky Beckham Smith, A-Z Animals


May 22 “Alabama the Beautiful”

Lisa Harris, Scenic Alabama


June 26 “A Simple Water Feature for the Garden”

Hayes Jackson, ACES


July 24 “Herb Gardening”

Dani Carroll, ACES


August 28 “Getting to Know the Talladega

National Forest: Part 2"

Jonathan Stober, District Biologist


September 25 “Gardening for Dry Places”

Hayes Jackson, ACES

Speakers & topics subject to change.

Contact the Extension Office to confirm. 256 237 1621






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