gardening goings on by SherryBlanton
Aug 13, 2011 | 11762 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Fall Fest
by SherryBlanton
Oct 19, 2011 | 2517 views |  0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Please join us at Cane Creek Community Gardens at McClellan on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 9 until 2 for Fall Fest. There will be lots of fun activities for your kids. There will also be quilting, canning, and flower shows.  Admission is $1; free if you are wearing a Halloween costume. Repeated from last year is our haunted house.  New this year will be our own version of American Idol. This is a really nice day and will also give you the chance to visit our MG home. I look forward to seeing you there. 

Creating a Sustainable Community
by SherryBlanton
Oct 14, 2011 | 2097 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Jennifer Yates from the Calhoun County Extension System and the County’s Recycling Program spoke to our MG meeting about the County’s new sustainability programs. Jennifer’s job is outreach and she will be helping us make our county more sustainable. What does that mean? Sustainability, a very big word, is the new buzz word around the country for a new way of life--one in which we become stewards of our environment. We will reuse more, recycle more, use less water, less energy to heat and cool, improve the quality of our water, and work in harmony with nature to preserve and protect our community’s resources. As gardeners there are many steps we can each take: compost to reduce the amount of yard waste that goes into the landfill; use more native plants in our landscape; learn to be water wise and develop other means for "smart"yards. If each of us makes small changes in our lives, we can reach the goal of having a sustainable community.

With a grant from Legacy, Jennifer will offer a series of public workshops geared to creating a sustainable community. There will also be a new program, Masters in Conservation, which will be similar to the Master Gardeners Program. Congratulations to our County government, the Calhoun County Extension System, and Jennifer for their important effort to improve our community for ourselves and our children. You can reach Jennifer for more information at 256-237-1621.

Perfect Days
by SherryBlanton
Oct 07, 2011 | 2618 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

The last days have been absolutely perfect ones to garden. A group of Master Gardeners have been spending at least two mornings a week sprucing up the landscape at Cane Creek Community Gardens at McClellan in preparation for Fall Fest, our big fall event. Between pulling weeds and spreading mulch we catch up on the news in each other's lives. Most folks think that the Master Gardeners Class is all about gardening and it is for the most part. It is, however, also about making friends. One of the comments attendees have made to me at the end of each class is that they did not know they would form such strong bonds with each other.

The Extension Office is preparing the paperwork for the 2012 class and there will be an orientation meeting in November. If you are interested in joining, please contact the Extension Office for an information packet.

Deer One
by SherryBlanton
Sep 23, 2011 | 2555 views |  0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Aren’t these two little ones precious? They live in my neighborhood and come through all the yards daily to checkout what there is to munch on. The one with the spots was born this year and the larger one was born last year. Our deer are so used to us they don’t run from us and actually respond to our voices. Yes, we know our local deer by heart. I love them, until I discover the begonias are missing their flowers, hostas have no leaves left, or the hydrangeas are bloomless. I want to admire these delicate creatures from afar and hope that no harm becomes them. Deer can be a menace for humans driving their cars at dusk.

You know you have deer when you find ragged edges on your ornamentals, deer droppings, or deer tracks. Deer are like goats and graze constantly. We humans keep building more houses in areas that used to be theirs, going further and further in what were wildlife habitats. Thus, we now have more and more deer in our neighborhoods. They adapt very well to land between forests and our landscapes. We have lush lawns and beautiful ornamentals which make perfect snacks.

A question I, as a master gardener, am frequently asked is how to minimize deer damage. Scare techniques like loud noises and irrigation tend not to work as the deer get used to the noise. Fencing can work but it has to be high enough that a deer can’t jump over; fencing can get expensive and can be unattractive. Deer do have preferences for what they like to eat so we can plant things that they find less attractive. Being really careful about what you plant can reduce deer damage. That won’t help what you already have. My method of choice for controlling deer damage is repellants in the form of granules or spray. It is absolutely not harmful to the plants or the deer. The one I choose, Deer Stopper, has putrefied eggs, rosemary oil, and other ingredients. It smells pretty strong when I first spray it, but the smell evaporates. The plants I keep diligently sprayed have escaped deer damage. The cue is to have a good spray program. Where there is a will there is a way – to enjoy these creatures and minimize damage. With a little effort humans and deer can live in harmony with each other.


For more information consult (the web site for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System) and search for Publication ANR-1370

Protecting Our Waterways
by SherryBlanton
Sep 16, 2011 | 1712 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Gail Russell of the Alabama Clean Water Partnership spoke to our September Master Gardener meeting. She came with a very simple message but one we can all take to heart. Each of us can do something to help keep our lakes, creeks, and rivers cleaner. It is not hard, either.

A few things to remember:

Anything that goes into our storm drains goes directly into our waterways; think before you dump.

Do not pour gasoline, car oil, or liquids from any type of machinery into the ground or the storm drains. Get rid of these products by taking them to a place which recycles them.

Maintain your car so it does not leak oil. If a car leaks oil on the street, that leaking oil is washed from the street into the storm drain and eventually into our lakes, streams, and rivers.

Do not overuse pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers; do not pour unused amounts into the ground or into the storm drains. Dispose of them properly according to label instructions. Excess is washed into our groundwater and from there into our bodies of water.

Clean up after your pet. Those little packages our pets leave behind also get washed into our storm drains and pollute our waterways.

Recycle your grass clippings and leaves; do not dispose of them by putting them into the storm drains. Those kind of products can also wash into our waterways causing nutrients to build up which are bad for the health of the water.

Maintain your septic tank. That will save you money and problems and prevent leakage into the groundwater and into our bodies of water.

Use a rain barrel. The rainwater collected is so good for your plants. You will save money on your water bill and help protect our bodies of water. If you need a rain barrel, some of the big box stores sell them. The Extension Office and the Master Gardeners also sponsor rain barrel workshops

Plant a rain garden; the plants help clean storm water runoff.

If all of us followed these few simple rules, we can do so much to protect our waterways. This will help ensure that our lakes, streams, creeks, and rivers will be places where our children and their children can swim into the future.

For more information see

A Fall Vegetable Garden
by SherryBlanton
Sep 12, 2011 | 2488 views |  0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

For all of you who enjoying eating fresh fall and winter vegetables, now is a great time to plant your own fall garden. You can plant cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, collards, lettuce, spinach, turnips, and other treats.  Without summer's heat these all do much better in the garden  and don't go to seed before their time as they can do when planted in a spring garden. It is a little too late to plant most of these crops from seed, but many of our local stores carry a wonderful variety of plants. I was at one of the big box home stores and saw lettuces in a wide range of colors. If you don't have space to put these crops into the ground, many of them perform well in container gardens. Raised bed gardens also make good homes to these crops. For more information please consult the web site for the Extension Service: ACES.EDU and look for ANR 63, Planting Guide for Home Gardening in Alabama and Gardening in Alabama ANR 47. 

Growing these vegetables is a healthy and fun experience for the entire family.

Butterfly Magnet
by SherryBlanton
Sep 11, 2011 | 2566 views |  0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Scenes from the Jacksonville Pocket Park
Scenes from the Jacksonville Pocket Park

I am not sure if this is a Monarch or a Viceroy butterfly as they are very similar in appearance. The Viceroy uses his close appearance to the Monarch as a way to protect himself from predators. Monarchs are poisonous to predators and those same predators leave the Viceroy alone because the two look so much alike. This butterfly is visiting a large patch of lantana. Lantana is a butterfly magnet; they love the tubular shape of the individual flowers. Planting masses of a color helps bring the butterflies to your garden. Plants with tubular flowers provide an inviting place for the butterlies to sip the nectar.


Addendum: One of the very sharp readers to this blog pointed out that this butterfly is a Gulf Fritillary. From the top of the wings these three butterflies look very much alike--especially to an amateur butterfly watcher like myself. However, the underside of the wings is very different. But since I love this photograph I will keep it. 




Happy Birthday, Alabama Master Gardener Program
by SherryBlanton
Sep 07, 2011 | 2001 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

The Alabama Master Gardener program is 30 years old this year. The first MG class was held in 1981 in Madison County. My how we have grown; there are now 37 local Master Gardener Associations in Alabama. 

By the way there are also MG Associations all over the United States. Can you imagine the plant talk when all these gardeners get together? 



What or Who is a Master Gardener?
by SherryBlanton
Sep 05, 2011 | 2450 views |  0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

In my brief bio at the inauguration of my blog I mentioned that both Paula and I are Master Gardeners. That means we are members of a Volunteer Program administered by the Calhoun County Office of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. We are trained in the area of horticulture to be be able to educate others. To become certified as a MG an individual must successfully complete the Master Gardener training proram which is about three months of classwork (one day per week)  and then provide a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service to the community. After being certified as a MG we are asked to complete 25 hours of service to the community and to engage in 10 hours of continuing education  each year.

As a MG I have done all sorts of things from helping the Alabama Baptist Children's home id a truck load of plants they were given to speaking to area clubs in Calhoun County. I have loved every minute of it. 

The next class begins in January; the Extension Office is taking names now of folks who are interested in attending. Join us. The MG program is a way to learn alot about gardening and to be of service to our community. You get to meet the nicest people too!



Activities for Gardeners this Month
by SherryBlanton
Sep 03, 2011 | 1649 views |  0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink


If you were wondering what to do in September here are a few suggestions.

Rain Barrel/ Rain Garden Workshop (Build your own Rainbarrel)

On September 29th Hayes Jackson and Jennifer Yates will lead a rain barrel/rain garden workshop. The cost is $40 and includes the barrel, lunch, and starter plants for your rain garden. Preregistration is required by September 15th thru the Extension Office (your check is your registration). Starts at 10 am.

Recycled Tire Workshop

13 October 2011

1:00 to

We will get a prepainted tire and then decorate to our heart's content. Lunch, paint and brushes provided. Tires can be picked up the next day when they have dried. Be inspired! I have seen pictures of these done and they are so neat.

4:00 pm

Cane Creek Community Gardens

Come paint a tire from the landfill

Cost is $15 and Pre-Registration required by September 29 at the County Extension Office!!

Lunch and Learn

September 28th at Cane Creek Community Gardens, McClellan at noon. Bring your lunch and join us for a Fall Color and Tree ID tour through the Gardens at Cane Creek with David West. There will be ornamental landscape trees for sale. Lunch and Learn is sponsored by the Calhoun County Commission and The Calhoun County Master Gardeners. This will be the last Lunch and Learn of the 2011 sessions.

Jacksonville Birdwatching Group

This group will meet September 10 at 9 AM at the Jacksonville Community Center. They will be taking some neat field trips throughout the year.


Photography Class

Now that you made your wonderful tire planter and maybe even personalized your rain barrel, learn how to take a better picture. The Anniston Public Library is have a "Point and Shoot Digitial" camera class with Alicia Neeley at noon on September 15th. Bring a brown bag lunch and drinks provided. Free!


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