Upcoming Events

Cake Decorating with Fondant

cakes decorated with fondant icing

On the morning of June 30,2016, Regional Extension Agent Janice Hall meticulously cleaned and lined the tables of the auditorium in preparation for her upcoming class.  Hall was preparing for her Cake Decorating – Learn to Earn Workshop which offered an exciting twist – decorating with Fondant.

cake decorating 3

” Fondant is a fun decorating tool for cake design.  It is a thick paste made of sugar and water and often flavored or colored and is used in candy and cake decorations”, Hall said.

During the course on June 30,2016, participants learned what materials and ingredients to use, how to make their own fondant, and how to delicately layer their creations on a cake.

The learning atmosphere was fun and relaxed with Hall walking from table to table encouraging participants.   Autauga County CEC Darrue Sharpe, who decorated her own star-spangled cake, was a part of the fun.                                                                                                              cake decorating 21

“Janice’s class represents what we hope our Autauga County residents will glean from Extension, and that is a sense of accomplishment by learning to create based on research based teaching from our trained Regional Extension Agents.  Plus, this is just plain fun!,” Sharpe said.

One of the participants chose to celebrate her birthday learning to decorate with fondant. The results of the Cake Decorating- Learn to Earn Workshop were wonderful!

cake decorating 6cake decorating7Cake Decorating, birthday girlFullSizeRender (003)

Autauga County Master Gardeners Share Gardening Knowledge

The Autauga County Master Gardeners are accepting applications for their upcoming Fall Class.  Applications received prior to July 15,2016 will receive a $25.00 discount on the class.

Click here for your application Master Gardener Application

For more information about the Master Gardener Program, please contact Regional Extension Agent Mallory Kelley at 334.361.7273.

New Master Gardener Logo

Plant Galls Appearing Everywhere

Pink azalea bush blooming in a blue day of springtime

Contributed by: Regional Extension Agent, Mallory Kelley

This seems to be the season for galls, from camellia galls to azalea galls and even pecan galls, the question is what should you do if you have them?  Are they going to kill the plant, is it an insect or a disease?

Azaleas are a staple plant for the southern landscape with many different varieties and types.  They prefer a shady environment with morning sun and acid soil (pH 4.5-5.5).  If they get too much sun or the pH gets too high, they can develop some problems.  Azaleas are most commonly affected by lace bugs and spider mites, but from time to time you will see galls which can be pale green, pink, white, or brown fleshy growths, caused by the fungus Exobasidium vaccinii, that may develop on leaves, branch tips, flower parts, and even on seedpods. The fungus overwinters within the infected plant. In the late spring and early summer, a whitish coating appears on the swollen plant tissue. This coating is composed of many microscopic fungal structures which produce spores capable of infecting more plants during moist weather. This disease is not usually a serious problem unless wet conditions prevail for long periods of time. To control this problem, the galls should be hand-picked and destroyed before they turn white. If the gall is removed you greatly reduce the chances of it occurring next year.

Camellias are also a staple landscape plant in the south and much like the azalea prefer a shady environment with morning sun and an acid pH. They too can be plagued with a gall forming fungal disease (Exobasidium camelliae) which is very closely related to that on the azalea (Exobasidium vaccinia), but these galls only form on leaves and young shoots and range from a cream to light green to a pink or reddish color.

As these galls mature, several layers of the lower leaf surface will peel away revealing a white color, which is the spores of the fungus. These spores are spread by the wind and splashing rain to the bark or buds of other camellias where they’ll lie dormant until next year and cause infection next spring. This disease is most commonly seen in April and May. Later in the season these galls will harden and turn brown and may fall to the ground or remain attached to the plants. Again, pruning the infected part of the branch and throwing it away is the best remedy.

Pecan galls are also a prevalent problem right now in the home garden.  Unlike the azalea and camellia galls this one is caused by an insect, Phylloxera spp. The Pecan Phylloxera are aphid-like insects that emerge in spring and infest leaves and twigs. Big populations of this insect can cause loss of the pecan crop for the current year and also the following year and heavy infestations can cause the tree to defoliate.  Often times if this occurs early in the year the tree will leaf back out before fall.

If you only enjoy your tree for its foliage and not the nuts, nothing needs to be done. Phylloxera populations vary widely from year to year depending on weather and predators. Controlling this problem in the home garden can be very difficult due to lack of equipment needed to spray a mature tree.  If you want to harvest nuts, use a hose-end sprayer designed for trees to apply the active ingredient spinosad or carbaryl in early April and again two weeks later spraying as high as you can possibly reach, some control is better than no control.

Timing the pesticide application is critical. You won’t get ANY control if you wait until you see the galls. Spray your tree about the time the pecan buds show a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch of new growth, usually this is around the first week in April. Good control one year will often keep phylloxera damage low for several years unless infested trees are nearby.

Making Nutrition Easy, Tasty and Affordable is a SNAP!

Contributed by:Agent Assistant, Shonda Wright

The Urban SNAP Education Program provides educational classes focusing on nutrition, exercise, food safety, and hand washing. Participants learn how to make wise choices, plan healthier meals, purchase safe foods, apply food safety skills when purchasing, preparing, cooking, and storing foods. Urban SNAP-Education Program promotes good health, wellness, and fitness  through nutrition education for adults and youth.

Also, food demonstrations provide hands-on learning for healthy meals.

If interested in Urban SNAP-Ed classes, please call Program Assistant Shonda Wright @(334) 505-4324 or email syw0002@auburn.edu