Upcoming Events



Holiday Decorating

The holidays are approaching and it will soon be time to decorate. Want some ideas for decorating for both Thanksgiving and Christmas? Come join the Autauga County Master Gardeners Association and the Prattville Parks & Recreation Department on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 from 9:00 am-11:00 am at the Doster Center, 425 S. Northington St., Prattville, AL  36067.

Hosted by Charlotte Hall. She has been a Master Gardener since 2013 and has been decorating with natural materials for as long as she can remember.In addition to looking nice, the scents associated with plants and other natural materials that can be used to decorate for the holidays are some of the most popular.  To sign up or for more information, contact Prattville Parks & Recreation office at 334-595-0800. Free to the public, but Pre-Registration is required.

Master Gardeners Association Holiday Decorating

Become a Master Gardener!

Contributed by: Regional Extension Agent Mallory Kelley

Would you like to become a Master Gardener?

Do you have a love for gardening or have the desire to learn how?  The Autauga County Extension office is recruiting for the fall 2018 Master Gardener class.  Classes will begin Wednesday, September 5th, so get your applications in now.

The deadline to register is Friday, August 10th, 2018 and the cost is $150.00.  Applications are available at this link:Autauga 2018 Master Gardener Application

side view of gardening activity, unrecognizable woman hands wearing gloves, with her work tool planting seeds.

The Master Gardener Program is a nationwide Cooperative Extension Education Program designed for non-professionals who have an interest in increasing their gardening skills and helping others with the knowledge they have gained.

Herb Workshop Presenters
Presenters at Autauga County Master Gardeners Program (left to right): Janice Hall, Jane Mobley, Mallory Kelley

 

The Master Gardener program will consist of 12 weeks of class and hands-on training.  After completing the courses, the Autauga County Master Gardener interns will be expected to give 10 hours of service to the Master Gardener Helpline and 40 hours of volunteer service to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and/or their communities.

Examples of volunteer efforts include: Talking to Garden Clubs, community garden projects, outdoor school projects, educational workshops, or assisting the local Cooperative Extension Office in some way.

The courses on gardening will be taught by specialists, county agents, and veteran Master Gardeners on subjects such as:  Soils and Plant Nutrition, Plant Physiology, Plant Propagation, Care of Landscape Plants, Landscape Design, Lawn Care, Weed and Tree Identification, Vegetable Gardening, Herbs, Composting, and many more.

The Autauga County Master Gardener classes will be held on Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Autauga County Extension Office in Autaugaville beginning September 5th through November 14th, 2018.

For an application please contact the Autauga County Office at (334) 361-7273.  The fee associated with this class is $150.

“Have You Seen ‘Ums”?

Contributed by:

Mallory Kelley, Regional Extension Agent

If you are into camping, fishing, gardening, or really just hanging out on your patio grilling you may have come in contact with biting midges or what many people call “no-see-ums.”  They are especially bad early in the morning and late in the afternoon, but can also be present at any time of day when it is cloudy and no breeze.

adult biting midge

They get the name “no-see-ums” due to their tiny size and go unnoticed until you feel their painful bite.  They are barely visible to the naked eye so many times people don’t know what is biting them. Males and females feed on nectar, but the females require blood for their eggs to mature. The females will blood-feed primarily around dawn and dusk; however, there are some species that prefer to feed during the day.  The larvae cannot develop without moisture, but do not require standing water as they can develop in soil as long as it stays moist.

In the U.S., the biting midges are primarily a nuisance and the major medical issue associated with Culicoides is allergic reactions to the bites. However, in some countries they do vector diseases.

Insecticide applications targeting the adult stage are not efficient. While this type of application may kill biting midges activity one night, they are continually dispersing from the larval habitat and entering areas of human activity. Killing biting midges would require insecticide applications on a daily basis in some areas, and this is not efficient or environmentally sound. Many government agencies that provide mosquito control services receive complaints about biting midges. However, most of the programs are not mandated or allowed to respond by providing control measures.

Homeowners can install proper screening for windows and patios to prevent “no-see-ums” from entering areas used for leisure and entertaining. Most biting midges can pass through 16-mesh insect wire screen and netting, so a smaller mesh size is required. The small mesh size does limit air flow through the screens. In addition, because “no-see-ums” are so small and are weak fliers, ceiling and window fans can be used at high speeds to keep “no-see-ums” out of small areas.

Repellents containing DEET for mosquito repellents are also labeled for use against “no-see-ums” and can decrease your exposure to the painful insect. It is important that the directions for application that are printed on the label are followed for any product used as a repellent.

If you have other gardening related questions, please call the Master Gardener Helpline at:

1-877-ALA-GROW (252-4769), Monday – Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Are you interested in learning more about seasonal gardening topics?  Please join us for the FREE Master Gardener Lunch and Learn Program in your area.  These are EVERY MONTH from 12:00-1:00, Bring a Sack Lunch, Drinks Provided:

June topics and locations:

Montgomery: The 1st Wednesday of EVERY month

Topic: Butterfly Gardening in the South, Jane Mobley, Advanced Master Gardener

Armory Learning Arts Center on Madison Ave.

Wetumpka: The 2nd Tuesday of EVERY month

Topic: Landscape Design, Rip Weaver, Director of Aldridge Gardens

Elmore County Extension Office Auditorium

Prattville: The 1st Thursday of EVERY month

Topic: Herbs, Tia Gonzalez, Director of Auburn University Medicinal Plant Garden

Trinity United Methodist Church, Prattville

The War Against Lawn Weeds

Contributed by: Mallory Kelley, Regional Extension Agent

Many of you have given up the battle to treat your lawn on your own, and many of you are still waging war yourself and wondering “What am I doing wrong?” Well, if you want to get ahead of the game, a pre-emergent applied in February is the way to go! This article will hopefully give you several tips from pre and post emergent products to fertilizers to help you achieve the beautiful lawn you are hoping for. 

The most popular product out there that seems to have it all, the “one stop shop” for all your lawn needs is the “weed and feed” products. I am often asked if this is the correct way to treat the lawn.  In central Alabama, there is not a large window of time during which this product would be beneficial, but it can be used in May or early June when an extra application of fertilizer would not hurt, and the application of the pre-emergent chemical in the product will help prevent weed seeds from germinating through the summer and into the fall.

The best and most effective control of weeds in the lawn may take a little more effort than the “weed & feed”, “all in one” products, but you can save money and time in the long run applying them separately.  Pre-emergent weed killers should be selected based on the type of grass you have.  These weed control products are preventative, so they should be applied before the weeds are visible in the lawn as they prevent the seeds of the weeds from germinating.  These and can be applied any time of year except during “green-up” or to newly seeded or sprigged lawns, but again February is a great month as we will soon have spring like temperatures and spring weeds will start to germinate.  Do not reseed a lawn for 4-6 months after a pre-emergent chemical is applied and remember to always read and follow all label instructions when making applications of any chemical.  I have provided information below to access our website for a list of all Pre and Post-emergent chemicals on the market so you can correctly select the chemical that is best for your lawn situation. Don’t forget, a post-emergent herbicide is only going to kill a weed that has already begun to grow in the lawn.

Fertilizers are generally applied twice throughout the year, first in early spring during green-up and then again in mid-summer.  Fertilizer type and amounts should be based on soil test results, not guess work and anytime is a good time to have a soil test.  Soil tests will provide you with the correct type of fertilizer and amounts needed for your specific lawn. A soil test will also indicate whether lime is needed, and lime can be added at anytime of year. Remember, lime raises the soil pH.  A soil test will help you become more accurate in your fertilizer application, provide your grass with the exact nutrients it needs and save you money down the road.

For information on proper care of your turfgrass visit our publications online at www.aces.edu and search for the type of grass you have.  Also, for a list of pre and post-emergent chemicals that are available and the type of lawn they can be applied to, visit our website and search for: IPM Weed Control or access this link:  http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0500-B/VOL2-2011/home_lawns_weed.pdf

Join us in February for our lunch and learn gardening programs in Central Alabama.

All Programs are FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!

EVERY MONTH from 12:00-1:00, Bring a Sack Lunch, Drinks Provided!

February’s Topics and locations:

Montgomery: The 1st Wednesday of EVERY month, Armory Learning Arts Center, 1018 Madison Ave.              For more information: (334)270-4133

Topic: Home Gardening Facts, Mallory Kelley, Regional Extension Agent

Wetumpka: The 2nd Tuesday of EVERY month, Elmore Co. Extension Office, 340 Queen Ann Road     For more information: (334)567-6301

Topic: Backyard Birding and Wildlife, Hal Smith, Wild Birds Unlimited

Prattville: The 1st Thursday of EVERY month, Trinity United Methodist, 610 Fairview Ave., Prattville AL           For more information: (334)361-7273

Topic: Rose Gardens, Gloria Purnell, Master Rosarian

***Coosa: Monday, February 26 from 11:00-1:00 Coosa County Extension Office, 13999 AL Highway 22, Rockford, AL

For more information: (256)377-4713

Topic: Seed Starting and Grafting Techniques, Mallory Kelley, Regional Extension Agent

     

 

 

 

 

Residents Learn Gardening Tips During 1st Lunch & Learn of 2018

An impressive number of local residents learned gardening tips during the first Lunch & Learn of 2018!  The Autauga County Master Gardeners Association offers free “Lunch & Learn” meetings on the first Thursday of each month.

               January 4, 2018 Lunch & Learn Meeting in Autauga County

On January 4, 2018, Amanda Borden discussed gardening tips that  are specificic to central Alabama gardeners. Amanda is an Advanced Master Gardener, and her presentation was well received by beginner and advanced gardeners.

This year, ACMGA membars and local residents are meeting in a new location to accommodate increased participation in the fun classes that are offered during a lunch hour, 12:00 – 1:00 PM. The ACMGA Lunch & Learn meetings are being held at Trinity United Methodist Church, 610 Fairview Avenue, Prattville, AL 36066. Expect to learn about a different topic on each first Thursday of each month! Click here to review the schedule for 2018: 2018 ACMGALL Full Page Flyer

 

Remember to bring your sack lunch; water or tea will be provided. This program is free and open to the public.

For more information, please contact the Autauga County Extension Office (334) 361-7273.

 

 

 

New Lunch and Learn Location for 2018!

To accommodate growing attendance numbers, the Autauga County Master Gardeners Association Lunch & Learn program is being moved to a new location!

Portrait of mid-adult woman proudly showing her plants

On the first Thursday of every month, the 2018 Lunch & Learn programs will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church, 610 Fairview Avenue, Prattville, AL 36066, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. These free programs  are open to the public. Registration is not required.  Click here for a printable version of the 2018 Lunch & Learn Schedule2018 ACMGALL Full Page Flyer

Participants are encouraged to bring a sack lunch to enjoy as they learn about such topics as: shade loving plants, growing citrus trees in containers, drought tolerant plants for the South, and much more. The first meeting of 2018 will be held on January 4th, and the topic is “Gardening 101”.

Please view the attached schedule for meeting topics and speakers, or you may contact the Autauga County Extension Office at 334.361.7273 for more information.

Insects of the Fall Months

Contributed by:  Mallory Kelley, Regional Extension Agent

Fall Webworms and Asian Wooly Hackberry Aphids

Many calls and questions have come in about two insects in particular this month.  First, the webbing that many people see in trees this time of year indicate the presence of fall webworms.  These worms have been known to web in over 85 species of trees in the United States and in our area are most commonly seen in, but not limited to; oaks, pecans, cherry, willow, and river birch.

 Fall webworms become very visible in late summer and fall and create silken nests around leaves at the ends of branches.  All of the feeding from the webworms occurs within the silken nests and last approximately six weeks and if food runs out new foliage will be encased.                                  

Though the webs are very unsightly, damage to most trees is considered to be insignificant and especially if it is occurring close to fall when the trees will naturally be losing their leaves with the change of the season. One of your best measures of defense is sanitation.  As limbs, nuts and leaf debris drop from the tree, clean this up to reduce sites for the insects to overwinter on the ground and come right back next year. As always, less stress to the trees throughout the year will make them less susceptible to the attack of insects and disease issues.

The second insect that has caused a great concern this month has been the Asian Wooly Hackberry Aphid.  We as southerners are very familiar with the aphid, but this aphid has a little different appearance than what we are used to. Not seen in these great numbers every year, this insect has been described in central Alabama as hot dry “snow” but even if you have not seen them you might still be asking yourself,  “Why is this sticky stuff getting on my car?” and “What’s making my trees turn black?”

The Asian wooly hackberry aphid is one of the many relatively new pests that have been accidentally introduced to the state.  Adults are about 1/16 inch long and are covered with a white, cotton-like waxy material that makes them relatively easy to identify. Adults may be winged or wingless. During the past few weeks large numbers of winged adults have been seen in areas where there are a lot of hackberry trees.

Both adults and nymphs produce large amounts of honeydew, which accounts for the sticky accumulations on vehicles parked beneath hackberry trees. Heavy infestations of this pest can cause trees to defoliate prematurely. There is little risk of this pest attacking other plants.

While this insect can be controlled with sprays, few homeowners have the equipment needed to apply treatments to mature trees. Even when equipment is available, foliar sprays are often not an option because of the drift onto adjacent property. For now, the best approach is to live with the situation. They will go away in a few weeks.

 

All Bugs Good and Bad

Tune in each month for the free webinar, “All Bugs Good and Bad”.

On September 1, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. CST  speaker, Molly Keck from Texas A&M Extension, will give a very beneficial talk on “Meet our Native Pollinators”. The webinar will be recorded, so you can watch it any time.  To watch a webinar, just log in as a guest 15 minutes before the webinar begins.

Use this link: https://learn.extension.org/events/2849

(Photograph of native pollinator contributed by Dani Caroll)

2017 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series: Meet Our Native Pollinators

Event starts: Friday, September 1 at 2:00 pm EDT

Event ends: Friday, September 1 at 3:00 pm EDT

Location: TBA

Pollinators have been in the news a lot in the last couple of years.  While many of us are familiar with the European honeybee, we are not so familiar with our native pollinators.  Join Molly Keck, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension as she introduces us to some of our native pollinators, their habitats, and ways to preserve them. Moderated by Dani Carroll and Sallie Lee, Regional Extension Agents, Alabama Cooperative Extension System.   Note: on September 1, the link to the live webinar opens about 15 minutes before the webinar. If you try to log in earlier, you will get an error message.

For more webinars in this series, click here:All Bugs Good and Bad Free Webinars.

The webinars are brought to you by the following eXtension Communities of Practice: Ant Pests, and Urban IPM; and by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension ServiceClemson Cooperative Extension and University of Georgia Extension.
Dani Carroll

 

Planting a Fall Vegetable Garden

side view of gardening activity, unrecognizable woman hands wearing gloves, with her work tool planting seeds.

Contributed by: Mallory Kelley, Regional Extension Agent

If your summer vegetable garden was a bust, you are not alone. The cool late spring weather was wonderful and all this rain after the drought in the fall was much needed, but the problems they caused on our summer vegetables has been severe.  If your tomatoes, peppers, beans and squash didn’t survive, don’t give up, you must try again and why not with a fall garden?

Fall vegetables are really my favorite to grow and I have just about decided I will leave the peppers and tomatoes to my grandfather and avoid the summer heat, afternoon rain showers and weeding all together and take my turn providing for the family in the fall.  We are blessed by our warm Alabama climate that we can grow vegetables year round.

Many cool-season vegetables, such as carrots, broc­coli, cauliflower, collards, lettuce and Brussels sprouts, produce their best flavor and quality when they are maturing during cool weather. In Alabama, the spring temperatures often heat up quickly causing vegetables such as lettuce and spinach to bolt (flower) or develop a bitter flavor.  This is why planting these veggies late in the summer or early fall when we are transitioning to cooler temps is more ideal than in the spring.

Growing a productive fall vegetable garden requires thoughtful planning and good cultural practices. In Alabama, August and September are the ideal months for planting a fall garden. For a more accurate planting schedule, determine the average date of the first killing frost in the fall, and then count backward from the frost date, using the number of days to maturity to determine the best time to plant in your area.

Alabama in August and September is usually hot and dry.  If you choose to plant your fall veggies from seed during these months you must be careful to keep the soil moist.  Incorporating organic matter into the soil will help add nutrients and increase water holding capacity.  Lettuce and spinach seeds will not germinate if the soil temperature exceeds 85 degrees F so for these you may need to wait a bit longer before sowing or plant from transplants. Also remember to mulch the garden to moderate moisture levels as September and October are our driest months with very little rainfall.

You can extend your summer vegetable crop and your semi-hardy vegetables on into the fall and winter easily by protecting them from frost. In Alabama, we often enjoy several weeks of good growing conditions after the first frost. Cover growing beds, rows or individual plants with burlap or a floating row cover supported by stakes or wire to keep the material from directly touching the plants.

Most hardy vegetables require little or no frost protection, but semi-hardy vegetables should be protected or harvested before a heavy freeze.  Root crops such as carrots and radishes should be harvested or mulched heavily before a hard freeze. Mulched root crops can often be harvested well into the winter, and during mild winters, harvest may continue until spring.

So, if your summer garden was a flop, or you’re wanting to continue your progress of home vegetables into this fall and winter, it’s not too late.  There is still time to plant, especially the HARDY vegetables that can withstand a light frost such as:  Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Collards, Kale, Kohlrabi, Onions, Radishes, Spinach and Turnips.

If you have questions about any of these vegetables or others please call our Master Gardener Helpline!

March through August the Alabama Cooperative Extension System offers a Gardening Helpline for the general public each Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.  This helpline is operated by Master Gardener Volunteers who use research based information to best answer all of your gardening questions.

If you’ve got home garden questions, we’ve got answers!

Call 1-877-252-GROW (4769)

 

Please join us for the FREE Master Gardener Lunch and Learn Program in your area  EVERY MONTH from 12:00-1:00, Bring a Sack Lunch, Drinks Provided.

Coosa (August 1st)-11:00-1:00- Managing Fire Ants, Mallory Kelley

Montgomery (August 2nd) – Water Wisely- Drip Irrigation, Mary McCroan

Autauga (August 3rd) – Tough Native Wildflowers, Sue Webb

Elmore (August 8th)-Preserving your Gardens Bounty, Food Preservation Agent, Janet Johnson

Please join us and bring a friend!

For more information, call your local county extension office.

www.aces.edu

Be On the Watch for Ambrosia Beetles

Contributed by: Mallory Kelley, Regional Extension Agent

The Granulate Ambrosia Beetles have been causing quite a stir in home landscapes over the past few weeks.   This beetle was introduced into the United States in the early 1970’s in South Carolina and has since spread throughout the southeast and as far north as Maryland. This tiny beetle is a pest of woody ornamentals, fruit, and nut trees and can cause significant damage in nursery, landscape, and orchard settings.

Granulate ambrosia beetles emerge in early spring and attack thin-barked, deciduous trees.  Tree species most commonly reported with damage are dogwood, redbud, maple, ornamental cherry, Japanese maple, and crepe myrtle.  Other reported hosts include pecan, peach, plum, persimmon, golden rain tree, sweet gum, Shumard oak, Chinese elm, magnolia, fig, hydrangea, and azalea.

Young trees and small branches of mature trees are where these beetles attack.  Female beetles bore into the trunks and branches (1-4 inches in diameter) and excavate galleries in the wood.  In addition to boring damage, female beetles inoculate trees with ambrosia fungus, which can block xylem vessels and interfere with vascular transport.   Infested plants often die from boring damage, ambrosia fungus, or infection by a secondary pathogen.

These beetles attack seemingly healthy trees as well as stressed or unhealthy trees.  Visible symptoms include wilted foliage and strands of boring dust protruding from small holes. Serious attacks that result in tree death usually occur during the leafing-out stage.

Infestations can be easily be identified by toothpick-like strands protruding up to 1.5 inches from the bark of the host plant. The strands of boring dust are produced by the female beetle as she excavates her gallery. The strands are fragile and are easily broken off by wind or rain leaving only pencil-lead sized holes. This being the case, your tree may be infected and you would not even know it until you start seeing the dieback of the foliage.

Preventative applications of pyrethroid insecticides can protect trees by preventing Granulate Ambrosia Beetles from excavating galleries.  However, once beetles are inside trees they cannot be killed with insecticides and fungicides are ineffective against the ambrosia fungus.  Thus, the timing of preventative insecticide applications is crucial to protect trees from damage by this pest.  Dr. Charles Ray, Auburn University Extension Entomologist says “recent research of the first flight of granulate ambrosia beetle in spring has found it occurs at almost exactly the same time as Bradford pears beginning to bloom.  This gives a clear sign to a homeowner of when they should apply the preventative sprays.”

If you notice the white strands protruding from the branches or main trunk of your trees or shrubs the plant parts should be removed and destroyed.

Sources: Dr. Charles Ray, Auburn University, Extension Entomologist.

North Carolina State University http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/trees/note111/note111.html

If you have questions on a garden-related topic, the Master Gardener Helpline is open!

Call 1-877-ALA(252)-GROW(4769)

March through August the Alabama Cooperative Extension System offers a Gardening Helpline for the general public each Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.  This helpline is operated by Master Gardener Volunteers who use research-based information to best answer all of your gardening questions.

Join us for a Gardening Lunch and Learn!

Interested in learning more about seasonal gardening topics?  Please join us for the FREE Master Gardener Lunch and Learn Program in your area EVERY MONTH from 12:00-1:00, Bring a Sack Lunch, Drinks Provided.  Call your local county office for more information! In Autauga County meetings are held in Prattville: The 1st Thursday of EVERY month, Christ Lutheran Church, 2175 Cobbs Ford Road. For more information: (334)361-7273.