Upcoming Events

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.

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.

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.


ACMGA Members Give Building’s Entrance a New Look

new landscaping mulched in pine straw at the front of the building
After the work, there is a new look to the entrance!
This is the building before the ACMGA’s landscaping project.

The Autauga County Master Gardeners Association (ACGMA) has begun the first phase of giving the William Howard Smith Agricultural Building in Autaugaville a new look.

The William Howard Smith Agricultural Building is home to the Autauga County Extension Office, Autauga Forestry Commission, Farm Services Agency , and Natural Resources and Conservation Services.

In early June, Master Gardeners cleared away weeds and grass and installed beautiful flowering plants and shrubs in the entryway.

master gardeners pose for a photograph after completing the landscape project
Autauga County Master Gardeners who participated in the landscaping effort.

Master Gardener Glenn Huovenin spearheaded the effort. Huovenin said, ” With funding supplied by the Autauga County Commission, and with the help of Regional Extension Agent Mallory Kelly, we came up with a design and plant selection that will enhance the appearance of the entrance of the building”.

ACMGA members will care for the plants ensuring proper weeding, fertilization, and dead-heading of spent blooms. The ACMGA plans to extend the landscaping around the building in the near future.

Fire Blight


Contributed by :Mallory Kelley

Fire blight affects many plant species each year, and once you know the symptoms you will start noticing it everywhere.  This spring it seems to be more prevalent and a warmer winter along with the drought stress we had in the fall is what I attribute it to. Fire Blight, caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora, is a common and destructive disease of pear, apple, quince, hawthorn, many other members of the rose plant family as well as several stone fruit trees. The host range of the fire blight pathogen includes nearly 130 plant species in 40 genera. Badly diseased trees and shrubs are usually disfigured and may even be killed by fire blight.

Peach tree with a shriveled rotten peach

The term fire blight describes the blackened, burned appearance of damaged flowers, twigs, and foliage. Symptoms appear in early spring. Blossoms first become water-soaked, then wilt, and finally turn brown. Fruit may be infected by the bacterium directly through the skin or through the stem. Immature fruit are initially water-soaked, turning brownish black and becoming mummified as the disease progresses. These mummies often cling to the trees for several months.

Shortly after the blossoms die, leaves on the same spur or shoot turn brown and black. As the twig and leaf blight phase progresses, leaves die and curl downward, but do not drop from the tree which produces a “shepherd’s crook” appearance. This is usually the time when this disease is noticed on a tree or shrub. Spraying at this time is pointless, sanitization is the only cure.  This means cutting back at least 12 inches behind the scorched area and sanitizing pruners between every cut.  Choosing tolerant plant varieties is an easy way to reduce the likelihood of getting fire blight. Another option is to apply antibiotics (bactericides) very early in the spring, but timing can be very tricky for complete control.  Remember, Antibiotics are protectants and not cures so they must be present to prevent the infection. The best way for a homeowner to avoid fireblight is to choose resistant varieties.

If you have gardening related questions, call the 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)



Avoiding the Garden Itch

Contributed by: Mallory Kelley, Regional Extension Agent

Beware of those poisonous vines while working in the yard this summer.  Each year many Alabamians come into contact with poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac while in the outdoors, but it is not only summer when you have to be careful so always be on the lookout.  Even in the winter when the vines look brown and dead they still contain oils that will cause allergic reactions.  These plants can cause a great deal of discomfort, itching and pain from contact on the skin and even greater if the oils get in your lungs or eyes so never burn these vines as the oils can get in the air and be inhaled.

All three of these poisonous plants are easily found throughout the Southeast, but they look very similar in appearance and are often confused with each other and other plants such as virginia creeper, box elder or fragrant sumac, all of which are nonpoisonous.

Poison ivy is often found climbing high on trees, walls or fences or trailing on the ground. This woody vine has hairy looking aerial roots and can grow to more than 10 feet tall, says John Everest, Extension Weed Scientist of Auburn University.  All parts of the plant are poisonous and poison ivy always has three leaflets. Flowers and fruit form in clusters on slender stems attached to the leaf limbs.  Poison ivy has toxic oil in the stems and leaves that many people are highly allergic to and develop a rash. The rash usually starts with itchiness and swelling, followed by a reddish inflammation of tiny pimples. The rash can vary in severity from person to person and can begin as early as an hour after contact or up to five days after contact. The oil can even be transmitted from a pet’s fur or from smoke of burning poison ivy.

Poison oak is very similar to poison ivy, but it does not climb. Its leaves are thicker, are a dull green and are hairy on both sides of the leaves. Poison oak is found in dry, sunny sites in woodlands, thickets and old fields.

Poison sumac is a shrub and can grow to 25 feet tall. Leaves are 7 to 15 inches long and have 7 to 15 leaflets to a central stem, with one leaflet at the end of the stem. It is found mostly in swamps or moist bottom lands. Poison sumac also has ivory or white berries that form in clusters.  Same as the poison ivy, never burn these plants and poison oak and poison sumac also have toxic oils that can cause an allergic rash on the skin.

All of these irritating plants range in appearance as leaf shapes will vary even on the same plant and they will also vary in form from rough, woody vines to erect woody shrubs or trailing shrubs that run on the ground.  Never base your identification on one or two leaves, but look at the overall plant and many leaves and compare size and shapes to determine the plants identify and if ever in doubt, leave it alone.

May and June are the best times to apply control measures to these poison plants, but it can be done any time of the year.  Spraying the foliage with products that are listed with the active ingredient: glyphosate is recommended. To kill poison ivy on trees, cut the vine right above the ground, then treat any leaves coming from the vine on the ground with glyphosate. More than one application may be necessary, but eventually this herbicide will kill the roots and prevent sprouting. Always follow directions on the label when using this herbicide. Glyphosate will kill almost any plant when it comes in contact with the green plant tissue and does not remain active in the soil.

To prevent these plants from poisoning your summer, become familiar with how the plants look and avoid them. If you come in contact with one of the plants, wash your skin with strong soap and hot water immediately, and remove and wash all clothes, including shoes and socks in a strong detergent and warm or hot water. Also, keep your hands away from your eyes, mouth and face.

If you develop a rash, don’t scratch it. You can apply calamine lotion, zinc oxide ointment or a paste made with baking soda and water to the rash. If these measures don’t work, call your doctor.

Some people have severe allergic reactions to these plants and can have swelling in the throat, breathing problems, weakness, dizziness and bluish lips. Some people even fall into unconsciousness. If any of these reactions occur, seek emergency medical care.

SOURCE: Dr. John Everest, Extension Weed Scientist, Alabama Cooperative Extension System,

If you have gardening related questions, call the 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.

Montgomery (April 5th), Autauga (April 6th), and Elmore (April 11th) are all about Growing Tomatoes at their Lunch and Learn for April!  Please come learn how you can improve your tomato plant health and harvest this summer!


Controlling Weeds in Your Lawn

Contributed by: Mallory Kelley, Regional Extension Agent

A weed can have many definitions, but its true definition is “a plant out of place” and in the case of your lawn, those plants can be hard to control and definitely an eye sore.  Some even can be out right painful in the case of the lawn burweed. When looking for control, the product label is the best source of information as to which lawn grasses can be treated with a particular product. Read the label carefully before purchase and use the information to ensure safety to the applicator as well as the home lawn setting.

Quickly, let’s review a few terms that will help you when trying to control weeds in your turfgrass: Preemergence herbicide: A herbicide that is applied to the lawn grass surface before problem weed seeds germinate and emerge from the ground. These herbicides must be applied before a weed problem is even noticed. Postemergence herbicide: A herbicide that is applied after weeds have emerged, but while they are small and actively growing. This type of herbicide is applied to the leaf and stem tissue of the problem weeds. Generally, postemergence herbicides will not control weeds that germinate and emerge after the application.  Non-selective herbicide: A herbicide that kills all vegetation treated. Typically, these products are applied to the foliage of the weeds. This type herbicide will also severely injure or kill desirable plants. “Green-up” period (transition period): A short period of time in the spring when desirable lawn grass is emerging from its dormant state. It is dur

ing this time that grasses are most sensitive to herbicides and, in many cases, the herbicide labels prohibit their use.

This year is going to be tricky when it comes to weed control in the lawn due to the crazy fluctuations of temperatures and the fact that we have barely experienced winter.  Our turf grasses went dormant, but many of them have been trying to come out of dormancy or “green-up” for weeks now.  Generally, I would say February is the time to put out your pre-emergence products to control your spring weeds, but with the February we had, that would not have been a good idea and now March is upon us.

So this year I say skip your winter pre-emergence application, and if you currently have weeds popping up you could spot spray with a non-selective herbicide if your extremely careful or use a labeled post-emergence product so you do not damage your turf.  Then once your grass has fully emerged from dormancy apply a pre-emergence that will then help control your summer weed seeds that are sitting there waiting for the right temperatures to germinate.

Knowing what type of turfgrass you have is especially important when it comes to weed control.  If you are not sure, you can always contact your local county extension office.  Below is a link to the Homeowner Lawn Weed Control Manual that will be extremely helpful in choosing what product is right for you.


When using Herbicides-Always read and follow label directions.

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 topics, dates and locations for Elmore, Autauga and Montgomery Counties.

Arbor Day Celebration Was A Success!

Over 3 thousand  saplings enjoying new homes this month.  In February, the Autauga Forestry & Wildlife Stewardship Council, Autauga County Master Gardeners and the City of Prattville handed out hundreds of free trees to residents as part of Arbor Day celebrations.


The sapling giveaways were held in Prattville  at the Doster Center on February 18, 2017 and in Autaugaville at the Autaugaville Volunteer Fire Department on February 23, 2017. Varieties including fruit trees, crepe myrtles, oak, river birch, and hickory trees are now being cared for by thousands of Autauga County residents.

Also, the Autauga County Master Gardeners and the Prattville Parks and Recreation Department held a free class on pruning trees, shrubs, and roses at the Prattville Parks and Recreation Office.  The February 19th class focused focus on the proper pruning of the Crape Myrtle tree. The Autauga County Extension office is a member of the Autauga Forestry & Wildlife Stewardship Council and supports the Autauga County Master Gardeners program.