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Gardening Excitement Grows in Lowndes County Schools!

Two classes of 7th graders in Lowndes County are taking what they are learning in science class into their school’s courtyard by preparing raised beds for fall gardening.

In the pictures below, students relay supplies to the building site, learn to measure wood for the raised beds, work together putting the beds together, fill the beds with soil, and add fertilizer. Plants will go in on another date after students learn more about what they will need to do to help their fall crops grow.

UREA Roosevelt Robinson

Alabama Cooperative Extension System Urban Regional Extension Agent Roosevelt Robinson and  Lowndes County Extension Coordinator Tana Shealey are working with youth helping them make a connection between the science of horticulture and the hands-on gratification of growing fresh vegetables in their own surroundings.

Robinson, whose area of study includes Home Grounds, Home Gardens, and Home Pests, believes this ongoing project is beneficial to youth who might not have gardens at their homes.

Robinson stated, “School gardening has some amazing developmental benefits for today’s youth that help them to learn and grow. From engaging the senses, to encouraging healthy eating, a well thought out school garden has the potential to enhance motor skills, provide opportunities to introduce math and science concepts, even foster responsibility and teach patience. If your school doesn’t have a garden, then you should consider building one.  School gardens can have a positive effect on the mind, body, and spirit.”

Over the next few weeks, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Lowndes County team will be visiting area schools sharing the latest research on home gardening and creating raised beds. The Lowndes County Extension office is also working with residents in maintaining  raised bed gardens in public housing areas in Mosses and Ft. Deposit; there are plans for creating learning gardens at other locations throughout Lowndes County.

Lowndes County Extension Coordinator Tana Shealey

Shealey said, “We are so excited about the support that we are receiving from the Lowndes County Commission, the Lowndes County Board of Education, area business owners and residents. We are very thankful for the support that our teachers and school administrators are showing towards our youth.”

Much of the work being done in Lowndes County’s public schools is made possible by a federal grant aimed at providing fresh fruits and vegetables to residents, support from the Lowndes County Commission, and donated plants and supplies from a Hayneville hardware store, J.T. Bell Home Improvement Co.

 

 

Community Gardens in Mosses and Ft. Deposit

Residents in Ft. Deposit and Mosses are now tending a new source of fresh, healthy foods grown in their own neighborhoods. Watch this video coverage by the local CBS/ABC affiliate:Television Station Features Community Gardens in Mosses and Ft. Deposit

Recently, Urban Regional Extension Agent Roosevelt Robinson taught residents about planting and caring for a bounty of vegetables and fruit planted in raised bed gardens. Robinson also designed and helped install the raised beds in each residential area. This is a continuation of an effort started in Lowndes County about two years ago.

four young men plant raised bed garden in Mosses,Alabama
Youth plant vegetables in Mosses
Planting of community garden in Ft. Deposit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System, in partnership with the South Central Alabama Regional Housing Authority, is working with residents in maintaining raised bed community gardens from which community members may harvest fruit and vegetables year round. The gardens are open to the residents of the Mosses Public Housing Area and Ft. Deposit Public Housing Area and are cared for at no cost to them.

Housing Manager, Joy Kelly is proud of the effort, “I think that this is great for the tenants because there is a need for them to get fresh vegetables from a close location. Usually our community members must travel at least 10 to 15 miles to buy fresh produce.”

Recently residents planted collard greens, cabbages, tomatoes, bell peppers, okra, eggplants, and cantaloupe in raised beds at both the Mosses and Ft. Deposit public housing areas.

men plant seeds in raised beds at community garden
Residents prepare raised beds for seed
Second from left, Joy Kelly, helps plant garden in Ft. Deposit
Second from left, Joy Kelly, helps plant garden in Ft. Deposit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating and maintaining these community gardens  is part of the ALProHealth initiative through which the Alabama Cooperative Extension System strives to engage Alabamians in long-term, healthy nutritional practices.

The goal of AlProHealth is to implement evidence or practice-based strategies in promoting healthy lifestyles in Alabama counties with adult obesity rates of greater than 40 percent (The identified  counties are: Barbour, Bibb, Bullock, Chambers, Coosa, Crenshaw, Cullman, Escambia, Greene, Lowndes, Macon, Pickens, Sumter and Wilcox).

For more information about these community gardens in Mosses and Ft. Deposit, please contact the Lowndes County Extension Office at 334.548.2315.

Slug Management in Vegetables

Frequent rainfall and excessive soil moisture in the fall and early spring can bring some unusual problems for vegetable gardeners and farmers – slugs are one of them (pictures show slugs infesting cabbages in Central Alabama). Slug build-up is also favored by the presence of high organic matter in heavy (clay) soil; organic matter not serves as a food source but also provides shelter from the environment and natural predators.
slug on cabbage leaf
Slug on cabbages in central Alabama

While slugs are invertebrate animals with soft bodies, snails have a hard shell that covers most of the body. Attack from slugs seem to occur at various stages of vegetable crops with high intensity in the late stages of crops that can lead to direct feeding damage and crop contamination. Slugs are very common on brassica crops grown during cooler weather in Alabama and several slugs may hide inside the maturing crop. Many crops have zero tolerance for slug contamination which may lead to crop disaster. In recent years, we have experienced slug activity in cabbage fields along with the yellowmargined leaf beetles resulting in complex pest outbreaks. Literature suggests that female slugs lay eggs in soil in small batches in damp areas; immature stages seem to have a limited foraging distance with repeated feeding in certain areas over several days.

Slug monitoring:  Some publications suggest using upturned plastic pots baited with chicken feed or other cereal based food (including malted beverages) as a way of attracting slugs early in the season for general population assessment. Unfortunately, using a number of slug traps with baits is often a cumbersome process and producers often get surprised when slugs appear on the crop. BioCare Slug Trap is a commercial vegetable-extract based slug trap that may be sufficient to monitor or trap out slugs in small areas.

Cultural tactics:  Manage surface residues and till the soil when necessary to prevent slug buildup. Drain waterlogged areas in and around crop fields when possible, or use abrasive materials such as sand in wet areas not under crop production. Limit irrigation or overhead watering during weather with frequent rainfall – use a soil moisture meter or other devices to accurately determine crop irrigation needs. Since slugs seem to like certain crops (e.g., soft-leaf brassicas), crop rotation, early planting, and timely harvest may help reduce the overall population levels.

Natural enemies:  Ground-dwelling carabid beetles are aggressive predators of slugs, but not sufficient to provide control in the environmental conditions that favor slugs in the first place. Nemaslug, sold commercially by BASF in the Eurpoean market, is an organic control option that uses endoparasitic nematodes to destroy slugs.

Molluscicides: Slugs are not insects; so many insecticides do not provide control. Commercial snail and slug-control materials typically contain:

  • Iron phosphate (e.g., Sluggo by Montery, OMRI-certified; Bonide Slug Magic for Gardens),
  • Volatile oil blend (Monterey All Natural Snail & Slug Spray),
  • Diatomaceous earth with amorphous silica (Perma-Guard Crawling Insect Control)
  • Bait premix of iron phosphate and spinosad (Bug-N-Sluggo by Certis, Monterey Sluggo Plus)
  • Sulfur (Bug-Geta by Ortho)
  • Metaldehyde (Southern Ag Snail & Slug Bait, Deadline Mini-Pellets)
    slugs on cabbage - ayanava majumdar.JPG
    cabbages infested with slugs

     

    The drawbacks for some of the listed formulations is the high cost, low availability, and restricted crop uses. Multiple applications of products may also be needed for sustained effect. Always read the product label and/or consult the manufacturer before using molluscicides on high-value crops, since field research-data is very limited for many products. Check the OMRI symbol for organic farming use. Contact Alabama Extension Regional Extension Agent for correct pest identification and development of IPM plan.  

References:

Ayanava Majumdar,

Extension Entomologist & State SARE Program Coordinator