Upcoming Events



St. Clair County Farmers Market Opens June 6th

Peaches and Strawberries

The St. Clair County “Pell City” Farmers Market opens Wednesday, June 6th from 2–5:30 p.m. and is located on Hwy 231 North, just past the Pell City Post Office, in gravel parking lot in front of Mary’s Mini Warehouses. It will be open EVERY Wednesday from 2–5:30 p.m. until August 29th. Here is what you will find at the Market this year:

¨ Locally grown produce & honey

¨ Farmers Market Nutrition Voucher Program Redemption Site

¨ Weekly Drawings

¨ Special Event Days

¨ Cooperative Extension publications, cooking demos, pressure canner testing, gardening info, and much more

 

This is one of only 2 state-sanctioned Farmers Markets in St. Clair County. The other one is in Steele.

 

To find out what will be available at the Market each week, be sure to “like” our Facebook page, St. Clair County “Pell City” Farmers Market.

 

Mr. Worth Barham is the Farmers Market Manager this year.

 

 

 

AL Beekeepers Association: Dedicated to Helping Alabama’s Honeybees

St. Clair County Beekeepers LogoIf you are interested in the art of beekeeping and have 100 hives of bees or just one, the St. Clair County Beekeepers Association invites you to come and be a part of their association. Dues are only $10/person and are used to fund local activities such as special speakers and other various community events open to the public.

 

The St. Clair County Beekeepers Association was founded on October 12, 2012 to educate and organize local beekeepers all the way from hobbyist to the professional level. They meet at 7 p.m. on the 4th Thursday of the month at the St. Clair county Farmers Federation (ALFA) building located at 32775 US Hwy 231, Ashville, Alabama.

 

For more information about joining this association, please contact Ragina Swindeall at (205) 368-9112 or email stclairbeekeeping@gmail.com. Also, be sure to visit www.alabamabeekeepers.com.

 

 

 

 

Backyard Berries Lunch and Learn

A Backyard Berries Lunch and Learn will be held on Tuesday, June 26th from 12-1 p.m. at the Pell City 19th Street Recreation Hall. Admission is FREE! We will be discussing blueberries, blackberries, pruning, management, etc…

Bring a lunch and bring a friend! Soft drinks will be provided. To adequately prepare, please contact the St. Clair County Extension Office at 205-338-9416 to register or for more information.

Aquaponics and Hydroponics Workshop

Hydroponics

Interested in learning more about aquaponics or hydroponics? We have just the workshop for you!

 

Make plans now to join us on Thursday, July 12th from 1-3 p.m. at the St. Clair County Extension Office for an introduction into the practice of growing plants in a soil free environment. We will be covering the basics of soil-less culture and hydroponic techniques as well as an introduction into growing plants with the help of fish. This workshop is intended for hobbyists but the information can easily be transferred to commercial production. Topics to be discussed include: hydroponic systems; recirculating fish production; combining fish with plant production; the ends and outs of greenhouses; and where do I begin?

 

Space is limited! You must pre-register to attend by calling the St. Clair County Extension Office at (205) 338-9416 no later than Thursday, July 5th. Materials and refreshments provided.

 

Freezing and Dehydrating 101 Workshop

Dried Fruits

 

Freezing and dehydrating are great alternatives to canning fruits and vegetables. During this workshop, which will be held on Thursday, June 14th from 1-4 p.m. at the St. Clair County Extension Office, you will learn how to safely freeze and dry your summer bounty. It’s a great class for those wanting to eat clean and healthy without additives, preservatives, spoilage, or waste. These two methods can make meal planning much easier and quicker.

 

During this hands-on workshop, you will be preparing soup and various snacks that you can take home. You will also learn how to prepare crockpot meals, healthy recipes, and possibly dips and seasonings. A how-to on freezing fruits and vegetables easily in the summer will also be covered.

 

Class size is limited! Please call the St. Clair County Extension Office at (205) 338-9416 no later than June 7th to attend.

 

 

 

Become a Master Gardener This Year

Garden Shed

Have you always wanted to become a Master Gardener? Well, now’s your chance! Don’t miss out on our upcoming class which will be held every Wednesday at the Extension Office beginning August 29th—November 14th from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. We are only able to offer this course once every 2 years.

 

You must complete & submit an application to be considered for the class. This form can be accessed online at http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1155/ANR-1155.pdf or we will be glad to email or mail you a copy. For more information, please contact the St. Clair County Extension Office at 205-338-9416.

 

Registration fee is $125 but is not required until closer to class time! Happy Gardening!

 

Stay Informed with the Extension Newsletter

Image of Printed Extension Newsletters

The Extension Newsletter is published bi-monthly. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please email Lee Ann Clark, County Extension Coordinator, or call our the St. Clair County Extension Office at (205) 338-9416.

Current Issues

May/June, 2018 Extension Newsletter

March/April, 2018 Extension Newsletter

January/February, 2018 Extension Newsletter

 

2017 Past Issues

November/December, 2017 Extension Newsletter

September/October, 2017 Extension Newsletter

July/August, 2017 Extension Newsletter

May/June, 2017 Extension Newsletter

March/April, 2017 Extension Newsletter

January/February, 2017 Extension Newsletter

2016 Past Issues

November/December, 2016 Extension Newsletter

September/October, 2016 Extension Newsletter

July/August, 2016 Extension Newsletter

May/June, 2016 Extension Newsletter

March/April, 2016 Extension Newsletter

January/February, 2016 Extension Newsletter

The “Ins and Outs” of Mole Control

Scalopus Aquaticus - CC Kenneth Catania, Vanderbilt University

Moles are a common occurrence in Alabama lawns and gardens. While not a pest in the traditional sense of the word, moles are more of a nuisance. With long galleries through which they travel, moles can cause more aesthetic damage rather than physical damage to turfgrass, ornamentals, and vegetables.

Moles, Scalopus aquaticus, are a common animal in most areas around our state. Most people associate moles with rodents, likening them to rats, gophers and voles. In actuality, moles are a closer cousin to the carnivorous shrew than the omnivorous rodent. It is quite common for the vole and the mole to be confused, one being a tunnel digger that eats only insects and the other being a path clearer that primarily eats roots and stems of unsuspecting plants. An easy way to differentiate between the two is to remember this- Moles are meat eaters (both start with the letter m) and voles are vegetarians (both start with the letter V). When compared side by side, the two animals are not easily confused. The vole looks like a small mouse with tiny ears and stubbed tail while the mole has a long snout and large webbed feet.

The “damage” from moles is actually nothing more than tunnels being dug in your lawn or garden. Most often, moles prefer moist cool soils to dig in, primarily due to this is also the habitat that grubs and other insects dwell. Those tunnels can become a problem if they wash out when it rains or if you turn your ankle in them while walking the dog at night (I speak from experience on that one…). While some complain that these small animals are destroying their lawns, I encourage the homeowner to step back and think of the big picture. These meat eating animals are voracious predators, often eating 100% of their body weight each day! That is 3-4 ounces of root eating grubs and insects every day, taking away some of the major pests that affect lawn health. So while you deal with the tunnels and mole hills in the lawn, these critters are hard at work protecting your plants from harmful pests. If you are like most of my clients and tend not to look at the world as “glass half full”, then there are certainly a few techniques that you can consider.

A common question from clients when they call about mole control is “What can I spray to kill them?” There really is no chemical that you can apply to your lawn that will eliminate the mole situation, but there are chemicals that can be applied to your lawn that will take away their food source, thus sending them to a nearby pasture (or neighbor’s yard) to look for something to eat. Any insecticide, granular or liquid, that is labeled for use on lawns to control grubs and other insects can be used. Many of these insecticides require adequate water to activate the ingredients, so read the directions carefully before applying. While there are no chemicals that you can spray for the moles, there are a select few toxicants or baits that can be utilized to control these animals. Effectiveness is difficult to judge and getting a mole to accept the bait can be a problem.

The more effective, though time consuming, technique is using lethal control methods (traps). There are three primary trapping systems for eliminating moles; harpoon style, scissor-jawed, or choker designs. All are common, effective and deliver a quick and out of sight dispatching of the animal. The methods of preparing the site for use of these traps are generally the same. Stomp down all tunnels that are present in the lawn. Watch throughout the day or the next morning for those paths that have been re-excavated, showing you the active travel tunnels. Set the trap over the active tunnels and ensure that the device can function properly. Once set, the only thing to do is wait. Once the mole travels down the path and trips the trap, remove the trap and stomp the tunnel down. Watch for more tunnels to appear to know if you have had success or if there is more than one mole present. Generally, with the exception females and young sharing tunnels, moles are considered solitary animals. So, if you have success and dispatch one of the animals, there is a good chance that you can move on to other areas of the lawn.

While there are several techniques that are available for controlling moles, using a combination of techniques may provide more results. Some methods may prove to be more successful that others depending on the environment that the moles live in.

For more information on controlling moles in the lawn and garden, please contact the St. Clair County Extension Office at 205-338-9416.

Hunter McBrayer
Urban Regional Extension Agent

Seed Catalogs Simplified

Q: This time of year I start getting gardening catalogs galore in my mailbox. I enjoy reading through them, looking and drooling over pictures of beautiful vegetables and reading descriptions of them. Can you give any suggestions regarding which catalogs are the best and what I should order? And, where can I find help on when to plant “things” once I’ve decided to buy them?

A: Yes, catalogs come along when we’re dealing with “cabin fever.” We know it’s too early to start a garden in this area, but those pictures are so tempting! Over a period of 3 weeks, my mailbox coughed up nearly a dozen of the colorful things, from all over the country, listing every kind of ornamental, fruit or vegetable known to man, or at least most of them.

How to determine which catalogs offer varieties adapted to the southeastern United States and which ones have efficient and timely delivery systems is based primarily on research, with a little trial and error thrown in. If you’ve lived around here for a few years and know some gardeners, chances are those folks will be happy to offer their stories about which companies seem to know their business and which ones don’t. So, ask your gardening friends, garden club members, etc.

If you’re new to the area, check out books at your local library as they contain a plethora of information on appropriate plant materials for our locale. The public library at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens is one of the best around for plant material. Also, your county Extension office offers publications that help with the “when” part of your question. You may also check the Extension website, www.aces.edu, for two popular planting guides: ANR-0047 Alabama Gardener’s Calendar and ANR-0063 Planting Guide for Home Gardening in Alabama.

Do be careful about a couple of issues. Some seed companies offer plant material that is better adapted to other regions of North America. Some catalogs even offer not-so-subtle warnings with phrases such as “not for southeast U.S.” Take those comments to heart and order only if you’re prepared to experiment. There are companies whose catalogs offer seeds of plants, both ornamental and edible, that are grown on other continents and that are very exotic. While these plants may be beautiful and no one else in the neighborhood has one, they could also be invasive or exhibit less charming characteristics not mentioned in the seed book (catalog). However, that doesn’t mean you can’t try seeds or a plant you’ve not grown before. In fact, to many gardeners, that’s one of the “fun” things about gardening— trying something new every year. Just be a bit cautious about the origins of the plant; we really don’t need another Kudzu vine in Alabama!

While it won’t guarantee success, before ordering from any catalog, know the winter hardiness zone where you live and stick to plants suited for it. This area usually falls in zone 7b or zone 8a. Make sure the plants won’t ship until time to plant in your hardiness zone – most reputable catalog companies will ship close to the time you should plant, but be sure before ordering.

The best catalogs include details such as the correct botanical name of the plant, whether it needs sun or shade, how much water will be required to keep it happy, how short or tall it grows, what wildlife it attracts such as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, etc. These catalogs often include comments regarding the plant’s drought tolerance, and if vegetables, will tout the pest resistance of some varieties. Information often includes when to plant the bulbs, seeds or transplants, as some are fall blooming but should be planted in spring.

And above all, especially if you’re new to garden catalogs, remember the lovely pictures in the catalog are of mature plants at their best. Yours won’t look that way for a year or two so don’t panic or pull yours out of the ground. Keep trying—that’s what gardeners do, and gardening catalogs are there to support our efforts and lure us into experimenting!

For more information, please contact Regional Extension Agent, Bethany O’Rear at the St. Clair County Extension office at (205) 338-9416 or email her at bethany@auburn.edu.