Dr. Jeremey Pickens, Alabama Extension Specialist, conducted a workshop on July 12th in Pell City on aquaponics which combines the practice of raising aquatic animals in tanks with the cultivation of plants in water without soil. An aquaponics system utilizes waste to nourish the plants, while the plants, in turn, help clean the water.
Over 60 people registered to attend, coming from as far as Huntsville, Thorsby, Montevallo, and Pickens County, to hear more about one of the hottest topics in agriculture right now.
Dr. Pickens is an Alabama Extension Specialist in nursery greenhouse horticulture. He did a great job & we greatly appreciate him coming to St. Clair County to share his knowledge with us about aquaponics! Also, a special thanks to Commercial Horticulture Regional Extension Agent, Gary Gray, for all his help with this program too!
For more information about what’s going on at the St. Clair County Extension Office please visit our Facebook page, St. Clair County, Alabama Extension Office or one of our Extension Kiosks located at the Moody & Springville libraries & in the Courthouse in Pell City.
If 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.
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.
Lee Ann Clark, St. Clair County Extension coordinator, says the funding, which was secured through the St. Clair County Commission, has enabled her office to continue providing outreach support to the veteran community.
“For more than a century, Cooperative Extension has been about providing effective, face-to-face outreach to people where they live and work,” Clark says. “And for this reason, we think we are especially well-suited to serve our county’s veterans, especially those in critical need of assistance.”
“The partnership between St. Clair County, the state of Alabama, and Alabama Extension, which is directed to assisting active military, National Guard and veteran families, reflects our combined commitment to those who provided our nation’s defense,” Lemme said. “Helping the families of these heroes access Veterans Affairs benefits that they have earned and providing resources to help them cope with the unique stresses of deployment and returning to home life will benefit not only those directly involved but also the entire community.
Veterans Outreach for St. Clair County will be the duties of Wayne Johnson, newly hired to lead these efforts.
“There is a critical need to connect veterans within communities, especially in small communities, to resources that can improve their financial well-being and their employment prospects. In many cases, it can be as simple as putting money in their pockets to tie them over as they make their transition back to civilian life,” Johnson said.
The challenges of transitioning to civilian life often prove even more daunting, if not insurmountable, for those veterans suffering from serious combat-related conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Among those veterans, timely effective outreach can mean the difference between successful transition to civilian life and one plagued by chronic unemployment, debt and, in many cases, substance abuse.
One of the main goals of the St. Clair Extension outreach effort is to reach these veterans with critical assistance before these patterns of behavior become self-destructive.
“My vision is to get out into the community and find veterans and widows of veterans that we don’t know about. I want to make them aware of the benefits that are available to them and hopes to make all veterans more aware of the numerous services and benefits available to them,” Johnson said.
“I plan to visit all the nursing homes,” he said. “Also, I not only want to talk to the elderly and middle-age veterans, but I also want to reach out to younger veterans.”
Considering the number of veterans in St. Clair County alone — some 7300 — an outreach program that presents veterans with viable treatment options potentially could save hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This unclaimed assistance not only would benefit the returning veterans but also the local economies where they live and work.
Any questions concerning this program or if you are a Veteran in need of assistance, please contact Wayne Johnson, Veterans Outreach Agent Assistant. He can be reached at the St. Clair County Extension Office by calling (205) 338-9416 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agri-tourism can take many forms. Roadside stands and farmers’ markets offer farm-fresh produce and interaction with growers. Farms may open to the public for wildlife watching and hunting. Ag tours, on farm bed-and-breakfasts, and dude ranches give tourists the fresh air, open space, and relaxation of country life.
U-pick operations, pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms, hay mazes, farm-animal petting zoos, wine tasting, ag heritage museums, festivals, and fairs all attract visitors.
The Alabama Master Naturalist program is a new statewide program whose goal is to help promote awareness, understanding, and respect of Alabama’s natural world among Alabama’s citizens and visitors. In addition, the AMN program will also develop a statewide corps of well-informed volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.
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.
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 email@example.com.