Upcoming Events



Decorating With Nature

 

camellia blossoms on the shrub

November 14th from 9 am  to 11 am in the Extension Auditorium. 

Learn to collect plant clippings and materials from nature to create beautiful décor.

Demonstrations on Garland and wreath making along with other ideas.

Bring a bucket of your own clippings from your yard or just come and watch Mallory work her magic. Click on the link below for more information and registration.

Decorating with Nature- Tallapoosa

‘Fall Gardening Extravaganza’ Coming September 29th

We are pleased to announce that our ‘Fall Gardening Extravaganza’ will return in September!

After much success in 2014 and 2015, the Tallapoosa County Extension Office and Tallapoosa County Master Gardener Association have decided to host another grand event.  The 2017 event will be on Friday, September 29th at Central Alabama Community College in Alexander City.

We are very excited to offer another slate of well-known horticulturists and gardeners that have all agreed to come to Alexander City to speak at our 2017 “Fall Gardening Extravaganza.”  Get ready for this amazing 2017 all-star lineup of speakers as featured in the “2017 Fall Gardening Extravaganza” Event Pamphlet:

butterfly adorns the brochure cover for the "Fall Gardening Extravaganza" September 27, 2017 in Alexander City, ALChris VanCleave, speakers at the "Fall Gardening Extravaganza," Chris Van Cleave, Sara L. Van Beck, Felder Rushing, and Carol Reese“The Redneck Rosarian”, is passionate about gardening and growing roses. He was a contributor to the 2015 Southern Living Gardening Book, has appeared on P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home television show and was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine. His writing is seen at HomeDepot.com and on his popular website, RedneckRosarian.com.

Sara L. Van Beck currently serves as a Corresponding Member of the Royal Horticulture Narcissus Classification Advisory Group. She has recently published Daffodils in American Gardens, 1733-1940 (2015), co-authored, with her mother Linda, Daffodils in Florida: A Field Guide to the Coastal South (2003), and has written articles for numerous other publications.

Felder Rushing is the international founder of Slow Gardening, a highly satisfying approach that focuses on finding and following personal garden bliss. He is author or co-author of 18 gardening books and a former Extension Service urban horticulture specialist who actually started the Master Gardener program in his home state of Mississippi. Felder has written thousands of gardening columns in syndicated newspapers and has had hundreds of articles and photographs published in regional and national garden magazines.

Carol Reese is an Ornamental Horticulture Specialist with UT Extension. She is a contributor to several garden magazines and writes a weekly gardening and nature column for the Jackson Sun in Jackson TN. Her talk – Take a Walk on the Wild Side –  will discuss how to create fabulous habitat and wildlife garden alive with birds, bees, and butterflies, yet have a sense of strong design and year-round appeal for the humans and other critters that enrich and entertain.

The 2017 ‘Fall Gardening Extravaganza’ will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Betty Carol Graham Technology Center located on the Central Alabama Community College campus.  Cost is only $25 per person and includes a lunch. Seating is limited and reservations are required.

“2017 Fall Gardening Extravaganza” Event Pamphlet


Must Register by calling the Tallapoosa County Extension office at 256-825-1050!

NO ONLINE REGISTRATION or PAYMENT BY CREDIT CARD

Registration Deadline is Friday, September 22, 2017

10 Facts to Know About Dogwood Trees


Loved for early spring blooms, dogwood trees are features in many Alabama landscapes and celebrated in festivals throughout the South.  The white flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), plentiful across Alabama, is an ornamental deciduous tree native to the eastern half of the United States.

10 Dogwood Facts to Know

1. Dogwood trees sport white or pink flowers. However, the true petals are not the four showy blossoms. The tightly packed cluster in the center form the real blooms. What appears to be petals are actually bracts, which is a type of leaf.

2. Flower color of the native dogwood is a creamy white. A naturally occurring variety of the native dogwood, Cornus florida rubra, has pink blooms. Many cultivated varieties are available in nurseries and landscape centers. Dogwood trees often appear in brilliant shades ranging from soft pink to deeper cherry reds. As a result, these showy bracts can attract pollinating insects to the flowers.1. Dogwood trees sport white or pink flowers. However, the true petals are not the four showy blossoms. The tightly packed cluster in the center form the real blooms. What appears to be petals are actually bracts, which is a type of leaf.

3. In addition, there are 17 species of dogwood native to North America. Gardeners are most familiar with the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). According to Kerry Smith,  Master Gardener program coordinator for Alabama Extension, another common species is the Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa), or Chinese Dogwood. Kousa thrives in either full sun or shade and is much tougher than the flowering dogwood.

4. Many towns enjoy dogwood trees so much, they host annual parades or dogwood tours once the trees open their blooms in the early spring. North Carolina, Texas and Atlanta each host popular Dogwood Festivals each year. Vestavia Hills celebrates Alabama’s oldest Dogwood Festival and Trail.

5. Dogwood trees are often a preferred choice for planting because they are  low maintenance. Depending on the species planted, you might have a short, stout bush or a 25-foot tall tree. If carefully treated, a mature dogwood tree species may reach up to 30 feet in height as a result.

6. Since dogwoods grow in nature as understory trees, they prefer afternoon shade to shield them from blazing sunlight. According to Alabama Extension regional agent Sallie Lee, dogwoods are pretty versatile as a small tree. “It can be planted where larger-maturing trees would be a nuisance or a hazard,” said Lee. However, dogwoods still need room to grow. Lee advises planting dogwood trees at least 25 feet from structures to give the roots plenty of room to grow.

7. In the Southeast, the dogwood typically begins blooming in early March in the southern portion of Alabama and two to three weeks later in northern areas of the state. The bloom duration can last from two to four weeks.

8. Dogwood branches droop as the tree grows, and may need pruning to clear pedestrian or vehicle traffic. Pruning dogwoods can help shape them and improve their health. Prune if needed anytime after blooming. Alabama Extension regional Agent Mike McQueen said “since dogwoods bloom in early spring before May, wait until after they bloom to prune.”7. In the Southeast, the dogwood typically begins blooming in early March in the southern portion of Alabama and two to three weeks later in northern areas of the state. The bloom duration can last from two to four weeks.

9. Dogwoods have been used medicinally for generations. Since the bark is a rich source of bitter-tasting tannins, dogwood leaves often treated pain, fevers, backaches, dizziness, or weakness. According to McQueen, “dogwood bark was one of many barks used as a fever medicine before quinine came into general use.” Tea made from the bark was used to treat pain or fever.

10. Blooming by Easter, the tree and its flowers have inspired legends of their part in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Legend says that the bracts of the dogwood are set in the shape of a cross and bear nail marks of the Crucifixion, while the red leaves in autumn point to Jesus’s blood on Calvary.

To learn more about dogwoods, see Alabama Extension’s Selection and Care of Dogwoods at http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1077/ANR-1077.pdf.

From Extension Daily

Trying New Vegetable Seeds Can Be Fun

Have you ever given much thought to the vegetable seeds you plant? Why do you plant them? Taste? Production? Disease resistance? Recommended from a friend? Many people plant the same cultivars each year and never think of planting anything else. The Extension System has taught many tomato workshops over the years and have a tomato taste test as part of the program. Many gardeners bring in some of their favorite tomatoes. We assign the tomato a number, then slice it up for tasting. Participants eat the tomatoes, not even knowing which one they brought. It is very interesting to see the participants who have grown a particular tomato for years because they thought it was the best, only to actually like several others that they have never grown. There are actually thousands of different tomato cultivars to choose from, and I do not know if someone would ever eat fruit from all of them but they can certainly have fun trying.

One question is where would someone find different tomato cultivars? Nurseries and farm supply stores have many cultivars ready for transplanting, and growing your own transplants is an option as well. Seed starting can be fun, and this opens the door to thousands of cultivars. The Extension System can help you if you have questions about growing transplants.

Tomato plants get several diseases that lower production, and cultivar selection could help decrease some of those diseases. Some of the common problems you can find resistance to include fusarium wilt and nematodes. However, resistance to verticillium wilt, alternaria stem canker, bacterial speck, gray leaf spot, tobacco mosaic wilt virus, and others are available. Tomato spotted wilt virus is common, and cultivars such as Bella Rosa, Amelia, BHN 640, Christa, Primo Red, and others are resistant. Growers can even find heat set tomatoes. Many tomatoes do not set fruit well with temperatures in the 90’s. While tomatoes do not perform well with high temperatures, the heat set tomatoes do better than others. Some of the heat set tomato cultivars include Phoenix, Red Bounty, Redline, Solar Fire, and others. Some tomatoes are more suitable for greenhouse production or high tunnel production than others, and choosing the right cultivar for those locations is very important.

Just check the tags where you purchase plants or seeds, and it will list the plant resistance. Tomatoes are not the only crop in which you can find disease resistant cultivars. If you have questions about disease resistance, seed starting, or most anything else, just call your local Extension office for additional information.

by Dr. Chip East, Regional Extension Agent for Commercial Horticulture

Dead Trees Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

Have you looked up lately? Many times after a long winter, people fail to look up and notice that something is wrong with their tree. If and when people do, they are surprised to find that a tree on their property is not doing well or has died. By mid spring, every deciduous tree that is healthy has at least shown some type of sign that it is alive by either blooming or putting on new leaves. Trees with no leaves, when they should have some, are either declining, dying, or dead. Any tree that you see that has yet to become green should raise a red flag and be labeled as a hazard.

A hazardous tree is defined as any tree that might fall and cause property damage and/or bodily harm and should be removed immediately.  This includes all trees that have dead branches, dieback in the top of the tree, extensive damaged or diseased areas, hollowed out, and/or are completely lacking foliage when they should not.

There are numerous reasons that cause trees to decline or die. Any time the most sensitive area of the tree, the roots, are attacked directly or indirectly, the tree will be harmed. Building construction near the tree, digging within the root zone, old age, and insects are the most common reasons. The traffic of heavy equipment during house construction causes soil compaction and limits the tree ability to take up nutrients and water.  Digging, for whatever reason, ultimately always severs trees roots and limits the tree’s longevity.  There is really no way to know how long a tree will live and bugs always manage to go undetected until the damage has been done.

Although the reason why a tree is unhealthy is important, your main concern should be removing that tree.  Once trees begin showing symptoms like that above, they may live several more years or could come tumbling down at any moment. Leaving them is very risky. Get rid of it and go buy yourself a new and better tree.

Herbicide Knowledge Required to Control Weeds

One of the most laborsome chores for landowners and homeowners is controlling weeds and brush.  The constant mowing, trimming, pulling, and spraying of unwanted vegetation is a constant and aggravating battle during the peak spring and summer months.  The frustration only increases when the nuisance plants just re-grow, come right back, and all that work was for no avail.   When nothing else will grow, one can bet the weeds sure will.

Herbicides are usually the method of choice to provide longterm or permanent weed control. To add fuel to the fire of frustration is when herbicides don’t seem to work or provide long lasting control.  Herbicides can be expensive and time consuming to apply,  so they better work.  A better understating of how herbicides work and plants react might be in order.

Herbicide Facts

Here’s a reality check for landowners and homeowners using herbicides.  You are not going to see pesky plants melt and cry out before your eyes as if you poured water on the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz.  One has to have realistic expectations. Herbicides today just don’t work that way.

Herbicides are effective because they hinder or stop processes in a plant that are essential for life.  This is referred to as the mode of action. They might regulate growth, effect photosynthesis, block enzymes, etc. The effect of the herbicide can be slow or fast, depending on the mode of action or plant species.

For example, glyphosate, commonly sold as Round-up, once applied to a plant, translocates through the leaves.  It then inhibits amino acids blocking a specific plant enzyme. This process can take a while to occur thus is why weeds may not show signs of yellowing or death for a week or so.

The very popular broadleaf herbicide 2-4-D kills plants by mimicking a plant hormone that is important for growth. It actually overloads the plant with hormones that causes the weed to grow itself to death.  This type of mode of action is rapid and thus has quick visible results as seen in the leaf curling, yellowing, and then death.

The timing of the herbicide application is also very critical and can vary with weed species.  This can ultimately be the difference between success or failure – joy or frustration.  As a general rule, annual weeds are best controlled with herbicides when they are small and actively growing. For biennial weeds, apply herbicides when they are in the rosette stage of growth.  Established perennials and woody brush are most vulnerable in the bud to bloom stage, which often occurs in the early fall when food reserves are moving into the roots.

Brush is defined as woody shrubs, vines or trees that are undesirable in a specific location.  If you haven’t had much success controlling certain brush thus far, then your window of opportunity could be this fall.  Some brush species are harder to control than others. Plant size often dictates which application technique is required to achieve adequate control.  One may need to consider both foliar and cut stump applications. With plants storing food reserves, this means the fall season is a great time to tackle and spray some of those hard to kill plants like kudzu, privet, poison ivy, or sweetgum.

Buyer Beware

Lastly, do your homework on what herbicides are labeled for use on specific plants and locations.  There are lots to choose from, both homeowner and commercial products, so knowing which to buy and use can be quite confusing.  You must read the label and know what the product contains.  Don’t go by brand names or trust fancy phrases and images as many products are honestly marketed for consumer confusion.  Look for the active ingredient on the label in small print and be educated on what that is and really does. Herbicides can also be very expensive as well as an costly mistake on your lawn or garden if you buy the wrong thing.

Success is knowing these facts and using it your benefit and to the demise of the weed.

by Shane Harris 

Crank up the Mower for Spring Lawn Clean-up

The sun is shining. Flowers are blooming. Bees are buzzing. And the birds are singing.  Spring is near.  It just a great time of the year to get outside, enjoy the spring weather, and do some much needed yard work.

By mid March, most home lawns look sort of ragged.  It’s not that the grass isn’t growing much or needs mowing; it’s just all those winter weeds out in the lawn have gotten bigger. Weeds can be an eyesore and you may be motivated to go out on one of those sunny days and spray them.  But don’t bother because you would likely be wasting your time, herbicide, and money. Most selective herbicides do not work on full-grown weeds. For annual weeds, like those in your lawn, they mature in early spring and begin reseeding themselves for next year. Their life cycle will be ending soon and they will begin dying. So for right now, forget using a herbicide on your lawn.

The best way to get rid of nuisance lawn weeds in the spring is to just crank up the lawn mower and cut them down. Running over the lawn a few times will help hide and suppress some of those pesky weeds that may have escaped or sneaked in and will make the lawn look much better.  Bagging the grass clippings and weeds a few times in the early spring (as well as in the late fall) will suck up those weed seeds and small debris that has gathered on the lawn the last few months.  If the lawn still has leaves and small twigs scattered around the lawn, bagging or picking them up is a must.  Excessive leaves and leftover piles of grass clippings on the lawn can serve as mulch and may smother any new growth.

Don’t get me wrong, herbicides are a great way to control weeds.  However, in order for them to work properly, they must be applied at the right time of the year. Timing is critical. Unfortunately, March is not the right time to start controlling winter weeds. The month of March is more of a transition time when winter weeds are maturing, reseeding, and dying and summer weeds are starting to germinate.  Simply mowing the weeds down will suppress them and ultimately help clean up the yard. If you bag the clippings while mowing, you will also reduce the number of weeds and seeds left behind on the lawn.  Plan on applying a pre-emergence herbicide in the fall so you don’t have such a weedy lawn next year.

Remember a major weed problem in the lawn is a sign of poor management and improper cultural practices. Sound cultural or management practices such as proper fertilization and liming, adequate watering, proper mowing height, and correct turfgrass selection for the site will result in less weeds and a dense, healthy attractive lawn. If the real problem is not corrected, then the use of herbicides will provide only a short-term fix and, in all likelihood, weeds will reoccur. The key to having no weeds is having a dense, healthy lawn.

Although mowing and clean-up is okay in the early spring, applying fertilizer too early isn’t a good idea for warm season grasses. Don’t get overly anxious with wanting to force the grass to green-up.  Wait to late April and May after any chance of a late frost before fertilizing.  Don’t waste your time and money guessing; know what nutrients your lawn really needs.  This includes most weed and feed products commonly found in stores; they all contain lots of nitrogen fertilizer.  Always follow the recommendations of an official soil test.

Generally, most people wait until the lawn has gotten fairly tall and thick and may actually need baling before the first real mowing of the year is done.  No reason not to start early this year. Whether you want to have that perfect lawn or you’re just excited about riding the lawn mower again, doing a little spring clean-up will help get that lawn back into shape for another year.  There is nothing like the smell of fresh cut grass (or weeds) in the spring!

by Shane Harris

Fertilize Old Pecan Trees to Improve Production

Have you ever wondered why the nuts on your pecan tree are undeveloped?  There are several pests that pecan trees can get.  These pests include pecan scab, downy spot disease, fungal leaf scorch, pecan phylloxera, and black pecan aphids.  These pests decrease the productivity of the tree.  Homeowners can not spray big pecan trees like the commercial growers.  But, planting disease resistant trees, along with proper fertilization, will help your pecan production.

Some of the recommended pecans that are scab resistant are hard to find at nurseries and may need to be ordered a year in advance. Pecan nurseries and much more information on pecan trees are listed on the Alabama Pecan Growers Web site at www.alabamapecangrowers.com.

Cross-pollination should be considered when planting pecan trees.  A particular pecan cultivar does not receive pollen at the same time the tree sheds pollen. Generally, the more different cultivars (types) of trees in the planting, the greater the chance for cross-pollination.

If you already have an established pecan orchard, fertilization is about the only way to increase production.  Of course a soil test is the best way to know for sure how much to fertilize your pecan trees.  But if you have not had a soil test done, there are some general guidelines to follow for fertilizing your pecan trees.

You should apply the following:  1 pound of 13-13-13 per tree per year of age up to 25 pounds per tree.  Plus, 1 pound of ammonium nitrate (34-0-0) per tree per year of age up to 20 pounds per tree.  Plus, 1/10 pound of zinc sulfate per tree per year of age up to 2 pounds per tree.  Plus, 5 pounds of dolomitic limestone per tree per year age up to 100 pounds per tree.

That may sound confusing.  Basically, if your trees are more than 25 years old you need 25 pounds of 13-13-13, 20 pounds of ammonia nitrate, 2 pounds of zinc, and 100 pounds of lime per year per tree.

For large trees, apply all of the fertilizer in March.  For younger trees, apply all of the 13-13-13 fertilizer, lime, and zinc in March.  Apply half the ammonium nitrate in April and the remainder in June.

The use of a mechanical spreader may help ensure an even application of the fertilizers.  Do not disturb the soil before applying the fertilizer.  Spread it under and around the tree in an area twice the branch spread of the tree.  The dolomite lime is the cheapest, but pelletized lime is easier to spread.

Remember that many pecan trees tend to be alternate bearers.  That means if they produce a heavy crop one year they may produce a light crop the next year.  Fertilizing is very important, but there are other things you can do to increase production.

Overcrowding can be a problem.  When the trees are close together and the limbs begin to overlap you may want to remove a few limbs.  This will increase air circulation and sunlight in the canopy of the tree. Mulching the trees can also help.

Tips on Buying Container Plants

This time of year, true plant lovers know how tempting it is to walk through a garden center full of vivid blooms and beautiful foliage. It is difficult not to pick up at least one extra plant.

“While a spontaneous purchase can turn out to be a real blessings in the garden, more often impulses lead to wasted money and plant materials. There is either no planting spot suitable for the plant or the plant doesn’t fit the needs of the garden”, says Mallory Kelley, a regional horticulture agent in Montgomery County.

Avoid Impulse Buys

Kelly offers some suggestions to help you avoid impulse buys and choose healthy plants on your list.

First, know your needs. How much attention are you willing to give a specific plant? Is the planting area sunny or shady? Moist or dry? Know the size and color requirements of your landscape. Avoiding plants that don’t suit these needs will save you time, money and worry.

Examine Each Plant

Kelley says, “once you know what species you need, examine each specific plant.” Often the plants have been on the shelf a long time without proper care and attention and are no longer the best buy for your money.

Gently tap the plant out of its container and look at the roots. If the roots swirl around the bottom of the mass and there is little remaining soil, the plant is “pot bound” and has been constricted too long in a pot that is too small.  This environment can lead to stunting, poor performance and, in many cases, death.

Check For Insects

Bedding plants, such as impatiens or begonias, packed too close into flats are likely to have increased insect and disease problems. These same plants can become overgrown, tall and lanky.  Choose plants that are small and stocky. Many insect pests feed underneath the young, tender leaves and may go unnoticed without special attention. A garden center employee should be able to assist you in identifying any insect you may find.

Following a few simple recommendations in your plant-shopping routine will save time and money, and in the long run, provide you with a healthier garden.

Source: Extension Daily

Seed Starting Workshop on February 23rd

Although spring is still a few months away, believe it or not, it’s time to start preparing for the spring vegetable garden. Most warm weather vegetables we enjoy growing and eating will be planted later on in the spring. But in order to have vegetable transplants by April, seeds must be started indoors many weeks prior to planting.

Why would someone grow their own vegetable and flowers from seed?  Plant selection and variety are one main reason many gardeners grow their own. Many like trying something new and become frustrated when the retail choices are limited.  Although seeds can be expensive, overall, one can actually save money if you grow several transplants.  Growing your own vegetable plants is also fun as well as a challenge. Not much to do in the winter; if one has the space and time, growing transplants can also be very rewarding.

Many companies specialize in growing transplants.  Give them credit, they know how to grow them.  There are many advantages to just buying commercially grown transplants:

  • It is much easier because all the work has been done.
  • Inexpensive if you only need a few plants
  • Do not require any of your time
  • Such companies have better growing conditions and care

However, there can be some disadvantages to purchasing your transplants:

  • It can be difficult to find “good quality transplants”
  • Your choices are limited to only a few varieties
  • Transplants may introduce diseases, insects, and weeds into your garden
  • Transplants may not be available; hard to find many of them July.

If you are interested in learning how to sow seeds and grow your own vegetable transplants or flowers, then join us at our Seed Starting Workshop on February 23, 2017.   This event will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall in Dadeville.  This hands-on activity will show and discuss the materials needed to grow transplants successfully at home. Cost for the workshop is $10 to cover your supplies.

To sign-up or for more information, contact the Tallapoosa County Extension office at 256-825-1050. Contact Dani Carroll if you have specific questions about the workshop.