Reports of blight on tomatoes, spittlebugs on conifers, galls on azaleas, and brown patch in lawns are just a few of the ailments being reported this week at the Extension Office. There are a lot of things happening in the lawn, landscape, and garden this time of year!
For accurate diagnosis and appropriate control measures, contact us at the Extension Office, open Monday-Friday (8:00 am-5:00 pm)! Master Gardeners staff the lab on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 10:00 am-3:00pm. Bring a sample or a photo of what ails your homestead, and we'll find an answer...
Melody Rose, UT Extension Agent
Lydia Sweatt, Master Gardener Volunteer, Monday
Jeanne Driese, Master Gardener Volunteer, Monday
Glenn Karuschkat, Master Gardener Volunteer, Tuesday
Ken Harrison, Master Gardener Volunteer, Wednesday
Straw Bale Gardening Has Advantages
Gardening is as popular as ever. It’s always one of the top leisure activities enjoyed by Tennesseans of all ages, and straw bale gardening is gaining favor with seasoned and novice gardeners alike.
Alan Windham, a professor of plant pathology with the University of Tennessee Extension, compares straw bale gardening to gardening in containers—minus the container. Flowers, vegetables and herbs can be grown in straw bales. Given that Windham studies plant diseases, straw bales seemed a perfect fit to avoid soil-borne pathogens like root knot nematodes. Windham spoke on straw bale gardening at a recent lawn and garden show in Dickson, Tenn.
“There are definite advantages to planting a garden in straw bales” Windham said. “First, you have an instant, rather inexpensive raised bed; second, there’s no cultivation or digging involved, and third, soil type doesn’t matter.” The primary considerations for a straw bale garden are a sunny location and a nearby water source. As the bales are essentially containers, they’ll need to be watered frequently during hot, dry weather.
Some bales are more preferable than others for gardening. “Bales of wheat straw work well as there are few weed seeds in the bale. Bales of hay are more likely to have numerous weed seed and may have pesticide residues that could be harmful to vegetables and flowers,” Windham said.
Before you plant into bales, they need to be conditioned. Windham says conditioning involves wetting the bale over a period of 12-14 days and adding a small of amount of fertilizer to soften the bales and get them ready for planting. “A few days after initiating conditioning, add a one-half cup of urea or ammonium sulfate to the top of the bales. At the end of the conditioning period if the internal temperature of the bale is 99°F or less, it’s time to plant. During the season, you can fertilize plants with fertilizers designed for container plants. Follow the label instructions to determine the amount of fertilizer to use,” said Windham.
Finally, insects and plant diseases, may show up on the foliage and fruit of developing plants. Windham recommends that you manage these as you would in a traditional garden. “As your bales weather and decay through the season, mushrooms and slime molds may appear from the wet straw. These are not plant pathogens and are not a problem,” he said.
For more information on gardening, you may call or visit your local county Extension Office. To view Windham’s presentation on straw bale gardening, go to the UT Soil, Plantand Pest Center website and click on the “presentations” link under the “publications pull-down menu. Alternatively you can input the complete URL:https://ag.tennessee.edu/spp/Documents/Alan%20Windham/Straw%20bale%20gardening.pdf
Follow the UT Soil, Plant and Pest Center on Facebook for timely discussions of gardening issues in Tennessee.
Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu
Big Spring Master Gardeners help facilitate Gardener's Toolshed Series at the Extension Office this spring!
Big Spring Master Gardener members Wolf Spendel, Michele Bradley, Ken Harrison, Mary Goldman, Jeanie Jackson, and Glenn Karuschkat assisted the UT Extension Office this spring in facilitating the Gardener's Toolshed Series held five consecutive nights during the month of March.
They created and presented programs on Soil Testing Basics, Small Space Gardening, Garden Disease ID and Control, Culinary Herbs, Medicinal Herbs, and Growing Tomatoes.
During the last Big Spring Master Gardener Association held on Tuesday, February 8th at the UT Extension-Greene County Office, John Rochelle, TDA Regional Plant Inspector presented an educational topic on “Care and Concerns of Greenhouse Maintenance.”
Mr. Rochelle made the following points in regards to preparation of plant selection, grooming and proper care of conditions in the greenhouse to avoid insect and disease control:
The information stressed by Mr. Rochelle was greatly appreciated by the current Master Gardeners greenhouse project team. The team is in charge of growing greenhouse plants to sell at the BSMGA “Annual Spring Plant Sale” on Mother's Day weekend, Saturday, May 7 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Greene County Fairgrounds.
Plants listed for sale include many varieties of heirloom plants of perennials, annuals, tomatoes, vegetables and herbs. Some of the heirlooms are difficult to find and include exotic and interesting varieties such as the Ghost Pepper and Mortgage Lifter Tomato. There are also over 32 varieties of herbs listed as well.
Team leaders for the Annual Spring Plant Sale are Mary Goldman and Phyllis Conner. Heather Youngblood is heading up the plant health and selection team. All members of the Big Spring Master Gardeners Association are volunteering to assist with daily involvement and duties pertaining to care and feeding of the young plants. Excitement abounds with the selection of plants! Everyone is encouraged to arrive early for the best selection.
Monies collected from the sale of the plants are assigned to all community projects sponsored by BSMGA; which include The Soup Kitchen Garden, Boys and Girls Club, New Hope Cemetery and Dickson Williams Mansion, to name a few.
Now, that spring is fast approaching, the "Ask a Master Gardener" hot-line is open for calls at the UT Extension-Greene County office, housed in the Greene County Courthouse Annex. Master Gardeners staff the lab at the UT Extension Office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. If anyone has a question about their greenhouse, plants, or any other gardening issue, please contact the Big Spring Master Gardeners for information at the UT Extension, Greene County Office at 423-798-1710.
Remember the UT Extension Office has a huge sampling of public brochures and helpful booklets to assist any gardener with all aspects of animal, bee, farming practices, and plant selections for this area, as well as a lab to assist in diagnosis of plant disease or insects and soil sampling. For more information about becoming a Master Gardener, please contact Melody Rose at the UT Extension-Greene County office at 423-798-1710 or visit our Facebook page (Big Spring Master Gardeners Association) or www.bsmga.com website.
Spring 2016 - The Gardener’s Toolshed Series - Starting SOON!
Brought to you by UT Extension, Greene County
Basic Home Gardening Workshops will be offered during March and April. All classes will be held on Tuesdays, incorporating a variety of four topics into each of the five sessions. Learn all you need to know about site preparation, soil-testing, composting, plant and seed selection, small space gardening, cover crops, pollinators, companion plants and herbs, pest ID and control, and in-depth growth characteristics of veggies in your garden! Each class will offer a unique “freebie” to take home with you, including seeds, reliable resources, and even a free soil test!
Each session will be from 5:30 PM to 8:00 p.m. at the UT Extension Office, 204 North Cutler Street, Suite 105, Greeneville, TN 37745 (Downstairs in the County Courthouse Annex building.)
You can call the UT Extension Office (423-798-1710) OR pre-register here: http://www.bsmga.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html
Payment is required by Monday, February 22, 2016 for ALL sessions.
Programs in agriculture and natural resources, 4-H youth development, family and consumer sciences, and resource development. University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and county governments cooperating. UT Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.