Monday, December 23, 2013

Master Gardener Classes Forming

The Kentucky Extension Master Gardener Program is a wonderful opportunity for individuals to learn more about horticulture and to become leaders in their community.  We help you gain knowledge and build confidence in your abilities to help others with gardening inquiries.  All the information presented in the 10 to 12 session training is sound research based information that will help you see the inter-connected nature of horticulture and the fields of study like entomology, pathology, soils, and much more.

We are in the process of forming the 2014 class of Master Gardeners for the residents of Nelson County, Kentucky.  The classes will begin in late January and run through the first of April.  With your information and availability we can begin setting dates and times for the classes.  Below you will find a brochure and an application link please fill them out and return to the Nelson County Extension office at 317 South Third Street,  Bardstown Kentucky.  You may call the Extension Office after January 2nd for more information at 348-9204.  

Nelson County Master Gardener informational Brochure. 
Master Gardener Application.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Changing the way I Veggie Garden

Traditionally I have been an in row gardener like most folks but have decided to try a different way of conducting veggie business.  Recently I spent a great deal of time in my garden.  In late November I caught a few days when the soil in the garden was quite workable and decided to create permanent garden beds.  To do this I tilled as deep as I could then tilled in the opposite direction as deep as I could get the tiller down.  I know that the tiller does nothing for the soil structure except destroy it but my decision to create permanent beds should offset that activity in a few growing seasons.  After the soil was worked adequately the kids and I began to lay out the garden.  First, we squared up the garden to within an inch and began to lay out the beds and paths.  I took into consideration equipment size, optimal bed widths and aesthetics when creating the final design.

We ended up with a a four foot wide main path and two or three foot wide paths along the beds.  By shoveling the soil out of the path area down to the un-tilled soil and placing it into what would become the beds we created raised beds that became about 40 inches wide and to a depth of about 10 inches.  This will or should create a much deeper rooting zone than what we previously had.  Next spring I'll sod the paths from sod on the farm to make harvest and planting less limited by weather conditions.

The final practice this winter was to top dress with some of our compost on some beds and leaves on others to increase the organic matter in the beds.  I will let you know which one performs best in the spring.

The advantages to the permanent bed garden:

  • Easier planning in the off season
  • Once established easier spring preparation 
  • Start gardening earlier
  • Better Drainage
  • Deeper Rooting (maybe now I can grow Carrots)
  • Allows for more diverse planting 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tree of the week: Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo leaf late in the season 
I have the pleasure of viewing from my office window a spectacular season long display from an unusual and wonderful tree, the Ginkgo. There are several qualities that make this tree very attractive for the home landscape.  In the spring it adds beautiful umbrella shaped light green leaves that stay blemish free all season long.  With age the tree can be rather large reaching sizes between 50' and 80' tall and 30' to 40' wide. Eventually having a more distinct pyramidal shape with large wide spreading branches.  Furthermore, there are litterally hundreds of varieties that will grow to about any profile.  The sizes mentioned above doesn't happen overnight but more like over centuries.

This tree is very adaptable as evidenced in its fossilization findings dating back 150 million years.  The tree was once native to North America and has been reintroduced.  It prefers a deep well drained soil but, will adapt to about any situation.  This adaptability makes it a perfect candidate for streetscapes, new construction sites, and other hostile situations.  Perhaps the most fascinating part for me is its fall leaf drop. The tree I see everyday just dropped its leaves and the process occurred over an eight hour period.  At 8:00 am the tree was dropping leaves like rain fall and by 4:30 pm 95% of the leaves were on the ground.  As you may have concluded this makes it a one rake tree or one mulching tree as I should say which makes fall clean up a breeze.

Warning: Only choose male varieties of this tree because the fruit of the female stinks to no end.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Why is my White Pine turning yellow?

It's a question I usually get every fall from folks concerned that they are loosing their White Pine tree to some devious disease or insect.  However, the truth is that the tree is simply loosing needles as a result of the fall season and age.  When you look closer you will notice that the tree is loosing needles from a previous years growth and this is simply a healthy part of the growth cycle.  There are no doubts that White pine in our part of the country have a great deal of problems to overcome (mostly cultural) but seasonal needle drop is not one of them.

For more information on White Pines and their qualities and problems in Kentucky see the following for more information.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Having a better Lawn starts now!

Wow what a grass growing season we have just been through.  I am, at this point, so tired of being on my mower that first frost can't come fast enough.  Though this has been a good growing season for turf, weeds have seen their glory day as well.  During this post I will outline some of the steps you should take this fall to ensure a quality lawn come next spring.

  • Keep mowing until the turf quits growing.  This not only keeps crabgrass from going to seed and adding to that problem but also continues to promote tillering (branching at the crown) in the turf clumps.
  • If you need to reseed now is the time to do so.  Just remember that to be successful there needs to be good soil to seed contact.  This means roughing up the soil, adding the seed and then rolling or raking the seed into the soil.  You may also use one of the one pass pieces of equipment that is designed to do all steps in one pass. For more in depth information on reseeding see:  Improving Turf through Renovation
  • After the first frost you can begin looking at weed control.  If you have seeded the lawn in September then you will need to put some time between the seeding and the weed control.  The label of your product will guide you on the waiting period.  Oct. and November are good times to control many broadleaved weeds.  Weeds like dandelion, henbit, chickweed, and many other broadleaved weeds germinate in the fall and develop through the winter.  Therefore, fall is the best time to nip the problem in the bud before they become a problem in the spring.  For more information on what to use for control methods see:  Weed Control for Kentucky Home Lawns
  • Finally fertilization will be crucial for great turf next spring.  Fall again is the best time of year to deliver fertility to your turf.  The best way to decide on what to apply is to begin with a soil test.  This will ensure there is no waste of fertilize and that the plants get what they need.  Take a look at: How to take a good soil test.    

Monday, September 02, 2013

Nandina berries are toxic to birds, by Tom Barnes

How many books, articles, and other materials have you read that says to plant Nandina, Heavenly Bamboo, or Sacred Bamboo (Nandina domestica) to attract and feed birds in the late winter?  This plant is classified as a noxious weed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and many states list it as a noxious-invasive weed because it escapes readily from the home landscape.  It is used as an ornamental because of the dark glossy green leaves and bright red berries that persist throughout the winter. It is still used, in large numbers by the horticultural industry and landscapers and is a recommended landscape plant by University Extension programs across the country.   Unfortunately this species, which has escaped from cultivation, is highly toxic to birds. The bright red berries contain cyanide and other alkaloids that produce highly toxic hydrogen cyanide (HCN) which is extremely poisonous to all animals. Sudden death may be the only sign of cyanide poisoning and death usually comes in minutes to an hour.  The deaths of cedar waxwings in Georgia that were necropsied at the Vet. school showed hemorrhaging in the heart, lungs, trachea, abdominal cavity and other organs.  This is a horribly painful method of death for a bird or any other animal.  Bird deaths in the Houston, TX area and other parts of the country have also documented the death of songbirds as a result of eating these berries. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Annual flower variety trial update.

As you may be aware the Nelson County Extension office is participating in a state wide variety trial this year and things are going well.  The 4-H teen Council and I planted the twenty varieties in early May on the Extension office property.  The planting was to undergo no miraculous efforts to maintain, just simple everyday maintenance.  This include up front fertilization, weed management, and mulching. 

The Kentucky Home Extension Master Gardeners have evaluated the plantings once a month since the install and will continue to do so until frost.  Later we will publish the findings as to which plants performed best overall.   If you are close stop by and see the planting, it continues to receive compliments from the public for adding a very nice splash of color to the neighborhood.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bagworms: pest problem of the week!

Bagworms are voracious feeders once they reach a critical size.  Evidently we are at that critical size now which is about a month and a half behind when they usually become a problem.  Bagworms are the tree ornaments of nature.  The caterpillar forms and lives in its own pouch domicile.  The bag is spun to create an extremely tough structure and they continue to add to the size as they increase their size.  They live in, mate in and feed from the comfort of their living room.  When they attach to a branch they resemble a little ornament hanging from the tree. However, gain no satisfaction from their decoration because these buggers can defoliate a spruce, arborvitae, pine, cedar, etc. short order.

Observing your plants will be the best defense to thwart off an invasion. Stay diligent beginning in May and check periodically.  They begin as a hatchling from the overwintered bag (with as many as 300 siblings) and are very small.  Their small size and an incomplete bag make them susceptible to what ever you decide to use as your offense.  For more detailed information and control measures see the University of Kentucky publication: Bagworms on Landscape Plants

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lumpy Lawns caused by Mole Mania!

Lots of folks are dealing with lumpy lawn syndrome these days.  With the above average moisture for this time of year in Central Kentucky Moles have enjoyed an extended run (pardon the pun). Therefore extending the fury of many homeowners in the process. 

When you have moles it tells me really two things: 1) you have a particularly nice piece of soil and 2) you have an ample selection of earthworms.  Now neither of the two are problem in their own but when that becomes the domicile and smorgasbord for the local mole population a problem is born.  The question usually becomes "How do I get rid of the Moles?".  The process is not an overly simple one and I need to dispel some myths about moles as we go along.  For example white grubs have really gotten a bad rap as being the cause of a growing mole problem.  While moles will eat a grub, they are not the food of choice.   It turns out that they are much happier with a good selection of earthworms.  In other words don't waste your money on controlling grubs to control moles it just won't be effective.  Products that are made from Castor bean extract are intended to run moles off and will do so for only a short period of time.  Once the mole gets used to it he/she comes back.   In fact the only thing that consistently rids you of moles long term is an earthworm shaped bait that contains the active ingredient Bromethalin. 

The nitty gritty includes rolling down all the runs (feeding tunnels) in the lawn, then wait for one to pop back up.  This usually indicates a main feeding run and the bait should be deposited into the run.  Once the bait is taken the mole will survive another 24 hours.  There are usually only one mole per acre because of their territorial nature however once you have removed one mole there remains a good chance that a neighboring mole will take over the runs.  You must remain diligent if you are to rid the lawn of moles.  I have such bad soil that I would love to have a mole working my yard at least then aeration would be taking place. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Advantages of Fall Vegetable Gardening

I just recently presented a class on fall vegetable gardening at the Bloomfield, KY Library to a an enthusiastic audience.  During that talk I outlined several advantages to the fall garden versus the spring garden or as an extension to the spring garden.  First I will point out the reasons it isn't as popular as the spring garden and then I will list the many advantages to the fall garden. 

Everyone loves a spring garden for many reasons not the least of which is that we have been cooped up in the house all winter looking through seed catalogs and just getting the itch to be outside.  We have a uncontrollable instinct to refill the pantries and strong desire for the flavors that come with a garden.  For me its the smell of freshly tilled soil that just makes me happy.  We begin the garden with vim and vigor and end sometimes in a flurry of I just cant keep up.  This year is one of those years that epitomizes why fall gardening is just not as popular.  In a year like this the garden can easily be run over with weeds, taken by some evil fungi, or wiped out by a marauding herd of potato beetles.  Those scenarios in themselves are reason enough to give up. But lets not quit hastily, here are some of the advantages of the fall vegetable garden:
  •  Provides valuable produce production extension
  • Excellent quality produce due to cool temperatures
    • Sweeter
    • Increased tenderness
    • Less off flavors
  • Vegetables hold longer in a fall garden
  • Fewer pests to control
  • Helps keep weed seed numbers down for next seasons garden
  • Adds additional organic matter to the garden
  • Less disease pressure
For more information of vegetable gardening in general stop by the office at 317 south third street, Bardstown KY 40004 or take a look at Vegetable Gardening in KY

Monday, July 22, 2013

What is that yellow grassy looking plant in my lawn and landscape?

Are you as aggravated with the yellow grass like plant that grows faster than your turf, invades your landscape and just makes the yard look anemic?  The plant that we are talking is Yellow Nutsedge.  Yellow nutsedge is in the sedge family and has been long consider a wet area and wet season plant.  That however has changed and it seems to dominate in about any location.  If you believe the patches are getting bigger each year you are exactly correct.  The plant spreads via rhizomes (underground stems) and the dispersion of the tubers through cultivation.  The plant is square stemmed and the growth point is low to the ground which allows it to tolerate mowing.  General cultivation doesn't work for the removal because the plant forms tubers underground that can remain dormant for long periods of time and can get moved around through tillage practices.  So how do we cope with this annoying weed. 

I usually tell folks to move but there are a few things you can try.  Well when we are talking small clumps hand pulling can work.  If the the clump is a stand alone (with nothing else around it) then spot spraying with a glysophate solution can work.  Otherwise a nutsedge control will need to be used to control the population in a turf situation.  The active ingredients you will look for is betazon, halosulfuron, sulfentrazone to see the retail packaging you can find these active ingredients in visit Controlling Weeds in Kentucky Home Lawns and look on page 3 and 5.  Always follow label directions in whatever you decide to use.   

Friday, July 19, 2013

Wet spring means big problems and big blessings

A wet spring means that the water hose is lonely and our boots are muddy.  It also means that we should spend more time in the landscape and garden scouting for a plethora of potential diseases and insects that will be abundant in this season.  The following are some of the things are more prevalent as I walk around yards this spring.
  • Roses are being eaten heavily by an insect called the rose slug and the rose rosette virus has become more common on all types of roses.  
  • Maples are suffering from what appears to be verticillium wilt
  • Bacterial cankers are showing up on all types of plants, from weeping cherries to smoke tree.
  • Spider mites are on spruce, juniper, holly, annual flowers etc.  
  • aphids are still running wild on many plants but none worse than daylilies
  • Tomatoes are being threatened by both early blight and late blight, preventative controls should be implemented for both of these problems.   

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Are your Tomatoes Fired Up?

A very common problem I have encountered in gardens this spring is known as Early Blight.  We have had a especially good year for the development of this fungal disease.  Cooler temperatures, heavy and often rains have caused this to progress somewhat faster than in other years.  What to do?

Control begins with clean transplants, which means no spotting on the leaves, and good green color to the plant.  Since this is a soil born disease there should be a mulch placed on the soil to keep soil from bouncing on to the leaves during heavy rains.  Any thing will do such as newspaper, leaves, grass clippings, etc. An early spray program of chlorothalonil or mancozeb (these are active ingredients) will insure that you keep the plant clean longer through the season.  If you are not partial to chemical treatments then particular attention will need to be paid to the cultural practices that will reduce the risk.  Water under the foliage with drip irrigation or soaker hoses, but never over the top with a sprinkler.  Also if you reuse trellises, cages, stakes etc. you will need to sanitize these during the winter.  The tiny spores can overwinter on these structures and cause re-infestation the following year. 

In central Kentucky you still have time to replant tomatoes to get a crop but the above practices need to be used. 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Blooming Bardstown Garden Tour

Silent Auction Catalog

Blooming Bardstown FlierTen years ago a small group of Kentucky Home Extension Master Gardeners began planning the first Blooming Bardstown Garden Tour.  We wanted to showcase beautiful gardens of the area and increase the exposure of gardening as a rewarding and meaningful hobby.  Well ten years later we are going strong with one of the best lineups of gardens to date, an expanded silent auction offering, increased vendor participation, and an expanded Master G's plant sale and garden item area.  This year will feature a large vegetable garden, perennial borders, water features, hidden gardens, and many interesting thinks to see.  
Blooming Bardstown Flier

This year there will be more than 50 volunteer Extension Master Gardeners putting on this showcase of horticulturally significant gardens.   We would love for you to come on out and join us for a wonderful day of activities.  All the information you will need is on the Blooming Bardstown Flier just click the link and see the information.  Also click the silent auction link to see the more than 60 items that will be up for bid or buy it now.  

Monday, June 03, 2013

Browning of Arborvitaes (evergreens)

Specks on paper are Spider Mites

After viewing some pictures a client brought in I was pretty certain of what I was seeing but really needed to make certain.  The eleven year old hedge of Arborvitae was impressive but at a glance you could see the off color nature of the plants.  Arborvitae are generally a nice green color but some of these were exhibiting a very off green to brown appearance.  Upon a visit and a simple paper test (where I place a piece of white paper under the limb then tap the limb) I discovered a large spider mite population.  The paper was covered with tiny black specks that begin to move around. It turns out that these particular ones are the Spruce Spider Mite and affect a ton of different evergreens in the landscape.  For control methods see the UK publication Spider Mites on Landscape Plants.
Notice the Discoloration of the forward plant versus the on in the rear of the picture

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Careful with compaction in the garden

Gardening season is in full force with the threat of frost now behind us. It’s a good time to think about your soil. Soil compaction creates an unfriendly growing environment for plants and is a serious problem for many home gardeners. However, it is relatively easy to prevent.

Compaction transforms soil into a difficult environment for plant growth by making it harder for roots, water and soil to penetrate the ground. Major causes are working the soil when it is too wet, foot traffic and excessive rototiller use.

To reduce this problem, it is best to avoid working in the garden or walking in it when the soil is too wet. Squeeze a handful of soil and if it forms a muddy ball, rather than crumbling when you open your hand, stay out of the garden area.

Walk between plants and rows in the garden area to reduce compaction in primary plant growth areas.

Excessive rototiller use destroys soil structure and promotes compaction. When compaction takes place in a dense soil structure, it also makes root growth more difficult.

A little hand hoeing, rather than a rototiller, may be all you need to do to eliminate a few weeds. It usually causes less soil damage than repeated rototilling and is less harmful to the earthworms that help aerate the soil.

You also can use mulch to control weeds instead of tilling. A 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch relieves the pressure of walking on the soil, reducing the degree of compaction.

Source: John Strang, Extension Horticulture Specialist

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Follow these steps to keep the Tomatoes coming all season

The staple of many gardens really could use a little help from you to provide fruit for the entire season. That care should start at or just before transplanting to maintain good clean transplants that can thrive and handle all that the summer will throw at them.

The major problem of tomatoes comes from a soil born disease called early blight. Early blight is described when the plant begins to “fire up” from the bottom. Firing up refers to the lowest leaves on the plant spotting then turning yellow or black and finally falling off. When early blight is bad enough it will affect the leaves, stem and the fruit. The problem can result in the loss of the entire crop. So, what to do to prevent crop loss from early blight in tomatoes?
  •  Start with clean disease free transplants (no spots and good color). Grow your own seedlings is a better way to ensure disease free plants.
  •  After planting mulch under the plants to keep soil from bouncing up on the plant. Mulch can be organic, landscape fabric, or paper type products. 
  • Early sprays of Chlorothalonil (a protectant fungicide) applied weekly will keep your plants much cleaner. Brand names include Fungonil and Chlorothalonil.  
  • Watering should always be done at the root zone and not over the top. Sprinklers in the garden are a sure way to promote disease.
 These steps are sure to help you keep disease free plants all the way to frost.
Even though the other prevalent problem on tomatoes (Blossom End Rot) is not disease the cultural practices listed to the left will greatly decrease the occurrences of this abiotic problem. Blossom end rot is a lack of calcium being taken up by the plant because of intermittent watering and the allowing of the plant to dry between watering. So keep the plants moist and mulched and the lovely red fruit will keep coming all season.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Aphids on Daylilies

Lady Bug adult and larva
Aphids and their exoskeleton
Daylilies are by far one of the most popular perennials for Kentucky landscapes and there is no doubt there are plenty planted.  I just wanted to make you are aware that a tiny sucking insect called an Aphid is enjoying your daylilies as you read.  Their damage can develop into a major problem if controls are not taken.  But first lets talk about scouting the beds and knowing what is going on.  When you look through the daylilies what you may find is a white papery looking material on the surface of the leaves.  This will be small and scattered about the plant.  these are the exoskeleton of the aphid and was discarded when they molted. Seeing these signs will indicate that you have a population of aphids present.  The other thing I hope you see is Lady Bug activity.  Lady Bugs are notorious aphid killers and can control small populations of aphids. 

So now for the decision; if the daylily looks green and healthy especially at the crown of the plant and your are seeing plenty of lady bugs then let them work.  If you see plenty of sign of aphids, low amount of lady bugs and the center of the plant seems weak in color (yellow) then a decision to spray an insecticidal soap should be made.  For more information on this subject see Aphids

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Oaks and Boxwoods getting bombarded right now!

Oaks are taking a beating by the same insect that bounces off the security light at night.  This beetle feeds and night and its main course is your young oak leaves.  They will chew the new leaves off all the way back to the petiole leaving the tree stripped clean of foliage.  While this is not good the action does not mean doom for the tree.  If the tree is healthy the tree will simply add new leaves later.  However if it is a tree that is struggling already this activity could put over the top. See this link for control options:  Controls for insects eating ornamentals.

Boxwoods are being infested with psyllid activity.  These guys cause more cosmetic damage than anything else but that can be enough.  Psyllids cause the puckering or cupping of the leaves on boxwoods that persist all season.  See this link for control options: Boxwood Psyllid

Rain Garden Installed

Success,  The first Rain Garden has been installed at the corner of Jones and Broadway.  The workshop was held on Monday the 29th of April and the garden was installed on May 1st.   An army of volunteers jumped in and installed the garden in about an hour.  We will be adding a few day lilies later on to fill the few thin areas.  For more information on rain gardens and how they can fit into your landscape see the following site:  Residential Rain Gardens

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Excitement of a New Garden and the disappointment of WEEDS!!

This is the time of year that we all get very excited about raising our own food and our mind's eye sees bountiful produce both on the table and in the cupboard.  But as you know lots of good practices need to take place between now and then to make that dream a reality.  The first thing we need to start with is working the soil. Key to this step is not working the garden when it is too wet.  Check this by grabbing a hand full of soil, squeezing it together and then drop it from your waist.  If the ball breaks apart on impact with the ground then you are good to go with final tillage.  Fertilization should take place at this point to get the fertilize in the root zone where the plants need it most.  Assuming you have done all the planning this winter and you already know what you are planting and where; it is time to begin.  As you and I know the challenges of a good garden are about to begin.  This is the stage of gardening when mother nature wants to test our commitment to the project by throwing every weed she has at us in that initial flush.  The trick here is to not be a hero  but be proactive.  In other words work very hard in the beginning of the season to control weeds by hoeing daily versus weekly.  Use one of the many scuffle hoes on the market to shallow cultivate and remove the weeds.  Scuffle hoes work by moving across the soil surface to cut the germinating weed seeds.  Shallow cultivation is the key to a weedless garden for a longer period of time.  By not bringing more weed seeds to the surface to germinate we can limit their intimidation.  Water only the area that needs watering so that we don't contribute to rogue germination.  Stay vigilant my friends or the weeds will win.  For more information on Home Vegetable Gardening click this link.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Two important gardening classes on Thursday evening starting at 5:30pm

Spring is a time for gardening, learning new things and trying new things.  Boy do we have a line up for you on Thursday evening.
First up at 5:30 pm is everything you ever wanted to know about beans.  In this class we will explore how to grow beans, the many different varieties, and the nutritional value of a good bean.  I will have several varieties for you to take home and try in your garden. Can anyone say freebies?
Next at 7:30 pm I will be offering a drip irrigation workshop for the home garden and orchard.  This class will explore how inexpensive irrigating your garden can be and just how much you can save with this type of irrigation.  Not only will you see increased yield but also decreased disease problems.
Come out classes are free and open to the public and irrigation supplies will be availble for your garden at the cost of materials.  Just bring your garden dimensions and we can design for your setting. 

Nelson County Extension office
317 South third Street
Bardstown KY 40004

Friday, April 05, 2013

What's the purple stuff in my yard?

Answer is....... Dead nettle or Henbit.  Both are purple in flower and foliage and absolutely happy this time of year.  We pay attention to this weed this time of year when it is visible but the attention should be given in the fall before it germinates.  Both weeds have similar characteristics and should be treated as the same when considering control.  I prefer the fall control methods which includes a pre- emergent control however at this time of year your only choices are to wait for it to die when the temperatures warm or use a broad leaf weed control to eliminate it now.  For more information on all weed control see the publication AGR-208 Weed Control for Kentucky Home Lawns . Keep in mind that most of our best lawn care activities should take place in the fall versus the spring. 
Dead Nettle

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Getting Ready for Bardstown's First Rain Garden

This morning I met with UK specialist Brad Lee and City Engineer Jessica Filiatreau in regards to selecting a site for the city's rain garden.  We have chosen a site at the corner of Jones and Broadway because of its high influx of water during runoff rains.  Today we are conducting a percolation test to make sure the soil can handle the water load and allow the plants to flourish. 

So, a rain garden is an area that can and often does receive flooding during heavy rain.  The rain garden then uses plant material to uptake and slow down water so that it can then enter in to the soil profile thus reducing the amount of storm runoff that enters the septic and streams. 

You can take part in a the first Rain Garden Workshop on April 29th at 9:00 am at the Nelson County Extension Office. We will go through the entire process from design to build.  We will get our hands dirty in the afternoon.  Lunch will be provided we just need you to sign up with the Extension office at 348-9204.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Purple Martins are making their return

Over the weekend I began receiving reports that one of  our favorite spring friends is beginning its return appearance.  The Purple martin scouts are here beginning their assessment of the situation and preparing their report for the others to follow.  They always send in the scouts to search for nesting site availability for this spring.  It is important that you get those nesting houses cleaned and set up now so that the colony you had last year locates the property and provides a good report to the others in waiting.  I know it sounds a little odd but this is the way it works and if your site is not ready they will make the decision to move on to another location.  Get ready springs a coming. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lloyd Wildlife Management Area

Virginia Bluebells emerging
Nature Recycling

Tulip Popular

A group of forest enthusiasts and I visited the old growth forest in Grant county last last week.  This came about because of a discussion a group of us had after a Forestry Webinar series a couple of years ago.  We were interested in seeing what forest looked like that contained really large species.  Dr. Tom Barnes suggested we go to Lloyds Wildlife Management Area because of its close proximity and its collection of really large and diverse population of trees.  He was right there were some impressive trees on the property.  It was apparent however that the forest had taken a rather big setback as a result of the ice  storm a few years back.  The property is about 1100 acres and has a marked trail that loops through the woods. 

On that note now is the time to begin planning those spring wildflower walks.  We noticed a number of tiny wildflowers flourishing in the woodlands at this early part of the season.   Always look down when your not looking up in the woodlands,there is a lot you can miss when you're missing something else.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pruning Fruit Trees

Young Apple Before Pruning
One of the more popular posts on this blog is the one dealing with fruit tree pruning.  Nothing beats a handson training when learning the trade.  To that point Dave Kessler, ag agent for Marion County, has organized a fruit tree pruning demonstration for March 22nd in Marion County.  Call the Marion County Extension office at (270) 692-242 for times locations and details. 

General rules when it comes to any pruning are as follows:
  • Start by removing any damaged branches
  • Next remove anything that crosses another branch
  • Young Apple After Pruning
  • Now remove all water sprouts (fast growing straight up branches) and the majority of the interior small branches
  • Finally you will make cuts that increase air flow, incrase spacing for future hanging fruit and sunlight penetration and overall form. 
  • An apple, and pear will be pruned to a central leader, while a peach, plum, cherry, and others will be more open and vase shaped.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pruning Blackberries

Pruning blackberries can be tricky because you have floricanes and primocanes, mechanical damage and even insect damage.  This time of year it is faily simple to tell wich canes are alive and wich are dead.  Remove the dead canes first (this will be the ones that had fruit on them last year).  Next remove the spindly canes and anything broken or crossed.  Tip back branches on the extrememly long shoots and continue to the next plant.  For a more detailed description of bramble pruning see Growing Blackberries and Raspberries in Kentucky
Before Pruning
After old cane removal and tipping back
Before Pruning

After Pruning

Friday, February 22, 2013

Theodore Klein award winning plants

Crytomeria japonica 'Yoshino'
In the state of Kentucky we are lucky to have a committee of very qualified individuals review many plants over the years and provide us with a list that would make any landscape proud.  These award winners are selected based on the selectors practical experience with these plants and the plants qualitites being proven in various parts of the state.  In other words we know the plants work and provide lots of good attributes.  The following is a list of the 2012 award winners but by clicking on Theodore Klein you can see all the winners since 1999. 
  • Amsonia tabernaemontana ‘Blue Ice’
  • Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ 
  • Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino’ 
  • Hypericum x ‘Blue Velvet’ 
  • Lagerstromia indica x faueri hydrids. Examples: ‘Acoma’, ‘Hopi’, 'Nachez'

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New Varieties to try in your Kentucky Garden

At every Land Grant Institution across the United States research is happening on many ideas, methods, crops, etc.  Here at the University of Kentucky researchers in the Department of Horticulture in the College of Agriculture take a look annually at the best varieties for our home gardens and landscapes. On many of these they look at the yield, flavor, disease and insect resistance as well as a whole host of other attributes.  The following is a list of just a few of the varieties that warrant a trial at your place this year:
  • Rabbiteye Blueberries varieties Powder Blue, Spartan, and Onslow
  • Spring Turnip varieties Hakuri and Purple Crown
  • Hardnecked Garlic variety Music
  • Bell Peppers varieties Alliance, Archimedes X3R, and Lafayette
  • Sweet Corn variety Obsession II (glyphosate resistant) 
For more information the varieties trialed this past year at the University of Kentucky take a look at the 2012 Fruit and Vegetable Research Report.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Living Simply: Getting Back to the Basics

Building on the popular series of classes from last year Dayna and I are introducing the new series for 2013 called Living Simply: Getting Back to Basics.  This year we will tag team each topic while sharing the how to do information as well as the why to do it information (nutritional info., cost saving info., etc.)  This series will be monthly on the third Thursday of the month beginning at 5:30pm.

  • February 21: Nature’s Candy: Learn what fruits are best to grow in Nelson County, then learn about the benefits of eating these fruits and different ways to prepare them! 
  • March 21: Gardeners and Grandkids: Want to spend more time with your grandkids? Grow a garden with them! Give your grandkids the memories of gardening with you.
  • April 18: What’s In Your Pantry?: Learn the best beans to add to your garden, then how to make a meal with them and other staple items in your home.
  • May 16: You Can Can!: Want the basics of home canning? We’ll give you all the answers!
  • No Class in June
  • July 18: Soap Making: Add some lavender plants to your garden and then make your own soap. Great to keep or give as gifts!
  • August 15: Knead some bread?: Learn how to make your own bread and what grains to grow for it.
  • No Class in September
  • October 17: Meats 101: Learn the best cuts of meat, how to cook it, the nutrition of meat, and try a sampling!
  • November 21: Turkey Day Preparation: Learn all about turkey safety, how to cook the bird and how to make side dishes big enough to feed your whole family! We’ll show you how to have the perfect, healthy holiday feast.