MASTER GARDENERS: Thought-provoking research as gardening season… – Bemidji Pioneer


A former co-worker nearly lost a child due to the “blue baby” syndrome caused by it; the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is caused by the build-up of excess nutrients from the fertilizer we use on our lawns, golf courses, and farm fields—not a trivial issue. A news item in the “American Gardener” suggests a possible solution.

Nitrogen is necessary for photosynthesis for plant growth. Although abundant in the atmosphere, plants can only utilize it from the soil after microorganisms have converted it to ammonia. Synthetic fertilizers have readily been available to stimulate plant growth, but they are expensive, can pollute groundwater and their manufacturing process creates greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming. If plants could utilize the nitrogen in the air, water quality would not be impacted and the problems associated with fertilizer manufacture and soil degradation would be eliminated. Some plants already do that. Legumes such as peas and beans “fix” nitrogen from the air through rhizobia bacteria that live in those little nodules on the roots and thus are self-fertile.

Now researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have put their finger on a set of genes that allow another bacteria to convert atmospheric nitrogen to its useable form. The American Society for Microbiology announced a study in June that added those nitrogen-fixing genes to an altogether different bacterium. Eureka! This one succeeded, only at a lower rate. Potentially, this could eliminate the need for synthetic fertilizers; plants could convert the nitrogen in the air to this usable nutrient for growth. What potential this could be for soil health, water quality, as well as another tool in reducing global warming.

Another “American Gardener” article piqued my interest and raised more questions. Cutting electric costs and providing bright lighting in cities as well as in homes has led to the advent of LED lighting.

I love its brightness and the lower electrical usage and, thereby, lowering bills, but research is indicating that there are drawbacks to it, as well. University of California research scientists have discovered that certain light spectrums affect wildlife more than others. They found that blue and white spectrum LED light causes more problems than those in the yellow-green and amber colors. These lights affect moths and night-flying insects, interrupting pollination at night and causing both daytime and nighttime consequences on many creatures. I notice my own problems with sleeping when I work on the computer at night or read thrillers using a bright little LED until the book is done. I have always blamed the stimulation of the story, but maybe I am closer to moth than I realized. I hope I am more like a Cecropia or a Luna than one of those destructive and ugly grey-brown ones.

More horticulture stories could be in the news but are often missed with our penchant for headline news. Are you aware of the invasive, tiny, long-horned tick that reproduces asexually and has been found in three East Coast states? Another involves the decline of the urban tree canopy, the large increase in impermeable surfaces and the death of trees due to insect damage, fires and drought?

There is so much to learn; one forgets snow!

Please seek information from the University of Minnesota Extension website——or ask a Master Gardener for horticultural help. Our Facebook page may also be of help to you:

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Gardening for the Record: Third trys a charm for gardener – Times Record


“There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder.” These words by English poet Alfred Austin came to mind recently when fellow Master Gardener/photographer Pat Robbins emailed a photo of the first bloom on her nun’s orchid.

Since then her orchid has continued to amaze her. One of the reasons is that this was Pat’s third try with this plant. Three years ago, I divided my plant and gave Pat a few egg-shaped pseudobulbs in a pot. They did not survive the summer. Second time was also unsuccessful. Last summer, I offered her another plant. She reluctantly accepted with the words: “Maybe third time will be a charm.” And charm it was!

Pat’s futile attempts were surprising because she can usually propagate almost anything. In fact, she is the only person I know who has propagated the Silver Moon rose from a cutting. I have been the recipient of some of her prized passalongs, including datura and rice paper plant.

Since that first emailed photo, she has taken many photos. And as fate (or Austin’s words) would have it, my orchid refused to bloom this year although it has beautiful healthy foliage.

An ancient tropical plant, nun’s orchid (phaius tankervilleae) gets its name from the hooded flowers that resembled a veiled nun’s head bowed in prayer. It is also called nun’s hood, veiled orchid and swamp orchid.

My plant was a door prize at an Advanced Master Gardener class many years ago. It requires little care and has performed well, blooming every year — until now — and multiplying so that it can be divided and passed along.

When in bloom, this orchid is spectacular. Tall spikes up to four feet tall appear in February. Then four-inch flowers open sequentially on the stalk for four to six weeks. Each flower’s petals are reddish brown on the front and white on the back. The lower lip is rose or lavender to purple with a darker throat. The blooms are also fragrant. It is one of those plants that blooms only once a year — in late winter. Leaves are large, thin and pleated.

Flowers are believed to develop in response to reduced hours of daylight. Gardeners are not only familiar with the idiom “if at first you don’t succeed … try, try again,” but practice it daily, both in the house and the garden.

But one plant that never tests a gardener’s humility is the wood hyacinth or Spanish Bluebell (hyacinthoides hispanica). Another one-time bloomer worth waiting for, it is one of the most durable old-garden bulbs. In early spring, flower spikes are covered with open bell-shaped arcing flowers atop tight tall clumps of dagger-like leaves.

The wood hyacinths have been in my garden longer than I have. The spring after we moved in (over four decades ago), these beauties appeared and have returned every year without exception, multiplying many times. Bulbs have been transplanted in other flower beds and passed along to friends.

While the literature lists them as “shade or partly sunny” plants, mine have always flourished in the hot afternoon sun.

Recently I discovered a half dozen in the alley where apparently overlooked dried bulbs fell out of the yard-waste can and created a new home. These will be potted and given to friends who have little or no time to spend in the garden. Incidentally, the most popular meaning for bluebells is humility.

Houseplants have noticed longer days and are beginning to grow. So, it’s time to start your spring feeding, but use a diluted 50 percent fertilizer mix until the growth is robust.

It’s also time for Sutherlands’ annual spring event, which will be held Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m. Several of their plant vendors will be on hand to present seminars on what’s new in the plant world and answer questions. Seminar topics will include organics, roses, beekeeping and more, according to plant expert Vicki Whitfield. The event includes a hotdog lunch prepared by the Noon Lions Club.

Next week, the topic will be: Curiosity in the garden — green flowers.

Lucy Fry of Fort Smith is a level 4 Master Gardener and writes the area Master Gardener newsletter. Her column, Gardening for the Record, runs weekly in the Times Record. Send questions to [email protected]

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Best apps for gardening and yard work for spring 2019 – CNET


Mobile apps can make gardening easier.

Dragon Images/iStockphoto

Not everyone has a green thumb or an eye for landscaping. Some people don’t even get to try because they’re so busy. Others watch HGTV over and over again and still never achieve the yard of their dreams because it’s easy to forget most of what you learned by the time you get outside.

But since you can take your phone with you when you walk out into the yard, there are now some digital tools that can make you a more effective gardener. We’ve gathered together some gardening and landscaping apps that can walk you through how to take care of your plants and keep your yard looking fabulous.

My Lawn: A Guide to Lawn Care

My Lawn (download for iOS or Android) makes lawn maintenance understandable and creates an easy-to-follow care plan so you know which products to use and when.

Recommendations are based on your lawn size, location and climate. You’ll get an alert when it’s time to feed, seed and water your lawn, so you will never have to guess. You can also create a custom lawn care plan.

Monitor the amount of water your yard gets each week from rain, hoses or sprinklers. Keep track of the specific needs of different parts of your yard, like the parts that are mostly shaded versus the parts that are always in the sun.



Share your garden and connect with others through the GrowIt! app (download for iOS or Android). Share photos of your plants and ask the community for help identifying them. The GrowIt! community is a valuable resource if you’ve just moved to a new area. If you’ve got a pest that’s eating your tomatoes, for example, others on the app might be able to help.

See what the people around you are planting to get some inspiration. If you find a plant you like, tap on the information tab to find out how to grow it. The information tab tells you how big the plant can get, how often to water and feed it, and when it will bloom.

GrowIt! teaches you how to properly prepare your soil for anything you plant, grow larger vegetables, and what you should and shouldn’t plant based on your location.

Read: 6 gardening tips you’ll wish you’d known all along



Design your outdoor living area with iScape (download for iOS). Use the design tools to make your project come to life. Snap a photo of an area that needs landscaping and virtually add flowerbeds, trees and shrubs to get an idea of what your yard will look like before you begin.

iScape offers 2D and 3D designs so you can see what your physical outdoor area looks like with virtual plants. Once you have a landscape layout, you can share with your spouse or a landscape pro and get your project started.

The app offers a free lite version, but to gain full access, you will need to subscribe to a monthly pro subscription for $20, or a yearly pro subscription for $200.



If you’ve ever wondered about an unknown plant in your garden, then you need FlowerChecker (download for iOS or Android). This app has a team of experts who can help you identify plants, moss, lichen and fungi.

To find out about your unknown plant, snap a few pictures of it and upload them to the app. Try to capture the different parts of the plant like the flower, leaves and stem. The typical response time for an expert to identify the plant can take a few minutes or a few hours. So far, the team of experts has been able to correctly identify an average of 90 percent of plants.

Identification costs $1 per plant uploaded. If the team can’t confirm what your plant is, you won’t have to pay anything. You’ll also have to purchase the app for a one-time cost of $1.


Garden Answers

Identify plants easily with Garden Answers (download for iOS or Android). Unlike Flower Checker, this app uses advanced image recognition technology to identify plants instead of an expert. Simply snap a picture and submit it to instantly get detailed information about a plant.

To learn if your plants have pests or diseases, use the keyword search feature to ask Garden Answers a question. If you need more advice on gardening, ask the experts for more specific questions and recommendations.

Access any of your previous plant questions and answers within the app.



Learn about healthy planting year-round with SmartPlant (download for iOS or Android). Watch videos, view images and learn more about how to care for your plants in the app library.

Identify your plants and any pests that are preventing their growth. Scan plant barcodes in stores to receive monthly care tip notifications.

The app has a free version that offers occasional access to premium features. If you subscribe to premium, you will have access to expert assistance. Premium costs $4 monthly, $10 quarterly or $35 annually.


Gardening Companion

Make your garden immaculate with the help of Gardening Companion (download for iOS or Android). This app acts as your garden assistant to help you care for your plants. Browse through thousands of articles on horticulture to take the best care of your garden.

Track your garden’s growth by storing photos and notes in the app’s journal. The app records the weather in your location and you can compare how your garden did this year compared with last year.

Set up notifications to remind you to water and fertilize your garden. Gardening Companion can also alert you when the time is right to plant your vegetables.



Learn what you can grow in your area with Gardenate (download for iOS or Android). The app uses your location to show what is best for you to plant each month. Access plant descriptions and growing tips to become a pro.

In the app, record planting dates, harvest dates and notes about your plants. Save the details in the My Garden section. The app will send calendar reminders when it’s time to harvest your produce.

Access detailed information about your plants like when they germinate and at what temperatures, how far apart to space your plants and the amount of time it takes for them to harvest. 


Do’s and don’ts for early spring gardening – Chicago Tribune


A warm day in March can inspire a kind of madness in gardeners. It can cause them to burst out the door, desperate after months cooped up by cold and snow, and start work way too soon.

“Be careful what you do right now,” said Sharon Yiesla, plant knowledge specialist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. “There are things it’s just too early for.”

Here are some do’s and don’ts for early spring gardening:

Do get rid of tree wrap. If you wrapped the trunk of a young tree to protect it from animals over the winter, unwrap it now. “Leaving tree wrap on too long can trap moisture and encourage disease,” Yiesla said.

A Spring Guide To Eco-Friendly Gardening – E/The Environmental Magazine


eco-friendly gardeningYou’ve been waiting for the big spring thaw since Christmas. Now that it’s here, you’re hoping to make your garden more eco-friendly. Here’s a spring guide to eco-friendly gardening that will get you pointed in the right direction.

Native plants

The fastest way to have an eco-friendly impact is by choosing plants that are native to your climate. “Native” means plants that naturally grow in the area. Most home and garden stores carry seeds of regional plants. In Texas, this might mean choosing bluebonnets. In Virginia, you might plant the fiery orange Turk’s Cap lily instead.

One of the main benefits of native plants is that you won’t be fighting Mother Nature to keep them alive and thriving. They also contribute to your local ecosystem, feeding the insects and birds and other native wildlife.

Don’t sprinkle, drip

This is a pricier solution, but it pays off with a healthier garden and a lower water bill. A soaker hose drip irrigation system delivers water directly to the soil and plant roots. You’ll no longer need that spray of water arcing through the air in the early morning and late evening. Soaker hose drip irrigation makes your plants a little more resistant to disease by watering them right where it matters. Since the water is not flying through the air and landing on top of plants and grass, less of it evaporates. That means you use less water, especially if you have it on a timer.

Nix the chemical pesticides and herbicides

Some of your best friends in the garden are vinegar, salt, and dish detergent. A combination of all three is a less-toxic weedkiller. Pouring apple cider vinegar into an anthill will kill the nest. In a pinch, plain boiling water will kill weeds growing up in the crevices in your driveway or back patio. You can get rid of slugs by setting out dishes of beer. Slugs are notorious beer lovers and will drown after drinking themselves into a stupor. Coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, and something called diatomaceous earth are snail repellents. They work by tearing up their soft, slimy underbellies. You may already have most of this in your kitchen and don’t have to shell out the money for weed killers and pesticides that will linger long after you’ve forgotten them.

Maintain your lawn

There’s a lot of bad information out there about lawns, that they aren’t environmentally friendly. This couldn’t be further from the truth in that there are many benefits of lawns. A yard full of grass make prevents water from evaporating and prevents flooding and soil erosion. The trick is choosing the right kind of grass for your region. You can always ask at your local garden store which types of grass are best suited for your climate. Maintaining your grass also makes your lawn eco-friendly. You don’t want to give your lawn a close shave, because longer blades of grass will help conserve water.


Not sure how to compost? It’s a simple way to recycle scraps from your kitchen and replenish the soil in your garden. All you need are the browns (like the twigs and leaves in your yard), the greens (vegetable scraps from the kitchen, coffee grounds, et cetera) and water. Composting also enriches your soil without the need for chemical fertilizers and helps reduce methane emissions from your landfill.

Your yard and lawn can be environmentally friendly in several different ways. They can help you conserve water. They can improve air quality. They can attract native insects and animals as part of the natural ecosystem in your region. This spring guide to eco-friendly gardening should help you get started as soon as winter thaws.

Larry Wilkinson is a garden and landscaping writer. Larry prides himself on finding the easiest way to do anything he can — you can bet he’s tried to make his entire garden self-watering. Of course, he isn’t just about convenience either, adding a unique design flair to everything he does.

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Lettuce Grow’s Subscription Service Promises to Make Texas Gardening Much Simpler – Texas Monthly


Growing plants in Texas involves a steep learning curve. Even if you grew up seeding and weeding at the side of a knowledgable green thumb, there’s a lot of collective wisdom to internalize before you’re harvesting your own vegetables. Our warmer winters mean an entirely different planting schedule than is suggested on the backs of seed packets. Scorching hot summers require vigilant water management. Plus the bugs more than live up to that old cliche that everything is bigger in our state.

Lettuce Grow, a startup from Emmy- and Grammy-nominated actress and singer Zooey Deschanel (known for New Girl, 500 Days of Summer, and the musical duo She & Him) and her husband, entrepreneur Jacob Pechenik, is an attempt to make that curve a little less steep. On Sunday at the the South Congress Hotel, they hosted a launch party for the Austin-based company, which will begin shipping to its first subscribers soon.

The couple, who have two young children, split their time between Austin and Los Angeles and are familiar with the peculiar challenges of growing veggies here. “In a place like Texas, you have these [weather] extremes,” Pechenik says. With their backyard hydroponic system and accompanying subscription service, he claims, they want to enable people to “grow 20 percent of their food.” It’s an ambitious goal, but Lettuce Grow automates many aspects of gardening, effectively giving its customers a shortcut to homegrown produce. “You might not have a green thumb,” Deschanel says. “We want to do all the extra work that might stop people from growing a garden at their house.”

Here’s how it works: When you sign up, Lettuce Grow ships you one of their “farms.” Made from ocean-bound plastic (plastic that wouldn’t have been recycled otherwise), the farms are vertical hydroponic gardening systems. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. You set the grower in a sunlit area, fill it with nutrient-enriched water, plug it in, and then add the seedlings that Lettuce Grow ships you monthly. That’s it, more or less.

Zooey Deschanel and her husband Jacob Pechenik in front of a couple of Lettuce Grow’s “Farms.”

Zooey Deschanel and her husband Jacob Pechenik in front of two of Lettuce Grow’s “farms” at Sunday’s launch party.

Laura Hajar

The plant varieties have been selected to work well based on your geographic location, and the types of plants Texans can expect to receive through the subscription service will be tailored to the seasons and the weather. Lettuce Grow works with local farms to grow the seedlings. In Austin that farm is Agua Dulce, owned by Deschanel and Pechenik’s Farm Project. Varieties are tested and chosen for flavor, yield, insect resistance, climate compatibility, and more.

The goal is to get your Lettuce Grow farm to a point where it’s producing enough vegetables that you can harvest some every day. That way, says Pechenik, “You can start to build a lifestyle around eating at home, cooking at home.” The company has an accompanying app that advises you on when to harvest; when to clean, add nutrients, or add water to the Farm; and provides recipes and tips for eating your bounty. You can even send in photos of your plants if they seem to be struggling, and they’ll offer advice—or change the variety of plants in your subscription box to some better suited to your space.

All of this hand-holding comes at a price: Farms range from $399 to $469 depending on size, and the accompanying subscriptions cost between $49 and $69 monthly. But Lettuce Grow claims that, at peak season, the smallest farm produces $78 worth of produce per month—so if you stick with it, you eventually save money. For those who want to garden and can afford the system, it removes plenty of hurdles to starting a garden. (Lettuce Grow also donates one farm and accompanying membership to “a school or community-based organization” for every 10 new subscriptions it sells.)

Lettuce Grow’s co-founder Jacob Pechenik at the Lettuce Grow launch party.

Lettuce Grow’s co-founder Jacob Pechenik discusses one of the company’s hydroponic growing systems.

Laura Hajar

“I am drinking the Kool-Aid,” says Stephanie Scherzer of Austin’s Rain Lily Farm, who has worked closely with Lettuce Grow in selecting varietals and growing seedlings. She admires the system for being accessible to children and the elderly, as well as its performance. Scherzer says she’s been able to grow watermelon, eggplant, and peppers in her prototype farm, and that the cooling properties of the hydroponics system extended the Texas growing season for crops like thyme, watercress, and kale. (The service now sends members mostly greens and herbs, but greater variety is planned.)

Deschanel says she’s enthusiastic about Lettuce Grow because “it’s really such an advantage to grow your own food.” She notes that freshly-picked vegetables retain the most nutrients and that picking only as much food as you need to eat can reduce food waste. She adds that her daughter loves picking the vegetables, and the Lettuce Grow system provides a starting point to get kids involved in gardening. “It’s a great way to explore the food you’re eating and explore healthier options too.”

Lettuce Grow is taking pre-orders for its first round of subscriptions. Farms begin shipping in three to five weeks, and it’s available nationwide.

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Detroiter files lawsuit in ‘gardening while black’ case – Detroit Free Press


A black man from Detroit is suing three white women for making up lies about him to police in order to keep him away from a community park. 

Marc Peeples said the women falsely accused him of crimes from July 2017 to May 2018 as he built a garden in Hunt Park and worked to improve the surrounding neighborhood.  

Peeples alleges that the women — Deborah Nash, Martha Callahan and Jennifer Morris — had their own plans for the park and wanted to see him “incarcerated or seriously injured by law enforcement.” 

The women told Detroit Police administrators in March 2018 that Peeples had stolen from houses near the park and threatened to burn down their homes and kill them, according to the lawsuit filed Feb. 25 in Wayne County Circuit Court. 

Two months later, as Peeples was in Hunt Park teaching a group of homeschooled students about gardening, one of the women called 911 and falsely reported that Peeples was a convicted pedophile and wasn’t legally allowed near kids, the complaint said. Police arrested Peeples in the park.    

The allegations led to Peeples being charged with three counts of stalking. As a condition of his bond, he was barred from park. The women removed or covered some of the improvements Peeples had put in place, according to the lawsuit.    

A Wayne County Circuit Court judge eventually tossed the case. The judge said the three women harassed Peeples, according to a report in the Detroit Metro Times. 

NBC News reported that Peeples and his attorney, Robert Burton-Harris, describe what happened as a case of “gardening while black.” 

Nash, Callahan and Morris have unlisted phone numbers and could not be reached by the Free Press late Tuesday. 

Nash told the New York Times in October that she called police because Peeples was damaging property.  

“I am not a racist. I was all for the garden and even helped with supplies at first, but he threatened me several times, in person to my face, that I needed to leave my neighborhood or I would be put out one way or another,” she told the Times. “I called the police because he was destroying property in the neighborhood and painting graffiti. No one had the right to paint park trees.” 

In the lawsuit, Peeples is seeking $300,000 in damages, plus costs and attorney fees.

A status conference has been scheduled for May 28.

More: Goodyear to unveil concept tires for flying cars at Geneva motor show

More: Driver charged with striking pedestrians in Royal Oak

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Lawsuit filed in ‘gardening while black’ case in Detroit – The Detroit News


A Detroit man is suing three women he says called police on him because of his race while he was tending to an urban garden on the city’s east side.

Marc Peeples has filed a lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court against the three women, all east-side residents, saying he became a victim of unjust police calls, stops and racial profiling because he is African-American and the women are white.

The case is being closely watched by legal experts and others who believe it could serve as a litmus test for other African-Americans who feel they’ve been wrongly confronted by police because of their race.

Peeples says he was working in a community garden when he became the target of a barrage of complaints from the women, identified in the lawsuit as Deborah Nash, Martha Callahan and Jennifer Moore.

Nash responded to a request for comment from The Detroit News in a text message Wednesday: “My statement will be released at a later date.” The other women  couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

In an October interview, Nash told the New York Times she called police after Peeples threatened her. 

“I am not a racist. I was all for the garden and even helped with supplies at first, but he threatened me several times, in person to my face, that I needed to leave my neighborhood or I would be put out one way or another,” Nash said. “I called the police because he was destroying property in the neighborhood and painting graffiti. No one had the right to paint park trees.”

Peeples told The Detroit News in October that he had been harassed by the women and they had called police on him numerous times while he was in his old neighborhood on Fayette and Winchester starting in the summer of 2017.

“I guess it was gardening while black,” said Peeples, who said he lost his job and employment contracts because the problems the women caused him.

Peeples said at the time he was trying to “give back” to his old neighborhood by planting an urban garden in Hunt Park. He also said he boarded and secured an abandoned property across from the park.

“They call the police on me every time they see me (at the park),” said Peeples, who said he was arrested twice after such calls. “They were trying to paint me as a criminal.”

The complaints led to charges being filed last year against Peeples; the charges were later dropped by a judge. Peeples said the complainants were “white women who use the police to get their way.”

The lawsuit alleges the women made false police reports and accused Peeples of “various crimes that they knew he did not commit” from July 2017 to May 2018.

The lawsuit accuses the women of malicious prosecution, abuse of process, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation and civil conspiracy. Peeples is asking for $300,000 plus court costs, interest and attorney fees.

Peeples’ experience, says his attorney Robert Burton-Harris, mirrors that of many African-Americans across the country who found themselves at the receiving end of phone calls to police by white women reporting unfounded offenses.

A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for May 28.


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Master Gardener: The Spring Garden Symposium Features Several Alternative Gardening Methods – The Transylvania Times


Spring would not be spring without the popular Master Gardeners Annual Spring Garden Symposium. Sponsored by the Transylvania County Extension Master Gardeners it will be held on Saturday, March 16, at the Transylvania Public Library. This popular event is a great way to get a head start with your gardening plans and to learn about topics that you may be less familiar with. This year, the symposium will feature three speakers who will talk about alternative gardening methods.

Bart Renner, agricultural extension agent, will talk on “Straw Bale Gardening.” This is a method that many people may not be familiar with but is well suited to areas where high rainfall totals may bring diseases as the straw usually provides a weed and disease-free medium. It is good for people who don’t want to get their hands dirty and you don’t have to bend over as far to get to their vegetables.

Renner graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2004. After an internship with the Forest Service in Susanville, Calif., he joined the Peace Corps as an agroforestry and environmental education volunteer. After serving for about three and a half years he came back to Kutztown, Pa., as an organic farming intern at the Rodale Institute. In 2009, he started at NC State University and graduated from the Crop Science Department in 2012 with a master’s. He started with NCCES as the local foods agent in Transylvania County that same year and has never looked back.

The second speaker is Agricultural Extension Agent Karen Blaedow, who will talk on “Container Vegetable Gardening.” Many people are downsizing their gardens, as well as their houses, and containers are a great option for people with small gardens or just a patio or balcony. Using containers does require you to pay closer attention to watering regimes but they can be portable. This talk with focus on vegetables but the theory can be applied to flowering plants.

Bladow started her position as the Henderson County vegetable and small fruit agent in 2016. She is originally from the Augusta, Ga., area and moved to Asheville two years ago with her family. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of Charleston and a master’s degree in plant science (plant pathology) from Clemson University. Her past work experience includes 12 years of research, primarily in plant-pest interactions for a variety of crops including peaches, soybeans, apples and cherries.

The final speakers are Gary and Trish Hughes of WNC Urban Farms who will talk on “Growing a Healthy Planet by Changing the Future of Food with Vertical Aeroponics.” Their talk will focus on what is aeroponics: a method of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil. They will be bringing a tower garden with lettuces, and herbs, and grow lights that allow you to grow vegetables, etc., 12 months of the year.

A few years ago not many people – including Gary and Trish – had heard of the term urban farm. But once they learned how healthy and easy it is to grow vegetables and herbs in the vertical gardening system known as a tower garden, they were hooked. Their mission is simple. They decided to share this amazing concept to empower people near and far to feed their families local, nutrient dense food that can be grown as close as outside their front door or from a local urban farm in their area. They want people to know that they are not only changing the health of generations to come, but also participating in the sustainability of our planet for those generations. The Spring Garden Symposium is on Saturday, March 16, from 9 a.m. to about noon. It will be held in the library’s Rogow Room. Doors will open at 8:15 a.m., with the first speaker beginning at 9 a.m. The entry fee is $10 and this includes a chance to win some really nice door prizes, including gift certificates to local garden centers. Light refreshments will be served in the breaks between the speakers. This event is open to the public, and Master Gardeners, both past and present. Call (828) 884-3109 for more information.

(Master Gardeners provide volunteer leadership and service to their community in gardening activities. The volunteer activities can include answering gardening questions, conducting plant clinics, planting demonstration gardens, talking to community groups and more. If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener, go by the extension office or call (828) 884-3109 or visit

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Mobile’s spring gardening events are almost here – Lagniappe


By Judy Weaver, Mobile County Master Gardener | [email protected]

It’s the final week of Mardi Gras festivities, and then we turn the page as Mobile’s spring gardening events begin. We’ll celebrate the beauty of our Alabama Gulf Coast home by attending as many gardening events as possible to recharge our gardening batteries with inspiration.

Early spring is a time to take inventory of what to plant this year, and what to give up on. A gardener’s heart is always hopeful, but you do have to know when to say “When,” and bring on the new.



Plantasia: Several readers have asked for help making decisions about what to buy and where to plant. There is no better place to begin that journey than Mobile Botanical Gardens’ (MBG) Plantasia plant sale. Look for Master Gardeners and MBG volunteers, who are happy to help you make selections. Feel free to bring pictures of your planting location.

What: Plantasia plant sale (look for the Master Gardener tent)

When: March 15-17, Friday & Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Mobile Botanical Gardens, 5151 Museum Drive, Mobile



Festival of Flowers: Recognized for over a decade as a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society, the 2019 Festival of Flowers will include lifesize landscaped gardens full of ideas for the home gardener, outdoor entertaining ideas, original works by Alabama artist Brent Smith, gardening fun for young sprouts, seminars and demonstrations, a garden market for shopping and a garden café. Wear comfortable shoes and plan to take lots of photos.

What: 26th Festival of Flowers “Dutch Gardens”
When: March 21-24, Thursday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Providence Hospital Campus, 6801 Airport Blvd., Mobile


Azalea Bloom Out: Enjoy the blooms of more than 250,000 vibrant azaleas in an explosion of color throughout Bellingrath Gardens’ 65 acres. Hydrangeas, Easter lilies, fuchsia, Wave®petunias, Cape daisies, delphiniums and more will also be featured throughout the gardens.

What: Azalea Bloom Out

When: Entire month of March

Where: Bellingrath Gardens, Theodore

Info: Please check Azalea Watch at for bloom times


And so much more …

What: Mobile Area Orchid Society’s 42nd Orchid Show and Sale
When: March 1-3
Where: Bellingrath Gardens, Theodore
Info: for times

What: Mobile County MG’s Monthly Meeting
When: Thursday, March 7, 10-11:45 a.m.
Where: Jon Archer Ag Center, 1070 Schillinger Road N., Mobile
Speaker: David Armstrong, Mobile Baykeeper
Topic: Apple Snails

What: Landscaping 201 Workshop (Mobile County Extension)
In-depth look at what it takes to have a stunning landscape.
When: March 14-15, 6-8 p.m. (dinner provided each night)
Where: Jon Archer Ag Center, 1070 Schillinger Road N., Mobile
Topic: Different landscaping info taught each night
Cost: $10 pays for both nights (with dinner)
Register: Call ACES office at 251-574-8445

What: Berry Workshop (Mobile County Extension)
When: March 21, 1-4 p.m.
Where: Jon Archer Ag Center, 1070 Schillinger Road N., Mobile
Topic: How to grow and preserve blackberries and blueberries
Cost: $10 to cover canning supplies
Register: Call ACES office at 251-574-8445

What: Gallery of Gardens presented by Mobile Botanical Gardens
When: April 5-6 (save the date)
Where: All gardens are by the water this year.

What: Brie Arthur presentation on her book “Foodscape Revolution”
When: April 5, 7 p.m.
Where: Mobile Botanical Gardens, 5151 Museum Drive, Mobile

What: Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast with the Easter Bunny
When: Saturday, April 13
Where: Bellingrath Gardens, Theodore
Info: Special hunts for different age groups (

Call 251-459-8864 for breakfast reservations

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