Sunday, March 30, 2014

Serious gardeners brave weather to participate in PAR Davies garden class.

Hi Everyone,

Yesterday was the worst possible day for our garden class. Sunny and in the 60's somehow turned into freezing, wet and windy. Upon arrival we were wondering who in the world is going to show up in this weather. In fact, 26 (all but one registered) showed up, and that is not counting the two babies!! No wimps this bunch....not even wimpy babies. Just very serious gardeners and a delightful group.

We quickly realized that class in the garden was not an option. Rannie graciously volunteered to move the 'John Deere' out of the barn, and Bob and G.A. cleared an area for us to have class.

Janet opening things up.

Janet Wehner started off with an introduction on the importance of growing organic. Next was Susan Phillips and G.A. Crosby showing us how to start seeds. Each gave the version of how they do it, which was good for folks to see that there is always more than one way to do things. Then Bob Hathaway told us about soil, which was very informative; in fact, this was a good refresher for me.

G.A. and Susan explain seed starting.

Jamie Childress, our in-house compost expert, enlightened everyone on how to do a compost bin and the importance of compost to the health of the soil. After class folks were invited out to see our compost bins. Bob and Virginia Vierkandt told about their adventures with lasagna gardening, and the different ways this can be done. I finished with talking about pest and disease control, organically. I spent some time talking about squash bugs and squash vine borers, and the things we tried last year which enabled us to have a respectable squash harvest. The class was invited to sign up for our 'Squash Project,' in which we will keep in touch with what research we have done, measures we are trying, and successes and failures. About six people signed up for this, and the offer will be made next week also. We are determined to squash the squash bugs....or at least to keep the plants alive long enough to produce a decent crop.

A quick trip to the garden when the class concluded before heading to a warm car.

We really appreciate the great participation on such a cold day, and we are looking forward to the final class next Saturday...with nicer weather of course. Our class is to capacity again, but there are plans to have another series in late summer.

'Til later,

Friday, March 21, 2014


Click for full information

Winter?  We're sick of it.  Come out to Spring Fling at the Agricenter today and tomorrow and revel in the Springness of it all!

Thursday, March 20, 2014


DIRT made my lunch. That’s right, DIRT made my lunch and dirt makes your lunch!! Think about it. Almost everything we eat has its beginnings in dirt.

Our Plant Camp theme this year is “Dirt Made my Lunch.”  Each day will find us discovering how dirt plays an integral role in producing what we eat and will emphasize the importance of being Good Stewards of our Earth’s Resources.

This June, Agricenter International and your Memphis Area Master Gardeners are sponsoring their ninth annual PLANT CAMP for boys and girls, ages 8–12. Enrollment is limited to 30 campers.

CAMP happens outdoors the week of June 9 through June 13 from 9:00am until Noon at the Agricenter located at 7777 Walnut Grove Road just west of Germantown Parkway.

PLANT CAMP activities will include:

                  Hands-on projects                                     Daily journal & Jeopardy
                  Educational discussions                            Theme-related snacks
                  Harvesting, planting & recycling              Friday Musical by the Campers
                  Outdoor classroom events                        Friday reception for Parents

Since our camp instructors and staff are Master Gardener volunteers, we are able to offer this amazing week of camp for only $35.00 per child which includes all project materials, activities and a Plant Camp shirt!

For more information, visit the UT Extension website or call Tim Roberts at 757-7777 ext.7109.

The deadline for applying to attend PLANT CAMP is Friday, May 30, 2014.

Please share this information about Plant Camp with anyone you know who has children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or friends ages 8-12. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

No Putzing Around at PAR Davies Today!

Hi Everyone,

What a fast two hours today! Gardeners today were Joan, Susan, G.A., Greg, Rita, Mary Elizabeth, Don, Dorothy, Jamie, Janet, Nancy, Martha and myself. Everyone jumped in and got some big jobs done, the main thing being G.A. coming in with another load of garden mix. We were able to top off the rest of the beds and fill some of the holes in the blocks. Everything was incorporated in with the current soil, and the beds were prepared for planting. Jamie cleared a spot in a compost bin to dump some mix that was left over. All of this was a big job and took most of our time.

No putzing around today….everyone was hard at work (not that we ever putz).

Tomato cages were put in place and the other side of the beds are ready for planting next week. Susan finished planting the potato bed with red potatoes on one side and a narrow row of scallions on the other. Seedlings of French butterhead reddish-brown lettuce were planted in one bed with Lutz beets planted down both sides. Lutz beets are supposed to get large but not woody. I remember in MG class one of our teachers mentioning the benefits of Lutz beets; some of these seeds were in the Dan West donation. Dorothy started planting a potpourri of lettuce in the block holes, adding a little fertilizer and earthworm castings to the new mix. Next week there will be beds all set to plant more carrots, chard, and what have you. The peas are starting to peek their heads and the spinach bed is lookin' good.

Mary Elizabeth and Joan got rid of a lot of weeds. Bob said he was bringing more cardboard, so we can block some more weedy areas.

Greg transplanting the two blackberry bushes into the new bed. I will buy one more bush to fill the bed, and then a fence will be erected behind the bushes for support.

Speaking of fences, Jamie and G.A. put up the fence to support the raspberries. I should be able to get those within the next week. Janet watered in the whole garden. Jamie says next workday they will have to get the irrigation system going, since they will be giving a presentation at the class on irrigation.

Janet watering teeny radishes.

I was so glad to see our Comfrey emerging!!! This is such a good source of free fertilizer. In case you don't remember, we used this to make Comfrey tea last year. We got about 3 good batches before it quit shooting out more growth. You just cut off the whole plant to about 4 inches and shove the whole thing into a 5-gallon bucket, add water to cover and steep about three weeks. And then wear a gas mask when you take the lid off. Comfrey is said to have roots 10-12 feet deep and thus pulling lots of nutrients from way down. It is used especially for veggies with blossoms. And I think the smell might have deterred some of the squash bugs.
Comfrey getting ready to take off.

Below is a picture of the arched cattle panels that we put up last week. I think cherry tomatoes would do well on them, unless we think of something better. I have some Juliets started and I have ordered a Black Cherry from Tomato Baby. The long cucumbers are going on the big arched trellis by the in-ground beds.

Great pose Janet.

I hope you are all able to be at Spring Fling this Friday and Saturday….working or visiting or both. Sounds like it will be a really good one.

'Til later,

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Planting Marathon

Hi Everyone,

What a busy morning we had with a lot of seeds and seedlings being put in the ground. Gardeners present were Kathy, Mary Elizabeth, Janet, Sandy, Barbara, Martha, G.A., Susan, Jamie, Joan, Rita, Al, Greg and myself. We had four flats of seedlings, which included 45-day cabbage, red cabbage, Lacinato kale, red Japanese mustard, Romaine lettuce and a 6-pack of pansies just to make it pretty. Everything got planted except for about a dozen seedlings, which will be finished up Saturday.

Like busy bees all over the place.

Kathy, Sandy and Barbara planted lots of radishes. Joan became an expert at planting cabbage. Susan and Greg planted half the potato bed with Russet potatoes, and that will be finished off Saturday with red potatoes. Rita and Janet planted kale and cabbage. Martha and Kathy planted a row of cabbage on the in-ground bed, planting red and green intermittently. We hope this will be eye-catching.

Barbara watering in the carrot beds and 
G.A. checking out the Romaine and cabbage.

Two beds of carrots were planted, 'Sweet Treat' and 'Red Cored Chantenay.' These were planted on one side of the bed, leaving room for the tomatoes on the other side. Sandy and Mary Elizabeth put in a double row of 'Little Marvel' peas on the in-ground bed. We had covered over the in-ground beds with leaves, and the leaves were pulled aside to plant. Then as the plants get bigger, the leaves will be moved back to form a mulch.

Sandy and Mary Elizabeth planting peas.

G.A. and Jamie finished up replacing the last bed, and they are beautiful!! We are happy that is done, and I know they are too. They also put down some black plastic around the area of the water supply, which is always kind of muddy. I hope this will solve the problem. Holes were punched in it to keep water from collecting on the plastic.

Al brought his weed eater and mowed down the hairy vetch, which was turned under and planted with kale. Al also brought some bok choy seedlings which Greg and Susan transplanted. And Jamie finished pulling branches off the fence from the storm.

So many things were done, and I hope I mentioned them all. Please pardon me if I incorrectly identified who did what or missed anyone! So many people worked so hard, and our spring garden is finally underway. Thank you everyone!

'Til later,

Saturday, March 8, 2014

We're in FIX!

FIX Magazine is a specialty publication issued by the Memphis Commercial Appeal.  They have featured our blog in this issue!  Some subscribers received the insert yesterday; others will get it next month.  In the meantime, you can read it by clicking above (we're on page 26.)

Thank you Commercial Appeal!

Storm damage gets professional looking repair job.

Hi Everyone,

I thought we'd have some cleanup to do when we got to the garden today, but wasn't prepared for what I saw! Our beautiful fence was crumpled....I thought beyond repair.


Maybe the two guys (G.A. and Howard) would have stayed home if they knew what they were going to get into. Joan, we are certainly glad you brought your husband.


These guys worked the whole time with hardly a breather. We were blessed with the use of a chain saw from the Davies Manor folks, which was essential.


A beautiful piece of workmanship. Looks as good as new. Thank you G.A. and Howard for saving the day at PAR. It would not have gotten done without you. This was definitely a two man job.

Next but not least, thanks to Al for picking up a load of garden mix. We desperately needed to top off the beds so we can start planting next week.

Others present today were Cathy, Susan with grandson Jack, Nancy, Joan Hawkins (Howard's wife), Sandy Stacks, Kathy Srygley, Barbara Hope and myself. So many great gardeners today made short work of some big jobs. Most of the beds got cleaned out, garden mix added and now are ready for planting. So much was accomplished in two hours.

Some of the crew working in the beds.

Speaking of planting, that will be the main focus for next week. We are almost a month behind our planting schedule of last year. There are tons of things that need to get into the ground.....beets, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, and another planting of bok choy, peas and radishes. Next Monday or Tuesday I hope to get a donation of some or all....Red Mustard, Lacinato Kale, Cabbage and Romaine. We will plant bok choy seeds in addition to some seedlings that Al has started and is sharing with us. So, if you like to plant, join us next week.

I almost forgot to report on how our two beds of onions fared in the freeze....they are still strong and unscathed. Thank God.

'Til later,

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Peas, Radishes and Bok Choy

Hi Everyone,

It was perfect weather for gardening. It didn't take us long to lose our jackets once we got to work. Today was ladies' day with Janet, Susan, Dorothy and myself. The first thing we checked on was the spinach bed, and the little sprigs are starting to pop up. That is a relief, because I didn't want to replant that whole bed. There was also evidence of critter holes that seemed larger than voles. Hmmmm. It's always something.

The first thing we did was move some dirt....incorporate the new mix added two weeks ago with the soil underneath. We also worked on leveling out some of the other beds and cleaning up so we will be able to top them off with more soil to fill.

Dorothy and Janet mixing up the soil and leveling out beds.

In the areas that were planted, we added worm castings and a mix of cottonseed meal and bone meal. All plantings were direct seeded. Alaska Peas were planted down the middle of a bed and will climb on fencing. On the outside of the bed three varieties of radishes were put in.

Susan and Dorothy planting peas and radishes.

Sugar snap peas were planted on both sides of the arched trellis. Bok Choy was planted in the bed with the Walking Onions. We did a short row, planning to do several successions of this to keep the harvest going. Al Hayes has generously offered us some of his extra Bok Choy seedlings that he is growing, and we will incorporate them in with those that are direct seeded.

I feel we got a lot done, and now we have a forecast of more frigid weather...can you believe it!! I hope that is the end of temps in the teens.

Our next workday is planned for next Thursday, and I hope to have some cabbage and/or red mustard and lacinato kale seedlings. I will send out a notice to let you know for sure about Thursday.

We now have our classes all set. I am listing the dates and classes, and below is the schedule.

'Til later,

March 29th
1. Introduction: Importance of Organic Gardening…Janet Wehner
2. Seed Starting…Susan Phillips and G.A. Crosby
3. Soil…Bob Hathaway
4. Composting…Jamie Childress
5. Lasagna Gardening…Virginia and Bob Vierkandt
6. Pest and Disease Control…Dianne Parks

April 5th
1. Fertilizer…Nancy Brophy
2. Raised Bed Construction…Susan Phillips and G.A. Crosby
3. Cool Weather Gardening…Dianne Parks
4. Container Gardening…Michelle Page
5. Drip System and Irrigation…Jamie Childress and Mary Elizabeth MacDonald
6. Companion Planting…Janet Wehner