Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Start New Tomato Plants from Suckers of Existing Plants for Late-season Harvests

While most area gardeners either already are enjoying or are within a week or so of enjoying those first garden-ripe tomatoes of summer, it isn't too late to think about starting a few more tomato plants to give the last harvests in September and October a boost.

UGA's Frank Watson, in the Georgia FACES article "Rooting tomato suckers can provide great mid-season replacement plants, extend harvest," explains how to start new plants from suckers of existing healthy tomato plants that already are in the garden.

For those who aren't familiar with this particular use of the term "suckers," he clarifies: "Suckers are side shoots that grow between the stem and the branch of tomato plants."

He outlines the procedure as follows:
"To root tomato suckers, select healthy tomato suckers that are three to four inches long. Place several suckers in a jar and add sufficient water to cover the ends one to two inches. The use of a rooting hormone is not necessary but would probably hasten the process. Set the suckers in a cool, well-lit spot until new roots develop. Set rooted plants in the garden and immediately provide shade to each plant for a few days until suckers start to grow. Gardeners can use a few small leafy shrub branches to create the right amount of shade." 
For additional tips, check out his original article linked here, and read UGA's publication Georgia Home Grown Tomatoes.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pollinator Week: Carpenter Bees

Pollinators - Carpenter and honey bees - on Anise Hyssop.
reprinted with permission from I've Got Company!

Here in Cobb County, any home with wood parts exposed to the outside world will at some point have those wood parts riddled with holes by carpenter bees. It's part of what carpenter bees do, and, as a result, it can be hard to think of those big, shiny, native bees as anything but pests.

They do, though, have some redeeming qualities. One of those is that they are pollinators of some flowers.

The U.S. Forest Service article Carpenter Bees, by Steve Buchman,  notes that some of our garden vegetable crops are effectively pollinated by carpenter bees:
"In our vegetable and flower gardens, carpenter bees are generalists and may be found foraging on a number of different species. They, like bumblebees are early morning foragers. Carpenter bees land on flower blossoms they become living tuning forks. Using their powerful thoracic muscles carpenter bees sonicate the dry pollen grains out of the flower’s anthers. This type of pollen gathering is called “buzz pollination.” Carpenter bees are excellent pollinators of eggplant, tomato and other vegetables and flowers."
Cornell University notes in its publication Wild Pollinators of Eastern Apple Orchards that carpenter bees also are effective pollinators for apples.

According to UGA's publication "Pollination: Other Pollinating Bees,"
"[Carpenter bees] are effective pollinators of passionfruit. In Georgia, they visit blackberry, canola, corn, pepper, and pole bean, but their value on these crops is uncertain. Carpenter bees are notorious for "robbing" flowers by cutting slits in the side of the flower to reach nectar without even touching the pollinating parts."
Even though they might not be primary pollinators for many plants, carpenter bees' role in pollination of passion flower, which is a host plant to several beautiful butterflies, might be enough to bring them a little sympathy from homeowners. However, the damage caused by carpenter bees in making their nesting holes can be extensive.

In order to have our pollinators and undamaged homes, too, it can be helpful to follow prevention guidelines such as those in Alabama Cooperative Extension's publication "Carpenter Bees, Biology and Management," and consider setting out wood nesting blocks for use by the bees.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Celebrating all Next Week: National (and Georgia!) Pollinator Week

Bumble bee, a native pollinator, heading for home. 
                               PHOTO/Amy W.
reprinted with permission from Squatters!

Next week, June 17-23, is National Pollinator Week, and it has also been declared by Governor Nathan Deal as Pollinator Week in the state of Georgia. In celebration, the publications rack in the lobby of Cobb County Cooperative Extension's office(678 South Cobb Drive, Marietta, 30060) will be packed with information about pollinators.

The publications, which will include printed activities for children, will be free to anyone who stops by. Please feel welcome to come over and learn about our native pollinators and honeybees!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Upcoming Events

Small and Beginning Farmers Workshop
Monday, June 17, 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Learn to improve soil quality for vegetable production, manage pests, and handle the harvest, and then obtain assistance with EQIP, and more. Free program, but preregistration is required. Register by June 13: call 706-295-6131 or email

Canning Class: Pressure Canning
Tuesday, June 25, 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. Hands-on canning class for low-acid vegetables, soups, and meat products, taught by Cobb County Cooperative Extension’s Family and Consumer Sciences agent Cindee Sweda. Class will be at 678 South Cobb Drive, Marietta, GA, 30060. Cost is $10, payable in cash, check (made out to Cobb County 4-H Club), or money order. Preregistration is required. Call 770-528-4070 for additional information.

Planning the Fall Vegetable Garden
Tuesday, July 23, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.  Learn what can be planted for fall crops, when to plant those crops, and how to find the space in a garden still crowded with summer vegetables. Taught by Cooperative Extension staff member Amy Whitney. Free event, but please preregister by calling 770-528-4070.

ALSO, come meet Cooperative Extension staff and some of our Master Gardener Volunteers at the Marietta Square Farmer’s Market, the last Saturday of each month through October. We will be there on June 29, July 27, August 31, September 28, and October 26 to answer questions on canning, food preservation, and gardening. Bring sick plants (or large pieces of them) for help with diagnosis and treatment options, and bring bugs for identification.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Small and Beginning Farmers Workshop

A Small and Beginning Farmers Workshop is scheduled for Monday, June 17, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The workshop will be held at the Cobb Water Systems Lab, at 662 South Cobb Drive, Marietta, GA, 30060.

Topics to be covered:
  • Improving Soil Quality for Vegetable Production
  • Integrated Pest Management for Vegetable Crops
  • Produce Safety
  • FSA Programs
  • NRCS Programs
  • Community Supported Agriculture
Attendees can also get onsite assistance with obtaining farm and tract numbers and completing EQIP applications.

Registration deadline is June 13; the workshop is free of charge, but space is limited. Lunch will be provided.

To register, call 706-295-6131 
or email

The event is sponsored by Cobb County Soil and Water Conservation District, Cobb County Government, Cobb County Cooperative Extension, Paulding County Cooperative Extension, Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission.