Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Walk Georgia, starts Sept. 1

The onset of fall weather brings with it a wonderful opportunity to begin, renew, or rev-up the pace of an exercise program. One great motivator is the opportunity to log daily activities online and watch the miles add up!

UGA Cooperative Extension's Walk Georgia program provides that motivator, and its next 12-week session begins on September 1, with registration for the program opening on that same day.

Milestones are marked with virtual travel through the counties of Georgia. We have 159 counties, so there is plenty of ground to cover! Individual participants can also see, when logged in to the site, the mileage totals of the front-running individuals and teams in the state and in their home counties. Pondering how those people rack up the miles can be another source of entertainment!

The Walk Georgia program allows for more kinds of activity than just walking, running, and cycling - the activities that are more commonly thought of in terms of miles. It also converts other kinds of physical activity, such as yoga, weightlifting, and yard work, into "miles," so there are plenty of ways to get credit for a varied exercise program.

The goal of Walk Georgia is to get as many Georgians moving as possible, to enhance the health and well-being of the citizens of this state. Registration for the upcoming free session is open until October 9, which means there is plenty of time to get logged in and get moving. To register, visit the site linked here.

For more information, call Cobb County Cooperative Extension at 770-528-4070. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Vegetable Growers Workshop in Griffin, GA

Vegetable Growers Workshop
Friday, September 20, 2013
9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
On the University of Georgia campus in Griffin, GA

This workshop for small-scale farmers and home gardeners interested in growing and marketing vegetables for profit will be taught by UGA Cooperative Extension vegetable horticulturist Bob Westerfield.

The class will cover the basics of how to begin earning extra income by growing and selling vegetables. Workshop topics will include which vegetables to grow, how to grow them, the use of plastic mulch and high tunnels, understanding soils, equipment selection, and pest identification and control.

The workshop is designed for beginning growers or homeowners who would like to sell their produce at a farmers market, at a roadside stand, or to individuals.

The program will be held from 9:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the UGA Research and Education Garden off Ellis Road in Griffin. 

The cost of the workshop is $39, which includes all materials, lunch, and break refreshments. 

For more information or to register, call Beth Horne at (770) 228-7214 or email her at bhorne@uga.edu.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Time to Plant the Fall Vegetable Garden

As summer's crops begin to flag in their production and look more and more ragged, the urge within many gardeners to tidy up and start anew is strong. Luckily, this is a good time to heed that urge.

UGA's Vegetable Planting Chart, which includes names of many vegetable varieties that are known to produce well in Georgia, shows planting dates for fall garden vegetables as well as for the spring garden. The planting dates are for "middle Georgia," some distance south of Atlanta, which means the dates will need to be adjusted for the cooler weather in Cobb County by bringing the fall planting dates deeper into the summer by two or three weeks.

South of Atlanta, the first frost is fairly reliably in mid-November or later, but it is closer to October's end in Cobb. In order for the plants to reach maturity in a timely manner (before next spring), we need to get our fall vegetables started sooner. For example, the chart shows fall planting dates for lettuce as falling between Aug. 1 and Sept. 1.  Adjusting those dates for our earlier first frost brings us to mid-August as being near the end of the best time to start lettuces from seed in the garden. This doesn't mean that lettuce started from seed in September will be a total bust, only that it might not reach its full size by the first frost.

The good news is that we usually get plenty of warm weather after the first frost, before winter really sets in, so vegetables will continue to mature past the frost date. However, growth will slow substantially, and any plants that are too young might not survive the first frost without protection.

Auburn University Cooperative Extension, in its publication Basics of Fall Vegetable Gardening, recommends similar planting dates for residents of Alabama. The publication also offers general advice about planning and planting for a successful fall garden and for protecting tender plants from a hard freeze. Click on the link (above) to read the full text (pdf format).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rain is Still the Story in Home Gardens

All the vegetable gardeners whose gardens are not doing as well this year as usual have probably already thought that the excessive rain is at least partly to blame, but Dr. Elizabeth Little, plant pathologist with UGA, confirms all of our suspicions in her recent Georgia FACES article, "Wet conditions create perfect setting for tomato, cucurbit diseases."

This particular article focuses on the cucurbit family - the squash, melons, and cucumbers that are such a large part of the summer garden and summer mealtimes. In addition to short but useful descriptions of three fairly common diseases - downy mildew, powdery mildew, and anthracnose - she includes information about a less common disease, cucumber yellow vine, that is affecting crops in some parts of the state.

For all, she offers recommendations for reducing problems in future years. For example:
"Anthracnose is mainly a concern on cucumbers and melons. The symptoms include leaf spots, defoliation and sometimes fruit lesions. The diseases survive in the infected debris, so rotation and the destruction of plant debris at the end of the season are important preventative measures. Wet weather is a major contributing factor. Trellising and/or the use of high tunnels, especially with cucumbers, can help reduce infections."
For more information, visit the original article, linked above.

The wet weather is also causing bumper crops of all kinds of mushrooms to pop up in yards, gardens, and fields. Another UGA plant pathologist, Jean Williams-Woodward, has written in the Georgia FACES newsletter article "Recent rains have mushrooms popping up" that it is never safe to eat a mushroom that has not been identified by an expert:
"University of Georgia Cooperative Extension specialists say do not eat any mushrooms growing in lawns and certainly ones that have not been identified by a expert. Many are poisonous to some degree. At the very least, they will make you sick. At worst, you can die. Don't take the risk."
She adds, "To prevent accidental ingestion of mushrooms by pets and children, rake, mow over, or otherwise remove the mushrooms from your lawn."

Identifying mushrooms requires careful attention to the environment in which they are growing, what they are growing on, and much more, include their spore prints, which Williams-Woodward describes in her article, linked above.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Upcoming Events

(*See change to Green Industry Update below.)

Planning the Fall Vegetable Garden
Saturday, August 3, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.  Free and open to the public. 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 at the community garden at Chestnut Ridge Christian Church, 2663 Johnson Ferry Rd, Marietta, GA, 30062.

Native Shrubs for the Garden
Tuesday, August 20, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. Presented by Ellen Honeycutt, past president of the Georgia Native Plant Society, as part of the ongoing Gardeners Night Out presentation series of Cobb County Cooperative Extension's Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County, at East Cobb Regional Library (old Parkair Mall site), 4880 Lower Roswell Rd. Marietta.

Seeding Fescue Lawns
Tuesday, August 20, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Free and open to the public. UGA’s Horticulture/Agriculture Agent for Cobb County, Neil Tarver, will discuss ground preparation, fescue varieties, installation of seed and sod, fertilizer, lime, watering, and weed control. Class will be at 678 South Cobb Drive, Marietta, GA, 30060. Please preregister by calling 770-528-4070. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. 

*Green Industry Update (Change to date posted on Aug. 8.)
Tuesday, 27 August, Monday, August 26, 8:30 a.m. (registration until 9 a.m.) to noon. Recertification credits: 21/23/24/27 = 3 hours; ISA = 2.5 hours; Private = 2 hours. $10 per person at the door; Pre-register with emily.harper@cobbcounty.org or by calling 770-528-4070. Opportunities in Maintaining Stormwater Ponds and Drainage Easements, by Jamie Cint; Controlling Seasonal Invaders: Kudzu bugs, Argentine ants, and others, by Daniel Suiter; Managing Turfgrass in Limited Light Environments, by Clint Waltz.

Friday, September 13, noon to 1:00 p.m. Free and open to the public. Presented by Master Gardener Linda Hlozansky as part of the ongoing Lunch & Learn series of Cobb County Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County, at the Training Room of the Cobb County Water lab, 662 South Cobb Drive (at the intersection with Atlanta Rd.).

Landscaping with Plants and Design for All Seasons
Tuesday, September 24, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Presented by Master Gardener David Cree, as part of the ongoing Gardeners Night Out presentation series of Cobb County Cooperative Extension's Master Gardener Volunteers of Cobb County, at West Cobb Regional Library, 1750 Dennis Kemp Lane NW, Kennesaw, 30152.

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 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.