Monthly Archives: November 2011

Thinking about Tomatoes…

I’m sensing that a hanging basket tomato trial is in our future…I’m looking at 2012 catalogs and seeing a TON of new hanging basket/container tomato varieties.


Just say NO to those Topsy Turvy containers!


Excellent Master Gardener Programs

The National Extension Master Gardener blog, hosted by eXtension, has been posting short articles about the 2011 Search for Excellence Award Winners over the past couple of weeks, so I thought I would pass those links along to you. They have 3 of the 6 categories posted so far, so I’ll share the rest when they are available.

Community Service Award Winners:

1st Place: Seed2Need- The Corrales Food Pantry Project- Sandoval County, NM. The Sandoval County, NM Master Gardeners grew over 42,000 pounds of produce to donate to the hungry in their community.

2nd Place: Helen Keller Birthplace: Ivy Green – Shoals County, Alabama. The Shoals County, AL Master Gardeners renovated and tend the gardens at Helen Keller’s birthplace. The gardens are full of old-fashioned varieties and sensory plants.

3rd Place: Share the Health Educational Garden- Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The Cuyahoga County, OH Master Gardeners grow vegetables and donate them to an organization that cares for mentally ill adults.

Innovative Project Award Winners:

1st Place: The Emerald Ash Borer/Ash Tree Inventory – Boone County, Illinois. The Boone County, IL Master Gardeners inventoried the location and health of all the ash trees on public property in their county to help identify Emerald Ash Borer problems and to enable the municipalities to plan for replacement of those trees.

2nd Place: Grass Roots Project –  Chesterfield County, Virginia. The Chesterfield County, VA Master Gardeners did site visits and assessments of 4,600 lawns over 14 years, which enabled Extension educators to make site specific recommendations to the homeowners.

3rd Place (Tie): Emerald Ash Borer Awareness – Greene County, Ohio AND Grow It! Eat It! Summer Camps – Anne Arundel County, Maryland.  The Greene County, OH Master Gardeners also did an ash tree inventory and some educational programs. The Anne Arundel County, MD Master Gardeners taught basic gardening to youth at summer camps.

Youth Project Award Winners:

1st Place: Agri-Fest – Polk County, Florida. The Polk County, FL Master Gardeners put on this program for 6,000 4th graders every spring to teach them about seeds and plants, and what farmers grow in their area.

2nd Place: Juvenile Detention Center Community Garden- Champaign County, Illinois. The Champaign County, IL Master Gardeners work with youth in the Urbana Juvenile Detention Center to teach them gardening, nutrition, and life lessons through the garden.

3rd Place: Not yet posted. I’ll update this post when it’s available.

It’s pretty inspiring to see what other Master Gardener programs around the country are doing, don’t you think? Of course, we have lots of great programs going on here in Sedgwick County (some of which have won this award in the past, I believe). Still, it’s a lot of fun to see what other people do and get ideas for what we could do too!


Wednesday PhotoEssay & Miscellany

Sorry about not posting for a while. If you’ve been following my Flickr stream, you’ll see that I’ve been posting pictures, but just haven’t gotten around to writing any posts.

The leaves on the Sweetgum trees were beautiful a couple weeks ago. They are still nice, but not quite as bright as they were.

This Shumard Oak was showing this great red color this fall. It will fade to brown over time.

With the leaves off the trees, it is easy to see what has been going on in those trees all summer. This gingko tree was home to a large squirrel nest in the top. It is kind of funny to see a squirrel nest made entirely of gingko leaves! I wonder if those squirrels have really good memory?

Since the overnight temperatures were getting cold last week, we decided to pick the rest of our Swiss Chard and Kale from our community garden plot. Do you think we have enough chard? It weighed in at 4 lbs 11 oz!

The first step in dealing with all that chard was to strip the leaves off the stems. You can see the mountain of stems and the cascade of leaves in this picture. The water glass is there for a little bit of scale…

I chopped the stems up and shredded the leaves. Then I sauteed them in batches with a little oil, salt, and pepper.

We ended up with a 4 quart freezer bags full of Swiss Chard to use during the winter. I’m sensing some of that yummy Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato Gratin in our future!

Just don’t ask. Really. Don’t ask.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

What’s That on the Wall? Part 2

Do you remember our mystery, “Last Tomato of the Year?”

Well, the mystery is solved!

My hypothesis of the enterprising squirrel appears to be correct. I hope he appreciates our hot summer of labors to provide him that tomato!

It’s Getting Cold Out There

I’m not quite sure what to make of the weather forecast for tonight. The predicted lows are conflicting, ranging from 21 to 24 degrees. I know, that’s not a very big difference. But it is a big difference for some of our cool weather vegetables. 24 degrees or warmer means little to no damage on most things. 21 degrees means more damage.

I would recommend that you be safe rather than sorry and either cover your fall veggies tonight or else pick and preserve most of what is ready to go.