Monday, April 28, 2008

2008 TMGA Convention

Here are a couple of pot people in a master gardener demonstration garden.
We arrived in Conroe Thursday in the early afternoon for registration and went to a great lecture by Dr. Neil Odenwald on landscaping. I have heard him speak a few times before and love it every time. His sense of style and design is amazing.
Friday we went to five classes during the day. Our group split up a little so we would have more information to bring back to our own county group. I took classes on southern kitchen gardens, gardening for butterflies, growing tomatoes, organic gardening. and the ten most frequent mistakes made by Texas "Yardeners." Each lecture was interesting. My favorite was the organic gardening lecture. Skip Richter was the speaker and entitled it "Gardening Au Naturel: The Naked Truth About Organic Gardening. He said we would be disappointed if we actually came there expecting nekidness. I anticipated this class might be another university bashing of the organic movement in general. I was pleasantly surprised. He encouraged organic or natural approaches whenever possible, but admitted to using a couple of chemicals during real gardening emergencies. He also talked at length about biodiversity regarding garden pests and beneficial insects. Very interesting stuff.
The tomato class was also very good. The speaker was Tom LeRoy. He gave us a good plant list and information about how to grow tomatoes and maximize the crop yield. It turns out that hybrid tomatoes can take more fertilizer without becoming all vine and no fruit. In the test garden, one variety, Bush Celebrity, produced 61 lbs of fruit per plant. Another variety, Champion, produced 73 lbs of fruit per plant. The tomatoes were planted in well prepared soil in a trench with one and a half cups of slow released fertilizer. When planting in a trench lay the tomato plant on its side and cover most of the stem leaving a few leaves and a little stem above ground. The plant can grow roots all the way up the stem. This provides for a better root system and therefore healthier plant. He said if you are going organic to triple the amount of fertilizer at planting. Every week following planting the tomatoes were foliar fed with a liquid fertilizer. He said any liquid would do from the common blue chemical concoction to organics like fish emulsion or Hasta Grow (my favorite). Someone asked him his opinion regarding the best flavored variety. He then admitted that he did not eat tomatoes. He only grows them for his family. Very funny for a tomato expert.
Our little Master Gardener club here in little ol' Kaufman County received four state awards for small groups. Our association took second place, our horticultural calendar took first place in publications, our newsletter "The Prairie Planter" took second place in the newsletter category, and our rainwater harvesting project took fist place in the projects category. I am particularly proud of the calendar as it was a project I worked on. I actually wrote a couple of the articles. This may surprise you considering how poorly I articulate myself on this blog, but I can actually put thoughts down on paper when I know it will be judged. Please don't judge me.
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  2. Congrats on the awards!!! Sounds like you all had a wonderful time. (I love the tomato guy not eating tomatoes. I'll bet his face was red when someone asked which were his favorites!) I hope you'll tell us about the Southern kitchen gardening lecture!

  3. Wow! Sounds like you learned a lot and had fun too.
    I just wanted to say congrats on the awards too!

  4. What a fun day! Glad to hear your MG club was recognized. Sometimes hard work pays off!

  5. Thanks for the helpful tips on tomatoes; they are my favorite vegetable to grow in the garden--"store-bought" tomatoes just don't taste anything like them.
    Like the pot people photo, and congratulations on your awards.

  6. Hey Deb! I love the new header. It's too cute.

    I've never in my life heard of laying plants on their sides in trenches, but I suppose that makes way more sense than digging a really deep hole where the roots might not get enough water. I'm gonna tell Matt about it and formulate a plan for our own tomatoes. If I had to plant them the old way, they'd have to be about 2 feet deep. Thanks! -Jen :)

  7. Hi ofb, Nope, he told his helper to man the door so we wouldn't walk out. He really thought it was funny.

    Hi Vonne and Aiyana, Thanks it does feel good.

    Hi Rose and Jen, I have done them on their sides before, but I have new information I am going to post today about this technique with a cool picture. Stay tuned.

  8. Oh, I knew you were smart. Anyone with your wit and humor has to be smart to come up with this stuff. I enjoy how you relate information too. Congrats on all the awards. Seems like you all worked hard to earn them.

  9. Gosh Anna, thank you. I am blushing with pleasure and getting a big head.

  10. Sounds like you had a great time. Congratulations on all the honors. All that talk about tomatoes is making me want a BLT sandwich. Can't wait for tomato season!