Thursday, March 8, 2018



OVERVIEW:  Much as if you are able to fight off the common cold when your health is at its best, plants are better able to withstand pest and disease pressures when your soil is at its optimum.  Healthy plants produce vegetables with better flavor, greater yields, and food with higher nutrient densities. By naturally encouraging soil life and keeping your pH in balance, you build a solid foundation that unleashes the power of the soil, enabling plants to thrive, obtain the nutrients they need, and reach their full potential.

HEALTHY pH:  While fertility is obvious as an aspect of any good garden soil, pH is equally as important.  Soil that is either too acidic or alkaline creates an upset in the soil chemistry.  This locks up nutrients so plants cannot absorb them.  Knowledge of your pH allows you to make sound decisions when adding organic matter, either to bring your soil into balance naturally or to maintain the healthy ecosystem you have already built.  Most vegetables will thrive and do well if the pH is between 6 - 7.0 and many tend to prefer neutral conditions.

ALKALINE SOILS:  (pH of 7.5 or over)  Seek out organic matter that will not only buffer the soil’s pH, but also have an acidifying effect as it breaks down.  Things such as oak leaves (most acidifying of all leaves), leaf mold, ground bark, aged sawdust, peat moss, pine needles, and mini pine bark mulch will all work well. 

These types of amendments can take several months or more to work.  However, their benefits will far outlast any form of sulfur.  Moreover, while sulfur is most often the recommendation for lowering your pH, some forms can have very damaging effects on soil organisms.  Because alkaline soils lock up the ability of plants to uptake many of the micro-nutrients, foliar feeding is a good choice for alleviating any deficiencies.

Plants that do well in alkaline soils are asparagus, beets, cabbage family or brassicas, garlic, green beans, lettuce, melons, okra, onions, spinach, and Swiss chard.

ACIDIC SOILS:  (pH of 6.0 or under) In acidic soils, organic matter is unhurried to break down as soil organisms slow, therefore, reducing nutrient availability.  Add abundant amounts of organic matter above the 1/3 rule to increase both the buffering capacity of the soil and the plants ability to tolerant acidity.  Seek out organic matter that will also help with raising pH levels to where plants will be readily able to obtain nutrients.  Well-aged manure (Black Kow) is a good choice as it supplies both calcium and magnesium and is slightly alkaline.  Avoid acidifying fertilizers and look to things like bone meal, rock dusts, or guano for nutrients.

Wood ashes are wonderful for raising the pH if used carefully.  They supply potassium, calcium, and magnesium.  Their maximum application rate is 1.5 pounds per 100 square feet.  Wood ashes can impede germination and burn plants, so it is wise to add them a few weeks ahead of planting.  

Oyster shells are also another good option to raise pH.  

Plants that will thrive in acidic environments are blueberries, gooseberries, potatoes, raspberries, and strawberries.

Happy Gardening,

Denise, Beds 25 & 29

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Upcoming Seed Starting Class


Presented by Master Gardener, Amy Whitney
Green Meadows Community Gardeners and Residents of Sterling Estates

SATURDAY   ǁ   FEBRUARY 17TH   ǁ   10:00 AM
Please join us in the Activity Center at Sterling Estates as we learn with Amy how to grow plants from seed.
  Amy is a seasoned Master Gardener, formerly with the UGA Extension Service, as well as a Blog Author (, and well, let’s just say “Gardener Extraordinaire”. 
She has a wealth of knowledge on seed starting and her talks are always informative and fun.

 Refreshments and Door Prizes!
Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 18, 2017

“Planting Community Outreach

Through Gardening”

 Speaker: Charlie A. Monroe, Natural Resource Manager

For Cobb County P.A.R.K.S. Department

Join Us Next Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 at 6:30 p.m.

Charlie will be at Green Meadows CG to talk about
Community Outreach.

why we should be helping our community
tips on how to sustain an outreach program
let’s help our neighbors throughout the county 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Coming Soon to a Tomato Near You...

Photo by the University of Georgia 



THE PEST:  TOMATO HORNWORM  - One of the largest caterpillars found in North America reaching 3" to 4 1/2" long before pupating into their adult form.  Easily identified by their 8 diagonal white marks along the sides of their body and a black horn at the tail.  The horn will be as long as the caterpillar when small.  A close relative, the Tobacco Hornworm, will have one less set of diagonal markings and be sporting a red horn at the tail.  Actually, both insects are quite beautiful.

Tomato Hornworm Egg
THE DAMAGE:  Both types of larvae consume the leaves, stems, and fruit of plants in the nightshade family.  They have a huge appetite and can do substantial damage in a relatively short period.  It seems like they eat 24/7.  Okay, they are going to rest sometime, but I have never seen one not eating.  At Green Meadows, they primarily eat the leaves and fruit of tomato plants, but will occasionally move to other plants in the same nightshade family.

LIFE CYCLE:  Coming soon to a plant near you, grin!  In June and July, moths (Sphingidae Family) emerge from their pupae in the soil; lay eggs singly on leaves and stems; eggs hatch in a week; the larvae feed for a month; then pupate into the soil for the next generation.

CONTROL:  Both eggs and larvae can easily be handpicked from your plants.  Eggs resemble a small opaque pearl, laid singly on the host plant.  If using AzaMax as a preventative, moths are more likely to lay eggs elsewhere and caterpillars will feed less on treated plants.  If an infestation gets out of control, please see us for other organic measures.  To cut down on the number of moths that affect the garden, remove the overwintering pupae from your soil in either the fall or early spring.  You can feed the caterpillars to the birds on untreated plants, or place them in soapy water to drown.   

Happy Gardening,

Beds 25 & 29