Dr. Chris Cooper Gives Guidance on Gardening in Memphis

Dr. Chris Cooper gave a great presentation on how to prepare our gardens this Spring.
He emphasized the need to clean out your garden so you aren’t riddled with bugs this season.
He recommended getting your soil tested. You can go to the UT Extension Office at the Agricenter at 7777 Walnut Grove Road, Wing B for a kit. For $7, you will get a detailed report on how to optimize your soil for the specific plants you are growing.
Dr. Cooper pointed out that some vegetables need to be in the ground now, including beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, collards, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes, and turnips. You can visit www.utextension.utk.edu for more details.

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Dr. Chris Cooper, UT Extension Agent to Speak about Spring Cleaning

Dr. Chris Cooper, UT Extension Agent, will be talking about soil prep, spring plantings and answering any and all questions. We will be meeting on Tuesday, March 4th at 5:30 pm at Emerge Memphis, 516 Tennessee Street. If you wish to attend, please contact memphiscitygardens@gmail.com.

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We are gearing up for the 2014 garden season!

Located on South Front Street next to the Farmers Market at Central Station, we have beds available for $100 plus a $30 deposit. In March, we will have an expert come to give guidance on planting the beds. We hope you’ll join us! Beds will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact memphiscitygardens@gmail.com Community Garden

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Keeping plants watered when away

Leaving for 5 days, I wanted to make sure the jalapeño plants survived. I put them in a blowup pool of water and they actually grew better than they did with me watering them every other day. Worked perfectly!


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Ripen By Force

After seeing my green tomatoes stay green on the plant for weeks, I decided to try something different… forcing them to ripen by use of ethylene gas! That’s right, I put all the cherry tomatoes in a bag and locked them away with a banana which emits the gas to ripen itself and anything around it.

Day #1


Day #3


Day #6


About 75% of the tomatoes have ripened thus far!


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Turning the Compost, Part Deux

Thanks Bob for the photos!




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Gardening Tips with Chris Cooper

Many thanks to Chris Cooper of the UT Shelby County Extension Service for coming out and helping with our gardens, advising us on things we can do to help with some of the problems we’ve seen, etc.

Chris Cooper (left) of the UT Shelby County Extension Service speaks to the gardeners

Thanks also to Greta for arranging this and taking such good notes which I’ve added below:

It would be a good idea to get a moisture meter (from the garden stores) to measure the moisture in our beds.  This will help to prevent root rot.

Root Rot – yellowing of the stems and leaves near the bottom of the plant.  After it yellows and dies, it spreads further down the stem.

Tomato Blight – Many of us have early blight caused from it blowing onto our plants or from rain.  If you have blight, you should trim off all the infected leaves (yellowing or dead leaves, or leaves that have black spots on them).  Also remove the stems if there are black spots on the stem.  If the infected leaves fall off the plant and lay on the ground, they still have blight spores on them.  Water can hit the spores and splash it back onto the plants, so it is important to just remove all the infected leaves from your bed.  You can also minimize splash back by putting an organic mulch around your tomato plants…Chris suggested hardwood mulch (not redwood) or compost.   Can control the blight by spraying your plants with a copper fungicide (copper sulfate).  This is organic and won’t have the fruits.  Can get the spray at the garden store.  Chris also mentioned that are blight resistant tomato varieties out there.  Just something to think about for next year.

Split Tomatoes – Caused by differences of water. When your bed is dry and then a lot of water is added at one time, it causes the fruit to grow too fast for the skin, so the skin splits.  There are still fine to eat.

Tomato Leaf curl – caused from environmental stress (extreme hot and then cold temps or going from real wet to dry).  Won’t damage the fruits on the plants, and there isn’t a way to prevent it.

Mildew on squash/zucchini leaves – caused from wet foliage overnight.  Unless it’s really, really hot outside, you shouldn’t water at night, b/c your plants don’t have time to dry off and can mildew.   Overcrowding and poor air circulation can also cause this and other fungal diseases.  Cut all the mildewed leave off.

Wilting squash leaves – caused by vine borers.  Can control this by using BT (Bacillus thuringiensis).

Little holes in cucumber or melon leaves – Caused from the spotted cucumber beetle—they look like a green ladybug!  Eat the leave and take away the nutrients of the leaves.  There isn’t a good organic way to prevent this, but you can try flowers (marigolds or other similar) that attract the good bugs that will hopefully eat the beetles.  If the beetle is carrying a bacteria on it, it can cause bacterial wilt (my cucumbers have this).  Trim off all the wilted parts.

Holes on Cabbage, brussel sprout or Broccoli leaves – look for yellow or green worms on the underside of the leaves.  Can use an organic pesticide (Bacillus thuringiensis, or BT) to get rid of these worms.

Tiny holes in the bean leaves – caused by the flea beetle.  Can you BT to get rid of these.

Herbs – can be cut back if they are getting too big…they will grow back fine.

Fall planting – Can grow from seed in July/Aug.  Just make sure they get enough water.  Chris suggested that you plant the seedlings that you get from the store when the overnight temperatures are consistently around 65 degrees.

Chris Cooper’s gardening show – On WKNO, Mondays at 6:30 PM and replayed on Saturdays at 1:00.  WKNO.org.  The show is called: The Family Plot: Gardening in the Mid-South. Can also watch past episodes online – http://video.wkno.org/video/2254806465/


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Turning the Compost!

A few of us took on the chore of turning the compost bin.  We’ve been contributing to the bin for a few months now, so it was nearing half full.  We were anxious to see if our contributions were breaking down.  To our surprise they were!

Sorting through the compost pile with Sharon Leicham, Rivers Powers, and Bob Lundy (taking the photo)

We started the process by first removing the bin from around the pile.  We then shoveled the compost pile to the side and removed all items that didn’t belong!  Being new to composting, I was a little nervous of what we might find once we started moving the compost around.  To my relief, it wasn’t too gross, and thankfully, it didn’t have a smell!  At the bottom of the pile, we found dark, rich compost.  This is exactly what we were hoping for!

We put the bin back and place, threw in the compost, and added in some brown matter.  Overall, the experience wasn’t too bad, and I’d be willing to help again. 😉

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“From our garden!” – Bob Lundy (photo of Heather Lundy and many tomatoes)


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Recycling bins are here!

Just past the gardens are new recycling bins!


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