Community Education - "Hands in the Dirt" Articles

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REAP Program and Workshop for Growing Vegetables

Early this spring BCMG released a vegetable based "Garden in a Box" as the first in a planned series of gardens grown from seed under the REAP program. REAP stands for Realizing Economical Agricultural Potential and was originally developed through the efforts of the Cumberland County Master Gardeners and the Plateau Discovery Gardens.

The kit contains 21 different varieties of vegetable seeds and planting instructions with diagrams for three seasons of harvest. The box garden plans can be used by any gardener wishing to easily add a planned home grown garden but is especially helpful to novice gardeners.

Bradford Pear Trees?  There Are Better Choices!

In early spring, Blount County erupts in clouds of white puffballs. Driveways and roads are lined with drifts of white blossoms and many people feel spring is finally here when they see them. In recent years, the more negative aspects of these ubiquitous trees of springtime snow have become obvious.

Spring Plant Sales - Don't Go Without a Plan!

Spring is in the air and our gardens are awake and growing. We've had lots of rain to erase all thoughts of last year's drought. We've spent the winter months anticipating warm days and sunny skies, and we can't wait to get out and see all the colorful flowers once again! Garden sales and swaps are now enticing us to add to our collection of green things. So now is a good time to think about what we need and what we should be planting and have a plan before we hit those sales.

Crepe Murder! Please Stop Killing Your Trees!!

Every year crimes against nature are committed in gardens all across the South. Some are done by well meaning gardeners and homeowners who copy what they see others do. Often this green crime is carried out by ignorant "landscape" companies in possession of freshly sharpened chainsaws, and with the need to get the job done quickly. Or maybe you noticed a neighbor with spring fever and a shiny new chainsaw out there hacking away? The results are hideous and deformed trees whose lives are being shortened. 

Cleaning and Disinfecting Garden Tools - Steps to Take for Disease Prevention

I've had my fair share of garden diseases, insects and pests that arrive from outside my garden, and I don't want them to spread; but hate resorting to toxic compounds to have a healthy garden. I love the idea of prevention rather that treating the problem, too. Unfortunately, more often than not, old time remedies or the latest hyped cure-all don't prove to do what is promised. Like many gardeners, I prefer to try the safest and greenest way to deal with garden issues first before escalating to stronger methods. But how do we know what that is?

For more "Hands in the Dirt" articles, click here

Community Service Projects

Master Gardeners provide volunteer service for many Blount County community and civic organizations through projects such as the following (click the links for more information):
We have new signs!  
Be sure and look for them at some of our Community Projects.

Fundraising & Informational Activities

Annual Spring Plant Sale

In addition to getting good plants at a great price, customers at the May 7, 2016, BCMG Plant Sale also got free one-on-one gardening advice from Master Gardeners along with an information packed handout. Customers were advised on planting transplants and were given reference to helpful UT publications. The sale was held at the Shed at the Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson on Route 321.

Elin Johnson, founding member of the East Tennessee Hosta Society, presented on hostas. Nan Taylor presented on the selection and placement of new trees to fill voids when old trees pass away.

Fundraising Chairperson Rita Loveday, who has been involved with the plant sale for the 11 years of its existence, had a committee of 8 along with 35 volunteers to help setup and run the sale. The plants donated to the sale by Master Gardeners included trees, shrubs, ground covers, herbs, bulbs, tubers, annuals and perennials. Also available for sale were garden décor items, planters and garden tools.

Mark your May 2017 calendars for the next sale that promises to be even bigger and better. The theme for next year will be Pollinators with presentations by beekeepers and others.  For more information, contact Rita Loveday at

St. Andrew's Garden Day:

Blount County Master Gardeners had a high profile location at the entrance to the market place and plant sale area during the annual St. Andrew’s Garden Day.  A number of our members were present to answer plant related questions, inquiries about the MG program, and to sell by donation copies of our book "Right Here".  This event was a good way for BCMG to support a cause that raises money for our community.

St Andrew's Garden Day was a great success, raising over $20,000 for Outreach ministries, which include Habitat for Humanity, Family Promise, Good Neighbors & the Food Connection.

For more information, contact Cheryl Ferrone at

Blount County Extension Master Gardeners


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