Community Education - "Hands in the Dirt" Articles

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The Joy of Spring Wildflowers - A Walk In the Woods

One of the best things about Springtime in East Tennessee is the multitude of beauty that can be found on any one of the dozens of hiking trails in the Smokies. I recently hiked Porter’s Creek, a hike that is approximately 4 miles roundtrip from the trailhead at Greenbrier Road to Fern Branch Falls and back. There is a lot of history along this trail reminding us of families who settled in this area in the early 1800s, so it’s an interesting trail as well as a fairly easy one to navigate.

Grass HopperMyths About Cold Winters and Fewer Bugs

An often repeated pearl of wisdom in the gardening world, and one heard nearly every winter, is that a cold snap will "kill all the bugs". Or, conversely, an unseasonably warm winter will mean that the garden will be chewed to bits come the next growing season. I'm sure I am not alone in having gone along with believing that cold winters means no bugs for quite some time. When a good friend asked me if I knew that this bit of folklore was a myth, it surprised me. So, like the doubting Thomas I am, I looked it up.

Spring Gardening Workshop - February 2018

January has brought bitter cold and February is off to a gloomy start, but it is never too soon to begin planning for warm sunshine and a great garden this year.  Blount County Master Gardeners have announced their first workshop of the year, just in time to help with garden planning for 2018.

African VioletAfrican Violets - These Beautiful Plants Can Become Addictive!

African violets are stunningly beautiful plants readily available in your local supermarket or garden center. They can provide year round color with attention to some basic care.  This "how-to" article tells you everything you need to know about growing, caring for, and propagating these wonderful plants.  Click on the link above to access a .pdf file you can download and print.  To go along with this article click here for a set of photo slides that accompany it.

Star of BethlehemGarden Bullies...Tough Plants Gardeners Regret Buying

Many gardeners have one or two plants, maybe more, they wish they'd never bought.  Plants in the mint family come to mind, or perhaps the unstoppable periwinkle (Vinca) vine.  Maybe it was like one of my garden mistakes where I wanted something tough and easy to grow and then spent years removing evening primrose progeny. Maybe you were gifted a healthy (but quite toxic) "pass-along" of Star of Bethlehem?

REAP Program and Workshop for Growing Vegetables

Early this spring of 2017 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.

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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

Long before the first daffodil bloomed, plans were underway for the 2018 Master Gardener Plant Sale! The Shed at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davison at 1820 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Maryville, will once again be the location of our May 5, 2018, plant sale from 10 am until 2 pm.  Not only will we have top quality, economical plants for sale but our Back Porch will return with a collection of gardening themed items varying from garden tools to planters to yard art.

Master Gardeners donate annuals, perennials, herbs, trees and shrubs for the sale. Billy Conning of William Blount High School will also provide us with plants from their green houses. REAP kits will be available as well as our latest book, Right Now! Attracting Pollinators to East Tennessee Gardens. We will have opportunities to learn about pallet gardening and pollinators. Kim Bolton, of A Vermi Farm, will be on hand to talk to us about using worm castings in our gardens. John Wilson, UT Extension Agent and County Director will share his expertise. Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer questions as well.

Mark your calendars for May 5, you don’t want to miss the 2018 Master Gardener Plant Sale. Come early as plants don’t last long! For more information, please contact Susan Daffron 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 and inquiries about the MG program.  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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