The Leaflet

~ June 2022 ~

Gardeners Know All the Dirt

Is it hot enough for you? It is for me. Around June/July my garden thoughts switch from the grand design to just keeping everything watered and alive! That’s why you’ll want to attend this month’s meeting. Our topic is drip irrigation systems. I don’t know about you, but that would make my life easier and my plants happier.

Along with the mundane chores of watering and weeding comes the opportunity for community outreach. Our outreach efforts serve a myriad of purposes; share our knowledge of gardening, let the community know about the Master Gardener program, sell plants and things to fund various projects, and provide a fun way for us to get to know each other better. Plants are great, but friends are better!

You’ll also want to make an extra special effort to attend this month’s meeting. We have two huge surprises!! I can’t tell you what they are, but they are really something extra special. 

May all your weeds be wildflowers,

Karen House, President



June 23, 2022

7:00 p.m.

(Social time:

6:30-7:00 p.m.)

Highland Rim Research and EduCenter



Drip Irrigation


Kevin Moll


 The Robertson County Master Gardener Association meets the fourth Thursday of every month

A Perfect Spring Picnic

by Stacey Haag

A resounding THANK YOU to Claudelle and Jeanie for opening their homes and gardens to members for our annual picnic. Their beautiful and tranquil spaces provided a welcoming setting for fellowship. RCMGA appreciates everyone who brought dishes to share, our grillmasters, Polkawagen, and those who volunteered to make sure everything ran smoothly.

Everything's Coming Up Roses

by Lisa Majors

It was a beautiful day in the Daniels' neighborhood on Saturday, May 21, 2022. Master Rosarian Ron Daniels hosted his annual Gadwall Abbey Rose Garden Tour to the delight of all who meandered through his fanciful roses.

Ron has over 100 species of roses in his garden and also many other plants that accent his collection of beautiful roses. This is an annual, sometimes biannual, exhibit and open to the public. If you missed it this time, do not fret! Watch for his fall open house or visit again next spring. The tour is free. Please enjoy some of the photos taken by Gus Majors.

Gardens for Connoisseurs:

Tours of Atlanta’s Finest Private Gardens Benefiting the Atlanta Botanical Garden

by Karen House

This year for Mother’s Day, my husband bought tickets to the Gardens for Connoisseurs tour benefitting the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Five private gardens were included. They were all self-guided, but all the gardens had helpful volunteers who could answer your questions.

My favorite garden was a cottage garden that was accented with white trellises, benches, and fountains. A stunning “New Dawn” climbing rose gracefully arched over the guest house’s French doors. The next garden was completely unstructured and had a grove of bamboo edging the garden. Numerous paths led you by koi ponds and a quaint garden shed. This garden had been featured in several national publications, including Southern Living and Better Homes & Gardens. Next up was a riotous garden exploding with flowers. It was a small garden, but jam packed with roses, fruit trees, herbs, and berries. It featured a small pond with a native meadow and beehives. The largest garden by far was next up on the tour. The home itself was a 7,000 square foot Tudor, which used to house a music school. The gardens were very formal, interspersed with outdoor living spaces, fireplaces, and a swimming pool. The last garden to be featured was quite whimsical. The owner is a writer of several gardening books and has spent the last 20 years transforming her garden. When she first started, the entire backyard was covered in ivy. Now it’s home to an art studio, native pollinator plants and the most delightful fairy garden, all made by the owner. All in all, it was a lovely day. 

Late Spring Beauty in Bowling Green's Baker Arboretum

by Stacey Haag

Worm Castings: Plant Superfood

by Stacey Haag

If you’re looking for an organic fertilizer option for your garden or houseplants, earthworm castings might be the perfect solution. Castings, also known as vermicast or worm poo, are the end product of the digestion process of earthworms. They are packed full of rich nutrients and microorganisms that are beneficial for healthy plants.

Photo courtesy of sasimoto

As worms digest organic materials, they refine them, concentrating and purifying their nutrients, while simultaneously removing heavy metals and toxins. Minerals and trace elements are reduced to their most usable form. Unlike other manures, castings have a neutral pH of 7.0 and do not have a strong odor. Their nitrogen content is lower than other manures, so adding them directly to the top of existing plants will not cause nitrogen burn. A worm’s mucus naturally encapsulates the castings, creating a pure time-release fertilizer.

Castings introduce a plethora of beneficial microbes to your soil. As an amendment, they also improve the structure of soil. Worms and their castings are both natural aerators, making room for oxygen and water to move freely within soil. Castings also make soil more absorbent, holding on to moisture which is then more consistently available for nearby root systems. They are also effective for repelling many garden pests that feed on plants, such as spider mites and aphids.

Research conducted at The Ohio State University Soil Ecology Laboratory found that worm castings enhance seed germination, plant growth, flowering, and fruit production. Castings also curb certain plant diseases, including root and crown rots and wilt disease, while inhibiting some pests, including mites, aphids, and mealy bugs. In addition, researchers at the Cornell University Department of Plant Pathology and Plant Microbe Biology demonstrated that worm castings suppress damping-off disease in seedlings. They also found that castings naturally degrade the protective covering of some insect pests, regulate plant nutrient release, and stimulate the cycle of nutrients from soil to plants.

The process of making worm castings is commonly known as vermicomposting or vermiculture. Worm bins can be purchased or built and setup in your home for those who wish to collect their own castings. Red wigglers (Eisenia fetida) are the popular worm of choice for worm farmers.

Photo courtesy of Fed N Happy

As compared to their nightcrawler cousins, red wigglers are smaller and tend to stay closer to the soil’s surface. They prefer to feed on organic scraps, such as fruit and vegetable peels, grains, coffee grounds, and discarded tea bags, making them perfect for home composting. Nightcrawlers can also be used in vermiculture; however, they require more room, not only because they are physically larger, but they like to travel deeper into the soil.

Organic fertilizers, such as castings, not only provide your plants a robust substrate in which to grow, but a healthier option for your family and environment. One of the biggest threats to our environment and health are the chemical pollutants that enter our waterways from pesticide and fertilizer runoff. Worm castings are a smart and responsible choice for your family, your watershed, and your planet.

Profiles in Gardening... Nola Hastings

With a job offer and a sense of adventure, my husband and I moved to Tennessee in the spring of 2021. We are both native Southern Californians and raised our two sons in Yorba Linda, CA, home of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. Our older son lives in the Nashville area and works as a Product Planner at Nissan North America in Franklin. Our younger son will graduate in June from the University of California, San Diego.

With a MA in Geography and a background in natural resource conservation, I worked as an independent consultant for water and energy utilities designing and implementing efficiency programs while I raised my boys. In the three years prior to leaving California, I was employed at Irvine Ranch Water District, focusing on customer education and behavior modification to combat California’s persistent drought cycles. In 2018, California passed legislation “Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life” requiring every urban water agency comply with a water budget for indoor and outdoor water uses. At the forefront of water recycling, IRWD had an ample supply of recycled water for irrigation purposes and dual-plumbed buildings, but with outdoor water use accounting for about 60% of household water consumption, the district continued to develop programs for outdoor water savings. One of my favorite programs was promoting the use of California native plants – educating customers and nursery staff about the role native plants play in reducing water consumption in the garden.

Joining the Robertson County Master Gardener program was a first step in learning about the soils, climate, and native plants of Tennessee. I’ve spent the past year observing and learning about gardening in a new state and I’m crossing my fingers for some measure of success in my gardening endeavors.

Pollinator Garden Show-Offs

by Stacey Haag

Dorothy's Bloomers

Upcoming Events

July 1: 1st Friday Night Market

Springfield, TN

July 14: Summer Celebration

Jackson, TN

Contact Us
Karen House
(615) 419-5249
Vice President:
Shawn Herman
(615) 948-4376
Claudelle Lyall
(615) 760-6955
Larry Lee
Extension Agent:
Jeff Smith
(615) 384-7936

Instagram Administrator:
Jeannie Moll
(615) 752-6746
Julee Orr
(615) 838-5772
Facebook Administrators:
Ann Rausch
(615) 305-2598
Shawn Herman
(615) 948-4376
The Leaflet Editor:
Stacey Haag
(615) 389-4663
Robertson County Master Gardener Association
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