Archive for Fruit

Beauregard Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens Closing


 Beauregard Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens Closing

by Ms. Emily Shirley, President, Beauregard Parish Master Gardeners

I almost started this paragraph with “On a sad note…” but I corrected myself – it is not on a sad note, it is on a note of appreciation and thankfulness. There was so much that was accomplished, good times, sharing, and lots of learning that too place in the Demo Gardens.  Last month the Beauregard Master Gardeners made the decision to close the Demonstration Gardens that have been in existence for approximately five years.  This was a wonderful and successful project and now we are ready to move on to other projects.

There are so many of you to thank and recognize for the work that you did, as well as the time, money, and energy you spent to make this project so successful, I can’t begin to name everyone.  We have money in our account at this time because you so willing to spend your own personal money to pay for things in the gardens. I want you to know that that has not gone unnoticed.  There are a few that spent a considerable amount of time and personal money and I do want to publically acknowledge them.

George and Merlyn Giltner spent so much in terms of money and time that I cannot begin to list all the things they did or all the things they paid for.  There were times when it was so hot and some days when it was so wet and ugly, but you could pass by the gardens and you would see George and Merlyn out there working.  On those hot days when things needed to be watered every day, we could always know that things were being taken care of because George and Merlyn would be there to water things.

The same goes for John Markham.  I even joked one time that I really thought John was living the potting shed in the Demo Gardens and had not informed any of us.  He was there almost every day working and taking care of things.  Not only did John oversee the installation of the irrigation system, I never worried about the system in the winter time because I knew John would take care of it.  The same for the raised beds.  John was always around to plant, fertilize, water and harvest the vegetables.  John and Dale Vincent raised some beautiful corn that we were able to sell at the Farmer’s Market and made money for future projects.

Jimmy Cooley installed an awesome Muscadine orchard and showed us all how it is done and what materials to use.  It was a wonderful teaching project and we so appreciate all the time, money and energy that went into that project.

Chris Krygowski came along just as we were all talking about a Children’s Garden.  She not only volunteered to help with this project, she agreed to head up this project and made it into something the rest of only dreamed of.  We all have commented on the energy Chris seemed to always have and the number of hours she spent making that area into what it is.

Dana Whittington took over an area of the garden that was difficult to garden for a number of reasons, but she certainly showed us that it can be done — if you have a difficult area you can always garden in containers.  In addition to the onions, garlic in the ground, she demonstrated how to grow purple potatoes and carrots in containers.  I harvested some of her onions and carrots for a wonderful soup one day last year.  Fresh from the ground is always good!

Allen Wells demonstrated how to grow vertically with his “Arbor Garden”.  His use of cow-pen panels is a unique way to have things growing overhead while other plants in-ground below.

And who can forget John Hendrix’s okra – we thought he had some type “Jack-And-The-Beanstalk” type okra out there.  And he harvested okra right into the fall.

Shirley Corda spent a considerable amount of time helping us get our Five-Year-Plan on paper to be presented to the Fair Board.

Keith Hawkins has been our MG Coordinator from the beginning and we appreciate what he has done for this program.  And to ALL the others not mentioned above, THANK YOU for all your contributions of time, money and sweat equity.  A job well done!

Ms. Emily Shirley is a Master Gardener in Beauregard Parish. She also publishes the BEAUREGARD MASTER GARDENER NEWSLETTER.

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Mayhaws: Quality over Quantity

Mayhaws: Quality over Quantity

Anyone bothering to take the time to read this blog is probably someone  who agrees that the mayhaw fruit/flavor/jelly, etc. is a unique, premium food item. It may be correctly identified as a gourmet quality product. As such, it should be handled and processed using the highest quality standards to insure the highest quality product is achieved.

James Eaves

James Eaves with his award winning jellies and syrup taking first place in 2014 at the Beauregard Parish Fair.

Today, we have more efficient tools and methods to attain this higher level of quality. As stated earlier in this newsletter, higher quality trees are now available, producing higher quality fruit,  which equates to a higher quality juice.

The quality of the product you produce depends on the quality of the juice you derive from your fruit. That’s pretty much what it boils down to (pun intended). Today we have advanced steamers, refractometers, fruit presses and other devices to expertly extract and measure the quality of what we are extracting.


Refractometer / Brix meter used to measure the brix or sugar content of fruit juice.

The higher the brix level is, the higher the level of dissolved sucrose, fructose, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins and other good stuff your juice has to make your product taste better and be better for you. So, like James pictured above, imagine your product is being judged each time a jar is opened. Will you win the blue ribbon?

Mr. James Eaves grow mayhaws in Beauregard Parish and discovered the “Maxine” mayhaw variety.






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Mayhaw Selections – Which Ones Should I Plant?

Mayhaw Selections – Which Ones Should I Plant?

by Billy Craft

God created the mayhaw and other fruit trees on the third day. All mayhaw enthusiasts are certainly grateful for the third day of creation. Mayhaws are a tough, “survivor-type” plant withstanding bulldozers clearing land, draglines draining swamps and residential development all across the southeastern USA.

In recent years, mayhaw orchards have “sprung up” throughout Louisiana and nearly all southeastern states which have historically had mayhaws in the wild. J.S. Akin from Sibley, Louisiana was the early pioneer in Louisiana who recognized the potential of producing mayhaws in an orchard setting. The growth of orchards has steadily increased in recent years in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The demand for trees, jelly, juice and other mayhaw products has reached a fever pitch. The website of the Louisiana Mayhaw Association has been a great asset for all producers of mayhaw products.

Potential growers are doing their research on which mayhaw selections to plant in new orchards. New growers should visit with established growers , especially during the fruiting season, to get firsthand information. When researching mayhaw selections, the following are some items for consideration:

  1. Productivity
  2. Fruit retention capability (shatter resistance)
  3. Disease Resistance
  4. Blooming date – avoid early bloomers
  5. Fruit color – dark red is preferred
  6. Tree growth pattern – upright growth versus more horizontal limb growth
  7. Spur development density

Surprise – A recent selection resulting from a cross between Double GG and Maxine. It is the latest bloomer at present, with the peak of bloom occurring during the first week in April. It is also late in fruit ripening, with peak.

Maxine – A James Eaves selection from near DeRidder, Louisiana. James named this tree after his late wife – Maxine. The Maxine selection has proven to be an excellent producer in all orchards where it has been planted. It is a late bloomer, with peak blooming occurring in late March. Fruit ripening occurs in late May. The fruit color is red and averages .8 inch. Maxine is very fire blight resistant. It has good horizontal limb growth. It is also the champion on thorn production.

mayhaw fruit

Billy Craft displaying the fruit of a young Red Champ selection.

Red Champ – is a recent selection resulting from a cross between Maxine and Double GG. It has all the good characteristics mentioned earlier in the article. It is an excellent selection having a shiny, dark red fruit averaging .85 inch. Peak of blooming is about March 20th with peak of ripening about May 20th. Disease resistance is good. Year after year, it is the healthiest looking tree in my orchard, with dark green leaves with a resistance to leaf fungi. Fruit is shatter resistant, with uniform ripening. Ninety percent of the fruit can be harvested with one shaking. The limbs have a good horizontal growth pattern.

Double GG – is a cross between Texas Star and Royal Star. Bobby Talbert selected Texas Star and Royal Star from a wild stand near Gist, Texas. Bobby generously shared grafting wood with me. Double GG has a dark red fruit averaging .75 inch. The fruit is shatter resistant with fairly good uniform ripening. It is very productive. Blooming peak is about March 10th with peak fruit ripening about May 10th. The tree has the best growth form of any tree I have tested. It has some susceptibility to fire blight, but can easily be controlled with the new chemicals currently available. It produces very few thorns.

New orchard plantings should contain two or more selections for good pollination. Mayhaws have self-fertile flowers, but have weak pollen or low viability. Rows in the orchard should be alternated with two or more selections to maximize pollination. Honey bees, orchard bees and the American hover  fly are the primary insects important in mayhaw pollination. ~

Billy Craft contributed this article to the Louisiana Mayhaw Association newsletter.

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Battle of the Bugs: Citrus Leafminer & Natural Control

AgCenter letterhead


Battle of the Bugs: Citrus Leafminer & Natural Control

By George Giltner, Adv. Master Gardener, MS Biology

If you have planted Satsuma’s or other citrus within the past 3 years, chances are that the leaves have been mined by the citrus leaf miner, Phyllocnistis citrella.  Close observation of the distorted wrinkled leaves will show the twisting larval tunnels, larval frass trail, and possibly the live larvae itself.

When the larvae are near the leaf marginal edge, use a fingernail to extract one.  Then you have successfully controlled one leaf miner, needless to mention that several hundred that may be ready to hatch from recently laid eggs by the 2 mm long adult female moths.  The singly laid eggs hatch after 4 to 5 days, then begin their mining operations for over a month, usually from midsummer to early winter.  The leaf distortions and curls are caused by the destruction of upper and lower cellular tissue.

juvenile leafminer

The larva of a leafminer feeding between the top & bottom surfaces of a citrus leaf. Photo by UFL Extension.

As you review the entire citrus plant, notice the pattern of infestation.  New fast growing and tender leaves are infected, but the hardened thicker leaves are resistant to leaf miners.  Therefore activities that stimulate rapid plant growth like pruning, vertical water sprout growth, and heavy fertilization actually make your citrus more favorable to citrus leaf miners.  Also notice that older (4+ years) trees are not impacted like younger trees.  The aged and hardened older leaves cannot be penetrated and mined like fresh leaves.

Commercial products containing imidacloprid, a systemic insecticide, have been used during periods of flushing (rapid growth) of young citrus.  These soil or irrigation treatments can protect the plants for up to 3 months.  However, there is concern over the use of this insecticide and its effect on bees.  The systemic insecticide will be inside plant tissues, pollen, and nectar.  Experts report that use of this chemical is one of the many possible causes of bee decline and colony collapse disorder (CCD).  The European Food Safety Authority (Jan. 2013) stated that neonicotinoids (imidachoprid) pose an unacceptably high risk to bees.

If you are an internet user, some suggestions for leaf miner control are absolutely hilarious.  One suggests using moth balls.  The response was to take good aim at the moths to be effective.  Another was to use Sevin, but the larvae is tunneled and protected by the waxy leaf cuticle.

Biological control can be the most effective means of control.  Worldwide, 39 parasites of CLM have been identified.  14+ natural enemies (many wasps) have been identified within the U.S.  Since the initial identification of CLM in Homestead, Florida (1993), it has spread throughout the South into Louisiana and Texas.  It is now a common pest.  However recent research has shown up to 90% mortality due to endemic beneficial insects.  The message from researchers is to not use wide range killing insecticides (malathion, carbaryl, and pyrethroids) that destroy beneficial predators of citrus leaf miner.  Better control with less environmental impact can be obtained by using spinosad formulated products like Conserve, Green Light Spinosad, Success, Leafminer & Tent Caterpillar Spray, etc.

adult leafminer UF pic

Adult Leafminer. Photo by Florida Extension

Gardeners and homeowners of citrus may choose to not treat citrus for citrus leaf miners.  That is correct – do nothing and let nature take its course (Dr. Malcolm Manner, UFC) .  Young citrus will be infected and look ugly for several years.  Nature will begin to supply CLM predators without the use of harmful insecticides.  The mature hardy thick green leaves develop.  Then the citrus tree matures into its round dark green form.

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Health Benefits of Fall Gardening by George Giltner, Master Gardener

AgCenter letterhead


Health Benefits of Fall Gardening

By George Giltner, Adv. Master Gardener, MS Biology

Here we are in the hottest, most humid month of the year.  Wow! Who in their right mind is enduring these temperatures, fighting off pests, and drought to garden?  It does seem like an unhealthy tortuous activity – unless you are a seasoned gardener.

The summer trips to the garden are earlier in the cooler morning when the birds are chirping and a glistening dew is on the vegetables and flowers.  In this serene time, an inspection for pests is not a chore, but a look into the health and balance of life in the garden.  A hand spray of neem oil or a mist of horticultural oil takes care of most pests.  The timer and watering system are checked, and a few weeds are pulled or scraped.  Fresh vegetables like peas, okra, and squash are harvested for daily consumption.  So begins the day with a relaxing and rewarding activity that sets a non-stressful mood for the day.


Collards are popular fall vegetables. Photo by Georgia Extension.

Next, is the fall garden which is my favorite.  The vegetables which include a whole spectrum of healthy nutrients from carrot beta carotene to anticancer agents in kale are only part of the health advantages of gardening.  The regular physical exercise aids in the prevention of heart disease, obesity, adult-onset diabetes and high blood pressure.  “Compost turning strength-training” is important in the prevention of osteoporosis.  Lift and push a wheelbarrow around to have a complete workout without the transportation and cost of a gym workout.  “Gardening is a labor of love.  A treadmill is just labor.”

Fall gardening provides fresh fruits and vegetables.  When you grow your own food, it will be on your table within hours of harvesting without vitamin loss.  The family will enjoy the fresh taste, the money saved, and the satisfaction of self-sufficiency.  Be sure to plant blueberries, Satsuma’s, plums, and apples this fall for seasonal treats and a cornucopia of healthy nutrients.  New flavors and varieties of vegetables add spice and nutrition to the family diet.  My son would not eat peas until we introduced him to fresh “Quick Picks” straight from the garden.  The flavor of kale cooked with sausage bits also became his favorite.  Also when you grow your own food you have control over pesticides, plant genetic choices, and fertilizers that are used.  Add herbs to “Kick it up a Notch” in enhancing flavor, yet reducing sugar and salt.  Try herbs early in your gardening experience.  The aromas and ease of gardening will increase your success and pleasure of gardening.

Gardening is a pleasant brain workout with creativity, research, and planning.  Let your persona come out with your garden plans.  Take Master Gardener Courses offered by the LSU AgCenter (337-462-7006) to stimulate and encourage your creativity.  Find a whole wealth of information on the internet.  Interact and exchange ideas with other Master Gardeners.  Get connected.  Everyone likes to talk to a gardener.

Studies have shown that gardening provides a natural rhythm of life in stressful world.  You become more knowledgeable and appreciable of nature. You become aware that a garden is not picture perfect all the time, but your labor can usually restore problems.  Just viewing a garden or nature has healthy psychological benefits.

Gardening is good for family bonding and for people with special needs.  Kids and people with handicaps can enjoy garden activities as a form of physical therapy.  This hobby increases range of motion, improves motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and increases self-confidence.  Raised beds that are 24 inches high are accessible to wheel chairs and elementary kids.  Many new gardens tools are now designed for little ones, and for those with physical limitations.

Begin the planning now, and plant your garden this fall.  Start small for success, then work your way up to more complex gardening challenges.  Whether you try a deep flower pot for carrots or a hydroponic greenhouse, enjoy the journey, learn new techniques, try new varieties, and have a healthy hobby!

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Growing Muscadines in Beauregard Parish


Editor’s note: This blog comes from an email discussion about muscadines, a native form of grapes. kh

Growing Muscadines in Beauregard Parish

by Jimmy Earl Cooley and Skip Cryer, Master Gardeners

muscadine grapes

Ripe Muscadine Grapes, NCSU image


>The two muscadine grape vines that you gave me and we planted to the rightof the house, looking toward the pond, I named SKIPPER 1 and SKIPPER 2.   #1,  I moved to the runway about this time, last year, and it
produced about half gal of nice grapes.  #2 did not produce any and never
has to date.  #1 was moved using the tractor front end loader, with no
particular attention to care of roots and left maybe three feet of the four
leaders attached.  I had previously dug the hole, on runway, to accept #1,
with no particular attention or addition of anything to hole.  I noted
that there were a fair amount of roots, near main stem (vertical) and out
approx 2 to 2.5 feet out from leader with very few large diameter roots.
I estimate that, with the front end loader, I got about 75 % of roots with
trensfer of #1 vine.  So expect it to do better this year and can only
conclude that lack of full sun and proximity to other trees and vegetation
prevented production of grapes at original location.  Now #1 vine was one
that was further from the surrounging treesand #2 is closer to trees,
especially a rather large pine tree.

>So, two weeks ago I moved #2 vine, using same procudure as #1,  from
near house to runway, except this time I pulled the 4 horizonal off rebar
trelace and rolled up and tied to central stem, planning to unroll and secure
to new rebar trelace on runway.  When vine and roots were in front loader,
so I could examine roots, I was surprised to see that several large roots had
not broken or pulled up but were holding on to root ball and these roots were
not where the most sun hit but under ground and toward the large pine tree
trunk, two long roots were large as my index finger and thumb and some 12 feet long, probably even longer as I cut off before finding end since it was tangled with pine tree roots.  Thought this was strange cause expected largest and most vigrous root growth would be away from trees and toward open area with more sun.  So roots liked shade and pine needle mulch and grew better in that environment and not so good in open area, but neither configuration produced enough roots to support vine anb make fruit?? The open area had mulch around stem for approx 3ft but only put it down in spring and was mostly gone now. I kept both vines watered during dry times in original location.

>Anything to learn.

>Mulch a good thing, shallow roots

>Muscadine in wild, roots covered good. filtered sun

>Can successfully move complete vine and expect it to survive using front
end loader

>It will be interesting to see results this year.  Believe you gave me
the two vines 4 years ago, is that what tou remember?  Comment please and
further recommendations appreciated.

>Later, jec

SKIPPER GRAPE VINE #2/Reply by Skip Cryer

Well, we get into ideology,  It is a long way from Ison to Cooley Hill.  Even though geologically the areas are similar the soils have differing origins whaterver that would have to do with the subject.  We are in the Mississippi basin and they are not.  First, pine needles unmulched last a long time due to a very slow rot cycle and do not wash or blow away.  Their purpose would not be to modify the soil but protect the emerging shallow root growth from grass and weed competition and to preserve moisture so that mandatory watering would not be necessary.  We normally have an extended dry spell late spring or June.  The amount of Miracle Gro that I mentioned would simply be enough to kick start feeder root growth.  Just like any plant does better when planted if a starter liquid is used.  Green manure or hot chicken manure I would not use anyway.  Well rotted cloved hoof or horse manure would not bother me.  Cottenseed meal is low nitrogen, slow release.  Sawdust unless very well rotted is a no no.  It robs the soil of its nitrogen.  What pH muscadines thrive at is not something discussed much.  They are basically native plants that do very well  in pine forests, mixed pine and deciduous forests, sandy hills, and on slopes along streams.  The pH of these soils in Louisana range naturally from 3.5-4.5, acidic.  The ground is covered with pine needles and oak leaves.

I am no expert but am hardheaded about some things.  After loss of much money and time trying to make plants grow where they are not comfortable I have yielded.  I will be up front.  I don’t understand a lot of recommendations written for gardening books and those from businesses selling side products.  I tend to sort out what is sensible, works, and does not require me to spend lots of hours pampering.  Absolutly noting done impacts every plant the same.  Soils over even a relatively short distance are different in chemistry, grain size, moisture retention, etc.  My vines are scattered over an area approximately 600 x 200 feet, hill top to borderline boggy.  I treat them all the same.  I repair trellises, prune and pick.  I get differing growth from 2-3 feet to 12-15 without watering or fertilizer.  I have never limed.  The more growth I get the less berries I get.  Fertilizer causes more growth.  I have killed shrubs and trees with commercial fertilizer placement followed by dry weather–it turns toxic in a hurry.  However your vines are young starters.  You may get some quick vine growth to cover your trellises and quicker maturity.  Mine have been planted for a long time and my interests are different.

I do believe that muscadines are one of those plants that has a tough constitution which allows them to grow in almost any condition other than snow and standing water,  They do like sun and to have their roots left alone.  They are happy with pruning but cannot tolerate herbicides.

If you want to follow Ison’s recommendations I don’t see that harm would follow.  Ironically, I am into a new ‘research’  mode.  I have two young vines, an Ison and a Black Beauty that I have planted in my pine trees.  According to everything this is waiting failure.  The only thing I plan to do is let them grow and if they do set a trellis for them.  The only negative thing that may happen to them is dry weather before they establish a supporting root system.  Two years ago I tried two in another evironment and dry weather got them.  We got less than 40 inches of rain that year.  Last year we got 72 inces according to the weather station.  Interstingly I got a berry crop both years.  Normal rainfall is about 50 inches.

I will give you my real thought on the subject.  I think growing plants is like growing children.  Pamper them with lots of attention, plenty of food and drink, protection, etc their growth and development becomes based on this environment.  When it is time to cut them loose on their own they go into a level of shock.  Watch your garden as the ground dries up and the commercial fertilizer begins to run out.  Humans are obsessive about creating faux environments though I readily admit total austerity is not conducive to success in all cases but point made.  Moderation in all things is mandatory.  My yard trees and other plants are tough.  When I go my family will not have to worry about pampering them to keep them from following.

Why do bare root trees outgrow trees planted from pots or do they?

Try it, they may like it.

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