Horticulture Agent Talks Gardening | Ashland, Kentucky | Part 3
I am. With Laurie bowling. And. Ashland. Kentucky yes, at. The, Boyd County Cooperative, Extension, Service. And we're, going to go inside and find out about all, the opportunities that they offer to the citizens of Boyd County right. Yes, absolutely awesome, my. Name is Laurie bowling and I am the horticulture, agent for the University, of Kentucky in Boyd. County here. In what we call Ashland Kentucky our little town here the, Cooperative, Extension Service, is a national, program, that is, in every state of, the US as well as Puerto Rico it is a program that, helps you serve the, farmers, the 4-h kids we, do all kinds of programming, in those areas of agriculture and family, and consumer sciences to. Help develop, better, citizens, in our communities, in this little area that I'm in and I say little because we are in one of the smaller counties in Kentucky I have. Noticed our county has gone from a more rural setting, to, a very, urban setting, and so. We, do not have really very many, if any full-time. Farmers. In, our area we. Have possibly. One to two but, most of our farmers, actually do have an outside job they work at one of our refineries. Or our meals, or places like that they, have to work there to help supplement that, farming, but. I deal more with gardening, and what I have noticed we have gone from gardening. To feed large families, to. These, niche gardens where people, are in town and, then they have started to go back to that local food movement and they, want locally, grown produce and, some of them have started growing it in their back yards I've seen, corn, in landscapes, right. In with their shrubs people have planted corn and tomatoes, beans, lots, of container gardening we have a large. Population of elderly and so, they have to have some modifications, made they still like their homegrown tomatoes, and their, beans so they are growing more in containers, tell me about your soil can you make a general statement about the soil in your County as. Far as a sole in our County when I go out and have taken, soil samples or I have soil samples actually brought into this office, I see everything, from what we call a clay loam to. A very sandy, loam and it just depends on where you're at in the county we are up against the Ohio River so, there, are some sandy, areas, in this county probably, the majority is a clay loam meaning we do have the, gray clay or the. Hard hard, pan type clay so a lot of people have to really mix, organic, matter and compost, into the soil to get a good gardener that is one of the services, that we here in Kentucky offer and I'm assuming that most Extension, offices, across. The nation, or the the US would offer some kind of soil sampling service but. In Boyd County we, offer one, hundred and twenty five free, samples, every year, to, Boyd County residents. And homeowners, and, farmers, those, are sponsored, by grant, from our Kentucky Farm Bureau and, our, soil. Conservation, office and then, after that we only charge six dollars and that's six dollars, for that soil sample could. Really save a person. A lot of money because, a lot of people I have found put, lime on their gardens, without knowing what the pH is I have had farmers, that have put lime every year down I finally convinced them to bring me a soil sample and, I, tell them that they do not need lime they actually, their pH is messed up this is why their gardens are starting. To produce poorly, and why they're not having good success what would you say is the biggest problem, in your area in terms of invasives. Or you, know killing trees yes. Invasives. We have the kudzu bug it. Is, pretty. Bad we also have another one that is just as bad in our little area as the kudzu is actually, Japanese, knotweed, those. Two are, very. Severely. Invasive. In this area and we have places where. Kudzu. Has grown over houses and and if you are familiar with kudzu you know that it grows very rapidly in, the, summertime. In the heat it loves it and it can grow up to a foot a day, what. Do you do though so, for those invasives, there's really not a. Knock. Down for, those as far as let's. Let's do this and it'll get rid of it what we recommend is to use an all-kill spray such as a glyphosate, product we. I know, a lot of people cringe, and I I'm, very hesitant and, very reserved, in recommending. Chemicals, what I usually tell people is. He would like to use an herbicide in, order to keep those weeds, down you would want to use the glyphosate, repeated. Applications, if, you choose not to use the herbicide, then, you have to, just, keep it mowed back and continually. Keeping, it mowed back the, last production it has the less food production, it will have but. It will not completely, kill it all back and what you're doing is you're just keeping it at bay you can't pull it out by the roots and get rid of it if it's just starting, a little bit up one tree you can pull it out but, you have to keep watching because any, piece of the root left will grow again and, if you catch it early enough then that's great but here's the issue I ran into.
Clientele. Call me and they have the problem with the kudzu and the first thing I ask them is do, you have any neighbors close to you and inevitably. They, will say yes and I ask do, they have the kudzu on their, property, as well well. Yes they do well. Then, what. You do is, going. To be futile, if, they do not do something as well then, you're, just going to keep putting a bandaid on that problem does, it actually kill the tree underneath it because I know it completely covers, a tree what it does is it strangles what we would call strangling, the tree it covers, that canopy, and what happens is when it covers the canopy the tree is not able to absorb sunlight to manufacture, its food so then it it just actually can, kill the tree English, ivy can do the same and, I have seen at landscapes, with English ivy growing up trees and and the roots of it will actually get into the bark of the tree and and, it will grow up and do the same thing the first thing on combating, of any kind of weed is to get a proper identification and, then, you know where to go from there what, are some of the things people walk in here with do they walk in with bugs to identify, they, walk in with bugs they walk in with snakes they walk in with plants, they walk in with everything, seems, like you know I have a few here, I have a brown recluse spider this was actually caught on a sticky, trap in a person's basement, brown recluse can be very, deadly, to some people they can cause a lot of damage if you get about from one of those and they, had some children in the home so I had to identify. This for them to let them know yes you do have brown recluse one, way that you can tell that this is a brown recluse the, identifying, feature is, the fact that it only has four eyes and then right here is, that fiddle shaped design that, is the classic, tale right there the entomologist. Look also at the number of eyes most fighters will have six eyes this one only has four I worked, with them to tell them some, things that our entomologist. Recommended, for, them to try if it's really bad I usually, recommend they go with an exterminator, you, know you want to make sure you get that taking, care of you're talking about your families, you know livelihood, or help I have an emerald ash borer, and this. Is the insect, that has destroyed, the ash trees, over here in the eastern side of the US and has, caused severe damage to the green, ash here, in Ashland we, had a, lot of those trees planted because they used to be recommended, for Street trees for. Urbanization. Landscaping. And this, little, insect, has really, caused, a huge, effect on that population of trees here is there any connection, between the, name of your town Ashland. And the, ash tree. Or does, the ash come, from coal you. Know I'm, not really sure exactly where, the ash comes from I actually haven't done a history on where I live. Tell. Me about that unusual, stick, laying on your desk well, these are branches, from a tree. That a gentleman brought in to me and he called me on the phone and, he, started to explain what. Was going on on his, willow. Tree he, had branches that were curling, that didn't look right and I thought I knew what was going on but I asked him if he would care to bring me if you read just let me see so he did he came in so this is actually caused from, a virus. And, it's fashion, is the name of the condition this. Is not desirable, in a landscape, setting on a willow tree that's, supposed to look like a willow tree weeping.
Willow Yes but. These, are used sometimes in, floral design and so a lot of floral designers use these to put you, know characteristic. Features, into their their design, and I asked him if I could keep the branches, just to have to show my, Master Gardeners and when I'm teaching and talking about different conditions. That plants will come up with that look very strange but does this kill the tree oh no no this does not kill the tree it, just causes it to be deformed and not all of the tree will will be deformed only the branches that are affected by tell, me about that mallet you've got over there it looks like you're a judge oh well. I was. The. State. President. For the Kentucky, Agriculture. County, Extension agent Association. And I. Was the president, four. Years ago and. When I was elected president my, father made. Me this mallet, so that, I would have a mallet, or my, gavel, for my meetings when I conducted, the meetings he, was very excited that I became president I was only the second female president of that organization, people. Who are farming, do they have a particular pest, that's really, a problem not, so much an insect. Pest we we suffer, a lot with diseases here in our area we. Are a hotbed, for fungal, diseases because, of our we're sick we kind of sit in a valley area but the humidity, it. Really, causes havoc. On all, of our plants, the tomatoes, we, get early blight we get lots, of different fungal, spores, in here and diseases and downy, mildew powdery, mildew and we're all the time combating, those it, freezes, here so does, everybody get a second chance the next year not. Necessarily, we don't have very good freezes, anymore, we used to have really good freezes, back, through the 90s, since, we've turned into the 2000s. Our winners, have been kind of mild I mean we have very very, few snow. Events, we did have a polar vortex a couple. Years ago where we were in the deep freeze for maybe a week I didn't really see a big change though, in our populations. Of our insects or any, of our disease spores some. Of those critters really, have good overwintering, bodies, and, they, know how to beat the weather we have great researchers. And specialists. At the University that are all the time doing research. Projects. And things to come up with different ideas some things Fusarium. And vertice will't those, are soul born so sometimes, you know we preach, crop rotation, crop rotation, you, know don't grow tomatoes in the same place you did the, last two years move those around don't grow anything in that plant family move those around we, preach using mulches, whether it be straw whether it be plastic, mulch anything.
Like That to keep any splashing. From rainwater from, the soil up on those lower leaves of plants I could go on and on about some of the things that they're trying and they're doing to help without. Using insecticides. That is one of the goals of my, job I have to do a plan of work every four years in that plan of work I have, outlined, that. My. Goal in, that four years is to try to get educational. Programs. Out there to. Teach people how to use less, chemicals less, harm to the environment it's not just going, and talking how you can do this instead of using this chemical it's. Talking. And teaching a whole practice, of, gardening, not, just, get. Rid of this and use this so, you have to talk about the whole cycle, of gardening used, to in, Kentucky. You could not be the extension agent in the county that you graduated, high school from, and. It had to do with the fact that we received, local tax money and it was you know it's political, and things like that but, they took, away that stipulation, right, before I became an agent so. I was able to become an agent in my home county this is where I was born and raised I'm. Serving, the people of my, County, and I, consider, all those people my friends and family my, husband and I both were born and raised here we raised our children here now, they're raising their families here you, know we've traveled we've seen part of the US but, this. Is home and I want my home to be the best it can be you. Must have seen a huge change in the economics, from, the coal industry yes. Any. Bright spots on the, horizon, well let, me just tell you we lost a, huge. Employer, for, the most part here. In our area and, was a case till it's, a steel mill that, had been around that was were my father retired, from and it. Has been closed pretty, much the, coal industry with. The filtering, to that for. Us we, have no coal mines here in Boyd County however, there's. Power plants, coal-fired, power plants, one of the biggest ones just south. Of us in the neighboring, County was closed that. Eliminated, a lot of jobs and and we have seen some. Very hard, times here, in our community, and about. Four years ago that's, when I really noticed the spike in. More. Phone calls of people wanting to start. Gardening they. Wanted to start raising their own food they wanted to sell at our farmers market they were looking at that as a supplemental, income, to, whatever, their severance was from where they got laid, off. Things. Have picked up a little we. Had to have a new industry coming, into our area now which hopefully will help add jobs we've. Got in us in a downturn yeah, so we're hoping we'll start back up in an, upturn and. My hope is that if we do start back up in an upturn that, the people of Laconia won't forget how hard times we had it so if somebody neighboring. Around us goes, through this then. We'll be able to help them out as. Far as really, getting things going we, do have several, churches that have started food, pantries we have more food pantries around here now than, I have ever seen in my life I go to the little country church they. Do a food pantry and we, get 80 people to 120, people there once, a month and it's just phenomenal maybe, 200 families is what you're looking at there and that's just a little tiny country Church mmm, serving that many people so we have the blessing box movement, now I don't know if you're familiar with that but you, can drive around the town of Ashland and anywhere, there's a church if you look very, far from that church you'll see a little cabinet setting just by itself and it will have a sign blessing, box there'll.
Be Food items some people will put clothing items in there our homeless can go by and take out you, know they put food items home or skinny I do, the Master Gardener program at. Our federal prison, here in this county those gentlemen that goes through my class the. Way they do their volunteer, time is, they work in a garden, that they have there at the facility, and they, raise seventy, five thousand, pounds of produce usually, on average annually. All, of that produce is, donated. To our, local, food bank that distributes, to 28, different, organizations. In this tri-state, area with Ohio West Virginia and Kentucky so, you're talking about fresh food at a food bank and within 24 hours from the time it's picked it's distributed, they. Do garden, three seasons spring summer and fall the winner a garden, we usually don't have a whole lot that's when we do the class we, start the class the end of January, and, they, are starting to start. Seeds in the greenhouse, over there too they start their tomato seeds and their pepper seeds that, I work with the food bank to determine, what they need what, did you see your clientele take one year we raised a bunch of Swiss chard and it got, taken. To a farm a hog farm or something no, one knew what to do with it no one would take it they didn't know what it was so we have to make sure that what we grow will. Be used we don't want to grow produce that we have to just throw out and we, go through that I order. The seed I take, it out there the inmates, start, the seed or, they you know direct sow into the garden and then, they start, the gardening process again and we do that every year they, actually walk out of prison with the knowledge of how to do something they walk out of prison actually, with a certification, from the University, of Kentucky that they are an extension. Master Gardener and that. Is why that program, has been so successful and, I have 25, students. Every year with a waiting list at that program because. They get a certificate, that they can take with them when they leave the facility, to. Try to get gainful. Employment to, not, be a repeat offender this is real community, activism, here that you're doing well, I just think of it as doing my job. My, father was a a, steel, mill worker my, father-in-law, was a truck driver for, Ashland. Oil my, husband, is a mechanic, however they. Are farmed, they. All raised gardens. My, dad raised cattle few, cattle he helped his dad he had it my grandfather had a 75, acre farm and. My dad has that now he doesn't farm it but he and I have Gardens there before and your grandfather did he farm full-time yet he he, actually was a postal carrier part-time and farm the rest of that well. Thank you so much this has been so very interesting and, I'm so excited about what all the opportunities. There there are in Ashland, to get involved in this I'm so glad you came to visit us and, get the word out that you know we're doing awesome over here in Kentucky, these, are seed packets, that were donated to us from a local farm store and we, have been, distributing. Them throughout our, tri-state, area to, farmers, and gardeners a lot to, anyone, that wants to garden, kids programs. Just we've, tried to get the word out and we're gonna be passing some out later, this weekend, to, people that come on our garden tour that, is a picture of the. Casey Hardin family greenhouse north, of here in Greenup County that. Has been owned, and operated for, the past 100, years by the same family which is very unusual especially. In this area for the greenhouse operation, we are three miles from the epicenter of the opioid problem, here in the US just across the river in West Virginia, is pretty much the center of that issue I have. Worked with some rehab. Places working. With individuals, that, are going through substance. Abuse and I teach them gardening skills and, I try to teach them how to use gardening. As a way. To keep their hands occupied to keep their mind occupied and. I just recently had a gentleman, that got his one year coin, for. AAA and, he, was so proud of that and he brought it to me and he said I got my one year coin and it's because of this program and, I gave him a spot here, on the back side of our building to raise his hot peppers and. I asked him if that garden spot was. One of the things that are attributed, to him getting that one year coin to be successful, to achieve that and he, said absolutely.
He. Said if I did not have that garden, he said I might have fallen and so. Just. One person's, life may be got changed, by this program and that is why extension, is so important. It's. Going to grow our food, for us in the, future we. Have to have gardeners we have to have farmers, extension. Helps to train those people we, are part of that educational. Resource, and, if the funding, were to ever get cut then. You. Know where would that information, come from we, can google and find anything on the web but. Is what you're finding. Scientifically. Research-based, information, that's. What extension has to offer that, we have tried it we have proven, or disproven that. It works this, is where we need to go from now, extension. Needs to be able to keep. Educating. People to keep teaching people. How. To grow this how to raise this what do we do with it when we harvest it we need to be able to preserve it we need to be able to you know we need those skills we. Get federal state, and local funding, we have local tax dollars most of us have local tax dollars everyone, gets state funding, and then federal funding the federal funding, is through the USDA through, the farm bill I hope, that those, in our state and local governments. Across the u.s. realize. How important, a role extension. Plays and. The. Food for tomorrow's, population. Let's, go out and look at the raised, bed garden we have out in front of our Extension office we have a greenhouse we have 10 raised beds and, we, plant those and allow, the community to come and harvest out of those if they would like we. Harvest a lot here at our office if we're having a luncheon we may go out and grab a few tomatoes, and a cucumber but we'll go out and look at those beds and see what all we got out there all right well, thank you so much Lori that was so educational. It was great for you to visit I love talking about the Extension Service and I want to come back and see them again when, they have even more exciting, things happening and we would love to have you back all right. Thank you. You.