2016 Master Gardener Class Graduates

2016 Master Gardener Class Graduates

The 2016 Southside Master Gardener Training lasted 16 weeks including four difficult tests.  Pictured are the 2016 Graduates: Gretchen Williams, Hongqing Ye, Irene Dunn, Nancy Bane, Dawn Bruno, Donna Campagna (absent but there in spirit), Andrea Burke and Jeanne Durham.  Pictured in the back row are Dan Goerlich, Central District Director, John Freeborn, Assistant Virginia State Coordinator and Bill McCaleb, local Master Gardener Coordinator. Two of this year’s graduates, Andrea Burke and Irene Dunn, had completed an additional 50 volunteer hours and are now Master Gardeners.  If you would like to know about the Master Gardener program and activities visit or contact the Halifax Extension Office at 434-476-2147, option 0.

Thanks, Kathy Conner Cornell

Friday Night Jams - June 3rd

2nd Saturdays with the Southside Master Gardeners

Second Saturdays Are Back

By Laverne Fuller

Second Saturdays with the Southside Master Gardeners are back at the Halifax Farmer's Market. The 2016 season begins on May 14. Master Gardeners will be at the Market to help children pot up plants to be taken home. Plants and supplies will be provided free of charge. The plants could be a late Mother's Day gift or an addition to the new spring garden. Introducing children to the wonderful world of gardening can lead to a lifelong hobby or even a career in agriculture or horticulture. Be sure to bring your kids or grandkids May 14 for a fun time.

There will also be a tool cleaning and sharpening. Having the right tool for a particular job and having that tool in A-one shape makes the work much easier. Tools should be cleaned after each use. A garden hose can be used to remove dirt and mud. Steel wool or a clean grill brush can be used for stubborn spots. After cleaning, hoes and shovels can be dipped in a tub filled with sand and used motor oil to prevent rust. Good tools are an investment that can last a lifetime if properly maintained. Maintenance includes sharpening your tools when they become dull. A 10 inch mill or bastard file can be used for sharpening. When filing, it is important to pull the file away from the edge of the blade and to maintain the angle of the factory bevel. If this sounds like a chore you are not comfortable with, bring your tools to the Farmer's Market on May 14 between 8 and 11. The Master Gardeners will be available to perform the task for you.

While you are waiting for your tools, visit the market vendors for fresh produce, organic meats, open range eggs, baked goods, handmade soaps, portrait photography and lots of arts and crafts.  For more information about the Master Gardener program, call the Halifax Extension Office at 434-476-2147, option 0 or visit the website at

or e-mail ask    


Caption: Even though Mothers Day has passed the Master Gardeners want to encourage young people to love plants and get their hands in the soil. Bring out your kids and grandkids on Saturday May 14th at the Halifax Farmers Market to pot up a bedding plant for the spring garden. Bring your small gardening tools for cleaning and sharpening.

A New Offering at the Master Gardener Plant Sale - Lotus Tubers!

A New Offering at the Master Gardener Plant Sale – Lotus Tubers!

By Carol Nelson

Caption for picture: This lotus bloom will emerge around August and delight the senses. Stop by the Master Gardener Plant Sale on May 7th to purchase a lotus tuber to plant in your garden.


The annual Master Gardener Plant Sale, set for Saturday, May 7th, 7:30 am to noon, is a great place to pick up healthy plants to add to your spring garden at low prices. Plant selections vary from year to year, but we always try to offer a selection of annuals, perennials, herbs and vegetables. This year, we are excited to have something different: lotus tubers that produce lush pink or white flowers and interesting floating leaves.

Lotus tubers will add a “wow” factor when planted in a container water garden. Originally found in shallow, murky ponds, these plants are very invasive and should not be allowed to spread into Virginia ponds, lakes or waterways. A water garden is easily started in early spring by setting up a large round pot (18 to 25 gallons with no holes or lined with a heavy rubber bag) on a patio or deck. The pot should be placed in a sunny corner and filled to within six inches of the top with heavy clay-based soil or water garden soil. This is one time that it is acceptable to use soil from your yard in a container planting. It’s best to avoid using regular potting mix that contains fertilizer because it will float when water is added and may cause algae.

Tubers should be handled very gently so as not to break or injure the fragile growing tips. Make a groove in the soil about two inches deep and lay the tuber with the cut end against the side wall and the growing tip sitting at a 45° angle. A small rock may be used to hold the tuber down as several inches of water is slowly added – be sure to use well water or tap water that has been allowed to sit for several hours to release the chlorine. As the plant grows, it will put roots down into the soil. Add water as needed to replace evaporation and to keep the plant submerged. Be sure to also add a Mosquito Dunk year-round.

Lotus plants are heavy feeders and should be fertilized every three weeks using fertilizer sticks or pond fertilizer tablets. Lotus may not bloom the first year after planting, but will continue to grow and put out more tubers and roots until going dormant in the fall. In Zone 7, water gardens can be left outdoors over the winter or brought into an unheated garage. Every two years from January through March, the lotus plant should be divided so that it does not overgrow the pot.

A symbol of prosperity and purity, the lotus is revered as a sacred flower in Egyptian, Indian and other Asian cultures. The seed can survive prolonged drought conditions, while parts of the plant are edible and used in traditional herbal medicines. Try something different in your garden this year – a container water garden featuring beautiful lotuses. Master Gardeners want to thank our friend, Kathy Laine of Scottsburg, for dividing her big pot of lotus tubers to share at our Plant Sale.

Storm Water Stamping