Walk Georgia While in Your Garden

Walk Georgia is a free UGA Extension web-based program that encourages Georgians to get out and move. As gardeners we know all about moving (and bending and lifting and pulling…). Participants create an account and log their activity on the website. As you log activity you virtually travel through Georgia learning about areas as you go. It is a great way to be accountable for your health and to learn more about the state.

Of course, gardening is listed as an exercise activity. This could be a fun way to compete with other gardeners in a friendly exercise competition. You may spur each other on to being more active. The weeds won’t stand a chance!

With many, many exercise apps on the market this one stands out because it is so simple to use, it is free, and it is Georgia specific.

Also on the Walk Georgia webpage are exercise tips and recipes. For gardeners who grew potatoes this year, try this recipe from Walk Georgia for a great meal on a cold day.

Potato Leek Soup

¼ cup olive oil

5 cups chopped leeks

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 cups cubed potatoes

2 quarts chicken stock, low sodium

2 cups canned skim evaporated milk

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick Dutch oven and add the leeks, celery, and onion. Cook slowly for 10 minutes until golden and soft. Do not let the mixture brown.

Add potatoes and chicken stock; cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 20-40 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.

Mash the vegetables. Heat the milk and add to the soup. Salt and pepper to taste.

Six Servings:

Calories: 314 | Carbohydrate: 45 grams | Fat: 10 grams | Protein: 14 grams | Sodium: 635 milligram with low sodium broth, 869 milligrams with reduced sodium broth | Fiber: 3 grams | Cholesterol: 3 milligrams | Exchanges: 3 starches, 1 lean meat

For more information on Walk Georgia contact your local UGA Extension agent or visit the Walk Georgia website.  They also have a Walk Georgia Facebook page.

Happy Gardening!

Five Signs of a Dull Saw Chain

Five Signs of a Dull Saw Chain

Do not think because an accident hasn’t happened to you that it can’t happen.

Do you need to sharpen your chain?

If you notice these signs while working with your chainsaw, it is time to sharpen or possibly replace the saw chain.

  • The saw chain does not pull itself into the wood. It has to be forced to cut by applying pressure to the engine unit.
  • While doing a split cut or a cross cut (making a vertical cut) the saw chain creates fine sawdust instead of coarse strands.
  • Smoke crops up even though the chain lubrication is in working order and the chain tension is correct.
  • The chainsaw runs in one direction causing a crooked cut. This is an indication of dull cutting teeth on one side of the chain or uneven cutting teeth lengths.
  • The chainsaw “rattles” and “bounces” during the cut. It is difficult to achieve precise positioning.

The above information is from the Stihl blog, yet another great resource. There are many good videos online that will help you sharpen your chain and help you use the service marks on the chain.

We have two other important pieces of information for you.

  1. As you see, there is just one saw safety class listed below. That is because it is the only training on the books right now. Baring a miracle – THAT IS YOUR LAST CHANCE in central Georgia. Sign up!
  2. The saw safety newsletter is going to take a break in December. We will be back in January and start right in on the four essential safety features of every saw. Until then, do not depend on others for safety – help yourself!

Being Thankful in the Garden

We asked a few people in the local food movement to tell us what they are thankful for during this Thanksgiving holiday.  Here is what they told us:

Fred Conrad at work!
Fred Conrad at work!

Fred Conrad, the community garden coordinator for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, is well known throughout the metro Atlanta area.  You may have seen Fred riding his tractor down the street of Atlanta.  He writes…

I am thankful that I was able to distribute 100% of my summer harvest to families in need through the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program. It is so rewarding to hand the crops that I worked very hard to raise to families who need it and who are very happy to have fresh local produce. We share recipes and family stories and they get to choose the vegetables they like. Seeing the children, meeting the families, and knowing that you just made their life a little easier. It means a lot, service is a blessing to the giver as well. And don’t believe that people don’t know how to cook, they really do.

Bobby Wilson is the co-founder and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Urban Farm.   He has spent a busy Fall training new gardeners.  Bobby shares…

I am thankful for community gardeners that we have and the ones to come in 2017

Bobby Wilson of the Atlanta Urban Farm.
Bobby Wilson of the Metro Atlanta Urban Farm.

Jeff Miller is the new Urban Program Development Coordinator for UGA Extension.  Jeff has been busy the last several months getting to know the metro Atlanta Extension agents so that he can better assist them in meeting the needs of metro Atlanta.  You can connect with Jeff at his UGA Extension Metro Atlanta page.  Jeff is thankful for:

…the local food movement gaining traction in Atlanta – supplying healthy fresh produce from urban gardens and farms in the metro area.

Jeff Miller from UGA Extension
Jeff Miller from UGA Extension

We all have much to be thankful for this holiday season.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving meal with family and friends.  Hopefully, some of the food on the table is grown by YOU!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saw Safety Holiday Demonstration

Saw Safety Holiday Demonstration

Safety never takes a holiday, but you do, enjoy.

Ah, the joys of Thanksgiving: friends and family, favorite foods, football, and a couple of days off work. But saw safety never takes a holiday. Chances are, someone will hand you that miniature power saw – the electric knife – and ask you to carve the turkey. This video will help you carve that bird with style.

Here’s wishing you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Alton Brown demonstrating electric knife features and how to carve a turkey.

Drought Response Level 2: Outdoor Watering Information

Prolonged dry weather has prompted an elevated drought response for northwest Georgia. Effective November 17, 2016, fifty-two counties have entered a drought response level 2 and fifty-eight counties are exercising a drought response level 1.  Rainfall has been scarce since August and water conservation is the banner message.  The Georgia Water Stewardship Act of 2010 establishes certain outdoor watering protocols to conserve water during times of drought.  These rules apply to all properties served by state permitted water systems.

Highlights of Drought Response Level 1:
A drought response level 1 initiates a public information campaign to explain drought conditions and the need for water stewardship and conservation.  Normal outdoor watering should follow best management practices and is allowed between the hours of 4:30pm and 10am any day of the week.

Highlights of Drought Response Level 2:
For existing landscapes, a drought response level 2 initiates the odd/even watering schedule by address for sprinkler systems.  For even addresses (ending in zero, 2,4,6,8) watering is allowed as needed on Wednesdays and Saturdays between the hours of 4pm and 10am.  For odd addresses (ending in 1,3,5,7,9) watering is allowed as needed on Thursdays and Sundays between the hours of 4pm and 10am.  Sprinkler systems should always be properly maintained and adjusted.  Evapotranspiration is much lower during the fall and winter and minimal irrigation is needed to prevent winter desiccation using a rate of 1/2 inch precipitation per week or less during periods of dry weather.

New Landscapes:
Under all levels of drought response, a 30 day exemption period is allowed for the establishment of new landscapes. Once the establishment period has expired, drought response watering practices should be followed accordingly.

Other Allowable Exemptions:
Handwatering using a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle
Food gardens
Drip irrigation or soaker hoses
Horticulture crops intended for sale, resale, or installation
Athletic fields, golf courses, and public recreation areas
Maintenance or calibration of an irrigation system
Water from private wells and bodies of water on property (not exceeding state withdrawal limits)
Water from an alternate source (grey water, rain water, air-conditioner condensate)
Commercial Pressure Washing

Stay informed on the latest drought information for your area (see helpful resources and information below).  While natural precipitation is generally sufficient to prevent plant desiccation in established landscapes during fall and winter, extremely dry conditions may require supplemental watering to help mitigate plant damage. Follow responsible watering practices and properly manage irrigation systems to protect plant health while promoting a culture of water conservation in Georgia.  Register for training opportunities such as the upcoming “Irrigation Training for Landscape Professionals” at the EDGE Expo at the Gwinnett Infinite Energy Center on December 8, 2016.

For more information on proper watering practices and training opportunities, contact your local UGA Extension Agent or call 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

Helpful Resources and Information:


Pollinator Spaces Project Update

This year we have encouraged community and school gardens all across Georgia to add pollinator habitat to their gardens.  The Pollinator Spaces Project website provides information to help gardeners learn about pollinator health and to create beautiful pollinator spaces.  Local UGA Cooperative Extension agents have been hosting pollinator workshops during the year.  All this adds up to beautiful, new pollinator habitat across the state!

To be included in the tally of gardens, growers send Becky Griffin (beckygri@uga.edu)  photographs of their new spaces with some information about their garden.  These new gardens are awarded a certificate of participation in Georgia pollinator history!

Pollinator Spaces Project Update
Lithia Springs Community Garden makes pollinator plants an important part of the space!

As of now, 18 Georgia counties are represented with over 48 pollinator gardens.  To see photos of these gardens, and perhaps get inspired visit the garden gallery.   Also, a story map has been created which highlights five of the spaces.  This story map will be updated this winter with an interactive Georgia map.

Zach White, of Reinhardt College, recently hosted a showing of Flight of the Monarchs.  This movie reminds us of another reason to add pollinator habitat.   The migration of the monarchs is remarkable and many of us with pollinator plants have been excited to be a part of the migration.

The reasons to add pollinator plants are many:

  • Increased pollinators activity assists in food production
  • These plants add an element of beauty to the food garden
  • Your work will aid in conservation efforts
  • Pollinator plants also attract other beneficial insects
  • You can enjoy watching the insects!

If you want to be part of this program contact Becky (beckygri@uga).  We would love to include your garden.

Happy Pollinator Gardening!

Cool Equipment Break

Cool Equipment Break

For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind

Check out the Big Shot throw line launcher. It’s a slingshot for tree work.

Want to put a rope in a tree? It has to be in the right place in the tree and it can be difficult to get it there. Tired of throwing and throwing and not setting a line?

Warren Williams, Instructor at North American Training Solutions, demonstrates one in the video below. According to Warren, the Big Shot can launch lines up to 100 feet in tight places and, “It is pretty easy to learn how to use it, doesn’t take a ton of practice.”

It can be used with a standard throw weight and throw line system, or with the specially-designed bullet-style weights. The Big Shot throw line launcher is available from many different venders. It starts at about $125 and goes up – as they say, you get more if you pay more.

Big Shot throw line launcher; tree sling shot

Warren sets a line with the Big Shot.

The Truth About Organic Gardening

This week we are fortunate to have Tim Daly as a guest blogger.  Tim is a UGA Cooperative Extension agent for Gwinnett County, Georgia.  Those of you work in community gardens in Gwinnett probably already know Tim.  We are excited he is available to clear up any confusion about organic gardening.  Tim writes….

Organic gardening has become quite popular among gardeners, but a considerable amount of confusion exists about exactly what it is and what it is not. Organic gardening uses a combination of methods and strategies to produce healthy plants.

It also requires a thorough understanding of the ecological relationships among soil, plants and other organisms in the garden. Contrary to popular belief, organic gardening is neither a method of pest control, nor the avoidance of the use of all chemical pesticides.

The Truth About Organic Gardening
The Belvedere Community Garden is an ecosystem.

Organic starts with healthy soil

Organic gardening requires a long-term outlook in regard to soil preparation. Developing healthy, fertile soil helps to provide plants with necessary nutrients. Organic gardeners use natural, organic fertilizers and mineral amendments to improve the overall quality and fertility of their garden soil.

The Truth About Organic Gardening
Healthy soil is key!

Most synthetic fertilizers provide nutrients that are immediately available to the plant. However, they do not contribute to the overall health and long-term fertility of the soil.

Organic matter in the soil is important because it breaks down and releases nutrients for the plants. It also improves the soil’s water- and nutrient-holding capacity and provides a habitat for beneficial microorganisms. Organic matter in the soil can be increased by the addition of manure, topsoil, peat moss, compost and other suitable materials.

The garden is an ecosystem

The first key to successful pest control is to begin by purchasing healthy, quality plants that are free of insects and diseases. Next, encourage beneficial insects, such as lady beetles, lacewings and certain species of wasps, to stay in your garden. Certain herbaceous plants, such as dill, wild mustards and yarrow, provide shelter and food for these beneficial organisms. Plant these among your vegetables.

The Truth About Organic Gardening
North Fulton Annex Community Garden has an area dedicated to plants that attract beneficial insects.

Choose plants that have varieties with known resistance to diseases and insects as a method of reducing pests. For example, some varieties of tomatoes have been bred to resist certain fungal diseases.

Remove and dispose of plant material, such as leaves, branches and fruit, that has fallen to the ground. Reduce the incidence of disease by keeping plant leaves and stems as dry as possible. Use drip irrigation rather than overhead watering to conserve water and reduce the amount of time plants remain wet.

Organic pesticides are available

When necessary, use organic pesticides. There are several choices available. Botanicals, such as rotenone, pyrethrum and neem oil products, are plant-derived materials.

Microbial pesticides that control certain insect pests are formulated from microorganisms or their byproducts. An example is DiPel, which contains a species of bacteria that targets certain caterpillar pests.

Minerals, such as sulfur and copper, are the primary organic materials used to control fungal and bacterial diseases. Always remember that even if a product is considered to be organic, it is still a pesticide. Exercise caution when using these products. Some organic pesticides are as toxic as or even more toxic than many synthetic chemical pesticides.

There are pros and cons to organic gardening. Understanding the basics of this practice and what it involves will help you succeed in having healthy, productive plants no matter what growing method you follow.

Thanks, Tim, for this great information!  Tim is a great resource for vegetable gardeners, being a frequent connoisseur of homegrown tomatoes.  You can reach Tim at UGA’s Gwinnett County office at tdaly@uga.edu.

Happy Organic Gardening!

Safe Start

Safe Start

Do not think because an accident hasn’t happened to you that it can’t happen.

Starting a Chainsaw Safely

There are three safe and good options for starting a saw:

  • Put the saw on the ground, place your boot in the handle to stabilize the saw, then pull.
  • Put the saw on the ground, place your knee on top of it to stabilize the saw, then pull.
  • Pinch the saw handle in your legs to stabilize the saw, then pull.

You see a lot of folks using a drop start. That is when the chainsaw is held with one hand and the recoil rope with the other. Both arms are moving when the saw is started. This technique is not safe, OSHA will fine you, and you will need to replace the recoil rope frequently.

Tree Care Industry Association and The Dripline

Tree Care Industry Association and The Dripline

Great Resources

Danger never takes a vacation:

It is our goal to help you create a culture of safety in your workplace and we hope you have found this newsletter useful. There are some other great resource available to you.

The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) also has some great resources you can use. Have you seen their Fatality & Near Miss Rescue Alerts? They come out on Monday. The email is a list of accidents and near misses related to tree care. It is clear, concise, and can provide much to talk about with your colleagues. It is also very easy to subscribe and to unsubscribe.

If you are on Facebook, you might want to check out and like dripline.net. It is an informal way to find out what is going on in the tree care industry. Accident reports, humorous stories, tree epidemics – anything and everything tree care – is here. Never a dull moment on this page!