Tuesday, October 20, 2020

October Meeting

The Monroeville Garden Club met in October at the home of Mrs. Sharon Brewton. Sharon hosted the meeting and Mrs. Jean Singleton co-hosted. Club member Laura Bodiford presented a program on The Basics of Vermiculture. 

Vermiculture is the practice of keeping/controlled growing of worms, and it is becoming a big business. Worms spend their whole lives burrowing, eating, digesting, and excreting, and every part of the process is beneficial. When worms burrow they create channels in the soil which makes it porous, and porous soil allows air and water in. While burrowing, worms are eating organic material and digesting it, and excreting nutrient-rich castings back into the soil. Worm castings are completely organic, incredible fertilizers, and they greatly improve soil conditions. In short, little worms do big things!

Worm farms are a thing, and many folks are buying or building their own on a smaller scale. Club member Laura Bodiford brought in her worm bin as an model, and also gave great advice based on her own experiences with different wormeries she had created and used. If you're on the fence about DIY wormeries, check out the book How to Start a Worm Bin: Your Guide to Getting Started by Henry Owen, or the website https://working-worms.com/how-to-make-your-own-worm-farm/. Red wigglers are the best type of worm to use because they are the most resilient and reproduce quickly. Worms need air and food to survive, so worm bins should have holes in them and contain the right type of food. Kitchen scraps are excellent (most fruit and veggie leaves/peels, coffee grounds, breads, grains) but avoid dairy products (egg shells are the exception), meat, citrus, pet waste, and anything oily. Building a worm bed is much like making a real bed in that you just add layers. You might start with damp, shredded newspaper, then dirt or homemade compost, add worms, then food, and finish with another layer of shredded newspaper or pine straw. Keep your worms happy and let them work for you!

Following the presentation, there were Take-A-Treat boxes packaged for each member. Tucked inside were pimento cheese sandwich rounds (topped with a gummy worm), whole pecans, fresh grapes and blueberries, cheese straws, and an apple pecan muffin inside. Bottled water was on hand for refreshment.

Finally, so many of us are trying to wrap up any loose ends in our gardens and flower beds before late fall and early winter set in. Preen.com has a great checklist of you're interested: https://preen.com/checklists/october 



Thursday, September 10, 2020

September Meeting

Monroeville Garden Club members and guests reunited in September after a short summer break. The meeting was hosted by Mrs. Ree Smith at her home in Monroeville with Mrs. Bev Colquett co-hosting. Masks and social distancing were still encouraged as precautionary measures against COVID. Mrs. Lark Salter, owner of Emmett's House, was there to present tips for fall decorating.

If you haven't visited Emmett's House on the square yet put it on your to-do list! Inside the store you'll find beautiful home decor and unique gifts, and Lark is always happy to share decorating ideas and advice. In fact, she brought a beautiful dough bowl from her store to the meeting and showed different ways to fill it based on seasons, specific events, and personal taste. She talked about her mother and grandmother being her earliest inspirations, and recalled how they taught her to bring nature into her designs; Pine cones, dried leaves, and fresh cut flowers are just a few examples. No matter where you draw design inspiration from or what style decor you favor, Emmett's House would love to help you pull it all together.    

Members and guests did not leave empty-handed. Ree and Bev had individual fall-themed goody boxes prepared with pimento cheese sandwiches cut into leaf shapes, candy corn, sprinkled chocolate wafers, cheese straws, and pecan tart mini muffins. Bottled water was also offered. Lark graciously offered tealight candle holders to everyone in attendance on behalf of Emmett's House. The holders were made of natural wood rounds with cotton boll and lavendar picks. Autumn is surely knocking!

"And all at once, summer collapsed into fall." ~ Oscar Wilde


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

May Meeting

Mike and Bev Colquett are more than just busy, they are productive. Back in May they invited Monroeville Garden Club members out to their bee farm, Green Acres, for a honey extraction demonstration. Mike and Bev started keeping bees several years ago and Mike talked about how beekeeping and honey extraction has become more than just a hobby. 

If you've never learned about the importance of honeybees and the vital role they play in our ecosystem you might be amazed. Mike did a wonderful job of explaining a few basics: Honeybees live together in colonies and each bee has a specific job. Worker bees forage for food, and build and protect the hive. Drones are male bees whose purpose is to mate with the queen. There can be only one queen per hive and she can live up to five years. Some colonies have as many as 60-80,000 bees in them! Bees communicate with each other by doing what is called a waggle dance, which lets other bees know where to find sources of nectar, pollen and other important things. Honeybees are among the most numerous and efficient pollinator species in the world. The average honeybee can visit more than 2000 flowers in one day, which greatly increases the chance of a plant producing a fruit or vegetable. In commercial farming honeybees are used to pollinate over 100 crops grown in North America alone, and this contributes an estimated $15 billion to the industry in the United States each year.  

Most of us know a little about the benefits of pure, raw honey. Rich in antioxidants (the darker the honey, the more antioxidants it has), honey may lower the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and some types of cancer. It can also help lower blood pressure and triglycerides, and improve cholesterol. Honey has long been used in wound/burn care, helping the body heal itself faster. It's a natural cough and cold remedy and a soother of sore throats. Honey never spoils as long as it is sealed properly, and many would agree the taste of pure honey is second to none. Unfortunately, almost 75% of the honey sold in supermarkets has been adulterated. It is cut with cheap, processed sweeteners cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, rice syrup, and other fillers to give it a more pleasing texture and appearance. It's best to purchase your honey from local beekeepers so you can be certain that your honey is the real deal. 

Ever considered the advantages of beeswax? Honeybees consume honey and pollen to make wax naturally. This wax is antibacterial and antifungal, and because it is waterproof and has the ability to lock in moisture beeswax is an excellent organic ingredient in lip balm, skin treatments, salves and lotions. It is also used to make candles because it burns brighter and helps to purify the air. It never goes bad and many folks enjoy snacking on it! 

During his demonstration Mike pulled wooden frames from select hives on his farm, the insides of which contain intricate honeycombs built by the bees. The bees fill the the combs with honey, then seal each cell with a wax cap. Mike showed how he uncaps the wax using a heated knife. Any bits of beeswax were removed and drained of honey and can be used for other projects. Mike then placed the uncapped frames in a honey extractor which spins the honey out using centrifugal force. This honey passed through a screen to clear away any additional pieces of beeswax, and what flowed down appeared to be liquid gold. It was beautiful and raw and delicious, and each club member left with their very own small jar.

Bev had beautiful treat boxes prepared for each member, and the treats inside kept with the theme: Beehive pimento cheese sandwiches, honey cakelets, brown sugar cookies, apple and grape cheese bites, salted caramel beehive candy. There was lemonade punch and water for refreshment. Guests also took home a packet of Zinnia seeds to plant at their convenience. 

Kudos to the Colquetts for their hospitality and thoughtfulness. They welcomed each person and executed the meeting perfectly, making sure to consider guidelines put in place due to COVID19. Demonstrations were done in shifts to allow smaller groups of people, and seating was spaced appropriately on the porch with plenty of room to roam about the property. 


Friday, May 22, 2020

April - Distance Gardening

It's hard to keep a good gardener down! When Monroeville Garden Club members realized that they would not be able to gather in person for their April meeting due to COVID19 and quarantine guidelines, they decided to get creative. Sharing pictures of their personal gardens via email was a unique and fun way for members to keep in contact with each other and spread a little sunshine during these unprecedented times. Virtual gardening isn't so bad after all!

Ms. Voncile Stringer's garden

Ms. Voncile Stringer's garden

Ms. Voncile Stringer's garden

Ms. Voncile Stringer's garden

Ms. Voncile Stringer in her garden

Ms. Voncile Stringer's garden

Ms. Voncile Stringer's garden

Blue-eyed Grass from Ms. Brenda Gardener

Autumn Fern from Ms. Brenda Gardner

Antique Rose from Ms. Patsy Wadlington,
purchased from Petals From the Past

Snapdragons from Ms. Nancy Zeibach's garden

Vegetable garden of Ms. Nancy Zeibach

Wild honeysuckle from Ms. Sharon Brewton's garden

Snowball tree from Ms. Sharon Brewton's garden

Chaste Tree just blooming in Ms. Holly Tennimon's garden

Ms. Jean Singleton's garden

Ms. Jean Singleton's garden

Ms. Jean Singleton's garden

Sugar snap pea blooms in Ms. Laura Bodiford's garden

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

March - Fairhope, Al Outing

Members and guests of the Monroeville Garden Club joined together for shopping and dining in Fairhope in March, sans a formal meeting. Hostess Patsy Wadlington and Co-Hostess Carolyn Hutcherson provided refreshments of muffins and chocolates, beautifully packaged in a ribbon tied gift bag with a favor packet of seeds. 

The ladies enjoyed some shopping at Corner Copia Gardens, followed by lunch at Panini Pete's. From there, the ladies explored Green Gates Market which is housed in an industrial-style building and is filled with with a plethora of designer furniture, accents, and gifts. Rounding out the trip was a stop at Hazel's Market in Daphne, which had quite a large assortment of plants. The weather was beautiful and the ladies enjoyed a wonderful outing! 

"Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Hostess Patsy Wadlington, R
Co-Hostess Carolyn Hutcherson, L