2015 Central Rappahannock Tree Steward Course


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Cooperative Extension, General Interest, Trees | Posted on 17-02-2015

The Stafford County Office of the Virginia Cooperative Extension will host a Tree Steward Course beginning on March 10, 2015. 

The course consists of 13 sessions from March 10 through June 2 every Tuesday morning from 9am to noon at the Rowser Building (Stafford County Extension Office, 1739 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Stafford, VA). The course also includes 3 field trips: 2 at the University of Mary Washington Campus in Fredericksburg, VA and 1 at the Old Growth Forest at Montpelier in Orange, VA.

Registration is $125 and the deadline to register is February 27.  The class will be limited to 24 participants and there are no pre-requisites for the course.

To become a certified tree steward, you must complete the training class and then perform 20 hours of volunteer work for approved Tree Steward Projects.  In order to maintain certification and be an active member, you must perform 10 hours of volunteer work each year thereafter.

The participants will receive a Training Manual from the Virginia Urban Forest Council, three tree identification guides, a book on invasive plants in southern forests, a pruning handbook, numerous handouts supporting the topics covered in the class sessions, and a Resource DVD.

At the end of the course there is a take-home, open-book final exam.

Training Class Topics:

  • How Trees Grow – the microbiology of trees
  • Tree Roots, Shoots and Leaves
  • Tree Life Functions
  • Tree ID and Propagation
  • Virginia’s Native Trees
  • Tree Pruning
  • Tree Selection-The Right Tree for the Right Place
  • Tree Planting and Care
  • Tree Diagnosis and Disorders/Problems
  • Trees in the Community
  • Trees and Utility Lines
  • Riparian Buffers
  • Pesticide Safety
  • Tree Steward Projects

Presenters include professionals from the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, Bartlett Tree Experts, the City of Fredericksburg Arborist, other certified Tree Stewards, and members of the local Master Naturalist and Master Gardener organizations.

View the 2015 Tree Steward Course Brochure (pdf)

For more information contact Guy Mussey at the Stafford County Extension Office at 540-658-8000 ext 1058.

Fredericksburg Area: 2nd Annual Living in the Garden Symposium


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Cooperative Extension, Gardening, General Interest | Posted on 31-03-2014


Location: Lee Hall, University of Mary Washington, 1301 College Avenue, Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Time: 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM

Sponsors: Master Gardener Association of the Central Rappahannock Area & The Virginia Cooperative Extension, Stafford County.


The Flora of Virginia Project & Recent Changes in Plant Names

Seeing Tees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees

Revolution of the Kitchen Garden Past to Present

Tour of the University of Mary Washington Grounds

Registration Deadline is May 10

Cost (includes a box lunch): $40

For more information: Guy Mussey at VCE Stafford Office 540-658-8000

Symposium Brochure: http://www.mgacra.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Living-in-the-Garden-2014.pdf

Plants Map Launches Non-Profit Organization Profiles


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Botanical Gardens, Cooperative Extension, General Interest, Plants Map, Social Gardening | Posted on 18-03-2014

Explore Organizations on Plants MapPlants Map is reaching out to non-profit organizations like plant societies, garden clubs, public gardens, arboretums, neighborhood parks, botanical gardens, community gardens, civic tree programs and others to join Plants Map. One of our goals is to connect people who want to explore and discover plants, trees, and gardens to related non-profit organizations.

For more information visit: Non-Profit Organizations on Plants Map 

Explore Organizations at: http://plantsmap.com/explore/organizations

Grow your world on Plants Map: Explore, Map, Discover.



Starting Seeds? Resources and Tips


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Cooperative Extension, Gardening, General Interest, Seed, Vegetables | Posted on 07-03-2014


seedlingsThinking about starting some plants from seed? It’s that time of year again.

I have to admit I am really just a small scale seed starter sticking to the easiest vegetables and annuals. My favorite vegetables to start are tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, radishes, corn, cucumbers, summer squash, and mini-pumpkins. You can see my  2014 Vegetable Garden  plans on Plants Map.

My favorite annuals to start are Angelonia, Ornamental Peppers, Violas and Pansies.  This year I have winter sown a couple of perennial seeds given to me as a gift and started a 2014 Seeds Started Collection for my garden on Plants Map.

Read More on Plants Map: How to Start a Garden From Seed

If you are like me and need some visual ideas to help get you started see this Pinterest Board: Plants Map/Seed Starting Ideas.

I also invite you to plant a seed and start your garden on Plants Map! Share what your starting from seed and growing this year by starting a garden on Plants Map too.


Source: www.rodalestore.com


And For Further Reading: The New Seed-Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel


Choosing plant safe products to de-ice your walks, patios, driveways


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Cooperative Extension, Weather | Posted on 22-01-2014

Kudos this morning to a local tv show that did a segment on choosing de-icer products wisely.  It got me thinking about how many homeowners and gardeners are unaware of the potential harm some products can cause to plants, pets as well as the environment.  What most folks are not aware of is that residual salts from deicer products (including common table salt sodium chloride) can create high salinity in the soil and reduce a plant’s growth and continued exposure can even cause plants to die.

I look for products that are labeled pet and plant safe. But they do have trade-offs such as being more expensive and not as fast acting. The ingredient I look for is calcium magnesium acetate. It works at 0 degrees and has low toxicity and is biodegradable. Plus calcium and magnesium are also plant nutrients (don’t over do it though!)

I have collected some Cooperative Extensions resources to help you learn about the right product choice for your needs.

Because you can’t control what your local transportation departments use to treat roads (and safety is of course their primary concern) sometimes you have to take the approach of carefully selecting plants that are near roads and tolerant to deicer salts. Here are some Cooperative Extension resources on plants that are salt tolerant:

So next time you pick up some deicer remember to stop and read the label carefully to find out what is in that product before you buy. Reading labels leads to wiser choices and saves plants!


We are planting a seed: Plants Map


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Botanical Gardens, Cooperative Extension, Gardening, Plants Map, Social Gardening, Trees | Posted on 18-01-2014

What is Plants Map?

Plants Map: Discover Plants and Gardens, Be a Plant Explorer; Be a Plant Collector

Plants Map: Social Gardening: bringing people and plants together

Plants Map: A new prototype of attractive, interactive, custom plant tags that use smartphone technology to connect people with plant collections via a social plant database where users map and share gardens.

It’s a New Year and my husband and I have a new idea: Plants Map (www.plantsmap.com). We are launching Plants Map (www.plantsmap.com) this weekend at Startup Weekend Fredericksburg (http://fredericksburg.startupweekend.org).

PlantsMapWe have planted a seed! We expect www.plantsmap.com to emerge this Saturday morning ( January 18 about 10am). The website will be in ‘seedling’ mode and grow throughout the day with features so don’t just visit once.  We are inviting everyone who appreciates trees, gardens and parks to visit www.plantsmap.com & help us grow the site by creating their own profile and lists of plants in their gardens as well as lists of favorite plants at public gardens they have visited.

We envision that Plants Map will have two facets: A free, fun, interactive, social component where people can explore gardens, discover plants, and create their own plant collection lists. The plant species themselves will be the central focus.  Our idea we feel is not just for gardeners, but for anyone who enjoys and supports gardens, public and private. We want people to become ‘plant explorers’ and ‘discover’ gardens and plants & gardens they didn’t know before. We want a place for ‘plant collectors’ to share their passion for gardening. And maybe your plants earn some ‘green thumb’ ratings too.The other aspect is to create and make available interactive, affordable, attractive plant identification tags with QR codes that work with smartphone technology. We have already talked to gardeners and botanical gardens and feel their is nothing that has evolved that was easy to produce, long lasting, attractive and interactive. Our target audience is Botanical Gardens that want a better option. We feel interactive plant tags with a social website for plant species will help attract more visitors too.The social aspect is free and instead of relying on traditional advertising streams to support it we wanted to provide something of service, value and usefulness to the users like a map of their plants, or a product like a color booklet or a photo album and the core product: interactive, attractive plant tags.We have lots of ideas for the website in terms of ways this can support neighborhood and community gardens and tree programs. As part of the launch this weekend we will create a ‘wish list registry’ of plant tags for Cossey Botanical Park, a public neighborhood arboretum maintained by volunteer Master Gardeners in Fredericksburg (VA). Our idea is that there are a lot of public community gardens that don’t have budgets for tags. So we hope to see if people will ‘sponsor’ a tag (map a plant) and order one for Cossey Park.
More information about Plants Map and Startup Weekend is below.So we have planted a seed.  We are inviting as many as we can to visit www.plantsmap.com on Saturday to watch and see what emerges. We hope its big.Thanks,Tracy and Bill Blevins

Plants Map: A new prototype of attractive, interactive, custom plant tags that use smartphone technology to connect people with plant collections via a social plant database where users map and share gardens. For plant enthusiast, explorers and collectors, this visually interactive plant map database will be a social & mobile experience. Users create an ‘explorer’ profile and share their own garden collections as well as ‘discover’, virtually or in person, Botanical Gardens, arboretums, public gardens and other private gardens too. ‘Explorers’ create lists of ‘discovered’ collections, favorites, and wish lists. With a fun and easy to use site ‘Collectors’ create their own garden collections that can be organized into lists with their photos. From their own collections list the site provides services such as downloading your collection to an excel file, saving and printing a .pdf file with their photos, or ordering a higher quality, full-color printed catalog/booklet of their plants or a photo album format or even producing a map of their garden.More information about Startup Weekend 
Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Washington but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world.  Startup Weekend Fredericksburg is January 17-19 and will be hosted at Germanna Community College Workforce & Technology Center.

Ohio State University Extension: Ohioline


Posted by justtracy | Posted in Cooperative Extension | Posted on 09-08-2013

I just added a great resource to my Websites list on my blog:  Ohio State University Extension: Ohioline

If you have a question, they probably have a fact sheet about it.  This is one of the best organized and extensive online Extension resources that I have found.  So make sure you check it out.

“Principally produced by Ohio State University Extension, OhioLINE is your Link to Information, News and Educational resources of not only OSU Extension but of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, and the Agricultural Technical Institute. Research andExtension programs are also supported by the colleges of Human Ecology,Veterinary Medicine, and Biological Sciences.

Through Ohioline, you have access to the hundreds of factsheets, bulletins and other educational materials covering a wide array of subjects — such as agriculture, natural resources, family and consumer sciences, community development, 4-H and youth.”

Ohio State University Extension

Ohio State University Extension