Community, Outdoors

As we get closer and closer to spring and plants begin to come out of their winter slumber, I’d like to talk about fertilizers. There are many different types out there. I’ll talk about some basics of fertilizers. Next week I’ll talk about some of the different types that are out there, so that you can make an informed decision about which kind fits your needs this spring.

First thing to talk about with fertilizer is what’s in it. Usually a fertilizer will have a series of three numbers on it, for example 10-10-10 or 16-4-8. These numbers are percentages. The first number is always nitrogen, the second phosphorus, and the third potassium. These can be abbreviated to N-P-K, which are the symbols for these elements on the periodic table of elements. These three elements are the most important for plant growth. That’s why we make recommendations based on them. If you had a 100 lb bag of 16-4-8, that bag is 16% N, 4% P, and 8% K. Meaning in that 100 lb bag you have 16 lbs of N, 4 lbs of P, and 8 lbs of K. Now, you make be thinking, “I paid for a 100 lb bag! Why am I only getting 28 lbs of nutrients from it?!” The rest of the poundage in that bag is probably going to be some other nutrients that are needed for planted growth, but in much smaller quantities, and other inert materials that keep those nutrients in a form that’s usable by plants; there could be a special coating on the pellets that make them easier to apply as well. But now that you have this knowledge it brings up an important point, that when purchasing a fertilizer it is good to look at how much N-P-K you are getting for your money, because it will vary.

Now let’s talk about when to apply it. It’s best to apply fertilizer when plants are actively growing. Fertilizer that is applied when plants are in a dormant state can be washed away before the plants wake up and need the fertilizer. Nitrogen is very mobile in the soil, meaning that when it rains your nitrogen will likely be leached out of the soil. Phosphorus and potassium will stick around a lot longer in the soil, but can be lost by erosion. Never apply fertilizer to a stressed plant. If the plant is wilted from lack of water applying fertilizer can do more damage to the plant.

Where you apply fertilizer is important. Don’t just dump all of it at the base of the plant, instead spread it around so that the roots growing out from the plant can reach out and receive it. Applying it too heavily in one spot can result in burn or keep the plant from properly taking up water. If you’re fertilizing trees remember that tree roots extend out beyond the canopy of the leaves, so you’re going need to make that application in a wide circumference around the tree. Fertilizer left on the leaves can burn the leaves.

Knowing how much to apply is very important. Under fertilizing can leave plants underdeveloped. Over fertilizing can result in a lot of young tender growth that is susceptible to disease or insect pests. Taking a soil test and bringing it to the Extension office, to send to the lab, will tell you exactly how much fertilizer you need for what you are growing.

If you have questions about fertilizers contact your local Extension Office or email me at Jacob.Williams@uga.edu

Yellow Jackets


Yellow jackets will become the most active during the late summer and fall. I’ve received a few calls
from people saying that they have encountered some around their homes. I have a few around my own
house, so I know they’re out there! Yellow Jackets can look similar to wasps. Wasps are usually
unaggressive unless threatened. Yellow jackets have a thicker waist, shorter legs, and wings that press
more flatly against the body when resting than wasps.

Wasps’ nests are usually under eaves or beneath porch railings and have hexagonal cells. Yellow jacket
nests are usually built in old rodent holes or cavities that have been left behind by a small critter. They
can build nests in wall spaces, although this is less common. Yellow jacket nests will die out over the
winter and start anew with a new reproducing female each year. This means that yellow jacket nests will
be the easiest to eradicate in the spring while the nests are still small. The flipside is that the nests will
be harder to find in the spring because they only have a few individuals in them at that time. Nests can
grow up to 5000 yellow jackets, and will grow larger in years with a long dry spring.

Solitary yellow jackets can often be seen foraging for food for the colony. Yellow jackets feed on a
variety of insects pests. They will also eat meat and like drinking coke. They will also attack bee hives.
Yellow jackets are able to discern at a pheromone level which hives are weak. They’ll choose those hives
to attack, making them more of opportunistic pests to bees than actual predators. If they are able to get
inside past the guards, yellow jackets can take out the entire hive killing bees, eating larvae, eggs,
pupae, and honey.

Control of yellow jacket nests this time of year can be very difficult because the nests have reached a
large size. Pyrethroid insecticides that you can buy at the store will be effective at killing yellow jackets,
but only when you make contact with them when you are actively spraying. If you can block the hole
that they use as an entrance you may be able to eradicate them this way too. Yellow jackets aren’t
diggers, they use holes other critters have made, so they can be trapped inside if there is only one
entrance. There are yellow jacket traps that can be effective at controlling them too. Another method of
control is to use hot water mixed with dishwashing soap and pouring it down the hole. Whenever you
are working with yellow jackets the safest time will be at night. They will be more inactive at nighttime,
so your chances of being stung decrease. It is still a good idea to wear protective clothing. If you have a
serious yellow jacket problem it is best to call a professional to control them.

If you have any questions about yellow jacket identification or control please call your local Extension
Office or email me at Jacob.Williams@uga.edu.

Family fun in Blairsville this spring!


Spring Fever in Blairsville!

Blairsville-Union County, Georgia has everything you need to make your spring a season to remember! #BelieveIt
If you want to be active, explore the Greater Outdoors hiking, biking or horseback riding. Prefer to unplug and just enjoy the mountains? There are plenty of cozy cabins featuring breathtaking views. Cool off at one of three lakes – Nottely, Winfield Scott, and Trahlyta or listen to the rushing water at one of our two falls – Helton Creek or Trahlyta.
From extreme to serene and everything in between, Blairsville, Ga is the Rx you need!
Memorial Day Parade
Saturday, May 26th
Downtown Blairsville
Each Memorial Day weekend Downtown Blairsville salutes those who have served our Country by enjoying a community parade. A ceremony at the War Memorial takes place immediately following the parade. FREE Parking. FREE Admission.
Spring Arts, Crafts &
Music Festival
Saturday & Sunday
May 26th & 27th
Memorial Day Weekend
Downtown Blairsville
This two-day festival features artists from all over the South, great food and of course, lots of music! This family-friendly event is hosted by the Blairsville Downtown Development Authority & The Union County Historical Society. FREE Parking. FREE Admission.
Farmer's Market Logo
Union County
Farmers Market
Opening Day – Saturday, June 2nd
A local market with mountain crafts and fresh produce right out of the fields!
Tuesday Evenings
Saturday Mornings
FREE Friday Night Concerts
Every Friday May – October
Historic Courthouse on the Square
Bluegrass, Country, Americana & Gospel style concerts every Friday night in the Historic Courthouse on the Square. Donations welcome.
courthouse concert
Gaelic Gallop
Gaelic Gallop
Saturday, June 9th
Registration: 7am, Race Begins: 8am
North Georgia Technical College
Race participants will receive a pass to attend the Scottish Festival and a race tank top. Awards will be given to overall and all age group winners.
Blairsville Scottish Festival & Highland Games
Saturday & Sunday
June 9th & 10th
Meeks Park
Discover your “clan” and hang out with locals and visitors enjoying traditional games. Highland music, dancing and food with a Scottish flair. Watch border collies herd sheep and falcons swoop down on “prey” or check your roots at the Heritage Tent. Children can compete in their own Highland games. For the “wee ones” there’s face painting, train rides. 
Blairsville Cruise Ins
Farmers Market – 1st Fridays
On the Square – 3rd Saturdays
Come see Classics, Street Rods, Modifies, Hot Rods, Motorcycles, Customs, Jeeps, Low Riders, and more! ALL CAR CLUBS ARE WELCOME! Enjoy live music, great food, giveaways, & great vendors!
Garden Tours
Mondays 9am-1pm
Georgia Mountain Research & Education Center
Visit the historic Cannery Interpretive Center, stroll through the Ethnobotanic gardens, and take a short hike along the Woodland Medicine Trail. Learn about how our ancestors and native Americans used plants for food, fiber, and medicine. Find out how “weeds” may provide homes to valuable pollinators. Tours tailored to fit your interests. FREE.
garden tour
arts tour
North Ga Arts Tour
Friday, June 8th – 1pm-5pm
Saturday, June 9th – 10am-5pm
Sunday, June 10th – 1pm-4pm
Discover the work of local artists from six counties – Union, Towns, White, Habersham, Rabun in Georgia & Clay County in North Carolina. Meet over 100 local artists and experience demonstration in mediums such as painting, pottery, folk art, jewelry, glass, mixed media, metal, photography, handcrafted furniture, fiber, wood, and much more!
Mountain Fling
Saturday & Sunday
June 23rd 9am-4pm
June 24th 11am-4pm
North Georgia Technical College
Indoor Arts & Crafts Show held on June 23from 9-4 and June 24 from 11-4 at the North Georgia Technical College Blairsville. Local and regional vendors showcasing their handmade creations which include pottery, soap, candles, and rustic signs to name a few. Light lunch available for purchase. FREE admission.
Blairsville Pro Rodeo
June 15th & 16th
Gates Open: 6pm Event Start: 8pm
Union County Saddle Club
It’s rodeo time! The Union County Saddle Club and Mountain Valley Motors presents the best professional rodeo in the South! Enjoy Bull Riding, Barrel Racing, Bronc Riding, Calf Roping, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Bareback Riding, Breakaway Roping, Wheel Barrow Race, and performances by the Sass ‘n Saddles Drill Team!
Georgia Mountain Fair
July 20th-28th
Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds
The Georgia Mountain Fair features first class musical performances, arts & crafts, fun carnival rides, unique attractions and a glimpse into North Georgia’s rich history and culture, the Fair provides something for every member of the family.
Georgia Mountain Fair
4th of July
Vogel State Park 8:30am-4pm
Meeks Park – Dusk
Suches – Dusk
Celebrate America’s Independence Day in Blairsville-Union County. Begin the day at Vogel State Park for a flag raising and family activities. End your day with a fireworks spectacular at Meeks Park in Blairsville or Woody Gap School in Suches.
Butternut Creek Festival
Saturday & Sunday
July 21st & 22nd
Meeks Park
Celebrate and enjoy the arts of this mountain region! Visit more than 65 of the finest artists and craftsmen that will be offering woodwork, fabric art, stained glass, jewelry, pottery, and more. Also enjoy live demonstrations & entertainment, good food & fun! Sponsored by the High Country Artisans.
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Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce

Spring Flowering Bulbs Start Now


Spring Flowering Bulbs Start Now

By:  Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent


Now that fall is officially here, does the thought of a long cold winter have you down?

Have you considered a landscape full of spring flowering bulbs?  It’s that burst of spring color that makes you feel good.  Best of all, most spring flowering bulbs aren’t expensive or hard to grow.

What those gorgeous spring flowers do require, though, is that you start working on this project in the fall.  Spring flowering bulbs must go through a period of cold temperatures before they will sprout in the spring.  Because of this, purchase bulbs from a commercial source now to be sure you get the high-quality bulbs you want in time to plant them.  Early spring favorites include crocus, grape hyacinth, tulip, narcissus and scilla.  Popular mid-to-late spring bulbs include hyacinth, ipheion, and tulips.

Store your new bulbs in the bottom compartment of your refrigerator until time to plant, which will be in a few weeks.  Keep them in their original packaging or put them in a paper bag full of fresh sawdust or clean straw.  Where you will plant them is an important part of the planning.  It’s not hard to decide – just think like a bulb!  You can even plant small bulbs like crocus directly into your lawn but remember that the area can’t be mowed until the foliage dies down.

Whatever bulbs you plant, and wherever you plant them, none will survive if planted in soggy, poorly drained soil.  Don’t plant them on the shady side of the house either, or under groupings of pines.  Some shade is fine.

Prepare a bulb bed by digging up the soil at least six inches deeper than you plan to set the bulbs.  Add a complete fertilizer, like 10-10-10, and garden lime according to package instructions or soil sample results and adjust for your flowerbed size, then mix soil thoroughly.  The golden rule for bulb planting is to place them upright in the soil at a depth of at least three times their diameter.  A one-inch diameter tulip can be planted three inches deep, and so on.

Space most bulbs about one bulb-diameter apart for the best color effect.  Narcissus bulbs can be spaced at twice their diameter.  Water all bulb plantings immediately to settle the soil and start root growth.  If the winter is dry, you may want to water once a month just to be safe.

Two inches of pine straw, bark chips, straw, sawdust or some other mulch will enable your bulbs to over winter successfully.  Next spring, gently check under the mulch for signs of new shoots.  Some mulch such as sawdust and leaf compost can get clumpy and heavy, to the point of hindering new shoots.  Gently removing or breaking up the mulch as the shoots appear will prevent any disappointments.

A final caution:  don’t apply fertilizer just before the spring bloom because the fertilizer can damage the newly emerging flowers.  It’s best to top-dress with the necessary fertilizers in December after the cold weather has come.  For more information, contact me at the Extension office.

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