Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: 2020 Spring Garden Forum

Last week, the Beauregard Master Gardeners had its 4th Annual Spring Garden Forum at the War Memorial Civic Center in DeRidder on February 21. This educational event brought speakers and topics to help gardeners with the upcoming growing season. Topics ranged from composting to vegetables to landscape design with a health topic to round out the program. Master Gardeners delivered most of the programs.

The presentations on recycling discuss both conventional composting and vermicomposting. Think of composting as a recipe and the ingredients can include table scraps or yard waste. Mix and stir, and the microscopic organisms, tiny insects and worms can create the dark, rich compost so beneficial for vegetables and for ornamental plants.

225_fig_1_vermicompostingjpgVermicomposting or worm composting makes high value fertilizer. Photo: NCSU.

Vermicomposting or worm composting

Ms. Johnnie Hart, a Cenla Master Gardener, discussed vermicomposting or worm composting. The preferred worm for composting is the red wiggler, a European worm. Hart demonstrated how to use cardboard, newspaper and table scraps in a light-proof container to create a home for worms. The worm will feed on these items, and its waste or castings make rich fertilizer. She also described how to remove the castings for gardening.

225__fig_2_compost_binJPGHousehold compost bin provided by City of DeRidder. Photo: Jimmy Earl Cooley.

Household composting

To enable more composting, the Ms. Janet Vincent of the City of DeRidder, provided small compost bins to enable gardeners to create their own compost from table scraps.

The moringa tree

Mickey McMullen of Mickey’s Hilltop Nursery discussed the health benefits of the leaves of the moringa tree including nutrition, antioxidants, lowering blood sugar, reducing inflammation and many other positive uses. He also discussed how to grow moringa in our climate. He recommended topping the tree to three feet tall after each growing season and then protect the trunk from winter cold. During the growing season the tree will grow new foliage for harvesting.

225_fig_3_kombuchaJPGVarious types of kombucha, both commercial and homemade. Photo: Jimmy Earl Cooley.


Another healthy topic was kombucha. Ms. Dana Rabb told how her son benefitted from this fermented beverage since he was a young boy. Kombucha provides probiotics such as beneficial bacteria and yeast. Rabb described how she makes kombucha and advised the audience on various foods that work and that do not work. For example, honey is a poor item to ferment.


Front cover of The Louisiana Urban Gardener, a useful gardening reference. Photo: Jimmy Earl Cooley.

Growing tomatoes

Ms. Debbie Morrison, a Cenla Master Gardener, discussed her own personal experience in growing tomatoes. Morrison cited a book, The Louisiana Urban Gardener: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Vegetables and Herbs by Dr. Kiki Fontenot. Morrison discussed bed preparation, fertilizing, insects and other gardening issues in her tomato plants.

Dr. Kiki Fontenot, the AgCenter’s vegetable specialist, spoke about her favorite vegetables. One of her preferences is growing for color such as various pepper plants which yield a rainbow of colored peppers. She shared images of various gardens from around the state including school gardens for which she has a deep interest. Even after her presentation, gardeners consulted with her about their vegetable gardens.

225_fig_6_minute_pirate_bugjpgA minute pirate bug, a tiny beneficial predator. Photo: George Giltner.

225_fig_7_thripsjpgThrips, a tiny harmful insect. Photo: George Giltner.

Plant pests

Mr. George Giltner, a Beauregard Master Gardener, shared microscopic images of plant tissues and pollen. Giltner also had captured images of insects, fungi and other plant pests.

225_fig_8_james_burnettJPGJames Burnett, a Master Gardener, with some of his camellias. Photo: Jimmy Earl Cooley.

Beauregard Master Gardener

Mr. James Burnett, another Beauregard Master Gardener, discussed how he designed his landscape and show images of his process. Installing water and electric utilities early is an important step for fountains, pumps and irrigation. He described that installation of the landscape is a process and requires vision.

Finally, an attitude of gratitude goes out to all the partners who participated in this event: Master Gardeners, City of DeRidder, Father’s Hope Nursery, Stine’s Garden Center, Lagniappe Designs, JB Art & Plants, and Mickey’s Hilltop Nursery.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

2/26/2020 9:00:05 PM
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