Thursday, December 31, 2009

e latest issue of the Extension Gardener newsletter in now available online! Extension Gardener newsletter is written by horticultural experts with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Each issue includes statewide features plus a special regional section written specifically for your area of the state.

In the Winter 2010 issue, you can read about:

- What are your weeds trying to tell you?
- 'Kay Paris' Magnolia
- Preparing the vegetable garden for spring
- Mulching
- Tips and Tasks for winter
- Maintaining a healthy soil
and more!

Click here to download your copy!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Welcome Winter With These Great Plants!

Look for plants with interesting bark, berries, and foliage to add interest to your winter landscape! The rich cinnamon bark of Japanese Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia fauriei) will add interest to any landscape throughout the year, but is especially noticeable in winter.

Lots of great plants are available to liven up winter landscapes in our relatively mild-wintered region. While few plants actually bloom in winter, there are many other characteristics that add interest at this time of year. Bark, berries, foliage, and plant form contribute color and texture to the landscape at a time of year when they can best be appreciated, without the competition of flowers that may have overshadowed these more delicate features during the growing season. Through careful planning, you can have a landscape full of beauty and interest all year around. Start your all-season landscape this year by considering some of the following great winter interest plants!

Find out about more great plants for winter landscape by reading the entire article, posted on the Pender County Extension website - click here to go there now!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Deck the Halls!

Fresh cut greenery can be used in a variety of ways to decorate for the holidays, such as in these miniature arrangements made by Pender County Master Gardeners to brighten the lunch trays of Meals on Wheels recipients. When using fresh cut greenery indoors or out, it is important to be aware of any plants that may be dangerous if eaten or handled.

Visit the Pender County Cooperative Extension Website to read more about using fresh cut greenery in holiday decorations to make sure you stay safe while you deck the halls! Click here to read the entire article.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Poinsettias for Every Decor!

'Dulce Rosa' is one of the newest poinsettia varieties to hit the market, with bright pink long lasting flowers. If you're in the mood for something more traditional this holiday season there are plenty of classic reds available as well!

With over 100 different varieties of poinsettias available today in a diversity of colors including white, pink, rose, coral, salmon, and every tint of red, crimson, and scarlet imaginable, it should not be difficult to find the perfect one to match any home d├ęcor or holiday theme. One new variety, known as Dulce Rosa, has flowers described as fluorescent pink! Variety does not stop just with color either. Poinsettias can be found with leaves edged and frosted in white and with petal-like bracts that are marbled, dusted, or splashed in multiple colors. There is even a series known as ‘Winter Rose’ whose bracts are pleated and incurved so that they actually do resemble rose flowers. Whether you stick with a traditional red variety this Christmas or try one of the newer color creations, the following quick tips will help you get the most out of your poinsettia this holiday season.

For tips on caring for poinsettias, click here to read the entire article on the Pender County Extension website.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mulch Mysteries!

If a recent stroll around your yard left you wondering if something has died in the shrubbery then your landscape may be home to a harmless fungus known as the octopus stinkhorn or dead man’s fingers (Clathrus columnatus) (image, left). This small, foul smelling mushroom is not damaging to plants, people or pets, though the smell can be overpowering and unpleasant. The octopus stinkhorn appears during mild, damp weather, such as we are currently experiencing, and is one of several types of mysterious fungi that occasionally grow in hardwood mulch or wood chips.

On the whole, wood and bark mulches are very beneficial for landscapes, conserving water, moderating soil temperature, suppressing weeds, and adding organic matter and nutrients to the soil as they break down. Mulches and soils are alive with millions of microorganisms that work to decay organic matter and release nutrients, including many types of beneficial fungi and bacteria. From time to time, some of the more noticeable of these organisms may catch a gardener’s attention and cause them to wonder about their identity.

Read the entire article from the Pender County Cooperative Extension website

Friday, November 20, 2009

Start Amaryllis Now for the Holidays and Beyond!

This beautiful red amaryllis has been forced on a special vase that allows its roots to grow down into water while supporting the bulb and holding the flower stalk upright. Whether you grow your amaryllis on a vase or in a container, now is the time to get them started for holiday blossoms. Amaryllis are extremely easy and fun to grow, for both adults and kids. And the enjoyment does not end after the holidays. Amaryllis are hardy bulbs in our area, which means you can plant your amaryllis outside in the landscape in spring, where it will blossom each spring, year after year.

Click here to read more . . .

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fall Vegetable Garden Tips

Among the many things gardeners can do in the fall vegetable garden is keep an eye out for caterpillars, such as this cabbage looper.

Fall is a busy time in a southern vegetable garden. There are crops to be harvested, and others to be planted. Pests and weeds must be kept at bay to keep crops healthy, while soils need to be covered to prevent erosion over winter. The harvest season for some crops can be extended through the use of cold frames or floating row cover.

Learn more about what you need to do to keep your fall vegetable garden healthy and productive by reading the entire article on the Pender County Cooperative Extension website!
Click here to read more . . . .

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fall and Winter Lawn Care Tips

It will soon be time to put the lawn mower away as warm season grasses go dormant for winter. In southeastern North Carolina, warm season turf grasses are the best choice for lawns. Warm season grasses are those that actively grow when soil and air temperatures are warm—in the spring, summer and fall. These include St. Augustine, zoysia, bermuda, and centipede. With the onset of frost, these grasses go dormant, or stop growing, until the following spring when soil and air temperatures warm up again. Caring for these grasses in fall and winter is simple because very little work is required. The following turf care tips will help you know what you should and should NOT do now to keep your lawn happy and healthy throughout the year.

Read the entire article on the Pender County Cooperative Extension Website.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Great Evergreens for Screens and Hedges

'Spartan' Junipers (seen here) make a great drought tolerant, narrow hedge for tight spaces. Several varieties of shrubs are readily available that make great hedges, so look beyond the common disease plagued Leyland Cypress when choosing plants for screening! Local garden centers carry many different great evergreens for this purpose and fall and winter are the perfect time to plant them. When choosing a variety to plant as a hedge, consider its mature width and height, growth rate, and preferred growing conditions to select the varieties best suited to your needs and site conditions.

Find out about more great shrubs to use for screening and hedges in SE NC! Click here to read the entire article on the Pender County Cooperative Extension website.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall Gardening Chores

Cooler temperatures make gardening and landscape maintenance much more pleasant in the fall and there are several important jobs to do at this time of the year. Tasks like cleaning up will help your landscape get off to a healthier start next season, while soil testing will let you know what nutrients your lawn and landscape need to support healthy growth. Fall is also a wonderful time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials, as well as spring blooming bulbs and hardy annuals like pansies and ornamental cabbages. So enjoy the beautiful weather during the next couple of months by getting out in the yard and having fun while caring for your landscape.

Read the entire article on the Pender County Cooperative Extension Website

Friday, October 16, 2009

Plant a Deer Resistant Landscape!

Muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is a popular native, drought tolerant, ornamental grass for sunny areas. Like all grasses, it is rarely bothered by deer. Other plants deer prefer not to eat include ferns, palms, plants with strong fragrances like rosemary, and those with thorny leaves and stems.

Deer frequently visit area landscapes, where their foraging can cause serious and costly damage. There are several options for reducing deer damage in the landscape, including fencing, repellants, and even guard dogs, but one of the easiest ways to reduce their impact is to landscape with plants deer prefer not to eat. Though no plant is deer proof, there are many good landscape plants for this area that deer find less palatable - a solution that is both effective and relatively low-cost, once you know which plants to choose.

Click here to read the entire article on the Pender County Cooperative Extension website. . .

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Improving Problem Soils

Common soil problems in SE NC include poor, sandy soils as well as heavy, compacted soils that drain poorly. The most effective way to address these common soil problems is to incorporate organic matter, such as compost, into your soil.

Fall is the best time to plant in the southeast, but for plantings to be successful, gardeners must first prepare the soil so it can support healthy plant growth. In Pender County our soils vary considerably, and include nutrient poor, dry sands and heavy, poorly drained clays. Each of these extremes causes problems gardeners must first deal with before they can successfully grow a wide range of plants.

Learn how to improve problem soils by reading the entire article posted on the Pender County Extension website . . .

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Perk Up Winter Landscapes with Hardy Annuals!

This colorful combinations includes bright yellow pansies and 'Redbor' kale, a vegetable being grown as a winter hardy ornamental. If you haven't planted hardy annuals yet, now is the time to get it done! Include ornamental vegetables like mustard or kale to contrast the colors and shapes of blooming annuals.

There’s a lot more than just pansies awaiting your fall landscape on garden center shelves this autumn! As the exciting trend of cool season gardening grows, more and more winter hardy annuals are making their way into local garden centers each year. Winter hardy annuals are plants, like pansies, that grow during they cool part of the year. Planted in fall, most provide some color through winter but really put on their main show in spring, usually cranking up flower production as soil temperatures rise in February. This show continues through late April when rising temperatures bring the curtain down on the spring act, at just the right time to purchase and plant summer annuals in their place.

To get the best performance from your hardy annuals, be sure to prepare the soil well by mixing compost into the top six to eight inches, and also apply a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote or an organic fertilizer, which naturally release their nutrients over an extended time. To get the most bang for your buck, plant winter annuals in solid groups, rather than sprinkling them here and there all over the landscape, and choose bright colors like white, yellow, and orange. While pansies are what typically come to mind when planting winter annuals, there are actually several other varieties available at local garden centers. Keep an eye out for the following selections to add interest and color to your garden this winter and spring.

Click here to read the entire article on the Pender County Cooperative Extension website!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Plant Bulbs this Fall for Color Next Spring!

Though tulips are what come to mind when many people think of spring blooming bulbs, they are not a reliable perennial variety for Southeastern North Carolina. If you want to plant spring blooming bulbs that will come back year after year go with Spanish bluebells, summer snowflake, starflower, and daffodils.

Planting bulbs this fall is an easy way to guarantee a splash of color for your landscape next spring. Fall planted bulbs can be tucked in between perennials and deciduous shrubs, where they will come up and flower early in the season, before other plants start growing, bringing early color to otherwise drab borders. They also work well when planted underneath winter annuals such as pansies and violas, creating a layered effect when the bulbs come up to bloom in spring. Similarly, fall bulbs can be tossed into container plantings to add a new dimension of interest in spring. A trip to your local garden center will reveal many different types of bulbs currently for sale, but before buying you should know that some bulbs perennialize well in our climate, while others should just be considered annuals and will need to be replanted every year. Also, even though bulbs are available for purchase now, it is not the right time to plant them yet, so you will need to be able to properly store bulbs purchased now for planting later this fall.

Click here to read the entire article on the Pender County Extension Website

Friday, September 18, 2009

Controlling Caterpillars Organically

Cabbage loopers are one of several caterpillars frequently found feeding on fall vegetable crops. Fortunately they can be effectively controlled with organic products like B.t. and spinosad.

Fall is caterpillar season. Thousands of these hungry insects are currently munching away on the leaves of trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables throughout our gardens and landscapes. In landscapes, a few missing leaves are no big problem, but sometimes caterpillars come in masses, and can strip the foliage from a shrub or tree in a few days. This type of feeding damage is more serious and often warrants control. In vegetable gardens, feeding damage is less tolerated since missing leaves mean less produce. Plus, who wants to eat caterpillars with their cabbage? Fortunately homeowners do not have to spray synthetic pesticides to control these pesky critters since organic options are readily available from local garden centers.

Click here to read the entire article on the Pender County Cooperative Extension Website

Monday, September 14, 2009

The latest issue of the Extension Gardener newsletter in now available online! Extension Gardener newsletter is written by horticultural experts with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Each issue includes statewide features plus a special regional section written specifically for your area of the state.

In the Fall 2009 issue, you can read about:
- Why do leaves change colors?
- Composting
- Growing a fall salad garden
- Mulching
- 'Rose Creek' Abelia
- Backyard chickens
and more!

Click here to download your copy of the Fall 2009 Extension Gardener Newsletter!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fall - The Best Time to Plant!

Though many people think of spring as the gardening season, in the Southeast fall is actually the preferred time for planting most landscape plants. During fall, cooler temperatures and lower humidity not only make being outdoors more pleasant for people but also reduce stress on new plantings, making it more likely they will establish successfully and thrive in the future. Planting trees, shrubs and perennials in fall (Sept – Dec) allows them to grow roots now, so when spring arrives they are well established and ready to get growing. Larger root systems help fall planted plants perform better during summer than those planted in spring.

Read entire article on the Pender County Cooperative Extension website

Friday, September 4, 2009

Gorgeous Grasses!

Ornamental grasses, like this pink muhly grass, are the perfect addition to any planting. As a group, they tend to be graceful, airy plants whose linear forms and unique textures provide an almost perfect contrast to nearly any other plant, especially shrubs and perennials. In addition to their beauty, most grasses are extremely tough, drought tolerant, deer resistant, and have no major insect or disease problems! Fortunately, ornamental grasses are becoming more common in Southeastern landscapes, and there are abundant selections of easy to grow varieties to choose from available from local garden centers.

Read entire article . . .

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Attract Birds to Your Backyard!

Many native plants like this American beautyberry attract birds into the landscape. In return, birds help bring a landscape to life with their melodious songs, bright colors and lively movements. They also help keep plants healthy by eating many potentially damaging insects. Adding a birdfeeder to the landscape is a good way to draw birds into your garden, but if you want to attract a wide range of birds and have them call your backyard home, you need to create a suitable habitat. Modifying your landscape to make it a welcoming place for migrating and resident birds is not difficult and usually just involves adding a few more plants.

Read the entire article . . .

Friday, August 28, 2009

Getting Your Turf Ready for Winter!

Though winter is still months away, now is the time to start preparing your lawn for cold weather. Winter damage can be a problem in our area and shows up as large dead spots in spring. This is often caused more by our fluctuating winter temperatures than by extreme cold. When temperatures go up in winter, some grasses like centipede are tempted to start growing too early. When winter warm spells are followed by sudden cold temperatures, winter damage is the result. There are a couple of things you can do now to help your lawn make it through the winter in good health, and be ready to grow away vigorously next spring.

Read entire article . . .

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hurricane Resistant Trees

As the peak of hurricane season approaches, many property owners may be thinking about removing large trees to avoid potential damage to homes and businesses. Often, property owners who have experienced such damage in the past are tempted not to replace fallen trees due to fear that the same thing will happen again in future storms. As a result, tree populations in our coastal communities are dwindling, and we are losing the significant economic and environmental benefits trees bring to these communities. Tree benefits include higher property values for homes that have mature trees in the landscape, energy savings due to shading, wildlife habitat, cleaner air, and beauty. Other areas in the United States that are prone to hurricane strikes are experiencing this same trend. In response to this problem, scientists at the University of Florida have conducted extensive research into the relationship between trees and hurricanes, resulting in several recommendations on how to establish and maintain more hurricane resistant trees and urban forests.

Read entire article

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Grow Your Own Salad!

Lettuce and other salad greens are easy to grow and thrive in the cool temperatures of fall. They can even be ready to harvest in as little as 30 days from sowing, making them one of the quickest vegetables you can grow. What’s more, lettuce and many of the greens popular in salad mixes flourish when grown in containers, so you can easily grow your own salad even if you do not have a vegetable garden! Since most lettuces and salad greens tolerate some frost, plants started in September can provide you with tasty, fresh salad ingredients throughout the holidays.

Read entire article

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Compost Happens!

Compost can do wonderful things for your landscape and garden! When mixed into the soil, compost increases the amount of nutrients available to plants and helps hold moisture in the soil, helping plants to grow better. Compost is also full of beneficial microbes; tiny living organisms that improve the soil and can actually combat harmful, soil dwelling fungi and bacteria that cause plant diseases. And the best thing is you can make it yourself for free! In fact, you may be throwing away the materials you need to make this valuable garden resource. By turning your yard clippings and vegetable scraps into compost you can help your plants grow better and reduce your contribution to the local landfill.

Click here to read more. . .

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Plan and Plant Now for Fall Vegetables!

If your summer garden didn’t quite turn out the way you had hoped, or, like me, you never got around to planting one, now is the time for your second chance. Few people realize that fall is a wonderful time to grow many vegetables in our area. Warm soil temperatures promote quick growth while cool air temperatures encourage flavor development. Cooler air temperatures also make the experience a little more pleasurable for the gardener as well! Many favorite vegetables can be planted over the next month for harvest throughout the fall and into winter. So don’t wait - now is the time to decide what you would like to grow and to prepare your soil for a bountiful fall harvest.

Vegetables that can be planted over the next month for fall harvest include cabbage, kale, collards, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, turnips, beets, and lots more! Click here to learn more!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fall Vegetable Gardening Class!

It is now time to plan and plant for a productive fall and winter vegetable garden! To help you get ready, Pender County Cooperative Extension is holding a fall vegetable gardening class, covering all the vegetables and herbs you can plant now to harvest through fall and winter. We will also discuss sustainable pest management strategies and winter cover crops.

This class will be taught on Saturday, August 15th, at two different times and locations: from 10 am to noon at the Pender Public Library in Burgaw; and from 1:30pm – 3:30pm at the Pender Public Library in Hampstead. Both classes are free, but preregistration by Thursday August 13, is required. To register for the Burgaw class, please call 259-1234; to register for the Hampstead class, please call 270-4603.

If you have any questions about the class or fall vegetable gardening, please contact Pender County Cooperative Extension at 259-1235 or email

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Become a Master Gardener Volunteer!

Would you like to be a more successful gardener? Do you want to understand the science of gardening? Are you interested in sharing your knowledge with others? If so, you should become a Master Gardener Volunteer! Master Gardener Volunteers are people just like you who enjoy gardening and desire to share their passion and knowledge with others. Master Gardeners volunteer with their local Cooperative Extension’s horticulture outreach program to share their information with people in their communities.

The first step to becoming a Master Gardener is to attend Master Gardener training, which begins August 18th in Pender County.Master Gardener training is open to all Pender County residents. No previous horticultural training is required. All you need is an interest in gardening and a desire to learn and share your knowledge. Becoming a Master Gardener will provide you with research based knowledge focused on environmentally friendly gardening and landscaping for our local growing conditions, and offers volunteer opportunities to assist with educational programs throughout the county. As a Master Gardener you will meet other people from Pender County that share your interest and be part of an organization dedicated to helping people garden more successfully.

Find out more about the Master Gardener Program and download an application and schedule here

Monday, July 13, 2009

Marvelous Mulch!

Mulch can do marvelous things for any landscape or garden. It can conserve moisture, keep soil temperatures cooler, prevent weed seed from coming up, and slowly add organic matter to the soil over time. Mulch protects trees and shrubs from damage by lawn equipment and reduces root competition from grass, helping trees and shrubs to grow faster. In addition, a nice layer of mulch makes any planting look better. Mulching is a relatively easy task but there are a few tips to be aware of in order to get the most benefit from mulching your landscape.

Read the entire article here

Saturday, July 4, 2009

New Issue of Extension Gardener Available!

The latest issue of the Extension Gardener newsletter in now available online! Extension Gardener newsletter is written by horticultural experts with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Each issue includes statewide features plus a special regional section written specifically for your area of the state.

In the summer 2009 issue, you can read about:
- Water Gardens
- Knock Out Roses
- Straw Bale Gardening
- Summer Lawn Fertilization
- Smart Watering Practices
and more!

Click here to download your copy of the latest Extension Gardener!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Managing Fire Ants

Warm weather has brought an increase in fire ant activity, increasing the chances that you may encounter them and experience their painful stings. While there is no way to permanently eradicate fire ants from any location, there are many products available for managing them. Among the easiest to use and most environmentally friendly of these are baits. A bait is an insecticide that is picked up by foraging ants and taken back to the colony as food. Baits can be applied around individual ant mounds or broadcast over a large area. When applied correctly, broadcasted baits only need to be put out once or twice a year to provide excellent control of fire ants.

Read entire article

Monday, June 15, 2009

Blueberries - Good for you and easy to grow!

Blueberry season is here and with Pender County being the second highest blueberry producing county in the state, it’s not hard to find fresh, locally grown blueberries ready to pick yourself or purchase. But did you know that blueberries are relatively easy to grow in most home gardens? And there are many reasons to grow blueberries. First are the fruit, which are delicious and extremely healthy – in fact, blueberries have the highest antioxidant content of any fresh fruit. And blueberry bushes are very productive, producing two to four gallons of berries (12 to 24 lbs) per bush per year, once they are established.

They also make attractive medium to large shrubs. As a landscape plant, blueberries offer delicate white urn-shaped flowers on bare stems in early spring, beautiful fruits that ripen from green to pink to blue and purple, soft blue to dark green foliage that turns vivid shades of red and orange in fall, and attractive red tinted winter stems that show up particularly well against an evergreen background. Even if you are not a blueberry fan, consider planting some for the birds and other wildlife, who relish the ripe berries. Blueberries will thrive in most southeastern NC yards but there are a few factors that must be considered before purchasing and planting blueberry plants.

Read entire article here

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tomato Blossom End Rot

Are the bottom ends of the tomato fruits on your tomato plants turning black or leathery, and failing to develop properly? This problem, known as blossom end rot, is very common on tomatoes, though it also occurs on peppers, eggplants, melons, cucumbers and squash. Blossom end rot is not a disease and does not spread from one plant to another. Instead, it is classified as a plant disorder and is caused by a lack of calcium in the developing fruit. It is very common for the first fruit that develop on a tomato plant to have blossom end rot, but for all tomatoes that develop during the rest of the season to be normal. In other cases, gardeners may loose fifty percent or more of their season’s harvest to this problem. There are several factors that can lead to calcium deficiency in tomato plants, all of which must be managed to prevent blossom end rot from developing at anytime during the harvest season.

Read entire article

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Time Saving Tips for Busy Gardeners

Turf bordered landscape beds require regular edging to keep them free of grass and looking attractive. Designing beds to abut hardscape features such as walkways and patios reduces the area of the bed bordered by turf, reducing the amount of time required to edge beds.

An average gardener’s to do list may include a multitude of maintenance tasks required to keep a landscape looking its best. For example, some of the average gardener’s chores include pruning, planting, watering, weeding, mowing, edging, and fertilizing - certainly enough to occupy a sizable chunk of most people’s free time. Some folks don’t mind spending hours caring for the landscape, but most of us would prefer to spend less time doing the work, and more time enjoying the fruits of our labor. For those of us with the latter preference, the following tips can reduce the amount of time needed to maintain the landscape without reducing its quality and appearance.

Read entire article

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Add Perennials for Flower Power!

Flowers bring a landscape to life. Their bright colors, variety of forms and the birds and butterflies they attract add zest to the otherwise green and brown color scheme of the typical yard. Traditionally, annuals have been relied on to add seasonal color, but annuals must be changed every season – a task that can add up to a lot of work and expense. One way to reduce the work it takes to have a colorful landscape is to use perennials, such as this Red Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus). Perennials not only come back year after year, they also multiply giving you more plants to spread around the landscape or share with friends. The variety of perennials available from local garden centers has greatly increased in the past several years, making it easy to incorporate a diverse array of these repeat performers in every yard.

Read entire article here

Monday, May 11, 2009

River Birch Pests No Big Problem

River birch is a medium sized native tree commonly grown in landscapes for its attractive bark and fast growth. In the wild, river birch almost always occurs along river banks, while in the landscape these tough trees will tolerate both drought and flooding. Each spring river birch trees are visited by two common pests, aphids and a caterpillar look-alike known as the sawfly larva (image left). While both of these pests cause river birch trees to loose some leaves, they do not pose any serious threat to the trees’ long term health and will not spread to other plants in the landscape. Both of these pests only feed on river birch leaves in the spring and trees quickly recover once the insects have moved on. There is rarely any need to treat for either of these pests since the damage they cause is mostly cosmetic.

Read the entire article

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Extension Gardener Newsletter Available Online!

In order to bring you more up to date information on a wider range of topics, I have joined with Extension Agents from across the state to develop a regional newsletter known as Extension Gardener. Extension Gardener will replace the Pender Gardener newsletter, previously sent out from the Pender County Extension Office.

Extension Gardener will be published 4 times a year. The first, full color issue is now available online! Click here to access the spring Coastal Plains edition!

You can find previous editions of the Pender Gardener Newsletter online here (scroll down to the newsletter section).

Carpenter Bees Causing a Buzz!

Carpenter bees are busily excavating nesting holes in wooden structures. These large black and yellow bees buzz around at a leisurely pace and will often run into people, but rarely sting. In fact, only the females can sting -- you can distinguish males from females because the male has a large white spot of the front of their face. Carpenter bees drill 1/2" diameter holes in wooden structures to build their nesting galleries, in which they lay their eggs.

Controlling carpenter bees is difficult and not usually necessary. Control relies on treating the holes and then plugging them up rather than spraying exposed wooden surfaces.

Read the Entire Article

Friday, May 1, 2009

Look Out for Colorado Potato Beetles!

If you have potatoes growing in your garden be on the lookout for Colorado potato beetles. These voracious feeders can quickly devour potato leaves, resulting in greatly reduced yields and even plant death in severe cases. Controlling these beetles early in the season, before populations explode, is essential to protect your potato crop. Adult beetles are currently laying masses of bright orange eggs on potato leaves, which will hatch into humpbacked, dull red larvae (pictured left) so now if the time to search your plants for these insects and take control measures if any are found.

Read the entire article

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Caring for Damaged Centipede Lawns

Many centipede lawns in southeastern NC have suffered serious damage this past winter due to cold injury. These damaged lawns contain large areas of dead grass that never greened up this spring, or in some cases, large areas of exposed soil where the grass has died and completely disappeared. Two symptoms that distinguish damage caused by cold injury rather than insects and diseases are: 1) that large scale damage occurred within the last year – in many cases these lawns were healthy last summer but this spring large areas of lawn, sometimes several feet across, never turned green or the grass is totally gone; and 2) the problem is not spreading – the areas that failed to green up this spring are staying the same size, and are not expanding into healthy, green living grass.

Read the entire article

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Time to Plant Vegetables!

Now that soil temperatures have started to warm up, it is time to plant many heat loving warm season vegetables like butter beans, lima beans, green beans, black eye peas, cow peas, watermelons, cantaloupe, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, and okra. Beans and southern peas are typically sown directly into the garden in long rows, with seed spaced 2" to 4" apart in the row. Watermelon and cantaloupes can be planted directly into the garden as seed or transplanted as young plants. Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and okra are typically transplanted as young plants purchased from a garden center or started at home.

Trying to figure out how many seed or plants you need to buy can be tricky when you're standing in the garden center. Doing a little planning before hand using the following resources will help you know how much seed to buy and plant for just the right amount of fresh vegetables!

Planning Resources:

Planning a Vegetable Garden from Clemson Extension
This fact sheet provides a couple of very handy charts that tell how much seed it takes to plant a 100' row (these rates can easily be pared down for smaller vegetable gardens) for many types of vegetables, as well as how far apart to plant seed, how deep to plant them, and how long it should take to reach harvest time.

Expected Vegetable Garden Yields from Lousiana Cooperative Extension
Want to know how many ears of corn, pounds of beans, or watermelons to expect from your vegetable garden? This great resource provides yield data for a wide range of vegetables that is applicable to our area. Yields are given on a 100' row basis (example, you can expect a 120 ears of corn from 100' of corn plants).

Happy Gardening!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dogwood Problems

If the flowers on your dogwood trees aren’t looking as good this year as in years past, there is a good chance they have spot anthracnose. This fungal disease infects dogwood blossoms just as they start to open in spring. Though the name sounds terrible, the disease itself is usually not harmful to the long term health of dogwood trees. A couple of other problems commonly affect dogwoods in our area - some are more serious than others. Dealing with these problems, and keeping your dogwood trees healthy, depends on having the problem correctly identified and providing the right growing conditions for these beautiful native trees.

Read the entire article

Monday, April 6, 2009

Grow Your Own Grapes and Berries!

Homegrown fruits are one of the most delicious and healthy treats a backyard garden can provide but many are challenging to grow in southeastern North Carolina. Tree fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches, and plums are often difficult to cultivate in this area because of the many pest problems that can plague them. Most berry producing fruits though thrive in local gardens and require less care than tree fruits. Among the easiest to grow are blackberries, blueberries, and muscadine grapes, which is not surprising since these fruits are all native to the southeast. While not technically a berry, figs are also easy to grow in home gardens and are usually very productive. If you would like to try your green thumb at growing grapes, berries or figs in your backyard keep the following tips in mind when selecting, planting, and cultivating these plants to ensure fruitful results.

Read the entire article

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tune In to Almanac Gardener, Saturdays at Noon!

Almanac Gardener begins its 26th season Saturday, April 4 at noon on the statewide UNC-TV network. The Saturday show will be repeated at 11:30 a.m. on Sundays.

Almanac Gardener is a half-hour home horticultural program telecast for 20 weeks from April through August. Almanac Gardener is one of the longest running series on UNC-TV and is a co-production of UNC-TV and NC Cooperative Extension at NC State University. Find out more online,

Regular Extension panelists include, Karen Neill, Horticultural Agent, Guilford County; Linda Blue, Horticultural Agent, Buncombe County; Bill Lord, Environmental Agent, Franklin County; Lucy Bradley, Urban Horticultural Specialist, NCSU; Stephen Greer, Horticultural Agent, Forsyth County; Charlotte Glen, Horticultural Agent, Pender County and Amy-Lynn Albertson, Horticultural Agent, Davidson County. Mike Gray is co-producer and host of Almanac Gardener.

With the stressful economy, a special emphasis this season will be on saving money by planting a vegetable garden and preparing fresh vegetables. Almanac Gardener will include features from The Produce Lady, Brenda Sutton, Family/Consumer Science Agent, Rockingham County.

Almanac Gardener panelists will also continue to help folks conserve water with tips on collecting and using rainwater for irrigation.

Field features this season will include: “Starting a Spring Garden”, “Growing Spring Lettuce”, “Growing Broccoli”, “Growing Cabbage”, “Asheville Farmers Tailgate Market”, “Preparing Greens”, “Preparing Cabbage”, “Preparing Turnips”, Preparing Spring Greens”, “Preparing Sweet Potatoes”, “Water Independence/Going Off the Grid”, “Building Landscape Planting Beds to Conserve Water”, “Drought Tolerant Plants”, “Xeriscaping”, “Gardening for Exercise”, “ Reducing Stress by Using the Right Gardening Tools” and “Taming a Swarm of Bees”.