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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.