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.

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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.

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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.

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