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 . . .