Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lichen Can Be Sign of More Serious Problems

Lichen on plum branch
As the leaves fall from trees and shrubs you may notice the stems of some of your plants covered with a grayish green crusty or mossy looking growth known as lichen (pronounced “liken”). Lichens will grow on anything that sits still long enough, including slow growing plants, tree trunks, rocks, fence posts, fallen logs, tombstones, and even the ground.

When lichens are found growing on trees or shrubs, it may simply be a sign that a plant is naturally slow growing, such as Japanese maple, or that it is an older plant that is not growing at a vigorous rate. Lichens do not harm the plants they grow upon, but often plants that are struggling will be covered in them. When lichens are found growing prolifically on a plant that also has lots of dead twigs and branches it is usually a sign that something more serious is wrong. 

To learn more about lichen and the problems they are often associated with, read the rest of the article on the Pender Extension website, http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+163.

If you have questions about what is wrong with plants in your lawn, garden or landscape contact your local Cooperative Extension office. In Pender County, call 259-1235, bring samples to our office at 801 S. Walker St. in Burgaw (Mon –Fri, 8am – 5pm) or visit us online anytime or visit us online anytime at http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=askanexpert, where you can post your questions to be answered by email using the ‘Ask an Expert’ widget!

Learn more about lichens on trees and shrubs from this Alabama Extension fact sheet: http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0857/ANR-0857.pdf

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Welcome Winter with These Great Plants!

Weeping Yaupon
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 adding plant such as weeping yaupon to your yard. With its glowing red berries lining gracefully arching stems, weeping yaupon is a plant made for the winter landscape! For more suggestions of great plants for winter interest, read the whole article on the Pender Extension website, http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+162.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Amaryllis - A Gift that Keeps Giving!

Amaryllis are hardy outdoors in SE NC.
Amaryllis bulbs are extremely easy and fun to grow, making them a wonderful gift for gardeners of all ages and experience levels. Bulbs purchased and potted now will bloom in three to six weeks, but the enjoyment does not end after the flowers fade. Amaryllis are hardy bulbs in our area, which means they can be planted outside in the landscape in spring, to multiply and bloom for years to come. 

Many garden centers currently have specially prepared bulbs or kits in stock. Kits usually include potting soil, a container and a bulb and make a great gift. Individual bulbs may also be purchased. When purchasing amaryllis bulbs, make sure you purchase a large, firm bulb free of cuts or bruises. Bulb size is important because the flowers the plant will produce are already inside the bulb. Larger bulbs will have larger flowers and will produce more flowering stalks. 

To learn more about growing Amaryllis, read the rest of the article posted on the Pender Extension website, http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+161.



Friday, December 9, 2011

Poinsettia Pointers

With over 100 different varieties of poinsettias available 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. 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. Bracts of the ‘Winter Rose’ series of poinsettia 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 tips in this Pender Gardener article will help you get the most out of your poinsettia during the holidays and beyond. Read the article on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+160.

 
Sign up for the Pender Gardener or Food Gardener listservs to receive weekly updates of what to do in your yard and garden!

Pender Gardener
Weekly updates on what to do and plant in your landscape and lawn!
  • To subscribe to the Pender Gardener email listserve, send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe pendergardener

Food Gardener
Weekly updates on what to do and plant in your vegetable and herb garden!
  • To subscribe to the Food Gardener email listserve, send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe foodgardener

Friday, December 2, 2011

Buy Live and Local This Christmas!

Red Cedar Christmas Tree
Keep the holidays real this year and support North Carolina farmers by purchasing a North Carolina grown, live cut Christmas tree! From the adventure of picking the perfect tree to the fragrance a live tree brings into your home, you cannot beat the lasting memories and enjoyable experiences real trees create for the entire family. There are a couple of options when it comes to buying a live tree. These include purchasing a pre-cut tree that has been shipped from the NC mountains or visiting a local tree farm and choosing your own.  

To find out more about the types of trees grown at eastern NC Christmas tree farms as well as NC mountain grown Fraser Firs, read the rest of the article on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+159.


More information about Christmas tree care and varieties, as well as the NC Christmas tree industry, is available online from the NC Christmas Tree Association at http://ncchristmastrees.com/.

A directory of eastern NC fresh cut Christmas tree farms is available online on the Eastern NC Christmas Tree Growers Association website: www.nc-chooseandcut.com.

OR visit the the NC Department of Agriculture's NC Farm Fresh Website to local farms where you can buy Christmas trees as well all types of vegetable, fruits, and farm produce: http://www.ncfarmfresh.com/farms.asp.


To find out more about Christmas tree care, or any aspect of lawn, garden, and landscape care, contact your local Extension office. In Pender County call 259-1235, Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm, or visit us online anytime at http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=askanexpert, where you can post your questions to be answered by email using the ‘Ask an Expert’ widget!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Seeking the Perfect Pecan

No matter how you pronounce it, the pecan is a southern treat. Their sweet, buttery flavor is delicious when baked in pies or cakes, added to salads, or simply eaten straight out of the shell. Though not native to the east coast, pecan trees are a common site in our area. So are pecan problems. It’s easy to find bags full of perfect, plump pecans in the grocery store this time of year, but if you have ever collected pecans from local trees there is a good chance you have come across a less than perfect crop. 

Common problems of locally grown pecans include poorly filled out nuts, light crop loads, bitter spots, and empty shells. To find out what causes these problems and if they can be prevented, read the entire article available on the Pender Coooperative Extension website at http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+158.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fall - A Great Time to Soil Test!

Chlorosis on pepper leaves caused by Magnesium deficiency
If your lawn or garden did not do as well this year as you would have liked, part of the problem may be in the soil. Chlorosis, or yellowing between the veins is a common sign of soil problems. This symptom can indicate a deficiency of iron or magnesium. In many cases the actual cause of the deficiency is high soil pH, rather than low nutrient levels in the soil. The only way to get to the root of the problem and know for sure is to soil test.

Soil testing is free in North Carolina, provided by the NC Department of Agriculture, and testing supplies can be picked up from any Cooperative Extension office. Fall is the perfect time to submit soil samples for testing. Results for samples submitted now should be ready in four to five weeks, much quicker than the nine to ten weeks it often takes in the busy spring season. 

Learn more about soil testing - read the whole article here on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+157

Sign up for the Pender Gardener or Food Gardener listservs to receive weekly updates of what to do in your yard and garden!

Pender Gardener
Weekly updates on what to do and plant in your landscape and lawn!
  • To subscribe to the Pender Gardener email listserve, send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe pendergardener

Food Gardener
Weekly updates on what to do and plant in your vegetable and herb garden!
  • To subscribe to the Food Gardener email listserve, send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe foodgardener

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Sasanqua: The Other Camellia

    Camellia 'ShiShiGashira'
    Though not as well known as their spring flowering cousins, fall blooming camellias are wonderful landscape plants for the southeast and one of my favorite shrubs. 

    Sometimes referred to simply as sasanquas from their scientific name, Camellia sasanqua, fall blooming camellias are a group of hardy, durable, evergreen shrubs native to Asia. They make spectacular additions to partially shaded landscapes, offering evergreen foliage and showy flowers at a time of the year when most plants are going to bed for the winter. 

    Many varieties are available, with habits ranging from low growing spreading shrubs to upright vigorous bushes that can be trained to grow as small trees. To learn more about how to grow fall blooming camellias and varieties recommended for southeastern North Carolina read the rest of the article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website, http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+156.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Gardening After Frost

    Miscanthus in winter
    Most of our area saw its first frost last weekend --- right on schedule. The first frost of fall typically occurs during the first week of November in southeastern coastal North Carolina.
    With frost, many plants stop growing, changing the gardener’s palette of gardening chores. 


    You do not have to cut back ornamental grasses and perennials as soon as frost turns them brown. Many, like this Miscanthus (also known as maiden grass) remain attractive even after frost and add interest to the winter landscape.  


    Winter is a resting time for most houseplants so wait until spring to divide or repot. If you need to trim your plants back a little that is fine, but wait until spring to do any severe pruning. Cut back on watering and fertilization through the winter since houseplants will not be actively growing. Houseplants often shed leaves when they are moved inside as they adjust to lower light levels. This is normal and should only last for a few weeks. If your plants continue to shed leaves weeks after being brought inside you may be overwatering.   

    For more timely gardening tips, read the rest of the article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+155 .

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Aphids May Be Trick or Treating in Your Garden!

    Aphids are very small insects that feed on plant sap. Check the backside of the leaves of your vegetable crops to see if they may be trick or treating in your garden this Halloween!

    Aphids particularly like to feed on kale, collards, turnips, and mustard greens. The leaves of plants infested with aphids usually appear cupped, crinkled, or deformed. Flip them to confirm whether aphids are the culprit.
    If you find aphids treat with an organic insecticide like neem or insecticidal soap, or conventional products containing the active ingredient permethrin.

    Find out more about detecting and managing aphids! Read the rest of the story on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+153.

    Sign up for the Pender Gardener or Food Gardener listservs to receive weekly updates of what to do in your yard and garden!

    Pender Gardener
    Weekly updates on what to do and plant in your landscape and lawn!
    • To subscribe to the Pender Gardener email listserve, send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe pendergardener

    Food Gardener
    Weekly updates on what to do and plant in your vegetable and herb garden!
    • To subscribe to the Food Gardener email listserve, send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe foodgardener

      Fall is for Planting!

      November is prime time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials! If you still have not set out pansies for winter color, get them in the ground before Thanksgiving. Wait until after Thanksgiving to plant bulbs like daffodils and Spanish bluebells.

      For more planting tips read the rest of the article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+154.

      Thursday, October 20, 2011

      Great Evergreens for Screens and Hedges

      Nellie Stevens Holly
      Need some privacy? Want to screen the view into your neighbor’s yard? Consider planting a living fence of evergreen shrubs, but look beyond the common disease plagued Leyland Cypress! Local garden centers carry many different evergreens suitable for screening --- and fall is the perfect time to plant! 

      Find out which variety would be the best for your yard - read the rest of the article here on the Pender Extension website,  http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+151.

      For recommendations of trees and shrubs that thrive in our area see the recommended plants fact sheets available on the Pender County Cooperative Extension website, http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=lawngarden (scroll down to the section titled ‘Recommended Plants’).

      For more plant advice, try these Extension resources:

      Friday, October 14, 2011

      Fall Vegetable Garden Tips

      Floating Row Cover can protect crops from light frost.
      Among the many things gardeners can do in the fall vegetable garden is keep an eye out for caterpillars. It is also not too late to plant a few hardy crops such as cabbage and spinach. The season for other crops can be extended by using floating row covers.


      Find out more about what can be planted and harvested now! Visit the Pender Extension website to read the rest of the article, http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+150.

      Stay up to date with all the latest vegetable, fruit, and herb gardening news! Find out when to plant and how to control pests sustainably -- subscribe to the FoodGardener email listserv:
      • To subscribe to the Food Gardener email listserve, send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe foodgardener

      Tuesday, October 11, 2011

      A Fungus Among Us!

      Recent rainfall has led to explosion of mushrooms in lawns and mulched areas throughout our area. Most of these fungi are completely harmless, though some consider them slightly annoying. Mushrooms growing in lawns are not a sign of plant disease. Mushrooms such as those pictured to the left are more likely to grow in yards where trees have been cleared.

      While mushrooms are easily recognized by most people, some of their relatives that can be found growing on hardwood mulch may not be as familiar. 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. 


      Two of the most eye catching fungi found in mulch are slime mold (aka Dog Vomit) and stinkhorns. Both are harmless and will go away naturally within a few days. 



      Slime Mold growing on mulch

      Octopus stinkhorn - you often smell this one before seeing it!

      Learn more about managing mushrooms and other fungi in your yard or mulch - Read the entire article, available here on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+148

      Saturday, October 1, 2011

      Time to Plant Onions and Garlic!

      Interested in cultivating sweet, home-grown onions and flavorful garlic in your own backyard? If so, now is the time to plant. Large, sweet onions are easy to grow in the south from seed planted in October. Gardeners can also grow their own garlic by planting cloves this fall.

      Onions and garlic have few pest problems, and crops started now will be ready for harvest in spring. Ensure your success by properly preparing your soil and choosing varieties recommended for our area. 

      Find out more -- Read the entire article, which is posted on the Pender Extension website, http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+149

      Become a FoodGardener! Join the FoodGardener listserv to receive weekly email updates about what to plant, when to pick, and which pests to keep an eye out for! To subscribe to the Food Gardener email listserve, send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe foodgardener

      Friday, September 23, 2011

      Improve Soils with Cover Crops

      Crimson Clover blooms in spring.
      If you have empty space in your garden that will remain bare through the winter consider planting a cover crop such as crimson clover, rapeseed, or rye. Cover crops provide many benefits, including weed and disease suppression, improving soil condition, and adding nutrients to the soil. Early fall is prime time to plant winter cover crops.

      Find out more about the different types of cover crops that can be planted now and the benefits they provide -- read the entire article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website, http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+147.

      Questions? Use our 'Ask an Expert' widget to get answers to your questions:  http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=askanexpert

      Email Listserves - Sign Up Today!

      Pender Gardener
      Weekly updates on what to do and plant in your landscape and lawn!
      • To subscribe to the Pender Gardener email listserve, send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe pendergardener
      Food Gardener 
      Weekly updates on what to do and plant in your vegetable and herb garden!
      • To subscribe to the Food Gardener email listserve, send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe foodgardener

      Friday, September 16, 2011

      Prepare Your Lawn for Winter!

      Winter Kill in a Centipede Lawn
      Though winter is still months away, now is the time to start preparing your lawn for cold weather. Cold weather damage, known as winter kill, is a common problem in our area and shows up as large dead areas in spring. This is often caused more by our fluctuating winter temperatures than by extreme cold. When temperatures go up in winter, grasses like centipede are tempted to start growing too early. When winter warm spells are followed by sudden cold temperatures, winter kill is the result.

      Many lawns throughout southeastern NC are in poor shape thanks to the extreme cold our area experienced last winter followed by this summer’s severe drought. There are a couple of things you can do now to help your lawn recover and make it through this winter in good health. Two of the most important fall lawn chores are applying a potassium fertilizer and raising your mowing height by 1/2". 


      Learn more! Read the whole article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+146

      Learn much more about turf care, download Lawn Maintenance Calendars, find out about current problems, and sign up to receive Turf Alert! emails from NCSU’s Turf Files website, http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu.
       

      If you have questions about lawn care contact your local Cooperative Extension Office. In Pender County call 259-1235, visit our office at 801 S. Walker Street in Burgaw (office hours: Mon – Fri, 8am – 5pm), or post your questions online using our ‘Ask an Expert’ widget available at http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=askanexpert.

      Fall Extension Gardener Newsletter Now Available!

      Just in time for the first cool, rainy weekend of autumn -  The Fall 2011 issue of the Extension Gardener Newsletter is 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 2011 Coastal Plain issue, you will learn about:
      • Analyzing the Home Lawn
      • Xeriscaping
      • Growing Winter Squash and Giant Pumpkins
      • Recycling Leaves
      • Japanese Plum Yew
      • Fall Garden Chores
      • Large Patch Disease
      • and more!

      Download your copy here today: http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/agcomm/successg/latest%20issue_eg.htm

      Friday, September 9, 2011

      Time to Plant Cole Crops!

      Young Broccoli Plants
      September is prime time to set out transplants of cabbage, kale, collards, broccoli, and cauliflower, a group of crops collectively known as the cole crops. If you have tried growing these crops in the spring before and failed, be sure try again this fall. 

      Cole crops thrive in the consistently cool temperatures of autumn, producing superior flavor to their spring grown counterparts. Space broccoli and cauliflower transplants 2’ apart. Cabbage can be planted closer, while kale and collards should be set a little further apart. 

      Find out more! Read the whole article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+145


      Want to learn more about growing vegetables, fruits and herbs? Subscribe to FoodGardener, an email news service from Pender Cooperative Extension dedicated to bringing you timely information on sustainable home food production for southeastern and coastal NC. To subscribe, email charlotte_glen@ncsu.edu and request to be added to the FoodGardener listserv. 


      If you have questions about growing vegetables contact your local Cooperative Extension office. In Pender County call 259-1235, visit our office at 801 S. Walker Street in Burgaw (office hours: Mon – Fri, 8am – 5pm), or post your questions online using our ‘Ask an Expert’ widget available at http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=askanexpert.

      Friday, September 2, 2011

      After the Storm: Pruning damaged trees

      Branch Collar
      Tropical storms, hurricanes, and strong thunderstorms can leave your yard in a mess. When storms occur, broken limbs and branches are the most common type of damage sustained by trees and shrubs. While a few broken branches will not cause serious harm to a tree for the present time, how you care for a tree with a broken branch will have a huge impact on its long term health and ability to withstand future storms. 

      When removing a damaged branch from a tree or shrub, cut just beyond the swollen area known as the branch collar and never flush against the trunk. When branches are properly removed, the tree will be able to see over the wound to keep out decay and insects. The sealing process is starting in this picture and can be seen as the doughnut shaped ring outlining the pruning cut.  


      Learn more! Read the entire article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website, http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+144.

      To find out how you can prevent future damage through proper tree selection and maintenance, read this Pender Gardener article from Sept. 2010: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+94.


      Questions? Get answers by posting them online using our 'Ask an Expert' widget: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=askanexpert.


      Monday, August 29, 2011

      Tips for Storm Clean Up



      • If a tree splits in half, as Bradford pears are prone to do, or loses over ½ of its canopy it really is not worth saving. The tree may continue to live for some time but will never recover its shape and eventually decay will set in and the tree will fail.

      • For broken branches that you can safely reach and remove, make sure you know where to cut! Poor pruning cuts result in decay and future problems. Find out more about how to remove a limb from this Florida Extension website: http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/woody/pruning-cuts.shtml.


      • If multiple branches are broken in a shrub, cut the shrub back to 3’-4’ tall. Many shrubs can recover from this type of damage. Wax myrtles are particularly prone to falling apart during strong wind.

      • For perennials and ornamental grasses that blow over, go ahead and cut them back to around 2’ tall. They will not stand up again and staking them up is rarely successful. Add the clippings to the compost pile.

      • For annuals that fall apart, you may as well pull them up. It will be time to replace them in another month anyway.

      •  If you live close to the ocean and salt spray has covered your shrubs and perennials rinse them off with clean water as soon as possible if rainfall does not do this for you.

      • Tip out any containers of standing water – they will just provide breeding grounds for mosquitos! Mosquito dunks (which contain a special strain of B.t., an organic insecticide) can be placed in small ponds and shallow areas of standing water to help kill mosquito larva.


      Pender County Cooperative Extension is open! If you have further questions about how to handle storm damaged plants give us a call at 910-259-1235 or use our 'Ask an Expert' widget to post your questions online, http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=askanexpert.

      Fall Best Time to Knock Out Fire Ants

      Recent rainfall has increased the number of fire ant mounds.
      A recent encounter with a particularly aggressive mound of fire ants has left me wondering if my right ankle will ever be the same. It also served as a reminder that we are entering the most effective time of the year to control these pesky invaders. Treating mounds in late summer and fall weakens the colony, leaving the ants more vulnerable to the ravages of winter. So, if fire ant mounds are popping up in your yard the way they are in mine, treat now to get the most bang for your buck. 

      Find out more! Read the rest of the story on the Pender County Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+143.


      Friday, August 19, 2011

      Become a Food Gardener!

      Broccoli
      If excessive heat and drought ruined your summer garden or, like me, prevented you from planting one, now is the time for your second chance. Many favorite vegetables can be planted over the next month for harvest throughout the fall and into winter. What’s more, FoodGardener, a new email service from Pender Cooperative Extension, will increase your chances of success by keeping you up to date on when and how to plant as well as how to sustainably manage garden pests.

      To find out which vegetables and herbs can be planted now in your fall garden, read the rest of the article on the Pender County Extension website, http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+142.

      Sign up for the FoodGardener email news service, brought to you by Pender County Cooperative Extension. FoodGardener will keep you up to date on what you can grow, when and how to plant, and provide recommendations for sustainable and organic pest and crop management. To sign up, simply email charlotte_glen@ncsu.edu and request to be added to the FoodGardener listserv OR send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe foodgardener.

      Friday, August 12, 2011

      Spiders - A Gardener's Best Friend!

      Black and Yellow Argiope, aka Garden Spider
      Maybe it is because my name is Charlotte and I grew up on a farm, but I have always had an affinity for spiders. I realize not everyone shares this attraction, but here is some news that may help you tolerate them. Research has confirmed that spiders are the most important and abundant predator of insect pests in most yards. This means they are not hanging around just to frighten you. In fact, they are actively defending your yard and garden against a multitude of insect pests.

      Spiders eat many types of nuisance and plant damaging insects, including mosquitoes, stink bugs, caterpillars, aphids, and beetles. Actually they will eat just about any insect they can get their fangs on, including other beneficials, though on the whole they eat a lot more bad bugs than good ones. In turn, spiders are an important food source for many species of birds, serving as both predator and prey in the food web.  

      Spiders are common in gardens and landscapes in our area throughout the year, though their numbers are generally highest in late summer and fall. An over abundance of spiders in your yard or home is an indication that there are plenty of insects around for them to eat. If you have a lot of spiders around and you can tolerate them, the best thing you can do is leave them alone to allow them to naturally reduce the insect population.

      Learn more about spiders by reading the rest of the article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+141. See images of many common garden spiders on this NC Extension webpage: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Other/note137/note137.html.

      Thursday, August 4, 2011

      Harvesting the Rain

      Rain Barrel
      Even during drought rain showers occasionally bestow life sustaining water to parched landscapes and gardens. But not all the rain that falls from these fleeting showers soaks into the soil. For example, most of the water that falls upon our roofs is diverted to stormwater drains or ditches and carried away before it can permeate the ground. Instead of letting it float away, why not capture this precious resource and store it to water plants during drier times? Rain water harvesting systems, which include simple rain barrels as well as more complex cisterns, allow gardeners to do just that.   

      Rainwater harvesting has been practiced for hundreds of years and still serves as a primary source of water for homes in some parts of the world. In the United States rainwater is primarily harvested for non drinking water use, such as irrigation. Large systems can capture and store thousands of gallons of rainwater and pump it back out to water lawns and garden beds. Even a single rain barrel can store 65 gallons or more. Using harvested rainwater to water your yard will save money on your water bill, conserve municipal water sources for more vital purposes, and reduce the damaging effects of stormwater runoff in your community. 

      Learn more! Read the rest of the story on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+140.


      To find out more about cisterns and rainwater harvesting, visit the NC Extension Rainwater Harvesting website, http://www.bae.ncsu.edu/topic/waterharvesting/, or download a copy of the publication “Rainwater Harvesting: Guidance for homeowners” here: http://www.bae.ncsu.edu/stormwater/PublicationFiles/WaterHarvestHome2008.pdf.


      Receive weekly updates and gardening news -  subscribe to the Pender Gardener email listserve! To subscribe, send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe pendergardener 
       

      Friday, July 29, 2011

      Watering for Survival

      Tree Gator
      Water is the life blood of plants. When they cannot get enough they suffer. Signs of this suffering include wilting, brown leaves, and dead stems and branches. Drought stricken plants may eventually die from lack of water or pest problems that infect them as a result of being under drought stress. Watering plants can help them survive, but during extreme drought no one can afford to water everything in their yard. Setting priorities and watering for survival will help you keep the most important plants in your landscape healthy. 

      It is not realistic to try to keep everything in your yard alive through extreme drought. Instead gardeners should set priorities and focus their watering efforts on those plants that are most valuable and likely to perform well in the future. Survival watering involves targeting water applications to only high priority plants and applying water so it soaks deeply into the soil. Treegators are special bags for watering newly planted trees and shrubs that are designed to slowly release water into the soil. Slow, deep watering is especially important during drought. You can achieve similar results using soaker hoses or buckets with holes in the bottoms. 

      Learn more! Read the rest of the story on the Pender County Cooperative Extension website, http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+139.  

      For more suggestions on how you can conserve water at home and in your yard, take the 40 Gallon Challenge. On the program’s website, www.40gallonchallenge.org, you can pledge to adopt water-saving practices and see how many gallons of water you can expect to save.

      Learn more about indoor and outdoor water conservation from these great resources: