Thursday, December 6, 2012

Become an Extension Master Gardener!


Learn to be a more successful gardener and volunteer in your community by becoming an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer with Pender County Cooperative Extension. Applications are now being accepted!

Training begins January 24, 2013. Applications are due by January 15, 2013
Visit 
http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/mg/ to find out everything you need to know, including:
  • Application form
  • Training schedule
  • Program fact sheet
Learn more about the NC Extension Master Gardener Program

Questions? Contact Charlotte Glen by calling 910-259-1235.

Flowers for the Holidays

Colorful Poinsettias
While the Christmas tree may be the plant most commonly associated with the holidays, flowers like poinsettias, Christmas cactus, and amaryllis are an equally important part of the Christmas tradition and are widely available from garden centers this time of the year.

Indoors, amaryllis, poinsettias, and Christmas cactus will grow best in a brightly lit, warm (60 to 75 degree) area away from cold drafts. Keeping these plants evenly moist, but not overwatered, is the real key to success. Like most houseplants, poinsettia, amaryllis, and Christmas cactus especially resent staying wet and will rot if kept continuously soggy. The most accurate way to tell if a potted plant needs to be watered is to check the potting soil. When the soil feels dry and the containers feel light when lifted, it is time to water.

To learn more about caring for these plants through the holidays and beyond, read the whole article posted on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/12/flowers-for-the-holidays/

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tips for Success with a Living Christmas Tree

Rosemary topiary
In addition to pre-cut Fraser firs, many garden centers offer living trees grown in containers for sale as Christmas trees. If you are tempted to buy one of these to use both for holiday decoration and as a permanent addition to your landscape, there are a couple of tips to keep in mind to ensure your tree has long and healthy life. Learn more about the types of trees you can use for a live Christmas tree in our area and how to care for them by reading the whole article posted on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/11/tips-for-success-with-a-living-christmas-tree/

If you prefer a live cut Christmas tree, you have two choices. Purchase one from a local tree farm or purchase a tree that has been shipped from the mountains. Directories of eastern NC fresh cut Christmas tree farms are available online at www.nc-chooseandcut.com and http://www.ncfarmfresh.com/farms.asp. 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/.

Learn more about live cut varieties available locally and how to care for live cut trees from this 2011 Pender Gardener article: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2011/12/buy-live-and-local-this-christmas/ 

Monday, November 26, 2012

'Tis the Season for Vermicomposting!

Red Wiggler Earthworms

Looking for an interesting winter project and a way to get rid of the vegetable and fruit scraps left over from your holiday meal preparations? Want a free source of natural fertilizer for your plants? Like the idea of cohabiting with earthworms? Then vermicomposting is just what you need!

Vermicomposting is a method of composting that uses worms to break down kitchen scraps into a rich, soil like material known as worm castings. Vermicomposting takes up little space and can be done indoors or out. To get started you just need to know a little about the basic supplies and procedures for keeping a worm bin. Learn more on the Pender Cooperative Extension webpage: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/11/how-to-compost-indoors-with-worms/

Friday, November 16, 2012

Creating a Bird Friendly Landscape

Dogwood berries are a great food source for birds!
With winter approaching, you may be thinking about buying or filling a birdfeeder. 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.

When planting for the birds, be sure to include evergreens to provide shelter in winter as well as berry and seed producing plants to serve as natural bird feeders. To learn more about using plant to attract birds to your garden read the rest of the article posted on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/11/how-to-landscape-to-attract-birds/

Friday, November 9, 2012

Time to Plant Fall Bulbs!

Daffodils

Planting bulbs this fall is an easy way to guarantee a splash of color for your spring landscape. November through December is the appropriate time to plant spring blooming bulbs in our region, but some varieties are a better investment than others.

Not all bulb varieties can be counted on to come back year after year. In addition to daffodils, the most reliably perennial spring blooming bulbs for our climate are Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica), with spikes of white, blue or pink blossoms that open the same time as azaleas; summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum), whose dainty spikes of white bell shaped flowers resemble lily of the valley and open in April; and starflower (Ipheon uniflorum), a low growing, early bloomer with icy blue, star shaped blossoms. In addition to being perennial, these bulb varieties are rarely bothered by deer or rabbits.
Learn more about which bulbs will last in your landscape and which will not - Visit the the Pender County Cooperative Extension website to read the rest of the article: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/11/plant-fall-bulbs-now-for-spring-color/



Friday, November 2, 2012

Final Harvest!

Green tomato

Some areas of the region may see the first frost of the season tonight, and for others it will not be far behind. The average first fall frost usually occurs the first week of November in  Burgaw and inland areas including Wallace, Currie, and Shallotte. Coastal communities (Hampstead, Wilmington, Southport) still have a few weeks - the first frost along the coast most often occurs during the third week of November due to the moderating effect of ocean waters.

If frost is predicted for your community, make a final harvest of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, beans, field peas, okra, and sweet potatoes before freezing temperatures damages or kills plants and fruits. 

To make the most of this late season bounty, store crops under proper conditions. Most summer crops store best at 55 degrees in perforated plastic bags and will last up to a week under these conditions (peppers will last longer). Storing near apples and tomatoes (which release ethylene) will reduce shelf life.

Green tomatoes, harvested before frost, can be wrapped in newspaper and kept at 55 F to 70 F. Tomatoes stored in this manner should last 3-5 weeks. Be sure to inspect each week for ripeness.

Following harvest, sweet potatoes should be ‘cured’ by placing them in a moist, warm (80-85 degrees) location for a week to 10 days. Once cured, store them for winter in a dark, cool location (55 degrees) where they will not freeze.

Learn more!

What Can I Do About Kudzu Bugs?

Kudzu Bugs
Kudzu bugs are a new pest in the south, making their debut in our area this past spring. After spending the summer outdoors feeding on kudzu, soybeans, field peas and other members of the bean family, these prolific insects are now looking for a cozy place to spend the winter. This could be nestled under tree bark, tucked into mulch or leaf litter, or dry and warm inside your house. Western areas of the state are already reporting a wave of home invasions by this pest, which is moving our way as cooler temperatures drive these bugs out of the fields and potentially into our homes.

When kudzu bugs do enter your home, your best defense is a vacuum cleaner. Simply vacuum the bugs up, being careful not to crush them. As members of the stink bug family, kudzu bugs have an unpleasant odor when crushed and can leave behind a stain. Spraying pesticides indoors is not recommended, while spraying outdoors will likely have little effect on kudzu bug numbers. To learn more about managing kudzu bugs, read the whole article posted on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/11/what-can-i-do-about-kudzu-bugs/

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Aphid Mummies Haunting Vegetable Gardens!

Aphid Mummies
Aphids are a common pest on many fall crops including broccoli, kale, collards, turnips, and lettuce. They can often be found on the backside of crop leaves where they feed on plant sap. 

As you are harvesting your crop keep a look out for these pests, but also pay close attention to their appearance - some may actually be aphid mummies. These are the bodies of aphids that have been parasitized by a species of very small wasp that does not sting people. Normal aphids will be green and living; aphid mummies are tan, appear puffed up, and are hollow. 

Aphid mummies are a good sign that mother nature is helping defend your garden! Learn more about aphids and how to control them in vegetable crops from this article posted on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/10/how-to-control-aphids-on-vegetable-crops/

Friday, October 26, 2012

Too Much Mulch Will Harm Plants

Volcano mulch!
Are you your landscapes worst enemy? Is your motto, “If a little is good, a lot is better”? 

If so you may be killing your plants with kindness, especially when it comes to mulch. While all plants grow better with mulch, too much can kill them. The secret to nurturing a healthy landscape is to know when enough is enough.

Two to four inches of mulch is ideal for landscape beds. Deeper layers can cause problems, especially when piled against the trunks of trees. Known as volcano mulching, this practice can slowly kill trees and shrubs. 

To learn more about mulch related problems and the right way to mulch, read the whole article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/10/can-too-much-mulch-killl-plants/

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall Lawn Care Tips and Tasks

Florida betony
Lawns in southeastern North Carolina are suited to warm season turf grasses such as St. Augustine, zoysia, bermuda and centipede. Caring for warm season turf grasses is very different from caring for turf grasses grown in cooler climates. As warm season lawns get ready to transition into the dormant winter season, there are some important things that should be done, and others that should not be done, to keep lawns healthy.

This is not the time to fertilize or water your lawn. Instead you should be focusing on weed control, if it is needed. Two of our most troublesome cool season perennial weeds are wild garlic and Florida betony. Both are currently sprouting in yards throughout SE NC. While herbicide application will not kill these weeds, treating them now is much more effective than waiting until spring. To find out which herbicides can be used to control these and other winter weeds, visit the Pender Cooperative Extension website to read the whole article: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/10/fall-lawn-care-tips-and-tasks/ 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Plant Flowers and Veggies for Winter Color!

'Redbor' Kale with yellow violas
You will find more than just pansies awaiting your landscape at garden centers this autumn! As the exciting trend of cool season gardening grows, more and more winter hardy annuals are making their way into local nurseries. Winter hardy annuals are plants like pansies that are planted in fall to grow during the cool part of the year, providing color through the winter and early spring. Many of these plants are both ornamental and edible and can be planted in landscapes as well as gardens.

Find out what you can plant now for color in your landscape and garden all winter! Read the whole article posted on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/10/plant-flowers-and-veggies-for-winter-color/

Monday, October 8, 2012

How Soil Testing Can Help You

Chlorosis can be caused by a soil pH or nutrient problem.
Heavy rains this summer have removed many nutrients from soils in southeastern NC. Symptoms of nutrient deficiency include stunted growth, yellow or purple leaves, excessive shedding of older leaves, reduced flowering, and poor flavor in vegetables. If you have observed any of these symptoms on plants in your yard soil testing can help you get to the root of the problem and tell you how to fix it.

Soil samples can be submitted for testing any time of the year. Collecting soil samples only takes a few minutes, can help you save money in your lawn, garden and landscape, and can result in healthier plants by telling you which nutrients are already in your soil and which ones you need to add. If nutrients are needed, they can be supplied with either natural or synthetic fertilizers.

Boxes and forms for sampling are available from any Cooperative Extension office. Completed samples should be dropped off at your local Extension office to be sent to the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s soil testing lab in Raleigh, at no expense to you. 

Learn more about what soil testing can tell you about your soil and how to take soil samples - Read the whole article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/10/how-soil-testing-can-help-you/

Friday, September 28, 2012

What Can Be Done for Nematodes?

Tomato Roots infected with RKN
If you garden in sandy soil, there is a good chance nematodes are plaguing your plants, draining them of the energy they need to grow and thrive. Nematodes are tiny, microscopic worms that feed within plant roots. You can think of them as the leeches of the plant world. Several types of nematodes are common in the south, and frequently cause problems in vegetable gardens, lawns and landscapes.

Two of the most troublesome nematodes in the southeast are the root knot nematode (RKN) and sting nematode. In vegetable gardens, there are several practices gardens can use to manage levels of these pests, including planting nematode suppressive crops. In landscapes and lawns, keeping levels down is more difficult.

Learn more! Read the whole article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/09/what-can-i-do-about-nematodes/ 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall Issue of Extension Gardener Now Online!


From planting to composting, fall is a great time to garden! The latest issue of the Extension Gardener Newsletter will help you with your fall garden projects and chores. 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.

You can also follow Extension Gardener on Twitter, at @NCExtGardener, friend us on Facebook at NC Extension Gardener, and keep up with the latest gardening news on the new Extension Gardener blog: http://ncextensiongardener.blogspot.com/

In the Fall 2012 Coastal Plain and Sandhills issue, you can learn about:
  • Why fall is a great time to plant
  • Managing insects without pesticides
  • Growing broccoli
  • Fire ants
  • The importance of insects
  • 'Miss Ruby' butterfly bush
  • Persimmons
  • Greenscaping
  • and lots more!

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

Time to Plant Onions and Garlic!

'Grano Red' Onion
Interested in cultivating sweet, home-grown onions and flavorful garlic in your own backyard? If so, now is the time to plant. Growing onions from seed and garlic from cloves is easy to do in home gardens. Onions and garlic have few pest problems, and crops started now will be ready for harvest in spring. Ensure your success by preparing your soil well and choosing varieties recommended for the south. Learn more at http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/09/time-to-plant-onions-and-garlic-2/

Subscribe to Food Gardener email news to receive updates on what to plant and how to care for your vegetable and herb garden. To subscribe, send an  the email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe foodgardener

Friday, September 14, 2012

Passalong Plants

Crinum 'Ellen Bosanquet'
The tradition of sharing favorite plants with friends and family is as old as the practice of gardening itself. Plants that are tough, durable, and easy to propagate are often shared among friends and neighbors, or passed down from one generation to the next. Some plants are shared so commonly, they have come to be known as ‘passalong plants’. If you have a plant you wish to pass along to someone, fall is a great time to do so.

Learn more about dividing and sharing plants by reading the rest of the article posted on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/09/passalong-plants/

Passalong Plant Sale
Pender County Extension Master Gardeners will offer favorite and reliable plants from their gardens during their fall plant sale, held in conjunction with the Poplar Grove Farmers Market, Wednesday, September 19, from 8am to 1pm at Poplar Grove Plantation, located on Hwy 17 south of Hampstead. All plants at the sale have been grown by Pender Master Gardeners, who will be more than happy to share plant lore and gardening advice with you.

Plant Cole Crops Now!

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 these crops in the spring and failed, be sure try again this fall. Cole crops thrive in the consistently cool temperatures of autumn and do not bolt (go to flower) as they often do in spring.

Young plants are currently available from most local garden centers and nurseries. Plant in a sunny area with well drained soil. Incorporate compost into the soil before planting and soil test to determine if lime or nutrients need to be added.  

Make sure to keep newly set out plants well watered and apply an organic or slow release fertilizer at planting time. In addition, a dose of liquid fertilizer or compost tea at planting time will help new transplants establish quickly. Learn more about growing each of these crops by reading the whole article posted on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/09/plant-cole-crops-now-2/

Friday, September 7, 2012

One Dish Gardening!

Salad bowl garden
Don’t let limited garden space stop you from growing vegetables this fall. Many cool season crops are easy to grow in containers and now is the time to plant them. Salad greens like lettuce, spinach, and arugula thrive even in shallow pots. They are often planted mixed together with herbs and other greens in bowl shaped containers, providing all the ingredients you need for healthy, tasty salads in a single pot.

To start a salad bowl garden you will need plants, potting soil, a container, and fertilizer. Learn more about each of these and how to plant and care for your salad bowl garden by reading the whole article posted on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/09/plant-a-salad-bowl-garden/

Friday, August 31, 2012

Controlling Caterpillars

Ragged holes are sign of caterpillar feeding.
Just as plants have peak seasons, so do pests. Aphids rule the spring, beetles reign in summer, but fall is the season of the caterpillar. Many different types of caterpillars can currently be found munching on tree, shrub, and vegetable leaves in our area. In many cases they can be left alone, causing no lasting damage to plants, but there are some situations where control is needed. If you have a caterpillar outbreak that requires control, numerous insecticides are available that can do the job, including several organic products. 

Learn more about when control is needed and what you can use to get the job done by reading the whole article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/08/controlling-caterpillars/

Monday, August 27, 2012

Battling Mosquitoes


Asian Tiger Mosquito
If you think all those mosquitoes in your yard are flying in from some far away swamp, you may need to think again. The Asian tiger mosquito, our state’s worst mosquito species, lives and breeds in urban areas and odds are it is making its home in your yard at this very moment.

Easily identified by its distinct white and black striped legs and body, the Asian tiger mosquito is one of more than 40 types of mosquito found in our area. It is of particular concern because it can spread diseases to humans and animals, including West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, as well as heartworms to dogs and cats. While many garden related activities create the perfect habitat for these prolific pests to multiply, there are actions you can take today so they will find your yard less appealing.

Find out what you can do to reduce mosquito populations in your yard; Read the whole article on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/08/battling-mosquitoes/

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's Time for Muscadines!

The jewel bright tones of ripe muscadines are matched by the intense fruity flavor.

Want to grow grapes in the south? If so, you have two choices, plant muscadines or plant another type of grape and watch the vines die. While table, wine, and concord type grapes rarely live for more than a few years in our area, muscadines thrive. This tough, native grape can be found growing along woodland edges throughout the south and is easily cultivated in home gardens. Bronze, red and black muscadine varieties are available. All are delicious to eat fresh, with an intense fruity taste, and make wonderful jams, jellies, pies, juices, and wines. 

Learn more about growing and enjoying muscadines! Read the rest of the article on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/08/its-time-for-muscadines/
 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Landscape Gold Medal Winners

Cherry Dazzle crape myrtle
Extreme heat, erratic rainfall, and prolific pests turn southern landscapes into Olympic arenas each summer, where the goal for plants from all over the world is simply to survive. Any plant that can make it through to August still looking decent is definitely tough. Those that look great undeniably deserve a gold medal. If late summer finds your yard looking a little worse for the wear, add some of these landscape champions and expect years of stellar performances.     

 Plants that thrive on heat and humidity, waiting until the dog days of summer to put their best foot forward, definitely go above and beyond the call of duty. Among well known landscape plants crape myrtles certainly fall into this category, but if all you picture are trees when you think crape myrtle, get ready to expand your mind. The new Cherry Dazzle crape myrtle is a true shrub, forming tight mounds that grow 3’-4’ tall and wide and are covered in intense red flowers throughout July and August. 

Other late summer winners include 'Orange Peel' Cestrum, coastal Joe Pye weed, 'Herbstonne' Rudbeckia, and wax mallow. Learn more about these plants and others by reading the rest of the article posted on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/08/landscape-gold-medal-winners/

Stay up to date with the latest lawn and landscape news by subscribing to the Pender Gardener email news service!
  • 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 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fight Rising Food Costs - Start a Fall Vegetable Garden!

'Early Jersey Wakefield' Cabbage
Keep your grocery bill down and enjoy a bounty of healthy, fresh vegetables by planting a fall garden this year. One of the most affordable ways to grow fall vegetables is to plant them from seed and now is the time to get started. Growing your own plants from seed also allows you to cultivate new or unusual varieties not commonly available as transplants from garden centers. To find out which vegetables you can start now  read the whole article on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/08/fight-rising-food-costs-plant-a-fall-garden/

FREE CLASS!
Learn more about cool season vegetables and how to grow them by attending the upcoming free class, ‘Planting a Fall Vegetable Garden’. The class will be taught from 10am to noon on Wednesday, Aug. 8, in the barn at Poplar Grove Plantation, located on Hwy 17, south of Hampstead, and again from 10am to noon on Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Pender Extension Office, located at 801 S. Walker St. in Burgaw. Both sessions are free, but registration is required. To register please call Pender Cooperative Extension at 259-1235 at least one day before the class date. For accommodations for persons with disabilities, contact Charlotte Glen at 259-1235, no later than five business days before the event.

Sign Up for Food Gardener!
To receive timely updates by email about how to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs in southeastern and coastal North Carolina sign up for the Food Gardener email news service, brought to you by Pender County Cooperative Extension. Food Gardener 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, send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe foodgardener 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Figs - The Forgotten Fruit!

If you have never tasted fresh figs then you are missing out on one of the south’s greatest summer treats. Though they are delicious, it can be a challenge to find fig fruits for sale, even at farmer’s markets and farm stands. This is because figs do not store well and have a shelf life of only a few days at best. If you want fresh figs your best option is to plant a fig bush. Luckily, figs thrive in our region and are one of the easiest fruits to grow organically.

Learn more about growing figs by reading the rest of the article posted here on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/07/figs-the-forgotten-fruit/
 

Free Class: Planting a Fall Garden

Fall is a great time to grow broccoli!
Now is the time to prepare your fall and winter vegetable garden! To help you get ready, Pender County Cooperative Extension is offering a free gardening class, covering all the vegetables and herbs you can plant now to harvest this fall and winter.  

The class will be taught from 10am to noon on Wednesday, Aug. 8, in the barn at Poplar Grove Plantation, located on Hwy 17, south of Hampstead, and again from 10am to noon on Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Pender Extension Office, located at 801 S. Walker St. in Burgaw. 

Both sessions are free, but registration is required. To register please call Pender Cooperative Extension at 259-1235 at least one day before the class date.  

For accommodations for persons with disabilities, contact Charlotte Glen at 910-259-1235, no later than five business days before the event.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Recent Rains Bring Mosquitos!

Asian Tiger Mosquito
Mike Waldvogel, NC Cooperative Extension Specialist for structural and residential pests shares this advice for controlling mosquitos:

Many areas of the state saw significant rainfall  last week and that also means they will see a rise in mosquito activity particularly by the Asian tiger mosquito which takes advantage of those small and often inconspicuous sites around your property that fill with storm water and become prime mosquito breeding sites. Before you start planning a chemical assault on your yard as the solution to mosquito problems, you need to start with a simpler and more long-term approach . . . . . learn more by reading the rest of the article, posted here on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/07/wet-weather-brings-mosquitos/

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wet Weather Good and Bad for Gardens

Hydrangeas often develop leaf spot in late summer following rainy weather. Like many leaf spot diseases on ornamentals, this problem is mostly cosmetic and usually does not require spraying.
Recent heavy rains have been both good and bad for gardens in our area. The rainfall, and the milder weather that came with it, were a much needed relief from the scorching heat of the July 4th week. As a result of this abundant moisture, many plants have put on new growth and appear much healthier than a few weeks ago. But this healthy veneer may not last as moisture induced disease problems start to become obvious. Common wet weather diseases include leaf spot, root rot, and southern stem blight. To learn more about these problems read the rest of the article posted here on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/07/wet-weather-good-and-bad-for-gardens/

Leaf spot diseases on vegetables are more serious because they often cause reductions in yield. This is Septoria leaf spot on tomato. Image source: http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/info/plant-diseases/septoria-leaf-spot

Friday, July 13, 2012

Heavy Rain Causes Tomatoes to Split

If you walk into the garden today to find many of your tomatoes have split open, don't blame it on Friday the 13th. Instead blame the recent heavy rainfall.

When heavy rain follows hot, dry weather one immediate effect is fruit splitting. This is especially common in tomatoes, which may burst their sides or develop cracks near the stem end as a result of absorbing more water than the fruit can hold. Cracked or split fruit should be pulled from the vine as soon as possible, since they will quickly rot. Cracked fruit are still edible if harvested immediately, before fruit rotting diseases set in. Throw out or compost fruits that ooze liquid or have a sour smell.

Both ripe and unripe melons are also prone to splitting following heavy rain, as are peaches and figs. These are rarely salvageable and should be pulled from the vine or tree and composted. Keeping plants watered during dry spells and mulching to conserve soil moisture can help reduce rain induced fruit splitting.

Learn More!
If you have questions about garden problems, contact your local Extension office. If you live in Pender County, call 259-1235. In New Hanover County, call 798-7660. In Brunswick County call 253-2610, or visit http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/ where you can post your questions to be answered via the ‘Ask an Expert’ widget.

Making the Most of Mulch

Pine bark mulch
Whether on the forest floor or in your yard, mulch is a natural way to help plants grow better. By conserving moisture, keeping soil temperatures cooler, reducing weeds, and slowly adding organic matter to the soil, mulch provides many benefits to gardens and landscapes. In addition, a nice layer of mulch makes any planting look better. Many materials are available for mulching. Which is best for your yard depends on your preferences and landscaping needs.

There are many types of mulch available – stone, bark and pine straw just to name a few. All of these mulches can be divided into two categories: organic and inorganic. Organic mulches are made from living things, such as bark or pine straw, whereas inorganic mulches were never alive and include natural and synthetic materials such as stone and rubber. 

Learn more about the properties of different types of mulch by reading the whole article, posted here on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/07/making-the-most-of-mulch/

Stay up to date with the latest lawn and landscape news by subscribing to the Pender Gardener email news service!
  • 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 

Summer Issue of Extension Gardener Now Available!

Take a break from the heat to catch up with the latest issue of the Extension Gardener Newsletter! 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.

You can also now follow Extension Gardener on Twitter, at @NCExtGardener, friend us on Facebook at NC Extension Gardener, and keep up with the latest gardening news on the new Extension Gardener blog: http://ncextensiongardener.blogspot.com/

In the Summer 2012 Coastal Plain and Sandhills issue, you can learn about:
  • Ornamental sweet potatoes
  • Composting
  • Growing blackberries
  • Indian wax scale
  • Deadheading
  • 'Pocomoke' dwarf crape myrtle
  • Kudzu bugs
  • Protecting pollinators
  • and lots more!
Download your copy here http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/agcomm/successg/latest%20issue_eg.htm today!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Heat Related Tomato Ripening Issues

Yellow shoulders, a common heat related ripening disorder
The mild weather that has blessed our gardens with bountiful harvests so far this summer came to screeching halt this past week as temperatures soared into the triple digits. Any time temperatures get that high vegetables production will drop temporarily, especially in tomatoes. In addition, tomatoes that ripen during a heat wave are likely to develop heat related ripening disorders.

Tomatoes that mature during hot weather often ripen unevenly, especially at the top or shoulders of the fruit, as seen in this photo (right, photo by Paul Bachi, University of Kentucky Research and Education Center, Bugwood.org). 

Other heat related tomato problems include reduced flavor, blossom drop, blossom end rot, sunscald, and the development of internal white tissue. Learn more about these problems and how to manage them by reading the whole article available here on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/07/heat-causes-ripening-problems-with-tomatoes/

Stay up to date on the latest fruit, herb, and vegetable gardening news by subscribing to the Food Gardener email news service. 
  • To subscribe to the Food Gardener email news send an email to mj2@lists.ncsu.edu. Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the message put: subscribe foodgardener

Friday, June 29, 2012

Where's the Flowers?

Crape myrtle flower buds
One question I am often asked is, "Why isn't may plant blooming". Often the asker wants to know what type of fertilizer they need to apply to make the plant flower, but the answer is usually not that simple. Whether discussing a tree, shrub, perennial, or vegetable, there are many reasons plants fail to flower. Getting them to bloom depends upon correctly identifying what is preventing flower production – and the answer is rarely lack of fertilizer. 

The most common reasons plants fail to bloom include growing in too much shade, incorrect pruning, and that they are not yet old enough. Learn more about these reasons and the role nutrition plays in blossom production by reading the whole article, available here on the Pender Extension website: http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2012/07/wheres-the-flowers/