Friday, February 24, 2012

Time to prune? Depends on the shrub!

Properly Pruned Knockout Rose
Late winter is the right time to prune summer blooming shrubs like Knockout roses but not spring bloomers such as azaleas. For most shrubs, the right time to prune depends on why you are pruning them and when they flower. 

To grow healthy, vigorous and free blooming Knockout roses, cut them back to a low framework of 5 to 7 stems about 12" to 18” from ground level each year in late winter. 

Find out which shrubs you should prune now and which you should wait to prune, read the whole article on the Pender Extension website: 

Learn more about pruning from these great online resources: 

Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs --- a great 12 page guide from Purdue Extension:

Pruning Ornamental Shrubs -- another great guide, this one from Missouri Extension:

Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs --- more pruning how to information! From Florida Extension:

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Plant Now for Spring Harvest!

Young broccoli plants
While it's too early to plant warm season vegetables like tomatoes, squash, and peppers outside, there are plenty of delicious vegetables you can set out now. Plant garden and snow pea seed, onion sets, and seed potatoes asap, before it is too late. Sow seeds of carrots, turnips, beets, radish, spinach, and green onions, and set out transplants of lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and kale between now and mid March. 

While cauliflower and Chinese cabbage (aka Napa cabbage) transplants can be grown in spring, they are quite finicky and most gardeners get better results growing them in the fall. To learn more about which vegetables you can plant now, read the whole article on the Pender Extension website:

If you have questions about growing vegetables contact your local Cooperative Extension office. In Pender County call 259-1235, Mon – Fri, 8am and 5pm, or visit us online anytime at, where you can post your questions to be answered by email using the ‘Ask an Expert’ widget!

Learn more from these great online resources:
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Grow Your Own!

Basil Seedlings
Nothing holds the promise of spring like a packet of seeds. If you have never grown plants from seed let this be the year you start. You do not need a greenhouse to grow healthy transplants and many varieties can easily be started indoors over the next month to transplant outside in spring, while other varieties can be sown directly in the garden.  

Now is the time to start seeds of basil  tomato, peppers, impatiens and other slower growing vegetables and flowers indoors to have transplants ready for spring. 

Learn more about growing plants from seed and gain hands on experience at the upcoming 'Growing Flowers and Vegetables from Seeds' workshop. Click here for details:

Read the rest of the article on the Pender Extension website:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Improving Sandy Soil

Yellowing of lower leaves on this broccoli plant is a classic symptom of nitrogen deficiency, a common problem problem in sandy soils.
Southeastern North Carolina is not a place known for wonderful soils. One of the most common problems gardeners face in our area is dry, poor sand. Fortunately sandy soils are easy to work, so if sand is your problem getting your soil into good shape should not wear you out. And, once you have improved a sandy site you will find these soils can be very productive, producing prolific vegetables and robust trees, shrubs and flowers. 

Find out more about improving sandy soils - read the entire article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website:

To learn more about the common soil challenges in our area, and how to fix them without spending a fortune attend the free class ‘Growing Healthy Soil’ offered by Pender Cooperative Extension, Thursday Feb. 16, 10:30 – noon, at the Hampstead Library, and again Saturday Feb. 18, 10:30 – noon, at the Burgaw Library. Registration is required by Feb. 14. To register, or if you have questions, call the Pender Extension Center at 910-259-1235 or email

A complete listing of spring gardening classes offered by Pender Cooperative Extension is available here:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Milder Winters May Mean Trouble for Plants

Milder winters may tempt plants to open flower and leaf buds too early, making them vulnerable to frost and cold injury. For fruits like blueberries, this can result in lower yields or crop loss.
While it comes as no surprise to gardeners, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made it official – we are experiencing milder winters in southeastern North Carolina. This recognition was formalized on January 25, with the release of the updated plant hardiness zone map. Milder winters probably sound like good news for plants and gardeners, but in reality they can create more problems than opportunities in our region.

In addition to flower and fruit loss, fluctuating winter temperatures can also result in cold injury to lawns and ornamentals. For warm season lawns, like centipede, mild winters can result in winter kill due to late season frosts.

Learn more about how winter temperatures affect plants growing in our region. Read the entire article on the Pender Cooperative Extension website: