Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer Vegetable Gardening Tips

Blossom End Rot, a common tomato disorder
Blossom end rot (BER) is most common on tomatoes but can also affect peppers, squash, and melons. BER is the result of low calcium in developing fruits and is most commonly caused by uneven watering or over fertilization.  If you have persistent BER problems, have your soil tested to make sure the pH is not too low. Find out more about BER here:

For more great tips on what to plant, when to harvest, and which pests to look out for, see the summer vegetable gardening tips posted on the Pender Extension website:

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The Worms Are Out of the Bag!

Bagworm sack
Do you have shrubs that have been covered with brown, spindle shaped sacks all year? If so, your shrubs have bagworms and you need to treat now to prevent serious damage. Bagworms are a type of caterpillar that feed on many evergreen shrubs, especially conifers like Leyland cypress. They spend the winter as eggs inside their bags, but now they have hatched. They are out of the bag and are very hungry. Treating now will stop bagworms from feeding this year and will help prevent another outbreak next year. Both organic and synthetic insecticides are available to control this pest. 

Find out how to treat for bagworms by reading the rest of the article, posted here on the Pender Extension website:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gardeners Going Wild!

Swamp Mallow
Interest in gardening with native plants is increasing in the southeast for many reasons, but chief among these is a desire to provide food and shelter for native wildlife such as song birds, beneficial insects, pollinators, and hummingbirds. Research has shown that native animals survive and reproduce more successfully on native plants than on introduced species. Unfortunately we are losing large areas of native vegetation to development, especially in coastal areas. By including native plants in your yard, you can replace some of what is being lost so future generations can enjoy the diversity of plants and animals that enrich our area.

Swamp mallow is one of many tough native plants that can bring beauty to your yard and support local wildlife. This flood tolerant perennial is a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds. For more suggestions of native plants that you can grow, read the rest of the article on the Pender Extension website:

To help you learn more about landscaping for wildlife with native plants, specialists with NC State University’s Wildlife Extension Program have created the website ‘Going Native: Urban landscaping for wildlife with native plants’, .

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Act Now to Protect Squash Plants from Vine Borer

Squash Vine Borer Moth
Have you ever ventured into the garden in early summer and found your squash or zucchini plants have collapsed, seemingly overnight? If so, you know firsthand how destructive squash vine borer can be to all types of squash, zucchini, and pumpkins. These deadly pests are actively laying eggs on squash plants in our area. Once the eggs hatch and the borers enter squash stems little can be done to kill them, making now the time to act to protect your squash and zucchini plants from imminent destruction.

Both organic and synthetic pesticides are available to control squash vine borer, but timing is the key to effectiveness. Once the borer enters the squash stem treating with insecticides is a waste of time. To protect plants, insecticides must be applied just before the eggs hatch; this will be occurring over the next four to five weeks in our area. 

To learn more about this pest and find out which organic and synthetic insecticides can be used for control see the whole article on the Pender Extension website:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spotted Wilt Virus Showing Up Early on Tomatoes

TSWV leaf spots
There are many plant diseases that make growing tomatoes a challenge in the southeast. One of the worst is tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV). First found in our region in the mid 1990’s, this disease is different from most tomato diseases because it is caused by a virus rather than a fungus or bacteria. In addition, unlike most viruses, TSWV kills the plants it infects and it has started showing up on tomato plants in our area in the past few weeks. Few other diseases are currently active on tomatoes, so if your plants start to develop spots on the leaves odds are they have TSWV.

Learn more about the symptoms of this disease, how it is spread, and which tomato varieties are resistant by reading the whole article on the Pender Extension website:

Make Your Yard Water Wise!

Using soaker hoses and other water efficient irrigation methods are one way you can make your yard water wise.
Water wise landscapes are designed and maintained to look attractive, be more weather resilient, and need less water year around. To make your landscape water wise you do not have to spend a fortune or turn your yard into a desert, containing only yucca and cactus plants. Making your yard water wise does not mean you have to redo your entire landscape; simply incorporate water saving practices into your existing design and maintenance activities.

There are many practices that will reduce your landscape’s water needs. These include mulching plant beds to conserve moisture and planting trees and shrubs during the cooler time of year, so they can establish before the heat of summer. If you have an irrigated lawn, reducing the size of your lawn by increasing the amount of mulched area around trees and beds will quickly cut landscape water use. 

Two of the most fundamental practices of water wise landscaping address how plants are grouped in the landscape and how they are watered. Learn more about about these practices by reading the whole article on the Pender Extension website:

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Ladybugs on the Prowl!

Do you recognize this common beneficial insect? This is an immature ladybug. Thousands of ladybugs are currently on the prowl for aphids and other garden pests in yards and gardens throughout our area.

Like most beneficial insects, ladybugs are very sensitive to insecticides. Minimizing insecticide use in your yard will help protect beneficial insects and allow nature to bring balance to pest populations.    

Learn more about ladybugs, including how to recognize them and attract them to your yard, by reading the whole article on the Pender Extension website: