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:

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:

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:

Leaf spot diseases on vegetables are more serious because they often cause reductions in yield. This is Septoria leaf spot on tomato. Image source:

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 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:

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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:

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 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, 

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:

Stay up to date on the latest fruit, herb, and vegetable gardening news by subscribing to the Food Gardener email news service. 
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