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:

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 and 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

Learn more about live cut varieties available locally and how to care for live cut trees from this 2011 Pender Gardener article: 

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:

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:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Time to Plant Fall Bulbs!


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:

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: