The Gardener’s Dirt April 2009
| North Carolina State University
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
Johnston County Center
2736 NC 210 Highway * Smithfield, NC 27577
| In this Issue
| This newsletter offers timely information for your outdoor living spaces.
Addressing the most common questions ranging from container gardening,
tree pruning, wildlife management, to fire ant control, insect
identification and lawn establishment.
Growing a Home Vegetable Garden
by Shawn Banks
Many people are asking the question, “How can I save a little money?” One answer is, growing a home vegetable garden. I have grown a vegetable garden at home for years. Here are some things I have learned through experience, reading, and trial and error.
1. Most vegetables need a sunny location in order to produce well. Vegetables grow best if they get at least 8 hours of direct sun. Leafy greens (lettuce and cabbage) and root crops (carrots, radishes, and beets) will produce with as little as 6 hours, but do better with more sun.
2. Vegetable gardens do best if they are close to water and help. I find that if the garden is near the house it gets more attention than when it is a good distance away. It’s easier to water the garden when it is near a water source, such as a spigot or rain barrel. It is too much like work to drag a water hose or carry buckets of water.
3. Soil preparation is a key to a successful garden. Adding compost to clay or sandy soil has huge benefits. Compost loosens clay soil allowing roots and water to penetrate the surface. In sandy soil, compost adds water and nutrient holding ability to the soil. I find it best to work three inches of compost into the top six to eight inches of soil. For a large garden, a tiller makes this task fairly quick and easy. For a small garden (4’ x 8’), a shovel and some elbow grease do the job just fine.
4. Planning the garden before planting will help manage space and time. After years of simply planting whatever wherever, I found if I plan how much space I need for each plant, I produce a better crop with fewer plants. Rotating crops in a small garden is easier with a plan in place. Purchasing the proper number of plants is easier when the garden is laid out before I go shopping. For example, if I only have space for three tomato plants there is no need to buy the nine-pack of plants.
5. A daily conversation with the plants can be very helpful. It sounds silly, but a daily conversation with your plants allows you to notice weeds when they first pop up so you can pull them while they’re small. You will also notice when plants don’t look right so you can treat the disease right away. A daily visit allows you to meet other visitors to the garden both beneficial and harmful and you can act accordingly. If you can’t make the visit daily, then make it as often as possible.
For more information on growing a home vegetable garden contact an Extension Master Gardener at email@example.com or by phone 919 989-5380. You may also view a publication from NC State University on the web at https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/ag-06.html . If you are starting a garden, or have been gardening for some years, we would like to know what plants work for you and which ones don’t. Remember raising a garden is like raising children, they grow so fast that before you know it they are grown up and gone.
Prague viburnum flower cluster
Viburnum × pragense 'Decker' – Prague viburnum
The Prague viburnum reaches a height of 6 to 10 feet tall and just as wide. It will grow in full sun or partial shade. This viburnum is hardy in USDA zones 5-8. The evergreen leaves are shiny green on top with a hairy gray on the bottom and are arranged in pairs with one on each side of the stem. It has been reported that some people may develop a rash as an allergic reaction to handling this plant, so long sleeved shirts are recommend when planting this shrub.
The Prague viburnum originated as a hybrid seedling in a garden near Prague in what used to be Czechoslovakia in the early 1950’s. The evergreen foliage and fast growth rate make it a good candidate for a screening plant.
Fragrant, white flowers appear in bunches during late winter with a spicy, sweet fragrance. The flowers are sterile so no seeds are produced. The flowers will attract any bees flying around on a warm day in late winter.
Prague viburnum plant
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April 3-5 Southern Ideal Home Show on the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh http://www.southernshows.com/hsr/
Clayton Farmer’s Market opens April 4th http://downtownclayton.blogspot.com/
April 4 Plant Clinic at Lowe’s at 40/42 10:00am – 12:00pm
April 18 Our Green Earth Event in Clayton 10:00am – 5:00pm http://www.eyeoftheeagleart.com/events.html
April 18 Benson Saturday Stroll 10:00am – 2:00pm http://www.townofbenson.com/calendar_1.cfm?eventid=234
April 18 Kruzin Kenly
April 18 JCC Arboretum Spring Plant Sale-A-Bration 9:00am – 2:00pm http://www.johnstoncc.edu/arboretum/events.aspx
April 25 Plant Clinic at Hudson’s open house in Clayton 10:00am – 12:00pm
April 25 – 26 4-H horticulture Weekend in Raleigh https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/4hplantandsoils/hortweekend.html
May 2 Plant Clinic at Lowe’s at 40/42 10:00am – 12:00pm
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By Karen Damari, Johnston County Beekeeper
The weather is warm; spring buds are starting to show. You behold a dark, writhing bundle hanging from a tree branch in your front yard.
It’s swarming season for honeybees. With the queen in the center, surrounded by thousands of her daughters, the swarm is engaged in a self-absorbed discussion of where to make their new home. When they do finally move off (and they will) it may be for a far distant tree or it could be for that convenient space they found in the wall of your house.
What do you do? Call a beekeeper (see jocobee.org ), the county extension office, or the fire department. Until help arrives, do not approach the swarm. Go inside where you can watch the swarm in safety. If the swarm moves off before help arrives, make a note of which direction they went so the swarm can be tracked. If you are outside and a swarm is in flight, (here’s the hard part) stay calm and slowly move away. Confused bees may accidentally bump into you, but shouldn’t sting if you don’t swat at them or flail around. Fast motions frighten them.
Honeybees are important pollinators of US crops. Your timely phone call will aid in the safe capture of these imperiled insects.
Our last frost usually comes around mid-April, tax
Stay out of the garden when the soil is wet! Working or walking on wet
TREES, SHRUBS & ORNAMENTALS
VEGETABLES & FRUITS
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HELPING PEOPLE PUT KNOWLEDGE TO WORK.
Got Questions? We've got answers!
If you have a gardening issue you would like to see addressed in this
newsletter please let me know I will do what I can to get you the
information you need. Contact me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (919) 989-5380.
The Johnston County Master Gardener Volunteers are available Monday,
Johnston County Lawn and Garden