The Gardener’s Dirt February 2012
Information you can dig into.
|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
| Shawn Banks
|Inside 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.
Click here for a printable version of this newsletter.
Blueberry Production & Pruning Demonstration February 11, 2012 – 10am – 12pm @ JC Ag Bldg in Smithfield, NC. Dr. Bill Cline, Blueberry Specialist at NC State University, will share information on growing blueberries in eastern North Carolina. We will then travel a short distance to a blueberry batch and learn how to prune some blueberry bushes to promote the best production. To register: call 919-989-5380
Grape Production & Pruning Demonstration February 25, 2012 – 10am – 12pm, Dr. Sara Spayd, Grape Production Specialist at NC State University, will give a presentation on grape production in North Carolina. We will then have a short pruning demonstration on muscadine grapevines. To register: call 919-989-5380
Tuesday, February 21 though Tuesday April 24 – Gardening A-Z class. This class will meet every Tuesday evening from 6:30pm until 8:00pm at the Clayton Community Center to discuss spring gardening techniques. There is a demonstration garden at this site that we will use to practice some of the techniques we discuss in class. The class will cost $15 to cover the cost of materials and handouts. To register for the class go to https://secure.rec1.com/NC/clayton-parks-recreation/ and select Nature Programs or call 553-1550 for more information.
Events at Johnston Community College – These events have a $15 fee, and people interested in attending these events should pre-register on their website or by calling 919 209-2052.
Wednesday, February 8 – Gardening for the New to NC: Learn the basics you need to know to garden in North Carolina.
Monday, February 13 – Vegetable Gardening – Square Foot and Container Gardening: Learn varieties, planting times, harvest times and get some hands on experience in these gardening methods.
Wednesday, February 29 – Birds and Feeders for Children – 5-12 years old: Children build a birdfeeder and a birdhouse to take home as well as learn about some plants that will attract birds to the yard.
How and When to Prune Roses
By Heidi-Lee Peach
If you feel you are amongst those intimidated people that just look at your rose bushes, love to see them bloom, watching as their amount of blossoms and fullness disappear year after year, well then, your roses are in desperate need of a makeover. Roses actually thrive with regular shaping and pruning. Poor pruning skills will never kill them, but it is best to learn proper timing, tools and techniques to prune most effectively.
GUIDELINES FOR DIFFERENT VARIETIES:
TOOLS YOU’LL NEED:
Pruning roses should be done in winter and summer. There are different tasks to be done at different times of the year.
In fall and winter:
In spring and summer:
Guidelines for pruning in JC North Carolina:
Before signs of early spring are evident (January to mid-February), delve into reshaping your roses of all kinds. Try to complete pruning before the warm snaps come, so that there is a minimal chance of pruning off new growth. This is also a good time to feed your roses.
The photo of roses in bloom is by Heidi-Lee Peach. The drawing of how to make a proper pruning cut is also by Heidi-Lee Peach
Pawpaw is a native plant of Eastern and Midwestern United States. Other than Pawpaw it may be known as Indian banana, Hoosier banana, poor man’s banana, custard apple, custard banana or false banana. The reference to banana may be due to the way the fruit grows in a hand, like a banana. More likely the banana reference is due to the banana-like flavor of the fruit.
Pawpaw’s native habitat is bottomlands, low areas near a river or stream. It may be found as an understory tree growing in part sun where it forms small groves. In the home landscape it will grow in full sun where it has a more pyramidal growth habit. The plant will have a mature height of 15 to 20 feet and be just as wide. Its natural growth habit is to have several root suckers, which may be one reason it’s not a popular landscape plant. The drooping, medium green leaves are not much to look at with their 6 to 12 inches long and about half as wide egg or pear shape.
Dark purple flowers appear in mid-spring before leaves emerge. The flower is not all that noticeable and rarely makes one stop and stare. With an odor similar to that of rotten meat, flies are the pollinator for this plant. In order to produce fruit the plant needs to have another plant for cross-pollination, as most plants are not self-fertile.
The fruit is 2 to 5 inches long with a greenish yellow skin when ripe. Most people describe the flavor as that of a banana with the consistency of custard. An item of note is the toxic nature of the seeds. The endosperm (meat of the seed) contains alkaloids that may cause stomach problems if the seeds are chewed and swallowed. However the flesh of the fruit is said to contain natural cancer fighting compounds.
Pawpaw trees are mostly pest and disease free and make a good addition to a butterfly garden. Larva of the zebra swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides Marcellus) love to feed on the leaves of this plant. Other wildlife that may be attracted to the pawpaw tree include opossum, raccoon, foxes and squirrels which are attracted by the delicious fruit.
Pawpaw trees are not easy to transplant from their native habitat. Luckily they are commercially available if one looks hard enough. Smaller plants purchased and planted in the spring are more likely to become established in the home garden. Research is being done at Kentucky State University to develop some commercially available varieties. In looking for a nursery to purchase plants I was able to find them at Ty Ty Nursery or Ison’s Nursery both of which have catalogs and websites where sizes, prices and shipping information can be found.
Pawpaw new Crop FactSHEET, Perdue University – http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/cropfactsheets/pawpaw.html
Pawpaw information at Kentucky State University – http://www.pawpaw.kysu.edu/
USDA – NRCS Plant Guide: Pawpaw available from http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_astr.pdf
Pictures provided by Will Cook with more available at his website on Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) – http://www.duke.edu/~cwcook/trees/astr.html
By Shawn Banks
One of the most feared weeds in the home landscape is crabgrass. It’s listed in the title as Digitaria species because there are two species of crabgrass that grow in our area. Large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) is a slightly larger plant, with short hairs on the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade. Smooth crabgrass (Digitaria ischaemum) is slightly smaller, with few to no hairs on the upper surface of the leaf blade. The easiest way for most people to tell the two types of crabgrass apart is to look for the hairs. Both are terribly bothersome to have because as they grow the stems will root where they touch the ground.
Crabgrass is a weed of opportunity. Meaning if it has the opportunity it will spring up and become a problem. All crabgrass needs is a little soil, some moisture, and sunlight and it will begin to grow and spread. Seeds of crabgrass begin to germinate in March when the soil temperature reaches 53 to 58 degrees, and continues to germinate through early May. Both species of crabgrass grow large so quickly they outcompete other grasses and plants for sunlight, water and nutrients.
Prevention is the best method of control. Using proper lawn maintenance techniques including proper mowing height, fertilization, mowing frequency, and deep, infrequent irrigation will encourage a thick, healthy lawn and discourage crabgrass seed germination. In flowerbeds as well as tree and shrub areas a fresh layer of mulch will bury the seed where it won’t receive the needed light for germination.
If crabgrass has been a problem in the past, there is no time like now to begin the battle against this weed. For crabgrass problems in planting beds, apply a thin layer (1 – 2 inches) of mulch. In turf areas start with a pre-emergence herbicide applied mid February to prevent crabgrass seeds from germinating. Pre-emergence herbicides can be purchased at most local garden centers; just ask one of the employees to help you find what you are looking for. Two of the many examples include Crab-Ex by Sta-Green and Halts by Scotts. Unless you are growing fescue or bluegrass there is really no need to use a product that combines pre-emergence herbicide with fertilizer.
Hopefully the pre-emergence herbicides will prevent the crabgrass seeds from germinating. However, in the event some crabgrass does get the chance to germinate, there are some liquid post- emergence products that can be sprayed on the crabgrass to kill it before it can set seeds for next year. Homeowners should look in the Active Ingredients section of the label for quinclorac, sulfentrazone or a combination including one or both of these active ingredients. There are other chemicals available for commercial applicators containing other active ingredients.
To protect people, pets, and the environment read and follow the label directions for safety and application methods.
2012 North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual (pg 300 – 301) – https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/north-carolina-agricultural-chemicals-manual
Turf Files: Large Crabgrass – http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/weeds/Crabgrass_Large.aspx
Turf Files: Smooth Crabgrass – http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/weeds/crabgrass_smooth.aspx
By Shawn Banks
The genus Raphanus is derived from the Greek word raphanos meaning “easily grown.” One of the easiest of all the vegetables to grow, the radish root can mature in as little as 30 days from the time the seed is planted.
Another random bit of information is that radish gets its common name from the Latin word radix, meaning, “root”. This too would seem obvious, because it is the root of the plant we eat. Most of us may be familiar with the round red or red and white radish that is popular on salads, but there are several other varieties of radishes as well. For example there are radishes with roots like carrots and several varieties that grow rather large and can be stored during the winter much like beets and turnips.
Some of the more popular varieties for growing in the vegetable garden include Cherry Belle, Cherry Beauty, Champion, Early Scarlet Globe, Red Boy, and Sparkler. A white carrot-root type that is quite popular is White Icicle. One variety that would be good to add to the children’s garden would be Easter Egg which is a mixture of 5 or 6 different root colors. Larger radish varieties for storage include April Cross, Everest, Omny, Long Black Spanish, and Round Black Spanish.
Radishes need to be planted in a uniform seedbed that is well drained but will stay moist. Seeds should be planted about 2 to 4 inches apart. Using the square foot garden method, a seed spacing of 2 inches will yield 16 plants per square foot. Keep radishes well watered. Plants that become stressed from heat or drought will become hot, tough and pithy. The best quality radishes will be produced when the growing temperatures are between 50 and 65 degrees F.
Seeding can start as early as February 15 and continue every two weeks until May or June and again in the fall begining August 1 through September 15 for a continuous harvest. Bury the seeds ½ inch deep directly into the seedbed. Keep the soil moist until harvest. The small garden variety radishes may take as little as 28 days to reach maturity, while the larger storage radishes may take up to 90 days to reach maturity.
Recipe: Grilled Radishes
20 ounces radishes, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 cube ice
Salt and pepper to taste
Asians Eat Giant Radishes – http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/publications/vegetabletravelers/radishes.html
Trees, Shrubs, and Ornamentals
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The Johnston County Master Gardener Volunteers are available Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 1 to 4 pm to answer questions as well. They can also be contacted by phone at (919) 989-5380 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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