The Gardener’s Dirt November 2010
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
Agriculture – Consumer Horticulture
|In this Issue
What’s In Season
|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.
Fruit Tree & Nut Tree Sale now through November 12, 2010 orders can be turned in. Pick up date is Dec 10, 2010. Call 989-5380 for more information or click here for an order from.
Rain Gardens: Nov 1, 2010 9am – 5pm, Forsyth County Center, Winston-Salem, NC 27105
Beekeeping Short Course
Wayne County Master Gardener Holiday Workshop, November 13th, 2010 at 9:00 am Goldsboro, NC, for more information call 919- 731-1525
Extension Master Gardener Volunteer training will begin again January of 2011. If you are interested in becoming an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer call 989-5380 for more information and to get an application.
Health Benefits of Houseplants
by Shawn Banks
In doing research for this article I found numerous articles that referenced a study done by NASA (the space agency) on the benefits of plants. I was not able to find study to read it myself. Most of the articles mentioned four basic benefits of having houseplants in the house. Those benefits are clean air, happiness, reduced fatigue and colds, increased creativity and productivity. Here is what I found.
Clean air – There are lots of gasses given off by products in the house. Paints, cleaners, glue, trash, and just about everything else in our modern world leak gasses into the air we breath. Many houseplants are very good at removing these gasses from the air. It is reported that in a 24-hour period 87% of the harmful gasses were removed from the air by adding houseplants to the room. This can be accomplished by using one houseplant in a 6 to 8 inch container per 100 square feet of floor space.
The NASA study showed dragon tree, ficus, ivy, philodendrons, spider plants, peace lilies, ferns, chrysanthemums, and palms to be the best at removing toxic gasses from the air. Each plant has one or two of the toxic gasses they are really good at removing. A mixture of plants will produce the best results.
Happiness – Studies have shown that patience in a hospital who have a window facing a garden recover faster than those with a window facing a wall. It has also been shown that having plants in the room helps people relax and reduces blood pressure.
Reduced fatigue and colds – The increased humidity and reduced dust in the air when plants are around seems to work prevent colds and fatigue according to a study done in Norway.
Increased creativity and productivity – Another study done in an office complex showed increased creativity and productivity when workers had a houseplant near their workstations.
I have always known there was a good reason that people liked to have plants inside, especially during the winter. I always thought it was to enjoy the pretty flowers or to remind them of the friends and family who gave them the plant. Well that may still be true. They also get the added benefit of a healthier, happier life for having the plants surrounding them.
By Shawn Banks
The white oak is a long-lived tree with some specimens having lived for 600 years or more. In its youth, the tree has a pyramidal growth habit. As it matures, it starts to broaden out to achieve a rounded canopy where the branches reach out as far as the tree is tall. At maturity this tree can reach heights of 60 to 80 feet.
The white oak is native to Eastern North America and grows in a wide range of habitats. It can be found in lowlands and on ridges, in moist soils and in dry soils. It’s not very well adapted to compact soils meaning; it does not do well in construction sites. It has very good fall color in the purple to red range, developing late in the season. After the fall color fades, the leaves of white oaks tend to hang onto the tree throughout the winter.
The white oak is noted for its very strong wood. It is highly sought after for building of ships, wine and whisky barrels, furniture and in some cultures weapons. The wood grain is so tight that it rarely splinters if it is somehow broken.
The acorns of the white oak are not as bitter as those from other oak trees and were used by Native Americans for making flower. They are also a good food source for many animals, including deer, squirrels and some birds.
By Shawn Banks
Picture from Wikipedia
Photo by Scott Bauer
Phot by Sanford Proter
According to Wikipedia, there are approximately 4,000 species of phorid flies ranging in size from 1/64 – ¼ inch in length. Many of these species feed on decaying organic matter. Some species of phorid flies are important in forensic entomology because they feed on corpses. Other species feed on dung, fungi and decaying plant matter.
A few species in the genera Pseudacteon are parasitoids of ants. More specifically they attack the red imported fire ant. The adult fly lays its egg on the thorax of the fire ant. When the egg hatches, the larva makes its way inside the fire ant, eventually reaching the head. The larva feeds on the brain of the ant until it has completely devoured it. The larva releases an enzyme that causes the ants head to fall off, giving these phorid flies the nickname “decapitating fly”. The larva then pupates in the head cavity of the ant, emerging a few weeks later as an adult to start the cycle over again.
North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services released the decapitating flies in North Carolina as part of a research study in 2001. The flies are found in Johnston County. The decapitating fly will not eradicate the imported fire ant, but it is a key to keeping the numbers under control.
WHAT’S IN SEASON
Broccoli – Brassica oleraceae
By Shawn Banks
“Green trees” is what I have always called this magical vegetable. The flower heads look so much like little green trees that that is what I have always called them. I always thought if I ate the little green trees, I would grow up to be tall and strong like the big trees. Little did I know all the benefits of eating broccoli.
Did you know there are compounds found in broccoli that reduce the risk of cancer? There are! Research has shown that eating broccoli reduces the risk of stomach cancer and lung cancer. There are chemicals in broccoli thought to reduce the risk of many other types of cancer as well. Some of this cancer fighting power is lost if the broccoli is boiled. However, steaming or stir frying don’t reduce these characteristics of the plant.
Broccoli is a cool season crop, meaning it grows best when it is cool outside. Spring and fall are the times of the year when locally grown broccoli can be found in the supermarket. The seeds or transplants can be planted into the garden at the end of July or first of August so when the temperature cools they will be big enough to produce large flower heads (the part we eat). They can also be planted between the middle and end of March for a spring crop. Broccoli heads will mature in 45 to 60 days from transplant. A good head is one that is still tightly packed. An overly mature head is loose and the flowers may start to open.
Broccoli can be eaten raw or cooked. There are several recipes to choose from including soups, salads, casseroles, and stir-fries. I like mine steamed with a cheese sauce or as a stir-fry. If you haven’t tried broccoli in a while, here is a good recipe to try.
1 pound beef round stead, cut in strips
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 cup sliced green onions
1 package frozen broccoli (14 ounces)
1 cup chopped green pepper
½ cup Thai peanut sauce
½ cup fat free beef broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped dry roasted peanuts
TREES, SHRUBS & ORNAMENTALS
VEGETABLES & FRUITS
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| 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, 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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