The Gardener’s Dirt September 2011
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
|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.
Progressive Agriculture Safety Day – for youth ages 5 – 12. September 17 at Lazy O Farm, 3583 Packing Plant Rd, Smithfield. From 8am until 1pm. Registration Deadline is September 2. Call 919 989-5380 for more information. Click here for a registration form.
Clayton Farm and Community Market – Extension Master Gardener Volunteers will be at the Market in Downtown Clayton on Saturday, September 17. If you have gardening questions you would like to have answered stop by and ask an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.
Activities at the Arboretum at JCC – For more information on these activities or to register for one of them Click Here
The Gardens of A.J. Bullock Tour on September 7 from 8:30am until 3:30pm Cost is $15 and lunch is on your own.
Apple Festival, Historic Bethabara Park/ Old Salem, Winston Salem tour on September 17 from 8:30am until 5:30pm. Cost is $15 and lunch is on your own.
Preserving the Bounty: Dehydration and Canning Workshop is on September 21 from 6:00pm until 8:00pm. Cost is $25
UNC – Botanical Gardens Tour on September 28 from 8:00am until 3:00pm. Cost is $15 Lunch is on your own
Making More by Division with Minda Daughtry Workshop will be October 4 from 8:00am until 10:00am. Cost is $10.
Tropicals in the Landscape
By Eloise Adams
While living in four tropical climates I developed a real interest in, and appreciation for, the blooming shrubs and trees of those areas. So much color – all year! The only tree I have tried is the Plumeria and I have been rewarded with a few very fragrant blooms. In Hawaii I used the Plumeria flowers to make leis for visitors who came from the mainland. I particularly like palm trees and there are other tropicals, e.g., bananas and elephant ears, which people grow in the summer landscape. To add some color to all this green why not try some of the following tropicals. Don’t be too anxious to put them outside in the spring, for they prefer temperatures above 55 degree. Here are a few of my favorites.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Who can resist the bold, beautiful colors of the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis? Not me. It is probably the most recognizable tropical flower. They are very similar to Hibiscus moscheutos, our native perennial hibiscus. They need full sun to keep blooming and ample water. Pick a flower and stick it behind your ear – Hawaiian style. Flowers last only one day. A word of caution – they are not deer resistant.
Bougainvillea spectabilis. This is one of my favorites, which I grow as container plants and /or hanging baskets. The bright floral bracts come in many colors and cover the tiny white flowers. The colors I’m growing this year are Oo-La-La (a raspberry) and Bengal Orange with variegated foliage. Bougainvillea like full sun and well-drained soil and require daily watering.
Ixora coccinea. My love of orange brings me to Ixora coccinea, one of the most colorful of all tropicals. The clusters of flowers, about 3″ across, create a vivid mass on the bush. It is not as readily available as the others. Again, full sun, ample moisture, and good drainage.
Plumbago auriculata. Do you like blue flowers? If so, then try Plumbago auriculata. The flowers are in phlox-like clusters covering the plant. It needs full sun, daily watering and good drainage. I have been successful in keeping Plumbago through the winter in the garage. On a sunny warm day I take it outside. It will tolerate cooler temperatures than other tropicals. All parts of the plant are toxic, so keep this one away from small children.
Strelitzia reginae, Bird of Paradise. This is another orange favorite of mine. It has spectacular flowers. Of course it also has blue in it – what a combination. It is a low-maintenance plant, fairly tolerant of soil conditions. They do well in full sun to semi-shade and respond well to regular feeding with a controlled release fertilizer. It is slow growing. Divide infrequently since large crowded clumps bloom best. It is a long lasting cut flower.
With all the tropical plants I have talked about, watering must be consistent throughout the summer. Extra fertilizer is required, as the constant watering leaches away nutrients. Water- soluble fertilizer, as often as once a week, should keep your tropicals blooming. Whether you try to over-winter your tropicals inside is up to you. If you have ample space in a very well lit room it can work, or you can treat them as annuals, which stimulates the economy. When the temperature is forecast to drop below 55 degrees it is time to bring them in. Remember to examine the plants carefully for insects before moving them inside.
by Heidi Peach
Windmill Palm trees, considered the king of palms for northern climates, is listed as hardy to USDA hardiness zone 7b-8a. However, winterizing techniques can minimize damage in colder zones. Although, the palms you will most likely find to purchase are much smaller, a full-grown palm of this nature can grow up to 20-40’. Their alternatively, fanned 18”-36” long sword-like leaves have a 4’diameter, creating a symmetrical crown as much as a 10’ diameter. Its single trunk will usually be covered with a loose mat of coarse gray and brown fibers.
This palm does produce a yellow, white/cream/gray flower, which is not a showstopper, nor is the blue, up to 1” round palm fruit. There is no known wildlife that cares for its flower or fruit, and it is not edible. The palm is propagated by seeds germinated in 75-degree weather.
Other characteristics of the Windmill Palm include these facts: there is not much pruning needed on these palms. They stay green all year. Although the large leaves don’t typically drop, the lower leaves will occasionally need trimming, to produce fresh leaves in the top. The petiole, the stem of the leaf, up to 18”, can have thorns. They are resistant to winds and are moderately drought and salt tolerant. They like partial sun to partial shade and are tolerant of many soils as long as they are moist, but well drained. During drought times, the palm will grow even slower, but is very tolerant.
Winter frost may brown a few leaf edges, while a big snow or ice storm can damage the main growing point in the center, which should be protected during extreme cold in winter months. Wrapping the tree with burlap, and covering the top of the tree with a blanket on extremely cold nights should protect the plant. A mulch layer of 3 – 6 inches around the base should protect the roots from the cold of winter and drought in summer. If you do encounter some lose of foliage during a harsh winter, only prune back what looks like it will not recover. Do not over prune.
Photos: Top photo by Heidi Peach
By Patty Brown
Smilax vine on a fence
Smilax tuber by Walter Reeves
Don’t let the name deceive you! You won’t be smiling if you find Smilax in your landscape. And if you look for it, you’ll probably find it because it’s widespread. Smilax typically goes by the common name of “greenbrier” (types include lanceleaf, roundleaf, kidneyleaf, laurel and more). It’s a perennial shrubby and thorny vine native to and common throughout North Carolina, the eastern half of the United States, and parts of Canada. The roundleaf greenbrier’s leaves are indeed round and somewhat waxy or glossy.
Left alone, Smilax plants will grow into shrubs, which will eventually become dense thickets. Individual plants can grow up to 10-20 feet in length, climbing trees or other plants and structures and attaching itself with its thorns or tendrils. Varieties of Smilax can be found in both open and woodsy areas, and in moist or dry soil with a moderate pH.
While Smilax is definitely a nuisance in the garden due to its thorns and clingy ways, it does provide food—and shelter, in some cases—for birds and other animals. The plant flowers in May and June, with clusters of white to yellow flowers, depending on species. If pollination occurs, then berries—usually blue to black—form and ripen in the fall. In late winter and early spring, these berries provide food for birds, including northern cardinals. The seeds in the berries are deposited in the bird and animal droppings, which is one way the plant spreads. It can also spread by its long, narrow rhizomes, which run underneath but near the surface of the soil.
Difficult to control, Smilax is tough enough to grow back after being cut down or burned off by fire. Herbicides with the active ingredient glyphosate (e.g., Roundup ® or others) can help control this vine, but physically removing it—and as much of its rhizome system as possible—is often the most effective and simplest method of ridding your landscape of greenbrier. Just remember to wear gloves as a protection from its thorns.
For more information on controlling Smilax, call the Cooperative Extension office at 919 989-5380.
USDA Forest Service: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/vine/smirot/all.html
University of George College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences http://www.caes.uga.edu/Publications/pubDetail.cfm?pk_id=7310
Photos of Smilax rotundifolia – public domain image from Wikimedia
WHAT’S IN SEASON
By Amie Newsome
No house salad could be complete with out cucumbers. This delicious fruit, classified as a vegetable, is available now fresh from the garden. When harvesting the fruits need to be a deep green color. The length should be 6 – 8 inches for slicing cucumbers. Slicing cucumbers need to be picked 4 – 5 times a week to help the plant maintain a continuous production of fruit thought the season. Mature cucumbers not removed from the vine will stop production for the entire plant.
Too insure maximum results from your cucumber plants you want to provide 1 inch of water per week during the flowering and fruiting stage of plant development. This will insure that the cucumber fruit gets the required amounty of water. Cucumbers are 95% water and so the timing and irrigation requirements are critical. Cucumbers have a low drought tolerance. Inadequate watering causes a reduction in yield and fruit quility causing fruit to be cracked or have pointed ends.
Cucumbers can be cooked, baked frozen or enjoyed raw. Slicing cucumbers are great in salads and salsas, or on sandwiches and vegetable trays. Before eating or used in dishes they should be washed in cold water. They should last about a week if they are place in a plastic bag and then refrigerated.
Cucumber Yogurt Dip
Cool and creamy, this tangy cucumber dip flavored with garlic is the perfect complement to grilled meat and vegetables!
Peel, seed, and grate one cucumber. Slice other cucumber and set aside. Mix yogurt, grated cucumber, sour cream, lemon juice, dill, and garlic in a serving bowl. Arrange tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, and carrots on a colorful platter. Serve with cucumber dip
Perparation time: 10 minutes
1 1/4 cups of fruits and vegetables per serving
Recipe can be found at: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/?page_id=19458
For more information on cucumbers visit: http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/s2009/olson_eri2/
SEPTEMBER GARDEN TASKS
TREES, SHRUBS & ORNAMENTALS
VEGETABLES & FRUITS
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, 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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