Tarheel Gardening — Wordless Wednesday

Heirloom tomato harvest

 

By: Helen Yoest


The TarHeelGardening blog is published and edited by Helen Yoest. For more information on Tarheel Gardening, please visit our website at Tarheel Gardening- your online resource for North Carolina gardening enthusiasts.

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Did You Know This?

Did you know plants give back?

 

By: Helen Yoest


The TarHeelGardening blog is published and edited by Helen Yoest. For more information on Tarheel Gardening, please visit our website at Tarheel Gardening- your online resource for North Carolina gardening enthusiasts.

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Tarheel Gardening — Wordless Wednesday

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Monthly NC Garden Chores — September

Gardening with Confidence  strawberries

Strawberry needs
September (and August) is when the cell size of spring fruit strawberry buds is determined. The more favorable the growing conditions your strawberry’s receive now, the bigger the berries will be next year.

Ensure that your strawberries get an inch of water each week. If nature doesn’t provide this, then plan to supplement with water from the spigot, well, or rain harvester.

If you didn’t fertilizer your strawberries in August, do so in September. For plants that were planted this past spring, apply 4 to 6 ounces of ammonium nitrate (33% nitrogen) or 12 to 18 ounces of 10-10-10 per 25 feet of row.

For plants in their second year of growth, increase the application rate to 6 to 8 ounces of ammonium nitrate or 18 to 24 ounces of 10-10-10 per 25 feet of row.

Spread the fertilizer uniformly in a band over the row, about 14 inches wide. Apply when the foliage is dry. Brush fertilizer off the leaves to avoid leaf burn.

In cases where the strawberries aren’t planted in rows, but rather as a garden border, simply estimate the square footage and apply the equivalent amount of fertilizer. My strawberry is 2.5 feet wide by 10 feet long, which is equivalent to 25 feet of row.

Gardening with Confidence  Azalea

Feeding the hummingbirds
Hummingbirds feeders aren’t necessary if you have enough plants to feed these visitors, but they are a great way to ensure you have a consistent food source for the hummers, and you can place the feeder in a location that is easy to see from your favorite chair, either inside or out.

Gardening with Confidence  Humming bird feeder

Making hummingbird nectar
Making sugar-water nectar to fill you feeder is easy to do. Boil 4 parts water with 1 part sugar. As soon as the sugar dissolves, you can reduce the heat. It doesn’t take long; less than a minute. Let sugar water mixture cool, and fill the feeder. Store any remaining nectar in the refrigerator for up to a week. When the temperatures are hot, greater than 86º F, change the nectar water daily.

Pest
If you find fall webworms in your trees–hickory, walnut, birch, cherry, and crabapple, to name a few, pull them out and dump the caterpillars into a bucket of soapy water. This is a good control measure for those nests within reach. For those nest that aren’t within reach, you may have to resort to spraying. Control webworms with BTK (Bacillus thuringiensis). Apply just to the effected branches; using BTK as a broad spray will harm beneficial insects as well.

Weeds
There never seems to be one weed, they come in multiples, and like to hang in gangs. There’s the sedges, the spurges, the grasses, and the oxalis. There are too just many to mention, and still hope for a happy day.

Stay ahead of your weeds. if you have a problem with poa annua, annual blue grass, as I do in my Raleigh garden, now (early September) is the time to use a pre-emergent such as corn gluten.

Gardening with Confidence LawnLawns
The first two weeks in September are the best times to re-seed cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, turf-type fescue. Also our southern gardens will benefit from a core aeration.

Wait to prune
Resist the urge to prune shrubs that seem overgrown after a long summer showing. It’s best to wait until late spring to prune, just before the next growing season begins. Punning now could stimulate new growth that would be too tender to survive an early deep freeze. You may also be cutting off next spring’s blooms, such as azalea and  camellias.

Gardening with Confidence  Roses Longwood

Pruning roses
Fear of cutting next year’s bloom is not a worry with roses, but it’s still best to wait until March. Knock Out roses can be pruned most anytime; particularly when you want to shape the shrub. All types of roses benefit from removal of diseased canes and foliage anytime.

Fall planting
October is a great time to plant or move a tree or shrub. Visit your local garden center this fall when the selection will be at it’s peak. Remember to dig planting hole no deeper than the root ball height, and excavate the hole 2-3 times the width of the root ball diameter.

By: Helen Yoest


The TarHeelGardening blog is published and edited by Helen Yoest. For more information on Tarheel Gardening, please visit our website at Tarheel Gardening- your online resource for North Carolina gardening enthusiasts.

 

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White Rain Lily (Zephyranthes candida)

White Rain Lily

Name: Zephyranthes candida

Zones: 7 to 10

Size: 6 to 12 inches tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; rich moist soil.

The white rain lily was one of Elizabeth Lawrence’s favorite little bulbs. These fall bloomers like moist loam and don’t want to compete for water. Lovely white crocus-like flowers will open after it rains; the rest of the year, they offer a pleasing, grass-like leaf.  Rain lilies make a nice ground cover, giving a open area garden nice texture.

Rain Lilies are an idea bulb for a rain garden or planted in a  location made moist from receiving overflow water from a drain spout. Rain lilies have a magical quality about them in that they just seem to know from where the water comes: Rain lilies will bloom to the occasion of rain.

If you’ve been gardening in North Carolina for any amount of time, you, no doubt, have observed these beauties in gardens. Why grow a few of your own in your own landscape?

By: Helen Yoest


The TarHeelGardening blog is published and edited by Helen Yoest. For more information on Tarheel Gardening, please visit our website at Tarheel Gardening- your online resource for North Carolina gardening enthusiasts.

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Tarheel Gardening — Wordless Wednesday

Red thymeRed thyme makes a great ground cover.

By: Helen Yoest


The TarHeelGardening blog is published and edited by Helen Yoest. For more information on Tarheel Gardening, please visit our website at Tarheel Gardening- your online resource for North Carolina gardening enthusiasts.

 

 

 

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Tarheel Gardening — Wordless Wednesday

Sunchokes

Have you ever eaten Sunchokes? Easy to Grown in NC gardens, and a Native American favorite.

By: Helen Yoest


The TarHeelGardening blog is published and edited by Helen Yoest. For more information on Tarheel Gardening, please visit our website at Tarheel Gardening- your online resource for North Carolina gardening enthusiasts.

 

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Monthly NC Garden Chores — August


Tomato harvestHarvest vegetable gardens as needed.
Most of what you have growing in your vegetable garden are annuals. By August, they are looking a little wrung out. As plants end their production cycle, remove them from the garden; otherwise, they may attract insects and disease to the plants that are still productive.

Deadhead flowers. Keep your flowers blooming longer by removing faded blossoms from your cannas, roses, daisies and more.

Fertilizer dos and don’ts. As August arrives, some plants will benefit from an application of fertilizer. For other plants, it could do more harm than good.

Do fertilize:
Summer veggies such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant continue to produce when fertilized regularly. Use a product that contains 5 percent nitrogen.
Fall vegetable crops
Fall-blooming perennial and annual flowers
Chrysanthemums and dahlias
Cannas
Reblooming iris would benefit from a light application
Warm season lawns (Bermuda and Zoysia) can be fertilized
Remember to water any application of fertilizer well into the soil to provide nutrients for the roots of the plants.

Don’t fertilize:
Azaleas and camellias, because the fertilizer will disturb bud formation.
Summer-flowering shrubs shouldn’t need fertilizing for the same reason.

IMG_7788Propagate roses. Roses can be propagated by layering as late as mid-August. Long, flexible canes are the easiest to propagate because they are easiest to bend into place. Use a clean knife to remove two thorns near the top of the stem and bend it toward the ground. Make a couple of small cuts into the bark between where the thorns were. This is called “wounding the cane.” Hold the wounded area in good contact with the soil with landscape pins and cover with soil, leaving the growing tip of the stem uncovered. It’s also a good idea to put a brick or stone over the covered and wounded cane to give it extra hold.

Next spring, you should see new growth emerge. Once you see new leaves on the rooted stem, carefully remove the entire stem from the parent plant, and recut the stem just beneath the new root mass. Now you are ready to plant your new rose bush.

sawflyPests. See these on your pines? They’re the Pine Sawfly larvae. Pick them off and drop them in a bucket of soapy water.

Bulbs. Select and pre-order your spring-blooming bulbs now while supplies are plentiful. Don’t put off today what will be gone tomorrow. The most unusual bulbs sell out fast. I can say this now because I’ve already put my in order. Try something fun such as the species tulip, Tulipa clusiana.

Cut flowers. Remember those zinnias you seeded in July? Seed more in August, and be sure to cut some to enjoy inside!

By: Helen Yoest


The TarHeelGardening blog is published and edited by Helen Yoest. For more information on Tarheel Gardening, please visit our website at Tarheel Gardening- your online resource for North Carolina gardening enthusiasts.

 

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Tarheel Gardening — Wordless Wednesday

Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri.

 

By: Helen Yoest


The TarHeelGardening blog is published and edited by Helen Yoest. For more information on Tarheel Gardening, please visit our website at Tarheel Gardening- your online resource for North Carolina gardening enthusiasts.

 

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Sustainable Gardening Practices

INTRODUCTION

The term “Sustainable” gardening seems to have become the buzz word in the gardening community encompassing “green”, “organic”, and “waterwise” gardening practices. Simply put, sustainable gardening is the gardening practice of conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.

Gardening sustainably is not and does not need to be an all or nothing proposition.  You can begin with one practice and build form there.  What’s key is to be aware of what practices you perform and think about them before continuing on with business as usual.  It is also good to understand the available options and grow from there.

Most sustainable gardening practices can be delved into deeper, but a good place to begin is with these lessons:  growing the right plant in the right place, practicing water conservation, bed preparation and maintenance, and Integrated Pest Management (IPM.)

Right Plant, Right Place

Putting the right plant in the right place will save you and your resources.  Many plants can be grown outside their recommend growing range with regards to sunlight and water requirements.  In doing so, however, more time and energy is wasted – water, human energy, time.

Planting a moisture loving plant in dry bed is counter-productive.  Study and know your site.  Plant moisture loving plants in a moist area or be prepared to provide.  Plant drought tolerant plants in a dry area, and so on.  Many gardeners like to push hardiness zones, but it is not advisable to push plant needs.  While you can nurse a shade loving plant planted in the sun with water, it’s not sustainable.

Planting native plants and trees is the ultimate example of the right plant in the right place dictum.  Planting these helps to re-establish the local ecosystem. Native plantings have already adapted to this climate, and the native wildlife have adapted to these plants.

WATER CONSERVATION

Water conservation can be achieved from many aspects of garden design and harvesting.  The goal for water conservation is to keep as much of the water on your property as possible.  This can be done so by reducing impervious surfaces, slowing falling rainwater enough so as it doesn’t go to the storm drains, building rain gardens, and to water less and smartly.

Waterwise

Most of us don’t want to be denied a plant based on watering needs. But be prudent. Garden water wisely. Understand your garden’s watering zones.  Dragging a hose past 10 drought tolerant plants to water a thirsty one is neither sustainable nor practical.

A waterwise garden design is comprised of three gardening zones:  oasis, transitional, and xeric.

The “oasis zone” is still the area closest to the water source. But now these sources can be drain spouts, rain barrels, the outlet of a French drain, and the area around the front door to easily water your container plants with say, the “wasted” water used indoors.

The “transitional zone” is the area away from the house about midway from the home and the end of the property. Plantings here should be sustainable requiring only occasional supplemental water. Typically, these areas are island beds, driveway beds, or raised beds.

The “xeric zone” is at the property’s perimeter. These plants should be tough requiring no supplemental water. This area can be filled with dependable drought-resistant plants.

The key is to select plants that don’t require supplemental watering or if they do, they can be watered with water collected from nature or clean water from inside the home that would otherwise be wasted.

Water Smart

Water plants directly to the root zone by hand or using soaker or drip irrigation.  Overhead sprinklers are not sustainable due to the water lost through evaporation and wind. Water according to plant needs, not a rigid schedule. Water infrequently, but deeply.

BED PREPARATION/MAINTENANCE

Soil

We need to accept the soil we’re dealt or be prepared to amend.  In our area of the Piedmont region of North Carolina, there is clay and sand. In the heart of Raleigh, it’s all clay. As you move outside of Raleigh, you’ll find sandy soil. It is important to read plant labels.  If the label recommends planting in well drained soils, and your have clay, just know some amending will need to occur.  In any garden soil type, you cannot go wrong adding more organic matter.

Fertilizer

Reduce or eliminate fertilizer use. If you must use chemical fertilizers, be sure to closely follow the directions on the bag.  Using more fertilizer than directed will not help your plants grow any more.  Over fertilizing also increases the risk of not working its way into the ground becoming available as runoff to pollute local waterways.  Begin a compost pile to create your own organic fertilizer.

Mulching

Covering garden beds with mulch is one of the best things you can do for your garden. Used generously, mulch breaks down to add nutrients to the soil, helps retain moisture, moderates the soil temperature, improves soil texture, suppresses weeds, and looks great; and it really makes the garden look tidy.  Mulch all uncovered soil for water retention, weed control, and to improve the soil’s structure.

Weeding

Weeds compete for water with you desirable plants.  Even if the sight of weeds is acceptable in your garden, removing them will help stop the spread of environmental weeds. Find out what plants have become weeds in your area and, if you have them, weed them out or safely kill or contain them.

Composting

Composting garden and kitchen waste. In Raleigh, we have separate yard waste pick up.  If yard waste is rid properly, it won’t end up in the landfill.  But if you have the room to compost, then you don’t have to buy it back to use in your own garden.  If more fertilizer is needed, using organic sources only, like aged manure, compost tea, and those that are fish- or seaweed-based can be used.

There a few approaches to building a compost.  Choose whatever type suits your garden — a three-bay heap for a large property, a classic upside-down-bin style to place in an average garden, a tumble-type bin that neatly sits on a paved area or a bucket to keep in your kitchen.

Compost systems can be either hot or cold.  Hot requires regular a turning maintenance.  Cold takes longer to break down, but if you have the room, it is the easiest way to compost.  In cold composting, the kitchen and yard waste only needs to be piled.  After it reaches a certain height, start another.  When that one is full, go back to the other.  Hopefully it will be ready to use when you are.

Mature compost ends up as a delightful humus to use as a soil conditioner in your sustainable garden.

IPM

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective approach to pest management using the most economical means with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment.

IPM is not a single pest control method, but rather, a series of pest management evaluations, decisions and controls. It’s the judicious use of pesticides.

IPM follows a four-tiered approach:

  1. Determine action threshold.  Sighting a single pest doesn’t necessarily mean control is needed.
  2. Monitor and Identify Pests. Not all insects, weeds, and other living organisms require control. Many organisms are innocuous and even beneficial. IPM programs work to monitor for pests and identify them accurately, so that appropriate control decisions can be made in conjunction with action thresholds.
  3. Prevention.  Rotating between different crops, selecting pest-resistant varieties, and planting pest-free rootstock. Also planting in areas to provide good air circulation prevents problems with pests.
  1. Control.  Effective, less risky pest controls are chosen first, including highly targeted chemicals, such as pheromones to disrupt pest mating, or mechanical control, such as trapping or weeding. If further monitoring, identifications and action thresholds indicate that less risky controls are not working, then additional pest control methods would and could be used, such as targeted spraying of pesticides. Broadcast spraying of non-specific pesticides is a last resort.

As individual gardeners, we can each use these lessons to do a small part to help lessen our footprint on the environment with our gardening practices.  We gardeners make up large number including more than 7 million new gardeners each year.  Each of us can make a difference by avoiding the depletion of our natural resources.

By: Helen Yoest


The TarHeelGardening blog is published and edited by Helen Yoest. For more information on Tarheel Gardening, please visit our website at Tarheel Gardening- your online resource for North Carolina gardening enthusiasts.

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