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Master Gardener Rhythm of Watering Presentation June 24

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Get tips on watering your plants more efficiently.ASHEVILLE NC – Join Master Gardener Jill Prior on Tuesday, June 24 @ 6:30 p.m. at the Swannanoa Library as she teaches us the “Rhythm of Watering.”

Watering your plants and grass seem to be basic practices, but you can be more efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly with a few simple changes. Understanding the why, how, where, when, and what of watering will make all the difference in either enjoying your beautiful garden, or wearing yourself out just trying to keep your plants alive.

This free program is brought to you by the Buncombe County Cooperative Extension and the Friends of Swannanoa Library. For more information, contact the library at 250-6486 or email [email protected]

Garden Chores for April

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Photo of a Blue Jay sitting on a tree limb.ASHEVILLE NC – Lawns:

  • Consider aerating the lawn with a core aerator as early as possible. This will allow spring rains to soak into the ground more readily.
  • DO NOT fertilize cool season lawns (fescue and bluegrass). Nitrogen applied this late is an invitation for brown patch fungus disease in June.
  • Maintain mowing height for fescue lawns at 3 to 3 ½ inches.
  • This is a good time to hit broadleaf weeds, such as clover and dandelions, with a spot spray of a selective herbicide such as 2, 4-D, Trimec, 33 Plus or similar products.

Ornamentals:

  • Apply a fresh layer of mulch to landscape beds before summer weeds germinate. Pull the winter weeds first. Only add enough mulch so that the total depth of mulch is no more than 4 inches.
  • Try planting those spent Easter lilies in the garden. Keep them indoors until May, and then plant them about 5 inches deep in a sunny location. They probably will not bloom again this year, but should be back next summer.
  • Let the foliage of the spring bulbs die most of the way down before cutting the leaves. The bulb needs to absorb that energy for next spring.
  • As soon as spring blooming shrubs have finished blooming, it’s time to prune if they have gotten too large.
  • Do not plant frost-tender flowers before May unless you will be able to cover them in case of frost.

Fruits:

  • Pull weeds in the strawberry bed and put straw mulch between the rows.
  • Fertilize fruit trees, blueberries, grape vines, and brambles.
  • Finish pruning brambles, grape vine and fruit trees.

Vegetables:

  • When the soil is not too wet to work, till or turn over the soil for May planting, incorporate lime and phosphate according to soil test recommendations.
  • When planning the vegetable garden, remember to rotate the location of plant families from year to year if possible.
  • Set out transplants for cool season crops such as cabbage, broccoli and lettuce. Make sure they are hardened off before planting into the garden.
  • You can still start transplants for warm season vegetables.
  • Begin “hardening off” warm season transplants a week or two before planting in early to mid-May.
  • Have row cover fabric handy if frost sensitive crops are planted before May.

Other:

  • The first hummingbirds arrive in our area between April 10 and 15. Get the hummingbird feeders cleaned and ready to go out.

For more information, call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.

October Gardening Chores

Monday, October 8th, 2012

ASHEVILLE NC – Gardening Chores for October:

Lawns:

  • Don't be stingy when planing pansies.This is a good time to core aerate compacted soils. (See September Mountain Gardener).
  • If you have reseeded the lawn, it will be important to keep the tree leaves from accumulating. A leaf blower would be gentler on the seedling grass than the rake.
  • This is a good time to fertilize the cool season lawn (fescue, bluegrass) if you did not do it last month.

Ornamentals:

  • If you have Hemlock trees, inspect them for signs of Hemlock Woolly Adelgids. This is a good time of year to treat smaller trees with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Fall is also a good time to apply a systemic soil drench treatment on larger trees. See Recommendations for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Control or view BCTV 2’s Hemlock Woolly Adelgid video, hosted by Linda Blue of Buncombe County Cooperative Extension.
  • Plant pansies and ornamental cabbage.
  • Clean up house plants before moving back indoors. Take the time to cut them back and remove dead leaves and flowers. While you are at it, inspect carefully for insect infestations and treat before bringing the plants indoors.
  • Do not fertilize anything other than the lawn.

Fruits:

  • There have been a lot of diseases in the gardens and orchards this year, making good sanitation especially important. As you rake leaves, also remove any fruit left in the trees and pick up all fruit from the ground.
  • Most blackberries and raspberries produce fruit on second year canes. An exception is Heritage red raspberry, which produce two crops each season if pruned in the traditional manner. But they can also be managed by simply cutting all of the canes to the ground in late fall to produce one larger crop in late summer.

Vegetables:

  • Good sanitation is important in the vegetable garden as well. Remove spent plants to the compost pile or turn them into the soil to rot.
  • Spray all cabbage family crops with organic B.t. (Bacillus thruingiensis) every 7 to 10 days to control the various caterpillars. Also check plants regularly for aphids, which can be controlled with insecticidal soap.
  • Pick green tomatoes before frost. Set them on the kitchen counter to ripen or use them green.
  • Harvest sweetpotatoes, pumpkins and winter squashes before frost.

Other:

  • Leave hummingbird feeders out for late migrating birds.
  • Clean out bird houses. Songbirds will often use them on cold winter nights.
  • Fall is a great time to start a new compost pile. You can build a bin or just pile all that yard waste in the corner. More information on back yard composting.

For more information, watch BCTV 2’s “October Garden Chores with Linda Blue” video or call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.

December Garden Chores

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Grape vines can be pruned any time during the dormant season. Do some pruning now if you want to use vines for wreath making.ASHEVILLE NC – It’s cold outside, and the last thing you are thinking about is your lawn or garden. There are, however, some chores that need to be done in December.

Lawns:

  • You should be able to take a break from the lawn for a while. This would be a good time to get the mower serviced and ready for next season.

Ornamentals:

  • Trees and shrubs can still be planted any time the soil is not frozen or too muddy.
  • If possible, before bringing a Christmas tree indoors, give it a good shake and even a good cleaning with the garden hose to remove pollen and hitchhiking insects.
  • Keep a living tree indoors no longer than 10 days. Then take it out and plant it in the landscape as soon as possible.
  • To enjoy the poinsettia as long as possible, give it very little direct sunlight, keep it away from heat vents and cold drafts, and water regularly.
  • Keep good pruning practices in mind when cutting holiday greenery. Make clean cuts at branch angles or leaf nodes, and keep an eye on the shape of the plant.

Fruits:

  • Grape vines can be pruned any time during the dormant season. Do some pruning now if you want to use vines for wreath making.
  • The strawberry bed can be mulched with straw when nights are regularly falling below freezing.

Vegetables:

  • Parsnips, turnips, beets and carrots can still be dug if the soil has not frozen.
  • Lettuce and Swiss chard can be kept going through much of the winter by covering with row cover fabric or constructing a cloche (mini-greenhouse) over the bed.
  • Monitor greenhouses, cloches and cold frames daily. Temperatures heat up quickly on a sunny day.

Other:

  • Use some down time to clean, sharpen, oil and repair garden tools and equipment.
  • Along with the holiday greetings, the garden catalogs will be arriving in the mail. Start flagging your wish list pages for spring orders.

Recycling Leaves:

It seems such a waste to take leaves to the curb or burn them.

Shredded leaves can be used as informal mulch in the flower bed or natural area. Put some over the vegetable garden to protect the soil during the winter and turn them into the soil in spring. If you don’t have a leaf shredder, mow over them with the lawn mower and use the bagger to collect them.

Dry leaves can be turned into wonderful compost if mixed with green material such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps. The compost will work faster if the leaves are shredded, but whole leaves will work as well.

Garden Chores for October

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

ASHEVILLE – Lawns:

  • Don't be stingy when planing pansies.This is a good time to fertilize the cool season lawn (fescue, bluegrass), if you didn’t do it last month. Use a slow-release fertilizer and apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
  • It’s been dry, so if you have planted grass seed, remember to keep it watered.
  • Also, be careful not to tear up new seedlings while raking leaves. A leaf blower is gentler on
    the seedlings.

Ornamentals:

  • If you have Hemlock trees, inspect them for signs of Hemlock Woolly Adelgids. This is a good time of year to treat smaller trees with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Fall is also a good time to apply a systemic soil drench treatment on larger trees. See Recommendations for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Control or view BCTV 2’s Hemlock Woolly Adelgid video, hosted by Linda Blue of Buncombe County Cooperative Extension.
  • Fall is a good time to plant trees and shrubs. Pull roots loose on container grown plants and do not plant too deep.
  • Do not fertilize ornamental plants now.
  • Limit pruning to snipping the occasional stray branch and removing dead or damaged branches.
  • Purchase spring blooming bulbs. Plant late in October or in November.
  • Plant pansies and ornamental cabbage.
  • Clean up house plants before moving back indoors. Take the time to cut them back and remove dead leaves and flowers. While you’re at it, inspect carefully for insect infestations and treat before bringing the plants indoors.

Fruits:

  • Good sanitation is always important in the orchard this time of year. As you rake leaves, also remove any fruit left in the trees and pick up all fruit from the ground.
  • Finish removing old canes from blackberry and raspberry patches.
  • Strawberry plants are setting on the buds for next spring’s fruit. Pull weeds and irrigate if needed.

Vegetables:

  • Plant garlic and onions.
  • Fertilize greens and other cool season crops planted last month.
  • Good sanitation is important here as well. Remove spent plants to the compost pile or turn them into the soil to rot.
  • Spray all crucifers (cabbage family crops) with organic B.t. (Bacillus thruingiensis) every 7 to 10 days to kill the various caterpillars that eat the plants.

Other:

  • When you are finished with garden clean-up, take a look at the storage shed. Clean out, organize and repair equipment.
  • Leave hummingbird feeders out for late migrating birds.
  • Fall is a great time to start a new compost pile. You can build a bin or just pile all that yard waste in the corner. More information on back yard composting.

For more information, watch BCTV 2’s “October Garden Chores with Linda Blue” video or call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.

Gardening Classes in September

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – Growing in Mountains, Thursdays, Sept. 15- 29, 2011, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at NC On September 15 learn the 6 steps to landscape design.Cooperative Extension, 94 Coxe Avenue in downtown Asheville.

  • September 15 Six Steps To Landscape Design
  • September 22 Selecting The Right Plants
  • September 29 Planting and Maintenance

Pre-registration is required, due to limited seating. $5 per class, pay at the door. Questions? Call Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.

September Garden Chores

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC –

Lawns:

  • If your lawn looks like most, you may have some bare areas as a result of hot, dry weather, or brown patch. September is the best time to plant cool season grasses (fescue and bluegrass), so this would be a good time to reseed those areas. When using hybrid fescue blends use 5 to 6 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet for new plantings. Use 2 to 3 pounds when overseeding thinned lawns.
  • Fertilize fescue and bluegrass lawns. Apply 1 pound actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Use slow-release fertilizer to reduce risk of nutrient run-off.
  • If you want to try to control broadleaf (non-grass) weeds with herbicides, wait until plants are not drought-stressed and are actively growing. Be aware, though, that you may not be able to put down grass seed for a few weeks before or after using the herbicide. Read the label for those instructions.

Ornamentals:Hummingbird

  • Unless you have been irrigating, the annual flower bed is probably looking pretty bedraggled by now. You can soon start replacing summer annuals with pansies and ornamental cabbage. The earlier you plant pansies, the better display they will give you this winter and next spring.
  • Crowded perennials can be divided. Some to divide now include daylilies, irises, phlox, yarrow and Rudbeckias.
  • This can be a good time to collect dried plant material for winter use. Seed heads, grasses, pods and dried flower heads can be hung upside down to dry for later use.
  • You may want to stop deadheading coneflowers, sunflowers and black-eyed Susans in order to leave the seed heads for the birds to enjoy.
  • Watch the temperatures and be ready to move house plants indoors before temperatures drop below 50° F. Before that time comes, start checking the plants for signs of insects so they can be treated a few times before moving back indoors.

Fruits:

  • This summer many gardeners have been disappointed to lose many peaches and grapes to fruit rot diseases. To reduce problems next year, do a good job of removing all plant debris – get mummified fruit out of the plant and pick up everything on the ground. Next year, plan a preventative spray schedule.
  • Put on long sleeves and finish pruning the old canes from the blackberries and raspberries. Remove canes that bore fruit this year and thin out new canes if needed to leave only 4 to 8 canes per square yard.

Vegetables:

  • Early in the month it may seem warm for planting fall vegetables, but September is actually a bit later than optimal for planting most of these crops. Give yourself until mid-month to plant things like broccoli, cabbage, collards, and other leafy greens.
  • Seed lettuces, spinach and kale through the month.
  • By this time it is easy to let down your guard on pest control. If you want to keep tomatoes and cucurbits producing until frost, keep up the fungicide and insecticide sprays.
  • Insects can be a problem with all of the cabbage family crops. A weekly application of B.t. bacteria spray will prevent cabbageworms. Use insecticidal soap for aphids if needed.

Other:

  • Keep filling the hummingbird feeder. Migrating birds will make use of the food supply even into October.
  • Keep after those weeds to prevent them from spreading seeds.

For more information, view the following video produced by BCTV 2, hosted by Linda Blue, Extension Agent with Buncombe County Cooperative Extension or call 255-5522.

September Garden Chores

Recommendations for the use of chemicals are included in this article as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this article does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned.

Visit the Master Gardeners Demonstration Sites

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – You can learn more about gardening by visiting the three demonstration sites maintained by Extension Master Gardeners (EMG) in Asheville:

  • On Thursday mornings between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. (except on rainy days), you can visit with EMG Volunteers at the Plant A Row Demonstration Garden at MANNA Food Bank. They will be happy to answer your gardening questions or explain their vegetable growing techniques while they take care of the garden. Of course, you can drop by to take a look, pick up a leaflet and sign the guest book at any time.
  • If you’re visiting the WNC Nature Center, check out the Heirloom Garden. Inside the picket fence you’ll see heirloom varieties of herbs, flowers and vegetables and you can pick up a leaflet. These volunteers also usually work on Thursday mornings.
  • The Composting Demonstration, located at the WNC Farmers’ Market, features several types of compost bins as well as informational signs and leaflets. Composting demonstrations are held the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. You can stop by anytime to view the exhibit and pick up a leaflet.

If you have any questions, call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.

Asheville’s Focus on Flowers: Going Green in the Garden – July 16

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – On Saturday, July 16, garden writer, lecturer and photographer Pam Beck is the keynote speaker, and will kick off the day with “Change How You Garden,” with an eye toward common sense, sustainability and developing a deeper understanding of your garden. Beck says that “it is time to reevaluate your landscape and your relationship with it. Let’s plan for sustainable urban landscapes that arChange how you garden with an eye toward common sense, sustainability & developing a deeper understanding of your garden.e maintainable, water wise, nature friendly, and food producing, and created with a holistic approach.” This lecture, with slides, is filled with practical suggestions to apply to your own outdoor habitat.

Ms. Beck will be joined by such speakers as Randy Burroughs, Debbie Wood, and Linda Blue addressing such topics as “drought tolerant plants” and “common sense container garden displays.” This year’s agenda incorporates additional breakout sessions to allow for more specialized topics. Participants will receive handouts and resource information from all presentations.

This program is co-sponsored by the NC Cooperative Extension Service, the Buncombe County Master Gardeners and the North Carolina Arboretum Society. It will be held on Saturday, July 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Parking fee, lunch, and beverages are included in the program fee, which is $49 for NC Arboretum members and $55 for the general public. Register here.

July Garden Chores

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC –

Lawns:

  • Recent wet weather has induced brown patch fungus disease to start developing in many lawns. The best steps to reduce the spread of the disease aDivide irises and daylilies after they have bloomed.re to avoid mowing when the grass is wet, and do not irrigate. If the weather gets dry and the grass goes dormant, the disease will stop developing.
  • Maintain the 3 inch mowing height, and in most cases leave clippings on the lawn. If you have brown patch you may want to use a bagging attachment to remove clippings for a while.

Ornamentals:

  • Finish any pruning or fertilizing of shrubs before the end of the month.
  • Don’t forget to water newly planted trees and shrubs – weekly if needed.
  • Irises and daylilies are typically divided now. If you have several varieties of daylilies it is often helpful to
    divide while they still have some blooms if you want to keep the varieties separated.
  • Some tree species bleed sap readily when pruned in winter – elms, maples, birches, dogwoods. That is not really harmful to the trees, but if you would rather not have the dripping sap, remove branches during the summer.

Fruits:

  • Early summer rain has produced perfect conditions for lots of black rot to develop on grapes, as well as brown rot on peaches and nectarines. At this point, if you have not been applying fungicide sprays on a regular basis, you probably already have problems. Products containing Captan are most effective.
  • For best flavor, leave peaches on the tree until the background color changes from green to yellow.
  • Prune blackberries and raspberries after harvest.

Vegetables:

  • This is definitely the season for diseases in the vegetable garden – early blight and late blight on tomatoes, mildews on squash and cucumbers, rust on beans. The best way to prevent these diseases is to maintain weekly fungicide sprays. The most commonly used garden product is chlorothalonil (Bravo, Daconil, etc.). Organic gardeners may want to try Serenade, a new bacterial product. Copper or sulfur sprays are less effective, but offer a little help.
  • Do not let basil plants flower, as it will change the flavor of the leaves. You can keep pinching out flowers, but the best approach is to “harvest” as soon as flowers start to form. Cut the stems back hard, right above a set of leaves low down on the branch. The stems will quickly resprout.
  • Start planning for the fall garden. Brussels sprouts should be planted in July, most other cool season crops in August. You can start seeds in pots for plants such as broccoli, cabbage and collards.
  • You can also still plant late crops of squash, bush beans or cucumbers.

Other:

  • Protect honeybees. If you must use an insecticide (even organic), spray late in the evening when few bees are active.
  • Surplus produce can be donated to the Plant A Row For The Hungry collection at Manna Food Bank. Take fresh fruits and vegetables to Manna at 627 Swannanoa River Road, Monday – Friday between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.