Insects & Disease

Is your garden Bugging You?

Is your garden Bugging You?

It is June, the time of year when every kind of bug makes its way to my Summerfield, NC garden.  I have already seen big fat rust colored potato bugs with a brood of newly hatched babies, aphids on my hellebores, flea beetles on my eggplant, slugs on my hostas, cabbage worms on my kale and kohlrabi, and now the cucumber beetles and Japanese beetles have arrived! How do gardeners control these thugs without poisoning themselves or the bees and butterflies that are happily floating around the garden? The number one thing to understand is that bugs are your friends.  Most are beneficial to your...

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The Buzz on Bees & Bug Killers

The Buzz on Bees & Bug Killers

Every year the North Carolina Nursery & Landscape Association (NCNLA) holds the “Green & Growin’” Conference & Trade Show in Greensboro.  Nurserymen, Landscapers & Educators may attend 3 days of classes plus a 2-day trade show.  For those 2 days the Greensboro Coliseum is filled with trees, colorful shrubbery, tropicals, perennials, ground covers, bulbs, nursery pots, giant tractors, pruning tools and more. I LOVE going! Besides being surrounded by hunky guys, I come away with valuable information, new ideas, and new sources of the coolest plants.  Best of all, I meet...

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Why Plants Die

Why Plants Die

You have given them the perfect soil, sited your plant in the “right” amount of sun/shade, watered appropriately ... and three months later your beautiful green plant is as brown as toast.  What happened?!  The funny thing is that plants often have the same symptoms whether you over watered or under watered, or if they were sick or just in too much sun.  There are many ways to diagnose the problem, but sometimes even the best gardeners do not always know. The first thing I always check is the soil.  Is it too wet or too dry? Are other plants around the new ones struggling too? Test your...

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Overachiever

Overachiever

Can I just say it? From graduating high school at age 16 to retiring from my sales career at age 48, I have always been in a hurry to “get it done”.  This is not necessarily a good thing, as other things seem to be overlooked as my projects get underway.  So it has been this year as my writing has fallen short.  Nevertheless, this year’s projects have been fun and rewarding (photos below) and I hope you may find some inspiration in them too. A new wall as a backdrop to the cutting garden.  It totally brightened up a dark gloomy wall of Leyland cypress!   A new garden...

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Sept 2, 2013

Sept 2, 2013

Even as I pulled up my last pitiful tomato and squash plants, I was rejoicing that my usual “fall” crops are already coming up beautifully.  Already the broccoli, kale, collards, turnips, lettuce and arugula are gorgeous in this mild, wet end of summer.  My figs, raspberries, eggplant and peppers are still producing well too. Perhaps this won't go down as the summer of bugs and mildew after all! The butterflies have been amazingly abundant, and perhaps just as interesting is what has attracted them. They have flocked to the native plants like purple Ironweed and Joe Pye.   Popular...

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Master Gardener Newsletter & Gardening Gala

Master Gardener Newsletter & Gardening Gala

Our Guilford County Agricultural Extension Agent, Karen Neill, sends out a monthly newsletter with excellent horticultural tips and advice.  The July issue is attached below and subscriptions are available to anyone who requests it.   You can get your own sent to your inbox monthly by emailing Karen at kcneill@ncsu.edu.      Click Here to open the July issue:  GGG_July_15_ 2013 Perhaps the most important news is the Master Gardener’s 12th Annual Gardening Gala and Seminar scheduled for Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:30 am - 4:00 pm.   It is one of my very favorite events of the year. Held...

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“Say it with Flowers” (plus handy Garden Tips)

“Say it with Flowers” (plus handy Garden Tips)

With the humidity and precipitation making the Piedmont Triad feel like a tropical rainforest, I have to admit that I’d rather be at the beach or in the mountains –  except that I cannot miss the the glorious flowers blooming all over my garden!  Many of them are blooming later than usual, but my hope is that they will be fabulous longer into the fall without burning out in our usual heat. My Course #5, the Cut Flower Workshop is such a fun event that I have decided to open it to new students.  The date is Saturday, August 10th,  9am to noon.  The course fee is  $40.  We will...

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Good Bugs, Bad Bugs

Good Bugs, Bad Bugs

A friend sent me the photo above and asked what had been attacking her tomatoes.  These pretty freaky looking bugs are appropriately called “Assassin Bugs”, and they are NOT causing the problem she is having with her tomatoes.  In fact, they don’t eat plants at all.  Assassin bugs are considered beneficial insects because they are carnivores, they eat other bugs, hopefully the ones we want to eliminate in our garden like aphids, caterpillars and Japanese beetles.  Here is a picture of a new cropthat  just hatched on my squash plants. (Yeaaa - Go get 'em, babies!) Nymphs...

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Diseases of Tomato Plants & more

Diseases of Tomato Plants & more

  I have never seen a tomato plant look so funky –  deep green but with thick hard stems, dwarfed curled leaves and stunted growth.  Not the usual yellowing leaves with black spots so typical of tomato fungus or bacterial problems.  What happened? Tomato plants can get any number of pest and disease problems, and there may be similar symptoms with very different causes. In this case, it was clearly a case of horse manure tainted with a broadleaf herbicide. The older manure I used was OK as any chemicals it may have contained had dissipated, but the most recent load was too fresh!...

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SOUP – It’s what’s for Dinner

Caldo Verde I really tried to be good.  But alas, even my “fat pants” are tight.   I’m back on the treadmill now, and back in my garden soon.  Veggies could save me.  Fortunately, delicious hot soup is on my “get healthy again” plan and I have one of my favorite recipes for you below. I picked the last of the lettuce and arugula from my garden today for salads with zingier flavors that the grocery varieties. My collards are sweeter than ever and growing strong - perfect with New Year’s black eyed peas!   Did you know it’s the sugar in collard leaves that keeps...

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