Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Become a Water Wise Gardener

This spring has started out extremly dry across WNC. Our lawns are beginning to look and sound crispy as we walk across them. You may be wondering if you should be watering your garden, and if so, how much should you apply? My advice is to follow these tips below. Remember that if you do begin to water, you should continue to water until the dry period is over.

Water-wise tips for gardeners and homeowners:
  • Utilize highly-efficient watering systems such as soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems. These allow water to go directly to the plant roots and not be lost through evaporation. These methods also encourage plants to develop strong root systems by thoroughly soaking into the soil.
  • Water efficiently. Monitor soil conditions to determine how often you should water. A standard recommendation is to apply one inch of water every 7-10 days.
  • If you have a sprinkler system, check it thoroughly for leaks that can result in water loss. Sprinkler systems can be outfitted with rain sensor devices to prevent them from coming on when they are not needed. Some sprinkler systems can be retrofitted to include drip irrigation for plant beds.
  • Set sprinkler systems to appropriate setting of no more than one inch of water a week for most landscapes and gardens.
  • Water plants in the evening or early morning when less evaporation occurs. However, morning watering will prevent most plant diseases.
  • Mow grass to the most appropriate height for the weather conditions. Leaving grass slightly higher in drier weather allows the soil to retain more moisture. It is also important to keep mower blades sharp especially during drier periods.
  • Utilize mulch and compost in plant beds to help retain moisture. Mulch can also help reduce weeds, which will compete with plants for moisture.
  • Collect rain in rain barrels to use for watering as a supplement during dry periods.
For more information on garden irrigation, see this publication.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pesticide Disposal Collection Day Scheduled

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services along with North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service are sponsoring a Pesticide Disposal Collection Day on Wednesday, June 6. This event will be held at the Haywood County Extension Center located at 589 Raccoon Road in Waynesville. Technicians will be on hand from 10am-2pm to assist you with pesticide disposal. We can collect any pesticides (insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc.) that are in original containers and are clearly labeled. There is no charge to the public for this service; however, we cannot accept products with unknown identities, products that are unlabeled, or products not in pesticide containers. Materials of unknown identity, paints, or other hazardous waste will not be accepted. For more information or questions about this event, please call 828-456-3575.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Haywood County Bee Meeting Scheduled

Here is an opportunity to learn more about bees and beekeeping in Haywood County. Bill Skelton, Haywood County Extension Director, has planned this meeting and opened it to the public. Please read the following announcement for details.

The Haywood County Extension Center of the NC Cooperative Extension Service is hosting a beekeepers meeting on Tuesday, May 22, at 7:00PM at the Extension Center at 589 Raccoon Road. Our speaker for this meeting is Chris Mathis. Following is a brief description of the program he will provide for us.

Mid-May is a critical time for beekeeping in the mountains. Hive manipulations for strength, swarm control strategies and preventing starvation compete for the attention of every beekeeper. Combine these challenges with the mystery of disappearing colonies and a questionable tulip poplar bloom and the unease really sets in. Local beekeeper and beekeeping educator Chris Mathis will talk about these and other “Spring Challenges” at the Haywood Extension Center on Tuesday, May 22 at 7:00 pm. Chris will use his many “inside-the-hive” photos to demonstrate various beekeeping principles and to demonstrate some proven spring hive management strategies. He’ll also discuss some of the latest findings about the mysterious disappearance of our honey bees across the country. All are invited.

Chris is the president of The Spicewood Farm, a beekeeping and specialty gift business headquartered in Asheville, with bee yards in Yancey, Jackson, Buncombe and Rutherford counties. He is a frequent speaker and instructor on a variety of beekeeping topics and issues.

This promises to be an exciting group to be part of and I invite you to come and to bring a friend interested in Bees as well.

See you the 22nd!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Haywood County Garden Tour set for June 9th

The 4th Annual Haywood County Garden Tour is now less than a month away. This tour is sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension and the Haywood County Extension Master Gardeners.
The six gardens in this year's tour run the gamut from whimsical to dramatic. Included are the gardens of a professional landscaper and a local architect. Water features, sculptures and garden rooms will provide new ideas for both the beginner and the seasoned gardener.

Bring your cameras and notebooks and spend the day with Extension Master Gardener volunteers and the garden owners. These gardens will add to your knowledge of gardening in Western North Carolina and inspire you to take on your own garden plans.

The date for this year's tour is set for June 9, from 9am-4pm, rain or shine. Tickets are $10 per person with children 12 and under free.

For more information or to purchase a ticket, please contact the Haywood County Extension Center at 828-456-3575.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

May Garden Reminders

  • Mow tall fescue lawns to 2 ½ to 3 inch height.Research has shown that mowing to the proper height will help control weeds.
  • Do not fertilize tall fescue and bluegrass lawns again until September.Excess nitrogen can lead to brown patch disease in lawns.
  • Remove foliage from spring blooming bulbs that were injured in the hard freeze we had on Easter weekend.
  • Prune trees and shrubs that were damaged from the freeze now. Remove dead tissue and prune into healthy tissue.
  • Most plants will recover from freeze damage; however leaves may now be as full and healthy as they might have been before the freeze.


  • Do not plant tomato and pepper seedlings until May 15th.
  • Be sure to harden off seedlings for at least a week if they were started inside.
  • Keep the weeds pulled, before they have a chance to flower and go to seed again. Otherwise, you will be fighting newly germinated weed seed for the next several years.
  • Think about using potted annuals or perennials for an added touch of color and variety in the landscape.
  • Be sure to deadhead annuals to promote more flowers through the summer.

Euonymus Scale

Earlier this week I had someone bring in a sample of Euonymus Scale. I am sure that there are others who have the same problem. I hope this article from North Carolina Insect Notes will help provide you with the information you need to control this pest.

Euonymus scale is a common and sometimes very damaging armored scale pest of euonymus and a few other ornamental plants. It is found throughout North Carolina wherever euonymus, pachysandra and celastrus grow. Yellow spots first appear on the leaves. Leaves and stems may become encrusted with the scales to such an extent that whole branches or the entire plant may die.

This scale usually has two or three generations per year. The females lay eggs under their protective shell, and the tiny crawlers hatch and emerge from the mother's armor in April, May and June, which means they are active any time now. They crawl along the leaves and stems before inserting their microscopic, threadlike mouthparts and settling down to grow and secrete the armor. Another brood hatches in late summer, and a partial third brood may appear even later so that all stages of development are present during most of the year. Although this scale is small, infestations are often plainly visible particularly with dense populations in which males usually greatly outnumber female scales. We usually recommend the use of oil for euonymus scale suppression as these pesticides should also control spider mites and other pests of euonymus as well. Commercial operations have additional choices such as Safari. In severe and recurring cases, consider removing the plant from the landscape. Choose another plant or one less susceptible. Ornamental and Turf Insect Information Note No. 15 on the euonymus scale gives some information about its control and links to plant alternatives. It is available on the web at: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/shrubs/note15/note15.html.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Hummingbirds this Spring

Some homeowners may be concerned for hummingbirds because blooms on thier landscape ornamentals were damaged. Hummingbird migration is determined in part by photoperiod but also is influenced by immediate weather patterns (south winds mean easy flight to the north and warmer weather) and the availability of food (birds move to new areas as food becomes available in the spring). Therefore, hummingbird migration (and migration of all birds from the tropics) was later than average this year, and only recently picked up as our winds switched to the south. This weekend I noticed that some natives are still blooming out there. Although, many natives were frozen because they were a week or two ahead of schedule. We lost a lot of our honeysuckle, azaleas, dogwood blossoms, redbuds, tulip poplar, and many wildflowers.

There should be no concern for hummingbirds because some blooms were damaged in the Easter freeze. Native plants should fair better than most other varieties because their blooming periods are better aligned with chronological patterns, including extremes, in the local weather. Regardless of all the worry, I believe the hummingbirds will be fine because they are able to eat insects and spiders, and often do so preferentially during the spring and summer.

For more information on flowers to attract hummingbirds, click here.