Monday, December 28, 2009

Annual Christmas Tree Recycling - January 9th

The Environmental and Conservation Organization (ECO) is coordinating their annual tree recycling event in conjunction with Henderson County Parks and Recreation. Residents are encouraged to drop off their trees at Field 6 in Jackson Park. Hendersonville city residents may leave their trees at curbside, where they will be gathered and included in the recycling project.

Be sure to remove all lights and decorations before dropping your trees at the park. No wreaths, balled trees or greenery with wire will be accepted. Christmas trees will be chipped to make mulch on Jan. 9 at Jackson Park. Mulch created from the chipping will be given away free of charge, so bring a bag if you’re interested in taking some home.

Call the ECO office at 692-0385 for more information.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Let it Snow, let it snow, let it snow......

As I write this post, there is 14" of snow in my front yard and the snow is still falling. I just love the snow but my plants can be damaged by severe winter weather. The large Southern Magnolia in my front yard has already had three limbs broken and the heavy, wet snow could do more damage before its all over. The boxwoods just in front of my house also look awful.
While it's true that heavy, wet snows and ice often cause broken branches, snow itself will not hurt landscape plants. In fact, the opposite is true. Snow is a very good insulator against chilling temperatures that may injure plants.
If you are concerned about injury to your favorite plants from the settling snow, protect them by scooping the snow away from the plant. Then, with gloved hands, carefully remove the snow from the branches. Natural snowfall or windblown snow seldom result in plant injury. It's usually the devices we use to remove snow that cause the most damage.
If snow is dumped on plants, it may be better to leave it than to try to remove it to prevent further breakage of the branches. If you do have branches break out of trees and shrubs, be sure to prune the broken limbs as soon as possible after the storm has passed.
For more information, call your local extension agent.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bring the Outside Inside for the Holidays

Many different kinds of greenery can be used for holiday decorations. Pines, firs and cedars are good to use for indoor decoration since they dry out slowly and hold their needles best at warm interior temperatures. They may last for several weeks if properly treated and cared for. Hemlock, spruces and most broadleaf evergreens will last longer if used outdoors.

Below are some suggested varieties to use in holiday decorating.

White Pine: This soft, bluish-green, long-needled pine has excellent needle retention but wilts visibly if dry.

Virginia Pine: This native pine has shorter, coarser needles, and is long-lasting, with excellent needle retention.

Junipers: Fragrant, short, green or silver-blue foliage that may be adorned with small blue berries. The needles are often sticky.

Firs: All firs have wonderful scent and good tolerance of hot, dry indoor conditions. The needles are short and flat with excellent color and needle retention. Fraser fir wreaths and swags are commonly available from commercial sources.

Spruce: Wreaths are the main use for spruce greens. The branches are stiff with short, sharp needles. Blue spruce is especially attractive because of its color, and it holds its needles better than other spruce. Needle retention is poorer on spruce than on other conifer greens.

Ivy: This vigorous vine is readily available in many yards. It makes an excellent green for holiday arrangements. The cut ends must be kept in water, or the ivy will quickly wilt.

Holly: This most traditional holiday green comes in several forms, both green and variegated. Female plants display bright red berries. Make sure that holly does not freeze after cutting, or the leaves and berries may blacken.

Mountain Laurel: This is a traditional evergreen in the South for wreaths and garlands. As with other broad-leaved evergreens, however, laurel holds up best when used outdoors.

Magnolia: The large leaves are a glossy, dark green that contrast well with the velvety, brown undersides. Magnolia leaves make stunning wreaths and bases for large decorations. The leaves hold up very well even without water.

Some other excellent evergreens that can be used for holiday greenery include:

* Arborvitae
* Ligustrum
* Pittosporum
* Podocarpus
* Viburnum
* Leyland Cypress
* Nandina
* Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)
* Hemlock

However you choose to decorate this holiday season, be safe and have a Merry Christmas.

Parts taken from Decorating with Holiday Greenery, Clemson Cooperative Extension

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Bullington Center has beautiful amaryllis with lily-like flowers for you to purchase this Holiday Season. The amaryllis makes a great gift for friends and loved-ones.

When used as a potted plant for a special occasion, the amaryllis provides spectacular flower colors and effects. They come in a wide range of flower colors from red, pink and white to combinations of these.

The bulbs for sale at the Bullington Center are red and a nice shade of pink.
When properly handled and cared for properly, an amaryllis bulb may produce flowers for up to 75 years. Good quality bulbs of named varieties may produce up to six flowers on a single stalk.

The bulbs will be for sale at Bullington through December 18th. For more information, call 698-6104.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advantages of Real Christmas Trees

This morning I walked into the Extension office to the aroma of a freshly cut Christmas tree, selected from a local grower. This year our commercial agent selected a Concolor Fir, Abies concolor. This hard to find attractive tree has needles that are longer and spaced further apart than those on the Fraser Fir. Michael Dirr calls this tree the most handsome of all firs. Which ever tree you choose this Holiday Season, just remember this list of reasons to buy local and living trees.

- Real Christmas trees are plantation grown on American family farms, making an important economic contribution to many rural communities in the United States.
- Real Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and other harmful “greenhouse” gases and release fresh oxygen into the air.
- A Real Christmas tree has a fragrance beyond compare.
- One acre of Christmas trees provides the daily oxygen requirement for 18 people.
- Real Christmas trees are an all-American renewable, recyclable resource. After the holidays, Real trees are chipped into biodegradable mulch, which replenishes soil in landscapes, parks, and schools.
- Real Christmas trees can be used as a feeding station and winter shelter for songbirds in your yard.
- The safest Christmas tree is a fresh, well-watered tree. A Real tree has never started a fire. Faulty Christmas lights, candles, and fireplaces can start tree fires.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Haywood County Master Gardener Program

The Haywood County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension is currently taking applications for the 2010 Master Gardener Training Program. Classes this year will be held on Tuesday mornings at the Extension office on Raccoon Road from 9am-12noon. Participants will learn about a variety of horticultural topics including vegetable gardening, soils & fertilizers, pest management, and others. If you are interested in the program, please contact the Extension office at (828)456-3575.
Master Gardener Volunteers are a vital part of the overall consumer horticulture programs of Extension. Volunteers help to answer questions that come into the Extension office, make presentations, work with school gardens, and do a number of other activities to promote horticulture throughout the county.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Heather Loves our Acidic Soils

Heather generally refers to a group of evergreen plants in the Ericaceae family, most often: Calluna (Scotch heather or ling), Erica (heath) and Daboecia (Irish Heath). While not native to North America, many heathers are well suited to our mountains of western North Carolina.

Many gardeners do not think about the versatility of heathers. They are evergreen, with delicate foliage, woody stems, and small long lasting flowers. Some individuals find these plants to be finicky, but once established they should be long-lived. All heathers do well in acidic soil amended with with organic matter.

Calluna vulgaris, is the true heather and perhaps the hardiest and most varied - from small tufts to spreading ‘carpeters’ and upright shrubs. Flowers in white and every shade of pink, mauve, lavender and red last for 6-8 weeks beginning late summer/early fall. Foliage is scaly, rather than needle-like and often changes to spectacular shades of yellow, orange, gold, bronze and red during the colder months. Callunas must have full sun, acid soil and good drainage. They must not be allowed to dry out their first year, but after that are drought tolerant. Hardy to zone 4 or 5.

Only a handful of the 800 species of Erica are commonly cultivated. The two easiest to grow also happen to be the two winter-bloomers:

Erica carnea or winter heath is a low, fast-growing and spreading plant with needle-like leaves and bell-shaped flowers. Its foliage is not as colorful as the Callunas’. Flowers in shades from white to pink, red, magenta, mauve appear in early to mid-winter and last well into spring. New spring growth often is a lovely contrasting color. Foliage is yellow green to very deep green. Tolerates more shade and more soil types than other heathers.

Erica x darleyensis is another very easy-to-grow species, quite similar to E. carnea, but taller and bushier. Most varieties have pink or cream tips in spring and bronze or dark green foliage. Buds form in late summer or very early fall, and some cultivars begin to bloom as early as late September, lasting into mid-spring. Flowers open pale and deepen as the season progresses. These plants should survive in zone 6 with some protection.

Heathers would be a good addition to any perennial border, rock garden, or as an accent plant with conifers. See website below for more information.

Parts taken from

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Value of a Leaf

Leaves are truly a valuable natural resource! They contain 50 to 80 percent of the nutrients a plant extracts from the soil and air during the season. There are four basic ways in which leaves can be managed and used in the landscape.

Leaf Management - Mowing
A light covering of leaves can be mowed, simply leaving the shredded leaves in place on the lawn. This technique is most effective when a mulching mower is used.

Leaf Management - Mulching

Mulching is a simple and effective way to recycle leaves and improve your landscape. Mulches reduce evaporation from the soil surface, inhibit weed growth, moderates soil temperatures, keep soils from eroding and crusting, and prevent soil compaction. As organic mulches decompose, they release valuable nutrients for use by your landscape plants.

Leaf Management - Soil Improvement
Leaves may be collected and worked directly into garden and flower bed soils. A 6 to 8 inch layer of leaves tilled into a heavy, clay soil will improve aeration and drainage. The same amount tilled into a light, sandy soil, will improve water and nutrient holding capacity.

Leaf Management - Composting

Compost is a dark, crumbly and earth-smelling form of organic matter that has gone through a natural decomposition process.Compost can be used to enrich the soil by adding a natural source of nutrients, loosen tight, heavy soils, help sandy soils retain moisture and nutrients, add to potting soils for container grown plants, and mulch around landscape plants. If you have a garden, lawn, trees, shrubs, or even planter boxes or house plants, you have a use for compost.

Taken from Don't Bag It: Leaf Management Plan, Texas A&M University publication.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Keep our Groundwater Medication Free

I received an email regarding the environmental concern about flushing medicines down the toilet. This has been shown to be a big environmental problem. There are many local, state, and national organizations trying to get the word out so that people DO NOT put medicines in our water resources. The sewage treatment plants do not treat for these chemicals and they basically end up directly into our streams and groundwater, causing a lot of ecological problems.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind regarding proper disposal of medications.

1) DO NOT FLUSH unused medications and DO NOT POUR them down a sink or drain.

2) Be proactive and dispose of unused medication in household trash. When discarding unused medications, ensure you protect children and pets from potentially negative effects:
a) Pour medication into a sealable plastic bag. If medication is a solid pill, liquid capsule, etc.) crush it or add water to dissolve it.
b) Add kitty litter, sawdust, coffee grounds (or any material that mixes with the medication and makes it less appealing for pets and children to eat) to the plastic bag.
c) Seal the plastic bag and put it in the trash.
d) Remove and destroy ALL identifying personal information (prescription
label) from all medication containers before recycling them or throwing them into the trash.

3) Check for approved State and local collection programs. Another option is to check for approved state and local collection alternatives such as community based household hazardous waste collection programs. In certain states, you may be able to take your unused medications to your community pharmacy or other location for

For more information, see this informative publication. Smart Disposal Publication

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Henderson County Master Gardener Training - 2010

Henderson County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension is recruiting volunteers for assistance with home horticulture educational programs. We will have an informational meeting at the Extension office in Jackson Park that is open to the public on November 17th, 2009 at 9:30AM. If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener, be sure to attend this meeting.

Selected residents will enter a specially designed training program in horticulture and related subjects. Training's will be held on Wednesday mornings at 9:00AM from mid-January through mid-April 2010. Volunteers are expected to attend all training sessions and to pass a final exam. There is an $85.00 enrollment fee to cover cost of materials.

For more information call Diane at 697-4891.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Encourage Birds in Your Landscape

Birds have three main requirements in life; food, water, and shelter. These needs should be met through proper management of the backyard habitat.

The bird species in our area and their food requirements change with the seasons. A primary food source for migrant and residents birds in the spring is caterpillars and other insects. As we progress throughout the summer, breeding birds feed on insects and fruits as the become available. As migrant birds and their offspring fly south in the fall, they seek out fruits, which are high in energy and help to offset the energy lost during migration.

As you visit local garden centers this time of year for good deals, keep in mind that fall is a great time for planting. Reevaluate your landscape and make sure you include early and late fruiting plants that provide food such as blueberries, spicebush, or a variety of hollies.

If you can tolerate it, and your neighbors will allow, leave an area of your landscape unmanicured to promote additional fruit and seed production. Keep in mind that plant diversity, especially native plants, are as important as the fruit and seeds that produce. You want to plant variety of species that will serve as a home to leaf eating insects that birds devour.

Bird feeders may serve as a supplement to the natural foods in our backyard. Common seeds to consider buying include black oil sunflower, safflower, and white millet. Purchasing these seeds in bulk make prove to be a bit cheaper in the long run. If you decide to provide feeders, remember that you should continue to provide this food source throughout the year.

Normally water is not considered a limiting component of bird habitat in western North Carolina, however it may become scarce in years of drought. Birds normally obtain water from food sources, rain pools, or permanent sources. If you decide to provide a bird bath, remember to keep it shallow (2-3 inches deep). Place the bird bath within 10 feet of shrubby protection and close to the ground. Some birds will not use a bath that is high off the ground.

Dense vegetation will provide birds with a place to escape from harsh weather and predators. A variety of plant types should cover most of the needs for different bird species. Use grasses, shrubs, and trees to cover all your bases. Remember that evergreens are an important component to any wildlife habitat throughout the year.

Learn more about creating habitat for birds and other wildlife with native plants from NCSU’s website, Going Native: Urban Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants,

Photo taken by Fred Hurteau

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Plant Name Pronunciation

Do you ever look at the Latin name of a plant and feel the dread of saying it aloud, not knowing if others will laugh because you completely missed the correct pronunciation. I am here to tell you that I have that fear often but have been introduced to a site that will help. Check out the Fine Gardening Pronunciation Guide and feel more confident next time Pseuderanthemum atropurpureum comes up in the middle of a conversation. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Arrives

It is official. The brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys, has been identified in North Carolina. First detected about two weeks ago in the Winston-Salem area, there has been another report in the coastal plain region. Originally found in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 2001, it is now established in many states across the country especially along the east coast. It is an easy traveler in things like motor homes. There is a long list of hosts, both ornamental and agricultural from maple and birch to pecan, peach, apple and cucumber. Adults emerge from overwintering about April. All instars have deep red eyes. Early nymphs are red, then almost black, and finally brown in color as adults. They are typical stink bugs in most ways and damage fruit and foliage with their feeding (proboscis) and saliva. There is a single generation in northern states. To add to their annoyance, they like to overwinter in protected places such as structures. This is where you are most likely to first notice them.

by S. Bambara, M. Waldvogel & S. Frank

Friday, September 25, 2009

Re-Blooming Poinsettias

How do I get my poinsettia to re-bloom? I normally get this question after Christmas but I just had a question today about how to get a poinsettia to bloom for Christmas.

If you saved your poinsettia from last year, it is time to start thinking about the re-blooming process. By now you should bring your plant back indoors if it has been outside over the summer. Continue to provide bright light and keep the soil in the pot moist.

In early October you should begin to provide different treatments during the day and night. During the day you should provide bright light and a temperature between 70-80˚. During the night you need complete, uninterrupted dark and a temperature between 65-70˚. The plant needs this uninterrupted dark in order to produce the colored bracts. Keep the plant in a closet or other completely dark location from 5pm till 8am each night.

Continue this schedule till around Thanksgiving when the bracts begin to develop color and then discontinue the day/night treatments. At this time it is important to provide at least 6-8 hours of high intensity light until the bracts are completely colored. Once this happens you can move the plant to the location where you want to display it for the holidays.

I usually tell people to not even try to re-bloom poinsettias because it is much easier to simply buy a new one each year. But if you must try, I hope this helps and let me know if you are successful.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dogwood Defoliators

I have seen at least five samples of red twig dogwoods here in the Extension office with completely defoliated twigs. The culprit is known as the Dogwood Sawfly. Dogwood Sawfly, Macremphytus tarsatus, is a significant pest to dogwood (Cornus) species. Because the Dogwood Sawfly takes on several forms while in the larval stage, it may not be easy to identify. The larvae strips plants at the end of season, normally just before late August.

The wasp-like adult sawfly lays eggs that hatch into larvae, the first instar of which is an almost translucent yellow. Look for groups of these larvae on the undersides of leaves that are being skeletonized. The second instar appears to be covered with a chalky powder, and the last instar is a one inch long creamy-yellow larva that has a shiny black head and black spots (see photo).

Normally damage is short lived, therefore control is not warranted.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NC Apple Festival - Recipe Contest

Do you have a secret apple recipe handed down through many generations. If so consider entering it in the 2009 Apple Recipe Contest on Friday, September 4th. See the entire registration brochure below. Registration deadline is September 1st.

Registration Form
Polk County Cooperative Extension is co-sponsoring a Pesticide Pick Up Day on Thursday, September 3rd. It will be held from 10 am to 2 pm at the 4-H Center on Locust Street in Columbus, NC.

If you have unwanted or unused pesticides that you no longer use, please bring them in a labeled container and they will be gladly accepted. There is no charge to drop off these products. We will not accept paints or paint thinners.

For more information, contact John Vining at (828) 894-8218.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why are milkweeds important? Check out this video.

I planted a milkweed in my garden this spring. I have noticed all the activity of aphids, ants, and lady beetles on it throughout the year. Check out this fun video regarding milkweeds. I hope you will learn a thing or two that you may not of know. I did!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Late Blight in Henderson County

Late blight was confirmed at the research station in Mills River from a field grown tomato sample from Henderson County. Reports of the disease will most likely start popping up all over WNC. Homeowners should continue to spray preventative treatments of fungicides according to the label. See my previous post from July 21st for symptoms and spray options.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Henderson County Book Garden Bookletter

If you love garden books as much as you love gardening then you might be interested in signing up for the new Book Garden BookLetter, brought to you by the Henderson County Library. Each month you will receive an email newsletter highlighting gardening books available at the library. The selections include both newly added titles and some perennial favorites. The newsletter has links directly to the library catalog so you may easily reserve titles of interest. Sign up today at the Henderson County Public Library. Click on the BookLetters logo and scroll down to the Book Garden.

Monday, August 3, 2009

What is up with the locust trees?

I have had many calls the past few weeks regarding the bronzing of the locust leaves throughout Henderson County. The locust leafminer is primarily a pest of black locust. Adults skeletonize and eat holes in the leaves; whereas, larvae mine the tissue between the upper and lower-leaf surface (mining damage is the most destructive). Under outbreak conditions, whole hillsides turn gray or brown, often suggesting fall color change. Outbreaks of the locust leafminer are generally more spectacular than destructive. Control of the locust leafminer is generally not necessary.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fall Lectures Offered by Master Gardeners

Gardening in the mountains of western North Carolina can be a joy and a challenge at the same time. The Henderson County Master gardeners are here to help you with your garden needs throughout the year. This fall, we have scheduled a five educational opportunities in the form of a lecture series. The small fee of $5.00 per participant for each program is used to support future educational projects of the Master Gardeners. Each lecture will be held on Monday afternoons in August, September, and October at 2:30pm in the classroom at the Bullington Center.

August 10th - Growing Green: Organic and Companion Gardening
August 24th, - Winter Blooming Plants
September 14th - Beauty from Bulbs
September 28th - Frugal Garden Design
October 12th - Japanese Garden
October 26th - Turning your Beds in for the Winter

For more information or if you are interested in attending any of these lectures, please call 697-4891 to pre-register.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Potatoes Producing Fruit?

Have you ever noticed green marble size fruits amid the foliage of your potatoes at the end of the growing season? If so, these are the fruit which yield approximately 300 true seeds. Seeds like these are used by potato breeders to find potential new cultivars as each one is genetically distinct.

The edible tubers are actually enlarged, underground stems. Normally, most potato flowers dry up and fall off the plants without setting fruit. A few flowers do produce fruit. The variety 'Yukon Gold' produces fruit more heavily than most varieties.

Potato fruit, as well as the plant itself, contain relatively large amounts of solanine. Solanine is a poisonous alkaloid. The small fruit should not be eaten.

Just for fun, clean and save some of the seeds and plant them inside in mid-March. After frost danger has passed, transplant the potato seedlings into the garden and wait. See what you get! You may be surprised at how different the potatoes are from plant to plant.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Late Blight on Tomatoes

Late blight of tomatoes, caused by Phytophthora infestans, is knocking on the doors of our state border. On Monday, July 6, we confirmed late blight in a commercial tomato field in North Georgia (Dillard, Georgia). Recent rain and cool temperatures have been conducive for the pathogen’s growth and spread, so we are concerned the disease will soon be occurring here.

Without proper preventative measures, late blight can completely defoliate and destroy a crop within one to two weeks. The disease can be severe on tomatoes grown in the mountains of North Carolina, as well as in late plantings in the Piedmont.

The first symptoms of late blight on tomato leaves are irregularly shaped, water-soaked lesions on lower leaves. During high humidity, white cottony growth may be visible on underside of the leaf. As the disease progresses, lesions enlarge causing leaves to brown, shrivel and die. Fruit lesions appear as dark, greasy spots that eventually turn a chocolate brown color, and can enlarge to the point of encompassing the entire fruit.

Refer to the following website for more details on the symptoms of this disease. The application of fungicides plays a significant role in the control of late blight. Fungicides containing copper, chlorothanonil, or mancozeb are recommended for treatment in home gardens.

New breeding lines resistant to some strains of P. infestans have recently been developed at the Mountain Horticultural Research and Extension Center in Fletcher, North Carolina by tomato breeder Dr. Randy Gardner. A new small fruited variety called Mountain Magic that has resistance to some strains of P. infestans, in addition to early blight, should be available to growers in the future.

Taken from Pest News - Volume 24, Number 13, July 10, 2009 - Kelly Ivors, Extension Plant Pathologist, NCSU

Fall Webworms

As a result of Diane’s last post about bagworms, we received this question: Is that what shows up later in the summer on trees that look like LARGE spider webs? If not, what's that? The answer is no. What you are seeing later in the summer are actually fall webworms (Hyphantria cunea). Although the webbing looks bad and the adult caterpillars devour many leaves, the tree is rarely in danger because it has had ample time to store food for the winter. For more information and control methods, see:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Time to treat for Bagworms

This week I have seen a few samples of Japanese Maples in the hotline office with severe bagworm feeding damage. Bagworms feed on many trees including maple, boxelder, sycamore, willow, black locust, elm, linden, poplar, oak, apple, wild cherry, sassafras, and persimmon; but the preferred hosts are conifers.

Beginning in late May through mid-June, larvae of this native moth feed causing defoliation on their host plants. Damage is most noticeable on ornamental plantings rather than in forests and woodlands.

The bags they create are camouflaged with pieces of plant material, and may be mistaken for natural parts of the tree. Females do not look like moths (no wings, legs, antennae, eyes, or mouthparts) and remain in silken bags throughout their entire lives. When larvae are fully grown, their protective bag is 1.0 to 1.5 inch long.

In late summer, male moths (black, with nearly clear wings approximately 1 inch across), emerge from their bags after pupation. One generation occurs per year.

Where practical, bagworms can be removed with scissors or a sharp knife. Chemical control is effective, particularly in June and early July when the bags are small. Recommended insecticides include Dipel and Sevin.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Look out for leaves of three.. but don't be fooled

Anyone who knows me has seen the importance of why I should stay away from poison ivy. This woody vine occurs as a weed of landscapes, woods, and fields. Poison ivy is the major cause of allergenic dermatitis in the eastern United States, which causes inflammation, blistering, and itching of the skin. Honestly, it can be down right painful and uncomfortable!

This first photo Here is a photo of some poison ivy climbing a tree here in Jackson Park.

Leaves occur on petioles and are divided into three leaflets which are generally oval in shape. Leaflets may be either toothed, untoothed, or lobed. Older leaves are generally either toothed and lobed or untoothed and lobed.

The two lateral leaflets occur on very short petioles, while the central leaflet occurs on a much longer petiole. Although leaf shape is highly variable, the lateral leaflets are often distinctly lobed on one side of the leaflet and not on the other. Each leaflet is hairless and ranges from 3/4 to 4 inches in length and width.

This picture taken a few feet from the first picture is not poison ivy, but instead it is boxelder. A tree in the maple family that is commonly mistaken for poison ivy. If you look closely, you will see that the leaflets of a boxelder are opposite and those of poison ivy are alternate.

For more information of poison ivy, visit this site Poison Ivy.

Friday, June 5, 2009

"Dog Vomit" Slime Mold

There’s been a bumper crop of slime molds in landscape beds this year, and we’ll see them throughout the summer and into the fall. By far the species most often noticed is Fuligo septica, a.k.a. the “dog vomit” slime mold. Despite the unpleasant name, it is completely harmless to humans, animals and plants.

Slime molds spend most of their lives as amoeboid cells or inconspicuous plasmodia that creep slowly through soil, leaf litter, mulch, etc. A plasmodium feeds by engulfing bacteria, spores, and bits of organic matter. It eventually moves out to a more exposed location on top of mulch, pine straw, a stump, a low-growing plant, or even the foundation of a building. There it stops moving and transforms into a fruiting (spore-producing) body. This is when Fuligo septica first gets noticed as a bright yellow, frothy mass a few inches to up to a foot in diameter. It quickly fades to a dull orange and then a light tan as its surface dries to a crust. After a few days it breaks apart to release its dark-colored spores, which blow away to start the life cycle anew. Within a week or two, all that’s left is a dusting of leftover spores and bits of gray or yellowish crust.

Control measures for Fuligo septica are neither effective nor necessary. If considered intolerably unsightly, they can be removed by hand or washed off with a hose, but there's a good chance that new ones will pop up at a later date, though probably not next year, unless new mulch is applied.

Written by: Mike Munster, Department of Plant Pathology

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Blog about Bees

For those of you who are interested in bees and bee issues, there is another blog for you to consider. Bill Skelton, Haywood County Extension Director has begun a blog to keep you informed on all issues concerning bees in the county. I may be posting to that sight as well from time to time. If you get a chance, check it out at:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pesticide Pick up Day Scheduled

On Wednesday, June 3rd, farmers and homeowners can dispose of their unwanted or unused pesticides. The Haywood County Extension Center along with NCDA&CS will be sponsoring a pesticide disposal collection day from 10:00am - 2:00pm at the Extension office on Raccoon Road in Waynesville.

We will be able to collect any pesticide (insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc.) that are in original containers and are clearly labeled. There is no charge to the public for this service.

Materials of unknown identity, paints, or other hazardous waste will not be accepted.

For more information contact Tim Mathews at 828-456-3575.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Azalea Lace Bugs are here!

Azalea lace bugs (Stephanitis pyrioides) are one of the most damaging nursery and landscape pests and the most damaging pest of evergreen azaleas. They overwinter as eggs in azalea leaves and begin hatching around the present time. Control is best targeted early in the season when nymphs are present for two reasons. First, nymphs are easier to kill than adults and if you kill nymphs before they mature and lay eggs you have a better chance of clearing up the infestation. Second, the longer azalea lace bugs are on your plant the more damage they do. On evergreen azaleas this damage sticks around for a long time so plants may be permanently damaged. So scout your azaleas and get those lace bugs cleared up before damage occurs. For more information and control options, consult Ornamentals and Turf Insect Note ENT/ort-39.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Henderson County Gardening Guide

The Henderson County Master Gardener Volunteers are proud to announce the release of their “Gardening Guide.” The Gardening Guide is a product of the Master Gardener Volunteer Program and was written by a small group of those volunteers who have gone to great effort to produce a beneficial tool for both the novice and experienced gardener.

The Guide provides research-based information to help the gardener deal specifically with local growing conditions that have proven to be a concern. To obtain a copy of the Henderson County Gardening Guide, stop by NC Cooperative Extension in Jackson Park to purchase your booklet for the affordable price of $5.00.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Plant Clinic now open

Every year Haywood County Extension trains Master Gardener Volunteers to help answer your horticultural questions. Once trained, these volunteers staff the hotline in our plant clinic from 9am-noon daily, Monday-Friday. Please take advantage of this service by calling 456-3575 or feel free to stop by with your samples.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Community Garden - Henderson County

Just because you do not have a garden or a space for a garden, does not mean you cannot grow your own fresh, organic produce close to home.

Come join your neighbors in Jackson Park at the Bountiful Harvest Community Garden scheduled to open on April 22, 2009, Earth Day.

Applications for a soil amended 4’ X 16’ plot are available at the Henderson County Cooperative Extension Office, also in Jackson Park. The cost is only $5 for the entire season!

Gardening help from Extension master gardener volunteers, classes, free seeds, and even harvest information are all included with your garden plot at no extra charge.

Call 697-4891 for more information. Watch this video produced by WLOS to see what all the excitement is about.

WLOS Community Garden

Master Your Garden Lectures - Spring 2009

Henderson County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are offering a series of lectures for a small fee of $5.00 per participant for each program. Money raised is used to support future educational efforts by the Volunteers. All lectures will be held on at 1:00pm in the classroom at the Bullington Center.

Spring 2009 Schedule

March 23rd – Wild Flowers – Alan Mizeras
April 13th – Build a Patio Fountain – Barbara Beck
April 27th – Vegetable Gardening - Pierre Hart
May 4th – Build a Hypertufa Pot – Ginger Brown (additional $25.00 fee)
May 11th – So You Think You Know How to Plant – Tamsin Allpress

To register for these or other upcoming Mastering Your Garden Lectures, call the Extension office at 697-4891. Keep checking our website for more information on upcoming lectures.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Beginning Beekeepers School

The Haywood County Extension Center will sponsor a Beginning Beekeepers School on Saturday, March 21st and 28th at the Extension Center on Raccoon Road in Waynesville. The program will begin at 9:00am and end at 3:00pm each day. This program is designed to help individuals understand the basics of beekeeping. If you are interested in this program please call 828-456-3575.

The cost of this program will be $20.00.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Importance of Farmland in Your Community

March 19, 2009
7 - 8:30 pm
Haywood County Extension Office Auditorium

589 Raccoon Road
Waynesville, NC 28786

Farmland is important to residents of Haywood County. At this meeting we will report on the findings of two three-year studies on the value of farmland and ways to keep farming prosperous in your community. The Farmland Values Project is led by Leah Greden Mathews at UNC Asheville and the Farm Prosperity Project is led by Jeanine Davis at the NC State Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River. The Farmland Values Project will share results from surveys and focus groups about what local residents and visitors value about farmland, including their willingness to contribute to local farm protection efforts, with a focus on results from Haywood County. Results confirm the importance of farmland for maintaining residents’ quality of life, access to local food, and the scenic beauty of our region. The Farm Prosperity Project will explain how they worked with local farmers to develop tools to help farmers make decisions about their farms, how to preserve them, and what to grow. They will also discuss the research that has been conducted on organic and heirloom tomatoes. This meeting and three others in surrounding counties are designed specifically for the general public. There will also be a meeting for farmers (March 12) and one for local officials (April 15). Please call Terri Schell at 684-3562 to reserve a seat. Walk-ins are welcome, but we can plan better if you call ahead. Directions can be found at More information is available about these projects at and These projects are funded by grants from the USDA-CSREES Small and Mid-Sized Farms Program.

The Farmland Values and Farm Prosperity projects are supported by the National Research Initiative of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, grants #2005-35618-15647 and #2005-35618-15645.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Plant Sale

The Haywood County Master Gardeners Association plant sale is now in full swing. Orders are due in the Extension office by 5:00pm on Tuesday, March 10th. If you are interested in purchasing plants, go to the link below, print off the order form and return it to the Extension office by the March 10th deadline. You can bring the form by the office or fax it to (828)452-0289.

For additional information, call (828)456-3575

Order Form