June: To Do in the Garden

By Gary Crispell, EMGV

RAIN!!!  Honest to goodness real water-out-of-the-sky RAIN!  I’m pretty sure I heard a collective sigh from all the plants that I have only watered sparingly.  Hopefully the forecasted above average chance of rain for the first half of June actually comes to fruition.  Hard to believe that we nearly drowned in February.

The Accidental Cottage Garden is quite different this year.  There is a plethora of lance leaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), a few galardia (Galardia pulchella) and one poppy (Papaver orientale).  The prairie coneflower (Rudbeckia hirta) and the Asiatic lilies (Lilium x ‘Corsica’ & and an unnamed orange one) are quite pleased with their new blanket of mulch.  The butterfly weed (Asclepeis tuberosa) has taken the spotlight from the dianthus (Dianthus ‘Sweetie Pie’). The as yet unidentified spreading garden chrysanthemum is trying to take over the floor of the garden under the English daisies (Bellis perennis).  And that’s the news from the Accidental Cottage Garden.

LAWN CARE

If you have heretofore procrastinated on this item it is TIME to fertilize warm season grasses (i.e. Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine).  It is also the best (and really only) time to fertilize Centipede.  The general recommendation is for ½ lb. 15-0-14 or equivalent per 1000 sq ft.  Should you desire to be truly accurate- GET a FREE SOIL TEST.  Kits are available by calling the Extension office 919 560-0525, or by picking one up from the blue cabinet on the north side of the office (721 Foster St).

It would be difficult to core aerate our clayey soils too much, so a day or two after a rain (like any day this spring) or a good irrigation would be an ideal time do just that.

When mowing warm season grasses a good rule of thumb is to remove 1/3 of the new growth per mowing.

If you have been drooling over your neighbor’s Zoysia lawn June is a good time to start your own with sod or plugs.

FERTILIZING

After getting your FREE SOIL TEST in order to avoid over fertilizing now is the time to feed your dogwoods following the recommendations.

Vegetable gardens would like a side dressing of fertilizer about now to maximize production.

PLANTING

Again, for the procrastinators out there, if you want a crop this year better get these plants (too late for seeds) in the ground ASAP:  tomatoes, peppers, black-eyed peas, lima beans, green & wax beans, pumpkins, sweet potatoes.

Start (from seed) Brussel sprouts & collards to set out in mid-July.

 PRUNING

Coniferous evergreens (They produce seeds in cones.) like pines, cedars, junipers, arborvitaes, etc. may be pruned now.

Hedges can be pruned now but be advised do not remove more than a third of the total plant top (The green part.)

Keep pinching your garden mums until mid-July.

Hydrangea macrophylla (the ones with the BIG leaves) can be pruned when the flowers fade.

Azaleas may be pruned until July 4. (An “old wives tale” that works.)

Dieback in ericaceous plants (acid loving) such as azalea, rhododendron, Pieris, etc. can be pruned out now.  Remember to cut below the damage and to sterilize the pruner with 10% bleach between cuts.

PEST CONTROL & HERBICIDES

Patrol your shrubs for the following likely suspects: lace bugs, leaf miners, spider mites, aphids and bag worms.  Use appropriate measures to curtail their destructive tendencies.  If the bag worms have already bagged themselves you will have to hand pick them and destroy them in any manner you see fittin’.

June is also the beginning of the invasion better known as Japanese beetles.  There is a myriad of treatment options out there.

Keep an eye out for tomato early blight.  Watch for dark spots on the leaves and treat with an appropriate fungicide.  There are some good organics out there.

June is a good month to eradicate poison ivy, kudzu and honeysuckle.  Get while they are rapidly growing with an appropriate herbicide.

As with shrubs it is time to be on guard in the garden.  Several (many?) insects are looking for gourmet gardens to satisfy their gastronomic inclinations.  Look for a variety of worms on cruciferous veggies (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), cucumber beetles on cucumbers (ironically), squash borers on other cucurbits-squash and melons, flea beetles on green beans, tomatoes & eggplant and aphids on anything green.

Continue with regular pest management programs on bunch grapes, fruit trees and roses.

Use pesticides wisely, sparingly and only when necessary.  Always read the label and follow directions.

OTHER FUN GARDEN STUFF TO KEEP YOU OUTSIDE

Water lawns as necessary but try to do it early in the day to avoid evaporative loss.  Watering lawn in the evening promotes disease.  Lawns and gardens need about 1 inch of water per week either from natural sources or irrigation. 

Strawberry beds can be renovated now.

It is also a marvelous time to sit on the deck or patio with a glass of your favorite cold beverage and enjoy your garden.  You can even invite friends this year especially if everyone is vaccinated.  Break out the grille and let’s party.

See y’all at the ballpark.

Views from the Accidental Cottage Garden. Photos by Gary Crispell.

*Resources and Further Reading

All About Soil Sampling and How to Get Supplies from Durham County Cooperative Extension
https://durham.ces.ncsu.edu/2020/05/nows-the-perfect-time-to-test-your-soil/

Organic Lawn Care Guide
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/organic-lawn-care-a-guide-to-organic-lawn-maintenance-and-pest-management

Central North Carolina Planting Calendar for Annual Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/central-north-carolina-planting-calendar-for-annual-vegetables-fruits-and-herbs

General Pruning Tips
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/general-pruning-techniques#:~:text=Remove%20dead%20branches%2C%20suckers%2C%20crossing,died%20due%20to%20water%20stress.

Learn more about insects and how to control them from the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/extension-gardener-handbook/4-insects

NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox (find your perfect plant or figure out what that unknown weed is!)
plants.ces.ncsu.edu

Learn With Us, week of May 30

Bull City Gardener Learning series: Virtual and In-person classes are being offered through July and again starting in September. For more information, click here. Registration is required.

Durham Garden Forum: Crevice Gardening – June 15, 7-8:30 Via Zoom With Karen Williams, Guilford County Extension Master Gardener volunteer – Looking for an architectural element or drought tolerance in your garden? Crevice Gardens, a unique form of rock gardening, might be your answer. Karen describes a crevice garden in the Guilford County Extension Demonstration Garden, designed and implemented by volunteers. Learn to plan, build, plant, and enjoy a crevice garden in your own space. Via Zoom. For Registration Information, contact: durhamgardenforum@gmail.com

Gardening and Grub – A Weekly Chat About All Things Food: Wednesdays from 1-1:30 – Every week, our own Cheralyn Berry, NC Cooperative Extension Family & Consumer Science Agent, will answer YOUR questions about gardening, cooking, canning, and whatever food related topics you can come up with! Join us on Zoom at https://go.ncsu.edu/allthingsfood or on Facebook live at https://www.facebook.com/DurhamExtension/

Sarah P. Duke Gardens will enter Phase 2 of reopening on June 1. Please see the Phase 2 link for more information. Online educational programming is also available. At the time this post was compiled, there were a few June classes listed in the 2021 Spring schedule. Summer schedule should be posted soon.

Triangle Gardener publishes a list of classes – scroll down for June.

Chatham County Extension has a series of interesting classes – check the schedule and sign up here.

Happy learning!

Springtime, Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly and Tabbouleh What do they have in common?

By Wendy Diaz EMGV

I was about to replant my two front porch flower pots with summer annuals and harvest the parsley (Petroselinum crispum) in the pots now that the warm weather is upon us when I was surprised to see brightly-colored caterpillars eating my parsley in one of the pots. This time of year the wintertime pansies (Viola wittrockiana) are wilting because pansies grow and flower best at temperatures below 65 degrees F[1] and the parsley is about to flower.

Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio polyxenes) in flower pot. Photo by Wendy Diaz
May 4, 2021

Last fall, I decided to plant edible parsley as the ‘thriller’ element in my fall pot arrangement for a change and used the parsley throughout the winter for a garnish or seasoning in our dinner casseroles. I also thought this scented herb would deter the deer from munching on my pansies. Well, that did not work. The deer (or a very tall rabbit) ate the pansy blossoms twice over the winter but left the pansy plants in place to flower this April. It was a great spring for parsley, however, and it almost took over the pot so I had enough to harvest the sprigs for a Tabbouleh (or tabouli) salad, which I like to make, from both pots when I saw the caterpillars on the parsley in the upper pot. I decided to share with the caterpillars and harvest only the parsley from the lower pot and let the eight caterpillars that I counted have the parsley in the upper pot. 

Two flower pots on front step. Caterpillars ate parsley in the pot on top of steps. Photo taken by Wendy Diaz May 5, 2021

The caterpillars, also known as parsley worms are the larva stage of the Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio polyxenes)[2] and they feed on several plants of the Apiaceae family like parsnips, celery, carrot and of course parsley. They grow quickly and within about 10 days from hatching from their tiny spherical eggs they find a place to pupate to form a chrysalis. From about 7 days or longer the adult butterfly emerges from the chrysalides. In North Carolina, two to three generations of these butterflies emerge each year.

We made two large Tabbouleh salads from my harvest of the winter annual pot on my front door step. It is a great salad to make this time of year especially if you have abundant mint in your herb garden, which I do (Gardening Hint: Plant mint it in a pot to contain it from spreading.) My husband enjoyed the salads and he was grateful that they didn’t include any ‘caterpillar caviar’. I will have to wait a week until the caterpillars are finished eating before I plant the summer annuals in my pots. We look forward to seeing Black Swallowtail Butterflies in about two weeks time after they emerge from their chrysalis[3,4], which will be something different this spring as we often see their look-a-like, the Spicebush Butterfly in the garden. I hope you enjoy the recipe and consider planting parsley in your flower pots this fall.

Left: Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly underside of wing Photo courtesy of Susan Mahr Division of Extension Wisconsin4 Horticulture Right: Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly enjoying nectar from mint flowers. Note there is no orange spot located above third blue patch on the Spicebush Swallowtail Photo taken by Wendy Diaz July 31, 2020

Tabbouleh Salad[5]

1 cup medium bulgur

2 cups boiling water

Combine in a large bowl. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain in a sieve, pressing with the back of a large spoon to remove the excess moisture and return to the bowl.

Add:

4 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

2 cups fresh parsley sprigs, finely chopped

1 cup packed fresh mint sprigs, finely chopped

1 bunch of scallions, finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

Stir in:

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Whisk together:

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil

Add to the bulgur and toss to coat. Spoon the salad onto a platter and surround with:

1 head of romaine lettuce, separated into leaves, washed and dried

(I skipped this step and put it in a bowl)

Serve at room temperature.

 Tabbouleh Salad Photo by Wendy Diaz on May 2, 2021

References:


[1] https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/viola-x-wittrockiana/

[2] https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/parsleyworm

[3] https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/butterflies-in-your-backyard

[4] https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/black-swallowtail-papilio-polyxenes/

[5] Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker; Scribner, 1997

May: To Do in the Garden

By Gary Crispell, EMGV

So, here we are in the first week of May still waiting for those April showers to fully materialize.  Apparently, that wasn’t a thing this year (or last for that matter).  Perhaps we are witnessing a new normal?  Climate change anyone?  Early May forecasts predict more of the same.  Better break out the hose and sprinkler (although at least we’re good for this week!).  Did any of y’all have to cover up tomato plants so they didn’t freeze in late April?  Yeah, me too, however mine were still in pots on the deck.  Sure, didn’t see that coming.  So, maybe it’s safe now?  It is May, right?  Let’s go get in the garden.

LAWN CARE

If you are among the OCD types when it comes to your cool season (fescue/bluegrass) lawn, you may fertilize it with a balanced fertilizer (E.g., 10-10-10).

If your affections lean toward warm season grasses (Bermuda, zoysia, centipede), an application of a slow-release fertilizer is in order.

Keep mowing height at 3”-4” for your cool season lawn.  That will help protect the root from summer’s heat.

OTHER FERTILIZING 

Long season crops (those that produce over a long period or take an entire season to produce) would benefit from balanced fertilizer feeding.

Fertilizing summer flowering plants now will reward you with more numbers and prettier blooms this summer.

If a SOIL SAMPLE (free right now) indicates, give your non-native rhododendron and azaleas (Yes, that’s redundant.) a dose of acidic fertilizer.

PLANTING

Check out the NC State web site for the Central North Carolina Planting Calendar for Annual Vegetables.  It is a great guide when and how to plant flowers, herbs and vegetables and includes spacing guides.

PRUNING

Grab your shears and loppers and make sure they are sharp.  Prune non-native rhododendrons (and azaleas) after they finish blooming and before the 4th of July.  They start setting next year’s blooms after that.

Check camellias and azaleas for leaf gall.  They ain’t purty, but they are harmless.  Just prune them out as necessary.

Keep garden mums (Chrysanthemum sps.) pinched back until mid-July if it’s Fall blooms you desire.

Fight the temptation to cut back the foliage on spring bulbs.  They need that to photosynthesize sugar to store in the bulbs so they can regal you again next spring.  Let the leaves turn yellow before cutting.

SPRAYING

Spray an appropriate insecticide to treat for borers on iris, rhododendrons, blueberries (Vaccinium sps.) and squashes.

Spray fungicide on fruit trees, bunch grapes, tomatoes showing signs of blight.

Keep on (like forever) with your rose program.

Check for bagworms on trees and shrubbery.  They will be out and about this month (It’s real hard to mate inside the bag.  It’s a space thing.)  and much more vulnerable to a pesticide application.

 Many invasive vining plants are susceptible to herbicide control this month.  Think poison ivy/oak (Toxicodendron radicans/T. toxicarium), honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), English ivy (Hedera helix), etc.

OTHER “FUN” STUFF FOR MAY GARDENING

Keep a look out for worms on cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages).  Only spray as necessary and read the label for the right spray/harvest interval. Stay away from Seven Dust as it can hurt other beneficial insects.

Other exciting entomological endeavors include checking for insects and arachnids on azaleas (lace bugs & spider mites), euonymus & camellias (tea scale), boxwoods (leaf miner adults who will be flying around on the leaves).  When the weather gets really warm (ok, hot) check houseplants for spider mites.

Spread some mulch—save some water.  Mulch will mitigate soil moisture evaporation and help keep roots cool.

Always use the smallest amount of and least toxic chemical when applying pesticides.  There is no planet “B”.

If you have questions ask an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.  We’re here to help.  You can also check the NCSU Extension Service website for more information on a vast array of horticultural subjects.

May in the garden.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

*Resources and Further Reading

All About Soil Sampling and How to Get Supplies from Durham County Cooperative Extension
https://durham.ces.ncsu.edu/2020/05/nows-the-perfect-time-to-test-your-soil/

Organic Lawn Care Guide
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/organic-lawn-care-a-guide-to-organic-lawn-maintenance-and-pest-management

Central North Carolina Planting Calendar for Annual Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/central-north-carolina-planting-calendar-for-annual-vegetables-fruits-and-herbs

General Pruning Tips
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/general-pruning-techniques#:~:text=Remove%20dead%20branches%2C%20suckers%2C%20crossing,died%20due%20to%20water%20stress.

Guide to Roses for North Carolina
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/roses-for-north-carolina

Learn more about insects and how to control them from the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/extension-gardener-handbook/4-insects

NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox (find your perfect plant or figure out what that unknown weed is!)
plants.ces.ncsu.edu

Join Us for the Big Briggs Plant Sale!

Join Extension Master Gardeners and Briggs Avenue Community Gardeners this Saturday for our first annual Briggs Avenue Community Garden Plant Sale! All proceeds go to support Durham County Cooperative Extension community garden education and programming. Plants will be $4 a piece, or 3 for 10. Curious what you might find? Check out our inventory by clicking here. Ample on-street parking available.