Learn With Us, week of September 16

Sept. 18, 2018, 6:30 – 8pm Arboricultural Tree Climbing Demo –
Durham Garden Forum
Sarah P Duke Gardens, Durham, NC
Leaf & Limb Arboriculture Company will present a climbing and roping demonstration and discussion of the value of proper tree care. This session will be both indoors and out to see the tree roping and climbing demonstration.

Free for members, $10 General Public. No charge for parking.

 

Sept. 23, 2018, 3-4pm Raised Beds – South Regional Library
South Regional Library, 4505 S. Alston Avenue, Durham, North Carolina 27713
Join EMGV Charles Murphy for a presentation about raised bed gardening.

Class is free. Registration is required.
Register with Pana Jones (panajones2@ncsu.edu) or call 919-560-0521
OR
Register online at the Durham County Library website durhamcountylibrary.org. Click on “Events” to find the full calendar of events. Go to the date of the class and sign up.
You can also call the Information Desk at South Regional Library to register: 919-560-7410.

How to Prepare for a Hurricane

According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Florence is forecast to be a very powerful, major hurricane on its path to the coast of the southeastern U.S. Wednesday and Thursday. Central North Carolina is at increasing risk for damaging wind, tornadoes, and prolonged, extremely heavy rainfall. Residents are urged to prepare now.

Here are some general tips on preparing for a hurricane and its aftermath. Links to additional resources appear below:

  • Keep the radio and television tuned for the latest information, or follow storm forecasts online.
  • If you have a home garden, harvest all the vegetables that are ripe or close to being ready. (The crop may be destroyed by wind. Vegetables exposed to floodwaters must be discarded.)
  • Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include first aid and emergency supplies.
  • Locate flashlights, battery-powered lanterns and radios. Purchase a supply of batteries for each.
  • Fill necessary prescriptions.
  • Get cash from your bank account.
  • Prepare a three-day supply of water; Include one gallon per person per day.
  • Check your food supply. Make sure you have some packaged foods that can be prepared without cooking.
  • Fill your bathtub with water for cleaning and flushing.
  • Look around your house and yard. Is there anything that might become airborne in strong winds (container plants, hanging baskets, tools, lawn furniture, toys, bicycles, bird feeders, playhouses and doghouses, etc.) Bring unsecured items indoors or tie them down.
  • Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. (Keep your devices charged!)
  • Fill your car’s gas tank.
  • Review your evacuation plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead.
  • Never drive through flooded streets. Water may be deeper than you expect.

September is National Preparedness Month; Now seems like a good time to practice getting ready for a hurricane. Please be safe.

Additional Resources:

NC Disaster Information Center
https://ncdisaster.ces.ncsu.edu/

Ready.gov https://readync.org/EN/index.html

Foods that require no cooking
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/foods-that-require-no-cooking

Meal preparation and food safety after a power failure
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/meal-preparation-and-food-safety-after-a-power-failure

Link  to 50+ fact sheets on the subject. Obtain information specific to your interest and situation.  https://ncdisaster.ces.ncsu.edu/publications/

Struggling with Lettuce: Germination

by Kathryn Hamilton, EMGV

By rights, I should never have to buy lettuce. I own heat pads and grow lamps. I have both a patio and a covered porch that face south and are warm in winter. I have exposures east and north. I buy every lettuce seed packet that waves at me. By any stretch of the imagination I should have at least one pot of lettuce growing some place at any time of the year. But, my nemesis has been getting seeds to sprout.

Lettuce needs light and water to germinate. It is supposed to germinate in seven to 10 days. In my experience a generous sprinkling of seeds on top of soil-starting medium might generate two or three weak sprouts after weeks of tender care and gentle spritzing to keep the seeds moist.

Over the last several years, I’ve started all my

After-6-days-little-forrest
Seeds sprinkled on top of a sponge covered with a dome. Germination in three days; within five days a little forest of sprouts.

other seedlings in a domed enclosure that relies on sponges as growing medium. Knowing that the seeds need light to sprout, I never considered dropping the tiny lettuce seeds into the little sponge holes. But after another frustrating failure with seed-starting medium, I decided to try placing the seeds on top of the sponge plugs. And within three days, sprouts. Within five days, a forest of healthy lettuce starts. By the two-week mark, sprouts healthy enough to transplant.

At the same time, I decided to experiment with a low-tech approach. I found an old low-tech-plasticsponge, cut it in half so it wouldn’t be too thick and sprinkled the seeds. A big advantage of sponge over plugs was that I could clearly see where the seeds were sprinkled and using the tip of a knife they could be spread out. I put the sponge in a clean plastic container from roasted take-out chicken. I poked holes in the top, wet the sponge and added water to the bottom of the container.

All seeds were grown indoors, in a temperate environment that was low-to mid seventies. I started four experiments: two high-tech (sponges and domes from a seed house) and two low-tech  (chicken take-out plastic and household sponges) at the same time.  All seeds were started under grow lights, but one of each set was placed on a heat pad.lineup-cropped

Within two days my heart sank. It looked as if the low-tech

After-2-days-not-mold
Not mold! Plants with furry stems breaking out of their seeds.

container without heat had turned into mold. But, on closer examination, my seeds had begun to sprout. The high-tech seeds took a little longer to sprout. In both cases, those without heat did better than those with heat, especially in the low-tech plastic. Those in the high-tech sponges got their second set of leaves a day or so before the low tech and in general, looked a little stronger. After they sprouted, I watered with a highly diluted fertilizer. Fifteen days after the seeds were planted I transplanted the high-tech sprouts into cell-packs.  Getting the tender sprouts out Roots-through-spongeof the sponges was at times a little tricky. Rather than pull the seedlings I had to cut around the sponge, and I often planted part of the sponge with the seedling, being sure to bury the sponge below the soil line. In the end I had 54 plants that I put back under grow lights until they could get over transplant shock.

 

36-hour-seedlings
Perking up 33 hours after transplant.

For this experiment I used Marvel of Four Seasons (Lactuca sativa), a butter-head lettuce described as “delicious and tender, very easy to grow.”  Once these are strong enough and I can reclaim my grow lights I am planning to try several other varieties including iceberg, which is difficult to grow in North Carolina, and Tennis, a small-head heirloom variety I couldn’t resist.

Best lesson learned: The optimum temperature for lettuce germination is 75 degrees. The low-tech chicken container was less-insulated than the high-tech dome and none of the seeds emerged, but germination in the high-tech container was high with or without heat.

Here’s where you can find some additional information on growing lettuce:

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/lettuce

https://extension.psu.edu/seed-and-seedling-biology

http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1061/ANR-1061.pdf

http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/ho/ho56/ho56.htm

 

To Do in September

by Gary Crispell, EMGV

Well, here it is — September. Some of y’all have been waiting for this since last October. For many it is the beginning of your favorite time of the year—warm days, cool nights, lower humidity, winding down the summer garden, and hurricanes. Enough contemplation! There is still much to do in the garden this month. Let’s get to it.

Fertilizing
With the exceptions noted under “Lawn Care” you can take your fertilizer and stick it in an air tight container and put it away until Spring.

Pruning
NOPE! Forgettaboutit! If you must exercise your pruning tools go remove underbrush on unwanted saplings or something. Stay away from your landscape plants.

Spraying
Stuff to look for and where to look for it:  wooly adelgid on hemlock, spider mites on other coniferous evergreens, lace bugs on azalea and pyracantha and tea scale on euonymus and camellia.

  • A note about lace bugs: They will be active all year anytime the leaf surfaces are warm enough (about 40 degrees). Being diligent now will help keep them at bay after you have cleaned and put away your sprayer. Also, azaleas planted in sunny places will have more lace bug issues than those planted in shade.
  • Spray peach trees and nectarine trees for peach tree borers.
  • Maintain your rose program.
  • Be watchful in your fall garden. Many insects and diseases are more active in the autumn; they like this weather, too.
  • Weeds to be controlled this month: trumpet creeper, Bermuda grass and blackberry.

Only spray if necessary. Spray as little as possible. Spray at dusk, when pollinators are inactive.  Always read and follow directions on the label!

Lawn Care
September is the best time to seed and/or reseed a tall fescue lawn. Loosen the soil in bare areas and cover any areas larger than one square foot with wheat straw.

Apply lime and fertilizer as recommended on your free soil test.

Do not fertilize warm season grasses (Bermuda, centipede, zoysia). Fertilizing them now is like giving sugar to your kids at bedtime; They’ll get real active much to their (and your) detriment.

If you missed the August window to treat your lawn for grubs, it is still open until the middle of September. After that the little buggers quit feeding and go to sleep for the winter.

Propagation
You may dig and divide spring flowering bulbs now. Daffodils will be especially appreciative of this activity and will show it in the spring.


Other Stuff to Keep You Outdoors on Gorgeous Autumn Days

  • Mulch shrub and flower beds.
  • Clean up and put away sprayers and other gardening equipment that won’t be used again until Spring.
  • Get your houseplants ready to come back inside. Break it to them gently by bringing them in for a little while each day. Be sure to rid them of insect pests before they come in for good.
  • If you do not have a fall garden (What do you mean you don’t have a fall garden?!?), then it is time to chop, burn or toss dead vegetable plants. Burn or toss especially if they had disease or insect issues.
  • Check out the local garden center for spring flowering bulbs you can’t live without (or just covet a whole lot). October and November will be the time to plant them. You know, “Shop early for the best selection.”
  • Find a good trail and take a hike. Take your kids or grandkids to the park. Read a book on the deck or patio. Get out of the house with any excuse you can come up with.

See ya’ in October for leaf season.

 

September is the Time to Seed Tall Fescue

by Carl J Boxberger, EMGV

September 1 to 15 is the correct time of year to seed tall fescue in the Piedmont Region of North Carolina. Here are seven important steps to follow:

1) Soil Test:  Have your soil tested to determine lime and fertilizer requirements for your lawn area. Soil test kits are available at the Cooperative Extension Office.

2) Site Preparation:  Break up the soil in the area to  be seeded with a rake for small areas or use a lawn coring machine for larger areas.

3) Fertilization: Apply the recommended fertilizer to your lawn. If you have not completed a soil test  then apply a complete N-P-K (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) turf grade fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio (12-4-8 or 16-4-8) at a rate of one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.

4) Seeding:  Seed with a quality tall fescue blend for sun/shade depending on how much sun and shade your lawn receives. Seed at a rate of six pounds per 1,000 square feet. Stay away from Kentucky 31 tall fescue as there are much better tall fescue blends available. Things to look for are a high percentage of seed germination and a low percentage of weed seeds in the mixture.

When buying grass seed, also make sure the weight of the bag is equal or close to the actual amount of seed in the bag. Some companies add a coating to the seed which is unnecessary and can be misleading. Look closely at the label on the bag to learn what you are buying.

Do not hesitate to ask the personnel at a nursery or other quality garden center for help in choosing the proper seed for your yard’s conditions. The single most important investment in ensuring high quality turf is the purchase of high quality seed.

5) Mulching: Spread straw (without weed seeds) over the seeded area at a rate of one to two bales per 1,000 square foot area.

6) Irrigation:  Keep the top half-inch of the soil moist after seeding. Water the newly seeded lawn lightly two to three times a day for 15 to 20 days as the seed germinates. As the seedlings grow and root, water less often but for longer periods of time which will encourage stronger root growth.

7) Mowing:  Once the newly seeded grass reaches a height of four-and-one-half inches tall, mow the tall fescue back to the proper mowing height of three inches

Suggested Maintenance Fertilization Schedule for Tall Fescue:
September: One pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet
November:  One pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet
February:  Half to one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet

References:
Carolina Lawns: A Guide to Maintaining Quality Turf in the Landscape
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/carolina-lawns

Understanding a Turfgrass seed label
https://ag.umass.edu/turf/fact-sheets/understanding-turfgrass-seed-label