May 30th was my last day as the horticulture agent for the Pender County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension, and this will be my last article for this region. I have greatly enjoyed working with the people and communities of the Cape Fear area for the past 12 years and am honored to have been able to share gardening information and advice with you. Just because I will no longer be in the area does not mean you will be without access to gardening expertise and knowledge from Cooperative Extension.
Online gardening resources
In addition to county extension centers located in Burgaw, Wilmington, Bolivia and Jacksonville, Cooperative Extension has many online resources to help you successfully and sustainably care for your lawn and garden. For help selecting ornamental plants for your landscape, visit the extension’s online plant database, plants.ces.ncsu.edu, which allows you to search for plants based on plant type, mature height, light needs, flower color and other characteristics. If you are interested in landscaping for wildlife, be sure to check out the Going Native website, ncsu.edu/goingnative, where you can learn how to enhance your landscape for pollinators, birds, and wildlife using plants native to your region.
The Extension Gardener newsletter will keep you up to date on current gardening issues and chores. Available from extensiongardener.ces.ncsu.edu, the newsletter is written by extension agents across the state. Regional issues for the mountains, piedmont and coastal plain are published four times a year. For access to all of NC Extension’s gardening resources, visit the Extension Gardening Portal, gardening.ces.ncsu.edu, where you will find links to topics including gardening how-to, pests, weeds, and soils, as well as links to sites about the Extension Master Gardener program, community gardening, and therapeutic horticulture.
For turf information, make Extension’s TurfFiles website your first stop, turffiles.ncsu.edu. Resources available from this extensive site include insect, disease, and weed fact sheets, turf maintenance calendars, pest alerts, turf and weed identification tools, and much more. If you can’t find what you’re looking for within NC Extension’s web resources, use Extension’s nationwide search engine, search.extension.org, to locate research-based, non-biased information available from wxtension systems across the United States.
Help with your gardening problems
Southeastern North Carolina is a challenging place to garden. Poor soils, extreme weather, and abundant pests work against your efforts to grow vegetables, fruits, lawns, and ornamental plants. Gardening problems are often complex and require expert help to diagnose. This help is available from your local Cooperative Extension office, usually free of charge.
If you have a plant or bug you would like identified or a problem you would like diagnosed, call or stop by the Extension office in your county. Pender, Onslow, New Hanover and Brunswick County have trained, experienced Extension Master Gardener volunteers available to answer your gardening questions. To contact them in Pender County, call 910-259-1238; in New Hanover County, call 910-798-7680; in Brunswick County call 910-253-2610; in Onlsow County call 910-455-5873.
When you call or stop by, be prepared to describe the problem, including when it started, if it is spreading and what the symptoms look like. For the best diagnosis, bring a sample that includes several leaves attached to the stem, or the whole plant or insect if possible. Samples should be taken from plants that are still living rather than those that have already died. Collect samples just before you plan to visit the Extension office. Wrap the sample in a slightly moist paper towel or place it in a plastic bag to keep it from drying out, but do not leave it inside a hot car to bake for hours.
If your local Extension center cannot identify your insect or plant disease sample, they will offer to send it to the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic (PDIC) at NC State University. For a charge of $30 per sample, the PDIC’s staff of entomologists and plant pathologists can diagnose and recommend treatment options for a wide range of plant and turf problems.
If you prefer to submit your questions to be answered online, use Extension’s Ask an Expert widget, ces.ncsu.edu/ask-an-expert/. The widget even allows you upload pictures of the plant or pest you need help with and usually provides an answer from an Extension horticulture agent within 24 hours.
Visit ces.ncsu.edu to find your local North Carolina Cooperative Extension center. Visit your county Extension center’s website to learn about upcoming classes and events in your area.
Charlotte D. Glen was the horticulture agent with the Pender County Cooperative Extension of NC State University, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. She is now with the Chatham County Center. She can be reached via e-mail at Charlotte_Glen@ncsu.edu.