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Luffa are tropical, vining plants that produce large fruits similar to cucumbers. When young and small the fruit can be cooked and prepared like a summer squash. When the fruit mature, they have a rough, fibrous interior which is referred to as the sponge and is used to make a wide variety of products. Currently, luffa sponge products are most popular as personal care products and are readily available in the cosmetic and bath sections of department stores, discount stores, pharmacies, and specialty shops. This factsheet covers how to plant, harvest, and process luffa gourds in a temperate environment.
This factsheet covers propagating (by seed and by transplant) ginseng, which requires a period of stratification before germination.
Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are native to the eastern North American mountains. They can be found growing in patches in rich, moist, deciduous forests and bottoms from as far north as Canada, west to Missouri and Minnesota, and south to North Carolina and Tennessee. In early spring, ramps send up smooth, broad, lily-of-the-valley-like leaves that disappear by summer before the white flowers appear. The bulbs have the pleasant taste of sweet spring onions with a strong garlic-like aroma.
If treated properly, many herb plants will survive in the garden for a number of years. Others are sensitive to frost or severe cold weather and must be brought indoors, protected, or replanted each year. Annual herbs will be killed with the first hard frost in the fall. Remove dead plants in order to minimize overwintering insects and disease problems. Some frost sensitive herbs, such as basil and geranium, can be brought indoors for the winter. Take cuttings to root or pot the entire plant.
This publication discusses growing and harvesting bloodroot, a spring wildflower used to produce natural red, orange, and pink dyes, in North Carolina. It can grow in full sun, but is more often found in semi-shaded, light-wooded areas with moist, acidic soil. The root, consisting of a thickened rhizome covered with fibrous roots, is known for its reddish-orange color.
This guide provides techniques for small-scale outdoor cultivation of shiitake mushrooms on logs. Tree selection and log preparation, spawn selection, inoculation, fruiting, pest and disease management and harvesting are covered.
Black cohosh is a member of the Ranunculaceae family. It is a native medicinal plant found in rich woodlands from as far north as Maine and Ontario, south to Georgia, and west to Missouri and Indiana. In North Carolina it can be found at elevations up to 4,000 feet and is most common in the western part of the state. It is an herbaceous perennial reaching a mature height of over four feet tall and can grow 18 to 22 inches per month during the growing season.
Fresh market (slicer) cucumbers have been produced commercially in North Carolina for many years. The average yield from commercial fields has been 850 to 950 bushels per acre or 2 to 3 times the average yield from non-trellised fields. This publication covers growing and harvesting fresh market cucumbers.
Herbs should be harvested when the oils responsible for flavor and aroma are at their peak. Proper timing depends on the plant part you are harvesting and the intended use. Herbs grown for their foliage should be harvested before they flower. While chives are quite attractive in bloom, flowering can cause the foliage to develop an off-flavor. Harvest herbs grown for seeds as the seed pods change in color from green to brown to gray but before they shatter (open). Collect herb flowers, such as borage and chamomile, just before full flower. Harvest herb roots, such as bloodroot, chicory, ginseng, and goldenseal, in the fall after the foliage fades.
In most of the south, sweet corn can be produced from early spring until fall. However, sweet corn does have some specific environmental and cultural needs that must be met for the plant to produce high-marketable yields. Corn is a warm-season crop that requires high temperatures for optimum germination and rapid growth. In general, sweet corn does not tolerate cold weather, and frost will injure sweet corn at any stage of growth. Other stressful climatic conditions, such as drought or flooding, can reduce yields and cause small, deformed ears.
Many farmers and home gardeners have reported damage to vegetable and flower crops after applying horse or livestock manure, compost, hay, or grass clippings to the soil. The symptoms reported include poor seed germination; death of young plants; twisted, cupped, and elongated leaves; misshapen fruit; and reduced yields. These symptoms can be caused by other factors, including diseases, insects, and herbicide drift. Another possibility for the source of these crop injuries should also be considered: the presence of certain herbicides in the manure, compost, hay, or grass clippings applied to the soil.
This factsheet covers commercial goldenseal production in North Carolina, a highly valued medicinal herb which has been collected from the forests in North America for hundreds of years. The historical range for goldenseal in the United States was very broad, ranging from as far north as Vermont and Wisconsin, south to Alabama and Georgia, and west to Kansas. It can still be found growing in patches in moist, rich, hardwood forests in much of this area.
Basil is a popular herb known for its flavorful foliage. The fresh or dried leaves add a distinctive flavor to many foods, such as Italian style tomato sauces, pesto sauce and salad dressing. The essential oils and oleo-resins may be extracted from leaves and flowers and used for flavoring in liqueurs and for fragrance in perfumes and soaps. This factsheet discusses growing and harvesting basil in North Carolina.
Pole beans are grown commercially in the mountain counties and, on a limited scale, in a few of the eastern counties. They are produced in home gardens throughout the state. Pole beans are grown for their distinctive flavor, long pods, high yield, long harvesting season, and high price.
This publication offers fertilizer suggestions for a variety of crops, including field, pasture and hay crops, tree fruit, small fruit, ornamental plants and vegetable crops.
Chives belong to the same family as onions, leeks, and garlic. Although they are native to Asia and Eastern Europe, by the sixteenth century chives were common plants in herb gardens throughout Europe. Chives are hardy, draught tolerant, perennials, eight to twenty inches tall, that grow in clumps from underground bulbs.
Phytophthora leaf blight and root rot is a devastating disease which causes a leaf blight and root rot on ginseng. The disease is caused by a fungus, Phytophthora cactorum, which produces spores that are spread by wind, rain, splashing water, and surface water runoff. Root rot is the most serious form of the disease. Therefore, if foliar symptoms are present, preventing spread of the disease from foliage to roots is essential.
This publication covers growing and harvesting lemon balm, a lemon-scented member of the mint family. A native to southern Europe, it is a perennial which will over-winter in hardiness zones 4 to 5. The plant develops many branches and grows to a height of about two feet. The leaves are 2 to 3 inches long, oval to almost heart shaped, shiny and wrinkled with scalloped edges. Small light blue to white flowers appear in late spring through midsummer.
This publication specifically discusses fresh-market basil, examining the selection, production, harvesting and marketing of the product.
This publication lists some of the companies that supply medicinal herbs and botanicals by mail order in the United States.
This factsheet covers the planting, harvesting and uses of carraway, a hardy, biennial herb which is native to Europe and Western Asia. First year plants resemble carrots, growing to about 8 inches tall with finely divided leaves and long taproots. By the second year, two to three foot stalks develop topped by umbels of white or pink flowers, which appear from May to August.
This publication provides introductory information about growing and wild-harvesting medicinal herbs in North Carolina. The practices suggested here apply to all raw herbal plant material used to make herbal products, dietary supplements, cosmetics, foods, and drugs.
This publication discusses the best techniques for growing quality ginseng. It includes descriptions and stages of growth, and information on general culture, site preparation and mulching.
This publication offers a list of companies and nurseries that carry goldenseal seeds or plants for cultivation.
Broccoli is a popular vegetable for use both fresh and frozen. The edible portion of the broccoli plant consists of the upper stem and the unopened flower buds. Broccoli is a cool-season crop that is closely related to cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mustard, and turnips. It can be grown in western North Carolina as either an early (spring) or a late season (fall) crop at the lower elevations (below 2,500 feet) or during mid-summer at elevations above 2,500 feet.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a form of direct marketing in which a community of individuals pledges to support a farm. At the beginning of the growing season, CSA members pay for a subscription to the CSA. In return, farmers provide the members with a weekly share of the harvest. Both growers and consumers have found this relationship to be mutually beneficial. Members receive a variety of fresh, local produce and have the satisfaction of knowing where their food comes from and how it is produced. Farmers, in turn, benefit by receiving funds upfront to buy seeds and inputs. They also are relieved of most of the task of marketing by having a guaranteed market and price for what they will produce.
This publication offers a list of vegetable varieties that grow well in parts of North Carolina, as well as possible sources of seed.
A good source of water is a necessity for producing quality vegetables. During periods of drought, crop diversification and mulches can be used to cope with drought situations, but nothing will substitute for the timely application of water. This publication covers some guidelines for irrigation systems to help offset periods of drought in the Southeast United States.
This publication lists sources of shiitake mushroom spawns for cultivation.
This publication lists some of the companies that supply herb seeds and/or plants by mail order in the United States.
With the increasing diversity of North Carolina agriculture, it is important to document and assess the presence of the commodities produced in the state. Crop data are publicly maintained on only the top 20 or so specialty crops, yet state and federal decisions impact hundreds of individual crop species. Because little information is available for most specialty crops, it must be gleaned from many different sources.