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This publication discusses growing and harvesting head lettuce, the most important salad vegetable grown in the United States. Per-capita consumption exceeds 25 pounds annually. In North Carolina, the crop can be grown as both a spring and fall crop in eastern North Carolina and even during midsummer in western North Carolina at elevations higher than 3,000 feet.
Blueberries can be grown in home gardens anywhere in North Carolina if the right species and proper soil modifications are used. Blueberries are typically used in the landscape as hedges for screening purposes, but they can also be used in cluster plantings, or as single specimen plants. Blueberries are an ideal year round addition to the landscape. They have delicate white or pink flowers in the spring, the summer fruit has an attractive sky blue color, and the fall foliage adds great red and yellow colors to the landscape.
Commercial blueberries are generally planted in low areas with high organic-matter content. These sites satisfy the cultural requirements of blueberries for a constant and uniform moisture supply. However, on cold, still nights when radiation frosts occur, heavy cold air from higher surrounding areas "drains" into the low areas causing lower temperatures. Also, the high organic content, especially if the soil is dry, acts as an insulator to restrict heat in the soil from moving up around the plants. The cultural requirement for a uniform soil moisture makes selecting higher sites that are less subject to radiation frosts much less practical than with other fruit crops. This factsheet discusses protecting blueberry plants from freezing.
Sooner or later most home gardeners think about growing roses. Landscape uses are quite varied because of the many different types of roses. They can be mass planted in beds, used as specimen or trained plants, planted as screens or hedges, or located near fences or arbors and allowed to climb. Several miniature cultivars can even be used as a ground cover or as edging material. Roses are available in almost any color imaginable and are suited to a number of sites.
Raspberries are a delicious and nutritious addition to the home garden. However, raspberries can be difficult to grow in some parts of North Carolina. In the summer, the hot, humid climate of the Piedmont and coastal plain puts the plants under stress and can hamper growth. While fluctuating winter temperatures can cause injury to the canes thorughout the state. Despite these challenges, raspberries do well in the mountains of western North Carolina where production can last from June through early October.
The onion is a cool season crop that will withstand moderate freezes. It may be grown either by seeding directly in the field, or by setting transplants. North Carolina growers have an excellent market opportunity in June and July when very few onions are available. Yield will range from 400 to 800 (50-pound) sacks per acre depending on the year and cultural practices. A premium is paid for large onions during our harvest season.
Asparagus has been considered a garden delicacy since Roman times. Any home gardener can grow and enjoy this spring vegetable. Asparagus is a perennial. If you plant and manage properly it will produce for 15 years or more. Since this crop will occupy the land for many years you should select and prepare the asparagus bed carefully -- location, soil type, soil fertility, size and age of crowns and correct planting are important.
Muscadine grapes are well adapted to the Coastal Plain of North Carolina, where temperatures seldom fall below 10°F. Considerable injury generally occurs where winter temperatures drop below 0°F. Muscadines have a high degree of tolerance to pests and diseases that makes the production of bunch grapes nearly impossible in eastern North Carolina. There is no other fruit with such strong personal associations for so many native North Carolinians.
Manual removal of weeds is time consuming, expensive, and often results in damage to landscape plants when intertwined roots of both the weed and the ornamental plant are pulled up. Nonselective herbicides (which must be selectively applied to avoid injury to desirable plants) are typically used for postemergence annual and perennial weed control. This publication covers choosing the right herbicide for this situation.
Seed dormancy is nature's way of setting a time clock that allows seeds to initiate germination when conditions are normally favorable for germination and survival of the seedlings. For example, dogwoods produce mature seeds in the fall, but conditions are not suitable for seedling survival at that time. Thus, dogwoods have developed a mechanism that keeps the seeds dormant until spring when conditions are favorable for germination, as well as, seedling growth and survival.
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.
This publication offers information on the Jerusalem artichoke, (Helianthus tuberosus L.), also known as sunchoke, which can be produced throughout the United States. However, the plant is better adapted to the northern two-thirds of the country than the southern third. Most areas of North Carolina are satisfactory for producing the crop although yields are not as good as in cooler climates where the crop is better adapted. Jerusalem artichokes are also often used for pickling purposes.
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.
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.
Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) Identification and Management: Brief Description: Japanese stiltgrass (also known as annual jewgrass, bamboograss flexible sesagrass, Japanese grass, Mary’s grass, microstegium, Nepal microstegium, or Vietnamese grass) is a summer annual commonly found in shady, moist areas, and is spreading rapidly in woodlands as well as shaded landscapes and low maintenance turf throughout the southeastern U.S., Mid-Atlantic States and north to New England. Japanese stiltgrass germinates in early spring, several weeks before crabgrass, yet flowers and seeds much later, from mid-September through October. It has broader, shorter leaves than most other annual grasses; somewhat resembling broadleaf signalgrass or spreading dayflower. After frost, the foliage and wiry stems turn a distinctive light tan in color and persist through the winter. Vegetative identification characteristics include: rolled vernation, a very short membranous ligule, and leaf blades that are shorter and broader than most other grasses.
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.
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 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.
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.
Much success in growing tomatoes can be attributed to use of a few proven techniques. Choosing a variety that has proven to be a true performer should be at the top of every gardener's list. Better Boy, Whopper, Celebrity, and Mountain Pride are among some of the best selections. Better Boy, Celebrity, and Whopper are VFN, which means they carry resistance to verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, and root-knot nematodes. It is best to experiment with several varieties in order to find the ideal tomato for your taste buds.
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.
Peonies are long-lived, perennial flowers that produce large flowers in the spring. Colors include black, coral, cream, crimson, pink, purple, rose, scarlet, white, and yellow. Two types of peonies are grown in North Carolina: garden peonies (Paeonia valbiflora or Paeonia officinalis) and tree peonies (Paeonia suffruticosa). This leaflet covers the planting, care and maintenance and potential problems associated with growing peonies in North Carolina.
Blueberry production in Western North Carolina differs from the main commercial production areas in the southeastern part of the state because of differing climate and soil conditions. Highbush blueberry cultivars should be used exclusively; rabbiteye blueberries will not consistently survive low winter temperatures that occur in Western North Carolina. This factsheet offers information on growing and harvesting blueberries in Western North Carolina.
Blueberries are a native North American fruit, and North Carolina is one of the largest producers of highbush blueberries. Although commercial production is mostly limited to southeastern North Carolina, blueberries can be grown anywhere in the state if the right blueberry species and proper soil modifications are used. Limiting factors include pH, water availability and cold-hardiness.
Many organic vegetable farmers are interested in producing sweet corn. Organic sweet corn can be grown in North Carolina and throughout the Southeast, but special considerations for variety selection, insect and disease control, economics, and markets must be made for it to be a profitable crop.
Caladiums are grown for their long-lasting, colorful foliage. Color combinations include various shades of red, pink, white, green, and yellow-green, with prominently colored midribs and contrasting margins. There are two basic types of caladium cultivars: fancy- and strap-leaved.
There is growing interest in the use of short-season summer annual legumes or grasses as cover crops and green manures in vegetable production systems. Cover crops can provide a significant source of nitrogen (N) for subsequent crops; reduce erosion, runoff, and potential pollution of surface waters; capture soil N that might otherwise be lost to leaching; add organic matter to the soil; improve soil physical properties; impact insect and disease life cycles; and suppress nematode populations and weed growth. There can be potential drawbacks, such as cooler soils in the spring, and the additional cost of seeding the cover crop. These factors must be considered depending on the particular cash crops and cover crops being grown.
Pruning a plant reduces its ultimate adult size and the crop yield in at least the following season. To compensate for this loss of bearing area and yield, other factors, largely economic, must be considered in planning a pruning program.
This factsheet covers the basics of constructing a propagation / winter protection structure in a quonset design.
Dahlias, are a popular addition to the landscape because they have a wide height range (1 to 6 feet) and a variety of flower shapes and sizes (2 to 12 inches). Color range includes orange, pink, purple, red, scarlet, yellow, and white. Some flowers are striped or tipped with a different color. Dahlias begin blooming in early summer and continue to frost. Flower production may slow with high summer temperatures and moisture stress.
This publication discusses a number of options that are available to the greenhouse manager for controlling weeds such as creeping woodsorrel, hairy bittercress, spotted spurge, and others. Not only are these persistent problems in greenhouses but they detract from the perceived quality of plants produced, and also are known to harbor insects, such as whitefly and thrips, and other pests such as mites, slugs and snails.
This publication covers the identification, distribution and control of mulberryweed, an erect, branching, summer annual weed of landscapes and container nurseries that resembles a mulberry tree (Morus spp.) seedling. A native of eastern Asia, it was introduced into North America in the latter half of the 20th century.
For healthy, aesthetic plants, the soil must serve as a reservoir for water, oxygen, and nutrients. While this sounds very straightforward, providing these three essentials can be quite challenging. This leaflet describes the steps to take to ensure these essentials are met in the proper amounts.
The decisions of when to turn an irrigation system on and off for frost protection are complex and difficult. This guide presents a procedure to follow in making these decisions. This guide is based on the assumption that you have completed certain tasks prior to the night of the decision making. These tasks encompass important planning decisions that are made well ahead of the frost season.
Establishing and maintaining quality annual color beds requires a plan to prevent and control weeds. Weeds compete with ornamental plants for water, light, and nutrients, reducing aesthetic quality and plant growth. To minimize these problems, this publication presents a weed management program that should be developed and implemented prior to planting.
Lack of yard space is no excuse for not growing a vegetable garden. Regardless of whether you live in an apartment, condominium or mobile home, some space us available for growing a few of your favorite vegetables. However, the area you choose to grow your garden must receive five hours or more of sunlight daily. As a general rule, leafy vegetables such as cabbage and mustard greens can tolerate more shade than root vegetables like radishes and beets. Vegetables that bear fruit such as peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers will need the most sun.
Growing strawberries as an annual crop on black plastic requires a different weed management strategy than the perennial matted row strawberries. Weeds that have hard seed coats, such as vetch and clover, emerge for long periods of time can establish in the row. They emerge in late fall or spring, grow under the plastic for a period of time, and emerge from any holes in the plastic.
The tomato is a warm season crop. With special production practices you can produce your first tomatoes in 60 days. This crop can be grown for production from June through November by choosing the right varieties and production practices. Generally, tomatoes require a large investment in time and labor, but increase in intensity of management is repaid by increased yields and profits.
Producing asparagus crowns for sale or use is simple and profitable. Careful attention to details described here is important so that all requirements for certified plant production can be met. Certified plants are most saleable and bring a premium price. One-year-old crowns will produce a healthy asparagus planting.
Summer and fall flowering bulbs provide another dimension to gardening. They add beauty and interest to the landscape and, since most of them are tender, they offer a unique challenge to the gardener. There are a large number of different types of bulbs, offering variations in forms, fragrances, colors, and lasting brilliance which many summer annuals cannot achieve.
Each of us are subjected to stresses and pressures every day in our home, work, and living environment; plants are no different. Unfortunately, there is no "stressless" environment, and there is no totally stress-resistant bedding plant. Each site has its stress level and each plant has its tolerance level. There are steps that can be taken to reduce or avoid stress in the landscape. However, no program can prevent all problems, and the key to successful landscape color using bedding plants is to match the particular site with specific plant species.
Sprouts from mung bean (Phaseolus aureus) have been used for food since ancient times. These sprouts have a nutrient value similar to asparagus and mushrooms, which contain high quantities of Vitamin A. Sprouts can be canned or frozen in addition to eating them fresh. Mung bean seeds can be purchased from mail-order commercial seed companies and health food chain stores. (Caution: Regardless of the source, do not use seeds that have been treated with a fungicide. Treated seeds are not edible and can be recognized by the coating of pink or green dust on the seed coat.)
The per-capita consumption of processed tomatoes has increased steadily in recent years. This has been due to changes in eating habits and development of new and better products. Over 8 million tons of processed tomatoes are produced in the United States annually. Average yields for the United States are 25 tons per acre while the range is 9 to 40 tons per acre. North Carolina growers can produce high yields of processing tomatoes. Satisfactory color, pH, sugar and acid content needed to produce a fine quality canned product can be attained if tomatoes are grown according to recommended practices.
Grapes are welcome summer treats that can be eaten fresh, processed into jellies, jams, juice or even fermented into wine. Grapes are adapted to many soil types, and can be quite long-lived. There are basically two kinds of grapes grown in North Carolina, bunch grapes and muscadine. Bunch grapes produce berries in large clusters, and grow best in the mountains and piedmont areas. In coastal plain areas, Pierce's disease kills or shortens the life expectancy of many popular bunch grapes. Muscadine grapes, exemplified by the Scuppernong variety and noted for having smaller clusters, are not affected by this disease.
Every nursery needs to have someone who routinely checks Electrical Conductivity (EC) also called soluble salts, and pH of container crops, potting inventories and irrigation water. Checking EC and pH should be considered part of the quality control and scouting program in the nursery. Results from testing 3 to 5 containers in a irrigation zone each week can be used to schedule irrigation the following week. Comparing leachate solution collected from containers to water collected from irrigation nozzles provides a good insight into nutrient levels in the containers. Checking EC and pH of nursery crops grown in containers doesn't have to be time consuming, complicated or difficult. The intention of this article is to review the procedure and update growers on the Virginia Tech Extraction Method (VTEM), also called the PourThru extraction procedure.
This publication offers guidelines on planning a garden and buying bulbs, as well as planting planting techniques to ensure healthy flowers.
"Paperwhite" Narcissus is one of the easiest flower bulbs for homeowners to force. Commercially, several types are available. Some cultivars (varieties) have pure white flowers while others have white perianths with light yellow cups. Paperwhites originate in the Mediterranean and are tender bulbs. Thus, they can be grown outside only in Climatic zones 8 to 11. Unless one lives in one of these zones, forced bulbs should be discarded.
Effective frost protection methods exist, however, each year, a portion of the state's fruit and vegetable crop is lost to low-temperature damage. This leaflet explains the principles of frosts and freezes and provides information on protection methods.
Geraniums are among the most popular flowering plants. Outdoors, they are used as annual bedding plants, in hanging baskets, in pots and in window boxes. Indoors, they are cultured as houseplants in sunny locations. Common geraniums are actually members of the genus Pelargonium, while members of the genus Geranium include native wildflowers and herbaceous perennials.
Causing spring-flowering bulbs like hyacinths to flower by other than naturally occurring conditions is called forcing. This practice is carried out world-wide by commercial flower growers. With planning and effort, any homeowner can have a steady supply of bulb flowers from late December through April. Forcing bulbs is a rewarding challenge to those interested in the growth and development of plants.
The Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) is a true bulb that originated in the tropical areas of South America. Thus, it is a tender bulb. It performs best when grown under warm (70 to 75°F) temperatures for 9 to 10 months to promote flowering and vegetative growth, followed by 2 to 3 months of either cool (55°F) dry storage or cool (55°F) growing conditions. The use of one of the latter conditions is required to promote reflowering of the bulb.
Bearded iris is a hardy, long-lived perennial that requires a minimum of maintenance. The flowers have six petals; three upright petals (called standards) and three hanging petals (called falls). A fuzzy line or beard runs down the middle of each fall. Flowers come in many colors including blue, pink, purple, reddish, white, yellow, and bi-colors. This leaflet offers some information on growing irises for the home garden.
More than 40 sedge species may be found in North Carolina landscapes. Although grass-like in many ways, and the nutsedges are often referred to as “nutgrass”, they are not grasses and require different control measures than grasses. Sedges are easily distinguished from grasses by their leafy shoots that produce leaves in “3s” resulting in stems that are triangular in cross section. In contrast, shoots of grasses are flat or round in cross section.
Every nurseryman should know how to prune trees and the reason for the various pruning practices. Many landscape problems can be avoided if correct pruning is performed, while the tree is growing in the nursery. Incorrect pruning practices or lack of pruning diminish the quality of the plant material.
Causing spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils (Narcissus) to flower by other than naturally occurring conditions is called "forcing." This practice is carried out by commercial growers the world over. With a little care and effort, homeowners can have a steady supply of daffodils (Narcissus) from late December through April. Forcing bulbs should be a challenge to those who are interested in plants.
This publication covers the identification and control of Florida betony, an aggressive, rhizomatous perennial in the mint family categorized as a category B noxious weed in North Carolina.