Sunday, September 17, 2017

NC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Handbook is Online!

If you would like to research all of the plant topics taught through the NC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program, (minus the live lectures of foremost NC State horticultural professors), then visit the online EMG handbook.  
(This online handbook is an updated version of the class binders given in years past.) 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Durham's Finest Trees Deadline Oct. 1

Don't forget to nominate your favorite tree(s) in Durham with Trees Across Durham and the Durham County Master Gardeners:
Read about one of the 2017 winners, the osage orange tree at historic Stagville Plantation on the Master Gardener blog.
Photo: Yellowish-green fruit and shiny green leaves of Osage Orange tree. Photo taken by Wendy Diaz September 16, 2016.

Time for Fall Seeding of Tall Fescue & Kentucky Bluegrass

Aeration is an integral part of reseeding a healthy fescue turf in the fall.

By Grady Miller, Professor and Extension Specialist
NC State Extension, updated by Danesha Seth Carley (9/6/2017)

Fall is the best time for renovation and seeding of cool-season lawns. Temperatures are currently above normal for early September, but long range forecast predict they will begin to moderate. Hurricane season has also been active, so consider heavy rainfall in your planning as much as practical. Much of the state has been dry in July and August, so some rain would be appreciated to help make aerification a bit easier. Heavy rainfall can wash seed.

Remember that spring-established tall fescue is more susceptible to drought, heat, fungal diseases, and weed encroachment. With normal summer weather patterns, spring seeding is not likely to result in a year-long stand of healthy tall fescue. So do not delay, seed in the fall!

Young seedlings normally emerge and grow best when air temperatures are between 70 and 80 degrees. Soil temperatures need to be greater than 60 degrees for good germination. So, it is generally better to go a bit early than seeding late. If tall fescue is seeded in under less than ideal conditions (too cool or no soil moisture), you may experience a thin turf stand going into the winter. So try to get your seed out in September. If you must wait until October there is an increased likelihood of slow/low germination.

It is best to choose cultivars from the turffiles website. There is a list on TurfFiles of 2017 Top Performing tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass cultivars. For a larger list of good performing cultivars, the 2014 lists are still a good resource: 2014 Recommended Kentucky Bluegrass Cultivars for North Carolina and 2014 Recommended Tall Fescue Cultivars for North Carolina.

If you buy a tall fescue blend, try to find one with at least one of the cultivars from the list of recommended cultivars. These grasses were chosen because they produce a high quality turf in North Carolina and have been shown to be less susceptible to brown patch. Some like to mix in a little Kentucky bluegrass (darker color and finer texture) or fine fescue (for shady areas). I do not suggest adding ryegrass to the mix as it can dominate and reduce the stand of the more heat-tolerant tall fescue. A typical tall fescue seeding rate is 5 to 6 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet. Germination will normally be in 7 to 14 days with soil moisture and suitable soil temperatures.

Before seeding core aerification is recommended to reduce compacted areas. Getting good soil to seed contact is paramount to maximize available soil moisture. The core aerification holes will capture seed and hold moisture so the tall fescue seedlings often come up as a tuft of turf from the aerification holes.

Follow normal tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass fertilization practices as outlined in Carolina Lawns available on the website. The suggested yearly nitrogen application is about 1.0 pound of nitrogen fertilizer per 1000 square at seeding. Include phosphorus and potassium fertilizers if soil tests indicate there is a need. In the absence of a soil test, a 16-4-8 or similar N-P-K ratio fertilizer may be used this spring. Before additional fertilizer or lime is added, conduct a soil test (

To apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet: Divide 100 by the first number on the fertilizer bag to determine the amount of product to be used per 1,000 square feet. Example: Using a 16-4-8 fertilizer, 100 divided by 16 equals 6.25, therefore, 6.25 pounds of fertilizer per 1,000 square feet will deliver 1 pound of nitrogen.

If irrigation is available, set your controller within current water restrictions for your area. Irrigate early in the morning to reduce water loss due to evaporation. In the fall, ¼ to ½ inch water per week of water (via rainfall or irrigation) is generally sufficient to meet the turf’s water needs. Irrigation can usually be discontinued in November without any reduction in turfgrass quality.

Since seeds and seedlings may be damaged by some herbicide applications, fall seeded cool-season grasses should not have any herbicides applied until it is extensively tillered.

It is very important that tall fescue be maintained at the proper mowing height to allow it to mature before winter and to minimize weed incidence. Studies have shown that a 3½ mowing height provides the best growth condition while minimizing disease incidence and weed encroachment. A 3 to 3.5 inch mowing height is also a good height for tall fescue + Kentucky bluegrass.

Note that warm-season grasses such as bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, centipedegrass, and St. Augustinegrass can be sodded in the fall, but it is generally not recommended due to the increased chance of winterkill. Warm-season grasses should not be seeded in the fall as there is inadequate time for maturity before the first expected frost.

Friday, September 1, 2017

2017 District 9 Annual Meeting "In My Grandmother's Garden": Oct. 18

Artist and Gay Blades Garden Club member Carolyn Bell's floral oil painting for the
District 9 Annual Meeting will be auctioned.
District 9 of The Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc. will hold its 2017 Annual Meeting "In My Grandma's Garden" on 9 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, at the Mebane Arts Council Center (MACC).
The Mebane Council of Garden Clubs is hosting the event. The MACC is located: 633 Corregidor St, Mebane, NC 27302.
Registration is due Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.
Garden Club Presidents of District 9 were mailed letters and registration forms in August.
Make registration checks payable to the "Mebane Garden Council" and please mail registration checks and forms to:
Sandi Bagby, Mebane Council of Garden Clubs, 1268 Woodhaven Drive, Mebane 27302.
The Mebane Garden Council has many treats available for attendees of the District 9 Annual Meeting, "In My Grandmother's Garden" according to Council President Linda Nunemaker.
An art auction of the meeting's floral oil painting by Carolyn Bell will be held. Carolyn Bell is a member of the Gay Blades Garden Club.  Local art collectors can find information of more of her works at
Parked outside of the MACC will be a rare 1930s Willys-Overland Whippet owned by Mebane Council President Linda Nunemaker and her husband who will be greeting attendees. The Nunemaker's Whippet has won 1st prize in several car shows, she said adding the car only cost $599 brand new, and only about 3,000 Whippets were manufactured.