Friday, May 31, 2013

City of Durham "Get Your Grass Off" lawn equipment sale, June 15

DURHAM, N.C. – With mowing season underway, area residents have one more chance to trade in their old gas-guzzling mowers and other yard equipment and take advantage of steep discounts on cleaner and greener electric versions.

The second event in the 3rd Annual “Get Your Grass Off Gas” will be held at Jordan High School, located at 6806 Garrett Rd., on Saturday, June 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event will be held rain or shine.

Yard work is fun for the entire family!

Hosted by the Durham City-County Sustainability Office, this final event provides residents with the opportunity to purchase discounted electric yard and garden equipment to help get polluting gasoline-powered equipment “off the grass” and into the recycling bin. Discounts will range from 20 to 45 percent depending on the model. Available equipment includes lawnmowers, trimmers, edgers, blowers, vacuums, and loppers. Residents who do not have older equipment to trade in can still purchase electric models at the events, but with a smaller discount.

For more information on models and prices and to pre-register to reserve specific electric equipment, visit http://www.GreenerDurham.net. Pre-registration is not required; however, event organizers cannot guarantee a particular model will be available without pre-registration.

All gas-powered equipment brought in to recycle must be drained of fluids before being dropped off. Used motor oil can be dropped off at the City of Durham’s Waste Disposal and Recycling Center (Transfer Station), located at 2115 E. Club Blvd. The facility is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to noon.

For more information about this event, contact Sustainability Manager Tobin Freid at (919) 560-7999 or by email at tfreid@dconc.gov. Residents may also learn more by liking the Greener Durham (Durham City-County Sustainability Office) Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/GreenerDurham.net or by following Greener Durham on Twitter @Greener Durham.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Liberated Gardener: Get Your Garden Buzzing with Coffee Sacks



Weeds? Weeds! Weeds!?!?! Liberated Gardener and Durham resident Frank Hyman prevents a simple, fast, and FREE method to control unwanted plants, i.e. weeds, in your garden.

June Calendar of Triangle Gardening Programs

Container gardening in a cart
NC Botanical Gardens http://ncbg.unc.edu/classes-workshops/#hh_gardening
Location: 100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC

Growing Tomatoes!
Date: Sunday, June 2
Time: 2 - 3:30 p.m.

Instructor: Al Cooke, Chatham County NC Cooperative Extension Agent, Ret.
Location: Carolina Campus Community Garden (CCCG): the University's garden that offers produce to low-income workers. For directions to CCCG: uncgarden.web.unc.edu/contact-us/.
Love your home grown tomatoes? Need help trouble-shooting and avoiding pest and disease problems on your tomatoes in the garden? This workshop focuses on gardening "best practices" that will help you grow the most perfect tomato crop. Fee: $20 ($15 NCBG members).

Plant Propagation (short course)
Tomatoes come in many tangy varieties!
Dates: Saturday, June 8
Time:  9:30 - 12:30 p.m.

Instructor: Matt Gocke, NCBG Nursery/Greenhouse Manager
This short course is intended for a broad audience. Students learn fundamentals of vegetative propagation and techniques for propagating southeastern native plants by means of stem and root cuttings. Class includes hands-on propagation and a tour of the vegetative propagation facilities of NCBG. No prerequisites. Fee: $40 ($35 NCBG members)

Shady Native Gardens
Date:  Saturday, June 8
Time:  1 - 2:30 p.m.
Instructor: Olivia Lenahan, Horticultural Scientist

This is a perfect workshop for a hot summer day! We will begin in the classroom with a discussion of natives that enjoy the shade, and follow with a walk-about in the Garden. An informational plant list will be provided. Fee: $30 ($25 NCBG members)

Down the Wild Cape Fear: A River Journey through the Heart of North Carolina
Date:  Wednesday, June 12
Time:  7 - 8:30 p.m.
Speaker: Philip Gerard, author of “Down the Wild Cape Fear”
Join us for this fascinating presentation describing adventures on the Cape Fear River, North Carolina's most important river system. Author Philip Gerard has written three novels and five books of nonfiction including The Patron Saint of Dreams and is professor of creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He lives on Whiskey Creek near the Intracoastal Waterway and sails his sloop Suspense on the Atlantic Ocean. This lecture is free, but advance registration is required.

Creating a Pollinator Garden (a hands-on workshop)
Date: Tuesday, June 25
Time: 1 - 4 p.m.
Instructor: Grant Parkins, NCBG Natural Science Educator

With relatively little effort and expense, your garden can be transformed into a paradise for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. This workshop will introduce you to some common pollinators and strategies for bringing them to your garden. Learn how to analyze your garden site, choose appropriate plants, and maintain a pollinator garden. You will also receive plant lists, step-by step instructions, and other resources to get started on your own pollinator garden. Fee: $35 ($30 NCBG members)

Bee, I'm Expecting You—a poetry reading
Date:  Sunday, June 30,
Time:  3 - 4:30 p.m.
Speaker:  Poet Jeffery Beam
It is said that bees are responsible for pollinating every third bite of food we eat! Poet Jeffrey Beam will be reading from his work and also poems from ancient Egypt, Sylvia Plath, Virgil, Pablo Neruda, and others . . . as well as sharing bee folklore and some of his art-song cycle collaboration with Lee Hoiby based on his "Life of the Bee" poems. Fee: $10 ($5 NCBG members)
 
JC Raulston Arboretum
http://www.ncsu.edu/jcraulstonarboretum/calendar/events.php?year=2013
Location:  Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University, 4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, NC

Mastering Lightroom Digital Photography Workflow
Date:  Saturday, June 1
Time: 9 - 5 p.m.
A Full-day Seminar Presented by Tim Grey
Hosted by the Capital City Camera Club and the JC Raulston Arboretum


Plantsmen's Tour: “Summer Perennials"
Date:  Tuesday, June 11
Time:  9 -10:30 a.m.
Speaker: Mark Weathington, Assistant Director and Curator of Collections
 

Workshop: "Summer Garden"
Date: Saturday, June 29
Time:  9 - 11 a.m.
Instructor: Jihye Schumann, American Institute of Floral Designers Member

Floral Design Workshop: "Contemporary Centerpiece"

Date: Saturday, June 29
Time:  1-3 p.m.
Instructor: Jihye Schumann, American Institute of Floral Designers Member

Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St Durham, NC 27708
 http://gardens.duke.edu/events.  Please call 919-668-1707 to register.

Landscape Plants for North Carolina Gardens (4 week course)
Date: Saturday, June 01
Time: 10:00 AM
 Expand your palette of ornamental plants. Each season this class covers another group of approximately 40 plants suitable for North Carolina gardens. Landscape designer Mary Musson will teach you identification skills, design use, and plant culture. Each student will receive a portfolio of photos showing the plants studied that season. This course runs through four Saturdays until the 6/29, excluding 6/22. Home Horticulture Certificate required course. $105; $85 Gardens members or Duke students/staff. To register, please call 919-668-1707.
                 
Music in the Gardens: Jkutchma and The Five Fifths
Date:  Wednesday, June 05
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Outdoor shows will take place rain or shine on the lawn behind the Gardens' visitor center. Lawn chairs, picnics & blankets encouraged; dogs are not allowed. Food and beverages, including beer & wine, will be available for purchase. The lawn will open 30 minutes prior to the start of show. Parking is available in the Duke Gardens lots off of Anderson Street and is free after 5 p.m. Tickets: $12 general admission; $10 Duke students & employees; free for children 12-&-under

Walk on the Wild Side
Date: Thursday, June 6
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Hardy viner: Clematis viticella
Explore wild North Carolina in these walks through our Blomquist Garden of Native Plants. Join curator Stefan Bloodworth or horticulturist Annabel Renwick on the first Thursday of every month for discussions of seasonal interest. Please dress for the weather. $7; $5 for Gardens members and Duke students & staff. Registration required (parking fees apply). To register, or for more information, please call 919-668-1707..

Twining for You, Vines for Your Garden
Date: June 11
Time:  2:30 p.m.
Learn about spectacular plants that offer both beauty and functionality in our Plants of Distinction series. In this session, Jason Holmes, curator of the Doris Duke Center Gardens, will cover how to effectively use vines to add personality to your garden. Pre-registration required. Parking fees apply. Horticulture Certificate elective. $7; $5 Gardens members and Duke students/staff. 

Durham Garden Forum
Meetings are held at Sarah P. Duke Gardens on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-8 p.m.
Membership is $25 for the year (which runs April – March) or each lecture is $10. No preregistration is required. Contact information is durhamgardenforum@gmail.com

Container Gardening and Water Garden Containers
Date: Tuesday, June 18
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Learn about container gardening with Leanna Murphy. An informal group, the Durham Garden Forum meets once a month to enrich its members' gardening knowledge and skill. Presented in partnership with N.C. Cooperative Extension's Durham County Center. For membership information please email durhamgardenforum@gmail.com. $10;  free for Forum members.

NC Extension Gardener Seminars
Complete program information at www.durham.ces.ncsu.edu

Water Wise Gardening
Date: Sunday, June 2
Time: 3 - 4 p.m.
Location:  North Regional Library in Durham, 221 Milton Rd., Durham, NC 27712
Learn techniques for managing water in the garden from a Durham County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer. Water can get expensive and some years it is in short supply. Learn water conservation and management tips to help your plants thrive. To register call 919-560-0231.

In the Garden: Gourds, Squash and Pumpkins
Date:  Sunday, June 09
Time:  2 p.m.
Location:  Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Meet at the Burpee Learning Center in the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden to work alongside an expert as you learn more about vegetable gardening. Sponsored in partnership with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. Free, but pre-registration required.

Weeds - Friends or Foes?
Date: Sunday, Jun 23
Time: 3 – 4 p.m.
Location:  Durham South Regional Library, 4505 South Alston Ave, Durham, NC 27713
Overwhelmed by weeds? Learn some basics about weed identification as well as management strategies for keeping these unwanted plants out of the garden. To register call 919-560-7409.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It’s Strawberry Time!

NC Strawberry growers can be sourced by visiting:
http://www.ncagr.com/markets/commodit/horticul/strawber/ .

Posted on by durhammastergardeners
By Michelle Wallace, NC Consumer Horticultural Agent

Every year I look forward to picking strawberries with my kids. Fresh, ripe, juicy sweet strawberries can not be beat. The first time I took my daughter picking, I felt that the farmer should have weighed her before we began. I am sure she gained a half a pound from start to finish.

You may be interested to know a little bit about what is involved in growing strawberries. Commercial strawberry producers in North Carolina primarily grow two different varieties of strawberries, Chandler and Camarosa. These are different than the varieties of strawberries grown by homeowners primarily because these varieties are annual (live one season) as opposed to perennial strawberries (which come back ever year). The reason most strawberry farmers raise annual strawberries instead of perennial strawberries is primarily due to the quantity, quality and consistency of fruit, as well as disease management of the field.

There is a lot of work involved in producing strawberries. This work begins literally right after the strawberry harvest is over. In July, farmers remove the plastic raised bed covers, drip irrigation pipes, and the picked over strawberry plants. Soil preparation begins for next year’s crop. By August, the soil is tilled. New raised beds are created and covered with drip irrigation pipes and black plastic. The raised beds are fumigated to sterilize the soil and prevent disease from destroying the crop. By early October, the new strawberry starter plants are planted. At this time, the strawberries must be regularly scouted for insects like spider mites and for disease. The first application of fertilizer is administered to promote root development over the winter months. The next several months are devoted to monitoring growth and to frost protection.

Strawberries are edibles for everyone!
While strawberry plants are fairly hardy, our weather can throw a curve ball in the growing season. Some years, temperatures can get as warm as 70 degrees in January and a couple days later drop down to close to freezing. Warm temperatures can cause strawberries to develop and mature too soon. Early flowering is not desirable since we are plagued with late season frosts. In addition, most strawberry growers want to ensure a long picking season and want the crown development of the plants to be staggered so that the berries do not develop and ripen all at once. Frost protection can involve the use of overhead irrigation and or row covers. Overhead irrigation for frost protection is applied only when the dew point at the flower bud is just above freezing. Irrigation must persist as long as the temperatures are at or lower than freezing. The evaporative cooling process keeps the temperature of the plants above freezing and ensures that the flower buds will survive. Row covers can also be used for frost protection. Row covers are laid over the raised beds and secured into place. Once temperatures are above freezing, they must be removed to ensure pollination. This can translate into a lot of labor since row covers may need to be placed and removed several times over the course of a week. By March, strawberry fields must be fertilized again. Scouting for insects and diseases is critical and bi-weekly plant tissue analysis samples are submitted to the NCDA (North Carolina Department of Agriculture) to ensure a successful fertigation* schedule for the plants. By mid April the first edible berries begin to appear – almost a whole year after they were first planted. The next couple of months are Strawberry Picking Season.

While the Triangle region is growing by leaps and bounds you may be surprised to discover that there are several local farms that grow strawberries. All of these farms are pick your own operations and several of them offer pre-picked strawberries for those of you who are in a hurry. For those of you who have the time, this is a great outdoor family outing. There is nothing like freshly picked locally grown strawberries. This year, take some time to pick some berries, eat some berries, make strawberry pies, ice-cream, or jam. Most of all make some happy family memories and traditions that you will cherish over the years.

For information about the local strawberry growers in your region contact the Durham County Master Gardeners at 919-560-0528 or search http://www.ncagr.com/markets/commodit/horticul/strawber/ .

*(According to Wikipedia) Fertigation is the application of fertilizers, soil amendments, or other water soluble products through an irrigation system.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sustainable Beauty: Landscape Plants That Thrive in the Southeast, June 6

Mountain laurel  Kalmia latifolia flanks the
banks of a river.
Sustainable Beauty: Landscape Plants That Thrive
in the Southeast
Thursday, June 6, 2013, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center
455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC 28759.  (828)-684-3562.

Enjoy a full day of ornamental plants selected for their unique flowers, foliage, fall color, bark, drought tolerance, and adaptability to changing climate conditions. Researchers, plantsmen, and Extension faculty from across the South will highlight native and non-native woody and herbaceous plants that will enrich and extend your garden’s seasonal interest.

Program speakers are members of a plant evaluation working group of research and Extension faculty in landscape and commercial nursery disciplines at 14 southeastern land-grant universities and the US National Arboretum. The group tests new plant introductions across a wide array of USDA plant hardiness zones. The group also works to rediscover older cultivars that may have been forgotten among recent patent and trademark trends.

Visit http://go.ncsu.edu/sustainablebeauty_program to see the program and to register.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Almanac Gardener films in Durham, airs May 18 - Aug. 31

The Almanac Gardener was recently filmed in Durham for five packed episodes. The hour-long program features gardening guru Mike Gray and his experts from the NC Cooperative Extension Service at NCSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences  giving viewers  the finer points of garden planning, maintenance and blooming innovation. Durham Co. Extension Agent Michelle Wallace will be leading two of the upcoming Durham programs Sarah and Michael's Lily Farm and Urban Landscaping at the American Tobacco Warehouse.  Almanac Gardener airs at noon on Saturdays and repeats at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays on UNC-TV.

Durham Episodes:

Saturday, May 18
“Durham Bulls Exceptional Grass”

Saturday, June 15
“Sarah & Michaels Oriental Lilly Farm”  

Saturday, June 29
“Charlotte Brody Educational Garden-Duke Gardens”

Saturday, August 24
“Urban Landscaping at the American Tobacco Campus”

Saturday, August 31
“Stone Brothers & Byrd Garden Center, Durham”

Thursday, May 16, 2013

NCSU Lawncare App available for Android and iOS


Take the guessing out of yard maintenance and have the best lawn on your block! The North Carolina State University Lawn Care App is designed to assist North Carolina home owners with their lawn care. Focusing on the key categories of lawn care and maintenance, the NCSU Lawn Care App uses time sensitive information to tell you the how, what, and when of how to care for your lawn.

Lawn Care tips and how-tos are provided by the professors, researchers, and staff of the NCSU Turfgrass program-named Number #1 in the Nation by TurfNet Magazine (July, 2007). The app can be installed from both Google Play and the App Store.

Also extremely helpful in managing the health of your landscaping is the "Ortho Problem Solver" app by Scotts. "Problem Solver" shows pictures of plant diseases with recommended treatments. This can also be found on Google Play and the App Store.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Should Farmers and Gardeners worry about 17-Year Cicadas?

Posted on April 17, 2013 by Growing Small Farms
Originally written by Debbie Roos

Branch of a young possumhaw tree (Ilex decidua) showing
damage from where the cicada deposited eggs in the stem.
Many of you have been reading about the coming emergence of the 17-year periodic cicadas (Magicicada), likely bringing back memories of 2011, the last time central North Carolina saw a periodic cicada invasion. In 2011 we spent over a month in the company of millions of 13-year cicadas, marveling at the surprisingly loud and surreal din of their mating calls as we shared cicada stories with friends and neighbors (the ubiquitous insects were a big hit with kids, dogs, cats, and chickens!).
Do farmers and gardeners need to be worried about the coming cicada emergence? That depends…

Many folks who experienced large cicada populations in 2011 were left with damaged young trees and bushes where the female cicadas cut slits into tree branches to lay their eggs. The cicadas prefer stems and branches about the diameter of a pencil to deposit their eggs; on mature trees only the branch tips are damaged and the trees recover but on young trees the damage can occur on the main trunk and on primary lateral branches, causing significant damage. Cicadas only feed on woody perennials, so vegetable and/or strawberry crops are not at risk.

Farmers and gardeners who have young plantings of blueberries, brambles, and fruit trees have plants that are potentially vulnerable to cicada injury. The good news, according to NC State University Small Fruit Entomologist Dr. Hannah Burrack, is that in all likelihood the populations of the 17-year Brood II cicadas are not expected to be nearly as large in central North Carolina as the populations of the 13-year Brood XIX cicadas were back in 2011. So even if you were inundated with cicadas two years ago that does not mean you will be overrun this spring – the populations are completely different. The 17-year cicada populations are expected to be most numerous in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states; central North Carolina is at the southern end of the range of the Brood II cicadas. Based on the Brood II map, here in North Carolina most of the cicadas are expected to emerge a little northwest of the Triangle region (of course predicting emergence locations is not an exact science but is based on previous populations).

I know first-hand the damage these cicadas can do to young trees as I had to replace several newly planted native trees in my pollinator garden in Pittsboro after the Brood XIX emergence in 2011. The damage was all up and down the central leaders and lateral branches and was definitely not confined to branch tips. The stems were all at the perfect, apparently most enticing pencil-sized diameter that cicadas prefer and they did a number on them (see photo of damage below). If only a few branches are damaged they can be pruned out but when the majority of branches are significantly damaged, the young tree or bush might need to be replaced.
If you are in an area with a high population of cicadas and if you have vulnerable plantings of young blueberries, brambles, or fruit trees, you can wrap netting around the plants to prevent the females from laying eggs and damaging branches. This may not be practical if you have a large number of plants, and netting will also exclude pollinators if the plants are in bloom. Dr. Hannah Burrack reports that there are some conventional pesticides (both foliar and soil applications) that may help prevent egg-laying; consult your county Extension agent for specific recommendations.

Monday, May 13, 2013

DCGC places in Hillsborough Flower Show May 11-12

Five members of Council placed in the Historic Hillsborough Flower Show held May 11-12 at the Burwell School.

"Country Roads" Kinetic Design, 1st Place - Pat Cashwell (HE)  #1
 
"Bluegrass Jam" Creative Design,  2nd Place - Ardith Pugh (HE) #3, Honorable Mention Marcia Loudon (HE) #4
 
" Mama's Day"  Functional Tray, 3rd Place - Diane Winstead (HE) #5
 
"Spring Comes to Call" vignette, Honorable Mention - Carol Sledge (TC) #2
 
Jean Gurtner and Pat Cashwell  chaired of the Judges/Awards Committee for the flower show, and Marcia Loudon was co-chair of the Design Committee.
 
 

Friday, May 10, 2013

VEGETABLE SPOTLIGHT: Sweet Potatoes - NC Crop, Home-Growing, & Vodka!

North Carolina Piedmont growing varieties of Sweet Potatoes.
Photo: Leanna Murphy Dono.
Contributed by:
Leanna Murphy Dono and Marsha Booker-Hibbs (GM)
Durham Co. Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

Q. Do you know the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?
A. Sweet potatoes, aka. Ipomoea batatas, hail from the scientific family Convolvulaceae (a Morning Glory relative), and they originated from the South American regions of Peru and Ecuador. Sweet potatoes are regularly grown in US, plus they contain HIGH Vitamin A, and more commonly an orange flesh.
Yams, on the other hand, hail from the Dioscorea family of woody vines and shrubs and originated from West Africa and parts of Asia. Currently the US only imports them from the Caribbean, they are LOW in Vitamin A with exclusively white flesh.

Q. Does the USDA know the difference between the two vegetables?
A. NO!!! The USDA (confusingly) requires that Sweet Potatoes also be labeled as Yams in our grocery stores!

Ipomea batatas have been an often overlooked and extremely nutritious choice of vegetable. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fiber, potassium, calcium, are a low Glycemic Index food, and provide even better nutrition if you eat the peel!
 
Planting:
If you are a vegetable gardener and contemplating adding sweet potatoes to your crop this year, then plant the slips now! Sweet potatoes are a 100-day growing season plant, best suited to growing in raised beds, and their roots grow at least 6” deep.

Yield - If you were to plant 12 slips at 12” apart, the 12 slips would yield about 25-30 lbs. of sweet potatoes in one season! (For gardeners with limited space, two slips will grow in a container at least 15” wide and deep and yield 2-4 lbs. of roots.) It is also best practice to rotate sweet potatoes with corn plantings from year to year to reduce opportunities for wireworm and nematode infections.

Plant in full sun (West or Southern exposure ideal). Water regularly! This is critical for first 45 days for root formation. Give minimum 1” per week (but don’t over-water). Plant in well-drained soil to prevent root rot, and use disease- free slips. Apply fertilizer high in phosphorus for root growth; use a 10-20-10 granular at planting, use 15-30-15 liquid after four weeks.

Production Timeline:
Container of 'Porto Rico' sweet potatoes.
Photo: Leanna Murphy Dono
April 1 – order your slips and prepare beds
May 1 Plant Slips (after last frost)
GROWING SEASON - 100 DAYS
September 1 – no irrigation 3 weeks (prep to dig)
 October 1 Dig and harvest (before frost!)
1 week – Cure at 80-85°F /90% humidity
November 1 to March 1 Store at 55°F and eat!
 
Varieties and Cultivars of Sweet Potatoes:
Orange Flesh
Georgia Jet:  High yield – prone to cracking
Carolina Ruby:  Store well without shrink
Hernandez:  grows 120 days; grows well in sandy soil
Beauregard:  Most common, but disease challenges
Covington:  Developed at NC State University and disease resistant
Porto Rico:  Best container-grown sweet potato, “superior eating flavor”
White and Purple flesh
O'Henry: High Yield w/jumbo tubers, L-O-N-G vines – 60”+
Muraski: L-O-N-G vines – 60”and disease resistant
Japanese: Short vines – 40” and 125+ days to mature!

Harvest and Curing:
Know your potato variety and the length of time to mature. Dig the potatoes with spade.  It’s important not to give plants any irrigation three weeks prior to harvest which would dry out roots. Dig and harvest by Oct. 1 (before killing frost!). Throw out any culls. No splits, holes or insect damage (eat these “green”). Shake off excess dirt, but do not wash. Cure indoors in the dark for 5-10 days at 80-85°F and 90% humidity. This gives roots time to seal skin and heal any cuts. Watch for any condensation – they should be dry. Curing triggers the sugar producing enzymes.
When to Use when either “GREEN” = freshly dug, un-cured sweet potatoes - immediately use after harvest, they are excellent for candying or sweetened pies/casseroles.
“CURED” means that sweet potatoes were allowed to dry and ripen in warm, humid temperatures for maximum flavor. Use 6-8 weeks after harvest. These potatoes are best for baked, mashed, canning, frying, etc.

Storage:
IDEAL STORAGE: 55°F with moderate humidity (85%). For example, store in an unheated garage in slatted crates or baskets with ventilation. If sweet potatoes are stored in refrigeration or below 50°F, the roots develop hard centers and diminish flavor. Conversely, temps higher than 60°F encourage sprouting and root weight shrink.

Diseases and Pests:
SWEETPOTATO HORNWORM = Eats foliage and that reduces yields or root size
TORTOISE BEETLES = Eat foliage; attack newly planted slips or plants under stress. Can transfer from ornamentals
DEER = Eat foliage and that reduces yields or root size Source: AG-295, NC State Center for Integrated Pest Management
SPRING ROSE BEETLE & JAPANESE BEETLE = larvae/grubs feed on roots
FLEA BEETLES = Adults eat foliage; larvae eat roots, etch shallow, winding trails and cause splits
SMALL FRUIT FLIES = feed on decaying vegetables and lay maggots in splits (harvest and cure only good roots)

Pests, especially deer, have long been attracted to the ornamental cultivars such as Ipomoea batatas ‘Margarita’, ‘Blackie’ and ‘Sweet Caroline’. These cultivars are ornamental, annual varieties grown primarily for foliage. They may or may not produce potatoes, but if they do, the potatoes are likely bitter-tasting, but they could certainly over-winter for growing slips in the Spring.
 
Fun Facts about Sweet Potatoes and North Carolina:
  • Since 1971, North Carolina ranks as the No. 1 sweet potato producing state in the United States. NC annual harvest constitutes about 40-50% US supply.
  • Sampson, Nash & Johnston counties alone produce about ½ of NC yield.
  • 1996 Ms. Celia Batchelor’s 4th grade students in Wilson (aka “The Tater Tots”) successfully lobbied for Sweet Potatoes to be named the official State Vegetable.
  • 16th Annual Sweet Potato Festival in Rockford, NC September 21, 2013 from 10-5 p.m.
  • North Carolina restaurants are serving up a great variety of dishes on their menus: sweet potato fries, baked sweet potatoes with bacon and white cheddar, candied fried sweet potatoes, sweet potato coconut milk soup, sweet potato cheesecake, pork chops stuffed with thyme and sweet potatoes, and sweet potato biscuits.
  • NC Home-Grown Covington Sweet Potato Vodka: 20 lbs. of NC sweet potatoes go into every bottle; distilled in Snow Hill, NC; vodka won a prestigious gold medal at the 13th annual World Spirits Competition in March 2013. in San Francisco; the Covington sweet potato was developed by NC State University.