Saturday, June 25, 2016

Farmer Foodshare Recruiting 'Food Ambassadors' for Durham

Camilla Posthill, volunteer for Farmer Foodshare says the organization is looking for more "Food Ambassadors" to serve the Durham community. Food Ambassadors run cooking demos for using the surplus food donated.
Photo by J.S. Corser, Durham Co. Master Gardener.

We have fresh food. Now what?

When agencies (and the people they serve) asked how to store and prepare fresh produce, Farmer Foodshare listened, and Food Ambassadors was born.

Food Ambassadors are volunteers trained by Farmer Foodshare to go where the people are and share how to store fresh produce and how to prepare it in ways that are both economical and delicious.

At the demonstration everyone is encouraged to enjoy the  prepared dish and then receives the recipe and ingredients to make the dish at home Healthy eating just got easier!

Additionally, we've put together Veggie and Farmer Fact Sheets, and collection of simple recipes, available upon request.

Interested in volunteering as an Ambassador? Email to find out about upcoming trainings.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

2016 Durham Pollinator Week Events: June 20-25

By Erin Victor
Keep Durham Beautiful

Celebrate Durham's busy little pollinators this week with six days of family-friendly events!

Pollinators Week Events:

MONDAY - June 20
Pollinator Friendly Flowers and Plants with Lee, at The Makery (4:30 to 6:30 p.m.)

TUESDAY - June 21
Pollinator Week at the Museum of Life and Science (9:30 to 11:30 am)

Pollinator Week at the Museum of Life and Science (9:30 to 11:30 a.m.)
Native Pollinator Exhibit at RTP Headquarters (2 to 4 p.m.)
Wild Ideas for Birds and Bees at The Frontier (5:30 to 8 p.m.)

THURSDAY - June 23
Pollinator Week at the Museum of Life and Science (9:30 to 11:30 a.m.)

FRIDAY - June 24
Pollinator Week at the Museum of Life and Science (9:30 to 11:30 a.m.)

SATURDAY - June 25
Get Wild! Bugs and Bees at Horton Grove Nature Preserve (10 to 11:30 a.m.)
Pollinator Day Festival and Botany Bar Craw at Honeygirl Meadery (1 to 6 p.m.)

What Are Black Pearl Peppers and Why Should I Plant One?

By Witherspoon Rose Culture
June 15, 2016

Some of you may have noticed as you strolled through the Gardens at Witherspoon a unique purple plant “peppered” throughout the grounds. All puns aside, this small addition of Black Pearl Peppers to the rose garden packs a huge punch in controlling the spider mite population that tends to sky rocket as the weather heats up.
Black Pearl Peppers Ready for the Rose Garden
Spider Mite Damage

Spider Mite damage begins to appear when we enter the driest portion of the summer as roses are heat stressed already and mite populations explode in the heat. These mites live on the undersides of the leaves, live by sucking nutrients and moisture out of said leaves, and build a wonderful protective webbing over themselves while they snack on your roses. Mites are difficult to see with the naked eye, but the yellowing dried up leaves will give them away. Because of the protective webbing they build around themselves, conventional insecticides are rarely effective at controlling the spider mite population.

Over the past few years, Witherspoon has implemented the use of predatory mites as biocontrol agents for controlling spider mite populations in the gardens we service as well as our own garden. We wanted to go a step further and create an environment which naturally hosts beneficial insects that will work with us to keep our gardens healthy and beautiful. Enter the Black Pearl Pepper.
Black Pearl Pepper
What exactly is a Black Pearl Pepper? An ornamental pepper with brilliant purple flowers, which stand out against the dark purple leaves, that turn into clusters of purple peppers which mature to bright red.  Just don’t eat the peppers. This pepper weighs in at 30,000 Scoville Heat Units, which is 10 times hotter than a jalapeño! Besides being one of the most beautiful plants in our garden, except for the roses of course, it is also a host plant to a minute pirate bug Orius Insidious. Orius is a hard working beneficial insect that feeds on spider mites, aphids, and thrips. Three pests which plague our rose gardens every growing season. By planting a few of these gorgeous peppers around the garden we are creating a hospitable environment for Orius to live and feast.
Introducing these biocontrol methods will begin to create a natural balance within the rose garden. We hope to alleviate the dependency on broad spectrum insecticides and move toward a beneficial insect friendly approach.
Want to add Black Pearl Peppers to your garden?
All companion plants, including
Black Pearl Ornamental Peppers, will be
Buy 1 Get 1 FREE June 15-29, 2016!
In store only – Free plant of equal or lesser value

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hydrangea Planting, Care, Color and Considerations

Single mophead stem of Hydrangea macrophylla 'enziandom.'
The florists' hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla subspecies macrophylla var. macrophylla has been an important greenhouse crop for many years. Its popularity and production have both been increasing in the past few years. This leaflet outlines procedures for the greenhouse forcing of dormant, precooled hydrangeas.

Receiving and Establishing
Pre-Cooled Plants
Hydrangeas are usually shipped in the late fall through early winter, after they have received a required cold storage treatment. They are received as dormant plants in 4 to 6 inch pots or as bare-root plants previously grown in 4 inch pots. Newly received plants should be allowed to initiate active root growth (for about 2 weeks) prior to transplanting into the finalsized pot. The ideal starting temperature for hydrangeas is a 60 to 62°F soil temperature supplied with bottom heat, while maintaining slightly cooler air temperatures (about 58°F). This allows root activity prior to bud opening on the shoots. Grow plants slightly on the “dry side” prior to transplanting to prevent root rot and to encourage root development. No fertilizer should be applied until root activity and transplanting have occurred.

One of the main problems encountered with hydrangeas is poor root establishment. This condition leads to water stress damage during late stages of forcing. The bottom of the root ball should be slit twice (to form an × pattern), about 1/3 of the way up towards the top to form four sections, when transplanting; split open these sections and place them in direct contact with the soil in the pot.

Flower Color Control
The key in assuring clear pink or blue inflorescences is ordering plant material programmed to develop the desired color and continuing the color program throughout forcing. Fertilization practices during the previous summer growth phase can affect coloration during forcing, and changing the color program during the forcing phase can result in undesirable shades of mauve sometimes referred to as “blurple” tones.

Whether a hydrangea (excluding white cultivars) develops a pink or blue inflorescence is dependent on the presence and availability of aluminum. The absence of aluminum assures pink flowers; high availability of aluminum leads to blue flowers. By regulating aluminum, flower color can be controlled.

Cultivars vary in color tones and some are better suited for pinks while others are best produced as a blue. Select the cultivar with the color and tone best suited for your market demands. Although there are over 500 cultivars of hydrangeas, only a few are produced in the U.S. (Table 1).

Pink Flowers

Avoid supplying aluminum to plants; do not use mineral soil in the substrate and use fertilizers that do not contain aluminum. Use relatively high levels of phosphorus in the fertilizer program. Phosphorus antagonizes aluminum uptake and helps assure pink flowers. Incorporate 3 to 4.5 lbs treble superphosphate (0-45-0) per yd3 into the substrate. Rotating mono-ammonium phosphate (11-53-00) into the feed program will also help raise phosphorus levels and help prevent aluminum uptake. An example feed program would be continuous feeding using 150 ppm nitrogen from 20-10-20 (10 oz/100 gal) rotated with 100 ppm nitrogen from 11-53-00 (18 oz/100 gal) every third feeding.

Try to maintain a substrate solution pH of 6.0 to 6.2; aluminum becomes more available at lower pH’s. Be careful not to allow the pH to rise much above 6.4, or iron deficiency chlorosis will become a problem. If the pH of the irrigation water is higher than 6.5, consider acidifying to 6.3. Phosphoric acid would be the acidifier of choice for pink flowers, as it increases phosphorus levels in the substrate. Supply low to moderate levels of potassium. High levels of potassium tend to increase bluing of hydrangeas. 

The cultivars recommended for a dark pink to red are 'Böttstein' and 'Schenkenburg'; medium pinks include 'Merritt’s Supreme', 'Kasteln', and 'Red Star'; and 'Rose Supreme' and 'Enziandom' produce light pink flowers. Some cultivars such as 'Mathilde Gütges' and 'Brestenburg' do not produce a consistent or clear pink and should be programmed as blue flowers only.

Blue Flowers

Although dormant plants purchased as blues will have received aluminum sulfate prior to shipment, aluminum must also be supplied during the forcing period.  Start drenching with aluminum sulfate immediately after transplanting.  Apply 8 fl oz of drench per 6 inch pot using 10 lb aluminum sulfate per 100 gallons of water.  Drenches should be applied to moist substrates only as drenching dry soil will result in damaged roots.  Make applications at 10 to 14 day intervals. About 10 days after each application, measure the pH of the substrate.  If the pH is higher than 5.6, another application of aluminum sulfate should be made. Continue this procedure throughout forcing.  The aluminum sulfate not only supplies aluminum, it also maintains a low (5.2 to 5.5) pH in the substrate solution, desirable during forcing of blue hydrangeas. If the pH of the irrigation water is higher than 5.8, add acid to drop the pH to 5.3.  A 35% sulfuric acid source (available at most auto supply stores) is the best water acidifier when growing blue hydrangeas, as it will not add unwanted phosphorus (as would phosphoric acid) and is not as caustic as a more concentrated sulfuric acid or nitric acid. Use a phosphorus-free substrate for transplanting and use a fertilizer lacking phosphorus.   Apply high levels of potassium for increased bluing.  For example, apply 150 ppm nitrogen and 300 ppm potassium at each irrigation supplied with ammonium nitrate (2 oz per 100 gal)  plus potassium nitrate (11 oz per 100 gal).

Control Most hydrangeas, especially tall growing cultivars (Table 2), require height control during forcing. Apply B-Nine® sprays using 2500 ppm (most cultivars) to 5000 ppm (tall cultivars, especially ‘Rose Supreme’).  Bonzi® sprays of 50 ppm are also labeled and effective for height control of hydrangeas. First applications of either growth retardant are made
when 3 to 5 leaf pairs have begun to unfold, about 2 to 4 weeks after the start of forcing.  Under low light conditions, repeat applications may be necessary at 10 to 14 day intervals.  Treatments should be discontinued prior to when flower buds reach 3/4 of an inch in diameter or inflorescences will be reduced in size at maturity.

Temperature and Timing
The rate of hydrangea development during forcing is directly related to average daily temperature, and to a certain degree, forcing speed can be regulated by adjusting temperature (Table 3).  Generally, plants are forced in 80 to 100 days using 60°F nights/70°F cloudy day/75°F sunny day temperatures until sepals begin to show color (about 2 1/2 weeks to sales date) then dropping the temperature until full coloration. At start of color, the temperature should be dropped to 54°F night/65°F day to intensify flower color.  Try to avoid excessively warm temperatures during forcing.  Too warm forcing temperatures result in smaller plants, smaller inflorescences, less intense coloration, and a poorer quality plant than when plants are forced at cooler temperatures.

Hardening and Post-Production Handling
At the beginning of visible sepal color, fertilization should be cut in half to help harden plants.  Fully colored flowers are tender, and some shading to prevent overheating is beneficial during the last few weeks of production, especially for late crops such as for Mother’s Day.  Watering should be slowly reduced, but under no circumstances should plants be allowed to wilt. Hydrangeas exhibit a long post-harvest life in the home if kept moist, out of direct light, and relatively cool.  The key word for retailers and home owners is Water.  Hydrangeas are severely affected by wilting and will never fully recover if allowed to dry out.

Pests and Diseases
Greenhouse pests and diseases differ from location to location.  Consult with your  County Cooperative Extension Service Center regarding effective, labeled prevention and control procedures. Listed below are the major problems of hydrangeas. Problems most likely to be encountered are indicated

Aphids (Aphis gossypii, Myzus circumflexus, M. persicae)
Four-lined plant bug (Poecilocapsis lineatus)
Leaf-tiers (Exartema ferriferanum, Udea rubigalis)
Rose-chafer (Macrodactylus subspinosus)
Scale (Lepidosaphes ulmi, Pulvinaria spp.)
Tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris)
Thrips (Hercinothrips femoralis)
Whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci, Trialeurodes vaporariorum)
Mites:  Two-spotted mite or Red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae)
Other pests:
Slugs (Deroceras reficulatum, Limax spp.)
Snails (Helix spp.)
Bacteria Bacterial wilt (Pseudomonas solanacearum)
Fungi Blister rust (Pucciniastrum hydrangeae) 
Bud rot (Botrytis cinerea)
Gray mold (Botrytis cinerea) 
Inflorescence blight (Botrytis cinerea)
Leaf spots (Ascochyta hydrangeae, Cercospora arborescentis, Corynespora cassicola, Phyllosticta hydrangeae, Septoria hydrangeae)
Powdery mildew (Erysiphe polygoni)
Root rot (Armillaria spp., Polyporus spp., Rhizoctonia spp., Sclerotium spp.)
Stem rot (Polyporus spp., Rhizoctonia spp., Sclerotium spp.)
Mycoplasma-Like Organisms (MLO):
Hydrangea virescence:
Nematodes Leaf nematodes (Aphelenchoides spp.) Lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus spp.)
Root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne incognita, M. hapla)
Stem nematodes (Ditylenchus dipsaci)
Alfalfa mosaic virus Cucumber mosaic virus
Hydrangea mosaic virus
Hydrangea ring-spot virus
Tobacco rattle virus
Tobacco ring-spot virus
Tobacco necrosis virus
Tomato ring-spot virus
Tomato spotted-wilt virus

The Future For Hydrangeas
Forcing of hydrangeas for Valentine’s Day is already common for many producers, and the trend seems to be increasing. Another change which may take place in the future is an increase in the number of cultivars of the florists’ hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla subsp. macrophylla var. macrophylla) and hydrangea species being produced.  An example of new cultivars would be 'Kasteln'.  A few years ago, it was relatively unknown; now it is becoming a major cultivar for late-season forcing. With regards to new species, look for 'Pia' (Hydrangea × 'Pia') in the next few years.  This selection is very dwarf, seems to always flower pink, and is very winter hardy.  Other possible new hydrangeas include the lacecap varieties (Hydrangea macrophylla subsp. macrophylla var. normalis) such as 'Libelle' (dragonfly), 'Taube' (dove),  and 'maculata', which has variegated foliage.  The lacecaps have a more open inflorescence than the florists’ hydrangeas and are an exciting edition to the hydrangea fare.

Suggested Readings
Bailey, D.A.  1989.  Hydrangea Production.  Timber Press.  Portland, Oregon.  91 pp.
Bailey, D.A.  1992.  Hydrangeas, p. 365–383.  In: R.A. Larson (ed.).  Introduction to Floriculture, Second Edition.  Academic Press.  San Diego, California.
Shanks, J.B.  1991.  Hydrangea, p. 588–601.  In:  V. Ball (ed.).  The Ball Red Book, 15th Edition. Geo. J. Ball Publishing. W. Chicago

Horticulture Information Leaflet 524 Revised 7/94 - Author  Reviewed 1/98
Douglas A. Bailey, Extension Horticultural Specialist

Monday, June 6, 2016

June/July Calendar of Triangle Gardening Programs

The Durham Garden Forum 2016 Gardeners' Fair will be held Tuesday,
July 19 at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St., Durham, NC. 
Please call 919-668-1707 to register.

Plants of Distinction: Early Summer Blossoms
Thursday, June 9, 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM
Tuesday, June 21, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Thursday, June 23, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Durham Garden Forum: Gardeners' Fair
Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
JC Raulston Arboretum
Ruby C. McSwain Education Center, JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road, Raleigh, NC.

Plantsmen's Tour "40th Anniversary Tour—Wild Collections"
Mark Weathington, Director
Tuesday, June 7, 9:00 am–10:30 am
Tuesday, June 7, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Day Tripping to Lakeview Daylily Farm
Noel Weston, Lakeview Daylily Farm
Wednesday, June 8, 9:00 am–11:30 am

Herbaceous Perennials Propagation Class and Demonstration
Douglas Ruhren, Ironwood Gardens and JCRA Volunteer
Saturday, June 18, 9:00 am–12:00 pm

Gardening Adventures with Extension Master Gardener Volunteers: "Living with Insects—The Good and the Bad"
Louise Romanow, Wake County Extension Master Gardener
Monday, June 27, 10:00 am–12:00 pm

A hypertufa trough workshop will be presented by Beth Jimenez and Amelia Lane,
Lasting Impressions and JCRA Volunteers, Saturday, July 23.

Landscape Color and Professional Field Day
Wednesday, June 29, 2016 – 9:00 am–4:30 pm
Presented by JC Raulston Arboretum, NC State's Department of Horticultural Science, and the North Carolina Commercial Flower Growers AssociationSponsored by the North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association and the Johnston County
Nursery Marketing Association

Plantsmen's Tour: "Intern's Top Picks"
Mark Weathington, Director
Tuesday, July 5, 9:00 am–10:30 am
Tuesday, July 5, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Hypertufa Trough Workshop
Beth Jimenez and Amelia Lane, Lasting Impressions and JCRA Volunteers
Saturday, July 23, 9:00 am–12:00 pm

Cast Concrete Leaf Workshop
Beth Jimenez and Amelia Lane, JCRA Volunteers
Saturday, July 23, 1:00 pm–3:00 pm

North Carolina Botanical Gardens 
100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC.

Native Plant Propagation
with Matt Gocke, NCBG Nursery/Greenhouse Manager
This event is full. Now accepting wait list registrations.
Saturday, June 11; 9:30am – 1:00pm

Pollination-Themed Tour of the Garden
Saturday, June 11, 2016 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
In recognition of National Pollinator Week, NCBG is offering a free pollination-themed tour of the Garden.

LUNCHBOX TALK: Mason Farm: Past, Present, Future
with Johnny Randall, NCBG Director of Conservation
Thursday, June 16, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Honey Beehive Tour
with Anne Cabell, Bee Hobbyist
Saturday, June 25, 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM (Inclement weather date, June 26)
Come learn about one of the world’s most fascinating insects. Bees are responsible for pollinating one- third of the world’s food and produce one of the sweetest treats around. Participants explore a real live hive. 

North Carolina Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners

Tue, June 21, 2016, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM

Micro Drip Irrigation Systems for Containers
Sunday, Jun 26, 2016, 3:00 to 4:00 pm
South Regional Library, 4505 S. Alston Avenue, Durham, North Carolina 27713
Presentation by Georganne Sebastian and Darcey Martin
Register online at the Durham County Library website Click on "Events" to find the full calendar of events. Go to the date of the class and sign up. You can also call the Information Desk at South Regional Library to register: 919-560-7410, 919-560-7410.

Micro Drip Irrigation Systems for Containers will be presented
by Durham Co. Master Gardeners on Sunday, June 26.
Gardening Adventures with Extension Master Gardener Volunteers: "Living with Insects—The Good and the Bad"
Louise Romanow, Wake County Extension Master Gardener
Monday, June 27, 10:00 am–12:00 pm

Durham Garden Forum: Gardeners' Fair
Tue, July 19, 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Copperhead on the Porch: Ruminations about Snakes in the Garden

Copperhead in my garden in Durham, former address:
please notice the distinctive pattern over the body,
the copper colour of its head, the triangular shape.
Photo by Angelique Droessaert.
By Angelique Droessaert
Daylily Garden Club

As an active gardener I come across snakes quite regularly, and it always shocks me when I discover a copperhead under some heavy foliage inches away from my hand, while weeding or cleaning up. It is an instinctive, gut reaction. I shriek... And draw back....

After I catch myself, reason returns.  I understand it was there because it did a job around my house-- and taking care of a problem so well, I had not noticed it; it had been hunting vermin. I then realize I should be grateful to the creature, and not  punish it by harming it for helping me and not biting me. Bad karma!! ;)

As frightening as it may be at first, you have to accept this is North Carolina we live in: it is the South, and hot and humid in the summer, and snakes are all around us, even more so if you live close to wetlands, or creeks and lakes. Most of the time you do not notice them, as they are quite shy and afraid of men for good reasons. But snakes are literally everywhere: in woods, in the waters, in creeks, up in trees, lounging on warm driveways, hiding under crawl spaces, breeding in brush piles and decaying wood, sunning on warm rocks. Snakes are part of nature and they are there for a reason. They keep small rodents in check.

Rita, the red bellied watersnake in our current garden. 
Photo by Angelique Droessaert.
You do want black snakes and rat snakes around your house and basement. They are your house protectors. They are the “good” snakes, sometimes measuring over 5 feet. They have small oval heads and are quite inoffensive to humans. They hunt vermin and copperheads. Unfortunately they can also be fond of birds, and eggs in nests up in trees. It is all part of the ecological balance. 

Recently, living so close to the wetlands here in Hope Valley, a new species has made an appearance around Durham, also non-poisonous and inoffensive: the red bellied watersnake (as identified by a colleague at Duke). It has been moving westwards from the coastal eastern areas.

Last summer, after a week of torrential rains, we encountered one we nicknamed "Rita" who measured easily over 4 feet. We rescued Rita around our house, next to an edge of sod, right next to one of my dead (!) lavenders and rosemary bushes. It had gotten trapped in the fine mesh of the sod that had been installed by our landscaper the previous year...(argh). My husband, born and raised in Texas, has done his share of wrestling with snakes and rattlers, and I can rely on his skills when I am too intimidated to make the first moves. Carefully holding down its head with a forked branch, we liberated it from the netting, and after exploring and stroking its surprisingly dry, scaly back, and examining the abrasions from the plastic netting, we realized that thankfully, it was just a superficial wound. Rita was surprisingly docile throughout the procedure. My husband then picked it up, one hand right behind Rita’s head, the other more towards the middle of its rather long body, and moved it to the wetter area on the side of our house, in a culvert. Once released, it very quickly moved away and under cover. Rita is a beautiful looking creature, ( see picture below) bronzy brown colored with an orange red underbelly, and as most snakes, really does not want to have anything to do with humans.

Please be kind. Young black snakes are often mistaken for copperheads. If in doubt, look at the shape of their heads, oval --non poisonous; triangular—they got teeth to bite their prey and inject toxins…
In my 33 years gardening in Durham and Chapel Hill,  hiking and gardening very actively, I encounter copperheads and black snakes every year--- I have never been bitten!!!

After my initial "shock" I quietly have a talk with the creature and bless it, thank it for hunting vermin on my territory and not biting me, and then I ask it to leave and take its family along. It has always worked as I never encounter another copperhead that season.

Black snake, or black racer on my deck under the grill: May-June is
mating season, and these black snakes are looking for a partner.
They can move incredibly fast, I had trouble capturing the entire creature
despite multiple exposures with my iPhone camera.
Photo by Angelique Droessaert. 
That being said, I fully understand the need to protect our children and small pets from harm and doing whatever is necessary for safety. Absolutely. 
Just remember please: snakes are far more afraid of us, than we are of them and most snakes, although frightening the heck out of us, are non aggressive (unless taunted or fearing for their life) They just are there because they are hunting vermin. 

Being warned of their presence by a close encounter, I also take more precautions. On hot days I take a stick along when gardening, and pound it on the grass or soil before stepping or poking my hand into leafy areas. I also tend to wear clogs or sneakers, rather than flip flops… and stomp my foot more purposefully on the ground a few give anything creeping a chance to scoot away before I step in. .
May all creatures great and small flourish around us,  and with us.