Making It Grow

Mon-Sat, throughout the day

Amanda McNulty of Clemson University’s Extension Service and host of ETV’s six-time Emmy Award-winning show, Making It Grow, offers gardening tips and techniques.

Archive: Making It Grow Podcasts, January 2011 - September 2014

Ways to Connect

'Sunburst' Honeylocust in Elko Nevada" by
Famartin - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Honey Locust pods
University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. My favorite professor at Clemson, Dr. David Bradshaw, told wonderful stories about his grandfather who was a true naturalist just from living a life so connected to the land and knowing so many uses for the plants and animals found near his home. When we studied honeylocust, gleditsia triacanthos, David told us that the sweet substance found lining the pods that gives rise to the honey part of the common name had such a high sugar content that his grandfather used it to make beer.

Thorns of the Honey Locust tree
Rei at the English language Wikipedia

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you’re in one of the great swampy areas in South Carolina and the water starts to rise or a feral hog is chasing you, for the love of Pete do not climb a Gleditsia aquatica, or swamp locust. Dr. John Nelson recently brought photographs of this tree, found in wet places in the SE as well as his back yard, to the show for a mystery plant. It has clusters of fierce, sharp, long spines growing out of the trunk and would be impossible to safely climb.

Tomato Hornworm
Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Some caterpillars that look incredibly frightening are actually harmless! The tomato hornworm which is not only huge  up to four inches long (after he eats half a tomato plant in one night) but also has a big horn on its rear end. Fortunately, they are  all show and can’t do you any harm if you hand pick them   (the best control method). Nature helps control these caterpillars, too by providing braconid wasps who lay their eggs on this juicy piece of meat.

Saddleback caterpillar
Gerald J. Lenhard, Louiana State Univ / © Bugwood.org, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Most caterpillars are pretty recognizable as just that – the larva of a butterfly or moth. They have a head and thorax and usually some feet-like protrusions called prolegs. But one group, the slug moths, are among the most famous of the stinging caterpillars and the weirdest looking. Their head is not distinctly separate from the rest of their body and they have suckers-like structures for feet.

Hickory Horned Devil caterpillar
Terri Sumpter

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow.  A few years ago, my neighbor across the street brought over a shoe box with a fearful looking creature in it. It was the most beautiful and exotic looking caterpillar I’d ever seen. We identified him as a hickory horn devil who eats pecan, hickory and even baldcypress and pine needles! My fellow Extension Agent Terri Sumpter took a photograph of this magnificent fellow walking on my hand and if you go to Making It Grow’s facebook page you can see him in all his glory!

Setae on Oak Processional Caterpillars
By Kleuske via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow! If you haven’t put your wool sweaters and jackets up in moth balls,  you better get with the program! Making It Grow’s go to gal for insect questions, Vicky Bertagnolli, recently reminded us that moths are out doing there thing-laying eggs that develop into caterpillars. For most of us, this is only a problem if we forget to protect our wool clothes, but some caterpillars are actually dangerous. Fortunately, they warn us to keep away by their striking hairy bodies.

Tussock moth caterpillar
Wikipeida: Ryan Hodnett

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Oh, the mysterious things that come to our office in pill bottles! Last week, we had a hairy caterpillar to ID, it was found munching on a rose leaf so our first thought was “the stinging rose caterpillar.” Caterpillars are juicy treats for birds and an extremely important food source for feeding young birds who need lots of protein and fat to grow. Some Lepidopteran larva have developed hairs called setae to defend themselves. These hollow hairs connect to glands that produce a poison, when an animal touches these hairs they break and release a toxin that causes a reaction. I sent a picture of our caterpillar to Making It Grow’s insect specialist Vicky Bertagnolli who said it was not a rose caterpillar but a Tussock moth, in the genus Orgyia, but, it too, is indeed a stinger.


Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Terasa Lott is by day a water quality, natural resources Extension Agent in Florence. But on Tuesday nights, she transforms into a media specialist keeping watch over the Making It Grow chat room and keeping  our facebook page up to date and interesting.  A handful -- but she also give us a water quality tip each week. Lately, she reminded those turf grass enthusiasts that although spring is here, it is far too early to fertilize your lawn. Warm season turf grass, centipede, St.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The Clemson Student Organic Farm has small lagoons in front of their winter greenhouses to provide extra warmth for those structures but what positive spinoffs in summer.    dragonflies perch on cattails devouring captured insects. And toads and  live and breed in these simple water features. Guess what frogs and toads eat – insects! These amphibians hop all through the garden looking for food and with their long tongues can zap a plant eating beetle or stink bug in the blink of an eye.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Team Making It visited the Clemson Student Organic Farm in Calhoun Downs recently. We talked with The farm manager,  Shawn Jadrnicek, and filmed his  innovative  designs for passive heating systems that   keep the   greenhouses warm in the winter with a minimum of fuel use.   One concept is small lagoons located directly in front of the greenhouses which reflect heat back into the plastic structures during the winter when the sun is low.

Support Your Local Growers!

Apr 8, 2015

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson extension and Making It Grow. This is a terrific time to show your support for Certified South Carolina foods and the farmers who grow those local,  crops. If you search SC Department of Agriculture Certified grown, www.certifiedscgrown.com you can find by county all the members of that organization and what items they grow. Some growers even offer a way to support their farm through a CSA or community supported agriculture program.

High Tunnels

Apr 6, 2015

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson extension and Making It Grow! High tunnels are a relatively new addition to many southern specialty farmers – they are not greenhouses but actually plastic covered structures large enough to drive equipment through. They aren’t heated – the cover holds enough heat to grow strawberries in all winter unless we have exceptionally cold temperatures. In the warm months, growers raise the sides and can have protection for crops from rains that can cause leaf disease and damage the fruits and vegetables being grown.

Redbud Flower Seed Pods are Edible!

Apr 4, 2015

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson extension and Making It Grow! My drive on the Sumter Highway coming and going form St. Matthews has been made more beautiful than usual by the many flowering redbuds   growing on the roadsides. This native tree has an open shape and somewhat crooked branches and as the flowers hug the branches it doesn’t disappear into a poof but retains its character.  An added bonus to this adaptable native is that the young flowers seed pods are edible.

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. We plant peoplealways want something new and it is exciting when lots of breeding work is done on a native plant whichis not only beautiful but easy to grow. Redbud, Cercis candensis, has new cultivars popping up all over.The most popular is Forest Pansywith new leaves of deep purple, fading to green as the temps go up.Other offerings exhibit extreme cauliflory - flowers coming right out of older branches and even thetrunk.

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Cercis canadensishas the misleading common name of redbud even though it's flowers are purple. Another peculiarcommon name is Judas tree. The genus Cercis is found in North America, Europe and Asia with 22species. The redbud species Cercissiliquastrum lives in Mediterranean and Asia minor countries and issupposedly the tree Judas Iscariot hanged himself from after betraying Christ. Redbud is not stout orstrong or tall so would be a poor choice for that purpose.

  Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Redbud, CercisCanadensis, is a remarkably adaptable native tree. It's hard to imagine a yard where you couldn't growone successfully except an area with high salinity in the water or occasional salt spray. They thrive infull sun or shade - slightly less flowering in a shadier spot, and aren't picky about pH or soil types happilygrowing in well-drained fields or along flood plains. The straight species are small trees, up tothirty feet tall and across, and are often multi-trunked.

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. One of our earliestspring blooming native trees is redbud, which really proves the point that common names are peculiaras redbud is so NOT red. The flowers are pink, pea-shaped, and emerge in March and April before theheart-shaped leaves appear. The bark is dark so the contrast between flowers and stems is dramatic.Redbud is a florist's dream as the stems change direction slightly at each node - so there are no boring,straight branches looking for all the world like a football umpire.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The flowers on mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia, are usually a delicate pink and are borne in showy clusters. Upon closer examination, they are fascinating structures – the petals are fused like a cup and have small depressions that look like dots of deeper pink scattered all over – sometimes they are called calico flowers for that reason. These depressions are   actually stamen pockets.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Mountain laurel was given its scientific name, Kalmia latifolia, by the father of the binomical naming system, Karl Linnaeus. who named it for one of his botany students, Peter Kalm. Kalm was sent to North American  to look for plants that might   have economic importance  , and he sent Kalmia specimens to  Sweden during his collecting trip to North America in the 1740’s. The specific epithet latifolia means broad leaf, although the leaves aren’t particularly broad when you look at them.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Isn’t it interesting that gardeners like twisted and contorted plants for accent and interest in their gardens. One native plant that fits that bill very nicely is mountain laurel. Not only do the trunks and branches grow all catty whumpus but the bark is somewhat shredded, too. This habit of growth makes it impossible to walk through laurel thickets – people caught in them in the mountains call them laurel hells – but is also makes the branches prized for rustic furniture building.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Mountain laurel is the topic of my upcoming column on native plants in SC Department of Natural Resources magazine called Wildlife. Many people think that this large shrub only grows in the upstate – after all it’s called mountain laurel. But it grows all over the state and actually all over the eastern coast and even inward a few states – even into the panhandle of Florida. So you can probably plant and  grow this beautiful native in your yard if you have well drained, acidic soils and light shade.

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension. The best way to control weeds is to have a healthy turf grass - growing grass in sunlight is key - and to use mulch in your shrub beds.

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and making It Grow. Perennial weeds and even certain annual weeds - chamberbitter is my worst nightmare - present special problems if they get established in your turf grass. Fortunately, Clemson's home & garden information center has fact sheets on some of the toughest of those weeds.

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Once you have identified the weeds that are growing in your yard, you can make some plans to try to get them under control. Most - not all but most - annual weeds can be kept at manageable levels with a pre-emergent herbicide if it is applied early enough and activated. Better to err on putting it out a little too early than too late - -once the weed has germinated - no matter how tiny it is - the herbicide won't help.

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you have a yard full of weeds right now, there are a few things you can do to help reduce that problem next year. The first step is to identify the weeds. Weeds are divided into several categories - winter weeds and summer weeds. Winter weeds usually germinate in October and die or go dormant when summer comes.  Summer weeds begin to grow in March and complete their cycle when cold temperatures arrive.

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The University of Maryland's Extension makes a bold statement in their fact sheet about environmentally responsible weed control strategies. It is perfectly acceptable to have a tolerable level of weeds in a home lawn -really. "Really" is their word although I agree 100 %.

Hello Gardeners, I'm Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow! Oh, my goodness, some people are just having a fit about how their lawns are looking. Winter weeds, which germinated back in October, grew slowly for several months without anyone much noticing them. But as we get closer to spring - yes, in spite of this cold, spring is coming- those weeds get big and really showing up against the brown turf grass. The bad news is that it’s too late to do much about those winter weeds. Big weeds are hard to kill and many have already set seeds so the damage is done.

Amanda's favorite biennial plant.

Selective breeding led to today's Cabbage.

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