Clemson University

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. When I was little, we would occasionally go the Bruce’s house for to eat watermelon and we didn’t throw away or compost the rinds.  Mrs. William R. Bruce was a wonderful cook and she wanted the rinds to make pickle. As a southern condiment, this is one of the best. Old fashioned watermelons had a thick rind which was easy to peel and cut into small pieces; newer varieties don’t have this characteristic.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. There is a host of letters following descriptions of vegetable plants when you look at seed catalogs and often these letters appear on the labels accompanying transplants for sale in garden centers. The land grant universities work closely with seed companies to come up with plants that can resist the many diseases and pests that destroy crops. When you look at tomato plants, these are some of the letters you see and the resistance they indicate.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If your tomatoes show signs of tomato spotted wilt virus, remove them from the garden immediately and dispose of them in the trash. Don’t compost them.  The diseased plants can serve as a source of inoculum for other thrips which can acquire the virus and pass it to healthy plants. It is a viral infection, and although some parts of the plant may look healthy, remember that a virus moves throughout the entire infected organism's system.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The western flower thrips is the most important insect that serves as a vector of tomato spotted wilt virus for us in South Carolina. Thrips are not strong flyers but they are easily moved by wind currents and the range of the western flower thrips has been expanded as it travels from state to state on infested plants in the nursery trade.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Ah, what greater pleasure can a gardener have than to scout the garden on a coolish morning with a cup of coffee in hand and admire the budding okra pods, the plump cucumbers, and the bean pods dangling from their trellis. All of that happiness evaporates when you get to the tomatoes and see distorted, purplish colored leaves. Tomato spotted wilt virus is just like the common cold – there is no cure, but the plant doesn’t recover from it.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Oh, the elusive garden tomato. Juicy, slightly acidic, firm fleshed. Summer suppers of BLT’s are the dream of both the cook and those cooked at the end of a long day. Nothing is more highly prized and these days nothing is harder to grow.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The mahonias our mothers grew, Mahonia bealias, were called leatherleaf, and you needed leather gloves to mess with them as because they had such sharp spines on their leaves. But they added drama to dark, dry areas of their gardens. Then came a much softer and graceful variety, Mahonia fortune, which I planted by our north-facing porch steps, and its grown well but gets leggy and every year I have to cut a third of it back to keep it attractive.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. When I was growing up every single yard in our neighborhood had Aucuba japonica, aka Gold Dust plant, growing in a shady spot in the garden. This handsome, coarse textured medium sized shrub, was introduced to England in 1783 by a prominent botanist, John Gaeffer. Aucuba must grow in shade, if planted in sun the leaves will become so scorched they’ll turn black and die. It roots beautifully, and since the foliage is so  handsome people often cut it for indoor displays.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Fatsia japonica, which doesn’t have a common name but is just called fatsia, is a striking plant to grow in shade. Like nandina, it does branch if you make heading cuts to the stem,  the stems just get longer, and   you can easily have a    ten foot tall, dramatic multi-trunked specimens with very large, ivy-shaped, dark evergreen leaves. If you want it to stay smaller and more dense, just make heading cuts on a third or the shoots each year.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Fatsia japonica is a tropical looking plant with very large ivy-shaped, dark green leaves. It can grow in multi-trunked stands to ten feet tall. When I was younger, this plant sometimes was killed to the ground if we had a very cold winter and many people grew them in courtyards and protected patios spaces. When my family went to Butchart Gardens last years, in Vancouver, Canada, we saw a magnificently bold grove of fatisa over fifteen feet tall. In Canada!

Mud Daubers

May 7, 2016
Organ Pipe Mud Dauber nest in barn near Elijah Oliver Place - Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Jay Sturner/Flickr

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Every year, my dear husband has to get mud dauber nests out of my free-standing sprinklers. Mud daubers construct a variety of nests of different shapes and sizes in which to rear their young. The most attractive and noteworthy are the organ pipe mud dauber nests. If you open a nest, you’ll find paralyzed spiders or insects inside. The female stings her prey, and places several victims in a nest, before laying an egg. The developing larva eats the immobile but still living and fresh food.

Yellow Jackets

May 6, 2016

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you have friends who mow large areas, you know how dangerous underground yellow jacket nests can be to those persons. Yellow jackets, like most other social insects, overwinter as fertilized queens who begin the process of constructing a paper nests from scratch as spring arrives. The adults feed on nectar and fruit (one reason people often plant orchards away from their houses) but feed the young with partially digested invertebrates.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Paper wasps which build open-celled upside-down, umbrella-shaped nests and bald-faced hornets (which are actually above ground versions of yellow jackets) and build large, football-shaped nests, have many similarities. Both chew vegetation or soft wood, mixed with saliva, to construct their nests. The adults feed on nectar and some insects.

Bald Face Hornets

May 2, 2016

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. I get paper wasps and baldfaced hornets mixed up. Paper wasps build small nests with open, visible cells that hang from the corner of the porch. Baldfaced hornets build those magnificent foot-ball shaped nests that hang from branches. Since they aren’t reused – only a mated female overwinters – people collect them and use them as fascinating natural decorations in dens or casual family rooms.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although in nature paw paws grow in filtered light, you’ll get more fruit if they grow in full sun. Young plants, however, can’t survive that harsh environment and you’ll have to put shade cloth over them for the first few years. But other than that they are relatively easy. The few pests they have are moths and butterflies. Webworms and the pawpaw peduncle borer can be controlled with the organic pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you have a partially shady area you’d like to use for fruit production, paw paw is the plant for you. This native small tree grows in filtered woodlands with fair rich soils that hold moisture. The fruit is described as delicious or repugnant – fortunately, cultivars with delicious mango, banana, papaya flavored flesh have been selected and are sold as grafted trees so you know exactly what you’re getting.

The flower of the Paw Paw tree.
Phyzome, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Paw paws grow as small trees in open woodlands, you can find them in the Congaree National Park, with leaves that are fairly boring but big, up to a foot long. The flowers are a peculiar color - reddish brown, kind of like raw roast beef, and that’s a clue as to what pollinates paw paws – flies that are carrion or flesh feeders – like those shiny green flies that help compost what your neighbor’s dog might leave in the yard.

The Historic Paw Paw

Apr 25, 2016
Paw Paw fruit.
Scott Bauer, USDA, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Professor Greg Reigland of Clemson deserves great credit for saving the southern peaches from peach tree short life disease. But his fascination for all things fruity doesn’t stop at peaches –he’s also passionate about the lowly paw paw. The range of this native small tree is from the center of the United States, up through Ontario, and down through Florida. It’s not economically important (doesn’t ship well) but in our cultural history it had tremendous impact.

European honey bee
John Severns = Severnjc, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Isn’t nature wonderful? Most plants need insects for pollination, the movement of pollen from male to female flower parts.That same pollen that sometimes makes us sneeze, that is required for seeds to grow and fruits and vegetable to enlarge, also provides a valuable food for many animals. Adult Bees, both honeybees, and native bees and a few wasps, use pollen as a food for their young and sometimes for themselves.

How Pollen Works

Apr 7, 2016
Pollen from a variety of common plants: sunflowe, morning glory, hollyhock, lily, primrose, and castor bean. The image is magnified some x500, so the bean shaped grain in the bottom left corner is about 50 μm long.
Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. A grain of pollen, with its tough outer wall called the exine, travels by wind of by animals to a female flower structure. There is begins the process of fertilization. There are two nuclei in one pollen grain – the first one is the tube nucleus and grows an actual tube from the stigma – the sticky tip of the female flower structure where the pollen must land -- all the way down to the ovary where the eggs, or ovules, are found.

    Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Bees have very strong muscles to power their wings for flying. But they use these muscles in another way that often makes them more efficient as pollinators. As you know right now, some plants release pollen very easily – you get it on your nose if you smell a lily. But other plants hold onto that pollen – sometimes the plant must be shaken for the pollen to be expelled. Certain bees use their wings in an activity called sonication – a very strong vibration – that cause plants to release their pollen. Tomatoes usually release their pollen through the action of wind – but greenhouse tomato growers have to find another mechanism. Fortunately, they can raise bumble bees in greenhouses (they have to provide sugar water – no nectar in tomato flowers) and these insects will buzz buzz buzz all day and we can have tomatoes throughout the winter.


European honey bee
John Severns = Severnjc, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension. The European Honeybee is a treasured member of our natural world and responsible for pollinating many of our horticultural crops. But they are late arrivals to the new world, and some of our native bees who had millions of years of co-evolution in their background, are better at pollination for some plants. The cucurbites, melons, squashes, cucumbers originated in north and south America. The flowers on these plants open early in the day and close before afternoon. The European honeybee is a relatively late riser and not very effective at pollinating these flowers. Fortunately, the squash bee is up at dawn and dives right into both male and female squash family flowers without blinking one of its many compound eyes. They are ground nesters and may even lay their eggs right under the large leaves of the plants it is visiting for nectar and pollen.


The Lazy Bee

Mar 31, 2016

  

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNuty with Clemson extension and Making It Grow. Carpenter bees, who look like bumble bees but have a hairless abdomen, often are among the bees found around blueberries. Although the flowers of blueberries are perfect, with male and female flowers, they aren’t self-fertile. There is a special native bee, the blueberry bee, which often does the lion’s share of pollination on blueberry farms and the European honeybee also aids in this work. The carpenter bee, however, is a lazy sort of insect, and rather than stick its tongue way down in the flower to get at that nectar (and get dusted with pollen in the process) it sometimes cuts a slit in the bottom of the flower and gets a stomach full of nectar from that source. In this case, this native bee does not behave as mother nature intended – like a kid who eats with his fingers instead of his fork.


Eastern carpenter bee
ysmad.com (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension. Carpenter bees overwinter in South Carolina. You’ll see them out foraging on warm days – looking for nectar and serving as pollinators as they fill their stomachs. Sadly, they nest in wood – and with the loss of habitat – the most available place for them to hollow out their cavities is wood that’s part of your house. They like unpainted wood so they tend to work on the undersides of wooden surfaces – the bottom of both a bench and a pew on our front porch and the undersides of the banister railings are favorite spots. The male bee, which has a yellow spot on his face , often hovers nearby and acts aggressively – its’ all show as male bees don’t have ovipositors and can’t sting.. He’s just hanging out hoping that he can find a mate. Hang unpainted boards with holes drilled partially through to give those carpenter bees an alternative nesting site.


Dandelion flower
Benjamin D. Esham, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson extension and Making It Grow. Extension Agent Vicky Bertagnolli always brings show and tell from her Aiken county home – and usually it’s weeds! Vicky is a busy gal, working in two counties, and doesn’t have a lot of time for keeping a tidy yard. Plus, as a lover of insects, she knows that many plants that are considered weeds have great value for our invertebrate friends. Henbit, with its purple, tubular flowers, is covered with blossoms in January and February and on a warm day, you’ll often spy a carpenter bee visiting those plants collecting nectar. Another often maligned “lawn invader” is the dandelion – which blooms every month of the year in South Carolina. It, too, serves as an early place for pollinators to find a winter meal on those warm days when they are out foraging. Maybe it’s time to let your lawn become a tapestry – the insects will thank you.


Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control has a fact sheet with tips on eliminating mosquito breeding sites in your yard. It states that one of the places most overlooked that can really produce swarm after swarm of these blood-sucking insects (well, the female is bloodsucking, the male relies on nectar), is a closed downspout or gutter. For downspouts, you can get a gizmo similar to a plumber’s snake and work on that drain until it’s clear. I often see small trees growing out of gutters – a sure sign they are filled with decaying organic matter and enough water for mosquitoes to breed. If you’re accustomed getting on the roof and blowing pine straw and leave off, maybe you can clean out those gutters yourself Otherwise, play it safe -- hire a professional and keep your feet on the ground.


Fighting Mosquitoes

Mar 11, 2016

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Living in an old, drafty house calls for rejoicing when we get those occasional beautiful, warm, sunny mid-winter days. But along with taking off extra sweaters and socks, there is also invariably a scramble to kill the inevitable mosquito that manages to hatch and find its way indoors. It won’t be long before we have extended warm days that lead to massive mosquito hatchings. The South Carolina Department of Environmental Control has a fact sheet on do-it- yourself mosquito control but warms that it won’t make up for a community wide, government supported eradication program. But since some mosquitoes, like the Asian Tiger Mosquito and Southern House Mosquito fly only a few hundred feet from their breeding sites, cleaning up your landscape can help reduce the number of blood-suckers on your property.


  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. I say that my favorite cologne is eau de Deet. D E E T insecticide, that is. I cannot abide being bitten by mosquitoes and do spray whenever I am outdoors and mosquitoes are active. The Environmental Protection Agency is working with companies that manufacture insect repellents to come up with an informational graphic. And it should be on some products this summer. This design shows what pest is repelled, be it tick or mosquito or both. It also tells you how long the product repels that pest in number of hours. You can then choose a product based on what pest you expect to see and how long you’ll be outside. The companies have to go through an extra review with the EPA before they can show this graphic on their product, so you can be confident the information is correct.


  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Five gallon plastic buckets are a major part of my life. I use them to transport cut flowers, for toting water, and to hold pulled weeds yard trimmings. Even if you turn these upside down, there is a channel under the rim that holds enough water for mosquitoes to breed in. So I have to stack them inside the well house. I’ve noticed that if the lid doesn’t get back on the trash cans nice and tight, water collects down in there, too. Once you become a standing water vigilante, you’ll find yourself making occasional sweeps through your yard and noticing a tarp covering a grill with water pooled in it, or a child’s plastic dump truck – all spots that within one week can be responsible for thousands of mosquitoes hatching and half of those are out for your blood!


    Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Mosquitoes can go from egg to adult in just a little over a week. Mated females lay their eggs, 50-200 at a time in water. Eggs hatch in two or three days into wrigglers – they really do wriggle around when disturbed. These feed on organic debris in water, then pupate. Pupa, when disturbed, sink down into the water, and are called tumblers. As soon as they hatch they’re looking for food. Females need a blood meal before laying eggs. Males sip nectar for their sustenance.

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