Warmer weather brings more gardening questions

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 21, 2014

As we get warmer weather, questions start to increase; we call this spring fever. Everyone is ready to get outdoors and work in their garden, thus increasing chance encounters with insects, disease and interesting crops.

Question: Are there any native fruits that we can grow in Rowan County?

Answer: Yes! North America is home to many native fruits. Some of the most popular are plums, blueberries, blackberries, black raspberries, pawpaws and persimmons to name a few. Some are better than others for commercial production. For example, if you grow American persimmons you will not want to eat them till completely ripe and usually after a frost. They have a horrible bitter taste if eaten too early, thus making it difficult to sell American persimmons to the public.

Question: I cannot grow cabbages because this green worm keeps eating everything. Is there anything I can do?

Answer: This is actually a caterpillar called a Cabbage Looper. Cabbage Loopers can devour an entire cabbage if left untreated. A tell-tale sign that you have Cabbage Loopers is that everything between the veins have been eaten. To help control this pest you must scout and check for caterpillars. You can use the old-fashioned method of squishing or use a Bacillus thuringiensis product; it will not kill the caterpillars immediately, but it will help control their feeding.

Question: I keep hearing about edible landscaping. What is this?

Answer: In simple terms, it means that you are growing edible plants in your landscape. This does not mean you have to pull out all of your ornamentals, but instead of adding more of them you can include edibles such as blueberries, blackberries or dwarf fruit trees. Some of the most beautiful edible landscapes I have seen also include annuals such as herbs, kale, greens, even corn! For more information visit: www.wilkes.ces.ncsu.edu/2014/01/why-not-plant-an-edible-landscape/

Question: I really want to help my garden out by using beneficial insects. Where do I buy them?

Answer: Instead of buying the insects you should really build a habitat for them. Building a beneficial insect garden will attract beneficial insects as well as provide food and shelter. Creating this type of garden is also a great way to beautify your property. There is quite a bit of research going on about the importance of beneficial insects, plants that attract them, and how important they are in helping our vegetable gardens. Many gardeners are planting beneficial insect gardens right beside their vegetables to help out with their pest problems. Some are even making them multi-purpose where they help pollinators and beneficial insects. If you would like to start your own beneficial insect garden check out this listing of plants: www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/quickref/pest%20management/plants_attract_beneficial.html or www.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2012/08/ChathamMarketplacePlantListforWeb2014.pdf

For more information on edibles, pests, or beneficial insects contact Danelle Cutting at 704-216-8970 or danelle_cutting@ncsu.edu .