Amanda McNulty

Host, Producer

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.

Ways to Connect

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow.  My commute from St. Matthews to Sumter is brightened  by numerous stands of elderberries with their large creamy flower heads. Elderberries grow all over the temperate world, and our native variety has long been used by animals and early peoples.  The flowers are not particularly attractive to insects as they lack nectaries – there’s no sweet liquid reward for visiting pollinators, therefore elderberries are mostly self or wind pollinated.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Believe it or not, in some situations fire ants are considered beneficial insects. They voraciously devour other insects and invertebrates -- sometimes in field crops they eat so many harmful insects that growers can reduce the number of insecticidal sprays applied. Researchers report that ticks populations are lower due to fire ant predation resulting in healthier livestock.  But fire ants also protect some insects.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. South Carolina roadsides are especially handsome now as the native elderberries are making a spectacular display with their showy clusters of creamy white flowers held on large plants growing vigorously in moist, sunny openings. . Native Americans used the strong exterior wood of these plants for blow guns, tubes, and pipes, and the pithy interior of the stem was a handy substrate for starting fires.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although we can control fire ants in our yard relatively easily with the Texas Two Step method, applying a bait and following up with individual mound treatments, the procedure for keeping these pests out of vegetable gardens is somewhat more complicated. Amdro, the most commonly used bait in our part of the world, is not approved for use in a vegetable garden and the quick kill products which contain acephate are also illegal to use in that situation.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow.   People are coming to the Extension office with problem tomato plants   and sometimes their issues could have been avoided with proper watering. Two clients were using an overhead sprinkler and watering for fifteen minutes every day, which got only the top of soil wet- as a result one had diseased leaves and the other had blossom end rot, a calcium and water-related issue.   Tomatoes need a deep root system to provide a consistent supply of water with dissolved nutrients to the fruits to the plants.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Okra is one plant that likes hot weather and usually snubs its nose at the heat, not surprising for a plant which originated in Ethiopia.  Clemson Spineless is a Southern favorites but you might want to experiment with some different varieties.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange has a catalogue I like as it offers hybrid and heirloom varieties that are especially well suited to the Southeast. Although you may be tempted by companies offering tomatoes from the Belarusian-Ukrainian areas of Russia that have deep colors and a high sugar content, unless you plan to move to Michigan this summer, you’d do better to plant tomatoes that were developed in the deep South.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Extension Vegetable Specialist Tony Melton is doing research at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center near Florence on heat tolerant butterbeans. South Carolina vegetable growers are a hard-working group of farmers who often grow multiple crops in order to stay profitable.

Heat Zones

Jun 12, 2017

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. University of Illinois Professor Eric Snodgrass of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences recently gave Clemson agents a presentation on how our weather is changing. For the past several years, almost every state has reported the hottest temperature on record, records dating back to 1895.   This means we need to pay attention to the heat zones that have been established by the American Horticulture Society as well as the Cold Hardiness zones that are determined by the US Department of Agriculture.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Mothers used to caution their children against wearing underpants with holes in them. "What if you get in an accident and have to go to the hospital?" Well, I was certainly happy that my underwear was in good form last week when I was working in the garden and got into fire ants. There is no way to not react when those imported pests start stinging you – the pain is unbearable. I had on sneakers and long pants and as quickly as I could I pulled off my shoes and then got out of my britches.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Bait products have   less impact on the environment than broadcast insecticide treatments, or individual mound treatment options, and usually require dramatically less product. Used properly they’re safe for people, pets, and most animals.  A whole acre can be treated with one pound of bait which contains less than 1% active ingredient. You must use caution, though, when applying most baits near water –staying thirty feet away.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you worry about putting insecticides out to control fire ants, consider the damage these non-native pests cause to native wildlife. Reptiles including 'gators, turtles, and lizards are damaged or killed by fire ants. Turtle nests are particularly susceptible –ants make monitoring tunnels waiting until the eggs open and then begin to feed on the young, killing or blinding them.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Clemson Extension Agent Vicky Bertagnolli is one of our fire ant specialists. If you search SCETV video fire ants (two words) you’ll find a segment where Vicky explains how to use bait products to safely control these potentially life-threatening pests. A bait is a combination of a slow-acting stomach poison and ground corn cobs and soybean oil.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. I had a terrible run in with fire ants while in the garden recently and ended up partially “streaking” to get back to the house. Fire ants are not just a nuisance, for some people their stings can be life threatening. We will always have these imported pests in our lives; they can’t be eradicated, but we can control them with minimal impact to other animals in the environment.

Iris Cristata

May 20, 2017

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. One of the native irises that I found listed in the AC Moore Herbarium’s SC Plant Atlas is Iris cristata – dwarf crested iris.   The Herbarium map shows its having been collected in Richland and Kershaw and upwards –probably a good indication that those of us above the fall line could be successful growing this plant in our garden. Unlike most irises, Iris cristata prefers a slightly shaded spot in well-drained, rich soil -- perfect for the edge of a naturalized area.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you search herbarium.org you’ll be transported to the website for the AC Moore Herbarium so beloved by Dr. John Nelson and his botanical friends. Select Plants from the drop down menu and at the next screen go to the SC Plant Atlas. I did that and then selected the letter I for Iris to see what irises had been collected in South Carolina and in what counties.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The Greek Goddess Iris was represented by the rainbow which makes her name perfect for the iris flower which comes in a myriad of colors. Across the world there are two hundred eighty species of irises in North America we have twenty eight native irises. Many of them occur naturally or will grow perfectly happily here in South Carolina.

Louisiana Irises

May 17, 2017

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Louisiana irises have been the subject of major breeding efforts – some natural occurring and others the results of human crosses between several native America iris species. Sadly, their natural habitat – the bogs of Louisiana – has been dramatically reduced in size. The good news is you can help ensure their survival by adding them to your garden.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. For many years the irises we grew in our yards were Siberian, Dutch, German or Japanese irises. Now, however, with the new interest in native plants, it’s easy to find North American species that are ethically collected and propagated. For damp areas or in a good irrigated garden soil, Louisiana irises are ideal. These are vigorous plants with no pests or disease problems, they are even deer resistant should would be beautiful at the edge of a pond.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. From its beginning as a modest fishing pond, Swan Lake Iris Gardens, in the heart of Sumter, now encompasses property donated in the thirties by A. T. Heath. Graceful swans add to the serene nature of this cypress-lined black-water lake with its displays of camellias and azaleas and magnolia trees. But in May, thousands of visitors come to see the stunning blooms of Japanese iris growing throughout the garden.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson extension and Making It Grow. In downtown Sumter, where I spend my days as a horticulture agent, we have free, city-owned jewel of a garden that started as a horticulture failure. In the 1920’s, a local businessman, Hamilton Carr Bland planted a shipment of Japanese iris in his normal flower bed. When they failed miserably, he yanked them up and tossed them into his nearby fishing pond.

Iris Cultivars

May 11, 2017

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Plant fanatics are never satisfied! And plant breeders are happy to tempt us with newer, better, and more glamourous cultivars of our favorite garden flowers. Take bearded iris for instance. Often referred to as tall bearded iris, or German iris, they normally bloom once in the spring. Now we can find rebloomers that in late summer when we’re so desperate for something joyful, put on a glamourous second display of color from our cut flower beds. Maybe you’ve downsized and need smaller plants.

Caring for Iris

May 10, 2017

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The most commonly grown iris is the bearded iris, sometimes called the German iris as the scientific name is Iris germanica. Some people throw in the adjective tall, too, as these can be up to 48 inches in height. In the warmer winters we are experiencing, the foliage lasts and lasts and the huge fans of strong, light green leaves can make a dramatic statement in the garden even after the flowers are long gone.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Exotic iris are  stars in many spring gardens with bearded iris being the most popular -- with those fancy modified sepals called falls festooned with fuzzy structures looking for all the world like caterpillars. They’re spectacularly easy to grow – if you know one trick – don’t plant the rhizome deeply – half of it should be above ground. A rhizome is a specialized stem that grows horizontally and serves as a storage organ to help plants survive difficult times.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Clemson’s Department of Pesticide Regulation is an established link in our state for farms which want to become certified organic. The application process is designed to meet the required National Organic Program Standards and guide growers in documenting their organic compliance. A critical part of the procedure is a scheduled on-site visit which is followed by a decision; sometimes with restrictions or suggestions.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Extension Agent Tony Melton and others always remind us to read the label before applying pesticides. Among the directions often listed are warnings about spraying when it is windy or very hot. These conditions can lead to pesticide drift – the product getting on plants that weren’t the intended target.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you employ a landscape maintenance company, be sure that they have a commercial pesticide license. State law requires that anyone who transports pesticides to use on their paying job on other people’s property or a government agency that is applying pesticides, including mosquito spraying, must obtain and display  decals on the front of their vehicle.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. In order to get a pesticide license to buy restricted use products, and to apply any pesticide commercially,  farmers, growers, exterminator’s, and landscape professionals must pass exams. For a private applicator license, people take a day-long course at a local extension office.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Certain pesticides, a term that means insecticides, fungicides, algaecides, rodenticides and others are not ones you and I can go in a store and buy. They are under a special category called restricted use products. The Environmental Protection Agency gives permits for the chemicals we use in our homes and gardens.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Controlled slow release, water-insoluble nitrogen, urea formaldehyde, sulfur-coated urea. These terms describe   fertilizers that release nutrients to plants over an extended period of time as opposed to old-fashioned, quick release fertilizers. The advantage of quick release fertilizers is price – but it may be a false savings as they can burn plants and in heavy rainfalls, you can lose nutrients to leaching and run off and possibly pollute nearby waterways.

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