Making It Grow Minute

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

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  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The parts of my garden that have two to three inches of mulch applied have noticeable fewer, although still some, weeds than the few areas left with bare soil. I use coastal Bermuda hay, a sterile hybrid, and my provider does a good job keeping it free of weed seeds. But the heavy rains we had in the spring ruined several harvesting of hay and I am on a list – anxiously waiting for fifty bales.

Annoying Weeds

Jul 28, 2016
Gripeweed.
Pinus, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Everyone with a vegetable garden knows that there is always a chore waiting. I have three really annoying weeds in my garden – mulberry weed, gripeweed, and annual poinsettia. All have the potential to produce high numbers of seeds that are made more obnoxious as they germinate throughout the growing season and remain viable for years and years in the soil. . Mulberry weed and gripeweed came into my life via transplants and landscape container plants.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. For me, weeding is backbreaking work, my back has been hurting for the past month from constantly bending over and pulling out those interlopers. And to add insult to injury, I fairly often get stung by fire ants while I am bent over the squash or tomatoes. Although there are many products that control fire ants, only a few are labeled for use in vegetable gardens and using the wrong ones can be dangerous.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. I took golf lessons when I was a teenager, and my teachers told me bending over to pick up balls was good for my waistline. Ha! I bend over about a zillion times every time I go out in the vegetable garden and still have to rely on Spanx to have a shape.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Blueberries, figs, plums, and muscadines are plants that are suitable for the backyard orchard – you don’t have to do much to control insects or diseases. Elderberry is a plant you could add to your backyard if you have some room. In other parts of the country, there are lots of both commercial and home orchards of elderberry but for some reason we haven’t used them much here. But Dr.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. In the history plant pharmaceuticals, elderberry was an essential medicine across Europe, into Russia, the Scandinavian countries, and among the Native Americans of North America. The traditional uses included numerous respiratory ailments, especially congestion and allergies, digestive problems – especially if a laxative was needed, headaches, fever reduction, and a host of others.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. When I took botany with the my Clemson professor the late Dr. John Fairey, one of the plants we studied was elderberry. Elderberry has an interesting feature – the stems are described as “weakly lignified.” What this means is that the outer portion of the stem is actually woody while the interior is filled with pith. Dr. Fairey told us that in the days before synthetic packing material, elderberry pith was used to pack delicate scientific instruments.

Elderberries
Jonathunder, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. If you’ve been out driving recently, you should have noticed one of our showiest wild flowers in bloom. Elderberry has a coarse texture due to its large, pinnately compound leaves held on stems eight to twelve feet tall. It’s the flowers and fruits that are so eye-catching though. The flowers, although individually small, are borne in flat, broad clusters and with their white color contrasting with the green leaves, are very noticeable.

Elderberry flowers
Pixabay

    Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Elderberries are decorating South Carolina roadways and river banks right now. These large, eight to twelve feet tall, clumps of bright green foliage are topped with large, flat clusters of white flowers. You see them were there is associated water – along ditches or bordering streams and rivers. Interesting, those large clusters of flowers, botanically categorized as corymbs, are not particularly attractive to pollinators.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Grafted watermelons use a delicious, usually seedless variety for the top of the graft and a fusarium resistant plant – often a squash for the bottom. But that is just the beginning of growing the delicious watermelons that we relish throughout the summer. Pollination is a critical component and at the Edisto Research and Development Center in Blackville Dr. Gilbert Miller has beautiful patches of zinnas tucked amongst the melons to help attract the honeybees he also nutures.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. We talked about the alphabet of letters used to describe resistance in certain fruits and vegetables. F, FF, and FFF mean resistance to difference races of fusarium wilt. This pathogen can persist in the soil for years and years and years and is the biggest problem for watermelon growers. I remember when I was a student at Clemson hearing our professor, Dr. Ogle, talk about how watermelon growers were always looking for virgin soil not contaminated with fusarium.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Nate Bradford descends from a family that loved to tinker with plants; his great grandfather made crosses of various crops on his farm and one successful result was a delicious watermelon.

  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.

Sweet Bay Magnolia

May 31, 2016
Sweetbay Magnolia
Derek Ramsey/Chanticleer Garden, via Wikimedia Commo

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. One native small tree, sweet bay magnolia, Magnolia virginiana, that would do well in my new bog garden also happily grows in regular good garden soil. I have several of these easy to find trees planted near our north facing porch where we sit in the summertime, and the flowers produce a perfume that is full and noticeable at dusk. This is a tardily deciduous, relatively slender and open magnolia that reaches twenty or twenty five feet.

  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!

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Stan McKenzie, aka, Stan the Citrus Man, has the largest orange grove in south Carolina at his home in Scranton, near Lake City. On a recent visit to his nursery with Sumter Master Gardeners, I got two Ogeechee limes to plant on the edge of my new bog garden. Although Stan specializes in citrus, these “lime” plants are actually in the genus Nyssa, and related to the tupelo gums, which like bald cypress, grow with greatly swollen bases in our swamps and bottomlands.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Last year, I got to visit Savage Bay Heritage Preserve with a group led by Naturalist Austin Jenkins. We started in the sandiest sandhill setting imaginable, all black jack, blue jack and turkey oaks, but as we descended a slope and veered off to the left, we found ourselves in a sunny open area with pond cypress dotted all around.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. While searching for bog plants, I’ve come across swamp buckthorn, Sideroxylon thornei. This is a tardily deciduous small tree, meaning it looses its leaves late in the year right before it leafs out again. It has fragrant flowers that attract pollinators – and since its monoecious, any plant I get will have small fruits that many wild animals, birds included, enjoy. It is a craggy character as it has fast primary growth but then produces short, spur stems that hold the flowers.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. I’m looking for plants for my new bog garden and the first one I want to add is Pinckneya. I fell in love with this small tree, maturing at about 15 to twenty feet, when I saw it in full flower growing beside a stream in Swan Lake Iris Gardens in Sumter. It’s similar to a poinsettia in that the clusters of actual flowers are not particularly showy, but the pink sepals are spectacular. It was discovered in the 1770’s by the Botanist William Bartram who named it for General Charles Cotesworth Pinkney.

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.

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