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

Ways to Connect

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Since summer seems interminable this year, I’m desperate for signs of fall. Several catalpa trees on my daily drive have caught my eye recently with their large leaves sporting a yellow autumnal color. Catalpa is known as a fisherman’s tree since it the larval food source for the catalpa sphinx moth. It has large, ten inches or so across, heart-shaped leaves that are yellow-green.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although persimmons have consistently beautiful and early fall foliage, they aren’t often highly valued by homeowners but people who plant them as a food source for wildlife and soil stabilization properties know their importance. The ripe fruits are relished by deer, possums, foxes, and raccoons and people – although you have to wait until they’re so soft you can only eat them with a spoon.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The area around the Dixiana exit off 1-26 is one of those deep sand spots with stunted pines and black jack and turkey oaks. Right now, there are surprising spots of color from persimmon trees that have colonized certain parts of the roadside. Diospyros virginiana has lustrous green leaves that early in the fall begin to show purple and orange color. A few of the trees, the females, have beautiful orange fruits hanging from them.

Writing Spiders

Sep 10, 2016

Writing Spiders make beautiful webs, don't bother humans, and they catch a lot of insects!

The Brown Recluse spider is rarely sighted in South Carolina, but, it gets blamed for a lot of mischief.

    

Spiders aren't interested in biting people, but they will chow down on the insects in your home.

    

Only 44 Brown Recluse Spiders have been found in South Carolina since record keeping began.

Spider Myths

Sep 5, 2016

Amanda shares some myths about spiders.

Fragrant Sumac doesn't smell all that great, but, it's a great choice for dry areas where it will get little maintenance.
Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making it Grow. Rhus aromatica, or fragrant sumac, may not quite be worthy of the name fragrant. Other common names are skunkbush or polecatbush so smell, like beauty, maybe in the eyes or nose of the beholder or sniffer as the case may be. This sumac member is relatively slow-growing, topping out at about 7 feet, and grows in both sun and shade. Michael Dirr recommends this smaller sumac as a good choice for an exposed, dry area where it will get little care or maintenance. .

Sumac Gets a Bad Rap

Aug 26, 2016
"Poison" Sumac, not all that common, is not a member of the Sumac family. It is recognizable by its reddish stems.
Rusty Clark/Flickr

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Sumac has a bad rap as there is one plant with that name that causes a terrible rash. It’s been moved from the genus Rhus and is now called Toxicodendron vernix. Many people freak out whenever you speak identify a plant they’re examining as sumac -- they think it’s going to give them a horrible rash. The facts are that , poison sumac has more usushiol than either poison oak or poison ivy does.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Five species of Sumac, deciduous woody shrubs in the genus Rhus, are found across the State. Right now Rhus copalllinum, known as winged sumac or shining or dwarf sumac, is showing its attractive flower heads as I cross the Congaree and Wateree causeways on my way to Sumter. A creamy , greenish white now, these showy heads turn a handsome reddish brown in fall. Birds enjoy the seeds and also find shelter in the dense colonies this stoloniferous plant forms.

Winged Sumac
Matthew C. Perry/USGS

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The roadsides I travel on are slowly changing their hue from full summer to fall. The showy heads of sumac are now catching my eye. This plant grows nearly world wide with a half dozen species right here in South Carolina. Sumac has a stoloniferous habit, it spreads from horizontal stems at the soil line, a habit that makes it valuable for soil stabilization and provides shelter and cover for wildlife.

Goldenrod
Liz West, via Wikimedia Commons

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although I can’t tell it from the temperatures, it’s still as hot as it was a month ago, the roadside is changing and I see signs of fall. Right now on my drive from St. Matthews to Sumter, crossing the Congaree and Wateree Rivers, the golden rod is coming into color. Golden rod gets blamed for a lot of sneezing and itchy nose problems, but nature is careful with her resources.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Thank goodness, for over 10,000 years, humans have been cultivating figs that can produce fruit without pollination – a process called parthenocarpy. Our Southern figs fit in this category and it’s a good thing, as we don’t have the wasps required for the complex pollination strategy some other figs use. Brown Turkey is our most commonly grown fig in the South and it’s delicious, plus, if it’s killed to the ground in very cold winters, it usually will have a late crop on new growth.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Some members of the fig genus Ficus are dioecious – have male and female flowers on separate plants. Others are monoecious with both male and female flowers in the same structure. You never see any of these flowers – figs are examples of a syconium – an inverted flower with all the sexual structures on the inside.

The Calimyrna Fig

Aug 18, 2016

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The Smyrna or Calimyrna fig is very crunchy, full of seeds, and gives your Fig Newton its satisfying taste. It’s considered the tastiest of all figs. In 1880, a California grower imported 12,000 rooted fig cuttings from Smyrna. The trees grew beautifully but the developing figs dropped off when the size of marbles. After years of research and effort, Capri fig cuttings, with the necessary male flowers, were imported, but still no Smyrna figs wouldn’t set fruit except with tedious hand pollination.

Owlflies

Aug 17, 2016
An Owlfly
arian.suresh/Flickr

Contrary to what the name implies, Owlflies are not true flies. 

Hello gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. About half the cultivated varieties of figs are dioecious and have a very complicated means of pollination. The male trees have developing figs with both male and female flower parts inside them. A mated female wasp, so tiny she can fit through the eye of a needle, enters a receptive fig through a small pore, or ostiole. She lays eggs in the female flowers with short calyxes, the botanical term for floral tubes. Those eggs hatch into male and female wasps, mating takes place inside the fig.

    Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Figs have been cultivated for over 12,000 years, probably originating in the Middle East -- at least archeological remnants of figs almost that old been found in what is today Jordan.

There are over 1000 different species of figs, Ficus, --from the fig vine that grows on brick walls, to the ubiquitous indoor house plant, and of course, the delicious fruit that grew in everyone’s grandmother’s back yard.

  Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Ants are often on okra plants – perhaps getting sugar from extrafloral nectaries or “milking” aphids for honeydew. Whatever, the reason, most of them are benign and don’t require any control. But fire ants are a different story they reduce okra production and can be harmful to the gardener. Fire ants feed on the base of the developing flower buds, causing the flowers to abort and there’s one less nice, tender pod of okra to have for supper.

  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.

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