Making It Grow

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. 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.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. When you get a container plant from a nursery, usually you see what looks like tiny plastic balls on the top of the soil. The technical name for these structures is a prill and they  are examples of a slow-release formulation, polymer coated fertilizer.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Controlled release, controlled slow-release or water-insoluble nitrogen fertilizer blends have plant nutrients but in forms that are not all immediately made available to the plants. Typically, the nutrient blends are coated or encapsulated and as that coating ages and is exposed to moisture or reacts to temperature or soil acidity, the fertilizer is released into the soil where plant roots can use it for growth.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although plants don’t care if the nutrients they receive are from organic or inorganic sources, the availability of nutrients in the fertilizer you apply is important. Traditional synthetic fertilizer, such as the iconic ten-ten-ten, is water-soluble and considered quick release fertilizer.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Late March and April are good times to fertilize trees and shrubs but not your lawn. Our warm-season turf grasses, centipede grass, St. Augustine, Zoysia and Bermuda are semi-tropical in origin. Although they’re starting to turn green, they aren’t fully revved up until Mid-May. That’s when your lawn can make the best us of the fertilizer you apply and you’ll reduce your chances of having the soluble nitrogen and potassium leach and possibly cause pollution.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. A caller recently asked if yellow jessamine, known for its toxicity to people, was poisonous to bees. Our native bees and several butterflies serve as pollinators for this vine, our state flower. Carpenter bees, however, are too big to enter the fused floral tube and rob nectar by chewing a hole at the base of the flower. 

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. For all its beauty, if you get yellow jessamine growing in amongst large shrubs, you are going to have a time getting it out. Its twining and twisting slender stems are strong, hard to disengage from surrounding plant material, and are full of rash-causing alkaloids. Use gloves and pruners if this vine is growing in an area where it’s unwelcome.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Our state flower, Yellow Jessamine, uses its slender but strong twining black stems to catch hold of stems and branches as it climbs to the tops of pines and hardwoods before cascading downward with masses of golden yellow flowers. Without aerial roots or other attaching structures it can’t adhere to masonry, so in gardens it needs a wire fence or trellis to wind its way through for support.

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Oh, my goodness, in days past our South Carolina legislature was filled with gifted orators who could not doubt make even an insult sounds flattering. But when praise was intended, their words become ethereal. The senators and representatives of those times were mainly from rural areas and well acquainted with yellow jessamine.

A Yellow Jessamine vine with buds and blooms.
H. Zell, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Our state flower, which is making a glorious display along the roadsides and on trellis and fences,  is  yellow jessamine. The scientific name is Gelsemium sempervirens, sempervirens meaning ever living for the ever-green foliage on this vine.

Smart Tractors?

Mar 18, 2017

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Blanchard Equipment joined with the Clemson Research and Development Center in Blackville to present a program on precision agriculture. We used to be amazed that tractors had air conditioning and radios – today they are more like mobile laboratories that are constantly gathering information and making adjustment as the machine travels throughout the field.

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