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County Extension

  • Gardens reflect people, personalities

     A garden always reflects the person charged with managing it. I get bored rather easily and love to try new things. That’s why I have a garden of “onesies,” one of this cool plant and one of that cool plant. It might frustrate the hardcore landscape designer, but it’s OK with me.

    Trying new plants is one of my favorite things to do each year, even if it requires moving or removing another plant. Based on my experience over the last couple of years, you should consider adding African lily and firecracker plant to your garden.

  • Avoid those vacation pounds

     “Oh well, I’m on vacation and I’m going to eat everything I want.” Or, “I deserve to eat it, I’m on vacation.” You’ve probably heard people say this, or possibly said it yourself.

    Not gaining weight while on vacation is usually easier said than done, but you can still focus on a healthy diet and still have a good time.

  • Food safety and pregnancy

     When I teach food safety classes, we talk about highly susceptible populations. This means people who have a higher risk of getting sick from a foodborne illness (sometimes called food poisoning). People with weaker immune systems can get sick from a smaller number of pathogens than the general population. Highly susceptible populations include older adults whose immune systems are weakening due to because of age, preschool-aged children whose immune systems are still developing and people whose immune systems are weakened because of medication or a medical condition.

  • Bird baths enhance gardens

     Elly May Clampett from the 1960’s hit sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies” would be the first to tell you nothing’s better than having lots of critters around. While you might not have enough wealth borne of “Texas tea” to invite all of Elly’s exotic animals into your garden, it’s relatively easy to create a great space that’s for the birds. 

    Just like the Clampetts with their cement pond, birds like and need water for drinking and bathing. 

  • Home canning may be deadly

     I’m not just being dramatic when I say home canning may be deadly. A scary example of this happened last year. There were two deaths in Ohio linked to home-canned foods. These were potatoes processed using the wrong method and then served in potato salad at a potluck dinner. One woman died shortly after the dinner from the effects of botulism. Another woman died later in the year of complications of the foodborne illness. Please don’t take risks by not following tested and researched recipes and procedures.

  • Grilling burgers on July 4

     I bet there will be lots of burgers cooked over the upcoming long holiday weekend. On the upside, grilling burgers is a great way to spend time with family and friends. On the downside, grilling burgers can also lead to vomiting, diarrhea and all the other health effects associated with foodborne illness.

  • Cracking tomatoes: Causes and treatments

     Sam Marshall, Horticulture Agent,

    Brunswick County

     

    I always admire folks who, year after year, continue to grow tomatoes successfully in our region. In fact, I am downright jealous. So far this season, growing conditions for tomatoes had been ideal. May was one of the coolest months in recent history and we had just about the ideal amount of rainfall. Enter June. A recent heat wave, followed by dry weather, and then followed by heavy rains means once again, those brave souls growing tomatoes may not get that bumper crop this season.

  • Landscapes don’t necessarily need turf

     It’s easy to get excited about working in the lawn and garden when spring first arrives, but now that Father’s Day weekend is past us, the heat may have you wishing for less mowing, fertilizing and weeding to do. If your green spaces have become more of a burden than a joy, it’s time for a “garden philosophical shift.” Consider a new design that reduces turf areas and incorporates “hardscapes” such as patios and walkways.

  • Flour recall linked to E. coli outbreak

     General Mills has voluntarily recalled more than 10 million pounds of flour nationwide. The flour has been linked to an E. coli outbreak that has been going on since last December. Illnesses peaked at the beginning of the year and seem to be declining. This E. coli outbreak has sickened 38 people in 20 states. North Carolina is not on the list of known illnesses.

  • Weather changes bring garden activity

     One of my favorite CDs (I know, so ‘80s) is a compilation of hits by The Temptations. While few singers will ever come close to matching the skill and emotion of David Ruffin, I will have to disagree with him when he painfully intones “I wish it would rain.” We’re about 4.5 inches above normal for the year, so let’s leave the gloom behind for a little Katrina and the Waves “Walking on Sunshine” action. How’s that for an obscure 1980s song reference?