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County Extension

  • Sweltering summer heat has varying effects on plants

    Glen Frey of Eagles fame had a song on the original “Beverly Hills Cop” movie soundtrack called “The Heat Is On.” More than 30 years have passed since its 1984 release and we just recently lost Mr. Frey. Who would have known that Axel Foley, Eddie Murphy’s beat-up Chevy Nova-driving Detroit cop character, would become so iconic? And, a few thought Mr. Murphy had already reached the pinnacle of his movie career so early.

    What does any of that have to do with gardening? Absolutely nothing. But, the heat surely has been on lately.

  • Salvias: Tough plants for a tough climate

    By Sam Marshall

     

    Over the years, salvia, also referred to as sages, have been steadily growing in popularity. And why not? For the low-maintenance gardener, salvias offer an excellent addition to a coastal garden. Able to withstand the heat, the humidity, drought, and coming in a variety of colors and sizes, salvias add fragrance and beauty to any home landscape that lasts well into the fall months.

     

    Growing salvias

  • Don’t get burned by freezer burn

    So here’s the question: Is it safe to eat freezer burned food?
    In this column I frequently talk about the difference between the quality and safety of food. When it comes to freezer burn, it’s a quality thing. While safe to eat, the quality of freezer-burned food may be poor.

  • How to preserve foods by freezing them

    We recently completed a four-week series on food preservation at the Extension office’s demonstration kitchen. In this class we made a peach and blueberry jam, pressure-canned carrots and made quick-pack pickles. Participants put on aprons and got into the kitchen complete these processes firsthand. In addition to these canning techniques, the students had lots of questions about another method of food preservation: freezing foods.

  • Time for tomato troubles

    Whether you call it “pomme d’amour,” “pomodoro ,” “love apple” or just “tomato,” growing this vegetable that’s actually a fruit is a challenge in southeastern North Carolina. The plant clinic at the Arboretum on Oleander Drive in Wilmington is always full of tomato troubles this time of year: bacterial wilt, tomato spotted wilt virus, root-knot nematodes, early blight, late blight, ... the list goes on.

  • Adding color to your garden

    Adding annual and perennial color to the garden is one of the most fun and high-impact things we can do in our gardens. And, the choices keep getting better and better as new selections are introduced. 

    I had the opportunity to attend a workshop last week touting the Proven Winners plant collection.  Proven Winners, in familiar white containers, offers a line of annuals, perennials and shrubs.  Many of these selections are adapted to the difficult conditions of southeastern North Carolina. 

  • Facts about freezing bread

    For the past couple of weeks in this column I’ve been talking about freezing foods and how to keep it from developing freezer burn and off-flavors. But one food I haven’t specifically talked about is bread. I bet everyone has at one time or another thrown a loaf of bread directly into the freezer in the store wrapper and then wondered what happened when you took it out a few weeks or months later. It was crumbly, dry, tasted a lot like the “freezer” and was basically inedible.

  • Looking to cookbooks for food safety information often results in bad advice

    Dr. Ben Chapman, our food safety specialist at N.C. State, says cookbooks give readers (mostly) bad advice on food safety.

    I agree with Dr. Chapman when he says cookbooks and online recipes could be a much better source of food safety information. Putting the appropriate information, like cooking temperatures, cross contamination risks or storage times, right into a recipe would provide the cooks the info right when they need it.

  • More home kitchen inspection

    In last week’s column I asked four questions about food safety practices in the home kitchen. How did you do? Would your kitchen pass a food safety inspection?

    As promised, here are four more questions. Choose the answers that most closely apply to your everyday practices in your kitchen.

    5. When using a cutting board: If you’re cutting raw meat or poultry, what do you do before cutting fresh produce or bread before the same meal?

    a.Use a separate cutting board

    b.Wipe the cutting board with a damp cloth or sponge

  • Home kitchen inspection

    One of the classes I frequently teach at the N.C. Cooperative Extension here in Brunswick County is food safety for food service managers. Restaurant staff who pass the test receive a certificate that they can proudly display in their workplace. It makes me proud and excited when I see these when I visit local restaurants.