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County Extension

  • 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?

  • Dietary guidelines urge shifting

     In last week’s column, I talked about the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). These are nutrition and health recommendations for all Americans over the age of two from the US Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The DGA committee looked at the typical American diet and the latest research in nutrition. They identified eating strategies that promote overall health and helps prevent chronic disease. It is estimated that two-thirds of all chronic diseases can be prevented by lifestyle changes, specifically diet and exercise.

  • Hydrangeas: Superstars of the Southern garden

     Ask those with dirty fingernails what makes a “Southern garden” and you’re likely to hear about evergreen azaleas, camellias, gardenias and, our subject for this week, hydrangeas. While these superstars of the Southern garden deserve the accolades, native plant purists will thumb their noses at these Asian imports. I’ve reached the age where I realize that life offers a lot more gray than black and white, so I’m fine with great plants, wherever they come from, as long as they aren’t invasive.

  • New dietary guidelines

     The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) have been out for about six months. Professionals in the nutrition field anxiously awaited their release, but I’m guessing most other folks haven’t heard much about them. The DGA are developed to help promote health and prevent chronic disease for current and future generations by making recommendations about what makes up a healthy diet.

  • Sports drinks

     I’ve watched with amused interest when winning football team members cooperate to distract the coach so other members can douse him with the remaining liquid in the large Gatorade container. I’m guessing it’s all in fun and probably a show of respect and affection for the coach. All I can ever think of is how the coach now has cold wet sugary sticky hair and clothes to contend with throughout the celebration. I guess I don’t fully appreciate this Gatorade baptism ritual.

  • Diagnosing root diseases, Part III

     Sam Marshall

    Horticulture Agent