County Extension

  • Time to get garden items organized

     September is a transitional month for us as the nights begin to cool off and days flirting with triple digits are a distant memory. More pleasant working conditions mean it’s a good time to get garden items organized. For the folks who have a place for every tool and every tool in its place, this is a small chore. But, if you’re like me and your old pickup truck is vaguely reminiscent of something you’d likely see on “Sanford and Son,” it’s time to get busy.

  • Restaurant servers may be transferring germs to you

     Many years ago, I heard Dr. Charles Gerba speak at a conference. He is an internationally recognized environmental microbiologist and professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona. Some people call him Dr. Germ. During this speech, he talked about the germiest place in most homes. OK, guess what is it? Hint: it’s not the bathroom. It’s the kitchen sink.

  • Sponge or dishcloth?

     Well, what is it? A kitchen sponge or a dishcloth? I personally like cloths, but I know many people favor sponges.

    Sponges are great for wiping up spills and absorbing liquid and some have a scrubby side that helps clean grime from pots and pans and dishes. But, they also absorb harmful foodborne pathogens along the way. There have been some scientific studies showing the kitchen sponge or dishrag is the germiest thing in most homes and, if not cleaned between uses, can be a prime spot for germ growth.

  • The increasing/decreasing price of eggs

     Yikes! Have you seen the price of eggs lately? A couple of weeks ago I noticed they were close to $3 a dozen. This increase can be traced back to an avian influenza (some call it the bird flu) that lead to the death of about 50 million chicken and turkeys in the Midwest earlier this year. There are fewer chickens in the U.S. laying eggs, making the supply of eggs a little tighter. The egg industry says wholesale egg prices have already started to moderate and come down. I noticed this week the prices did seem to drop a little. That’s good news.

  • Think about food safety when grilling burgers this Labor Day weekend

     Although we can anticipate nice weather for several more months, Labor Day seems to mark the official last cookout of the summer. If you’re having a get together that involves food this weekend, I’m going to once again remind you to think about food safety.

    This time I’m thinking about hamburgers. Test your knowledge of burger safety by answering these two multiple-choice questions.

    Question No. 1

  • Garden success lies in the soil, Part 1

     By Sam Marshall

    Horticulture Agent


    Successful gardeners in our region have a dirty secret. And it isn’t that they are jumping over your fence at night causing all the “deer” damage. No, any successful gardener in this area will tell you the key to a beautiful lawn or garden starts with healthy soil and proper soil management. Regardless of what you hear about this area, our soils teem with life that, if managed properly, will alleviate the challenges of coastal gardening.


  • Blanching vegetables not always necessary

     At a recent food preservation class, the topic of blanching came up. The question: “Do you always have to blanch vegetables before freezing them?”

  • Recipes from the local farmers market

    Local farmers markets are in full swing right now. If you haven’t visited one of the local markets, there is still plenty of time this season.

    My colleague, Morgan McKnight, family and consumer sciences agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension here in Brunswick County, has been sharing recipes at the Bolivia Brief Farmer’s Market on Thursdays.

  • For an alternative to the traditional sour cream dip, create your own tzatziki

     In an effort to eat healthier, many people are looking for an alternative to the traditional sour cream dip for their vegetables and whole-grain crackers. One product I’m seeing more and more of is called tzatziki.

    Tzatziki is a sauce that has its origins in Greece and the Middle East. It is frequently used as the sauce on gyros, but it can also be a salad dressing, sauce for grilled meats or mild fish or a dip. What’s nice about this tzatziki is that not only is it a lower fat alternative, it also contains a vegetable as one of its key ingredients.

  • Time to plant the fall vegetable garden

    Tough economic times and the trendy “local food” movement have soccer moms everywhere discussing strange concepts like pH, side-dressing and those “worms” that ate holes in the tomatoes.

    My inner CPA likes to remind me you can probably buy vegetables more cheaply than you can grow them yourself, but what’s the value of your reconnection with nature? It could be whatever the manicurist charges you to get all that dirt from under your fingernails.