County Extension

  • Do you want what you have?

     By Linda Arnold

    Even though it’s early, we’re starting to see glimpses of the upcoming holiday season. Retailers remind us to get our wish lists together and to get an early start on shopping.

    This got me thinking about wishes. And, as often happens when researching my column, I’ll hear something that results in an “a-ha” moment for me. True to form, this happened the other day when I read a proverb by the philosopher Philemon: “It is better to want what you have than to have what you want.”

  • Salad dressing: friend or not?

     Many people elect to eat salads as a way of controlling calories and getting more vegetables into their diet, but sometimes the added salad dressing can reduce the benefits of the salad.

  • Backyard wildlife habitats

     By Sam Marshall


    As residential and commercial areas continue to grow, habitats that support native wildlife are shrinking. Residential and commercial development oftentimes displaces native species, and alters the environment such that it no longer supports native wildlife. However, one way you can enhance the natural features of your yard, community, and town would be to create environmentally friendly wildlife habitat.


    Focus on diversity

  • Salsa is not just for chips

     Most of the time when people think of salsa, they think of the tomatoey mixture with onions and peppers that is served with chips. But the term salsa has come to mean just about any combination of chopped fruits and vegetables. The spiciness can vary from mild to hot depending upon personal tastes.

  • What’s all this rain going to do to my plants?

     As I was sweating it out in the gym the other day, a fellow asked a question that’s on lots of gardeners minds these days: “What’s all this rain going to do to my plants?” Some things are obvious.

  • Tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes

     Whether you get them from your own garden, a farmer’s market or a pick-your-own field, there is still time for local tomatoes here in southeastern North Carolina. How you store and preserve these precious commodities is even more important now that we know the season is almost over.

  • 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 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.