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Features

  • EDITOR'S NOTE: (Part 2 of a two–part series on lawn care)

    First and foremost, do not fertilize your lawn at this time. The Extension Master Gardener Hot Line has received several calls on lawn fertilizing. As warm season grasses are grown in this area and the grass is just now starting to break dormancy, fertilizing now is a waste of time and money.

  • Last week I noticed it. The first songbird to sing this spring in my neighborhood was the house finch. On the following Sunday morning, while birding in Southport, I noticed eastern bluebirds singing in several locations. In fact, numerous species were singing that warm morning.

  • With the afternoon sun beaming down, Lonzie Bryant stood outside Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church and basked in the warmth and history.

    The 62-year-old church trustee can recall his childhood, when a more primitive structure preceded the two-story brick church building in the African-American community on Cedar Grove Road.

    He remembers homemade pews, no central heat in winter and no air conditioning or fans in summer, when windows were lifted to let some air in.

    “Most people came to church with a mule and cart,” he said.

  • Celia is a full-grown gray tiger-and-white tabby who loves to dip her paws in the water can and lick your hands. To see her, call Cat Tails at 253-1375 or visit its Web site at www.cattails.org. You can visit Celia, as well as all the other cats and kittens available for adoption, at Cat Tails in the Corner Stone center at 6622 Beach Drive in Ocean Isle Beach. Visiting hours are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Other hours are by appointment. Cat Tails is also desperate for volunteers.

  • Poinsettia’s keeping quality depends on several factors. Many home gardeners have no trouble keeping a poinsettia looking good through the winter, but bringing it into “flower” in subsequent years is a challenge for the best of gardeners. They are still considered actively growing even now and will need water, sunlight, and fertilizing through February.

    Pruning Camellias

  • EDITOR'S NOTE: Part 1 of a two-part series on Lawn Care

    Now is a great time for planning weed control in your lawn. There are two different kinds of weeds to consider. Winter weeds will be discussed first.

    The majority of winter weeds are annual weeds. They grow during the winter, flower and produce seeds, and die during the first hot spell in the spring.

    Now is a good time to spot spray with a herbicide such as Weed-B-Gone for Southern Lawns or Speed Zone Southern. There are several other products that will work.

  • I don’t know about all of you, but my garden really starts to irritate me this time of year. Things just aren’t happening fast enough. I’m tired of looking at the bare stems of the deciduous trees and shrubs. The ornamental grasses have received their annual buzz cut, so they’re not exactly the Jessica Simpson of the horticultural world. The daffodil bulbs are just getting started. My severely pruned buddleias are several months away from attracting a butterfly.

  • I recently gave a presentation on wildlife photography to the Coastal Carolina Camera Club, of which I am a member. I hesitated at first because I am no expert, but finally agreed to discuss wildlife photography on a “what-I-know-for-now” basis.

    Since the ranks of amateur wildlife photographers are growing by leaps and bounds due to the digital camera revolution, I decided to share part of the presentation with you.

  • As Americans become increasingly overweight, scientists are finding more and more links between obesity and health. Weight management means adopting a lifestyle that includes a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity. Here are some tips to get you started:

    Accept Yourself

    Don’t compare yourself to images in magazines, on TV or in movies. They may be unrealistic and unhealthy. Find alternative methods to improve the things you do not like about yourself. We are all unique, so develop your own image and keep a positive attitude.

    Make a Commitment

  • Although it’s still too early to plant such popular garden vegetables such as tomatoes, beans and corn, it’s just the right time for Coastal Carolina gardeners to plant cool-season vegetables.

  • Now is the time of the year to start preparing for spring. One of the best activities any gardener in this area can accomplish is applying horticultural oil.

    The following article was furnished by Horticultural Agent Theresa Friday:

    February and early March is an ideal time to apply horticultural oil to your ornamental trees, shrubs and fruit trees to control scale and several other over-wintering insects. However, to prevent harm to your plant, it is important to understand how horticultural oils work and their limitations.

  • Pesticide class set

    Cape Fear Community College North Campus, 4500 Blue Clay Road in Castle Hayne, will present Pro Day–Prelude to March Madness on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

    Pesticide recertification credits will be available in aquatics, right-of-way, dealer, ornamentals and turf and private "X" categories.

    Contact the Brunswick County Cooperative Extension Service for more information at 253-2610.

    Coastal Gardener show

    Join Al Hight every Saturday morning on the Big Talker FM (106.3 and 93.7) from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. for the Coastal Gardener.

  • Even though it’s still early, our gardens are beginning to awaken from their short winter slumber. I’ve noticed new growth on daylilies and Knockout roses already.

    If a bit of new growth doesn’t quite chase away your winter blahs, consider adding Japanese flowering apricot to your garden. It always blooms in January and February in shades of white, pink and red.

  • During winter many species of migratory songbirds stay in our area while close and distant relatives head to the Caribbean and South America. This article is about three of the best “little guys” you may find this winter in your backyard or in nearby woods.

    Mostly they breed in northern boreal forest and eat insects plus insect larvae and eggs. How do they survive in Brunswick County in winter? Well, we still have insects during winter. Also, these songbirds shift to berries, sap, and seed when insects are not active.

  • “Too picky” might work when describing a stern college professor, parent, or ex-girlfriend. You can just ignore them or run for cover, absolving yourself of any wrongdoing on your part. However, when “too picky” applies to an animal with very specialized needs, in this case a woodpecker, it is not that easy. It cannot help itself so we must.

  • This is the story of a dog—a small red tick hound who, along with a lot of other dogs, strayed from home and wound up on adoption row at the Brunswick County Animal Shelter.

    It’s also the story of Janie Withers and Gail Colwell, two members of Paws-Ability, a nonprofit group devoted to raising money for assorted animal causes in Brunswick County.

    Withers, of Ocean Isle Beach and a founder of the group, frequently visits the shelter and has rescued a few animals in her lifetime.

  • Over the years, a number of techniques have been used to produce early vegetable crops. Many of these “tricks of the trade” were originated by growers and universities. By using one or more of these “tricks,” you can increase your annual vegetable yield. Check out these seven tips for growing vegetables early and getting a jump on the rest of the growers:

    Multiple plantings

  • The window is still open for pruning your shrubs and trees. Now is the time to cut back your pampas grass to within 12-inches of the ground.

    Use hedge clippers because of the vastness of the grass clump and wear gloves as the leaves have sharp edges. Make sure you remove the dead leaves and debris from the center of the clump so sunlight can get through to start the spring growing process. Established clumps of pampas grass can be divided and planted elsewhere in your landscape.

  • The temperature roller coaster continues here in southeastern North Carolina with nights in the teens followed a few days later with days in the 70s. While you won’t find me complaining about the days in the 70s, the erratic temperatures do create problems for our garden plants.

    Gardenias in some locations have been injured. If the warmth continues, you’ll see roses and lots of other plants starting to grow. And, the warmth really creates great conditions for winter weeds in lawns.

  • Today, we will find birds in salt marsh habitat. As an ecology lesson—and just for fun—let’s start at an altitude of 200 miles, as if were are a naturalist on the space shuttle, and zoom in.